Sunday, November 26, 2006

First World Tech, Third World Habits

It's not so often that Big Sam and I get out to a "real" movie theater these days. We've become addicted to the unusual films one can order through one of those major online dvd services, and no late fees! Considering that in the past I've built up some sizable debts owed to the local video store because I can't quite get those videos back by midnight, the online service is a blessing.

But I digress.

A year or two back one of the big movie chains built a new cinemaplex with all the bells and whistles a couple of towns away from us. It has a towering neon sign, multiple screens, an eight quintazillion calorie snack bar, and loads of brand new techno refinements on traditional necessities, especially in the restrooms.

It's amazing to me that one can simply wave one's hand in front of the paper towel dispenser and out come perfectly sized pieces of towel, ready to wipe off those last little traces of dampness. Even the dampness you wipe off is created automatically, because another wave of the hand underneath the faucet delivers a precisely timed cascade of water to rinse off the pre-foamed soap produced by the highly chromed dispenser, the need for which is created by the call of nature answered in the stall.

Ah, the stall. Surely here the high tech luxury stops, right? Wrong! Raise your bottom from the seat and, well, all embarrassing products are whisked from sight before you can open the door.

Now I wouldn't be talking about such indelicate things if there wasn't a point, would I, darlin'?

Don't worry, I'll get there!

The movie we saw was unremarkable, another action epic with multiple explosions of the manufactured variety. Made me think of Iraq, though, which is never uplifting, but Big Sam likes his action movies, that's for sure.

It was a loooong action epic, too, which led to my pressing need to take comfort in the refuge of the ladies room. I walked in expecting the pristine cleanliness that automata of the highest sort leads one to believe awaits. Boy, was I surprised! The paper towels spilled over the top of the trash containers and littered the floor for yards in every direction. The counter was scattered with used towels as well.

It made me rather leery of trying a stall, but the call of nature was insistent, so I began pushing open the stall doors, searching for a clean stall.

Remember, this is not a small restroom. This is a restroom that serves the umpteen screen megacinema, and it has upteen bathroom stalls as well. So I was pushing at stall doors for a good long, and this is what I saw.

Filth.

Everywhere, filth. If the seat wasn't wet, the bowl was unflushed. Worst of all were the piles of obviously used toilet paper in the corners behind the toilet itself.

Now this town is one that has changed the character of its residents in recent years to favor the newcomers from our neighbor to the south. But surely the cinema has help, probably from the same part of the hemisphere, to clean up. Nowhere was a sign that this had been done, not that I could see. It looked like it must have been hours and hordes of bathroom users since the last hygienic go-through.

How could this happen? I wondered, then remembered what a teacher friend had told me about how the recently-moved-from-south-of-the-border students at her school treated the girls room there.

"Now maybe it's because some overly frugal plumbers down south use pipes too small to carry the paper and waste from the toilet to its ultimate destination", she said, "but most of our girls don't put their toilet paper in the bowl. They drop it next to the toilet, because that's what they do back home."

Thinking about that and surveying the paper-strewn landscape before me, the clean freak part of me shuddered and cringed. The germophobe in me started thinking about whether I'd brought the the little tube of hand sanitizer with me. The coward in me retreated from the abominable scene. I could wait till we got home to use the toilet.

Now I don't know what you all think, but it seems like it must be at least a minor sin in God's economy to combine all that beautiful first world technology with those third world habits of hygiene.

It certainly is a shame, and bad for business.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I know the writer would not agree with me...

In Smithsonian magazine online (http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2006/november/mytown.php?page=1) Ellen Gilchrist, novelist, rhapsodizes about the blissfulness of living and writing in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where "...There is a welcoming naturalness to the land, and it is reflected in the people."

Her home of choice, Fayetteville is the ultimate in small towns, where everyone knows everyone else, and the links between lives are marvelously intricate precisely because the town is so small. Previously, she "...had been living in New Orleans, in a world of privilege, and I was never comfortable there. I have lived most of my life in small towns, and I'm in the habit of knowing and talking to everyone."

Her "...ancestors are highland Scots," and the hill country speaks to her. She understands its language and its people because they are so like her.

