Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Box Of Books, A Case Of Wine, NPR, And Thou

Not sure if you got the memo or not, but

I'm Retired.

For real now, as of about 9:45 on July 22nd.  I completed my remaining 14 days of service that were required to Top Off My Tank and put me at a Full Thirty Years, and now I'm Officially Done.

It's...anticlimactic, thus far, really.  I'm on Summer Vacation, but it's starting to sink in, thanks to all the Back To School commercials and displays everywhere.  I'm still scatterbrained and fragmented, but I'm trying to pull it together so that Rick doesn't stick me in a Home.  To that end, I thought I'd dump a little of all my Cranium Crud on you.  Lucky, lucky.

~*~ For the 14 aforementioned days, which I referred to as My Fake Job, I unpacked 72 cartons of a Scholastic Guided Reading Program for an elementary school.  I diligently unpacked 60 books and 2-4 plastic tubs per carton, put a sticker on each book and 4 stickers on each tub.  Then I repacked each carton carefully so the books would not incur any folding or bending, then stacked the cartons back up.  I was in the room alone each day.  The best part was the book titles.  The ones for the littlest kids were so unintentionally funny.  One of my faves:  Chickens Aren't the Only Ones.  Some seemed sort of ominous, like I Know Karate and What Is It?  And lots of them had exclamation points, like Look! and We Like to Play!  I got extremely confused when I unpacked the Nonfiction Focus carton and found a Harry Potter book and an Ursula K. LeGuin book about flying cats. Hey, not my problem.  Retired!

~*~Rick bought me a GPS for a retirement present, and although it is not yet in my car, I am spending more time driving.  I am also trying to listen to the radio more, now that there is more quiet in my life.  True, I listen to NPR instead of music, but I'm starting slowly.  Which brings me to my next topic:  Oh, NPR, when I try to imagine for whom you are designing your programming, I become disoriented. Sitting in horrific traffic last week, cursing and making terribly dire assertions about the character of people I didn't even know, I suddenly became aware that the person on NPR was carrying on at length about the predation of bush pigs and how it was affected by the full moon. That is almost a quote, by the way.  Come on, NPR!  That is as bad as the last program that made me break up with you, which was the endless segment on Norwegian Folk Metal Music.

~*~Male readers--and former students who are easily embarrassed-- may want to skip this part.  It would seem, and I am typing one-handed whilst the other hand is rapping on the end-table--that my body has seen fit to shut down all of its Monthly Bullshit.  Finally.  Because let me tell you--and my children will attest to this--it has been no lawn party for anyone.  Alrighty then.  (It figures, I had just gotten the Massive Multipack that takes up the entire undersink cabinet, Boy Scout that I am.  Like undies, not the sort of thing you sell at a garage sale....)

~*~ We got some gorgeous wines on our jaunt to NotL, about 5 cases.  We were focused on reds, having drunk reds all during the fall and winter.  (We'll drink up all or most of our whites and roses this summer and restock those in October.)  I behaved myself and stuck to my vow to only taste reds, but Rick was all in--he tasted everything.  We found a really fun fruit wine this time, a plum wine at Caroline Cellars.  It's not real sweet, but very light and frisky, almost as if it were carbonated, but it's not.  With a good chill on it, it's the perfect summer patio drink. It would be lovely with spicy Asian food or tequila lime chicken wings.  Our uberscore was a case of '07 Merlot from one of our favorite Bench wineries, Vineland.  This wine was a special deal, and we couldn't resist.  Unlike Miles from Sideways, we do enjoy a Merlot, and this one is drinking so well right now.  Very nicely fruit forward with lots of dark cherry, cocoa, and a little mocha in the finish with smooth tannins.  We won't make this one wait.  And there are more, so many more!  And new wineries, too.

When people find out I am retired, the first thing they say is, "Congratulations!"  The next thing they say is, "What will you do now?"  Everyone expects more from me.  I don't know what to say.  Maybe I'll just make things up, like, "I'm going to medical school" or "I'm taking a wing-walking class" or "I'm selling Amway."  That last one would shut them the hell up.

