Saturday, May 08, 2010

WPA Conference

The statewide homeschool conference is today. It used to be a given that we'd be there. We saw friends. We collected ideas. We were energized in our decision to homeschool. We led workshops. We purchased goodies from the curriculum fair. It was a highlight of our year for nearly twenty years.

This is the fourth year in a row we have been unable to go. That constitutes a huge change in my life.

Not only that, but I am not as distraught over missing this conference as it seems I would expect. When I see the cool workshops, I know those ideas are for bygone days -- just like when I see awesome baby toys or puzzles or dollies that nobody in my house is interested in. In these waning years of homeschooling, wonderful new school ideas are more burdensome than stimulating.

As we approach the end of our homeschooling years, I find that there is less joy in it. When the older kids were finishing up their high school years, there were always younger ones around who still had time to pursue their passions, read and discuss books and music and ideas. There was still lots of self-motivated learning that grabbed our attention. That provided balance to the family. Nowadays, it seems like we're just trying to jump through others' hoops, whatever hoops may be necessary for college and career and jobs. Our homeschooling efforts now are focused on making the kids acceptable to the outside world. That takes so much of the joy out of homeschooling; we are no longer learning for the sake of taking pleasure in learning. Now we do what "they" expect us to do. And that is like a monstrous vacuum cleaner, sucking delight out of our school days. Almost like a dementor.

And just think: that's how most students spend almost all their school years, doing what they must to keep Somebody happy, seldom experiencing the thrills of learning for learning's sake.

Today's Laugh

How many second violinists does it take to change a light bulb?

None. They can't get up that high!

Friday, May 07, 2010


A lot of creeping charlie, dandelions, and thistles have been weeded out of the berry patches. Personally, I have no desire to put thistles and dandelions into my compost pile. They say that a proper compost pile will generate enough heat while decomposing so that weed seeds are rendered sterile. I doubt my compost heat is proper.

So what to do with all those dandelion roots and thistles? Seemed reasonable to get rid of them. Y'know, like as if they were GARBAGE. Bagged 'em up. Put 'em out with the trash. Garbage man came and took the trash ... and left the bags of nasty weeds.

When I called town hall to see what was up, they told me the rule is that no compost materials can go into the garbage. It must all go to the town's compost pile. But ... but ... but ... that means if I take compost from the town's heap o' compost, I'm going to be taking nasties. Wow, I'm glad I never got around to picking up compost last year.

Several years ago my friend Sandy got compost or mulch from her city. There had been poison ivy in it. Unbeknownst to her, Sandy contaminated her flower beds with poison ivy oils. For a couple of years, she contracted a rotten case of poison ivy when she went outside to work around the house. That fear niggled at the back of my mind last year and prevented me from taking public compost. Now that I know the rules about No Yard Waste In The Garbage, there ain't no way I'm taking public compost. If I can't make my own compost, I'd rather have stale, used-up, tired dirt, or buy chemical fertilizer.

Today's Laugh

One Sunday, sitting on the side of the highway waiting to catch speeding drivers, a State Police Officer sees a car puttering along at 22 mph.

He thinks to himself, "This driver is just as dangerous as a speeder!" So he turns on his lights and pulls the driver over.

Approaching the car, he notices that there are five little old Indian ladies -- two in the front seat and three in the back -- wide-eyed and white as ghosts. The driver, obviously confused, says to him, "Officer, I don't understand, I was doing exactly the speed limit! I always go exactly the speed limit. What seems to be the problem?"

"Ma'am," the officer replies, "you weren't speeding, but you should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be a danger to other drivers."

"Slower than the speed limit? No sir, I was doing the speed limit exactly! Twenty-two miles an hour!" the old Indian woman says a bit proudly.

The state police officer, trying to contain a chuckle, explains to her that "22" was the route number, not the speed limit.

A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned and thanked the officer for pointing out her error.

"But before I let you go, Ma'am, I have to ask ... Is everyone in this car okay? These women seem awfully shaken and they haven't muttered a single peep this whole time," the officer asks with concern.

"Oh, they'll be all right, officer. We just got off Route 119."

Thursday, May 06, 2010


In 1984, George Orwell wrote about a society where there was no privacy. Homes and offices were bugged. Everything people said and did was recorded.

That sounds bad.

