Sunday, April 11, 2010

This Blog Is Starting To Smell

I am trying to switch over to a new blog, since this one has 650 posts and is becoming unwieldy. Until I have time to go in and prune some of the overgrowth, I'm going to stash this one under the name of Hillbilly Mansion Four. Blogger willing.

Blogger gets my hopes up by allowing the switch, but then won't give me back my Hillbilly Mansion title like old times. What's up with that, Blogger? Why you wanna do me this way? We had a good thing goin' on. We have five blogs together. And now you want it to be like this? Uh huh. I see how it is.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Culinary Critiques

Have you ever tried to eat food that was presented to you, just to be polite and not make waves? Food that is really not at all tasty, but to refuse it would upset the chef?

What can you do, pull a Seinfeld and shake your head at the bite of pie? Stuff mutton into Grandma Memma's napkins until dogs follow you home? Hide your brussel sprouts under the mashed potatoes like Beaver Cleaver? No. That doesn't work in real life. Sometimes, you just have to stuff your piehole.

My dad liked to prepare BBQ hamburgers and pork steaks on the grill. We ate it. We didn't know any better. Until we grew up and tasted other people's BBQ. Who knew that hamburgers were not dry and mealy? That pork steaks could be plump and tender instead of thin and sturdy like the sole of an Italian loafer? Not us.

Somebody in my family must have been food-poisoned somewhere down the line. My mom cooks everything within an inch of its life. Well Done should be a framed needlepoint hanging in her kitchen. No wonder my sister doesn't like meat. Meat loaf was just like those BBQ burgers: dry and crumbly, with only the ketchup on top holding it together. Pork chops: the other leather. Don't even get me started on the Thanksgiving turkey. There's a reason I prefer dark meat. It doesn't suck all the saliva out of my mouth. Wild game suffered the same fate. Quail, rabbit, or squirrel...they all tasted alike: fried to a jerky consistency.

Desserts are not off the hook. The brownies only look like brownies until the first bite. After that, they look like crushed Oreo potting soil. You could put gummy worms in there and they wouldn't know the difference. Those brownies are as dry as that Thanksgiving turkey in Christmas Vacation. I swear you can hear the air go out of them when you make the first slice. The pecan pie somehow shrinks in upon itself, away from the crust. It looks like some freaky mud-flat landscape.

And we don't even want to talk about the cheese-and-broccoli stems.

I would never mention this topic to the chef. It would hurt her feelings. She means well. She likes her food well-done. Even when we take her a perfectly tender piece of meat loaf or pork steak, she re-cooks it, by cracky, until it is charred.

Like we don't know how to cook!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Halt The SuperNanny State

Stop. Making. Excuses.

Oh, my gravy! That little expression is courtesy of one of the cowboy brothers on Amazing Race. It is OH SO ANNOYING, but quite appropriate for some of the latest news items that caught my eye. Please remember that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not suffer fools gladly. In fact, she would gladly see fools suffer. It's her nature. Much like trying to get blood from a turnip, you can squeeze her cold, cold heart for a month of Sundays and still not harvest a drop of sympathy. Here's some advice from Mrs. HM, people: You can not sue the pants off everyone just because you feel that you have been wronged. Litigation is not the answer. Sometimes, a good old-fashioned butt-kicking is in order.

The cheerleaders who peed in a soda and 'enticed' their fellow yellers to drink? Shame on them! The imbibers should kick their pee-ers' sorry a$$es, and then the administration should kick the leaking ladies off the squad and all extracurricular activities forevah! None of this ban them for the rest of the season crap! Make it permanent. The word needs to get out: When you give your teammates pee to drink, you forfeit the right to have teammates.

The lady who grabbed a three-year old for kicking her airplane seat? Shame on her. But somebody's gotta do it. The mother was obviously not doing her duty. It takes a plane cabin to raise a child. What was that stewardess doing, anyway...blowing the autopilot?

The student-government leaders who posed with a noose? Shame on them! Facebook is forever. Good luck finding a job after graduation, guys.

The bullies who drove a teenage girl to suicide? Shame on them! Somewhere, I saw their names, even though they are minors. How does that work? I thought they were always kept out of the press. Good luck, girlies. You can bet there are some crazies out there waiting to kick your butts. Not that it's right, mind you. But it happens. Bet your 15 minutes of fame don't look so good now, huh? And for the poor deceased girl...whatever happened to parents teaching the sticks and stones method? If something like this put her over the edge, it was likely that something later in life would have done the same thing.

The Notre Dame letter-of-intent football dude who died on Spring Break? Shame on him! What high-schooler deserves a trip to Mexico for Spring Break? And who gives alcohol to high-schoolers? And who is chaperoning this trip? And people who throw away opportunity willy-nilly sometimes find that they ARE NOT invincible after all.

Nature finds a way thin the herd. We don't need to legislate people into submission.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cash For Flunkers

I am the Jerry Seinfeld of Hillmomba. After school today, I went out and bought 12 new cars. I don't own my own parking garage in New York City, or even a parking garage in Hillmomba. So maybe the likeness to Seinfeld ends with the plethora of new cars, and my Even Stevenness.

My cars cost a grand total of $12.63. You can bet that receipt is getting stashed with my 2010 tax records. They're phasing out the $250 per year educator expense deduction. How dare they! It costs me that much in tissues and GermX!

Getting back to those new cars...they are Hot Wheels. I am tired of raiding my personal children's stash of toys for lab materials. And forget writing it up on requisitions and trying to find a time that the power that beeees will cough up that Devil's Playground no-tax purchasing card. That makes it OH SO DIFFICULT to schedule spur-of-the-moment lab activities. I'm not like Mr. H and Mabel, who run their copies for an entire year during the August inservice days. No sirree Bob! Not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She's a born procrastinator, and a fickle planner, and changes her mind to suit her moods. We are doing a ramp-rolling, graph-making, metric-measuring exercise in potential/kinetic energy tomorrow. Thus, the bevy of Chevys for Mrs. HM.

I really don't like to stay late on Fridays to grade papers. Lab write-ups can be scored in a jiffy, by cracky! And they're easy enough that even the least-motivated students can boost their cumulative points.

Only 6 more Fridays until school is out.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I've Got Your Number

Every year, there is a new Eddie Haskell.

"Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, did you and the boys color eggs for Easter?"
"Yes. Yes, we did. Did you color eggs, Concussor?"
"Oh, no. I am too old to color eggs."
"Well, we colored them, and they are in the refrigerator right now."

It's a tradition, you know, to color eggs. Concussor's little brothers might have enjoyed such festivities. Though maybe not, because rumor has it that a couple years ago, one of them told another one to "Quit yer cryin' and get off the tit." Perhaps other families don't exist in a Hillmomba, Leave It To Beaver world. Perhaps my boys are just big ol' girls, as Concussor insinuates daily. Don't you go feelin' sorry for #1 and The Pony. Concussor says that about every dude except the one that sits beside him.

After taking roll, I was explaining formulas for work, power, and mechanical advantage. Concussor kept blurting out his opinions about various topics, some of which may have slightly pertained to work, power, and mechanical advantage. I stopped speaking. I gave him the eye. You know, the look with one eyebrow raised. The stinkeye, as some have accused.

"Concussor, I would think that you are too old to be talking out in class without raising your hand and being called on."

He hung his head. "Uh...well...I am...but I do it anyway. Sorry."

Sometimes, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom just has to lay the smack down.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Driving Frosh Crazy

How do you drive the freshmen crazy? Just have the custodians install a wall support for a screen and projector. Really. That's all it takes. The support is the same color as the wall. It's a pooched-out oval with dimensions around 2' long and 8" tall and 6" deep. There's a hole about the size of a 50-cent piece in the middle, through which you can see the concrete-block wall.

The students were all abuzz.

