Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Moving Day!

Please come and visit me there!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Congrats, Coogs!

I'd be amiss (and sleeping on the couch) if I didn't post a big fat congratulations to Coach Penders and the newest Conference USA Tournament Champions, the University of Houston Cougars, for their big win yesterday over UTEP! Official site here. Goooooo Coogs!

And Social Justice for All

You know, I've always thought that Jesus (as a historical figure rather than a divine being) would have been a liberal. Admittedly, I've got little information on his fiscal policies, but socially, there can be no doubt that he was a staunch defender of the poor, the hungry, the outcast, the sick, the debtor, the oppressed, and the underrepresented. He would have voted for universal health care, for education reform, for truly compassionate assistance measures, and in general, he would have agreed with legislative efforts to cure the unwell, feed the hungry, house the homeless, and right the unjust.

I understand that many conservatives have hearts as well, choosing to meet many of those same goals via private foundations and groups, often religious organizations. And that's quite admirable. But those groups don't have to assist anyone - they can turn people away for not agreeing with their political ideals, for not agreeing with their religious tenets, and for not abiding by whatever (potentially arbitrary) guidelines they have. And that's their prerogative, of course. Furthermore, these organizations can't serve everyone - they may not reach all rural areas and they may not be able to handle the huge needs of urban areas.

Although I do think private organizations accomplish a lot of good deeds, I don't think they are willing or able to serve all populations and all needs. I also do not think that these organizations should have to serve all of these needs - the burden should fall on all of us to take care of those who cannot care for themselves.

Nonetheless, I was shocked to see a news article last week concerning my favorite political clown, Glenn Beck urging folks to leave their churches for attempting to help the needy and right social wrongs. "Social Justice" is a term used by many churches that provide assistance to the needy as well as those that seek to remedy the root of the wrongs they perceive in our society. They believe that the Bible mandates this activity.

I don't disagree that we have a moral obligation as human beings to try to stop suffering wherever possible, except I don't require any external source to tell me what I should think is the right thing to do. I'd like to think that most people, despite their political affiliation don't, but I've been proven wrong many times recently.

I noticed today that CNN.com has a decent short article on the matter if you are interested. Bonus quote from Jerry Falwell, if you can stomach it.

I sincerely doubt that Mr. Beck is going to make churchgoers think any differently. He apparently wants to connect the idea of "social justice" with that of "socialism." Despite the common latin root, the terms are easily distinguishable, except by those who don't want to distinguish them.

I assume Beck knows that religious individuals make up a huge percentage of his viewers (note that I am NOT saying that all religious individuals watch the show, have ever watched the show, or have any interest in the show whatsoever). I'd be interested to know how the average churchgoer in his audience feels about him - are they offended or do they agree?

Will anyone actually heed his advice or will some be offended and stop tuning in? Both? Or none of the above - his audience clearly gives him loads of leeway with regard to "facts" and silly things like that, since he is an "entertainer" (ignore the fact that his show appears on a 24hr news station, just for a moment).

My suspicion is that, like Mr. Beck does with the truth, his audience will pick and choose the parts of his show they like best and ignore the rest, in accordance with their needs, whims, and prejudices.

EDIT - Here's a follow up on this subject from a Time.com blog. Apparently the churchgoers are armed with torches and pitchforks and the beckpeddling, er...backpeddling has begun.

Nom Nom Nom

I met this gorgeous little baby at a birthday party last week - I couldn't resist taking some snaps of her enjoying that cake! Isn't she adorable?

Monday, March 8, 2010

I can't not post this.

My kids went nuts over this video.

Credit to Bryan Oltman from Olathe Kansas for this gem.

Blogroll, Please!

Hey - I'm pretty sure some of you have started/changed/moved blogs. And I've unfollowed (defollowed?) anyone who hasn't posted in over six or eight months...visual clutter makes my brain hurt, sorry! So if you are up and posting again, let me know and if you have a new public blog you want me to visit/follow/link to/stalk, please post in the comments. J.H. and a few others I don't think I have the locations of your latest efforts. Thanks!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dear Mr. Rabbit:

The six year old wants to write to the Easter Bunny with his list of...requests? Demands? I wasn't aware that the Easter Bunny took requests. And truthfully, I'm not sure he will, though I have it on good authority that if the boy were to ask for a couple more Magic Treehouse books, he'd be happpy with the result.

So he tells me "Easter Bunny lives in California." Really, now? I did not know that. Furthermore, I do not know how he knows that.

