Friday, October 31, 2003

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

And lo, the night of Trick or Treating did approach. And GreenTuna returneth to her home, bringing with her the commandments for observing a most right Halloween. And she brought forth TinyTuna, and sat her down so she may hear again those familiar words of the season. And GreenTuna began by offering a prayer that truly, this might be the one year when the commandments would be heard and followed, and the her child would behave in a manner befitting of her age and station, and not as an embarrassing Philistine, as is often the case. When the prayer was completeth, GreenTuna opened the commandments, gave TinyTuna the look of death, and began to speak, saying,

1. Thou shalt say "Trick or Treat" at each and every door. Thou shalt not say "Bring Me a Shrubbery" as that was a one-year only exception that verily didst bring great joy to the elders. Thou shalt add neither "Arrrrgh" nor "Ahoy Me Mateys" within the Treat or Treat plea, for verily, thou choseth not to be a pirate, despite the pleas of thine mother.

2. Thou shalt say "Thank You" at each and every door post-treat. Failure to do so will result in being sent back to say it.

3. Thou shalt say all door sayings in a voice loud to tumble the walls of Jericho and loud enough so all grown ups can hear it. We shall not accept "but I DID say it" in that whiny elementary school voice that thou useth and we abhorreth so greatly.

4. Thou shalt use sidewalks where they exist and thou shalt refrain from trampling the neighbor's flowers.

5. Thou shalt hold hands or stand within grabbing range of an adult when crossing the street.

6. Thou shalt not trick or treat past the sanctioned time of 8pm. Furthermore, the window for trick or treating may be slammeth shut early by thine elders if thou art too cranky, or not following the rules.

7. Thou shalt eat no candy until the time we returneth home. There shalt be no exceptions to this rule, so thou wouldst be wise to hear these words plainly, and not ask a second time.

8. Honor thy mother and bring her offerings of Milk Duds, SweeTarts and a Mini Snickers, for lo, it is good in her sight.

9. Thou shalt not fight with thy cousin, for all fights cause distress to parents and maketh the venemous bile of anger arise in the mother. Thou shalt not fight over: who gets the biggest piece of pizza for dinner, who gets what to drink, who stands in the middle for pictures, who reaches the trick or treat porch first, who rings the doorbell first, who knocks on the door first, who takes candy out of the bowl first, who says trick or treat the loudest, who says trick or treat first, who says thank you the loudest, who says thank you first, who tells on the other cousin first about whatever infraction the child deems has occurred, who decides which side of the street to go down first, and so on and so on and so on. Thou shalt remember that thou art the child and haveth no power whatsoever. Thou shalt remember the parents giveth and the parents taketh away, and this includes candy, privileges and other things thou holdest dear to thine over-competitive heart. Thou shalt do well to remember this rule all of your days.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy cousin's candy, for verily thou and thine cousin didst visit the same homes. Thou shalt have one piece following trick or treating and the rest shall be saved for later for verily, thy candy lies in numbers greater than the stars of heaven. If thou canst remember and follow these commandments, thou might have candy all your days -- or at least until that time when thy parent tires of the hassle, and taketh the rest to work. For lo, the boss finds favor with chocolate and the co-workers eateth anything.

Amen. Or Else.
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THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

And lo, the night of Trick or Treating did approach. And GreenTuna returneth to her home, bringing with her the commandments for observing a most right Halloween. And she brought forth TinyTuna, and sat her down so she may hear again those familiar words of the season. And GreenTuna began by offering a prayer that truly, this might be the one year when the commandments would be heard and followed, and the her child would behave in a manner befitting of her age and station, and not as an embarrassing Philistine, as is often the case. When the prayer was completeth, GreenTuna opened the commandments, gave TinyTuna the look of death, and began to speak, saying,

1. Thou shalt say "Trick or Treat" at each and every door. Thou shalt not say "Bring Me a Shrubbery" as that was a one-year only exception that verily didst bring great joy to the elders. Thou shalt add neither "Arrrrgh" nor "Ahoy Me Mateys" within the Treat or Treat plea, for verily, thou choseth not to be a pirate, despite the pleas of thine mother.

2. Thou shalt say "Thank You" at each and every door post-treat. Failure to do so will result in being sent back to say it.

3. Thou shalt say all door sayings in a voice loud to tumble the walls of Jericho and loud enough so all grown ups can hear it. We shall not accept "but I DID say it" in that whiny elementary school voice that thou useth and we abhorreth so greatly.

4. Thou shalt use sidewalks where they exist and thou shalt refrain from trampling the neighbor's flowers.

5. Thou shalt hold hands or stand within grabbing range of an adult when crossing the street.

6. Thou shalt not trick or treat past the sanctioned time of 8pm. Furthermore, the window for trick or treating may be slammeth shut early by thine elders if thou art too cranky, or not following the rules.

7. Thou shalt eat no candy until the time we returneth home. There shalt be no exceptions to this rule, so thou wouldst be wise to hear these words plainly, and not ask a second time.

8. Honor thy mother and bring her offerings of Milk Duds, SweeTarts and a Mini Snickers, for lo, it is good in her sight.

9. Thou shalt not fight with thy cousin, for all fights cause distress to parents and maketh the venemous bile of anger arise in the mother. Thou shalt not fight over: who gets the biggest piece of pizza for dinner, who gets what to drink, who stands in the middle for pictures, who reaches the trick or treat porch first, who rings the doorbell first, who knocks on the door first, who takes candy out of the bowl first, who says trick or treat the loudest, who says trick or treat first, who says thank you the loudest, who says thank you first, who tells on the other cousin first about whatever infraction the child deems has occurred, who decides which side of the street to go down first, and so on and so on and so on. Thou shalt remember that thou art the child and haveth no power whatsoever. Thou shalt remember the parents giveth and the parents taketh away, and this includes candy, privileges and other things thou holdest dear to thine over-competitive heart. Thou shalt do well to remember this rule all of your days.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy cousin's candy, for verily thou and thine cousin didst visit the same homes. Thou shalt have one piece following trick or treating and the rest shall be saved for later for verily, thy candy lies in numbers greater than the stars of heaven. If thou canst remember and follow these commandments, thou might have candy all your days -- or at least until that time when thy parent tires of the hassle, and taketh the rest to work. For lo, the boss finds favor with chocolate and the co-workers eateth anything.

Amen. Or Else.
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TRICK OR TREAT

Trick: Halloween 2003. TinyTuna was up at 6am.

Treat: Weather forecast: Dry, sixty degrees from 6pm - 8pm.



Trick: Discovering your place of employment (A University Library of all things) is open until 5pm on Christmas Eve.

Treat: Talking your boss into covering the shift. "Yay church!"



Trick: Survivor 7 "Outcasts" get to return to play again.

Treat: Survivor 7 "Outcasts" win the challenge.

Trick: Jon did not get voted out. Drake must be on crack.

Treat: Osten quits. Probst yells at him. Osten is denied any final words.



Trick: Adult Halloween get together tonight. I'll be attending as my slightly taller twin.

Treat: I get to hang with my forgiving friends, who will love me with or without a costume *ahem* (hopefully)



Trick: It's Friday, and it's only 9:25am. The morning crawleth.

Treat: It's Friday. 'Nuff said.



More later.

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TRICK OR TREAT
Trick: Halloween 2003. TinyTuna was up at 6am.
Treat: Weather forecast: Dry, sixty degrees from 6pm - 8pm.

Trick: Discovering your place of employment (A University Library of all things) is open until 5pm on Christmas Eve.
Treat: Talking your boss into covering the shift. "Yay church!"

Trick: Survivor 7 "Outcasts" get to return to play again.
Treat: Survivor 7 "Outcasts" win the challenge.
Trick: Jon did not get voted out. Drake must be on crack.
Treat: Osten quits. Probst yells at him. Osten is denied any final words.

Trick: Adult Halloween get together tonight. I'll be attending as my slightly taller twin.
Treat: I get to hang with my forgiving friends, who will love me with or without a costume *ahem* (hopefully)

Trick: It's Friday, and it's only 9:25am. The morning crawleth.
Treat: It's Friday. 'Nuff said.

More later.
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Thursday, October 30, 2003

WHO COULD ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE?

Good Thing: The weather Gods are finding great favor with my sacrificial offerings. Friday forecast is high of 66, with the weather projected to be a lovely 60 degrees from 6-8pm. I'm not getting cocky (see: Drake Tribe, Survivor 7), so I'm keeping those duds a-flowing. It looks promising.



Good Thing: Sick student today has an hour lesson. Double bonus points! I could actually go forth and purchase a lunch within driving distance rather than dashing to 7-11, but I have too much to do, so I think I'll have to pass.



Good Thing: I'm in a Kum-ba-yah I love my job kind of mood today. Actually I'm in a I love music kind of day. The hour long trek up here is a drag, but there is nothing better than grabbing a handful of CDs (Jazz today, because that's what my baby singers are working on) and having a big listening, singing, jam session in my car. There are so many things I want to sing, and hear and teach these kids -- it is unbelievably exciting to me. I'm sure after awhile they think I need to cool it. But, music speaks to me in incredibly powerful ways. The melody, the harmony, the rhythm and the text....each song has its own personality, its own story and its own message. This is what I get to discover every day.



Who could ask for anything more?

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WHO COULD ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE?
Good Thing: The weather Gods are finding great favor with my sacrificial offerings. Friday forecast is high of 66, with the weather projected to be a lovely 60 degrees from 6-8pm. I'm not getting cocky (see: Drake Tribe, Survivor 7), so I'm keeping those duds a-flowing. It looks promising.

Good Thing: Sick student today has an hour lesson. Double bonus points! I could actually go forth and purchase a lunch within driving distance rather than dashing to 7-11, but I have too much to do, so I think I'll have to pass.

Good Thing: I'm in a Kum-ba-yah I love my job kind of mood today. Actually I'm in a I love music kind of day. The hour long trek up here is a drag, but there is nothing better than grabbing a handful of CDs (Jazz today, because that's what my baby singers are working on) and having a big listening, singing, jam session in my car. There are so many things I want to sing, and hear and teach these kids -- it is unbelievably exciting to me. I'm sure after awhile they think I need to cool it. But, music speaks to me in incredibly powerful ways. The melody, the harmony, the rhythm and the text....each song has its own personality, its own story and its own message. This is what I get to discover every day.

