Saturday, February 26, 2011

Don't you feel special??

Well here I go again fully locked and loaded to blog about something that irritates me to no end. I am a generally positive person, really I am.  I just can't understand people though.  Here it goes:

Jake and I went out for a really lovely dinner last night at a local Italian place.  It is a very small restaurant and when I say small, I mean less than 1,000 sq ft.  Being such a small restaurant makes it much more quaint and intimate, however, it also makes it very cramped, especially on a Friday night. 

We got there around 7pm and it was fairly busy when we entered.  There is literally no waiting area and so when you walk in the door you are in the dining room.  We got a table right away with no problems, thankfully, because it would have been awkward standing in the dining room waiting for a table to clear.  

We were seated, drinks and appetizers ordered when a group of three people sat down next to us. We were in a booth/chair table, which meant that the table next to us was really NEXT to us because the booth was adjoining to our table.  The group next to us consisted of what seemed to be a middle aged dad, wife and college aged daughter. 

Here's were the annoyance starts.  You know those annoying people that think because they have a cell phone that they should use it whenever and whereever and it makes them feel special?  Well, he sat next to us at dinner.  You know, they look at it constantly, checking their facebook or text messages.  They may even check it when they know that nothing has changed since they checked it 2 minutes ago.  But they feel important, special, and different from the crowd because they have a secret conversation going on that no one in the room is part of.  The problem is, and I'm just gonna say it, WE DON'T CARE! 

I don't care that you need to make yourself feel secure in a social environment by using a cell phone as a false sense of social standing.  I don't care that you went to Target today and got a pair of shoes on sale or your kid won his soccer game or that your mom is drinking again.  These are not things that need to be discussed while in the company of strangers in public.  You know this guy right?  He/she talks on the phone through the entire grocery shopping trip, at the library, in the bathroom (!), in line at the DMV, etc.  You get the picture. 

I realize that we live in a technology driven, instant communication age but some things should be considered whilst yapping on the phone.

1)  Consider your audience that is in close proximity.  (I was once in line at Kohl's and heard a guy talking to his friend on the phone.  He described in detail a girl he had been with.  Classless trash.)

2)  Consider if your conversation will bother others. 

3)  If your conversation is of a private and/or embarrassing nature, talk later while you're alone.  I don't want to accidentally overhear that your sister in law got arrested.
4)  Please talk in a volume that is pleasing to others.  Don't be the guy that yells and guffaws into the phone over a quiet dinner. Likewise, steer clear of loud, obnoxious ring tones that might go off at inappropriate times.  If you do choose to have one of those, know when to turn it down at the right moments.

My frustration with "important phone talkers" began when I worked at the flower shop.  These types would come in talking on their cell phone while shopping around the store. I always felt uncomfortable being present while someone was talking on the phone so I would find something else to do while they talked.  It would really irritate me when the second they were off the phone, they would be flustered because I wasn't right there waiting to take their orders.  Excuse me, but I think it's rude to stand and listen (or pretend that you're not) while a customer is on the phone, so don't get pissed if I find something else to do while you polish off the gossip about your best friend's divorce. 

I will be the first person to say that I'm not real 'hip' with cell phones and texting and in fact I really don't like it.  I think it's cool to have a fun ring tone and cute pictures on my phone but as far as cell phone etiquette, I see lots of rude offenders. 

So back to the story.... the guy next to us checked his phone, texted and re-checked all through dinner.  He was also a loud talker and what Jake and I call a 'tool bag'.  He was a know-it-all and very opinionated about everything.  He irritated me so bad that I almost want to text him and tell him to Shut the Hell Up! 

What really brought this whole rant about was that as the restaurant got busier as we sat, the bar slowly filled up with middle aged people with cell phones attached to their hands.  I noticed and pointed out to Jake that the cell phone has become this thing that will fill some kind of void.  It substitutes uncomfortable silence, being alone somewhere and not wanting to being alone, or social interaction all together.  (I just wonder if there have been any social psychology studies done on this topic?) 

