Monday, March 31, 2008

Superhero Powers

On the radio yesterday they were talking about superhero powers, and which one(s) they would like. As I listened I found myself rejecting many of them, and have been pondering which one I would want ever since.

Read people's minds: Nope, really don't want to know what they are thinking as they look at me or talk to me or work with me. And I do'nt have the self-control to only do it occasionally.

Fly: OK, fun, but really, what use is it? Unless you can carry a full trailer of camping gear and people and everything you need for a vacation.

Be invisible: Again, fun in certain situations, but do I really want to spy on people? Certainly not on the people I know, (TMI!!!) and on people I do'nt know ... I just think the novelty would wear off really, really fast. And I am certainly not the type of person who would use it for illegal gain.

See through walls (and everything else): Um, again, what use is it really? And how distracting to be watching something but also be seeing through it (and where does it end, anyway? If I am sitting on the couch watching TV, I would also see THROUGH the TV, through the wall behind it, through the wall behind that, and so on and so on. How could you focus?)

Super-human strength: OK, so far this one has the most potential, never have to ask for help to open a new jar, be able to pick the car up and put it in that tight parking space, rearrange the furniture without having to empty the bookshelves first, yeah, this one is growing on me.

Invincibility: I worry that this one would be like that disease some kids have (that they always use as a story line on doctor TV shows because it's so sensationalistic - that, and Munchausen by proxy) where they don't feel pain - would I even notice my hand had been cut off? Or does this mean that a saw could go through my arm but it would refuse together as soon as the blade was past? But then again, how often am I in mortal danger, and is it needed for the occasional stubbed toe or paper cut?

Hmm ... so I guess the strength one seems to be it for me. What other powers have I forgotten? Stretchiness like Reed in Fantastic Four or the Mom in The Incredibles? Speed like the kid in Incredibles? Neither of those are of much interest. But perhaps I am not realizing the true advantages to some of these gifts.

What would you pick?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ty's Room

Ta-da! This gives you an idea. I still have to finish the other curtain panel, and the bedspread is just one layer - not a quilt yet. But we are all quite pleased with it so far!

1:00 Sunday Afternoon

Painting in Ty's room is DONE!!


Now just have to run to the hardware store for new outlet covers, and IKEA for a few fun accents ... my goal is to have it completely finished when he comes home this evening.

Will take pictures!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

You knew this was coming, right?

Is anyone out there surprised that I had to go buy more yarn today? I was driving past the Burnsville store and really, it was prudent of me to stop, as there are no yarn shops near my house, so I just saved myself gas and time by pulling in to the parking lot since I was right there, in the neighborhood.

I walked in and went straight to the sock yarn shelves, and the clerk came over to ask if I needed any help. I explained how I had finished a pair of socks recently (see the orange ones below) and was down to only having enough yarn in reserve for two more pairs.

I kid you not -- she, as well as the two other customers in the store, *GASPED* out loud.
We all felt much better when I made my purchases. Phew.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Finished these last night ...

Maybe spring will come now?


So this afternoon I am meeting with a realtor and a prospective tenant who is interested in renting the property I sort of manage.

The realtor calls all excited that he has worked out a great plan.

The prospective tenants are in St. Paul.

The rental property is in Bloomington, as am I.

The realtor's office is in Wayzata.

His plan? Let's all meet at his office because it's so centrally located and convenient for everyone involved!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Snow, Snow, Go Away

I am so sick of the snow. We were teased with that week of warmth ...

I was just ready to not have to wear coats anymore.

Ready to not have the dogs' feet be all wet.

But no, it's March Madness, which means snow.


And more snow.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


As we do every spring, we are looking at educational alternatives for B & T for next fall. This article just came to me in an email newsletter, and it is making me re-think all the things I thought last week!

When I read that kids with high IQs can actually finish all the curriculum of elementary school in as little as one year, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Granted, I know my children's temperaments are not ones that they would have been willing to sit and learn that intensively, but the fact that research proves they could have ...

Well, there's always more to think about ....

Teaching to the Average in Same-Aged Classrooms By Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D.

Remember how I said that the average IQ difference between people who get our jokes-people most likely to become our friends-is 12 points (on a 100 point scale with a 100 IQ being average)? And remember I told you that the typical same- aged elementary classroom has a 70 to 80 IQ range in it? You probably have been told by others-not me-that this is good for children because it teaches them about the real world. Well, in the real world we choose our friends and our activities by how comfortable we are in that environment and by who else we get to spend time with. Also, although it may be nice to have a mix of abilities in the office, we pretty much want all CPAs or medical doctors to have a certain high ability, no lower than what is required to get the job done, right? That's why we have examinations at the end of such training to guarantee that everyone who earns the title actually can do the job.