Who could ask for anything more?
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WAITS AND MEASURES

Number of minutes I made TinyTuna's fourth grade teacher shell out compliments before I told her to feel free to "speak freely" because I was well aware TinyTuna doesn't walk on water

One

Number of days I have to wait until the BIG (CAPS LOCK!!) Survivor with the SHOCKING Twist

Zero

Number of minutes I laughed during the new hella-funny Praise Jesus episode of South Park

Thirty

Number of times I murmured "I love this show" while Bartlett ripped Amy apart on The West Wing

Three

Number of people I worry will think I don't know the saying is Weights and Measures and not Waits and Measures

Ate

Number of people I worry will think I spelled that last answer wrong two

Won

Number of hours I have until I'm supposed to be awake again

Six.



Goodnight.

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WAITS AND MEASURES
Number of minutes I made TinyTuna's fourth grade teacher shell out compliments before I told her to feel free to "speak freely" because I was well aware TinyTuna doesn't walk on water
One
Number of days I have to wait until the BIG (CAPS LOCK!!) Survivor with the SHOCKING Twist
Zero
Number of minutes I laughed during the new hella-funny Praise Jesus episode of South Park
Thirty
Number of times I murmured "I love this show" while Bartlett ripped Amy apart on The West Wing
Three
Number of people I worry will think I don't know the saying is Weights and Measures and not Waits and Measures
Ate
Number of people I worry will think I spelled that last answer wrong two
Won
Number of hours I have until I'm supposed to be awake again
Six.

Goodnight.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

MEREDIEM IMPONDERABILIS

Doesn't this look fancy? First I called it "Imponderables", but then imponderable didn't seem like a word, even in a leaned-down kind of way. So I made it Latin. I don't know why. Oh, I know why. I looked up "Imponderable" in my handy-dandy online dictionary, and found the Latin word. I thought it was a sign. I bet some Roman Legionnaire is pretty impressed right now. Great Caesar's ghost, I digress. Therefore I am.



But. Over the lunch hour. Thing number one that made me go Hmmmmm.......

I had to pick up TinyTuna from school because it's a half-day. Now, keep in mind it is a half-day for all elementary schools in TunaVille, so it's probably upwards of one thousand children all getting out of school at precisely 12:13pm. (I don't get that time part either. I've stopped asking.) So, fact one is one thousand children = hundreds and hundreds of cars to pick up said children all at the same time. Now, it is also fall in mitten country, which means thousands and thousands of dead leaves as far as the eye can see and the foot can scuffle (weather permitting). TunaVille residents are allowed to take their dead leaves and push them all to the edge of their property. Then, the giant leaf-sucking machine drives by and sucks up the leaves for mulch or whatever. Some TunaVille residents don't like to pile leaves on their grass for fear that it will kill the grass that already looks like crap because of the lack of rain all summer. So these residents rake their leaves into the street. It usually isn't too big of a problem unless there is a lot of rain, which makes everything a slippery leafy mess.



So. Back to our fact. Kids everywhere. Cars everywhere. As I pull into the subdivision where the school is located, the scene looks like something out of Nightmare on Elm-Leaf Street. Every single intersection has an enormous pile of leaves, blocking 3/4 of all traffic lanes. There must have been thirty-five leaf piles scattered all over the neighborhood smack-dab in the middle of an intersection. And Goober, on his backhoe, is busy making more leaf piles. All I can guess is the TunaVille City Council did not recognize this week as "Do Not Push Leaves Into Big Piles On Half-Days" week, because if any idiot had taken two seconds to look at the calendar, they would have recognized the potential chaos.



Thing number two that made me go Hmmmmm.......

The setting: Lunch at a grocery store lunch counter / salad bar area.

The time: Lunch time.

Activity Number One: Push chairs around. Ignore people eating lunch.

Activity Number Two: Push chairs around. Ignore people eating lunch.



Activity Number One was performed by a two year old. Activity Number Two was performed by an adult, presumed to be a parent of said child. These two activities went on for forty-five minutes without the courtesy of an intermission. The only difference between the two activities was the child was ignoring everyone in the room as chairs went indiscriminately careening into nearby table legs and shins. After pushing the chairs back to their original location, the parent would ignore everyone in the room (including the child) and eat lunch. On and on and on it went. As annoying as it was, after awhile, I was rooting for the kid. Go on. Do it again. Will she move all those chairs back just ONE more time? Yep. she did.



Hmmmmmmmmmmm

Leaned Down.

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MEREDIEM IMPONDERABILIS
Doesn't this look fancy? First I called it "Imponderables", but then imponderable didn't seem like a word, even in a leaned-down kind of way. So I made it Latin. I don't know why. Oh, I know why. I looked up "Imponderable" in my handy-dandy online dictionary, and found the Latin word. I thought it was a sign. I bet some Roman Legionnaire is pretty impressed right now. Great Caesar's ghost, I digress. Therefore I am.

But. Over the lunch hour. Thing number one that made me go Hmmmmm.......
I had to pick up TinyTuna from school because it's a half-day. Now, keep in mind it is a half-day for all elementary schools in TunaVille, so it's probably upwards of one thousand children all getting out of school at precisely 12:13pm. (I don't get that time part either. I've stopped asking.) So, fact one is one thousand children = hundreds and hundreds of cars to pick up said children all at the same time. Now, it is also fall in mitten country, which means thousands and thousands of dead leaves as far as the eye can see and the foot can scuffle (weather permitting). TunaVille residents are allowed to take their dead leaves and push them all to the edge of their property. Then, the giant leaf-sucking machine drives by and sucks up the leaves for mulch or whatever. Some TunaVille residents don't like to pile leaves on their grass for fear that it will kill the grass that already looks like crap because of the lack of rain all summer. So these residents rake their leaves into the street. It usually isn't too big of a problem unless there is a lot of rain, which makes everything a slippery leafy mess.

So. Back to our fact. Kids everywhere. Cars everywhere. As I pull into the subdivision where the school is located, the scene looks like something out of Nightmare on Elm-Leaf Street. Every single intersection has an enormous pile of leaves, blocking 3/4 of all traffic lanes. There must have been thirty-five leaf piles scattered all over the neighborhood smack-dab in the middle of an intersection. And Goober, on his backhoe, is busy making more leaf piles. All I can guess is the TunaVille City Council did not recognize this week as "Do Not Push Leaves Into Big Piles On Half-Days" week, because if any idiot had taken two seconds to look at the calendar, they would have recognized the potential chaos.

Thing number two that made me go Hmmmmm.......
The setting: Lunch at a grocery store lunch counter / salad bar area.
The time: Lunch time.
Activity Number One: Push chairs around. Ignore people eating lunch.
Activity Number Two: Push chairs around. Ignore people eating lunch.

Activity Number One was performed by a two year old. Activity Number Two was performed by an adult, presumed to be a parent of said child. These two activities went on for forty-five minutes without the courtesy of an intermission. The only difference between the two activities was the child was ignoring everyone in the room as chairs went indiscriminately careening into nearby table legs and shins. After pushing the chairs back to their original location, the parent would ignore everyone in the room (including the child) and eat lunch. On and on and on it went. As annoying as it was, after awhile, I was rooting for the kid. Go on. Do it again. Will she move all those chairs back just ONE more time? Yep. she did.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm
Leaned Down.
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Miscellany

The Halloween countdown continues. The Weather Gods have found great favor with my sacrificial offerings. As of this morning, the Friday forecast is clear, sunny with a high of 66! This is good stuff, Maynard. More duds. Must buy more duds. TinyTuna's costume at dance worked out just fine. She complained it was "hot" (my response: too bad), and told me in tap they didn't do "buffalos" because it would be dangerous for Princess Odette (TinyTuna) and Hermione. Safety first!

Beethoven wrote a composition called "Rage over a lost penny." Last night TinyTuna wrote "Rage over a denied Tootsie Pop." This is yet another reason Halloween drags on me so much. I hold a pretty tight control over the distribution of candy in my house, because it whacks out TinyTuna, both physically and mentally. So at 8pm last night when TinyTuna was denied her Cherry Tootsie Pop, she went ballistic and was appropriately sent to bed. The good news of this overly dramatic saga is that this morning TinyTuna voluntarily gave me the Halloween Candy dish. She knows because of last night's meltdown, it is going to be retired for the season. I won't toss the candy, but it will no longer be sitting out in the open. It's better that way.

This afternoon is parent-teacher conferences. Why do I get slightly nervous for these things? I don't know. I am anxious to meet her teacher and her student teacher. For the most part, I am very pleased with what she is doing in class. I'm hoping her teachers feel the same. The first conference is always a "getting to know you" kind of deal, since I am a working parent and cannot pop in the classroom unannounced on a whim. I'd rather not do that anyway. Let the teacher teach, I say. Unless, of course, the teacher is incompetent (See - 2nd grade. A story for another day). Hopefully the conference will be productive. Since it is conferences, TinyTuna has YET ANOTHER half-day. A CAPS LOCK event in my irritated mind. She's coming into the office this afternoon, armed with computer games. Good times for TinyTuna. She loves the office.

One final thought in my rambling morning. Last night some of my singing Tuna's sang for each other in our vocal studio class. Overall, I was pretty pleased. There was some word-forgetting afoot, which is never good, but to their credit, nobody stopped mid-song -- they kept on going until they could figure out where to jump back in. They're learning. One of my forgetful students stopped to chat with me as she was leaving. I told her she sang well, but she obviously had some "word problems". Her response? "Yeah, I know. But you should have heard me yesterday. It was REALLY awful! Today was much better, you should be happy!" Whaaaaaat?? That's an interesting leaned-down philosophy. Yesterday my singing sucked beyond belief, but today it only mildly bit, so you should be happy because I'm so much better?? Um, No. My silly, optimistic students. Some of them will have to undergo another session of "being prepared is a requirement, not an option. They'll learn, I promise you.

Oh, and I forgot something else. Uber-Auntie Tuna mentioned yesterday about someone going trick-or-treating where the kids got candy and the adults got beer. Hee Hee Hee. It's funny because it's true. TinyTuna's father was never happier in his entire life. His eyes lit up like it was Christmas. I wonder sometimes if that is why he manages to turn up every Halloween. As for Uber-Auntie Tuna and the upcoming Halloween bash, I sure hope being dressed as a tired mom holding a spare trick-or-treat bag is costume enough, because most likely that's the best you're gonna get. Bah-Humbug.
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Miscellany

The Halloween countdown continues. The Weather Gods have found great favor with my sacrificial offerings. As of this morning, the Friday forecast is clear, sunny with a high of 66! This is good stuff, Maynard. More duds. Must buy more duds. TinyTuna's costume at dance worked out just fine. She complained it was "hot" (my response: too bad), and told me in tap they didn't do "buffalos" because it would be dangerous for Princess Odette (TinyTuna) and Hermione. Safety first!