Not sure if they got the memo or not.  I'm retired.

Monday, July 18, 2011

You Are Too Much For Me, Politics, You SOB! I Wish I Knew How To Quit You! My Look At The republican Field, Such As It Is.

The field of 2012 republican presidential candidates is still growing
 Oh, those republicans.  Look at them.  No, seriously:  LOOK AT THEM.  What a sad little herd they are.  All the Serious (R)epublicans are, right this minute, peeing themselves and saying, "Holy shit!  Get out your checkbooks and see if we can get Colin Powell to run!"  Because, really, have you LOOKED AT THEM?

I mean besides the picture provided at the top of the post.

I have, and it is, as my son Jared would say, a dumpster fire.

Nothing but unmitigated glee was in my heart the day Michele Bachmann formally announced her candidacy, for I knew that this was going to be a Sarah Palin/Christine O'Donnell Hybrid Run For The Flames.  That poor woman--she has no idea just how stupid she really, really is. I honestly believe that the media declared her the winner and lauded her performance at the "first big debate" in order to give her a false sense of security and encourage her to make more of her stunningly idiotic pronouncements.  It did not take long.  From declaring nine-year-old John Quincy Adams a Founding Father to saying that she wants to take the country back "from the people all across the nation," Mrs. Bachmann just keeps on proving that anyone can graduate from Oral Roberts with a degree in something.  Or that Minnesota voters just elect women who are somewhat attractive.  And, apparently, liars and hard of hearing or mulishly stubborn, as is showcased in this interview with the astute and patient gentleman, Bob Schieffer, in which she was confronted with her PolitiFact record and simply refused to answer his question multiple times. Need more Crazy?  Click here.  My prediction?  Pretty soon, she'll realize that she's in way over her airhead.  She'll do a CopOut Dropout and use this excuse:  "The constant negative media scrutiny and invasiveness was beginning to harm my family, including my TWENTY-THREE FOSTER CHILDREN.I cannot risk harming them or their privacy, which they deserve.  For their sake, I am reluctantly withdrawing my candidacy. Blah blah blah."  In the meantime, enjoy the show.

Poor Tim Pawlenty.  What on earth is he even about? ; No one, not even he, knows.  This Baloney On Wonderbread Factor is something that the media glommed on to right away, and poor Tim can't shake it.  He's just The Nondescript White Guy Without "It".  He's No Sizzle And No Steak.  And he can't get history right, either.  I saw that way back on 21 February of last year. That was when I took the governor to task about his lax interpretation of the Declaration of Independence and his bullshit parroting of republican doctrine. He basically said Nothing.  And now, when the media is magnifying that Vast Void, he is trying on a bunch of new personalities, like Peter Brady.  But he just sounds goofy and we all know it's just more Porkchops And Applesauce.  He won't last long; the media have already pronounced him DOA after Iowa, which is patently ridiculous, especially in light of the fact that Bachmann is leading there, but all the same, he's a goner, despite his cool, new, urban-chic nickname (yet it, too, has...unfortunate associations).  "T-Paw" is Toast.

"Don't Call Him A Washington Insider" Newt Gingrich is still hanging on, but even he isn't taking it seriously anymore.  This is the candidate who blamed Patriotism for his marital infidelity.  A man whose outstanding balance at Tiffany's is more than most people's net worth.  This guy goes on vacation and his whole staff just says, "Hey, everyone, now that he's gone, whaddya say we quit? Grab your coffee mug and I'll meet you outside in...say, five minutes?"  But let me tell you:  When Newt first announced he was In, I watched him on Meet the Press.  He got down and dirty and bashed Paul Ryan's Almighty Plan and told it how it was.  I was impressed.  Until a few days later.  That's when he caved to Limbaugh and his minions like all the other republicans and had to sob and placate and walk it back like a penitent supplicant.  What a load.  Newt won't go far, but he might be just enough of a sonuvabitch to stick around for a few primaries to be that sonuvabitch.