Did you know that every job or career actually has its own IQ average and its own proven necessary minimum? Google Linda Gottfredson and Frank Schmidt to get you started. They are among those who have shown that people in the professions or other very complex careers need a minimum IQ of about 120 in order to both learn what they need to learn and perform it well. Like IQs or not, these numbers keep correlating with real life outcomes. Oh, and in case you are assuming that you can change somebody's IQ, there are no replicated studies that show any more than an average 6 point temporary increase in testable IQ with even the most intrusive interventional approach, adoption. So, the way I look at it, we need to start educating and training people for what they can do and for what will give them satisfaction, pride, and the ability to take care of themselves.

Most people think that teachers teach to the average. Well, no, they don't. They can't! If they taught to the average, too many of the slower learners simply wouldn't catch on to most of what was happening in the classroom. Teachers teach to the top of the bottom third once they know their class. This way, they reach the slower learners fairly well and the majority of the kids in the middle get lots of encouragement and opportunity to manage their time, learn study skills, and how to handle a certain amount of intellectual struggle and feel success when they finally "get it." The sad truth, though, is that the brightest students end up spending a lot of time waiting for something new to happen. Depending on a number of other factors, like whether they are male or female and their personality profiles, they learn a lot that ends up not being helpful to real life. They learn that if you are smart, you don't need to study or work hard. They learn that their parents and teachers don't know what they are talking about if they think this assignment matters. They learn that they are smarter than everyone else in the class and are in for a shock when they actually do get out into the real world.

David Lohman says that by 1st grade the typical same-aged mixed-ability classroom already has 12 grade equivalencies of achievement in it. Brighter children absorb more from their environments than lower ability children, so regardless of their preschool environment, brighter kids will know a great deal more than low ability children by the time they reach 1st grade. Environment is an extremely important factor in someone's development, but it does not change whether or not someone is very bright or very slow. A child whose IQ is 120 could finish the typical elementary curriculum in about 4½ years, not six. A child whose IQ is 130 could finish it in less than three years. Above 140 needs only one year, but they are required to stay all six and go at the pace of everyone else their age. What a waste of time and talent. Folks, there has got to be a better way.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Technology

Well, I bought a new DVD-VCR combo at Target yesterday, brought it home, hooked it up, and it was incompatible with my television.

I can't even begin to tell you the frustration. (Carla can, as she got to IM with me at the worst of it.)

So I re-packed it up and will take it back to Target tomorrow.


Missed my show last night, Survivor, and couldn't record it. Major frustration continues.

This morning I got up and watched the entire episode online. Fewer commercial breaks, and each commercial was 15 seconds instead of 4 minutes (or whatever.)


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Longing for the good 'ol days

My VCR died this week. It's only 27 years old, so I guess I can't complain. But now I am faced with a dilemma. I have to replace it so I can record Survivor and Dancing with the Stars. Really, I don't bother with much else.

But guess what? You can't buy a VCR any more. At least not all by itself. The simplest I can find is a VCR/DVD player combo. For $99.99.

Call me old-fashioned, but I just don't really want a DVR. I like how videos work. I know how videos work. And I don't want to pay $200 for a DVR.

All I want is a nice under-$50 VCR. Ain't gonna happen.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Overheard at the dinner table...

Mom: tonight I have to knit, to finish up a birthday present which I have to give on Wednesday.

Son 1: Oh, you're not going to work on my quilt?

Mom: Oh yeah, I will do that tonight when I am watching "Dancing with the Stars"

Son 1: But I thought you were going to knit tonight?

Mom: Oh yeah (laughing) -- lately I am so distractable.

Son 2: Maybe that's why you haven't finished it yet.

Mom: Finished what?


Laughter all 'round.

Snowy Day

Just got this photo from my Dad - he took it this morning from their front deck. It's hard to tell, but those are two deer on the driveway. How beautiful!

What Would Colby Say?!?

from I has a hot dog (thanks, Carla, I was running out of things to look at on the 'net)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Painting + Carpal Tunnel

Bad mix.


Yesterday I painted about 2/3 of Ty's bedroom. See, he is getting a new bed, which meant he had to get new sheets, as it's a different size. Since we were getting new sheets, we needed a new comforter cover. Which led to new drapes, which, naturally, led to the need for a different wall color. And of course we couldn't find a comforter cover or drapes that we liked, so we went to the fabric store and bought fabric for me to make them.

So far, so good. I was actually quite excited to begin all these projects as they are the types of things I really enjoy doing and haven't done for a long time. In fact, it took me over an hour to find my sewing machine. You know the house isn't that big.