Luckily I have a friend in California who, as it turns out, lives right next to the Easter Bunny. Quite fortuitous, really. She graciously suggested that we mail the letter to her ten year old son who will personally run it over to the rabbit hole and she'd even make sure Mr. Bunny mails a response back. How awesome is that?

At bedtime tonight I told the boys I'd look for the proper address on the computer. I can't wait to see the look on his face when I tell him I found it....you just can't buy that kind of magic.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What would you do?

Texas carseat law, summarized, requires kids in carseats until they are eight years old. The law changed recently, but even last year, the cut-off age was five.

I was sitting in the carpool line today and the parent ahead of us (us being myself and the two little ones) had a two year old (I'm guessing here, but about that size) jumping all over the car - front seat, back seat, front seat, back seat, mom's lap, smacking the driving wheel, rear view mirror.....

Our elementary school is located on a busy main road, it's not in a neighborhood. And this baby had been leaping around while mom was on the main road, not just while in the car rider line. So I was thinking that not only it is against the letter of the law for the baby to have free reign of the car's interior but it really is dangerous - even a fender bender could cause a major head injury or other serious bodily damage to a child that small. I prefer not to think about what could happen if the car was hit at full speed.

So I thought about it.

And I thought about it.

And I said, screw this, I'm calling the cops. If that baby is ever hurt, I'll have it on my head.

So I did. I was routed through several departments ("no this is not an emergency," "yes, I'll hold," "yes, please transfer me.") and finally got to the right one, being dispatch for the county constable. Shoot, or was it the Sheriff? Whatever.

They said they would send a car out immediately but I told them I'm not sure that would do any good - car rider line only lasts 10 minutes at the most. I had the description of the car and the full plate number and I asked if there was some mechanism to send a letter or other notification to the family as a reminder to comply with carseat laws. I didn't want mom locked away or even fined, just told to use (or obtain) a carseat for the baby by someone of authority that she'd be likely to listen to.

I still felt petty for calling.

They called me back as I was emptying the kids and groceries out of the mommyvan and the carseatless Camry was long gone.

No - they don't have the staff to send a letter or call them. No, there is no program that can deal with that. No, there is not enough funding for that. But they'd drive out to the school where the car left ten minutes before and survey the scene.


Some states have a carseat hotline, I have heard. The parent receives a letter informing them of the carseat laws and letting them know that they need to comply. It really is a simple thing and probably saves lives - certainly money (even state money in the form of uninsured ER visits for those children who are uninsured or underinsured).

I wonder what it would take to implement a program like that here?

What would you have done? Thought "ugh" and then ignored the situation like I admit I've done so many times. Considered calling and then decided it was too much trouble? Or would you have narked on them too?

Chocoholics Rejoice!

In a new Harvard study, researchers found that eating a small amount of dark chocolate daily reduces the risk of some types of stroke by 52%. Per the study author cited in the article, "There are several possible mechanisms, but the effect of rich cocoa on cardiovascular health seems to be through its effect on blood pressure, and the capacity to improve the flexibility of the blood vessels." While not the most common type of stroke, and although it appeared to have no effect on overall cardiac health, I will gladly take this as a sign to continue my chocolicious ways guilt-free. Nom nom nom.

Congratulations, Jenny!

A big, albeit belated, congratulations are in order for my friend Jenny on the profiling of her fabulous blog The Nourished Kitchen on CNN.com this week. Here is her latest post discussing the article.

While we do limit our processed foods, especially for the children, and have cut out entire categories of chemicals, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, I don't at this moment have the time, energy, or inclination to devote myself completely to the "real food" movement as she and her husband do, but we are sloooooowly moving closer to the idea "real" diet - one baby step at a time. And chances are (and I can all but guarantee this), we'll never get there all the way, but there's merit and benefits in partially succeeding.

I find her endeavors incredibly admirable and find the research and thought she puts into her blog thoroughly considered and the science fascinating. Anyone interested in simplifying and health-ifying their eating should have a look at her blog and the recipes and resources she has throughout the site. Go have a look for yourself!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Primary School

We experienced our first foray into the procedural quagmire known as the 2010 Democratic Primary election this week. Mr. Lawyer was appointed the presiding election judge of our precinct and long story shorter, let's just say here's what I've learned:

Elections start early. And by that I mean EARLY. Mr. Lawyer got up at 4:30 (and by that I mean, of course he hit the snooze until 5) to be there to set up at 6:00am. Between several clerks calling the house before 6:30, Mr. Lawyer calling the house at 6:30 to find out why he was alone, and little children who normally sleep until 7:45 on a school day creeping downstairs far earlier wondering why the phone was ringing, it wasn't exactly my dream morning. My dream morning, of course, would have included some actual dreaming.