Beethoven wrote a composition called "Rage over a lost penny." Last night TinyTuna wrote "Rage over a denied Tootsie Pop." This is yet another reason Halloween drags on me so much. I hold a pretty tight control over the distribution of candy in my house, because it whacks out TinyTuna, both physically and mentally. So at 8pm last night when TinyTuna was denied her Cherry Tootsie Pop, she went ballistic and was appropriately sent to bed. The good news of this overly dramatic saga is that this morning TinyTuna voluntarily gave me the Halloween Candy dish. She knows because of last night's meltdown, it is going to be retired for the season. I won't toss the candy, but it will no longer be sitting out in the open. It's better that way.

This afternoon is parent-teacher conferences. Why do I get slightly nervous for these things? I don't know. I am anxious to meet her teacher and her student teacher. For the most part, I am very pleased with what she is doing in class. I'm hoping her teachers feel the same. The first conference is always a "getting to know you" kind of deal, since I am a working parent and cannot pop in the classroom unannounced on a whim. I'd rather not do that anyway. Let the teacher teach, I say. Unless, of course, the teacher is incompetent (See - 2nd grade. A story for another day). Hopefully the conference will be productive. Since it is conferences, TinyTuna has YET ANOTHER half-day. A CAPS LOCK event in my irritated mind. She's coming into the office this afternoon, armed with computer games. Good times for TinyTuna. She loves the office.

One final thought in my rambling morning. Last night some of my singing Tuna's sang for each other in our vocal studio class. Overall, I was pretty pleased. There was some word-forgetting afoot, which is never good, but to their credit, nobody stopped mid-song -- they kept on going until they could figure out where to jump back in. They're learning. One of my forgetful students stopped to chat with me as she was leaving. I told her she sang well, but she obviously had some "word problems". Her response? "Yeah, I know. But you should have heard me yesterday. It was REALLY awful! Today was much better, you should be happy!" Whaaaaaat?? That's an interesting leaned-down philosophy. Yesterday my singing sucked beyond belief, but today it only mildly bit, so you should be happy because I'm so much better?? Um, No. My silly, optimistic students. Some of them will have to undergo another session of "being prepared is a requirement, not an option. They'll learn, I promise you.

Oh, and I forgot something else. Uber-Auntie Tuna mentioned yesterday about someone going trick-or-treating where the kids got candy and the adults got beer. Hee Hee Hee. It's funny because it's true. TinyTuna's father was never happier in his entire life. His eyes lit up like it was Christmas. I wonder sometimes if that is why he manages to turn up every Halloween. As for Uber-Auntie Tuna and the upcoming Halloween bash, I sure hope being dressed as a tired mom holding a spare trick-or-treat bag is costume enough, because most likely that's the best you're gonna get. Bah-Humbug.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

FEELIN GROOVY

Actually, I'm not at all. But my 2pm student didn't show, so I'm not complaining. She isn't a "real" student at all. She is a recent graduate, and is trying to pull her stuff together to begin the audition process for various grad schools. Maybe I was only supposed to meet with her once (last week) and now my 2pm slot on Tuesday is open again. I don't know. But I'm not asking either, because, hey, I still have 20 minutes of free time. I already had my obligatory sick student du jour at 11 am, which was close enough to lunchtime for me. Hello 7-11! Thank goodness you are only five minutes from my office door.



Things are fairly quiet here today. The weather is cold and rainy. I've been sending mental rain to California all day -- I sure hope they are able to get on top of these fires. The mitten country sends its love! Anyway, it's quiet here. My studio is in a hallway with lots of practice rooms. A trombone just started booo-buh-buh-booooing in the practice room next to me. This is an enormous improvement over what I'm usually subjected to: Percussionists and Bagpipes. Not at the same time. No. Then I'd be dead. No, I take that back. They'd be dead. There is a fairly active percussion ensemble here, and the students, bless their hearts, actually practice. Unfortunately, they practice right next to my studio. There is nothing worse than BLAM-BLAM-RATA-TATTA-BLAM for hours next to my head. It's torturous.



It used to be bagpipes. My Tunas are Scottish Tunas. The town is known as "Scotland, USA" because, I guess the Scottish people didn't have any place to go if their horse jumped over the Atlantic and got lost. So now, they can come here. The college is known as the "Fighting Scots" -- a big improvement over their previous identity -- the "Fighting Presbyterians." Hee. I'm not making that one up. So, with fighting Scots come bagpipes. I'd be teaching and suddenly "mmmmmmmmRRAWWWWWWWW RAW RE RAW RAWWWWW!" I actually have no clue how to depict bagpipe sounds in words. Although, I'm certain the Chicago Manual of Style doesn't address verbal bagpipe notation, I decided it should be CAPS LOCK and not leaned over. Anyway, Bagpipes. Think cat in a blender, and you'll be close.



Don't get me wrong. I like bagpipes. I love bagpipes. I own half a bagpipe (the cheap non-bag half that sort of looks like a recorder, but houses a double reed inside a wooden tube, thus making your eardrums burst and your cheeks explode, should you attempt to play it). But the bagpipe only has an outside voice, and that's where it should stay. Practice it outside, not in a tiny practice room. And never next to me.



Sometimes -- though not so much yet this year -- but now I've probably jinxed myself and it will happen this afternoon -- Sometimes I get a piano pounder. These are people who aren't playing real pieces. That is, they have no music in front of them. Piano pounders only know about four different chords, and they play them over and over and over and over again. Last year, "Angst Boy" would plop himself in the practice room next to my studio and pound the hell out of the piano for hours on end. If you remember the Dana Carvey "Chopping Broccoli" song, this is EXACTLY what I'm talking about.



I'm actually a little surprised that angst boy isn't about. It's perfect weather for him today. Note to self: More sacrificial duds for the weather Gods tonight. OOoooo, and I had better buy some Twizzlers of Praise. Sick student #2 just cancelled their lesson! I'm on a roll!

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FEELIN GROOVY
Actually, I'm not at all. But my 2pm student didn't show, so I'm not complaining. She isn't a "real" student at all. She is a recent graduate, and is trying to pull her stuff together to begin the audition process for various grad schools. Maybe I was only supposed to meet with her once (last week) and now my 2pm slot on Tuesday is open again. I don't know. But I'm not asking either, because, hey, I still have 20 minutes of free time. I already had my obligatory sick student du jour at 11 am, which was close enough to lunchtime for me. Hello 7-11! Thank goodness you are only five minutes from my office door.

Things are fairly quiet here today. The weather is cold and rainy. I've been sending mental rain to California all day -- I sure hope they are able to get on top of these fires. The mitten country sends its love! Anyway, it's quiet here. My studio is in a hallway with lots of practice rooms. A trombone just started booo-buh-buh-booooing in the practice room next to me. This is an enormous improvement over what I'm usually subjected to: Percussionists and Bagpipes. Not at the same time. No. Then I'd be dead. No, I take that back. They'd be dead. There is a fairly active percussion ensemble here, and the students, bless their hearts, actually practice. Unfortunately, they practice right next to my studio. There is nothing worse than BLAM-BLAM-RATA-TATTA-BLAM for hours next to my head. It's torturous.

It used to be bagpipes. My Tunas are Scottish Tunas. The town is known as "Scotland, USA" because, I guess the Scottish people didn't have any place to go if their horse jumped over the Atlantic and got lost. So now, they can come here. The college is known as the "Fighting Scots" -- a big improvement over their previous identity -- the "Fighting Presbyterians." Hee. I'm not making that one up. So, with fighting Scots come bagpipes. I'd be teaching and suddenly "mmmmmmmmRRAWWWWWWWW RAW RE RAW RAWWWWW!" I actually have no clue how to depict bagpipe sounds in words. Although, I'm certain the Chicago Manual of Style doesn't address verbal bagpipe notation, I decided it should be CAPS LOCK and not leaned over. Anyway, Bagpipes. Think cat in a blender, and you'll be close.

Don't get me wrong. I like bagpipes. I love bagpipes. I own half a bagpipe (the cheap non-bag half that sort of looks like a recorder, but houses a double reed inside a wooden tube, thus making your eardrums burst and your cheeks explode, should you attempt to play it). But the bagpipe only has an outside voice, and that's where it should stay. Practice it outside, not in a tiny practice room. And never next to me.

Sometimes -- though not so much yet this year -- but now I've probably jinxed myself and it will happen this afternoon -- Sometimes I get a piano pounder. These are people who aren't playing real pieces. That is, they have no music in front of them. Piano pounders only know about four different chords, and they play them over and over and over and over again. Last year, "Angst Boy" would plop himself in the practice room next to my studio and pound the hell out of the piano for hours on end. If you remember the Dana Carvey "Chopping Broccoli" song, this is EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

I'm actually a little surprised that angst boy isn't about. It's perfect weather for him today. Note to self: More sacrificial duds for the weather Gods tonight. OOoooo, and I had better buy some Twizzlers of Praise. Sick student #2 just cancelled their lesson! I'm on a roll!
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RAINY DAYS AND TUESDAYS

Tuesday. Teaching Day. Steeling myself for an incredibly long day of planting my butt on a piano bench and exhorting students to sing correctly. Whee! Plus tonight I get to add "Studio Class" to the agenda, where we dash over to the chapel on campus and hear students perform for each other. Shaking knees often provide a lovely gentle click-clack-click accompaniment to each and every song. It's a good thing.



Checking the weather Gods -- Today it's weather only fit for ducks and Old Testament big-beard builders of large floating houseboats (with huge rooms for poo. tm Eddie Izzard). Come on Mr. Weatherman, show me the money! I don't care about today...I need to know about Friday. Do I need to buy more sacrificial duds? Inquiring minds want to know. OOOO! Friday shows clear with a high of 63. This is going well. I'm going to get more duds, just in case.