"What's that thing?"
"What's it for?"
"What's it do?"
"Where did that come from?"
"When did you get that?"
"Why do you have that?"
"Is that a camera?"

Yeah. It's a camera. An invisible camera. Because you can plainly see the wall through that little hole. There is nothing inside that support. It's a thingamajigger screwed into the wall above the white board, with a hole to put a pole that will hold a projector, and a base to hang a pull-down screen. The teacher next door and the one next to her already have theirs completely installed. You would think that in their many travels throughout Newmentia, the students would have viewed such a contraption already.

So these kids thought there was a camera watching them. I should have told them yes, they're right, it's a direct link to Mr. Principal's office. Joke's on you. You will be surveilled within an inch of your life, so don't try anything foolish like, oh...I don't know...maybe...taking out your cell phone right in the middle of class to send a text.

What do they think this is, anyway...The Devil's Playground? Like we have security guards to monitor each classroom 24/7. A better question is, "Why do you want to know if that's a camera?" Surely you realize that you will be the one I watch closely now.

We teachers are so far advanced in our psychological warfare. It's like taking a cell phone from a freshman.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Harbinger Of Spring

It's official. Spring is here. I pried the season's first tick off my left lateral thigh area this morning. I cry shenanigans. Visitors to the Mansion will recall that the ticks here feed almost exclusively on Hillbilly Mom blood. It is some type of kick@ss arachnid elixir that they absolutely crave. Never mind that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom rarely steps a toe off the porch except to enter the garage and T-Hoe. Never mind that Farmer H spends more time outdoors than Woodrow McCall, Gus McCrae, and Pea Eye Parker on a pilgrimage from Texas to Montana.

You would think that Farmer H's horde of fowl would keep the arachnids in check. That's why he hoards them, you see. It's his excuse: "They eat ticks out of the yard." Perhaps they would, indeed, if Farmer H didn't overfeed them like he overfeeds all of his animals. That pregnant goat, Goatrude, has not birthed a young 'un yet. I'm sure the gestation period of a goat is less than the 11 months that she has enjoyed Mansion life, even though she eats like a horse. Farmer H bought himself a fat goat and called her pregnant. And those 22 chickens strut around the yard, squawking and scratching, letting the ticks have their way with HM. It is OH SO UNFAIR!

Maybe I could join a scientific study and get paid to let ticks latch onto my flesh. They're going to do it anyway. I might as well get something out of it. Turn it from a parasitic relationship to one of mutualism. Remember those old commercials for Deep Woods Off, where some idiot stuck his arm into an aquarium of mosquitoes? Maybe he was mosquito fodder anyway, and chose to cash in on his special talent. Which is different from a 'special purpose'. Just ask Steve Martin as Navin Johnson in The Jerk.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

This Coif Is Made For Walkin'

I wish I had a lovely Easter tale to tell. But I don't. Instead, I have this:

Last night, as we were finishing up dyeing the Easter eggs, Crime Solver H could barely tear himself away from America's Most Wanted. Some serial killer had left a trail of victims, and their pictures flashed on the screen. Not gory pictures, just pictures of the women. They all had long black hair, parted in the middle. I glanced at them and exclaimed, "They all look alike!" You know, meaning that the serial killer had a certain type that he liked to murder. The narrator had mentioned that most of the victims were prostitutes. Again, the killer had a type, just like Jame Gumb who fought Clarice in that dark basement had a type, his happening to be full-figured gals with enough skin to make himself a woman-suit.

Crime Solver H snorted at my proclamation that all of this killer's victims looked alike. He added, "Of course they look alike. They all had the same profession. Streetwalker." Aside from Crime Solver H being rooted in the 60's with a Sheriff Andy Taylor euphemism for prostitutes, the poor misguided hillbilly seems to think that prostitutes have a uniform. Like a union painter or some regulated profession. And that uniform is long black hair parted in the middle.

The #1 son and I tried to explain that there is such a thing as a blond or red-head prostitute, with a variety of coiffures. Crime Solver H became downright surly. "Fine. Make fun all you want. But the next time you want to earn $40, have someone else drive you to town to mow lawns."

"Or," I said, "grow your hair long and part it in the middle, and stand on the street corner."

Thank you. I'll be here all week.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Choosy Moms

Imagine my unpleasant surprise this morning when a bite of my breakfast of champions, a plastic forkful of Peter Pan Honey Roasted Crunchy Peanut Butter, contained a peanut that would not be crunched.

I spat out the offender, and saw that it was not a peanut at all. It was a freakin' shard of driftwood-looking stem. I am returning it to Peter. I'm sure he would want to know of my misfortune. Lucky for him, I am not a litigious person. I was not harmed. But I could have been!!! What if I bit down wrong and busted a $640 crown? What if I sliced open my superior labial frenulum? What if I swallowed that stick and it got stuck in my esophagus due to the obstruction of my goiter? Heavens to Betsey! That foreign flotsam could have wreaked havoc in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's intestinal tract.

Peter will receive his slab of wood in the mail. Far be it from me to keep such an item that I did not purchase. It's not like a box of CrackerJacks, that canister of crunchy delight that Peter is hawking through a promise to provide one million meals to help hungry kids through Feeding America. How about feeding them POINTY STICKS, Peter? Hows about that? Give those hungry kids a bellyful of petrified peanut stems. It's not like these kids have built up an immunity to twigs, like Mr. S and his green bean stems. At least those suckers are stewed into a soft consistency.

The picture does not do justice to that log. In fact, it looks like the much more pleasant and child-friendly worm at the bottom of a bottle of tequila. Not that I would know anything about the worm, mind you. The #1 son's finger obscures the sharp, harpoonlike business end of the weapon. Like a true enclosed prize in a breakfast food, it was lurking at the very bottom of the jar. Thank the Gummi Mary, I did not chomp down on it in a sandwich, or bake it in a batch of Easter cookies.

I did not buy any more Peter Pan Honey Roasted Crunchy Peanut Butter on my excursion to The Devil's Playground today.

And for the record, Peter hangs out at ConAgra. It wasn't enough to foist salmonella on the population through powdered seasoning mixes this year, or through Peter in 2007. Now the mighty Con has to sever an artery to get more sensational free publicity.

I'm mad as heck, and I'm not going to eat it anymore!

Choosy moms choose Jif, because Jif doesn't maim their beloved children.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fake Baby Blues

What's the matter with kids today? Well, besides excessive cell phone usage. How times have changed.

It used to be that if you gave a parenting class the fake baby for a week, the students would actually care for the fake baby as intended. Indeed, as little as three years ago, the kids were actually taking responsibility for their fake kids. They would haul them around in baskets and car seats and dress them and feed them with that magnetic/electronic pacifier dealybob, and actually try to stop them from their programmed crying. Except for that one girl who let her dad put the crying fake baby in the top of the closet under some blankets all night, because he had to get up early and needed his sleep. But even she knew that she would suffer a grade penalty for that lapse in caretaking. Yes, back then, they would take their fake babies to the FACS class babysitting service during PE, when they couldn't keep a good eye on their phony offspring. One or two of them might have learned a lesson about how hard it is to care for an infant if you are still a child your own self. But not kids these days.

Nowadays, the kid parents haul their fake babies down the hall in a baby carrier with a heavy textbook balanced on top of the baby. They swing them back and forth like weapons of mass destruction in a crowded hallway. The babies never cry. They must have been broken by several years of abuse. Or else they're a new generation of cheap, chipless fake children made in China. No more computer chip to blow the whistle on abusers and neglecters. Heck, it's a plus to see a rubber baby pass by with his head still attached. Yes. I have seen two inanimate infants pass by with their heads lolling beside their shoulders this week. And their pupil parent has laughed about the deformity. Haven't these kids watched Llamas With Hats? In the llama's voice of reason: "Carl! That kills people!"

