Friday, January 25, 2013

The Yips

I'm a little worried about myself, like any self-respecting hypochondriac always is. But this time, instead of thinking I have some rare cancer or previously-thought vanquished disease like trench foot, I think I am losing my mind.  The mind is a very important thing to a hypochondriac.  How am I supposed to worry about every little thing if I can't even remember what I'm supposed to be worried about? 

Here's why I think I'm losing it:  I forgot my debit card PIN number.  I have had the same card and the same number for five or six years. (I can't remember how long I've had the card. (OMG.))  I have used this card for almost every purchase I have made for years and the other day when I gave the card to Sam to buy some gas, I tried to remember the number to tell him and it wouldn't come to me.  I had to go in the gas station with him to make the purchase myself because I thought that once I was faced with the keypad the number would come to me.  It didn't.  Then I thought that I had just psyched myself out and I would remember it when I was not under pressure.  I didn't.  Then a few days later, I FORGOT THAT I FORGOT THE NUMBER and went to the grocery store and after everything was rung up, I had to punch in my code and I still didn't know it.  I tried several combinations and they were all wrong.  "Ho-ly SHIT!" I thought to myself.  I had to write a check for my groceries.  A CHECK.

Then on Monday I was supposed to go to the dentist.  I like my dentist, he's cute and he's nice to me.  I was kind of looking forward to it.  I had a 9:20 appointment.  The previous Friday the dental office called me to confirm the appointment.  And they texted me.  And it was on my calendar in my phone.  Monday morning I totally spaced it out and forgot to go.  At 9:30 the receptionist called me to see if I was on my way.  "My way to what?" I said.  "Um, your appointment," she said.  "Crap," I said. 

At this point I was feeling like maybe Mitch should start looking into nursing homes for me.  Early-onset Alzheimer's is tragic and I didn't want him to have to deal with it.  I told him that when I got really bad and couldn't remember my children or him, he should kill me.  He said, "Why wait?"  That's when I decided to fight it.  The first thing I would do is find out my damn PIN number so I can buy stuff.  I looked in my file cabinet and didn't find it.  Then I remembered that when I first got the card I wrote the PIN on the top right corner of the back of a check register.  Then I remembered where I put that particular check register and found the number!  That's a pretty amazing feat for someone with Alzheimer's!  I found the check register and recovered my number (which still isn't even vaguely familiar. Yikes.) and committed it to memory.  I still haven't tried to use it because I'm scared it won't work. 

What do you think?  Should I be worried?  Has this kind of memory lapse happened to any of you?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Movie Review No. 2: Les Miserables

I know I already wrote a review of Les Miserables, but I don't feel like I did it justice.  I really REALLY loved this movie.  In case you've never seen a production of the musical, it's about a group of people struggling through the French Revolution.  Hugh Jackman is Valjean, the main character.  Russell Crowe is Javert, the policeman and antagonist to Valjean.  Anne Hathaway is the single-mother factory worker-turned syphilitic prostitute. Valjean promises to take care of her daughter when she dies.  He raises her but is always on the run from Javert.  And so on.  If you don't know the rest, go see the movie.

I LOVE Hugh Jackman.  And it's not just because he's so handsome.  Or that he is Wolverine.  I like all the movies he's been in (except maybe Van Helsing).  And he has a real-life wife who seems normal and sensible who he loves.  That's pretty cool.  He was a fabulous Valjean.  His voice gets a little too Kathryn Hepburn-quavery for my taste sometimes though, but what do I know?

I've heard a lot of criticism about Russell Crowe playing Javert.  I don't get it.  I thought he was fantastic.  Javert is a tough, no-nonsense, black-and-white hardass, and Crowe played that perfectly.  I liked his singing too.  What was wrong with it???  I don't get your beef, Adam Lambert, so just shut it.

Anne Hathaway has always kind of bugged me because she's such a beautiful doofus.  Despite that I thought she was outstanding. OUTSTANDING. She has earned any and every award she gets for her part in this movie, no matter how annoying her acceptance speeches may be. (Blerg) The woman starved herself and lost 25 pounds in a few weeks, had her gorgeous head of hair chopped off onscreen, and sang that song how it's supposed to be sung (I'm talking to you, Susan Boyle) with her whole face filling the screen.  She was awesome.