As I watched the nameless check, text and re-check their phones as they stood at the bar, I felt sorry for them.  I wondered if they were lonely.  I wondered if they were able to fully appreciate the atmosphere of this adorable Italian restaurant, the hand painted walls, the low lighting, the wine cellar along the wall, the soft music playing.  I wondered these things because as they checked, texted, and rechecked, I was taking in my surroundings.  I felt sorry for them that they were so engrossed in whatever was going on in the their phone that they failed to enjoy what was right in front of them...this great evening with a pulsing atmosphere.  

I have seen this situation before last night.  I see people in movie theaters, doctors offices, bars, college classes, etc.  I just have to wonder what is the big deal with the phone?  You can only recheck the same text that you already looked at so many times before you realize how lame it really is.  Is checking and rechecking worth the sacrifice of face-to-face interaction  with real people?

So after all this being said, you will not believe what Dalai Dad did today!  He went and got new phones for him and I.  


Monday, February 21, 2011

An Oldie...but a goodie

While perusing my old MySpace profile ( yes I still have one and no I don't use it)  I found this uber-funny blog that I posted about 5 years ago.  Although it happened ages ago, it's still as funny today and as it was then.  ENJOY!

Aug 22, 2006

McTharp the Crime fighter

Current mood:ecstatic

Ok so you can call me McGruff the crime fighter. There was some serious Bartontucky drama last night in the hood.

Our story begins with Jake and I standing outside and talking about God knows what, when my eyes focus in on a young white kid walking down the street. But he wasn't just walking, he was scoping the hood; definitely a shady character. So I watched him, as I stood in the dark shadows of the night, as any good super hero would. He walked towards my neighbors car and just as he was going to try opening the passenger side door, a car drove by and scared him. He went up into the yard as if to go into the Colona Mansion. As the car went by, he proceeded back to the cars. He tried opening the passenger side doors to two trucks and then the car that was unlocked he opened and the dome light came on. I saw him lean inside and start sifting through the contents. At that point, I sprung into pro-active mode. This is BULLSHIT!!! Some little punk is not about to steal crap in my neighbors car!

Jake ran in and called the cops. As Jake was inside on the phone, I watched some more, the kid proceeded to the next truck and reached in it sifting through the contents. Then he kinda disappeared for a bit and that when I saw him in MY DRIVEWAY!! HELL NO! Our motion light came on at that point and scared him. He ducked down under the cars, but still didn't realize that he was being watched. At that point all adrenaline  kicked in. I yelled "HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" He looked shocked and surprised and walked toward me and said as he stumbled on his words "UH UH I was looking for a cat" As we walked bewildered across my yard and through the neighbors bushes, I cleverly replied, "Yeah in someones car?" At that exact moment the cops rolled up and caught him.  I sure did think he was gonna take off running but he didn't.

Anyways, the cop interviewed Jake and I and wrote down all of our info. I sat on my front steps the whole time they interrogated the kid. He denied it all the way saying he was looking for a cat. Denying the fact that he was opening cars. We notified the neighbors and no one was missing anything. My one neighbor said though if the kid would have tried the driver side of the truck, he had a MP3 player sitting in the front eat.

I got to hear them read the kid his rights, which is something I have never experienced first hand. I felt like a nark on one hand and a super citizen on the other. The cop thanked me and Jake for calling because this kid had been in trouble before for burglary and this could have been a spree that would have resulted in a huge loss of property. So the cops said "On behalf of me and who ever is working first shift tomorrow, thank you"

Wow, you just never know when I might have to fight the forces of evil again. Look out villains McTharp is on the look out!

Friday, February 11, 2011

This is why...

"It's been a few days since we've spoken and I was starting to miss you, " she said with tears in her eyes.  The wind softly fluttered her hair across her face and I felt the urge to brush it away......