The youth of today has no idea how good they've got it. Seems like only yesterday that there were no fake babies to be checked out. Students back then got a bag of flour, by cracky! A bag of flour to heft onto their collective hip, and dress, and burp, and jounce upon their collective knee. Not a lifelike squalling fake baby. Or, if the school was really cheap, they got an egg baby. Yep. An egg baby that they could draw eyes and hair on, and make paper towel baby blankets, and construct cotton-lined box cribs. Their parenting orientation included a viewing of an illegally videotaped ABC After School Special: First, the Egg, starring Justine Bateman and Jimmy McNichol. That's how they rolled, back in the day.

Now everything is a joke, the world owes them a good time, and they can't take responsibility for the simplest things. I've a good mind to throw off my shawl and shake my walker at them!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Might As Well See A Witch Doctor

Farmer H is off his rocker. He has dizzy spells and the doctors pass him around like some kind of sacred insurance cow. Used to, he would call the doc for some antibiotics for his self-diagnosed ear infection. That wouldn't work, so he would call and they would prescribe a Z-pack.

After a couple years of this, the doc started sending Farmer H to specialists. They scanned his head and found nothing. Now one of them says that Farmer H does NOT have an ear infection, nor even fluid in his ears, but instead has something called 'crystals' out of place in his ear canal. WTF? Of course, I am hearing this story second-hand from Farmer H. He heard it from an allergy specialist who finally rid The Pony of his string of baby ear infections.

I am skeptical. Supposedly, the little ear bones like the anvil and stirrup have moved out of place, and Farmer H needs to be hung upside down and his head vibrated until they go back in place, and then he must keep his head level for 9 days so they won't move out of place, and then he will be cured for all eternity. I asked him if he was seeing an osteopath. Farmer H said no.

Am I the only one who finds this fishy? Farmer H said an old lady at the bowling alley had this treatment, and swears by it. I say Farmer H is an old lady.

Why can't he get his medical consults from the internet, like normal people?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Teachers Who Lunch

Lunch is an oasis in the midst of the desert of my workday. A workday that is similar to a dose of Atarax, which I was prescribed many years ago at the ER after a severe allergic reaction to ampicillin. I was told to take five pills, then four pills, then three, then two, then one. My workday starts with three classes, then lunch, then two classes, then plan time, then one class.

Imagine my chagrin today when my lovely oasis was permeated by the stink of FISH. It was almost more than I could bear. Arch Nemesis has been lunching with us for two days, due to this week's testing schedule. Yesterday was nothing to write a blog about, except that she took my seat at the lunch table. It's my own fault that I didn't run out and snag that spot that I have sat in every day for three years. Today, Archie was nuking her food in the semi-working microwave of the teacher workroom. I staked out my table territory in the cafeteria, welcomed the return of Mr. S, greeted LunchBuddy and ShopMan, and was quietly consuming a chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat with a side of Sun Chips and a dessert of diced peaches in light syrup when Archie arrived and peeled the lid off her plasticware. Oh, the humanity!!! I tried not to breathe through my nose, but that's kind of hard when you are chewing.

In that plasticware, stewing in their own juices, lay four pieces of tilapia with lemon pepper. No breading. Just steaming tilapia with a freckling of lemon pepper. Hoo boys! It was enough to make your eyes water. As if the reek was not enough, Archie and company had to host a symposium on the merits of tilapia. Mr. Principal stated that tilapia is a really good fish, but that he can not stand salmon. ShopMan said that he likes tilapia, but he must have it fried. Mr. S sang the praises of tilapia and badmouthed the salmon. ShopMan stated that salmon is just another red meat. LunchBuddy declared that if any fish crosses her lips, it will be deep-fried. I, alone, attempted to unbesmirch the wronged salmon. "I love salmon. I used to eat it all the time. My uncle lived in Alaska, and he would send us cans and cans of salmon from the cannery near his home in Ketchikan. My mom made salmon cakes with crushed crackers and fried them to a crisp. When we visited Alaska, my uncle grilled fresh salmon at 10:00 p.m. for our supper. Land of the midnight sun, you know." That kind of put a damper on the d*mning of the salmon.

As we were leaving after our 23-minute respite from the salt mines, LunchBuddy leaned over and said, "I was having a really hard time." Indeed. She was at ground zero. She shielded me from the initial blast. I confided, "I can hardly wait to get out of this fishy place and into my room where I can enjoy the sweet aroma of body odor."

Thank you. I'll be here all week.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Full Moon Spring Fever

Have you noticed, it's full moon time again? I have. Kids are flipping out right and left. It's not just that Spring has sprung. No. The lions are not going out like lambs. They need taming. Chair and whip circus-style taming. Because they've lost their heads. I can't imagine what they're thinking. But they tell me. Or show me.


Why do you have your cell phone out? (I didn't actually see a cell phone. I saw a kid turned sideways, looking down near his waist. That's a tell. I fished him in with that baiting question.)

I got a text.

Bring me the phone. (Wasn't that deceptively easy? No argument. No lying. Just an explanation.)

It was a text from my dad!

Put it on my desk. (Like that makes it OK. Like phone usage in class is perfectly all right, as long as it is with a parent. Because obviously, parents don't want you to get an education, really, but are just utilizing their tax-paid babysitting service, and need you to respond to them while they are working. Ha ha. Who are we kidding? Parents? Working?)

Leave it there. Because you admitted it and brought it right up, and I haven't caught you before, you can have it back after the bell. Next time, it goes to the office. (I am tired of being the phone police.)

Thank you. I won't do it again.

**That was my second phone this week. The first one was a repeat offender. It went to the office for parent pick-up after school.**


Today there was the incontinent purse episode.

Why is there a puddle around your purse?

What? What do you mean?

That lake of liquid surrounding your purse? Can you explain that?

Ooohhh. It must be my bottle of water.

Not any more. Get something to clean that up!

How am I going to do that?

You don't expect ME to do it, do you?

No. It's just that there are no paper towels in the bathroom. (No. Only blowers. Because you stuff paper towels in the sink and toilet hoping for FEMA to toss money from the sky.)

Then go find a custodian and see if he will give you some of those brown paper towels out of the closet. (Which resulted in two custodians and a student helper parading into my classroom like we had just called GhostBusters. One carried the mop, one used the mop, and one was an appreciative audience.)

**Don't even get me started on this beverage bust. I think we should go back to the rules that still stand, as far as I know, but are not enforced no matter how hard you try, just ask Mrs. NotACook about her experience, that we had when we first busted that champagne bottle over Newmentia's bow, that NO student beverages may be brought into the building or taken out of the cafeteria, because how do we know, really, what those little whippersnappers have put into an open container that they carry around and swill from willy-nilly, though not in my classroom without a kerfluffle.**


And for the record, a F I G H T is when two or more people pummel each other, not when one person flings himself at a seated person after the dismissal bell and whales on the unsuspecting victim until stopped by another. No fight. No glory. Just an assault with battery, no justification, no matter what the whalee might have said about the whaler's momma. This is not the wild west. It's just another day in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Ultimate Fighting Championship Arena.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Paper Airplane Pilot

Due to technical difficulties, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been incommunicado for an eon. The #1 son was away at the state bowling tournament all weekend, and left Mrs. HM high and dry with her internet connection discombobulated. The following post was meant for Friday, March 26.


We took a smaller contingent to the community college science fair this year. What's up with kids these days? You can't even bribe them with bonus points anymore. About half of those who sent in their entries did not attend. It might have had something to do with the scheduling, which put the science fair on the same day as the district band contest held at a different community college.

Don't go pointing fingers at Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She had nothing to do with the scheduling. That would be the host college. Seems there was something going on with the availability of the gym, and all the sponsors wanting to make sure the science fair was held on a Friday. If you think we had trouble getting students to enter this year, imagine what it would have been like if we told them it was going to be held on a Saturday. That plane wouldn't fly.