Anyway, after I started painting, all was going well until I stopped for lunch ... and my right wrist really began hurting. Really. Hurting. And now I am afraid to pick up the brush or roller again as I don't want to aggravate it further. But only 3 of the 4 walls are done. And the one that's not done is partially done, so I can't even leave it the old color like it's a planned decorating element. Contrast and all that.

One curtain panel is done, the top of the comforter cover is done, and the weekend is almost done. Maybe it was a titch too ambitious to try to do it all in one weekend with only my two hands.

I'll post pictures when it's completed.

Hopefully that will be before June.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Made for me

Now I have so many more blogs to read ...

2008 Weblog Awards winners:
(sorry to not have all the links, you will have to go find the ones that interest you on your own ...)

Best web application for weblogs: Blogger
Best Australian or New Zealand weblog: Reasons You Will Hate Me
Best Asian weblog: Freshly Squeezed
Best African weblog: Dotty Rhino
first off, can I say this is only because they don't read Hillmans' blog?! But secondly, I just visited this one, and I enjoyed it - it's the site of the wildlife refuge started by George Adams, of the "Born Free" Elsa the lioness fame, and it's in Tanzania so that makes me feel like I have proprietary rights over it or something! I recommend it!
Best European weblog: Chocolate & Zucchini
Calandria, you will join me in drooling over this website, I am quite certain. A French woman obsessed with food and cooking, specifically focusing on healthy and organic foods but with a VERY healthy appreciation for chocolate ... I am truly salivating after just one visit, of course that was because one entry (about 3 or 4 down) is about making ice cream from evaporated milk and Nutella - nothing else - which, hey, sounds good to me!
Best Latin American weblog: The Wired Blog
Best Canadian weblog: Attack of the Redneck Mommy Monkey
Best American weblog: Dooce
Best photography of a weblog: I Can Has Cheezburger? (see photo at right ...)
Best art or craft weblog: PostSecret
Best food weblog: The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Best fashion weblog: Go Fug Yourself
Best weblog about music: Said the Gramophone
Best gossip weblog: Dlisted
Best entertainment weblog: Television Without Pity
Best sports weblog: Fat Cyclist
Best weblog about politics: Crooks and Liars
Best computer or technology weblog: Lifehacker
Best topical weblog: I Can Has Cheezburger?
Best GLBT weblog:
Best teen weblog: Sarcastica
Most humorous weblog: Overheard in New York
Best writing of a weblog: Confessions of a Pioneer Woman
Best group weblog: Jezebel
Best community weblog: PostSecret
Best-designed weblog: Dooce
Best-kept secret weblog: So Very Alone
Best new weblog: Jezebel
Lifetime achievement: Heather B. Armstrong
Weblog of the year: Dooce

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another Knitting Day-brightener

Another fun knitting project completed! I made a set of 3 nesting felted bowls.

Here they are all knitted but not felted yet. Really, they are just hats before you shrink them down. I was talking to my friend Shawn whose daughter has a magic knitting loom (or some such thing, Calandria, isn't that what Lidia has?) And you could make hats with that, out of 100% wool, and then shrink them into a felted bowl, I do believe.

Here I've attempted to make them stand up like they will when done:

And here they are, nesting so cozily, after the transformation:

Finally, sitting out side by side.

It's just so cool to look at them and think "I made those with a long piece of string!"

I'm past it (for this month, anyway)

OK, I think I am past my two-and-a-half days of feeling down. You'd think I would be used to it now as it happens pretty much every month, but it still takes me by surprise and I don't realize it's the hormones talking until I am on the way out of it again. That moment of clarity came to me about 5PM yesterday.

Last night I had dinner with a friend ... actually I forced her to buy me dinner as when I got to the restaurant I realized I had left my purse at home on the kitchen counter. She was a good sport and we had a delightful meal together. Afterwards when I got home, I sent her a quick email thanking her, and she responded with a note that said "You always make me feel braver about making changes."

You know, that totally changed my mood around last night. I know, I was coming out of my funk anyway, but it reminded me that overall I am so satisfied with my life and the choices I have made and the place I am in now.

So I went upstairs and started knitting - always a sign of good humor here - and started my first pair of "two socks on one needle." A concept I have been aware of for a while and been intrigued by, and now finally got up the nerve to try. And you know what? It's a bit tricky at the beginning to keep all the yarn going in the right direction, but overall I really, really like it. And the best part is, when you're done - you're done! Both socks finished at the same time. Oh - and the really best thing is - both socks the exact same size.
Yup, today is sunny and life is looking up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

my secret vice

I just learned something about myself. Laundry is my drug of choice. (Well, not a drug really, but doesn't that sound intriguing?)