But the one thing she implies, but does not overtly admit, is that the likeness goes beyond the spiritual resonance to the racial. Small midwest towns cluster groups of us pale folks into comfortable little hives, comfortable because we are so much alike. Fayetteville, with its 84% white, non-Hispanic, population is precisely what the author sought without even knowing she was seeking. The hills of her Scottish ancestors riveted to the small town peace of similar people, like minds; who of us belonging to the same tribe would not find comfort in such an environment?

No wonder she has settled in "'...To Fayetteville, Arkansas,'....'My Paris and my Rome.'"

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Once more, you gotta love those Swedes!

"Christer Fuglesang, who is set to become the first Swedish astronaut to embark on a space mission next month, said Thursday he will bring a decidedly Scandinavian flavor to the food menu aboard the International Space Station."

What will Christer bring for the Christmas meal? "
...dried moose meat, crisp bread and gingerbread cookies, a Christmas favorite in Sweden."

Now I happen to like crisp bread, especially the kind that comes in big round wheels and stays fresh forever, but dried moose meat? Give me a break! Even my Swedish grandmother never suggested that at Christmastide. And of course gingerbread cookies are a clear favorite over the traditional brick of dried out fruitcake.

Dried moose meat. Harumph. He might just as well have offered lutefisk.

http://www.aftenposten.no/english/world/article1527061.ece


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Mixed-up Mixed Race

Teenagers always seem to be searching for their identities, and mixed-race teens are no slackers in that department. If anything it seems to ramp up the intensity of the search, and teachers get drawn into some awkward conversations with the wide-eyed and immature.

But that's par for the course, we expect those conversations. Tact and encouragement are things we try very hard to offer to the kids, no matter how wide-eyed and immature the person on the receiving end is.

One afternoon a boy I would never have pegged as being of mixed ethnicities asked me, "Miss Laurel, who's your favorite black musician?" His wide brown eyes held a hint of teacher challenge, so I thought it wisest to answer with inquiry. "Well, I don't really think too much about that subject, Aaron. There are a lot of good musicians out there. Mostly I just like the music or I don't. Why is the color of a musician's skin so important to you?"

His eyebrows drew together in a puzzled manner, as if he had been wondering that very thing for a long, long time. "Well, Miss Laurel, my dad is black and my mom is white, and all my life all I've been able to think about is skin color." His face had lost all challenge and he looked lost, and much younger than he actually was. That is, except for his eyes, great dark pools full of oily pain.

The only description I can give for the feeling I had then was pity. Pity for this boy and the suffering he had to endure as a result of the choices of his parents. Pity for all the children I've heard say something similar, harsher, or worse, many children with similar sad eyes who I've tried to comfort.

Pity.

PITY
, n.

[The Latin,Italian, Spanish and Portuguese languages unite pity and piety in the same word, and the word may be from the root of compassion; L. patior, to suffer.]

There could be no pity if someone didn't suffer, and there is no cure that I can offer.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Overheard Words: Thoughts After Unintentional Eavesdropping

I can't be sure, but I do think that teaching improves one's hearing. Teachers have been known to pick up the faint vibrations of sub-decibel conversations from the very back corner of the room and assign detentions to culprits they didn't even have to turn around to see, because they knew the tones of culprit vocalizations so well.

I know I fall in the category of teachers-whose-ears-are-finely-attuned, because I hear the oddest and most puzzling things sometimes. Two incidents were especially puzzling to me, because I have been told on good authority by those high above me that hispanic students really don't care about skin color, and are proud of being the nice shade of golden brown that many of them are, and that black children feel much the same way.

So how can one explain the quiet bickering I heard in my classroom when the lights were down for the movie clip? Three of my prettiest little latino girls were nattering at each other...about skin color! And they were going at each other with some fervor, albeit at reduced volume due to the movie (the content of the clip will be on the test). The tiny one with the darkest skin ragged on the girl whose Spanish forbears were obvious in her pale skin. But it wasn't what you might think, an expression of envy. La petite Mexicana told the Spanish girl she wasn't "Mexican enough" because her skin was too pale.

Of course, I couldn't have heard that, because I have it on good authority that hispanic children really don't care about things as trivial as skin color.

But teachers can't help but hear, the students talk way too loudly.