The kid that played Gavroche was fantastic.  The first time I saw the movie I watched him with my jaw hanging open.  He's so good.  His part is small but man, he was good.

I liked Sacha Baron Cohen as Thenardier too.  He was a smooth con-man.  He was great.  So was Madam Thenardier played by Helena Bonham Carter.

Samantha Barks was a name I never heard before this movie but she was another one that I watched with my mouth hanging open.  She's a perfect Eponine.  Perfect.  When she sang "Little Fall of Rain" with Eddie Redmayne I was weep-choking.

I'm not really one to cry at movies but this one had me crying in several spots.  Usually I avoid movies that can do that to me because who wants to cry in public?  Not me.  This was a good cry though.  I cried during Anne Hathaway's raw rendition of I Dreamed a Dream.  No, I didn't cry.  That implies that I had a single solitary pretty tear flowing down my cheek.  That's not how it was.  My face was contorted and my nose was running.  It would have been embarrassing if I was the only one who was doing it, but every other person in the theater was sniffling too.  The other place that got me was when Marius (Eddie Redmayne) sang "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables."  Weepy bawling.  So good.  And of course, when Eponine died and sang "Little Fall of Rain."  Weep-choking.

"A little fall of rain can't hurt me now.  (Because I've been gut shot and I'm going to
bleed  and die here in the rain next to a boy I love who loves someone else. )"

I bought the soundtrack which is wonderful but is lacking some key songs from the movie.  I'm hoping there will be an additional volume coming out sometime or else I will have to wait for the movie to come out on DVD and just play that all the time.

If you haven't seen it, you should.  It is one of the best movies I've seen in a very long time.  Except for the sewer part.  That part still bugs me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Last night I went to a program at school that the PTA was sponsoring.  It was given by a group called MinnCan.  It's an educational reform group.  They are basically a lobby group whose aim is to make public schools better. I'm all for a political lobby group that wants to make public schools better, but I am highly suspicious of this particular group. They successfully lobbied the Minnesota Legislature to pass a bill that allows for "alternative" teacher licensure. This basically means that anyone with a bachelor's degree can be  certified to be a teacher with FIVE WEEKS of training.  Americore is one of the outfits that provides "teachers" in this way.  These young college grads take a summer course after they graduate with degrees in anything from marketing to nursing to engineering, and in a miraculous five weeks they can get enough credentials to go into a public schools to teach, all on their own, classes with 35+ kids.  But you know what? Their education and experience isn't nearly as important as their heart and enthusiasm and if they believe they can make a difference! EEEEEEEEEEEEE❤!!!❤!!


I have a real problem with that.  If the goal is to improve public schools and to close the achievement gap, isn't putting unprepared people who are not teachers in the classroom in charge of teaching the kids, the exact opposite of what you want to do? And isn't that obvious?  So why would a supposed educational advocacy group want to do that?

I went to this program with a group of about twenty teachers and I was easily the least educated person in the bunch, and I've had five-plus years of college dedicated to the sole purpose of educating children.  Altogether I've done almost 20 weeks just student teaching to get various degrees and certifications.

Before the program I was talking with a man who is in his fifties and has been teaching for decades.  He was telling me about all these new apps he's using with his geography class.  He's also doing an educational fellowship.  And then the program started.  It was called "Improv to Improve" and it was supposed to be an improv group doing an entertaining show about public education.  The gist was that old teachers and methods are obsolete and we need new blood in education.  What a kick in the teeth.  I was sitting in a group of people who together have had hundreds of years of teaching experience and we were being told that old is bad and obsolete, and new and young is better.  Screw education and experience; to improve education, we need to employ LESS educated, experienced and prepared people.  Please.

The teachers watched the show and clapped politely, but when it ended, we were asked if there were any questions. Oh, there were questions.  The teachers wanted to know what MinnCan's stance is on teacher seniority, alternative licensure,  union busting and other specifics.  The MinnCan people cut the Q and A portion short and told us they had another improv performance for us instead.  No thanks.

But I guess I have to look at the silver lining of "alternative licensure."  If a nurse can be a teacher, then it only makes sense that with a few weeks of preparation, a teacher can become a nurse.  Or a lawyer.  Or an airline pilot.  When the alternative licensure law came up in Minnesota I wrote a post about all the things I will be doing when anyone with a bachelor's degree can do anything they want.  Here it is again:


Minnesota legislators are soon going to vote on a bill that would allow people with a bachelor's degree, but no teacher training, become teachers!  You could spend four years in college, get a degree in underwater basket weaving and then get out and teach school! All you will have to do is take a 200 hour crash course in teaching.  (I was a real sucker for taking over five years to learn to be a teacher.  It apparently only takes five weeks.)