Last night, to my horror, TinyTuna wanted to watch the end of Joe Millionaire II -- An International Travesty of a show that should have realized that once was more than enough. She didn't really care about the Joe (or in this case, the David). She just liked the pearl necklaces. Hee! Every once in awhile, TinyTuna's girly girl really comes out.



More later!

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RAINY DAYS AND TUESDAYS
Tuesday. Teaching Day. Steeling myself for an incredibly long day of planting my butt on a piano bench and exhorting students to sing correctly. Whee! Plus tonight I get to add "Studio Class" to the agenda, where we dash over to the chapel on campus and hear students perform for each other. Shaking knees often provide a lovely gentle click-clack-click accompaniment to each and every song. It's a good thing.

Checking the weather Gods -- Today it's weather only fit for ducks and Old Testament big-beard builders of large floating houseboats (with huge rooms for poo. tm Eddie Izzard). Come on Mr. Weatherman, show me the money! I don't care about today...I need to know about Friday. Do I need to buy more sacrificial duds? Inquiring minds want to know. OOOO! Friday shows clear with a high of 63. This is going well. I'm going to get more duds, just in case.

Last night, to my horror, TinyTuna wanted to watch the end of Joe Millionaire II -- An International Travesty of a show that should have realized that once was more than enough. She didn't really care about the Joe (or in this case, the David). She just liked the pearl necklaces. Hee! Every once in awhile, TinyTuna's girly girl really comes out.

More later!
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Monday, October 27, 2003

THE BIG GAME

Next on the countdown parade (I feel like freaking Casey Kasem) is The Big Game (Notice my exquisite use of "leaned down" letters). The Big Game is this Saturday afternoon right here in TunaVille. The Big Game for all Tunavillans concerned, is the annual match up between TunaVille State University and the University of God-We-Hate-Those-Non-TunaVille People-Down-The-Road-You-Know-Who-You-Are-Maize-and-Bluesians. It's a classic. Every year there is so much build up and hype, that by the time you make it to game day, the people that never cared to begin with still don't care and are sick of hearing about it, while the people that eat, live and breathe the mitten country rivalry are already so wasted, they don't mind hearing about it ad nauseum, because, well they are already nauseum themselves and have forgotten everything previously uttered.



So. The Big Game. I suppose instead of being "leaned down", the Big Game should be in CAPS LOCKS. Because it is a CAPS LOCK kind of event. With lots of exclamation points !!!!!!!!!!!!!! The first question, as we approach the BIG GAME !!! is, is it a home or away game? What this question really means (for those of us who live in TunaVille all twelve months of the year) is, "Are the idiots all going to be here, or are they all going to be there?" Because, if the idiots are all going to be there, it is less of a concern. Notice - less. Not none. "There" is close enough that many idiots actually GO there, and perform their idiocy there, where idiocy is harder to identify, because they're all a bunch of hippies. And hippies suck (tm Cartman). Well, a lot of them are hippies. Don't believe me? Read on, McDuff.



Another way you know it is the countdown to the BIG GAME !!!! is the appearance of lounge chairs, coolers, blankets and fools. The fools are a part of "Sparty Watch", which lasts the entire week before the BIG GAME !!! Each fool, or team of fools, takes a turn sitting outside in the middle of an intersection on Campus, guarding a statue. Yep. A statue. A ceramic statue. So in essence, they are spending a week babysitting an enormous coffee cup. And you know what? When they finally move that enormous coffee cup into the stadium in a couple years, these fools are still going to spend the week outside, on their lawn chairs, huddled under blankets guarding the bronze replica statue formally known as the enormous coffee cup.



This year the game is here, so the residents of TunaVille must batten down the livestock and prepare for a lot of depressed corn to invade their fair city. Rioting is always a possibility, so I'm hoping anybody who doesn't want a crispy couch or a singed sofa has the sense to stash it in the back yard, rather than leaving it out at the end of the driveway. We'll all be hoping for a quiet day and a quieter night. I'm counting down the minutes until it's over and the fools have gone home for another year.

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THE BIG GAME
Next on the countdown parade (I feel like freaking Casey Kasem) is The Big Game (Notice my exquisite use of "leaned down" letters). The Big Game is this Saturday afternoon right here in TunaVille. The Big Game for all Tunavillans concerned, is the annual match up between TunaVille State University and the University of God-We-Hate-Those-Non-TunaVille People-Down-The-Road-You-Know-Who-You-Are-Maize-and-Bluesians. It's a classic. Every year there is so much build up and hype, that by the time you make it to game day, the people that never cared to begin with still don't care and are sick of hearing about it, while the people that eat, live and breathe the mitten country rivalry are already so wasted, they don't mind hearing about it ad nauseum, because, well they are already nauseum themselves and have forgotten everything previously uttered.

So. The Big Game. I suppose instead of being "leaned down", the Big Game should be in CAPS LOCKS. Because it is a CAPS LOCK kind of event. With lots of exclamation points !!!!!!!!!!!!!! The first question, as we approach the BIG GAME !!! is, is it a home or away game? What this question really means (for those of us who live in TunaVille all twelve months of the year) is, "Are the idiots all going to be here, or are they all going to be there?" Because, if the idiots are all going to be there, it is less of a concern. Notice - less. Not none. "There" is close enough that many idiots actually GO there, and perform their idiocy there, where idiocy is harder to identify, because they're all a bunch of hippies. And hippies suck (tm Cartman). Well, a lot of them are hippies. Don't believe me? Read on, McDuff.

Another way you know it is the countdown to the BIG GAME !!!! is the appearance of lounge chairs, coolers, blankets and fools. The fools are a part of "Sparty Watch", which lasts the entire week before the BIG GAME !!! Each fool, or team of fools, takes a turn sitting outside in the middle of an intersection on Campus, guarding a statue. Yep. A statue. A ceramic statue. So in essence, they are spending a week babysitting an enormous coffee cup. And you know what? When they finally move that enormous coffee cup into the stadium in a couple years, these fools are still going to spend the week outside, on their lawn chairs, huddled under blankets guarding the bronze replica statue formally known as the enormous coffee cup.

This year the game is here, so the residents of TunaVille must batten down the livestock and prepare for a lot of depressed corn to invade their fair city. Rioting is always a possibility, so I'm hoping anybody who doesn't want a crispy couch or a singed sofa has the sense to stash it in the back yard, rather than leaving it out at the end of the driveway. We'll all be hoping for a quiet day and a quieter night. I'm counting down the minutes until it's over and the fools have gone home for another year.
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ONE FOR THE BOOKS

Favorite question of the day -

A library patron calls, asking for information from The Chicago Manuel of Style. This patron needs help with the format for a citation. She doesn't know if it should be underlined or if it should be, "um.....like, leaned down."



Investigators later learned "leaned down" meant italicized.

GreenTuna was hospitalized for severe trauma due to excessive laughter.

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ONE FOR THE BOOKS
Favorite question of the day -
A library patron calls, asking for information from The Chicago Manuel of Style. This patron needs help with the format for a citation. She doesn't know if it should be underlined or if it should be, "um.....like, leaned down."

Investigators later learned "leaned down" meant italicized.
GreenTuna was hospitalized for severe trauma due to excessive laughter.
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Countdown

This week is a countdown week. It's time to take a look at the calendar (No, it isn't Bible week, so you shouldn't be recognizing that quite yet) and start keeping track. I think counting down can be the worst torture ever. Unless you're counting down to something lousy or particularly craptacular, then I resort to the Ostrich method of "can't see it, can't stress over it." Unfortunately the Ostrich success rate is low. So, we're counting down anyway.

Unless you live in a cave, never set foot in a grocery store or have no kids, you know this Friday is Halloween. In the Tuna household things are percolating nicely. As you know, TinyTuna's costume has been successfully purchased. I say successfully because I didn't kill anyone (including myself) in the process. Tonight GramTuna will be making slight alterations in the costume (read: it was way too big) so she doesn't trip over the dumb thing, and so the sleeves don't hang down to her knees. It was especially funny to hear TinyTuna launch into a ten-minute lecture to GramTuna about the finer details of the sleeves, and how the points had to lay exactly on the top. Hee. It was funny because it wasn't me. In the end, TinyTuna was advised to zip it, because GramTuna was armed with straight pins. The costume should get quite a workout this week. TinyTuna gets to wear it to dance tomorrow, and to go "safe" trick-or-treating in downtown TunaVille at the various stores on Thursday. Friday she gets to wear it at school, and be in the big school parade where you can flaunt your stuff in front of all the drooling Kindergarteners. "Yeah, you wish you could be Princess Doodad, dontcha, little kid" she will think to herself as she does that queen wave thing.

So, TinyTuna begins the countdown with visions of mini Snickers bars dancing in her head. GreenTuna, meanwhile, begins the countdown with all eyes turned to the weather.

Oh great Halloween Gods of weather. Please PLEASE have mercy on our souls.
First request: no snow.
Second request: no rain.
Third request: Not super freezing cold.
I know I'm asking a lot. I will make the appropriate sacrifices of Candy Corn.
What? It won't count because I don't like Candy Corns anyway? Dang It.
Um, OK, I'll give you...Two small boxes of Milk Duds and a pile of Sweet-Tarts
(but only the yellow and green ones). May it find favor and a temperature of
no lower than 60 degrees from 6pm - 8 pm. After that, go wild!
Thanks loads
~~GreenTuna


Halloween is tough, to quote Al Roker, "in our neck of the woods". TinyTuna lusts after costumes like Princess Jasmine that would be fine, if you are trick-or-treating in the Bahamas. But here in mitten country, every costume must be able to work with a pair of sweat pants and a turtleneck sweater at the very least. Heck, some years you have to accessorize with a snowsuit. There is nothing funnier than seeing kids on porches up and down the street flashing the neighbors in an attempt to show off their costume for 1.73 seconds before frostbite sets in. You just have to adapt to your environment. Darwin would be proud.

In stunning lack of "what a surprise" -- the forecast has changed drastically in the past forty-eight hours. We heard "that which shall not be spoken" (the "S" word), we heard chunky rain, we heard scattered showers, and this morning I even heard "high of sixty." I better make sure I'm chocked full of sacrificial duds. It's going to be a long week.

This afternoon on the countdown parade: The BIG Game.
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Countdown

This week is a countdown week. It's time to take a look at the calendar (No, it isn't Bible week, so you shouldn't be recognizing that quite yet) and start keeping track. I think counting down can be the worst torture ever. Unless you're counting down to something lousy or particularly craptacular, then I resort to the Ostrich method of "can't see it, can't stress over it." Unfortunately the Ostrich success rate is low. So, we're counting down anyway.