Oh, Rick Santorum.  He would amuse me if he weren't so scary, like a rogue clown at the circus that hangs around the tent flaps and pops out to scare children but says he didn't mean to.  There's just something awful and unseemly about him. And his Google Problem doesn't help, really.  Yet, he brought it on himself.  He is rampantly, frighteningly, misogynistically, homophobically, unrelentingly conservative with all the tonnage that brings.  He is Sarah Palin's twin, really, except for the Roman Catholic part.  For more of Rick's Ravings, click here.  What really frosts my cupcakes about Rick Santorum, though, is that he's just so maddeningly dumb. He thinks he's being triumphantly sharp and clever and erudite, like this defense against abortion:  "The question is -- and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer -- is that, is that human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no. Well if that person, human life is not a person, then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, 'No, we're going to decide who are people and who are not people.'" Oh, Rick Santorum.  It's not even that you're being racist here. It's...well, wait.  This says it for me. How long for Rick Santorum?  We've already seen the end of this movie in the last presidential primaries.

Mitt Romney, bless him, at least has a brain.  When the WackJobs over at some Christian fundamentalist conservative exclusionary society hauled out their Naughty Things List, Mitt said no.  He said signing any oath or pledge or God Warrior Scouts For Jesus Promise was a non-starter, and that the document "contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign."  That, the Brain Thing, and being a Mormon just lost Mitt all of the teabagger vote and there goes the republican base for the early primaries.  Add to that Massachusetts Mitt's Healthcare Albatross, and he just can't get a break. Mitt also made a lousy joke about feeling the pain of those without a job because he was also unemployed.  Wow.  Really?  This from a guy who most pundits agree lost the nomination in the last go-round because the perception of the (non-teabagger Christian fundamentalist God Warrior) republican electorate was that he tried to buy it. With his own moneyEntirely.  That, and he is a dead-ringer for the Muppet Guy Smiley, as I noted here in 2007.

I cannot even go on.  Herman Cain? The man's PAC is called "The Hermanator."  Ron Paul is getting to be like the old comedian Pat Paulsen or Lyndon LaRouche.  He keeps running for President of the United States, gets a few fans/supporters and a platform, and then what? ... Exactly. And of course the media are on High Alert S.Palin Watch.  Once she dropped the Paul Revere Quote and had to answer for that, she cut her summer vacation pretty short, didn't she?  Let's review that, though, because, well, it's just too wonderfully asinine not to wallow in its Snark Potential.  Remember, Sarah Failin' said that it was a typical "shout-out, gotcha-type question" that provoked this sad, gnarled, I-didn't-study-but-maybe-if-I-fill-up-the-space-the-teacher-will-just-give-me-credit-and-not-really-read-it, remedial second-grade response:
"He who warned, uh, the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms uh by ringing those bells and making sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed."  Oh, and that "gotcha" question?  Ahem.   “What have you seen so far today and what are you going to take away from your visit?” Oh, bless me.  I would have Ever So Much Fun if she decided to run, but she's in the perfect situation right now.  She has all the power and no responsibility whatsoever.  She can peddle her Crazy to the Faithful with impunity and get paid for it.  If she falls out of favour with The Media Machine, she and her husband can go somewhere outdoorsy or significant and become amourous, have another child, and name it after the place wherein they did it.  That's how they named all the other ones, obviously.

The republicans would love to be able to pin their hopes on Jon Huntsman..if he had not already worked for President Obama.  He's sane, he's smart, and he's moderate.  But he's a Mormon.  Can he or Mitt pull a JFK ("it's not what church I believe in but what kind of America I believe in")--or should they, even--and confront the republican base with at least that One of their Many Prejudices?  Sigh.  Not worth it.  Huntsman can't be The One either.  He favours civil unions and, as I said before, he's Mormon and moderate.  He's already done.