Speaking of planes, that was the #1 son's project this year. How force affects the flight of paper airplanes. Of course you can't just fling paper airplanes through the atmosphere willy nilly. How scientific would THAT be? You have to control the launch force and the angle and the direction and how long you hold it before you let go. Unless you do, there are too many variables affecting the flight. So my boy built himself a paper airplane launcher.

I must admit I was not a big fan of the project idea. I could not understand how he was going to build a launcher. He tried to describe it and sketch it for me, but I could not visualize it. He and NASA Engineer H holed up in the barn for two hours one Sunday, and VOILA! A paper airplane launcher was born! I could not believe how deceptively simple the process appeared. Of course, there were a few bugs to be worked out. Bungee cords were the method of propulsion, releasing a little wooden cart that looked like something out of the mine scene in an Indiana Jones movie. It ran along a metal garage door track, and slammed into a wooden panel, launching the paper airplane that was held in a V-shaped cradle of four screws mounted on the cart. Except that the friction was too much for the plane to sail smoothly off the cart, and the cart itself could not get up a good speed due to its mass and heavy metal wheels.

Hillbilly Mom to the rescue. I suggested shaving off some wood from the cart to make it lighter. #1 let it slip that just for fun, he had set the plane in the groove of the metal track and flicked it with his hand, and it sailed. Still not scientific, flicking the paper plane. So I suggested a wooden thingy mounted on the cart that would follow along the groove and shove the plane. #1 took a piece of scrap wood and attached that dealybob in short order. That was his first prototype. Which is a ridiculously redundant statement, because of course a prototype is the first one.

Anyhoo, he took it to school and tested it in the flight tunnel we commonly call The Hallway. It worked OK, but he brainstormed a new track set-up with less clunkiness and friction. Networker H got some parts from a salesman at work, and the final model was born. #1 used stronger, flat bungees instead of the little round bungees. He ran into trouble with no way to measure the force of the strongest set-up of four bungees. The best we could do was a fish scale, which only went to 28 pounds. In hindsight, a luggage scale or livestock scale would have been beneficial.

So #1 had to explain in his results that while he could calculate acceleration for the first two force trials, he could not do so for the strongest one, the one that proved his hypothesis that too much force provides too much lift, and makes the plane stall and plummet. He also forgot to set up his Zune that played a loop of his testing efforts. His excuse was that the judges started with him, and he wasn't ready because every time he left his display, he had to pick up the Zune and take it with him to prevent theft, and he forgot that it was in his pocket when the judges came. And also, he was a bit discombobulated because the safety committee had made him take the bugees off the rail thingamajig, because no projectiles were allowed. Oh, really. Half the projects there involved projectiles. Just ask the dude who had a golf club swinger.

The bottom line is...#1 won his category of High School Physics, and according to one of the judges, it was between him and the Behavioral Science winner for Best In Show. The other dude won, with a logbook of 365 days and a continuation of his last year's project. Not a real surprise, as this kid wins Best In Show every year. He is a senior, and no doubt won the scholarship that the college offers for science fair. #1 did not mind. He won his category and the $50 prize, and while Best In Show is an honor, it does not carry any more financial rewards.

Two of our middle school students also won 1st place in their categories. Last year we had more awards, but they were thirds and honorable mentions.

Since he began entering the science fair in 6th grade, #1's record stands at:

6th Grade-1st Place, Middle School Physics
7th Grade-1st Place, Middle School Physics
8th Grade-Honorable Mention, Middle School Engineering
9th Grade-1st Place, High School Physics

Not a bad showing for the young whippersnapper. This concludes the maternal bragging. I will try to post some pictures of the plane-launcher when #1 returns from the state bowling tournament with the photos and the knowledge.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Now You See Her...

I am taking the weekdays off this week, unless something really, really noteworthy happens. I plan to return Friday evening if the sun, moon, and stars align properly. It's Science Fair week, and our computer gradebook program was down all day Thursday, and the End of Course Test is coming up for my Biology students, and I am going to be busier than Homer Simpson at a donut-eating contest.

Speaking of that technology faux pas, it seems that nobody was complaining about it besides me, at least for the entire morning. Don't tell me that nobody else uses PowerGrade daily except ol' Hillbilly Mom. Though there were plenty of people cryin' big ol' crocodile tears last weekend, because they were counting on entering all their 3rd Quarter grades by Monday morning at 8:00, and the system was down for the whole weekend. The system which, by the way, is supposed to be fully accessible from home, which is why the district invested in laptops for the entire faculty. By sixth hour, I had had enough. The guidance office knew nothing, because, you see, THEY didn't have any problems getting into the program that they use. I sought out Mr. Principal, and found him at the main entrance, jiggling the top latch of the metal-and-safety-glass inner door, while the district handyman jiggled the main latch. He must be the only handyman with a building principal as his assistant.

Mr. H was watching, probably just a happy coincidence, getting there after the handy's helper had already been established. Mr. Principal relayed that the tech problem would remain in effect until TechDude returned from a tech conference. I said, "So it really won't do me any good to take my work home and try to enter it from there in the event that PowerGrade gets fixed before Monday?" Mr. H said, "Not necessarily. There are some things that he can access remotely." Because we knew TechDude would not be schlepping up to Newmentia to troubleshoot the problem on a weekend.

When I got back to my room, I finally put the pieces together. I wanted to give Mr. H a slap to the forehead. A good ol' 'I could have had a V8' slap, right between the eyes. Because, if TechDude could access and fix the problem remotely, wouldn't he have already freakin' DONE IT, for cryin' out loud, since it had been down for at least six hours already? Wouldn't he? Isn't that kind of what his job is all about? His bread-and-butter? The way he earns his keep?

I don't look for Mr. H to be elected president of the Hillmomba chapter of Mensa any time soon.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hard At Work With Mrs. HM

If you don't count the two late nights for conferences, last week was a four-day work week. In the upcoming week, I am going to the local community college Science Fair on Friday, which will require that I miss school all day. The week after that, we are off on Good Friday for our spring break. And the week after that, we have Monday off. Are you still with me? That is FOUR WEEKS in a row of four-day work weeks. Can't beat that with a stick!

That Science Fair is fantastic. To start with, I usually drive my T-Hoe, because the students ride the same bus as Basementia's entrants. That means there is already a teacher on that bus. We trade off by agreeing to return to school and wait with any stragglers whose parents don't love them enough to pick them up on time so the bus-riding teacher can make a hasty escape.

I don't have to go all the way to Newmentia that morning. My mom meets me to pick up The Pony and drop him off, so #1 and I can go directly to the Science Fair, which is closer to our Mansion than Newmentia.

Getting there before the buses means that #1 can check in and set up before it gets crowded, and get a chair to sit on beside his display, before they run out of chairs. Then he is in phone heaven until judging begins.

I can sit in the bleachers and watch everyone arrive. I can go down on the floor and peruse the projects. I can relax with a Subway cookie in the sponsor's room. I can read a book. I can chat with parents or other sponsors or ScienceBuddy.

I can buy lunch for #1 and myself before they dismiss the hundreds of participants to line up at the Subway that is located in the field house.

After lunch, I can see who is in the running for Best of Show. All of the category winners are called to sit by their projects for final judging. Oh, they don't tell them that they are the category winners, but if they have good deductive reasoning skills, they will notice that only one project from each category is asked to come back to the floor. This is good and this is bad. The kids know right off that they've won or not won their category.

At 2:00, the floor is open to everyone who wants to look at the projects. At 3:00, awards are announced. All projects must be removed by 4:30. We are long gone by that time.