What I mean is that laundry is what I do when I know I need to be doing something but either don't know or don't want to do what really needs doing. By doing laundry I can justify my inattention to those other things, because I can rightly claim that I am not wasting my time or sitting idle.

Nope, those sheets and towels simply must be washed today! And the work projects, and school assignments, and tax organizing ... well, I'm doing LAUNDRY, for goodness' sake, and that's important, too.

Sigh. We have clean clothes but I still have angst about all those other things.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Great Teeter-Totter of Life

It's all about balance and lately I have not been feeling good about my life.
I have been working a lot more than usual, which while is nice in some ways, is really hard in others. I have been burning the midnight oil, as they say, which I used to be able to do a lot better when I was 10 or 20 years younger.
They say 50 is the new 40 but even with that I need more!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Fairy Frost

She calls it "Impossible: Part 2" and this is just one photo of her series ... I literally gasped when I followed a link to this blog. You have got to check out her photos of what she has named "Fairy Frost." Impossible yet so incredibly beautifully possible it just takes your breath away.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Reality Show for Me

Finally, a Reality Show I could WIN. Unfortunately I didn't know about it until way after the players were selected ...

Oprah's The Big Give. Now, Oprah is not my favorite person, even though I do admire many of the things she does. This reality show is all about giving to the community - to individuals and organizations needing a little (or a lot of) help. I watched the first episode, and there were 5 teams of two -- each team had a "situation" where they just had to do whatever they could in 5 days to help. All of them involved raising money, but they also had the chance to bring in community, connections, publicity, and anything else.

And I could have kicked 4 of the 5 teams' collective butts :-) One team did an amazing job on their task, 2 did a really good job, and 2 were very close to being worthless (in fact, I suspect that Oprah did a little behind-the-scenes rescue operation on one team.)

It's all about coming up with a plan, spreading a wide net, and working REALLY REALLY fast.

Totally up my alley.

I'll have to be satisfied watching and knowing what I would have done in their places. And maybe it's just as well, because several times during the show Oprah is standing there looking at the groups saying things like "We'll see who the biggest giver is" when it's obvious that she finds it a rhetorical question, and she is expecting all of them to bow down to her and say "Oh, YOU are the biggest giver of them all."

And she is. But does she have to be so smug about it?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Big C, Little C, Eensy-Weensy C

I often refer to Colby and Chaco as "Big C" and "Little C" but this weekend we had a really tiny C staying with us, too! The boys landed a dog-sitting job for their uncle's 6-month old St. Charles Spaniel, Charlie.
Big C & Little C were wary when we brought in the equipment.

The wariness increased as they met the intruder .. errr, I mean guest.

Chaco decided he did NOT like this at all and spent the weekend hiding from Charlie.

Charlie had a bit of hero-worship for Colby, who tolerated the attention quite well.

We loved having the BABY here and miss him now that he's back home!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jess-kah!

In just under an hour it's my friend Jess-kah's birthday! I met her in Tanzania last summer ... here she hangs with the evolutionary chain at Ngorongoro Crater.


Book-Banning Controversy

This morning I was alerted to a movement by a group of University of St. Thomas parents who are trying to remove Margaret Atwood's book The Handmaid's Tale from the required reading list for freshman literature. The reasons they list on their website basically boil down to there is some (a lot of?) graphic language and imagery in the book that they believe will make some 18 or 19 year olds uncomfortable when reading.

This bothers me on so many levels. First and foremost, I am upset that this is still happening today - that a small group of people try to control what others read, that they try to insist their opinions are more valid than the teachers who assign the book. Wasn't there an episode of The Brady Bunch in the 1960s that dealt with book burning? Didn't Mike & Carol Brady teach their children - and the entire neighborhood - that burning a book is never the solution? Obviously these parents didn't watch The Brady Bunch - or at least they missed that episode. It just makes me sad that this is happening now, in 2008. Probably I am naive.

Secondly, I have read the book in question ... I probably read it the first time when I was in high school - what would these parents say about that?! And I remember the book for its themes and commentary and the futuristic genre. I do NOT recall how many times the "f" word was used (which seems to be one of the main complaints of this group.) I do not remember, much less dwell on, the scenes of violence other than to remember the grimness of society in general in the book. Which, afterall, was the whole point of the book.

I believe the parents underestimate their children's ability to read and discuss the book, and I believe they insult the integrity of the literature professors who selected the book and prepared the discussion activities.

So, as this parent group website urged me to do, I wrote to the faculty of the University of St. Thomas. Unfortunately for the parent group, I don't think my email (to the addresses they so thoughtfully provided) was what they were looking for.

Blog Archive