Thursday, January 29, 2009


I'm not sure that the story about high fructose corn syrup being full of mercury is going to withstand any scientific scrutiny -- there's kind of a funny smackdown of it on the blog Daddy Types already -- but if it gets those annoying Corn Syrup Is Great! commercials off the air, I'm all for it. I don't really get how bragging that your product is just as healthy as sugar (big scoopfuls of sugar, actually) makes sense anyway.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow blunder

Big boo boo in our school district this morning. The teachers got told there was a snow day, the elementary-school parents got told there was a snow day, the middle-school parents got told there was a snow day, but the school website and public-access TV channel that high-school parents have to rely on to tell them there's a snow day? Didn't get told. So anybody without a younger brother or sister or a teacher in the family was left looking out the window and saying ... sure looks like a snow day, but if the website says there's school, isn't there school?

Nope. We live next door to the high school, and it was pretty obvious, looking out my window at the unplowed parking lot and unshoveled sidewalks and dark building that there wasn't going to be school. My daughter was working Facebook, gathering intelligence from kids who'd heard one thing or another, sharing our observations of the empty campus and trying to figure out if there was official word anywhere. A couple of local news channels said our schools were closed, a couple didn't say. The message finally got up on the website and the public-access station about the time the high school would have been starting, and after my daughter's friend had already stood outside waiting for a bus that never came.

I expect many angry, angry letters in the local paper this week. The website's usually so reliable in the case of snow closings and delays, there's a reluctance to believe it's wrong when it bears no emergency message. Whatever mistake got made, they'll have to make sure it doesn't get made again. And maybe pay a couple of high-school students to post the official word on Facebook, too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Battle at the Barnes & Noble

My friend and I went to Barnes & Noble last night, and almost got caught up in a fistfight in the cafe. It gets brutal in there, you know, with not enough tables for everybody who wants to enjoy an overpriced cup of coffee, and students treating the place like their own personal study space for hours and hours and hours.

We've heard customers get sarcastic when told they couldn't keep sitting without spending, and we've seen some spirited dashes for an open chair that ended with grumbles and stinkeyes, but nothing like this business yesterday. An elderly fellow, without any apparent purchased cafe item in hand, sat himself down in the spare chair at a couple's table. The couple, understandably, didn't want to sit at close quarters with a stranger, particularly a stranger who started yelling at them for lying that the spare chair was waiting for somebody and accusing them of just wanting an extra chair for the lady's coat.

It got to the point where the two men were standing up and yelling one another -- I believe there were accusations that the table-holder had insulted the table-encroacher's hat -- and some poor Barnes & Noble employee had to come over and break them up without actually ticking either one of them off. Not possible. He finally coaxed the old guy away from the table, and talked to him for long enough that the couple finished their beverages and moved on.

A pair of young women sat at the three-chaired table next, and you just knew what was going to happen. One woman went to place an order, and the other was just starting her sandwich when the troublemaker, having eluded the Barnes & Noble employee's grasp, came and asked if he could use the third chair. The girl said sure, thinking, surely, that he would take it somewhere. Instead, he sat in it, turned sideways so that he was staring directly at her as she ate, inches away from her sandwich. She had that look you might get if a wild animal was staring you down: Perhaps if I stay very still, and pretend like I don't notice, it won't attack me.

My friend and I scooted out of there shortly after, grateful that the Extra Chair of Doom wasn't at our table. I'll have to make sure to avoid extra seats in the future. My coat can fend for itself.

Friday, January 23, 2009

They pull me back in

I haven't watched ER in ages, but they've managed to do just about the only thing that might make me tune in for one of these Last! Season! Really! We Promise! episodes: talked George Clooney and Julianna Margulies into coming back. I wouldn't blame either of them for not agreeing to join the reunion 'n' resurrection tour that this season's become, but I'm awfully glad they did. Now to hope that the ER powers that be, whose oafishness is part of the reason I stopped watching in the first place, don't do anything to ruin the pretty nice send-off Doug and Carol got the first time around.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

IEP report

Had a pretty successful IEP meeting for my son today. The reports from the teachers were very nice, and it sounds like he might make the honor roll again this marking period. More importantly, the teachers mentioned that he's curious and asks questions and is a leader among his peers. It's been really gratifying to see a new group of teachers at a new school (high school!) who don't know him see that he's a good kid with strong abilities. I know there have been some behavioral glitches in some of the classes, but the teachers seem to understand that it's more a case of him copying troublemakers rather than being a troublemaker himself.