So I have been on an extraordinary journey lately...writer's college (and sappy love stories).  As you may know, I teach second grade. You may ask, why are you taking writing classes, second graders can't write!  Oh contrare, my friends.  Not only can they write (ahem, up to 40 minutes sustained) but they can write well.  As a first year teacher I have accepted this mission and as the journey began I was utterly frustrated and bewildered as to how to teach 7 year olds how to write.

We begin our journey into the abyss in August of this school year.  My incoming second graders had some experience with writer's workshop so they knew what to expect.  My district has adopted the Lucy Calkins Units of Study and the students begin the program in Kindergarten.  That being said, my students were the first group that began in K.  So here we are two years later and fine tuning the art of writing for primary grades. 

When we began, I was sceptical.  I looked at my kids and thought I was being punk'd.  There was no way that by the end of the year these kids could write...sustained...for an hour!  We started out small as I stumbled my way through the books (Units of Study) that are pre-scripted and each lesson spelled out for the teacher.  I soon realized that the language in the book was cheesy and I could just read the lesson ahead of time and wing it.  My students had no discipline as far as talking, staying seated and disrupting others. 

After a month or so of struggling with them, I called in for backup.  Each new teacher in our district is assigned a building mentor.  Their job is to help me with basically anything I need help with.  I felt pretty secure on most aspects of my curriculum...except writing.  In addition, my principal offered that I may join the Teacher's College (through our district for professional development) Writer's Workshop training.  This would require a little extra on my part, but well worth it in the long run.

As my mentor and I planned, practiced, and conferred, we whittled away at the behavior issues that stood between us and a classroom full of engaged 7 year old writers.  Months passed and she showed me how to make the lessons my own.  I took notes and she taught me how to conference with each individual student on a daily basis...get this...while the other children were writing!  My first thought was that the minute I turned my back, someone would get hurt.  But guess what?  No one did and in fact, they continued to write!!

Amazing as it may sound, my kids that couldn't sit still and write their name on their paper just 6 months ago are now 'real' authors!  As we published our most recent pieces today, a student said to me, "Mrs. T. I feel like a real author.  Do you see how I revised this page?  I'm so excited!"  I smiled and walked away silently, because on the inside I was screaming screams of joy!  Crying tears of accomplishment! 

THIS is why I became a teacher!  THIS is why I worked so hard to be where I am today!  THIS is why I will come back tomorrow!

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011: By the Numbers

2011 By the Numbers (so far)

At School/Work:

3- Snow days used
2- Times I have rearranged my classroom
11- The average number of students that show up to school (in my class) on Fridays.
320- Minutes of audio books that I found online. (Thanks for all the help peeps.)

At Home/Personal Life:
3- Books read

1- Books finished from 2010
20- Minutes I cried after reading my first James Patterson book (Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas)
413- Page views to this here blog. (Pretty impressive since I just ramble about nothing!)
1- Summer homes purchased (I keep having to pinch myself, I'm so excited!)
4- Sippy cups found with curdled milk in them after being lost in the toy room/bedrooms.
1- Children I have successfully potty trained (yes, diaper free days are here again!)

40- Pounds of paper that I have recycled. (approx.)
4- Neighbors helped during the snow storm. (technically this is Jake's because he did all the plowing and digging, but I cheered him on!)
6- Boxes of Girl Scout cookies I bought and am so anxiously awaiting ( I did my part...for the children.)

There you have it. My year thus far.  I'm sure there are other more important things that I have done that I failed to mention, but this is what I could think of right now.  What's your year by the numbers been like?

We made it!

So, as it turns out, Snowmaggedon wasn't as terrible as we were led to believe. Although, we didn't have school for three days and there are now large snow mountains in every driveway, parking lot and on street corner. It has been a pretty uneventful weekend around here. I think we used up all are excitement last week during Snowmaggedon. I was,however, able to take a video tour of the Summer Home today. Enjoy!

You will notice that the interior needs some TLC but overall, I am ecstatic about this! Since we all didn't parish in the blizzard, I will be able to enjoy my summer home fully! I was really trying not to get my hopes up in case it caved in from all the snow or something. That would be my luck, you know.