Unless you live in a cave, never set foot in a grocery store or have no kids, you know this Friday is Halloween. In the Tuna household things are percolating nicely. As you know, TinyTuna's costume has been successfully purchased. I say successfully because I didn't kill anyone (including myself) in the process. Tonight GramTuna will be making slight alterations in the costume (read: it was way too big) so she doesn't trip over the dumb thing, and so the sleeves don't hang down to her knees. It was especially funny to hear TinyTuna launch into a ten-minute lecture to GramTuna about the finer details of the sleeves, and how the points had to lay exactly on the top. Hee. It was funny because it wasn't me. In the end, TinyTuna was advised to zip it, because GramTuna was armed with straight pins. The costume should get quite a workout this week. TinyTuna gets to wear it to dance tomorrow, and to go "safe" trick-or-treating in downtown TunaVille at the various stores on Thursday. Friday she gets to wear it at school, and be in the big school parade where you can flaunt your stuff in front of all the drooling Kindergarteners. "Yeah, you wish you could be Princess Doodad, dontcha, little kid" she will think to herself as she does that queen wave thing.

So, TinyTuna begins the countdown with visions of mini Snickers bars dancing in her head. GreenTuna, meanwhile, begins the countdown with all eyes turned to the weather.

Oh great Halloween Gods of weather. Please PLEASE have mercy on our souls.
First request: no snow.
Second request: no rain.
Third request: Not super freezing cold.
I know I'm asking a lot. I will make the appropriate sacrifices of Candy Corn.
What? It won't count because I don't like Candy Corns anyway? Dang It.
Um, OK, I'll give you...Two small boxes of Milk Duds and a pile of Sweet-Tarts
(but only the yellow and green ones). May it find favor and a temperature of
no lower than 60 degrees from 6pm - 8 pm. After that, go wild!
Thanks loads
~~GreenTuna


Halloween is tough, to quote Al Roker, "in our neck of the woods". TinyTuna lusts after costumes like Princess Jasmine that would be fine, if you are trick-or-treating in the Bahamas. But here in mitten country, every costume must be able to work with a pair of sweat pants and a turtleneck sweater at the very least. Heck, some years you have to accessorize with a snowsuit. There is nothing funnier than seeing kids on porches up and down the street flashing the neighbors in an attempt to show off their costume for 1.73 seconds before frostbite sets in. You just have to adapt to your environment. Darwin would be proud.

In stunning lack of "what a surprise" -- the forecast has changed drastically in the past forty-eight hours. We heard "that which shall not be spoken" (the "S" word), we heard chunky rain, we heard scattered showers, and this morning I even heard "high of sixty." I better make sure I'm chocked full of sacrificial duds. It's going to be a long week.

This afternoon on the countdown parade: The BIG Game.
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Sunday, October 26, 2003

CHANNEL SURFING

Things I've learned from TV today:



1 There is an International Rock-Paper-Scissors championship. It was this weekend, and you gotta love it...it was held in Canada. Due to the exchange rate, the Canadian team was forced to compete with both hands. Ok, not. But in more amazing facts, there is a World RPS Society. Even MORE amazing than that (Is it possible??), is that there are actual named strategies, or "gambits", similar to chess. For example, a player could choose the "Avalanche" gambit (Rock-Rock-Rock). Wow. I mean wow. Where would I be without the Weekend Today show and the Internet? Surely a lot less smart than I am now. Needless to say, TinyTuna was thrilled, and we have yet another current event topic for school. The teacher is going to think I'm nuts. Note to friends: Candle, Shoe, Glue, Lizards, Gizzards and most importantly, Volcano was nowhere to be seen. They haven't really played until they play the rules according to TinyTuna.



2 Dick Buttons, the crabbiest commentator in the world of figure skating never ceases to disappoint. Today's petty gripe? Berating a skater for not tucking in her shoe laces because it destroyed the line in her leg. I'm sure in the scheme of things (not my things), tucking in your laces is a big deal. But I'd probably fall over dead if Dick Buttons ever said something nice or encouraging when a skater made a mistake. I'd pay money to hear Peggy Fleming tell Dick Buttons to cram it. Just once. It'd be great.



3 The Lions are so incredibly bad this year, the network breaks away at the drop of a pass, to show highlights from any other game in progress. Since there isn't much to show on the field today, we've also been treated to lots of shots of fans in their Halloween costumes. Hrm. Lots of bag heads out there. What could it mean?



4 A "Planet of the Apes" marathon grows old faster than a banana gets spots. Yeah, the first one was innovative and interesting and kitschy all at the same time. But the rest of them? Meh to the max.

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CHANNEL SURFING
Things I've learned from TV today:

1 There is an International Rock-Paper-Scissors championship. It was this weekend, and you gotta love it...it was held in Canada. Due to the exchange rate, the Canadian team was forced to compete with both hands. Ok, not. But in more amazing facts, there is a World RPS Society. Even MORE amazing than that (Is it possible??), is that there are actual named strategies, or "gambits", similar to chess. For example, a player could choose the "Avalanche" gambit (Rock-Rock-Rock). Wow. I mean wow. Where would I be without the Weekend Today show and the Internet? Surely a lot less smart than I am now. Needless to say, TinyTuna was thrilled, and we have yet another current event topic for school. The teacher is going to think I'm nuts. Note to friends: Candle, Shoe, Glue, Lizards, Gizzards and most importantly, Volcano was nowhere to be seen. They haven't really played until they play the rules according to TinyTuna.

2 Dick Buttons, the crabbiest commentator in the world of figure skating never ceases to disappoint. Today's petty gripe? Berating a skater for not tucking in her shoe laces because it destroyed the line in her leg. I'm sure in the scheme of things (not my things), tucking in your laces is a big deal. But I'd probably fall over dead if Dick Buttons ever said something nice or encouraging when a skater made a mistake. I'd pay money to hear Peggy Fleming tell Dick Buttons to cram it. Just once. It'd be great.

3 The Lions are so incredibly bad this year, the network breaks away at the drop of a pass, to show highlights from any other game in progress. Since there isn't much to show on the field today, we've also been treated to lots of shots of fans in their Halloween costumes. Hrm. Lots of bag heads out there. What could it mean?

4 A "Planet of the Apes" marathon grows old faster than a banana gets spots. Yeah, the first one was innovative and interesting and kitschy all at the same time. But the rest of them? Meh to the max.
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TAPS

Yesterday, in the midst of my basement cleaning blitz I nearly jumped for joy when I turned on the TV and found a rerun of “The West Wing”. It must have been my good luck day, because there ended up being two episodes back to back on the good ole WB. I would like to momentarily take back mean things I said about the WB, on account of they played two hours of West Wing on Saturday, and Lo, it was good.



So, I puttered and cleaned and threw things out while President Bartlett and crew were smart, funny and thought provoking as ever – even though this was probably the sixth or seventh time I’ve watched this. The second episode nearly sent me into a seizure. The episode was “In Excelsis Deo.” This is the first “Christmas” episode where Toby arranges a military funeral at Arlington for a homeless vet who fought during the Korean War.



I have always felt this was and still is to date the best West Wing episode ever. And that’s saying a lot. I’ll go a step farther and say this is one of the best TV episodes of all times. It’s up there with the farewell episode of Mash, the Chuckles the Clown funeral on the Mary Tyler Moore show, and several other classics. It’s just that good.



So, during the commercial, I decided my basement cleaning was done for the day (Yay me!) and I ran upstairs to watch the rest. As I said, I’ve seen this episode probably half a dozen times anyway – probably more. But I still sat on my bed transfixed, as if I’d never seen it before. It is so incredibly engaging on so many different levels. It’s fun to see the characters from an earlier time in the show’s history. CJ was flirting with Danny (local boy from TunaVille, BTW. Remind me to tell you the story when he and many of his friends came to the movies to see his premiere in “Revenge of the Nerds”). Josh was flirting with Donna (We’re talking good old days here), Mandy was on the show, but that’s ok because we know in hindsight she won’t be there for long. And last and never at least, Mrs. Landingham was there. Gah, I love her. I wish she didn’t have to get deaded in her new car. That sucked and was sad beyond words.



Anyway. Everybody was there. One of the main plots centered around a homeless man who froze to death. In his coat pocket was Toby Ziegler’s card (he’d donated the coat to Good Will) so the police contacted him in the hopes that he had some information on this man. Toby ends up finding the man’s brother (also homeless and somewhat mentally handicapped), and pulls massive amounts of string to finagle this full military honors funeral at Arlington.



At the end of the show, I cry. Just like I’ve done every single time I’ve watched this. It is an incredibly moving scene, because it juxtaposes the military funeral with the singing of “Little Drummer Boy” by The Harlem Boys Choir at the White House. I get teary just writing about it.



My Grandfather is there. My Grandfather is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He always used to joke that he was only going to move from his house once – and that would be seven miles up river. He didn’t quite get his wish, but he was close. They sold the house and moved into a beautiful apartment adjacent to an assisted living center. If you needed assistance, it was there, but if you didn’t you could be very independent. It’s a great compromise, I think.



My Grandfather (a retired naval captain) scared the living BeJeebus out of me and my siblings most of the time. He was a big imposing man with a booming voice. He was hella smart, and when the mood struck him, he would grin his evil grin that went from his mouth deep into his eyes, and he would slice you in half with his razor sharp wit– while you were still laughing. I love those memories.



The only thing scarier than my Grandfather was the Alzheimer’s disease which severely altered his mood and his demeanor towards the end. Usually for the worst. Still in all, I carry mostly very cool memories. Like the time he packed us sandwiches for the road on the way home from North Carolina. He told us in a mysterious voice to “beware of the ringer.” It ended up being Peanut Butter and pickles sandwich. Younger Brother Tuna got the ringer, and we laughed about it all the way home. I also remember the time – ok, every single time – when we would leave his house, and he would walk (painfully with severe arthritis) outside with us, and then he’d cross the road, and “wave us out” of the driveway when it was safe. It was a colossal pain in the ass to have to wait for him to do this. But he did it because he cared. TinyTuna doesn’t remember him doing this, but interestingly enough, she actually waves me out of the garage every morning. If she had a perfectly mixed Bloody Mary in her hand and was another two feet taller, she’d be the poster child for reincarnation. Those two have an awful lot in common.