Next year we're pushing him a little with some more inclusive placements, and I sure hope we're not going too far. He'll still have his one-on-one, so it's not like he's hanging out by himself, but I'm thinking now of how great it is for him to be a leader, and whether that's still going to be the case when he goes from being the highest-functioning kid in the class to the lowest. We'll have to keep a really close eye on things. But I'm cautiously optimistic about inclusion for him, which I've never been before. We'll see if the school can do its part to make it work.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not exactly Mr. Current Events

My son came home from school yesterday talking about how they had watched the presidential inauguration in his gym class and lunch period. His verdict on this historical occasion? "Boring!" Now, if they start showing iCarly or SpongeBob SquarePants on the school TV, then he'd probably be impressed. Momentous political events? Not so much.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Technical difficulties

If you've been stopping by the Mothers With Attitude site over the long weekend and noticing some, shall we say, dysfunctionality, come on back, it should be fixed now. I had to make some changes, and they caused me to bump right up against the limits of my technical knowledge. I eventually got everything working, but only after many many site-jumbling tries.

Well, it's not all working. I think the humor essays are still a little wonky, and missing their menus. I'm going to take a little break to rest my head before I tackle that, though. I've got my son's IEP meeting on Thursday, and I need to feel competent.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vote for a special-needs cause

I wrote something today on my site about the vote going on at, to determine ten issues with which to present the incoming presidential administration for consideration. One of them has to do with full funding for Medicaid waivers, and since it needs a good "get out the vote" push to get it into the top 10, ahead of, say, hemp legalization or a Secretary of Peace, I thought I'd mention it here, too. Go to this link:

to register and vote.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stupid driver tricks

Have you ever seen someone who drove the wrong way up a highway offramp, or maybe read about someone doing that in the paper, and thought, "What kind of idiot does that?" Well, I have your answer for you.

Me. I'm that type of idiot. That type of idiot is me.

It happened on Saturday, in the snow, when I was looking for a highway onramp I was pretty sure was somewhere around where my son and I were driving. I didn't see it until we passed, then made what looked like a perfectly A-OK right turn on next big street. The road promptly divided, and since I saw cars coming at me on the left, I went up the little ramp on the right ... and saw a truck coming at me there. It was, in fact, the offramp from a major highway. To say I panicked is to put it lightly.

If I ever had a doubt that my family is being watched by God, I now have proof. We're blessed that cars started coming at us toward the start of the ramp, where there was room for me to pull off to the side and not get creamed. We're blessed that they then stopped coming at us long enough for me to do a shaky three-point turn and get out of there. We're blessed that, during the part of the turn where my car was spread out all the way across the ramp, there was not another truck barreling off the highway. We're blessed that I didn't get us both killed, because that's the sort of thing that usually happens when you start entering highways the wrong way.

Think of me, next time you're set to curse some dummy who made an unthinkable driving mistake. And say a little prayer.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Preparing for emergencies

There was a "smoke event" at my kids' school on Friday, which turns out to have been someone throwing a flare down in a crowded hallway, and it getting kicked around where it could burn people and fill the area with smoke. A teacher and a student were injured, and the rest of the student body wound up outside in the freezing cold without jackets -- or, in the case of my son, in his shorts-and-T-shirt gym uniform.

A threat was received for another such attack today, but so far, from my window facing the school, I see no fire-alarm exodus. I can usually hear the chatter and know all 3,000-some students are out there even with my curtains closed. I hope this means they've thwarted the attempt, because although I remembered to send sweats for my son's gym uniform, I forgot to dress him in something sufficiently warm for the rest of the day. If they have to split out during class or lunch instead of gym, he's going to have another cooooooooold spell.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Testy about tests

Next week is midterms at my kids' school, and while part of me looks at my son's class and wonders who on earth thinks it's a good idea to give these students hour-and-a-half tests, part of me is glad that they're getting something approaching a regular-education experience even though they're in self-contained. Should be a heck of a rocky week behaviorally, though. Awful close to the routine-messing-up of Christmas break. Yeah, four half-days with long tests are just what we're lookin' for now.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ice capades

Well, I guess this is my comeuppance for my post about cars slipping on ice in the school parking lot the other day. This morning, the roads seemed to be fine, but the sidewalks were a skating rink. It's that nasty ice that looks no different from the wet pavement around it, so you basically have to step small and pray.

Our first hint that the morning commute would be treacherous was when my daughter said goodbye, headed off down the front steps, and wound up in a heap at the bottom of them. Assuming she'd tripped, I went to run down the steps to her, and did one of those cartoon feet-out-from-under-you falls. Yowch.

I took my son out through the garage when it was his turn, and we managed to pick our way very carefully to the school, but there were near slips all along the way. Later, I went to put salt on the pavement and steps in front of the house and fell again. I'm tired of this. Is it spring yet?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Free calendar, and other useful stuff

A few goodies from my site, in case you haven't been over there (and why not?)

I'm also starting a Tip of the Day feature, right up top on the home page. Check it out! (Daily! Please! I have to believe that somebody's looking at it.