I was handing out the school picture packages to my period 1 class not too long after the first incident of hearing too well for my own good. Well, if the first little outburst was a bit of a shock, this one just floored me. Two of my black students were comparing their photos, which to my untrained eye looked like school photos anywhere; taken by someone who used to want to be a photographer before they got that job! But Latrisha and Kenisha, who are of no relation to each other besides sharing the same race, were bemoaning Latrisha's photos, because they made her look "too dark", and "too dark" was not what one wanted to be. In fact, they both agreed that a "little bit of white blood" made for prettier skin tones, and both bemoaned Latrisha's pure African complection. After much intense consultation, the girls decided that the pictures were "really bad" and participating in picture retake day was a certainty.

But I couldn't have been hearing that, could I? Because the higher authorities have also told me that African-Americans are proud of their heritage and could care less about their skin tone.

Yet teachers' hearing seems to improve with practice, and I know what I heard.

Kids care about skin, and it ain't all about acne.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My, How Things Have Changed in Our Part o' Town

Little Miss is showing more of her sparkle today, and the finally allowed shower was very welcome to her, although she found a little adhesived sensor still attached to her tummy these few days since her surgery.

She's showing enough of her sparkle to make some requests, or orders, or "Mama, could you's...?" The latest one was for protein, specifically chicken, rotisseried chicken from the very specific supermarket that is further away than the others by a fair piece. I will admit, it is the best, and the free "side" the market gives with it motivated me to mosey on over there.

The Deli Guy who helped me was wearing his visor upside down, Lord knows why. But he smiled, was helpful, and gave me just a shade over a pound of the macaroni salad I asked for, so I made sure I used his name when I thanked him so he wouldn't feel like a replaceable part rather than a human being.

I was looking forward to going home to enjoy the chicken with Little Miss, self-interest being something I am rather good at. Now this market is in a neighborhood that has rapidly hispanicized, if that's a word, in recent years. There were some anglos like me shopping or working there. You sure could tell who they were, because they towered over the sea of black-crowned brown heads that filled the rather busy store. But mostly the place was full of shoppers of the Latin persuasion.

I was about to check out when I noticed that the shopper in line directly in front of me had just left her cart smack in the aisle, blocking me from putting my items on the check-out belt, indeed, blocking me from doing just about anything except pushing the cart ahead of me so I could make on it up to the counter.

So I pushed. Politely, calmly, and efficiently. The little black-haired, brown-skinned shopper in the too-small top and mini-skirt ahead of me picked up her bags and left without a glance behind to make sure her cart had made it through the line. I was tempted to grumble, but did not. Rudeness afflicts all races, and manners are in short supply, so I like to come down on the side of manners, even when provoked.

I did allow myself the luxury of a minor grumble to the checker, a tall, thin woman with graying blond hair. She pushed her eyeglasses up on her nose and said, in a confidential tone, after looking carefully both ways, "Happens all the time. They just leave the carts wherever, block the aisle, you name it."

She looked carefully both ways once again. "I used to work here more often than I do now, and I'm glad they don't assign me to this store very much. It used to be a nice, clean store, but in the last couple of years it's turned into a pit." She pulled a torn-open, half-eaten bag of cookies from under the counter. "Look at this! They just take what they want from the shelves and eat it while they stroll around and just dump whatever they can't finish. We get carts full of this kind of stuff every day."

There were two responses I might have made; in the end I made neither. I could have made nice about how poor folks sometimes don't have manners, but I've known poor folks whose tiny homes were so clean you could eat off the floor and who always managed to teach their youngun's to say "Yes, Ma'am" and "No, Ma'am". They just weren't this brand of poor folks.

On the other hand, I could have encouraged her to fully vent her frustration on the topic, but what good would it do to put more attention on her dissatisfaction? She has to work, and they're assigning her to work here, and there wasn't any way that I could see that making her focus on her misery would help her. So that response was out. Still, I felt right sorry for her.

All I could do was trot out my very best "poor girl" manners, born and bred in me by parents who didn't have much, but knew how to make the best of things and people both.

"Ma'am, I am so sorry to hear of your troubles. Hope they get better soon!" Then I handed her my cash, took my change, and very, very carefully pushed my cart right through the check-out lane, out to my car, and then into the designated cart gathering aisle.