My Grandfather died, and we traveled to Arlington National Cemetery for the funeral.



Now, I must admit that I’m not particularly a gung-ho military type person. Every country needs a military, and they have an important job to do. I am, however, going to own up to being a weenie, and say I’m glad I don’t have to serve. But nobody cares about that here. We are in Arlington, which is military central. I feel a little (and a lot) out of place and unworthy.



The family gathered in a small room adjacent to the Arlington chapel. It is not a large church at all – it might seat 100 if you squished. No more, and probably less. Once the family was gathered, we were led to our seats. The casket was rolled in by honor guard with great solemnity and pomp. The service was fairly brief. My uncle spoke, and we all fell in love with the ministers beautiful booming voice which had a Jamaican-like lilt to it.



At the end of the service, the honor guard returned. As they began moving the casket out of the chapel, I thought I heard music, but far, far away. The doors to the chapel opened, and as we stood and followed the casket out of the church, we saw the navy band. It wasn’t a pickup band. It wasn’t the “oh jeez, I gotta go play this funeral, but I’ll meet you at lunch in a hour” band. It was a full naval band. It was over 100 people in full naval dress. Amassed and in formation. They were playing for my Grandfather.



The casket was placed on the horse-drawn caisson. The band remained in formation and followed the caisson to his grave site. They marched the entire way. They played the entire way. It was over a mile. When we reached our destination, a few final words were spoken. Prayers were said. The twenty-one gun salute was sounded. Taps was played. The flag was folded and presented. All of this was for my Grandfather. It was something I’d never seen before, and I knew I would never see again.



Some say “the military knows how to put on a good funeral.” And yes, I suppose it’s true. But it struck me – cynical me – that it was so much more than a “good show”. Of course it was a moving service, but it was also very impressive. It was impressive because all of these people: the minister, the honor guard, the navy band, the riflemen, and the bugler, were there for my Grandfather. They didn’t know him from the next crabby guy on the street. But with every last thing they did – how they moved, how they played, how they looked – it said one word. Honor. It wasn’t pomp at all. It was honor. Honor for a comrade. Honor for a fellow military man. Honor because that’s what is done, and nothing less.



Still, it doesn’t seem enough to say that it was “impressive”. That word is best left for mountains and large snowfalls. “Awesome” is too trendy and overused. It lends itself more to a description of an unadvertised sale, or the quality of ones nachos at the local pub. It was, however, “Awe-Inspiring.” Every crisp, deliberate movement, every word spoken and every note played echoed the theme of honor and respect across the endless rows of pristine white headstones. They didn’t know him, but he was one of their own.



So as I watched West Wing and snuffled through the ending, I thought of the Ringer sandwich and smiled a little smile. In the years since his death, I’ve heard many stories about my Grandfather from GramTuna and from my AuntTuna, and I’m not so afraid of him anymore. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for him, but on that crisp September day, a large group of strangers took me and showed me what lies beyond respect. They showed me Honor.



Thank You.

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TAPS
Yesterday, in the midst of my basement cleaning blitz I nearly jumped for joy when I turned on the TV and found a rerun of “The West Wing”. It must have been my good luck day, because there ended up being two episodes back to back on the good ole WB. I would like to momentarily take back mean things I said about the WB, on account of they played two hours of West Wing on Saturday, and Lo, it was good.

So, I puttered and cleaned and threw things out while President Bartlett and crew were smart, funny and thought provoking as ever – even though this was probably the sixth or seventh time I’ve watched this. The second episode nearly sent me into a seizure. The episode was “In Excelsis Deo.” This is the first “Christmas” episode where Toby arranges a military funeral at Arlington for a homeless vet who fought during the Korean War.

I have always felt this was and still is to date the best West Wing episode ever. And that’s saying a lot. I’ll go a step farther and say this is one of the best TV episodes of all times. It’s up there with the farewell episode of Mash, the Chuckles the Clown funeral on the Mary Tyler Moore show, and several other classics. It’s just that good.

So, during the commercial, I decided my basement cleaning was done for the day (Yay me!) and I ran upstairs to watch the rest. As I said, I’ve seen this episode probably half a dozen times anyway – probably more. But I still sat on my bed transfixed, as if I’d never seen it before. It is so incredibly engaging on so many different levels. It’s fun to see the characters from an earlier time in the show’s history. CJ was flirting with Danny (local boy from TunaVille, BTW. Remind me to tell you the story when he and many of his friends came to the movies to see his premiere in “Revenge of the Nerds”). Josh was flirting with Donna (We’re talking good old days here), Mandy was on the show, but that’s ok because we know in hindsight she won’t be there for long. And last and never at least, Mrs. Landingham was there. Gah, I love her. I wish she didn’t have to get deaded in her new car. That sucked and was sad beyond words.

Anyway. Everybody was there. One of the main plots centered around a homeless man who froze to death. In his coat pocket was Toby Ziegler’s card (he’d donated the coat to Good Will) so the police contacted him in the hopes that he had some information on this man. Toby ends up finding the man’s brother (also homeless and somewhat mentally handicapped), and pulls massive amounts of string to finagle this full military honors funeral at Arlington.

At the end of the show, I cry. Just like I’ve done every single time I’ve watched this. It is an incredibly moving scene, because it juxtaposes the military funeral with the singing of “Little Drummer Boy” by The Harlem Boys Choir at the White House. I get teary just writing about it.

My Grandfather is there. My Grandfather is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He always used to joke that he was only going to move from his house once – and that would be seven miles up river. He didn’t quite get his wish, but he was close. They sold the house and moved into a beautiful apartment adjacent to an assisted living center. If you needed assistance, it was there, but if you didn’t you could be very independent. It’s a great compromise, I think.

My Grandfather (a retired naval captain) scared the living BeJeebus out of me and my siblings most of the time. He was a big imposing man with a booming voice. He was hella smart, and when the mood struck him, he would grin his evil grin that went from his mouth deep into his eyes, and he would slice you in half with his razor sharp wit– while you were still laughing. I love those memories.

The only thing scarier than my Grandfather was the Alzheimer’s disease which severely altered his mood and his demeanor towards the end. Usually for the worst. Still in all, I carry mostly very cool memories. Like the time he packed us sandwiches for the road on the way home from North Carolina. He told us in a mysterious voice to “beware of the ringer.” It ended up being Peanut Butter and pickles sandwich. Younger Brother Tuna got the ringer, and we laughed about it all the way home. I also remember the time – ok, every single time – when we would leave his house, and he would walk (painfully with severe arthritis) outside with us, and then he’d cross the road, and “wave us out” of the driveway when it was safe. It was a colossal pain in the ass to have to wait for him to do this. But he did it because he cared. TinyTuna doesn’t remember him doing this, but interestingly enough, she actually waves me out of the garage every morning. If she had a perfectly mixed Bloody Mary in her hand and was another two feet taller, she’d be the poster child for reincarnation. Those two have an awful lot in common.

My Grandfather died, and we traveled to Arlington National Cemetery for the funeral.

Now, I must admit that I’m not particularly a gung-ho military type person. Every country needs a military, and they have an important job to do. I am, however, going to own up to being a weenie, and say I’m glad I don’t have to serve. But nobody cares about that here. We are in Arlington, which is military central. I feel a little (and a lot) out of place and unworthy.

The family gathered in a small room adjacent to the Arlington chapel. It is not a large church at all – it might seat 100 if you squished. No more, and probably less. Once the family was gathered, we were led to our seats. The casket was rolled in by honor guard with great solemnity and pomp. The service was fairly brief. My uncle spoke, and we all fell in love with the ministers beautiful booming voice which had a Jamaican-like lilt to it.

At the end of the service, the honor guard returned. As they began moving the casket out of the chapel, I thought I heard music, but far, far away. The doors to the chapel opened, and as we stood and followed the casket out of the church, we saw the navy band. It wasn’t a pickup band. It wasn’t the “oh jeez, I gotta go play this funeral, but I’ll meet you at lunch in a hour” band. It was a full naval band. It was over 100 people in full naval dress. Amassed and in formation. They were playing for my Grandfather.

The casket was placed on the horse-drawn caisson. The band remained in formation and followed the caisson to his grave site. They marched the entire way. They played the entire way. It was over a mile. When we reached our destination, a few final words were spoken. Prayers were said. The twenty-one gun salute was sounded. Taps was played. The flag was folded and presented. All of this was for my Grandfather. It was something I’d never seen before, and I knew I would never see again.

Some say “the military knows how to put on a good funeral.” And yes, I suppose it’s true. But it struck me – cynical me – that it was so much more than a “good show”. Of course it was a moving service, but it was also very impressive. It was impressive because all of these people: the minister, the honor guard, the navy band, the riflemen, and the bugler, were there for my Grandfather. They didn’t know him from the next crabby guy on the street. But with every last thing they did – how they moved, how they played, how they looked – it said one word. Honor. It wasn’t pomp at all. It was honor. Honor for a comrade. Honor for a fellow military man. Honor because that’s what is done, and nothing less.

Still, it doesn’t seem enough to say that it was “impressive”. That word is best left for mountains and large snowfalls. “Awesome” is too trendy and overused. It lends itself more to a description of an unadvertised sale, or the quality of ones nachos at the local pub. It was, however, “Awe-Inspiring.” Every crisp, deliberate movement, every word spoken and every note played echoed the theme of honor and respect across the endless rows of pristine white headstones. They didn’t know him, but he was one of their own.

So as I watched West Wing and snuffled through the ending, I thought of the Ringer sandwich and smiled a little smile. In the years since his death, I’ve heard many stories about my Grandfather from GramTuna and from my AuntTuna, and I’m not so afraid of him anymore. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for him, but on that crisp September day, a large group of strangers took me and showed me what lies beyond respect. They showed me Honor.

Thank You.
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Saturday, October 25, 2003

TO THE LAB, IGOR

Our usual Saturday routine (as usual as it gets) begins with breakfast at a local eatery. The head grill dog (Larry) calls TinyTuna "Pickles" (because she would always ask for a side of pickles), and his faithful assistant, secondary grill dog (Wayne) calls her "Trouble" (for obvious reasons). We sit in the far corner booth so we don't freeze. Unless they are new, we can order by saying "the usual" and everybody knows exactly what it is. I love local businesses in a big way for just this reason. We know them, they know us, we've established a nice relationship, and they bring us our Diet Pepsi without asking.