The second having to have a license or any kind of specific training to practice a profession is moot, I think I will try out all kinds of things, why not! I have a bachelor's degree!  I can do anything!

The first thing I'm going to do is become a nurse.  RNs  have bachelor's degrees, I have a bachelor's degree, therefore, according to the Minnesota legislature, I could probably do a pretty decent job of being a nurse. Better than the old hags that have been doing it for decades, anyway! I'm new! I'm fresh! And I want some scrubs.  However, I'm kind of squeamish so as soon as bodily fluids come into play, I'm out.  Kind of like when I joined track in high school to get the cool sweatsuit, but then learned I was expected to run. Every day. Yeah, right.

Then I think I'll be an electrician.  I use electricity literally all the time.  In fact, I'm using it right this minute. I'm an electricity expert; flip switch up: on.  Flip switch down: off.  I'm trained (enough)!  I have a bachelor's degree in education.  I'm educated.  If I'm educated, I can do anything, right?  All that's been in my way are these pesky standards and licenses!

Need anything rewired?

Oh, you know what I'd really like to do?  Fly commercial airliners!  I'm sure that YEAR LONG course I suffered through: Methods and Materials of Teaching Secondary English will really help out with takeoffs and landings. Once I get my job being a pilot, flying will be much more pleasant (for me).  Trips go by so much faster when I'm the driver.  I have lots of experience driving a car, and a little bit driving a boat, and I actually took over the yolk (that's what they call it!) in a small plane and controlled it myself once for about five minutes (actual flying experience).  I'm totally qualified.

Then I think I'll become an architect for a while.  I live in a building, I go in buildings all the time, I've built Sims houses.  I could do it.  I'm qualified because I have a bachelor's degree, and more importantly, I BELIEVE❤ I could be an architect although I have a degree in English Education; just like some Minnesota legislators believe that anyone with a four-year degree can walk into a classroom and teach 30 kids.  Easy.

If this bill passes and you can do ANYTHING with your bachelor's degree, what do you want to do?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I'm Elderly

My boy got his driver's license.  I have a son who DRIVES A CAR BY HIMSELF.  God, I'm old.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Science Whiz

Kira entered a project in the science fair and won a first place ribbon for her project on why skates glide in the physics category!  No, YOU shut up!

Here she is getting her award and a big handshake from her teacher.  They announced the third place first, then second place, and then first.  She was disappointed but hopeful when she didn't get third.  She started to panic and was about to lose it a little when she didn't get second, and was totally surprised when she got first.  Now she gets to go to the regional science fair at UMD in a few weeks!  Wish her luck!

Blue Ribbon, Baby!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Kira in the Car

Kira: Dad, if you got in an accident and got your legs chopped off and they brought you to the hospital, but didn't have any more human legs in the freezer, but they had horse legs, pig legs and dog legs, which legs would you want them to put on you?

Mitch:............... I guess horse legs.

Kira:  Dad, don't be dumb, if you had horse legs you'd be about seven feet tall!


Kira: Dad, if you had to choose between a baby alligator and an adult platypus to have for a pet, which would you choose?

Mitch: Adult platypus.

Kira:  What if it sweat milk?  Would you still want it?

Mitch: ....... no.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Movie Review: Les Miserables

I went to see Les Miserables on New Year's Day.  It. Was. Awesome.  You should see it.  The only part I had a problem with was when Jean Valjean dragged an unconscious and flesh-wounded Marius through a fully functioning sewer.  Not very hygienic.  The people of revolutionary Paris needed more fiber.  Yuck.  It reminded me of the time when Sam was five years old and he broke his leg.  He had an external fixator that he had to wear for a couple of months.  It was an external bar that was screwed into his femur in three places so he had open wounds that I was responsible for keeping free from infection.  Talk about stress.  The doctor only made it worse by saying, "If there is any redness or fever bring him to an emergency room IMMEDIATELY!"  Needless to say I was frantic most of the time for those couple of months.