Care for the little things sure makes life pleasant for more people.

And, yes, the chicken was good.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Final Pathology Results are in...

Well, the final pathology on Little Miss' thyroid is not quite as trouble-free as we thought. She DID have a tiny 3mm microcarcinoma, which of course was completely removed. Her surgeon says these tiny ones don't really require any further treatment, although we will keep an eye on the other lobe that wasn't removed and get ultrasounds every six months for a while. Chances are very good there will be no further occurrence.

The surgeon also says it is just amazing that the biopsy doctor managed to hit that little thing as accurately as he did. I think God guided his hand, because Little Miss needed to get that little puppy out!

She is recuperating well, although she is still sleeping a lot. She is very self-conscious of the sutures on her neck (daughter of Frankenstein effect). She stays up for a few hours and then naps for a few.

Thanks,as always, for your prayers.
Laurel

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Demonstrated Mercy

Just wanted you all to know that Little Miss is now home from the hospital and resting peacefully in her own bed. She got through the surgery in fine shape (they only removed the lobe of the thyroid where the original combo cyst-nodule was), and the preliminary pathology report is much better than expected. Unless something is found during the final labs, it would appear that there is no cancer! So either the first biopsy was wrong (and all three labs that confirmed the results, including the fancy teaching hospital she had her surgery at) or the Lord has chosen to make His mercy known in a direct way.

I choose to believe the latter, and I am most grateful to the Lord for His demonstrated mercy, although I am a little tired (actually I think the word is exhausted) from all the hoopla.

Pray, please for Little Miss' swift recovery and successful return to college. Thanks for the depth of your caring and your sustained prayers.

God bless,
Laurel

Sunday, July 16, 2006

We Have a Date...

July 31st is the date for Little Miss' surgery. Please storm the Gates of Heaven on her behalf, you who are my Kith, you who are my Kin.

God bless,
Laurel

Friday, July 14, 2006

And the Wheel of Fortune Stops at...

The last few weeks have been more than miserable for Little Miss' Mama, who has become convinced that the current health insurance system in the U S of A needs to be completely revamped. At first it felt like a merry-go-round, from insurance web site to phone calls to talking to the not-so-intelligent front desk ladies at multiple doctors' offices, back to insurance company phone calls, to consultations with our family practice doctor, general surgeons, ENT surgeons, etc., etc., on ad infinitum.

Little Miss' Mama was feeling pretty much like she'd tripped in a revolving door and was lying there on the floor with each of the rapidly rotating door panels hitting her in the head as it spun around. Now, this was a feeling she wasn't too fond of, if you know what I mean, and it was compounded by the dastardly heat wave here in the land of LaLa, where no one needs air conditioning because "California's weather is PERFECT!" Sure. Right. Tell that to Little Miss and her Mama laying in their beds sweating in the dark each night while the inadequate fans attempt to move the air around. Tell that to the dreams of disaster floating in Mama's head each night, the dreams where the worst qualified surgeon is the one doing the surgery on her baby with a kitchen implement looking something like a sharp-edged ice cream scoop. Nasty dreams, sleepless nights.

But perhaps the revolving door has changed into the Wheel of Fortune at last, because the ENT surgeon recommended she see the Famous Thyroid Surgeon at the Famous Cancer Center, and even managed to get an appointment with him the next day. When the poor peons had called the Famous Doctor's office last week, they had been told he wasn't accepting appointments until late fall. Guess you have to be in the old boy doctor's network to move heaven and earth like that, but Little Miss' Mama and Little Miss ain't complainin', no how, no way. The Famous Doctor took her case, and the surgery should take place soon enough to let Little Miss recuperate enough to start her classes on time this August.

So...the Wheel of Fortune seems to have settled in a slot Little Miss and her Mama need for now...

God bless,
Laurel

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Little Miss, her Mama, and Things That Don't Happen to Young People, at Least That's What They Tell You

Little Miss had a lump at the base of her throat for a bit of time, but the doctor called it a goiter, tested for thyroid function, and left it at that. She was young, after all, and what goes wrong with the young? But her mama was dogged by the little knot in her gut that said something's wrong, even though she couldn't put her finger on what it was. So her mama pushed to the next step, and asked to be referred to a specialist.