And can someone please tell me who is the Doodah advising Gov. Rick Perry?  Although considering how long it took for most of the republicans to wake up and really see Sarah Palin, I should not be surprised that he is considering entering this Clown Wagon Of Candidates.  This is the Texan who appeared at a teabagger rally and offered secession if Washington didn't snap to and behave itself while he was an acting governor.  I have to agree with my DemCrush James Carville who says, regarding a Perry candidacy, "He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in republicans."  Besides, America--think!  Republican, Texas...been there, done that.  At the risk of quoting Lord Help Me, Dr. Phil, "How'd that work for ya?"

 Right now, I have to say I'm not Entirely Thrilled with the Current President.  But run him up against any of these yahoos, and he looks like a winner.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

This Is My Brain...On A Bed Of Lettuce Leaves With A Side Of Summer Fragmentation. Would You Care To See The Wine List?

Remember how in seventh grade your health teacher would show you the Before and After pictures of lungs to demonstrate the Horrors And Evils Of Cigarette Smoking?


Now look at that nice, pinked-up brain on the left there.  There is No Way In Hell that my own personal brain looks like that. Mine is probably purply and twisty and sinister-looking.  Mine is not even a brain anymore; it is a Random Spasmodic Thought Fraughtenor. (And yes, I did just make up that last word because I do feel as if my brain and consciousness are besieged and fraught with thoughts most of the time.)  Does my brain not know that I AM RETIRED?!

Here is a random sampling of how I am beset by my RSTF (see above!):

**My eldest son, Jared, has a...rambunctious Twitter feed.  I read it online and frequently send him emails regarding its content.  Often, I harp about his lax spelling and grammar, primarily because I know that he knows better and secondarily because I know it stems solely from a vast ocean of laziness/unconcern.  He majored in English in college!  Back in June, I could not restrain myself or, rather, my RSTF could not, so I sent him this email: 
Sigh.  Really? An “affect/effect” error on your Twitter feed? Come ON. 
Immediately by return email came this brief missive: 

**So, I dare any of you to try and escape hearing or seeing any mention of The Royals!!!! when they are on the move or marrying someone or having children or anything.  Rick and I were on a lovely holiday jaunt up to Niagara-on-the-Lake, and of course WilliamandKate!!! were in Canada at the same time.  (This lessened the impact of my presence considerably, I'm sure.)  NotL's historic/famous Prince of Wales Hotel had its red carpet rolled out--literally--every day, even though The Cambridges!!! weren't going to be anywhere near there.  But I digress.  (Oh boy, do I. Wait 'til you see where I end up.)  Anyway, all the Wimbledon coverage was showing the crowd shots of Those Two, and there behind them was Billie Jean King.  My RSTF started working Overtime.  "Holy crap!" I said to Rick.  "Billie Jean is looking really rough!  And with that dark helmet of hair and dark glasses, she's starting to look like Roy Orbison!"  So, I start Googling pictures of BJK and Roy, and then, as I start looking at pictures of Roy Orbison, I notice something even more startling, this:

I know, right?  Do you see it, too?  Charlie Sheen is absolutely Roy Orbison.  (Yet, we all had to wander through NotL, Wimbledon, BJK, and The Royal Family (!!!) to get there, didn't we? Sorry. Blame my RSTF.  So calisthenic.)

**For those of you scoring at home, I am, in fact, fully aware that the brain "brain" in the picture at the top of this post is a fake.  It's a gelatin mold of a brain.  The human brain is probably more beige and not so uniform-looking.  I always used to tell my students that every time they learned a new piece of information, it made a new groove in their brains and that the more wrinkled and convoluted their brains were, the more intelligent they were.  That their brains were like a roadmap of their thoughts and ideas and that the more roads they had, the more efficiently their brains worked because they had more on- and off-ramps to knowledge--more connections/intersections.  The science is complete bullshit, but it sounds wonderful and it worked for years, both to impress teenagers and to make them want to be smart.  Damn, I was good.  Sigh.

Rick says I'm always this scattered and fragmented right at the start of summer break, and our jaunt north did do us both a lot of good. More about that later.  And the wines...always the wines.
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