During that time Sam was invited to a birthday party for one of his little preschool buddies.  It told him I would take him because he needed to do something fun.  I knew the mother from picking up and dropping off the kids at preschool.  She was a very nice lady.  What I didn't know about her, and never would have suspected, is that she lived in abject squalor.  Her house was a nightmare.  There were piles of what I hope was animal poop in various stages of dryness on the floor.  There were food stains all over the walls of her kitchen as if there had been a cafeteria food fight, and she had upholstered dining room chairs that were covered with crusty stains. How do people spill that much food?  Some of the kids were outside playing with the hose and thought it would be funny to squirt it into the kitchen window.  The mom laughed and didn't tell them to stop it.   I almost started crying when I carried my baby with open wounds into this figurative sewer, much like Jean Valjean must have felt when he dragged Marius through the actual sewer.

I told myself that we would stay for half an hour and then I'd make some excuse to get the hell out of there.  I sat on the very edge of the filthy couch and tried not to smell the smells I was smelling when a disgusting little wiener dog walked into the middle of the room and peed the longest pee in the world right on the floor next to the kids.  I jumped up and said, "Your dog is peeing!"  and the nice filthy lady just laughed and waved it off like, "Oh, he's always doing that."  NOBODY CLEANED IT UP!  It just sat there, saturating the rug and the carpet pad.  I told Sam it was time to go.  He didn't fuss much about it like I thought he would, instead he said, in front of everyone, "Okay, but I have to poop first."  I was going to have to take my open-wound boy into the bathroom of the dirtiest people in the world.  I said, "You can hold it til we get home," and he said, "Nope, I really have to go."  I couldn't decide if he really did have to go or if this was just another stop on his tour of every strange bathroom in the world, and then I had to decide what would be worse, holding my son six inches off the toilet in what was sure to be a biohazard bathroom, or having him crap his pants.  I opted for the biohazard bathroom.  I suppose that is much how Jean Valjean felt when he had to decide whether to leave Marius at the barricade to get killed by the French army, or drag him through the sewer and save his life.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Seafood and Computer Magic

Okay, I've really sucked at blogging lately.   I have to get back on the ball.  First of all, I want to tell you about the high points of Christmas.  I told you before about the presents my sister Beth has gotten me over the years: the appliance box of old rated R VHS tapes for my kids; the case of dollar store fish-n-crackers; the receipt for a case of Diet coke she bought me the previous summer that I forgot to pay her back for, wrapped nicely in a box with a bow.

Well, this year I was looking for something for her.  I got her some nice(ish) things but I wanted to get her one more thing.  I shopped around and couldn't decide on anything.  So I went to the dollar store to get some wrap and tape and stuff.  I looked through the food aisle to see if they still had the same fish-n-crackers.  They did, along with a surprisingly wide variety of canned fish.  I know, I thought, I'll get her a seafood extravaganza!  Who doesn't love sea food?  I got her a box of the fish-n-crackers she loves so much, a can of tuna, a tin of kipper snacks, a tin of anchovies, and best of all a dented, dusty can of clams.  I got a cute basket and a teeny bottle of Asti Spumanti (to class it up) and wrapped it up beautifully.  She loved it.  Who wouldn't?

Over Christmas I also learned that my dad is a gifted computer whiz.  We were going to Skype with my sister Amy who is in Afghanistan right now (she's in the service, not on vacation) and my dad couldn't remember his Skype password.  We told him to reset it.  So he clicked the "I forgot my password" button and Skype sent him a link to make up a new password.  He couldn't get it to work so he handed me the computer in frustration and told me to do it.  I said, "What password did you choose?"  He couldn't remember the password he made up two minutes before.  No, I shouldn't say that, he couldn't remember if it was the dog's name, or the dog's name1.  It was either/or.  I figured it out by typing one, then typing the other to see which one would work.  He was amazed.

While I was there I used his computer to go on Facebook and I forgot to log myself out.  Then I got this email:

UMmmmmmmmmmmm, Sarah you turd! You dicked around with my Facebook setting so when I click on it, your page comes up, not mine. How do I get it back to mine. Next time you come up I get to spend an hour using your computer and we'll see how you like it. Why has my typeface changed? NOW What did you do to this computer? Dad

Yeah, that's right, I can now make his computer switch to italics anytime I want.  Don't mess with me or I'll do it to you too.