Jake did get a power cord thingy that he fashioned and now the Summer Home has power. Like real power, I forgot to add that in the video that you can really turn on lights and stuff. He also bought a new stereo and speakers for it too. This will be nice when we want to rock out whilst relaxing on the veranda.

CHEERS! To the Summer Home and making it through the Blizzard of 2011!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Sorry, I said I would keep you updated and it's been over six hours since my last post.  I had facebook friends worried. 

This evening has been quite eventful with Thundersnow and lightening.  We were eating the dinner that I created  (with our rations) and all of a sudden a loud crash.  Then shortly after a huge flash of lightening and then another huge crash.  Thundersnow.  Google it, I didn't make that up.

Jake finally returned home in one piece and Ivan and I both don't have school again tomorrow.  The radio (see the survival list here) reports say that basically the snow trucks have given up for today and will attempt more street clearing tomorrow after the snow stops.  As of the last report, we have seen 9 inches so far but judging from the snow drifts in front of my house and garage, I would argue that measurement. 

People are still in an uproar on facebook about the weather and are all "this weather is crazy" and "Thundersnow and lightening!"  I sit back and take it all in and laugh. 

A funny conversation that Jake and I had when we got home.

Me:  People are all going nuts about the grocery stores and stuff.
Jake:  Yeah the Kroger here in town was completely out of eggs, bread and milk.  The only eggs left were a few dozen with a bunch of broken ones.  I saw an old lady taking the good ones out to make a full dozen.  Have people lost their minds?
Me:  Pretty much.

Jake is climbing the walls wanting to go out an plow (play on the four wheeler) the driveway and the neighbors' driveways.  He's sweet like that.  Although, tonight he did mention wearing a sign on his back that said "Plow your driveway $10."  He's sweet but also opportunistic. 

So far the electricity is still on but I will have my flashlight nearby, just in case I want to play flashlight tag later.

Snowmageddon Update

I will be posting throughout the day to keep you updated on the storm. (As I have nothing else to do.)
I have been corresponding all morning with people throughout the Midwest (my friends on facebook) and we have concluded that the new name for this storm is now Snowmageddon, so it will be further referred to. 

I have been taking photos of the impending storm and I will share them with you, but I warn you. They are shocking. 

This was taken at 11:04 CT

This photo was taken at 11:04 CT

This was taken at 12:30CT

This was taken at 12:30CT

This was taken at 1:24CT

This was taken at 1:24CT


This is the camper that I will be hiding out in, dreaming of summer days, if you can't find me come Spring.

You can see that we have a serious problem on our hands.  At approximately 2:20pm I went to the garage (in my pajamas and robe) to fetch some rations (soda) and I found I had to shovel my way out.  Luckily, my smart husband left the shovel next to the front door and the snow hadn't drifted far enough to cover it.  So, I shoveled my way to the garage.  I nearly died from the cold wind blowing across my bare feet (under my slippers).  As I shoveled my way to the garage, two hooligans tried to steal my shovel (my kids asking to come out and play in the snow) and I had to fight my way back to the house.  As I entered the house, people were screaming and running down the street (kids playing down the street in the snow). 

It's getting bad out there, I tell ya.  The children are growing restless and the anticipation of their father's return is killing us.  We have been waiting for days to hear from him (he went to work this morning) and he is not returning our calls.  I am starting to believe that either a) he got lost in a snow drift b) he was attacked by rioters for his truck or c) he is still working.  Whatever the case, we miss him and pray for his safe return.

Some tips that I have thought of, if you happen to be stuck in Snowmageddon 2011:
1.  Leave a shovel near your door, preferably not outside, since the rioting has begun.  You wouldn't want someone to steal it.  This way, if you need to leave the house, you can shovel your way out or use it as a weapon, whatever the case may be.

2.  Wear appropriate clothing.  Shoveling your way to the garage in pajamas, house slippers and rope are NOT appropriate attire.