Not a bad day of work if you can get it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The S-Man Claimeth

Here's a little tale out of school that came from within the school yesterday. Perhaps I have mentioned how Mr. S likes to tell stories. Not necessarily verifiable stories, mind you. But he has a story for any incident that you toss at him. Remember how I found out he had connections with a bull-running horn-through-the-lower-leg incident, and to the United States tour of King Tut? Uh huh. It's like that.

All week we had seen and read snippets about the poor jogger who was minding his own business loping along that South Carolina beach listening to his iPod and improving his cardiovascular system so that he could live longer. Or not. Hear the record-screeching sound effect? Come on. I know you are all old enough to remember records. That jogger was, too. Except that he won't ever hear one again, because...well...he is dead due to a plane that crash-landed on him. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

So Mr. S was telling his students about this incident, is a current event, and Mr. S is all about the educatin' of the children with current events. But the kicker is, Mr. S has walked on that beach! The very beach of the unfortunate health-conscious jogger inadvertent homicide. It's true!

Because Mr. S said so.

Some of my students did not buy it. In fact, they couldn't wait to tell me about Mr. S's story. They spoke scornfully of the S-man's claims. "Yeah, like he has actually walked on that beach." Until one of them said, "No. He walked on the water."

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Third quarter ended Friday. We are picking up speed on the downhill slide to the end of the school year. Not that I am so excited about it this year. That means my throat-cutting ordeal with the thyroid nodule is imminent. Have I mentioned that I am not looking forward to that surgery?

Posting will be sporadic during the upcoming week. Think few and far between until Friday. The #1 son has a district choir concert Monday night, and we have Parent Conferences on Tuesday and Thursday night. Unless something really interesting or maddening happens, I won't be singing my song of woe for a short while.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Did You Know...

Did you know...

If your Smokey the Bear hot-air balloon gets caught in a wind shear and wraps around a 600-odd-foot communications tower and you decide that instead of falling to your death you should climb out of the basket of ol' Smokey and down the ladder of the tower, you will be killed when you touch the ground? It's true! I saw it on TV this morning. Due to the tremendous buildup of static electricity, you will be electrocuted upon ground contact. Even if you jump off the tower and onto the ground! You have to be removed by a cherry-picker dealybob, because it is grounded by its tires.

Silver Ameraucana chicks look like little winged, feathered chipmunks? It's true. That's the kind of pullets Chicken H bought last weekend. He doesn't know it yet, but I do. I googled those little boogers and found pictures that look just like our six chicks. Of course, ours are much cuter. Not that I am growing fond of these fowl small fry or anything.

Bamboo grows like a big ol' tree, with branches and everything, and is not just a tall stem like Bear Grylls would lead you to believe when he hacks open a woody section to quench his thirst with his big knife that can also be used for stabbing mini-alligators to skin and fillet them once you have swung them by the tail and whacked them to death with head-to-tree trunk contact? It's true. We looked it up at school. Though some species of bamboo are mostly trunk, like the Bear Grylls natural water fountain type.

Leonardo da Vinci painted a battle scene, The Battle of Anghiari, on a wall in the Hall of 500 that's said to be his best work, putting the Mona Lisa to shame, but it was painted over by another dude some fifty years later, and now researchers are hot on the trail of this masterpiece, on the supposition that the other dude tried to hide it and left a clue as cerca trova on a green flag in the midst of his battle scene, The Battle of Marciano, that includes a guy in the center foreground who appears to be pantsless? It's true. We read about it in Science World magazine.

You can put that in your pipe and smoke it, but keep your nasty third-hand smoke away from ME, because I don't want to end up with mutated curly wings and freaky eye color like drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, who accrues genetic damage from just a couple days of exposure to third-hand smoke? It's true. Another Science World lesson duly noted. And if I kick off from sucking in your third-hand smoke, don't let my body lie in the desert for several days, because the carnivores will eat my flesh, since I have not consumed methamphetamines to keep them from gnawing on my tasty remains. Again, thank Science World for that image. A teen scientist researched this subject, though methinks that without a momma who works with the medical examiners office, he could not have succeeded in his quest. Because you can't really force-feed people meth until they die, and then leave their bodies in the desert until scavengers partially consume them just so you can prove a hypothesis.

Just sayin'.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Driving Miss Crazy

These students are driving me crazy.

That's not a punchline. It's the awful truth. Can they not wear pants that expose their flabby crack to me while I am eating lunch? OK. Maybe that didn't come out right. I'm all for the wearing of pants. But the crack attack has got to go. LunchBuddy and I were both diverted from our conversation trying to tune out Mr. S by a movement at a nearby table. We inadvertently viewed a Grand Canyonesque crack gaping toward infinity. Lucky for LunchBuddy, her order-out lunch had not yet arrived. I, on the other hand, had to suppress the day-old DiGiorno rising past my goiter. So distracted and repulsed were we that for a moment, it sounded like Mr. S had said, "Back when I was a biker..."

We all know that S is a jack of all trades, but Biker was a new one for us. Upon further focusing, we found that he was talking about a time he was in a biker shop. Not that such a statement rules out his bikerism, but we would have heard about it before if he had a biking past. Hundreds of times. Mr. S asked if we knew that biker leathers ("You know, the leather clothing that they wear?" Yes. We are familiar with biker leathers. We have not been held captive in an underground bunker without TV for the last 20 years, Mr. S) are really expensive. Like about $800-$900 expensive. To which I replied, "Well, yes. They are made out of leather, after all."

I don't think Mr. S liked my comment very much. He has been rather distant since Mabel accosted him about the politics of health care. He must think I am Mabel's right-hand man in Hillbilly woman form. Mabel loves to stir the pot, but I have learned never to voice a real opinion to Mr. S. He is unreachable. It's like his eyes turn into those black-and-white swirly circle thingies that might hypnotize you. He spouts out factoids that only he knows, because he made them up. Like when he told the freshmen that 50% of people who get swine flu die, but that his doctor told him he didn't need the shot.

Back to the students making me crazy. There are many methods to their madness. One of their favorites is the I'll Turn It In Later Today game. Can't fool ME twice. I automatically record the score as ZERO. I can always change it if pigs fly. That's easier than leaving a grade hanging that you have to go back and mark ZERO at the end of the day. So far, I have not had to erase a ZERO yet.

Recent methods of vehicular insanity attempts include karate-chopping one's neck to see who can take it without choking, trading tests that are coded and passed out to specific students, coughing all over me (because his germs are a gift, due to the high opinion he has of himself, and I should be grateful they were bestowed upon me), and using my classroom as some kind of slacker cafe where one can relax with a 28% and socialize and eat snacks and text until a couple of days of suspension puts a damper on that little escapade like a Baby Ruth in a public pool.

These students are driving me crazy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chicken Central

No time for a witty discourse tonight. It is almost Survivor time. Time to bond with The Pony over reality TV.

Speaking of surviving...Chicken H moved his six baby chicks outside to a rabbit hutch last night. He must have thought that since the temperature reached 71 for one afternoon, they were ready. I'm surprised they didn't die of fright in last night's thunderstorm. The temp is supposed to dip into the 30s over the weekend.

I made Chicken H move his charges back inside for another week until they grow up a bit. I have already named one of them Ruth, and another one Charlene. Those seem like fitting names for the little birdies. They are cheeping up a storm right now.

Farmer H said they ran from him because they didn't want to come back inside. I told him he was an idiot, that baby chicks are not psychic. They ran from a big fat man hand that was trying to grab them. That's all.

He will make a hoarder out of me yet.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Save Us From Ourselves

How did people get so stupid? Back in the day, I did not know we had so many idiots running around. Or maybe they just kept quiet, because they KNEW they were idiots and didn't want to call attention to their idiocy.