But compare that to what we've got today. On Facebook and elsewhere on the internet, we digitally record our conversations, our opinions, our likes and dislikes, and whom we associate with. We post information about birthdays, anniversaries, locations, and employers. I was thinking that this is worse than Orwell's scenario because today --in real life-- we not only have our conversations recorded, but with the power of the computer, everything we say or like or comment upon can be archived, searched, sorted, and analyzed. With the click of a button or two, particular snippets of conversation can be lifted out of gazillions of sentences written by millions of people.

Tonight Nathan sent me a link to an article explaining the technicalities of recent Facebook changes. One sentence says, "The API now includes a search function so developers can finally mine the 25 billion things that the 400 million FB users are sharing each month."

Yup. That's exactly what I've been pondering. I've been considering deleting my Facebook account. And yet, I like seeing friends' pictures. Even if I opt out of conversations, I'm still desirous of seeing pictures. Is that important enough to me to willingly submit to Big Brother's surveillance activities?

Today's Laugh

A man observed a woman in the grocery store with a three-year-old girl in her basket. As they passed the cookie section, the child asked for cookies, and her mother told her "no." The little girl immediately began to whine and fuss, and the mother said quietly, "Now Ellen, we just have half of the aisles left to go through; don't be upset. It won't be long."

He passed the mother again in the candy aisle. Of course, the little girl began to shout for candy. When she was told she couldn't have any, she began to cry. The mother said, "There, there, Ellen, don't cry. Only two more aisles to go, and then we'll be checking out."

The man happened to be behind the pair in the checkout line, where the little girl began to clamor for gum and burst into a terrible tantrum upon discovering her mother would not buy any gum. "Ellen, we'll be through this checkout stand in five minutes, and then you can go home and have a nice nap," the mother said.

The man followed them out to the parking lot and stopped the woman to compliment her. "I couldn't help noticing how patient you were with little Ellen," he said.

The mother replied, "My little girl's name is Tammy. I'm Ellen."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Today's Laugh

Bill and George are bungee-jumping one day. Bill says to George, "You know, we could make a lot of money running our own bungee-jumping service in Mexico." George thinks this is a great idea, so the two pool their money and buy everything they'll need: a tower, an elastic cord, insurance, etc.

They travel to Mexico and begin to set up on the square. As they are constructing the tower, a crowd begins to assemble. More and more people gather to watch them at work. As they complete their set-up, they decide to demonstrate to the potential customers what fun it is to bungee jump. Bill goes first. He bounces at the end of the cord, but when he comes back up, George notices that Bill has a few cuts and scratches.

Unfortunately, George isn't able catch him and pull him back onto the platform before Bill plummets for another bounce. When Bill comes back up again, he is bruised and bleeding. Again, George misses him.

Bill falls again and bounces back up. This time, he comes back pretty messed up; he's got a couple of broken bones and is almost unconscious. Luckily, George finally catches him this time and says, "What happened? Was the cord too long?"

Bill says, "No, the cord was fine. But what the heck is a 'pinata'?"

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Today's Laugh

A man goes into a bar and seats himself on a stool. The bartender looks at him and says, "What'll it be buddy?"

The man says, "Set me up with seven whiskey shots and make them doubles." The bartender does this and watches the man slug one down, then the next, then the next, and so on until all seven are gone almost as quickly as they were served. Staring in disbelief, the bartender asks why he's doing all this drinking.

"You'd drink them this fast too if you had what I have."

The bartender hastily asks, "What do you have, pal?"

The man quickly replies, "I have a dollar."

Monday, May 03, 2010

Today's Laugh

When I returned home from college for a break, I noticed a paper posted on the refrigerator. It listed some goals my dad had set for himself. "Help wife more. Lose weight. Be more productive at work."

I promptly added to the list: "Send Michelle money every month."

A few days later my brother wrote: "Make payments on car for Jason."

Then my boyfriend joined in with: "Buy Tom a Jeep."

Finally my father added a new goal to his amended list: "Wean kids."

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Today's Laugh

A cannibal was walking through the jungle and came upon a restaurant operated by a fellow cannibal. Feeling somewhat hungry, he sat down and looked over the menu:

Tourist -- $5
Broiled Missionary -- $10
Fried Explorer -- $15
Baked Democrat or Grilled Republican -- $100

The cannibal called the waiter over and asked, "Why such a price difference for the politicians?"

The cook replied, "Have you ever tried to clean one? They're so full of crap, it takes all morning."