Now this was a while ago, and the endocrinologist her insurance would cover was a good, if cautious, one. Little Miss' mama watched the screen anxiously as the ultrasound technician smeared goo all over Little Miss' throat and ran the probe over the lump. The technician put markers on the image that formed, markers that showed little nodules, several of them, in the image.

Her mama wasn't particularly scared at that point, because she'd read a pile o' info at Endocrineweb and knew most nodules were benign. When the endocrine Doc got a look at the image, he recommended they get another screen a year down the road, which is precisely what they did. Always follow the doctor's orders was the word from Little Miss' grandma, who had been a nurse back during the time of the Crimean War (well, not really that long ago, but sometimes it seems that way).

After looking at the second scan, the doctor didn't smile as much, and Little Miss' mama got a little more particularly scared. The doc said that one of the nodules was larger than the last time, and when Little MIss got back from college for the summer he'd like her to have a moment of torture, uh, no, what he really said was that he'd like her to have a fine needle biopsy of the nodule, just to make sure everything was ok.

Little Miss wasn't worried. Little Miss doesn't worry much, having the personality of a placid lake in the pines, accepting of the seasons that come her way. Mama's gut was ok for the most part, except for the tiny churn added to the sensation of having a knot down there. So she made sure the procedure was scheduled for June.

Little MIss asked her mama not to stay in the room while she had the biopsy, which is just as well. Some things you just don't want to watch. Little Miss told her mama that the doctor who had done the biopsy had said there was a nodule inside a cyst, and that he had drained the cyst and biopsied the hodule.

Well, now Mama was a wee bit more concerned, because she'd done more reading on Endocrineweb, and knew that this critter was something to be more concerned about. They waited for the endocrine doc to call and tell them everything was all right. They waited long enough for Mama to think all must be well, because if it was bad they'd call right away. She had just told her own mama this very thing when the cell phone rang. "Mama, I'll call you back, the doc is on the phone," she exclaimed, hanging up the land line.

Everyone knows that if a doctor calls and wants you to come to his office that afternoon, he's not the bearer of good news. So when that's precisely what Mama heard, a twist added itself to the churn which was attached to the knot in her gut. At precisely 2 p.m. Little Miss and Mama sat in his waiting room, Little Miss looking as perturbed as she ever gets, which is to say, not very perturbed at all. Without realizing it, Mama kept reading the same paragraph in the Readers Digest story over and over again.

The doc was as kind as he could be. The biopsy had been to two different labs to confirm the results, which is why it had taken so long. But the cells were "atypical, suggestive of but not 100% diagnostic" for throid cancer. The best kind of thyroid cancer, and the prognosis was good, but that ol' thyroid had to get out of there. The latter phrase was not his, of course, but that was what Little Miss and Mama knew he said in the middle of all the fancy words.

Little Miss looked a little more perturbed, and her mama's mind withdrew from the whole scene into a place where she could function and talk to the doctor but wasn't going to cry. Little Miss hated it when Mama cried.

It's just waiting now, waiting for the surgeon to see Little Miss. it's simply gratitude now, gratitude for living in the 21st Century and having doctors who can catch these things before they make for unexpected endings, medicines that can keep Little Miss functioning. But these things aren't supposed to happen to young people, people full of hope and dreams, people who carry their parent's dreams.

Yea, though we dream, the Lord directs our path.

Monday, June 19, 2006

My policy on comments...

I read a number of blogs, some of which I agree with and some of which I don't agree with. Some blogs are places where lively discussions take place with strong and sometimes logical positions taken on each side of the aisle. Other blogs' comment areas are just flamewars.

This got me thinking about the purpose of my blog, and the purpose of allowing comments here. I will try to explain.

My blog is not a place where theology is discussed in depth. I am not trained in it, although I appreciate very much those with greater understanding than mine. It is not a place where I state the final word on all things Kinist and expect the rest of the world to go along with my ideas. My blog is a place where I can ponder the nature of actions and consequences. I write about my observations, the things I see occurring around me. These are my personal observations, and I am sure many people don't agree with me, which leads me to my policy on comments.

Because my observations are personal, I moderate comments. This means that commenters who indulge in name-calling, poorly thought out deductions based on the things I have written, or speculations on the color of my neck will find that their comments never make it to blogger daylight. Less than mannerly posts, spam, and threats will be ignored.