Yesterday morning, one of the lead news stories on a St. Louis channel was a rockslide. Yep. "Whoop-ti-freakin'-do," to quote the stupidly deceased comedian Chris Farley. The reporter actually proclaimed, "Authorities do not yet know what caused the rock slide." Gimme a freakin' break already. Rocks the size of toasters fell from a cliff beside the highway. Um...let's put on our thinking caps and concentrate real hardly. you think...end of winter freezing/thawing season...overnight rain shower...gravity...BY CRACKY, I THINK I'VE GOT IT! The cracks in the rocks were widened by the freezing of water that seeped down into them over the past three months, and then the rain washed away some of the soil that had been holding the rocks, and the force of gravity pulled them downward, and they bounced onto the highway. Yeah. That's the ticket!

Then, on my way to work, there was an annoying light mist on the windshield, and the wipers of T-Hoe came on by themselves. Because people don't understand how to work those newfangled inventions, apparently. Or they don't know when it's raining unless they tilt back their head and look at the sky. What's next, a toilet that wipes your butt for you? They already flush themselves, you know. Because people are too stupid.

All I know is, I was quite thankful that I wasn't driving a Prius, because what would I do if my speedometer got stuck and I was barreling along the highway at 95 miles per hour, standing on my brake pedal, and using my cell phone to call for help? Actually, I KNOW what I would do. Put the freakin' transmission in NEUTRAL, baby! Then apply the brake and emergency brake until I stop. But I guess that would mean I had to put down my cell phone to shift into neutral.

Upon returning home from school, I went to put away the Peter Pan Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter that I had left on the counter, and saw on the back of the label, under the nutritional information and list of ingredients, a warning: CONTAINS PEANUTS. Jeez. Do you think?

We are in such sorry shape that I doubt people even know what handbaskets are anymore.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Blue Ribbon Gold Medal Day

Yesterday was a blue ribbon, gold medal day for the #1 son. He began the day by jumping out of bed the first time I woke him, explaining away this fluke behavior with: "Today I have something I want to get up for...the Math Contest."

Newmentia took our mathletes to the local junior college for the annual Math Contest. The #1 son and three cronies represented our freshman class. Mabel had provided practice problems early in the year, but of course #1 tried some of them the first day, and then tossed them aside until Sunday afternoon. He deigned to work through 25 of them, argued with me over FOIL, and that was that for practice.

This year the contest was divided into Big School and Small School divisions. HooRah! It's about time they made things as fair for academics as they do for sports. One school has traditionally dominated the math competition. Rumor has it that they have a CLASS just for Math Contest preparation. The Gummi Mary knows they have one for Science Fair preparation. A student who used to attend there spilled the beans when he was ours last year. He has since moved out of the Newmentia district. One can only speculate on whether his disappearance has anything to do with retribution.

Seeing as how I am a working woman, I was unable to attend the Math Contest festivities. I went for several years when it was held on a Saturday for Elementia students. The #1 son has not placed except for maybe a fourth place and fifth place way back in his tender years of 4th and 5th grade, when they gave more places. Now it is only 1st, 2nd, 3rd. I know how hard it is to sit in that theater and see that one school's kids run up for their awards, hoping and hoping that my child might get an award. And the disappointment when he does not. Not so much for myself, but for him, because he takes it hard. Three years with no award. Yet he's the best of his class. So imagine my surprise when he came back from the Math Contest and strode into my classroom after school with a bounce to his step and a twinkle in his eye.

After the hall traffic had cleared, he joined me outside my door and said, "Guess what?" Taking the bait, and knowing he wouldn't ask if he had returned empty-handed, I cautiously ventured, "You placed?" The #1 son reached into his pocket and pulled out a gold medal on a red, white, and blue ribbon, and said, "First Place, 9th Grade, Small Schools Division." I was ecstatic for him. The 9-10th Grade Team took 3rd Place overall. One of our 11th graders took 3rd Place individual. The 11th-12th Grade Team took 2nd Place overall.

Don't go thinkin' we're a one-room schoolhouse here at Newmentia. We're over 300 in our high school if I remember right. But it's hard to compete with those schools over 1000. Now the playing field is a bit leveler.

We took a quick trip to the optometrist for The Pony's broken glasses (where we couldn't get no satisfaction), and returned to Newmentia for the school Science Fair. I told the #1 son to wear his Math medal, because when else is he going to wear it, except on the evening of its winning. He refused because he thought it would make the judges not pick him for being arrogant. He did, however, show his cronies while waiting on the judging to begin. One said, "Oh, what was that in, the small schools division? That just means the stupid division." Well now. I did not notice Young Mister Bitter Blather with a 1st Place medal around HIS neck, stupid division or not. In fact, I did not even notice him being on the math team that went to the contest. Which pretty much says it all.

Oh, and #1 also won a blue ribbon for his science project, which he plans to rework for the junior college Science Fair coming up in three weeks. He just so happened to beat out Young Mister Bitter Blather, who was in the same category, and won the red ribbon. And for the record, I WAS NOT involved in the judging.

Just sayin'...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Thingama Bobber

There will be no posting on Monday night, due to the Newmentia Science Fair. We don't have as many entries this year as last, which may have something to do with those seven snow days disrupting our research, or which perhaps means that not as many students are jonesin' for bonus points. Last year's crop was a needful bunch. That cafeteria was packed to the rafters with scientific method, by cracky! In fact, we ran about an hour late due to judging issues. This year, we should be out of there in two shakes of a pullet's tail.

Last year was the year of the junkie. Pardon me for pointing out the obvious. A parent sat down at her child's display (in the seat reserved for the displayer) and proceeded to eat cookies and drink punch and bob her head ever-so-close to the tabletop before righting herself again. She was like one of those drinking bird thingamabobs. It only got our attention because, well, she was at the table directly in front of us, and she brought the entire family for supper like it was some kind of all-you-can-eat buffet. I take that back. She didn't bring anyone. The husband carted everybody over to the school. I doubt she could have walked herself there without lapsing unconscious. But that was no reason to bring the Displayer and two siblings and hubby and let them eat 3/4 of the cookies and drink half of the three gallons of punch that we provided for participants. Get it? Participants! Not audience. Not family. Participants!

Nobody wanted to say anything, because the siblings were elementary age, and it was not their fault that their mom and dad didn't feed them and they had to eat cookies and punch for supper. Of course, they should have been sated from their free breakfast and free lunch and free supper during the after-school program. But you know how kids have a hollow leg for a stomach, especially when mom and dad have a hollow head for a heart. ScienceBuddy said out of the side of her mouth, after commenting on which number trip the siblings last made to the cookie plate, of the mother, "Oh, look. The poor thing. She's sick." To which Basementia Buddy, newly arrived from her completed judging duties, replied, "She's higher than a freakin' kite!" Uh huh. Because she calls them as she sees them. That's how she rolls.

We don't expect a repeat performance this year. The Displayer is no longer in attendance. I'm not going to speculate why.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

All Things In Moderation

Call the excess police! Do it now! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is going to have a fit.

Chicken H has struck again. In a cowardly manner. While I was in Save-A-Lot buying peaches in light syrup and little breadstick dippy cheese snacks and a case of water, Chicken H called The Pony, who was cooling his heels in T-Hoe, to tell him he had just bought six more chickens. SIX! We already have 22. Upon returning his call, I was informed by Chicken H that this was a perfectly justifiable transaction, because they were just pullets. You know, like they're not going to grow into full-size chickens. Furthermore, some of the 22 chickens are getting ready to be killed, according to Chicken H, so they can be eaten. Not by my mouth. And not by The Pony or #1. We're funny about do-it-yourself fowl dishes.

Oh, and Chicken H went on to say that these pullets must stay in the Mansion, or they will freeze to death, but not to worry, they have had their shots. Something tells me these shots of which he speaks are not going to keep those pullets from pooping. When asked what kind of chickens they were, for example, a type such as Rhode Island Red, Leghorn, Plymouth Rock, etc., Chicken H replied, "They're Pullets." I swear, it was like Frank Costanza asking, "Let me understand, you got the hen, the chicken and the rooster. The rooster goes with the chicken. So, who's having sex with the hen?" Chicken H next tried to describe them. "They're brown with a black stripe down their back. They lay speckled eggs. Not speckled eggs. Colored eggs. Yeah. They lay colored eggs." He admitted that no, he had not bothered to ask what kind of chickens they were, and probably should have. But he assured me that they were all hens.