After breakfast, we often head out to the mall for some power walking with some of the "Aunts" (Gram's friends) from church. Sometimes there are upwards of seven of us doing mall laps and dishing the business. None of the aunts are real aunts of TinyTuna, but she calls them all "Aunt Whoever" and they have a really cool relationship. TinyTuna loves to go walking -- not for the exercise, but for the company of these sixty-plus year old women. TinyTuna and I generally cut out halfway through the three mile trek and dash into the bookstore to read kids books. Today we read the new Edmund Fitzgerald book (wooHOO), and that was fun. We also bought two additional copies of "Old Turtle and the Broken Truth" for friends. Because it's just that good.



Today we dashed home post-walk in time to intercept TinyTuna's cousin. GramTuna and I were taking them to "Chemistry Days" at a local science museum. Woah! The place was jam-packed. It was a pretty cool event overall, geared towards kids and scout troops. First of all, it was free (ALWAYS a bonus), and there were probably around 20 different stations where you could watch, learn or participate in different experiments. If you completed 8 (on a punch card) you got a free patch. Of course we did. We watched them suck air out of marshmallows and Halloween Pumpkin Peeps, we tried to catch soap bubbles that had dry ice gas inside, we guessed acids and bases, we watched the effects of liquid nitrogen as it froze a bouncy ball, a flower and a rubber band, we made Cartesian well-divers to take home, and we got a prism to see a rainbow wherever we looked. I'm sure we did more things too, but you get the idea. I especially loved the table that was "Chemistry Women of Tunaville University." I tried to make a big deal out of the fact that this was a girl-power table, but I don't think the two boy scouts in front of us were buying it. All in all, it was a lot of fun. At the very least , it was a large improvement over sitting in front of the TV all morning (which we wouldn't have done anyway).



Post-chemistry, it was off to Johnny Rockets for hot dogs, burgers, and doing the Love Shack dance once again with the staff. Even though "JRs" as I call it is a chain, we've been there enough that we know or at least recognize alot of the staff. The head waiter -- who must never get a day off -- always whispers to TinyTuna and asks if she's ready. Cousin Tuna opted to watch the dance, which I'm sure made TinyTuna secretly very happy. Nothing like having two competitive, Type-A, first-born personalities to deal with. Yeesh said the laid back Type-B Tuna. Lunch? Yummy as always.



We're home now (obviously). I finally pulled out the Halloween decorations, and yes, I consider that a victory. If they make it out of the basement before Halloween, it's close enough for me. I put one of my pumpkin candles right next to my uh, well...My stained glass nativity scene. Ok. I admit it. I never put it away last year. Hee! I try, you know? I'd like to see a Martha Stuart show that wasn't about decorating, but instead was about moving 10 piles of junk in the basement to get to the area where you think you MAY have put the decorations from last year. I know, I know. Martha would never be so disorganized. Hers would be individually wrapped in tissue paper, rolled in bubble wrap, packed in decorative orange and black containers and clearly marked for the following year. But in my house, the tissue paper gets stuffed into last-minute birthday bags, the bubble wrap gets stomped on by TinyTuna (GreenTuna believes that method to be tres gauche and prefers the individually hand-popped method), and I never think of buying an enormo-halloween themed tupperware bin until oh, say January. This year, the decorations were found crammed carefully in several plastic trick-or-treat pumpkins that were stashed in a box. Hey, at least I found them. And they'll most likely stay up until oh, mid December. I am not a slave to the calendar.



TinyTuna and Cousin are in the other room watching TV. They have to agree on whatever they watch -- it's just another one of my many rules. I don't do the "let's take turns" deal, because then you have one happy, gloating child, and a room full of pissed off kids ready to spit in their chocolate milk. So they stand in front of the tapes and DVDs and discuss each option with all the seriousness of an international summit roll call. "Lion King?" "I agree." "I disagree." "Peter Pan?" I disagree. I disagree. On and on it goes until they hit an "I agree" all the way around. Sometimes we have to take a couple spins through the list before they reach consensus. Now, I have nothing against kids making deals, because hey, compromise is part of life. Overall though, the "agreeing" policy works pretty well, because mean mom says they don't watch anything until they've reached a resolution. The TV-off rule moves things along nicely.



Other than that, the two are coloring like crazy. They are drawing pumpkins on paper plates, cutting them out with TinyTuna's "special" (ragged edged or decorative) scissors, gluing them to plain white paper and then decorating the paper. I'll have a fully decorated house soon. Meanwhile, I'm off to do battle with a chemistry experiment of my own -- my fridge.



More later.

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TO THE LAB, IGOR
Our usual Saturday routine (as usual as it gets) begins with breakfast at a local eatery. The head grill dog (Larry) calls TinyTuna "Pickles" (because she would always ask for a side of pickles), and his faithful assistant, secondary grill dog (Wayne) calls her "Trouble" (for obvious reasons). We sit in the far corner booth so we don't freeze. Unless they are new, we can order by saying "the usual" and everybody knows exactly what it is. I love local businesses in a big way for just this reason. We know them, they know us, we've established a nice relationship, and they bring us our Diet Pepsi without asking.

After breakfast, we often head out to the mall for some power walking with some of the "Aunts" (Gram's friends) from church. Sometimes there are upwards of seven of us doing mall laps and dishing the business. None of the aunts are real aunts of TinyTuna, but she calls them all "Aunt Whoever" and they have a really cool relationship. TinyTuna loves to go walking -- not for the exercise, but for the company of these sixty-plus year old women. TinyTuna and I generally cut out halfway through the three mile trek and dash into the bookstore to read kids books. Today we read the new Edmund Fitzgerald book (wooHOO), and that was fun. We also bought two additional copies of "Old Turtle and the Broken Truth" for friends. Because it's just that good.

Today we dashed home post-walk in time to intercept TinyTuna's cousin. GramTuna and I were taking them to "Chemistry Days" at a local science museum. Woah! The place was jam-packed. It was a pretty cool event overall, geared towards kids and scout troops. First of all, it was free (ALWAYS a bonus), and there were probably around 20 different stations where you could watch, learn or participate in different experiments. If you completed 8 (on a punch card) you got a free patch. Of course we did. We watched them suck air out of marshmallows and Halloween Pumpkin Peeps, we tried to catch soap bubbles that had dry ice gas inside, we guessed acids and bases, we watched the effects of liquid nitrogen as it froze a bouncy ball, a flower and a rubber band, we made Cartesian well-divers to take home, and we got a prism to see a rainbow wherever we looked. I'm sure we did more things too, but you get the idea. I especially loved the table that was "Chemistry Women of Tunaville University." I tried to make a big deal out of the fact that this was a girl-power table, but I don't think the two boy scouts in front of us were buying it. All in all, it was a lot of fun. At the very least , it was a large improvement over sitting in front of the TV all morning (which we wouldn't have done anyway).

Post-chemistry, it was off to Johnny Rockets for hot dogs, burgers, and doing the Love Shack dance once again with the staff. Even though "JRs" as I call it is a chain, we've been there enough that we know or at least recognize alot of the staff. The head waiter -- who must never get a day off -- always whispers to TinyTuna and asks if she's ready. Cousin Tuna opted to watch the dance, which I'm sure made TinyTuna secretly very happy. Nothing like having two competitive, Type-A, first-born personalities to deal with. Yeesh said the laid back Type-B Tuna. Lunch? Yummy as always.

We're home now (obviously). I finally pulled out the Halloween decorations, and yes, I consider that a victory. If they make it out of the basement before Halloween, it's close enough for me. I put one of my pumpkin candles right next to my uh, well...My stained glass nativity scene. Ok. I admit it. I never put it away last year. Hee! I try, you know? I'd like to see a Martha Stuart show that wasn't about decorating, but instead was about moving 10 piles of junk in the basement to get to the area where you think you MAY have put the decorations from last year. I know, I know. Martha would never be so disorganized. Hers would be individually wrapped in tissue paper, rolled in bubble wrap, packed in decorative orange and black containers and clearly marked for the following year. But in my house, the tissue paper gets stuffed into last-minute birthday bags, the bubble wrap gets stomped on by TinyTuna (GreenTuna believes that method to be tres gauche and prefers the individually hand-popped method), and I never think of buying an enormo-halloween themed tupperware bin until oh, say January. This year, the decorations were found crammed carefully in several plastic trick-or-treat pumpkins that were stashed in a box. Hey, at least I found them. And they'll most likely stay up until oh, mid December. I am not a slave to the calendar.

TinyTuna and Cousin are in the other room watching TV. They have to agree on whatever they watch -- it's just another one of my many rules. I don't do the "let's take turns" deal, because then you have one happy, gloating child, and a room full of pissed off kids ready to spit in their chocolate milk. So they stand in front of the tapes and DVDs and discuss each option with all the seriousness of an international summit roll call. "Lion King?" "I agree." "I disagree." "Peter Pan?" I disagree. I disagree. On and on it goes until they hit an "I agree" all the way around. Sometimes we have to take a couple spins through the list before they reach consensus. Now, I have nothing against kids making deals, because hey, compromise is part of life. Overall though, the "agreeing" policy works pretty well, because mean mom says they don't watch anything until they've reached a resolution. The TV-off rule moves things along nicely.

Other than that, the two are coloring like crazy. They are drawing pumpkins on paper plates, cutting them out with TinyTuna's "special" (ragged edged or decorative) scissors, gluing them to plain white paper and then decorating the paper. I'll have a fully decorated house soon. Meanwhile, I'm off to do battle with a chemistry experiment of my own -- my fridge.

More later.
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Friday, October 24, 2003

RAMBLIN' ROAD

It's true. I don't want to work anymore today. I'm just making sure the carpeting doesn't roll up under my feet for the next two hours. Don't snicker...It's an important job. I may even multi-task and sort my recycling at the same time. Yay me!



--SURVIVOR--

Survivor last night? It was great. Best moment? Not from the castaways. Not from Probst. From TinyTuna. She and I watch Survivor in my bedroom. She lays on my bed and watches, and I sit in my chair and watch while I chat on Hamster Time. At one point early in the show, I must have been chatting and looking away from the screen. An enormous GASP comes forth from TinyTuna. I stop. "What? What? What happened?" I ask. TinyTuna starts shaking her head slowly. Here comes the Melodrama (we call it "Mellydrama"). "Oh mom," she says. "Jon just did something entirely RUDE!" "What?" I ask. TinyTuna looks at me with her most serious look: Eyebrows jacked up to the heavens and eyes as wide as plates, and exclaims (with pauses between each word):



"Middle. Finger. UP!"