So what kind of comments will I allow? The kind of comments that would not embarrass your great-aunt Evelyn! She always was a dainty flower, even in her youth, and had a fondness for intelligence and wit, as do I. She insisted upon perfect spelling and grammar as well. I, however, allow the occasional malapropism or typo. So think of her when you write! Her lavender-scented presence is never far from my sweetly curtained window into blogland.

God bless,
Laurel

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Unintended Consequences

Some of you know that I have been teaching longer than some small children and teenagers have been alive, so I've seen a lot of cultures come and go in the classroom. Goth and Emo, Jocks and Drama Queens, Gamers and Academics, Slackers and Barbies, you name the persuasion, they've all had a place for a time in my classroom.

The ethnic mix has changed as well, reflecting the changes in our surrounding community where the signs down Main St. are dual and sometimes triple language, English, Spanish, and fill-in-the-blank Asian. Many children are the product of mixed marriages as well, where integration has occurred on the cellular level, not just on the neighborhood level.

One might think, if one was optimistic, that the inclusion of all these different groups in the classroom would lead to peace and understanding among the races, but no dice. The conversations I overhear, intercept, and assign consequences for have become more and more racially charged, even to the point of entire conversations revolving around the race, its negative attributes, and personal background of each student involved.

It's not pretty, but I think it's educational for those of you out there in blogland to "hear" some sound clips I've heard lobbed around the campus in recent months. Obviously, the names have been eliminated to protect the "innocent".

Incident #1: Black student to white student across the room, loud enough for even the teacher to hear. "Hey, Cracker! Come help me with this problem." White student's response: "Can't do it right now." Black student: "(miscellaneous cuss words)".

Incident #2: Mexican student to white student, part of a longer discussion I am leaving out. "It's true, all Mexicans have Indian blood." White student: "But Vicente Fox is half Spanish and half Irish!" Mexican student, turning to third party to referee: "Isn't it true, all Mexicans have Indian blood?" Third party: "Uh, you look Spanish to me, and so does your sister." Mexican student fumes quietly.

Incident #3: Black student to Mexican student: "Hey, beaner! Bet you can't beat me up." Mexican student replies: "See you after school, nigger." Black student: "Why not now?"

Mixed race student: "My mom is from Guatemala and my dad is Chinese. What does that make me?"

Of course there are more, but these stand out in my mind. Why? They show that a) the name calling doesn't come from white kids, for the most part; b) race is very important to the kids, way more important than doing well in my class or avoiding punishment; and c) all this wackiness may lead to real fighting between the races.

I am reminded that the mixture of ants from different ant hills only turns into battle deluxe, until one group is eliminated and another dominates. Think Fire Ants, Argentine Ants, etc.

Not a pretty thought for someone who used to dream of harmonia humanitas.

God bless,
Laurel

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Virtuous Lady

To revere a minister to the point of accepting the idea that no matter that the minister has been deposed for cause by his denomination his calling is to be honored is not to be a virtuous lady, but to be a blindered mule.

And to twist the 5th commandment from Honor thy Father and Mother to honor an unworthy son is to twist God's word.

Have people forgotten the T in Tulip? The total depravity of mankind?


God bless those who seek righteousness.
Laurel

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Tain't What it's Cracked up to be!

As a product of the so-called age of the liberated woman, I have often wondered if the "fulfillment" of my profession is directly related to how tired I am. Well, I got the answer today in an article I read on Yahoo News, which I quote:

"Employed mothers reported spending on average 44 hours a week at their outside job and 49.8 hours at their home job, while the stay-at-home mother worked 91.6 hours a week, it showed."

93.80 working hours for the mom employed outside the home, on average. Well, in my daytime job we routinely work 50-60 hours a week with no overtime pay, so let's adjust those stats just a wee bit. 109.8 hours of work a week, my home job and outside job added together. Subtract those hours from the sleep I could possibly get if I weren't doing either job.

It would seem I am working 18.2 hours more than the stay-at-home mom, and sleeping 18.2 hours less.

Let me know when I am feeling fulfilled, y'all!