Reeling from chicken overload, I proceeded to the Post Office that smells like a dead mouse to buy some stamps while I still can on Saturday, and from there to buy some outrageously-priced gas, and on to The Devil's Playground. The Devil is cutting corners. Apparently, he does not expect customers to shop at 9:30 on a Saturday morning, so he only opens three 20-items or less checkouts, and two normal ones. Because nobody shops on Saturdays, you know.

I took the first normal checkout closest to my exit. There was a man emptying an overflowing cart. At first, I gave him props because he was unloading pile after pile of Great Value items, like every vegetable known to man, and 10 cans of tuna, and numerous boxes and bags of staples. I pegged him as a daycare provider's husband, or a once-a-month paycheck kind of guy. Then he turned around and stared at me. Several times. It was put two piles on the conveyor, and stare at me. I was getting perturbed. Am I not human? Do I not lash out when provoked? Can I not stand in line as the next customer while he unloads? Another dude pulled up behind me. I tapped my toes. I sighed. It had been 10 minutes. But Thrifty Guy was almost to the bottom of his cart. I was next. Then it happened. Thrifty Guy's missus wheeled up another overflowing cart, passed up me and After-Me Dude, and parked it beside Thrifty Guy's almost-empty cart. "Here's the rest of it," she said, and scurried away. Thrifty Guy mumbled something to her, and she said, "Well, I didn't think you were going to get in line!"

I was having none of it. The good part of being at the first normal checkout is that there is not another one blocking you in. It was clear sailing to the 20-items-or-less area. The bad part is that someone can bypass you with a full cart and cut in line. Anyhoo, I wheeled around and told After-Me Dude, "I'm taking my chances on another line." I took off to the other end of the store to the other normal checkout, where there was NO ONE waiting. I dumped out my stuff, forked over my debit card info, and rolled back to my exit. On the way, I wheeled with dramatic flourish past After-Me Dude, who was still not able to put his goodies on the conveyor. Mrs. Thrifty Guy had joined her old man, and they were trying to fit their survivalist cache back into their carts. I would furthermore disparage them for using a food stamp card, but I am sure they paid cash, because those food stamp card people buy steak and shrimp and brand names, not Great Value.

The NERVE of some people!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Don't Try This At Home

Thank the Gummi Mary, this crazy wasn't from Missouri. Congratulations, Michigan!

Thomas Heugel was arrested for performing circumcisions in his home. He is not a doctor. Yet men went there and paid him to circumcise them. WTF? It's not like they were going to their next-door neighbor and getting an amateur haircut. No sirree, Bob! What could a dude have running through his head that could make him submit to something of this sort? You'd think his hat was too tight. That he was not using his thinking cap. Maybe it was a misguided attempt at keeping up with the Johnsons. Perhaps the police knew it was just a matter of time before heads started to roll if they didn't nip this guy in the bud. Hats off to the cop who started this investigation.

According to the news report:

Neighbors are dumbfounded by the charges.

"We had Thanksgiving dinner with him about four years ago and everything was okay over there but obviously not," said Danneen Miller.

Let's get this straight. Four years ago, the neighbors had Thanksgiving dinner with The Lopper. And everything was OK over there. As opposed to freakin' WHAT? Did they think he would have offered to circumcise one of them while carving the turkey? Did they think there would have been just-circumcised men sitting around on the sofa in a makeshift recovery room? Did they think Thomas would have worn his white coat and said, "Call me Doc."

How could they NOT be dumbfounded? How could they possibly know what was going on inside Thomas's house? Surely they were not peeping though his windows, or eavesdropping with a Miracle Ear, or inspecting the private parts of people who went into and out of Thomas's home. Why blame the neighbors for being ignorant of Thomas's proclivities?

Note-To-Self, people: Do not go to a guy's bedroom for any type of surgery, even if he's wearing a white coat and says he's a doctor.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Three Skunk Night

This has been a three-skunk night, my friends. Literally.

I stayed after school for the #1 son's academic team competition. What's a 13-hour day when your kid is starring on the academic team, I say. They kind of stunk up the place, winning one and losing two matches, but they were without some varsity players, and the sophomores got moved up, and it was just my boy and four of his freshman cronies competing against three other schools' JV teams.

We left school and went to pick up The Pony at my mom's house where he was watching Survivor. We missed our TV bonding ritual tonight, The Pony and I. On the way home, T-Hoe drove through three skunky clouds hanging low over the roadway. Yes. Not one. Not two. THREE skunks blessed the Hillbilly vehicle with their fragrance. One was by my mom's house, which is at least in the country. One was in town by an old Coca Cola bottling plant that has been converted to a church. And the last was on our county road approaching the Mansion.

That's the kind of day I've had. A three-skunk kind of day. A day filled with science projects about freaks smiling at people in The Devil's Playground to see if smiling is contagious, and concluding that it is, really, but that some people are just plain rude for not smiling back at freaks who stand in The Devil's doorway and fake-smile at them with their lips while their eyes are announcing that they would like to eat the smilee's liver with some fava beans and a nice Kool Aid.

A day filled with bad listeners in the classroom audience who ask an experimenter why he grew his seed plants in pee cups, because they have spent their entire young lives texting, and have no inkling of how plants may be raised or what peat is or how real people talk with their mouths in a strange, backward way of communicating.

A day filled with project presenters who SAY they have done the experiment, but have no data and can not tell you what size eggs they tried to float in salt water and laugh at the suggestion that eggs come in cartons marked Grade A Small, Medium, Large, or Extra Large, or tell you that they measured the temperature of soda placed in ice water and it was 20 degrees, which is kind of odd, really, because they even admit that the freezing point of water is 32 degrees, and can't explain how their soda can be colder than ice.

But it sure beats yesterday, when a student went to the wastebasket first cat out of the bag, and started digging through the freaking trash, holding up items and exclaiming, "A Pringles can? WHO has been eating Pringles? And soft-batch COOKIES! Who has been eating COOKIES?" Like she's a world-renowned anthropologist excavating items of historical significance. Back off, Margaret Mead, don't get your panties in a wad, it's not like we threw a Pringles-and-Keebler party after slipping you a rohypnol. It only means that The Pony has run out of after-school snacks in his major food groups. And Note-To-Self, hon...normal people don't dig through wastebaskets in front of the whole class. Just sayin'...

The stinkers are out in full force this time of year.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Horror

Something is fishy about my Sonic soda. Something is amiss. I overcame my Sonic Cherry Diet Coke habit a while back, and went sodaless or imbibed A&W Diet Root Beer from a can housed in my own basement minifridge. Lately, I have been drawn to the Sonic Diet Coke With Lime. I will admit to doctoring it up when I get back to the Mansion, adding some extra lime juice and a tablespoon of sugar. Oh, come on! Like you've never added sugar to a Diet Coke! The sugar takes the edge off the lime. Considering that a 12 oz can of regular Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, I don't think it is scandalous that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom adds one tablespoon of sugar to her Route 44 Sonic Diet Coke With Lime. And she would never do such a thing if only Diet Coke was involved. It's the lime, stupid! That tart citrus solution needs a buffer before pooling in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's stomach. But we're not here to discuss HM's sugar peccadilloes.