I crack up. But I regain my composure quickly. It's good that she thinks that "middle finger up" is an Emily Post don't. I shake my head in sync with her. Jon isn't very nice, we agree. Later, TinyTuna pulls out her journal. She tells me she is going to write about Survivor. I say ok. She adds, "but I'm only going to talk about nice things. Not Middle Finger Up Things." I tell her that's a good idea. We shouldn't write about those things. Well, she shouldn't -- I just did.



--EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM--

I get emails from an organization called Emergency Email. It was one of those things that I think got started up post 9-11. Maybe it was around earlier. I don't know. It sends out alerts about lots of different things: severe weather, natural disasters and the Homeland Security color du jour --so you can be sure your socks don't clash. I just got one this afternoon, and hoo boy, it's a message I've never seen before:



A POSSIBLE STRONG GEOMAGNETIC STORM IS HEADED TOWARDS THE EARTH AND IS EXPECTED TO REACH EARTH FRIDAY

AFTERNOON OCTOBER 24, 2003. THERE IS A POSSIBILITY OF OUTAGES AND INTERRUPTIONS OF CELL PHONE AND PAGER SERVICE BECAUSE OF ELECTROMAGNETIC INTERFERENCE. SATELLITES ARE ALSO VERY VULNERABLE TO SOLAR ACTIVITY. SOLAR ACTIVITY IS RATED ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 5 WITH 5 BEING THE MOST INTENSE. THE STORM APPROACHING IS

EXPECTED TO BE A 3, OR MODERATE.



Now, I don't know why. But I started laughing. A lot. First of all, I love it that emergency letters are all in CAPS. Caps mean it is IMPORTANT. Caps mean, "listen up. WE'RE NOT KIDDING. Hey! Parental revelation. It has just occurred to me: TinyTuna leads her life with the Caps Lock on. (see: MIDDLE. FINGER. UP!!) Anyway. A Geomagnetic storm. It sounds very science fictiony to me. Beware one and all. Your cell phone might not work. Oh the horror! The humanity!!



Look people. My cell phone loses its signal whenever it damn well pleases. It doesn't take much: A bridge, A hill, A shrub, hell, it could be a shadow. If it feels like Schwarzeneggering my conversation, it does, and without the courtesy of WARNING ME ahead of time. Emergency guys? I think us savvy cell phone people are pretty used to their phones not working. After three or four minutes of yelling "Are you still there??" we figure it out, hang up and call a few minutes later. Not that big a deal. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the fact that the Emergency guys care enough to send me their very best. But you know what's even better than the big scary warning? It's a link to their web page, so I can learn me all about sunspots and geomagnetic storms. Hmmm. I feel a current event coming on.

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RAMBLIN' ROAD
It's true. I don't want to work anymore today. I'm just making sure the carpeting doesn't roll up under my feet for the next two hours. Don't snicker...It's an important job. I may even multi-task and sort my recycling at the same time. Yay me!

--SURVIVOR--
Survivor last night? It was great. Best moment? Not from the castaways. Not from Probst. From TinyTuna. She and I watch Survivor in my bedroom. She lays on my bed and watches, and I sit in my chair and watch while I chat on Hamster Time. At one point early in the show, I must have been chatting and looking away from the screen. An enormous GASP comes forth from TinyTuna. I stop. "What? What? What happened?" I ask. TinyTuna starts shaking her head slowly. Here comes the Melodrama (we call it "Mellydrama"). "Oh mom," she says. "Jon just did something entirely RUDE!" "What?" I ask. TinyTuna looks at me with her most serious look: Eyebrows jacked up to the heavens and eyes as wide as plates, and exclaims (with pauses between each word):

"Middle. Finger. UP!"

I crack up. But I regain my composure quickly. It's good that she thinks that "middle finger up" is an Emily Post don't. I shake my head in sync with her. Jon isn't very nice, we agree. Later, TinyTuna pulls out her journal. She tells me she is going to write about Survivor. I say ok. She adds, "but I'm only going to talk about nice things. Not Middle Finger Up Things." I tell her that's a good idea. We shouldn't write about those things. Well, she shouldn't -- I just did.

--EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM--
I get emails from an organization called Emergency Email. It was one of those things that I think got started up post 9-11. Maybe it was around earlier. I don't know. It sends out alerts about lots of different things: severe weather, natural disasters and the Homeland Security color du jour --so you can be sure your socks don't clash. I just got one this afternoon, and hoo boy, it's a message I've never seen before:

A POSSIBLE STRONG GEOMAGNETIC STORM IS HEADED TOWARDS THE EARTH AND IS EXPECTED TO REACH EARTH FRIDAY
AFTERNOON OCTOBER 24, 2003. THERE IS A POSSIBILITY OF OUTAGES AND INTERRUPTIONS OF CELL PHONE AND PAGER SERVICE BECAUSE OF ELECTROMAGNETIC INTERFERENCE. SATELLITES ARE ALSO VERY VULNERABLE TO SOLAR ACTIVITY. SOLAR ACTIVITY IS RATED ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 5 WITH 5 BEING THE MOST INTENSE. THE STORM APPROACHING IS
EXPECTED TO BE A 3, OR MODERATE.

Now, I don't know why. But I started laughing. A lot. First of all, I love it that emergency letters are all in CAPS. Caps mean it is IMPORTANT. Caps mean, "listen up. WE'RE NOT KIDDING. Hey! Parental revelation. It has just occurred to me: TinyTuna leads her life with the Caps Lock on. (see: MIDDLE. FINGER. UP!!) Anyway. A Geomagnetic storm. It sounds very science fictiony to me. Beware one and all. Your cell phone might not work. Oh the horror! The humanity!!

Look people. My cell phone loses its signal whenever it damn well pleases. It doesn't take much: A bridge, A hill, A shrub, hell, it could be a shadow. If it feels like Schwarzeneggering my conversation, it does, and without the courtesy of WARNING ME ahead of time. Emergency guys? I think us savvy cell phone people are pretty used to their phones not working. After three or four minutes of yelling "Are you still there??" we figure it out, hang up and call a few minutes later. Not that big a deal. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the fact that the Emergency guys care enough to send me their very best. But you know what's even better than the big scary warning? It's a link to their web page, so I can learn me all about sunspots and geomagnetic storms. Hmmm. I feel a current event coming on.
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WORD

One of my many pet peeves is the overuse of the word "Word!" in conversation. It mean -- or at least I interpret it to mean -- "I agree with what you just said." Knowing full well that I am behind the times in hip phrases and slang, I asked my boyfriend Google about the word "Word". I jumped over to the International Slang Word and Phrase Dictionary to make sure I was correct in my interpretation of "word".

Word having the final say in an argument.



Not as close as I thought. I've never associated it with an argumentative situation. I've always thought of it as a more friendly "Amen Brother" kind of thing. The Online Slang Dictionary courtesy of Berkeley suggests the following:

Word exclamation 1. an affirmation of agreement. (Question: "I'm going to the movies tonight, dawg - you want to go?" Response: "Word!") Submitted by Slink, FL, USA, 02-04-1998. 2. When used as a question, equivalent to "Are you serious?" ("Statement: "I met Michael Jackson!" Response: "Word?" Submitted by Jasmine, Washington Twp., NJ, USA, 06-12-2002.



That seems closer, although I don't think I've ever seen or heard it used as a question. SlangSite says

Word I agree.

Example: Somebody says something, you say word.




One phrase. Heck, it's just one word. With three different interpretations.



Words can be tricky. Ask General William Boykin. He's in a heap of trouble over a few verbal bombs he has dropped over the past few weeks, and now he is under internal investigation. It's not surprising to me (although it is to him, go figure) that he finds himself in the proverbial verbal doghouse. His central argument with the world at large was based on the classic nanny-nanny boo-boo philosophy "mine is bigger than yours" ("Mine" meaning God), and those words aren't going to sit very well with a large segment of the population. Predictably, Boykin is now singing the familiar song of last defense: "I was taken out of context, Doo-dah, Doo-dah". Uh huh.



Words don't give you a chance for a mulligan (that's a "do-over" in golf-speak) if you screw up. Once you've said them, you're stuck with them. If your words are smart, or witty, or thought provoking or humorous, this can be a good thing. But if they are insensitive ("Watch that little monkey run!"--Jimmy the Greek), boneheaded ("What a waste it is to lose ones mind --Dan Quayle), stupid ("I did not have sex with that woman" --Bill Clinton) or cruel ("I will pursue as my primary goal in life the killer or killers. They are out there somewhere" --O.J. Simpson), you may be spending a long time explaining yourself over and over again. You can apologize, beg forgiveness, say you were misquoted, or taken out of context, but words stick to you forever. Even after you're gone, your words live on. Doo-dah. Doo-dah.



Despite my excessive electronic ramblings to the contrary, I am not sure I'd categorize myself as being a person of a great many words. I enjoy getting my zings in where and when I can, and certainly there are times when I need to be clunked on the head with a shut-up anvil, or taken to task with a giant delete button. But overall, I prefer to have my actions do the talking. I'd rather listen first and talk second. I would hope that my words would support and not contradict my behavior. I'm not saying actions cannot be misinterpreted as well. But over the length of days, which is more powerful and more meaningful --- what a person says, or what a person does?



As I am currently caught in the struggle over the interpretation of words, I have come to realize how powerful words can be. Over the past several weeks, I have listened to and read the words of people exhorting their expert opinion on the exact, irrefutable meaning of words. Interestingly, in many cases, the level of expertise appears to have a direct correlation to the personal perception of power -- educational, social, financial. These words somehow are thought to carry more weight than others. These opinions matter more than others. Words. Words. Words.



But in the end, it's just words. And if there is anything I've learned and worked so hard to instill in TinyTuna, it's the fact that while words are a good first step, it's the next step that really counts. It's what you do. It's the actions that back up your words. It's Missouri. TinyTuna gets it, even when she'd rather not. "I know mom. It's not just what I say. It's what I do." I only wish adults understood this concept.



Easier said than done?

Definitely.



Actions speak louder than words?

Word.

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