Democrats are disorganized even on the lowest possible level. They may have some great ideas, but I don't know how they can expect to pass even the smallest of their goals when they can't even figure out where their election officials should turn their votes in to or how many clerks one is allowed to hire for each location.

Republicans (located across the gym) are, by the limited sample we saw, exclusively white, usually aging. And apparently, for some inexplicable reason, they seem to like Rick Perry. He has a great head of hair, I will concede. Other than that I don't see the appeal. Republicans, please feel free to fill me in on why he's worth keeping. Secessionists need not comment.

Highschoolers can legally miss school to serve as election clerks without being old enough to vote so long as they have their parent's and their principal's written permission, but otherwise you need to be over 18 and registered to vote in order to work the election. More people should take advantage of this, assuming your election judge can figure out how many people you are allowed to hire in the first place.

Elections do not pay well. Of course they don't - it's $8.50 an hour no matter your position (if you are in high school or college, still, it's not too shabby for some pretty darn easy work). However, if you are the head guy, you need to keep your clerks happy and most importantly on the premises - this often involves sending out for their lunch, bringing in breakfast, and keeping snacks and cold drinks on hand for your staff. Given the expense, we may have broken even at $0.00 gain/loss. We didn't do this for the money, which is definitely a good thing. And there are leftover muffins. Wait...were. Mmmm.

At least the Republican robocalls will cease...for now. I'm still not sure if they are trying to convert us or they think we already vote Republican, but I received eleventy billion of these calls in the last two weeks either directly from Republicans or "conservative" groups looking to sway us to vote in their favor. Same with the mailings - all righty propaganda. Why? Save your money and spend it on those that are likely to read it.* Exercise some fiscal conservation, eh?

Oh, and somehow Facebook decided that I'm a "real"** conservative too. Seriously, Facebook? Here's an excerpt from my FB page recently demonstrating how well their targeted marketing actually targets:

Oh, and Facebook apparently thinks I live in Austin, am a "real" conservative, and need a divorce lawyer. Um, I think their targeted marketing program needs some fine-tuning.
February 25 at 8:50pm ·
Comment ·Like · View Feedback (11)Hide Feedback (11)

Margaret M.:
I have bought some of their targeted advertising for work. Miserable failure.
February 25 at 9:01pm ·

OK, right now, Mitt Romney wants me to "join his team" and I'm being offered a cupcake coupon for Austin?
February 25 at 9:07pm ·

Sarah S.
I get stuff for Phoenix. I've never even been to Phoenix, and have no desire to go
February 25 at 9:09pm ·

Margaret M.
My ads are slightly more well targeted. Except the one about Obama wanting moms to go back to school with a woman nursing her baby. That's really not me. And does Obama care if I go to school or not?
February 25 at 9:11pm ·

Sarah S.
I've got ZooWorld, Phoenix Real Estate. and a Video Game Design school in Arizona.
February 25 at 9:13pm ·

Now they think I'm "Pregnant in Austin?" No and no. And Obama does want me to go back to school, too, but I don't think that's a political one. Phoenix, eh?
February 25 at 9:23pm ·

Margaret M.
we could do this all night.... Now i have one that says "as a military wife, I can qualify for free online classes". That would mean Mr. M is in the military (no) or I have another husband (SURPRISE, HONEY!!!)
February 25 at 9:25pm ·

Sarah S.
Get Thin in 2010 (Maybe I like being fat. Personal much?) Phoenix 1 day Coupons, Get Flirty Online Dating. (Now you want me to attempt dating after calling me fat? I have a complex now tyvm)
February 25 at 9:29pm ·

Women aren't in the military, silly. Now, support your troops!

I'm being invited to a Mandy Moore dance class in Dallas next month. That is off base on *so* many counts.
February 25 at 9:29pm ·

Margaret M.
Last one - "Puppies are awesome" with a link for an online scavenger hunt and ANOTHER stupid online college.

WTH? Are they thinking I'm dumb? Now I have a complex....jerks.

Fun stuff. Sorry about the lapse in blogging - I've got lots going on (let's all hope there's not a run off in 30 days!) and not enough time to get it all done in, but I've got loads of ideas swirling around in my head....hopefully I can get at least a few of them typed up soon.

*And by that, of course I mean "read it with a straight face."

** as opposed to imaginary?