Did you know that Sonic has a policy for dishing out drink fruit? Me neither. But I'm guessing they do, because each time I get a large Sonic Diet Coke With Lime, I get three fourths of a lime floating on top. And when I get the Route 44, I get four fourths of lime. And they must be very special limes, too, because there is nary a seed to spoil my dalliance with my little green friend. Here's what they do, those Sonic soda mixologists. They cut the top and bottom off the lime, and make two slices down through it. Not so that you see the little cross sections...the other way. And then they drop them on top of those delectable ice pellets that can not be replicated by nature or Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

When I get that magical elixir home, I rip off the lid, squeeze the juice out of the four lime slices before discarding their dehydrated skins, and add a squirt of real lime juice from a plastic squeeze bottle about yea high that I purchase at Save-A-Lot. It's not in the lime-shaped squeezie. That's not real lime juice. It's in a kind of elongated green plastic thingy, which has a tag that says it is REAL lime juice, and that it is imported, I'm thinking from Italy, but I don't know for sure, or even whether Italy is known for limes, since I'm not a citizen of the world. I then add my sugar, and my beverage is good to go. Good to go down to my basement lair for leisurely sipping.

You notice that I don't leave the limes in my cup. That is because they will eventually become Coke-logged, and sink to the bottom, where they interfere with the slurping of the straw. So I squeeze out the juice and toss the leftover pulp and peels. That's how I roll. It's a comforting routine. Until today.

I pried the lid off my Route 44 Sonic Diet Coke With Lime and picked up the first fourth of lime to squeeze out the sweet sour juice. Which is the point where my comforting routine went to H in a handbasket.


Ain't that a fine how-do-you-do? Upon further inspection, a total of three of the four lime fourths were found to be ABS. That means ALREADY BEEN SQUEEZED. That is OH SO WRONG! Nobody wants the Sonic dude squeezing her limes with his questionable fingers. You know how it squeeze the lime, and juice squirts out into the cup and some onto your hands and drips into the soda. And I don't notice the drive-thru Sonic soda jockeys wearing plastic gloves. But they sure dip into the fruit tray to sling in some sections of citrus. There's gotta be a law against barehandedly squeezing somebody's fruit. Sure, they could have used a squeezy-thingy with a round dealybobber at the end, and two handles like a nutcracker doodad. But I've never seen them do it. I didn't actually see this dude make my soda. But he was a new guy. He even forgot my straw, so I had to sit there blocking the drive-thru until he opened the window again. Oh, he looked clean enough, much in the way that Hillary Clinton was said to be likeable enough during the democratic primary debates. But that's really not very reassuring.

I'm hoping that is was just a matter of pre-squeezing, not a matter of taking the lime out of someone's returned soda and refruiting my drink.

I was hardly able to swill the whole thing down.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You Don't Know What You're Missing

My kids miss a lot of school. And not in the way you would think. Sure, The Pony has had a couple bouts of sickness this school year. In fact, he has been sent home twice for being sick. And missed the next day as well for still being sick. But wouldn't you know it? Guess who has qualified to go on the first semester incentive trip from Basementia. You got it: The Pony. How he qualifies for an incentive trip with all those absences is beyooooond me! I'm supposing that due to the swine flu machinations, absences have been creatively counted for incentive purposes. Or else The Pony is getting special favors because he is a good kid, which I sincerely hope is not the case. I know that I don't have any pull in that building, so the Hillbilly name had no effect.

But Newmentia has really cornered the market on school function absences. Let's see...#1 has been officially present but technically absent for singing to old people at Christmas, traveling to see a movie because a church gave the school tickets and a donation, a day in the gym to run the multimedia for a choir festival, an incentive trip to the bowling alley, upcoming Math Contest on Monday, the science fair at the end of the month, district music contest this month, and several others I'm either forgetting or have not been notified of as yet.

Tomorrow is the monthly club meeting day, so kids will be there but not really there for parts of the day. In two weeks we have parent conferences which let students out for a day and a half. Not to mention the WYSE competition and FCCLA and FBLA and some industrial arts doohicky and the anatomy class visit to the cadaver lab and the Spanish club trip to see Flamenco dancers (which may or may not happen again this year). But we'll round them all up and keep them in the building for the End Of Course tests when April commences.

The beginning of the end has begun.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Trying Times

It has been a trying day.

Before school started, a plethora of procrastinators barged into my sanctuary, blazing with the fever of last-minute-itis.

The #1 son complained that the book was wrong because he missed two questions out of 13. And in fact, the book WAS wrong on one of those two bad answers. Let it suffice to say that a graph showing increasing acceleration should not be a straight line, but a curved line.

It is cutting things a bit close when your dad has to bring your science project to school during the last 10 minutes of your class on the day you are scheduled to present, because he is putting on the finishing touches.

Saying that you are just joking when you barge in and demand to know why your child only got an 84 on the science project does not really make such behavior acceptable.

Home bound students should not expect a chance to redo assignments that they turned in partially complete, since regular students do not have the same privilege, in addition to not having 7 more hours a day free during which to complete such assignments.

My classroom is the Area 51 of Newmentia. I do not expect or allow willy-nilly intrusion after the school day. If I could put up Trespass Prohibited signs, I would. So I should not return from a 45-minute faculty meeting to find three students darting in and out of my room, and my desk drawer open, and my teacher scissors laid out on a student desk (when 9 pairs of student scissors were readily available with the project-making materials set out at the back table), and music blaring from some mini-electronic gewgaw, music that is not turned off until my third reminder, just because my own two children have access to my room, and know the rules and toe the line. Next time, I may just lock up and let my spawn sit in the hall until I return.

The #1 son learned that his sarcastic perpetual mouth can indeed cause Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to pull T-Hoe right out of the McDonald's drive-thru line and result in a detour to the store and a 60-minute delay in food flowing into his gullet.

Don't mess with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Word For The Wise, From The Unwise

You might want to make a note-to-self concerning late-night movie watching. Just in case. Just in case SNL royally sucks with JLo as host and musical guest, sucks so much that you keep nodding off to sleep in the first 15 minutes, necessitating the need for a change of channel.

But at 11:00 p.m., it is not advisable to watch a 1970s movie starring a young, hairless-chested Don Johnson and a fluffy talking dog, named aptly enough: A Boy and His Dog. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of a talking dog who steers horn-dog Donny-boy in the direction of scarcer-than-hen's-teeth females with whom to have his way. Because he has a good nose, that talking dog, who does not so much talk as telepathically communicate with his 19-year-old boy, as you can't see his canine lips moving, but you can hear his every thought. Add to that the fact that he's downright pissy for a man's best friend, and withholds information until young Don buys him some popcorn at a post-apocalyptic adult movie. Oh, but the best is still to come, when Donny follows a corn-fed little gal down below to a creepy underground small-town Fourth-of-July world complete with marching band and Mayberryesque townspeople who wear whiteface and have rosy Raggedy Ann and Andy cheeks. Since it is doubtful that you all will put in a rush order to Netflix to view this masterpiece, I am about to give away vital plot information. So LOOK AWAY if you don't want to read spoilers. OK, here they come: Donny has been tricked to lure him down below to be a procreating partner for 30 females. Well, not so much a partner in the way he wants, because he is actually more of a donor, what with the little gals being given away by their dads, signing a marriage license, and leaving with a vial of vital Donny fluids. But the best part of the whole movie is when Donny escapes with his little gal who wants a real partnership with him, and ends up feeding her to his doggy. Who has the final line of the movie: "Well, I'd certainly say she had marvelous judgment, Albert, if not particularly good taste."

As if that wasn't enough fine cinematic viewing for one night, I happened upon Requiem for a Dream, which I've seen before, and might even have the DVD stashed away somewhere. Let it suffice to say that this movie, though visually stimulating at times, has got to be the most depressing film to come along in quite some time. Not counting Schindler's List, of course.

I had some disturbing dreams which I can not recall, but vaguely remember that they ran along the lines of these movie plots.

I should have just stopped with my mid-morning viewing of The Manchurian Candidate while folding laundry.