Please don't mind my yawn.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

With Thanks to Warren Harding

"The home is at last not merely the center, but truly the aim, the object and the purpose of all human organization. We do not seek to improve society in order that from better homes we may bring forth better servants of the state, more efficient cannon fodder for its armed forces; rather, we seek to make better homes in order that we may avoid the necessity for conflict and turmoil in our world.

"The home is the apex and the aim, the end rather than the means of our whole social system. So far as this world knows or can vision, there is no attainment more desireable than the happy and contented home."

--President Warren Harding

At least one President got it right.

How sad to live in a time where his words are turned on their ends, where being a servant of the state or really first-rate cannon fodder is considered more honorable than being the head and helpmeet of a happy and contented home.

Dreaming of a better day,
Laurel

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Good Bad Example

Just when you think you've shuffled all the cards in as many combinations as possible, the same cards keep getting dealt in the same order. Makes ya think there might be a law of nature involved, don't ya?

This morning I went for a walk, a luxury I don't often get, being as school starts at 0 dark thirty in the morning. I was enjoying the sunshine and quiet down at the park when I ran into a young lady of my acquaintance, the anglo wife of a military man of similar complexion, if you know what I mean. We had a lovely talk about the ideal weather we are enjoying out here in California, and I made friendly to her two tiny dogs. Now these two dogs had little girl names, not dawg names, and were dainty and well-kept, just like my young friend. She certainly makes you think the white race might be worthy of preservation!

But I digress.

She cuddled and treated those dogs just like they were children, and as our discussion progressed, she mentioned the fact that she and her husband weren't planning on having any children themselves. "These puppies are just like children to us."

I made muffled, non-committal noises in response, because they were about the only civil things I could get to come out of my mouth, and said I hoped I'd see her again one day but I had to keep walking or lose what little aerobic value my walk had. We parted with a nod and I labored up along the trail, fuming quietly.

Well, that's where I saw that law of nature demonstrated for the upteen-hundredth time, because coming down the trail from the parking lot was a squat little Mexican woman with one, two, three...keep counting...four, five, six shabbily-dressed urchins in tow. The little guys were ecstatic as they headed for the clean little playground with the sign that said "For Use of Residents Only". Funny, with housing prices the way they are around here, I couldn't see this little group as neighborhood residents. The mother looked as if she'd crossed the border yesterday, and had no English phrase to respond to my muttered "Morning."

When they settled in at the playground, which was empty till they showed up, the mother opened up the jug of water she'd hauled with her and poured some in a paper cup to give to the broad-faced boy in the yellow shirt.

As she poured out the drink for her son, I wondered which would have someone to defend them in the conflicts to come, my lovely anglo friend or this square-bodied, plain-looking, Mexican woman? As her son took the cup and drank deep of the water within, I saw the answer to my question in the adoring eyes he raised to his "madre."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Shaken, and Stirred

Aren't too many times when I quiver in my boots, being the sturdy-souled daughter of generations of sturdy Swedish women who could lift generations of calves without even breathing hard.

But there's plenty to quiver about, starting with marches 500,000 strong in Los Angeles and ending with the mob of 300 or so hoodlums who ditched their classes at the other local high schools and came marching right up to the front gate of our school's parking lot, led by shirtless boys waving the Mexican flag and followed by the local policia, whose presence kept the mob from turning ugly or invading our campus. We went into lockdown immediately. Now lockdowns are highly unpleasant both for students and staff, but there are times when they are truly justified, as today.

Hiding in a classroom with thirty scared, angry, and opinionated teenagers is an eye-opening experience. You get an earful of what the anglo kids REALLY think about some of the Mexican kids and their intelligence, and yet another earful of what the Mexican kids REALLY think are their rights because of the suffering of their people, and the two worlds don't exactly mix like James Bond's classic martini, shaken, not stirred, with a smooth cocktail resulting. No, ma'am.

More like shaken and stirred. People taking sides, lining up for the conflict they may face for years to come. And one little teacher juggling like mad, vainly trying to balance the teetering tower of discussion, trying desperately to keep it from falling down and breaking up into sharp edged impact in a room gone mad.

We stopped one petite revolutionary who wanted to march out of the classroom, down to the flagpole in the traffic circle, and pull down the American flag, replacing it with the Mexican flag. "Because we were here first," she cried.