3.  Keep a fishing pole, hooks, and line close by.  If we need to start hunting and foraging, you will thank me.

4.  Make sure you only bathe when necessary.  Reserve as much water as you can.  You may want to just fill the bathtub now, just in case.

5.  Keep a radio or (better yet) a police scanner going at all times.  This may feed into your paranoia but you will know what is going on at all times.

6.  Gather all the candles, matches and battery powered flashlights in one room.  That way it smells nice and you can play flashlight tag if you get bored.

7.  Don't let any stranger in your home.  This includes neighbors that you once thought were your friends.  In desperate times, you have to think smart.  Anyone outside your immediate family is now an enemy.  Don't let them take advantage of your skilled preparedness.  They should have filled their own bathtub with water.

8.  Have your cell phone fully charged in case the power goes out.  (That way you can still check your facebook.)

9.  Keep tuning in to Dalai Mama for updates.  As long as I can, I will be here, keeping you updated.  So as long as I have power and the rioters don't break down the door!


Blizzard Armageddon 2011

WARNING:  Severely Sarcastic Narrative Ahead

As the end is upon us, I am technically not snowed in yet but the storm is edging its way towards Central IL.  As if I weren't tired of winter enough already, now we have a "blizzard" heading our way and all the chaos and paranoia that surrounds it.

We live in IL and yes, we have snow.  Lots of it.  I can't believe the hype that this snow has brought with it.  In the last two days I have heard/seen the following conversations:

News casters:  As people of Central IL prepare for the blizzard, grocery stores are keeping busy.  People swarming to stock up on milk, water and perishable,s flood local merchants.

A conversation between friends on facebook: 
A local news website has the following updates on the blizzard: 

A photo of my local grocery store meat section:

A sarcastic conversation between my mom and I before she left my house this morning (trying to beat the storm home):

Me:  Are you prepared for the blizzard?
Mom:  Yes, I have groceries, medicine and blankets.
Me:  But are you prepared for the power going out?  What will you do if the power is out?
Mom:  Yes, I have lots of quilts.
Me:  But are you prepared for when the rioting starts and people break down your door for those quilts?
Mom: Ummm, yes.
Me:  Do you have a weapon?
Mom:  I have a baseball bat.

A video clip of my mom leaving my house into the said storm (sorry mom but it was too funny not to post):

I can not believe the way people are acting about this whole thing.  Are we so far out of touch that we have to swarm a grocery store and stock up on water and food for a possible two days of being snowed in?  What makes this so different from my weekends that I don't leave the house?  You would think that the end has come and Armageddon is upon us! 

Are we going to have to defend ourselves against criminals that will want our supplies?  Do I really need 10 gallons of bottled water?  Do I really need two weeks worth of meat and perishables?  Should I load my weapon and set up a command post in my basement?  Because the way that people are talking is like this is the end.

As I sit and look out my window at about an inch of snow in my yard, I wonder, is this it?  Of all the things that I have done in my life, will snow do me in?  I have so many things I wanted to do.  So many places to go and people to see.  So many books to read and ideas to invent.  I will miss my family and friends most of all.  If you are reading this please know that I loved them with all my being. 

Take care dogs, sweet Phoebe and ferocious Winston, for you are on your own now.  Please don't eat me, instead move on in your journey in life.  Take shelter in the woods with the other feral dogs.  Be smart and stay low, scavenge what you can.

As the storm closes in, I take inventory of my supplies.  We have enough milk to last maybe a week.  Enough meat and peanut butter to last twice that.  If we can just make it through these first few days, I think we might make it.  After that, the future is unsure. 

I will never get to enjoy that camper we just bought, but my dreams were enough to last a lifetime.  If you come looking for me, search the camper in the yard, I may be curled up, frozen in the corner, trying to grasp the dreams I had of sunny days at the lake.  With bare feet you will find me, with what remains of a Mr. Heater and propane tanks that are empty.  Don't feel sad for my loss.  Be proud that I weathered the storm and made it two whole days in this Blizzard Armageddon 2011.  CHEERS!