So I am both shaken and stirred. Shaken by events, and stirred to defend my kind.

Your people may have been here first, but it's been ours for a good long and

We are here now.

Friday, January 20, 2006

EPIC: a frightening possibility

A friend sent this link to me. It's a little video, and I don't know whether this is likely to happen or not, but my goodness, it's creepy; all the more so because it has a grain of plausibility to it.

***************************from the website *************************

In the year 2014, The New York Times has gone offline.

The Fourth Estate's fortunes have waned.

What happened to the news?

And what is EPIC?

http://mccd.udc.es/orihuela/epic/

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Those Little White Window Stickers

I'm sure you all know which ones I mean. The ones on the back of the very large window of that SUV or van that have a white vinyl daddy and a mommy and kids, pets, etc., all represented accurately by gender if not by personal likeness. Sometimes you see the little white vinyl Calvin kneeling at the Cross sticker, only it's the modern boy-with-imagination Calvin, not the great Reformer.

I usually find them mildly reassuring (except for the ones that have boy-with-imagination Calvin peeing on La Migra), especially when the Cross ones are combined with those of a dad and mom plus a healthy number of little boys and girls lined up side by side. Even more reassuring when I pass the van and the mom and dad look a lot like members of my family, if you know what I mean.

But sometimes the sight is a little more disturbing, and today's just iced the cake. I was heading over to the post office to mail off a package and was stuck right behind the most massive, lichen green Expedition I'd ever seen. I swear it was twice the size of any monster SUV in the world and screamed domesticity and car pool from every wheel well.

Then I looked at the little white window stickers, of which there were a multitude. A Cowboy Calvin knelt at the foot of the Cross. Well, that's OK, I like country music myself, I thought. Then I glanced over at the family stickers. Daddy. All right there. Mama. Yee-ha! Curly-headed little girl. Cute! Then...cat...then cat...then cat. Hmm. Well, I like kitties. But where were the other children?

Wait! More stickers! Dog...then dog...then dog. Not so encouraging, and there were still stickers to be examined. In fact, the stickers streamed all the way across the back window of that oversized monster of an SUV.

The next sticker was a HORSE. Then another horse. Following those were two birds, in formation, one after the other.

I could only thank heaven those folks could only afford two horses, because if they could they'd have to buy another SUV in order to have enough little white window sticker space.

But something was really wrong with that window display, and I know I am getting up on my soapbox here, but y'all will put up with me, won't you? You've been good that way before, so bear with me, OK?

It's fine to love animals. I grew up around animals, and except for one ornery rooster I have fond memories of most of them. I would go back into a burning building to grab my cat and get her the heck out of there. But I KNOW she's not human, much as I love her.

There's something wrong with elevating animals to the status of children, and of having more of them than you have kids. Animals aren't human, and they won't help build back the ground we as a people have lost. They won't live long enough to see you through to your old age, and, while they won't steal your social security check, they won't read Little Geneva Report out loud to you once your eyesight is gone. (Of course, progeny who read Little Geneva Report out loud to you once your eyesight is gone aren't the kind of folks that steal social security checks anyhow.)

When people become less important than pets, we're in some serious trouble, folks. Because when we shuffle off this mortal coil and all that is left behind is a menagerie, there goes Western civ. Horses don't read Shakespeare. Cats don't imitate Bouguereau, although I've heard tell of one that paints...abstract art, of course. And what is a dog without a master to love? Only an animal that hunts in packs. Don't even mention birds...that rooster was a real no 'count.

I believe in Occidental culture. The Western world and civilization is worth preserving. For those of us of fertile years, that means producing enough people capable of appreciating what is has to offer to keep the whole thing going and create more of that culture. Then loving the munchkins enough to educate them about the best our civilization had produced, and training those kids to behave like the kind of people God requires us to be. Besides, children come with bonuses like hugs (and future grandkids).


So I'm grateful for the ample size of the vans, station wagons, and SUVs I see lined up at my church on Sundays. And I know that when I look at those back windows I'm not going to see one lone curly-headed vinyl urchin and a passel of pets, but a robust string of progeny, many arrows in the quivers God has given us.

"Nuff said. I'm off my soapbox now.

God bless,
Laurel