Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Don't tell me why

You'd think for all my protests that I'd just stop tuning in to this hideous show, Super Why. At this point, it's like stopping to watch a car accident ... you just can't look away. And besides, it's interesting to divine the subtle socialist messages from a mere kids' show.

Maybe you're familiar with the tale of the little red hen. LRH wants her farm "friends" to help her make corn bread for her chicks. Who will help her? "Not I" is the refrain from her "friends." By the way, I don't know why she calls them her friends. Friends are usually happy to help. I can only assume that these are just random barnyard acquaintances that she's mistaken for creatures who give a crap about her.

The Super Readers change the story so that instead of saying "Not I," her "friends" listen to LRH. Now why would they suddenly want to listen to her? Well, because she told them why she needed help. Oh, well, that solves everything. Maybe our soon-to-be leader should just go over to countries like Iran and explain why they should be good boys and girls and not annihilate their neighbor, Israel. That must be why Iran is still hell bent on destroying the Jewish nation; no one's really explained the situation to them properly. See what happens when children are fed a steady diet of socialist ideals? You get naive, self-important leaders who have more of a sense of entitlement than diplomacy. I digress ... back to the land of unicorns and fairy tales.

In the end, however, LRH offers them some cornbread to thank them for helping her.

My question is why didn't LRH just offer them some cornbread in the first place? Honestly, this self-centered, something-for-nothing attitude really irritates me. It's not the first time that I've detected it in this show, either. Remember this post?

Something tells me that the lack of a reason is not really why her friends wouldn't help. Here in the real world, people are naturally selfish. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Selfishness is about self-preservation and survival. As with any thing in life, taken to extremes, it's unhealthy and stands in the way another human need for survival - community. But, here's the secret: there can be no community if people ignore their own survival instincts. So, yes, as odious as this might seem to some of you, the world works on a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" basis a lot of the time. When bonds between humans are weak or tenuous, this concept of mutual benefit helps build trust. When that trust makes the bond stronger, then you can enjoy a more free flowing give and take that is a building block for communities.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Random thoughts on a sleepless night

Why do UAW members get to collect 95 percent of their pay when they're not working in a program called a "job bank," but I get no pay for taking maternity leave? Why do I have to be labeled "disabled" just to take time off for maternity leave? And if I'm "disabled," can I at least get a good parking spot out of the deal? Maybe I should apply for a handicapped placard just to prove a point.

I turned in my forms this past week for maternity leave. Incidentally, they ask if the "disability" occurred on the job. Ahem, considering my condition, that's a rather personal question, don't you think?

And here's a little tidbit to chew on: The U.S. is one of only four countries out of 173 in a recent survey that doesn't guarantee some form of paid maternity leave; the others are Liberia, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea.

You know me, I'm not all that keen on paying people not to work. But it's a sad day indeed when the U.S. is in the company of three small, obscure, practically third world nations in its family/work policies.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The alien invasion

This is too funny not to share and much needed comic relief after a multiple tantrum, 100-decibel whining day. Oh, and by the way, I finally found the four missing shapes from Danny's Magna Doodle. And it didn't even require searching on my hands and knees. All it took was to think like a toddler and, bam, there they were in the diaper basket that he's been dropping his plastic coins in every day.

Enjoy the video.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The opposite of nothing

A new photo album here.

Though it's rather late in the pregnancy, we decided to go ahead and have an ultrasound done. I might as well spill it ... I'm not being cared for in the traditional manner and we're not having this baby the traditional way. If all goes well, she'll be born at home. Yes, that's right, I said "she." It's a girl, a rarity in a clan of boisterous Meehan boys. With her arrival, there will be twice as many boys as girls among the Meehan grandchildren.

It's taken a day or two for the shock to wear off and the reality to set in ... as in, "You mean I have to learn how to fix hair, do nails and like all things pink and princessy?" and "Oh, yeah, we'll have to pay for a wedding." Also, Danny and Jim need to have a meeting to decide whether girls will be allowed in the clubhouse.

That said, the moment it dawned on us that she was a girl was priceless. I had just told the ultrasound technician about the eight boys and three girls, then turned to look at the screen.

I asked, "What am I looking at here?"

"This is between the legs."

Jim: "There's nothing there." (apparently the opposite of penis is nothing)

I'm thinking, "Where's the penis? Maybe it's floating around behind his stomach."

As the ultrasound technician types "It's a girl" onto the screen, she answers my husband: "That's because it's a girl."

Her name is Fiona Grace or as Danny calls her, Baby Ona.

Monday, December 08, 2008

On a (misguided) wing and a prayer

The hysteria surrounding the automaker saga is getting more bizarre by the day. Now we hear that churches in Detroit prayed Sunday, with SUVs on the altar, that Congress would save them. Do they know how utterly ridiculous this appears to the rest of the country? Actually, they unwittingly put the two things people in this country worship most on a pedestal: Washington and status symbols. Read more here.

This is disturbing on so many levels, I hardly know where to start. For starters, they might as well have been praying to Congress, not for Congress to bail them out. It seems a majority of people or at least the most vocal people in this country increasingly look to Washington for salvation. Last I checked with the big guy, prayers should ask for God's will, not tell God the acceptable course of events. I also seem to recall a bit about worshiping false idols.

How do these auto workers (and executives for that matter) know that saving their jobs is what's best? Maybe they're suppose to lose their jobs, move on with their lives, move to a different state, meet new people, make new connections. Life is a very complex web and banking on one, and only one, outcome seems short-sighted. As for false idols, they will only let you down. The automakers will accept what their god offers, be indentured for life and have a very limited future. I'll accept whatever my God offers, have a greater sense of freedom and an endless possibilities. Seems like a much better deal to me.

In the past few months, a local newspaper has run a feature on the Monday business page about what area CEOs, mostly the successful ones, are reading. More often than not, religious or spiritual material is on their list. My sense is that relying more on God than man is partly, if not totally, responsible for their success.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Learning has no set shape

For those who have followed this blog, you'll recall my mild anxiety over Danny's progress with the shape sorter. If not, here's an excerpt from May:
I've been a little worried that he can identify shapes, but can't seem to place the square in the square hole without a whole lot of frustration and some direction from mommy. Each day, he picks up a square, circle, star or triangle and tries mightily for like 3 seconds to put it in a non-matching hole before hyperventilating, screaming and hurling the shape across the room.
He still can't get the shapes in the right hole. It still frustrates him. Well, Danny's 50-cent MagnaDoodle came with four magnetic shapes and a magnetic pen. He can correctly put all four shapes in the holes. The difference, I think, is that the shape sorter has one purpose - and that purpose frustrates him. The MagnaDoodle is an activity he enjoys.

This seems to square with my educational philosophy that people learn what they need to know when it's a part of their life, not part of a formal curriculum. Danny quickly tires of an activity that is meant to teach a certain skill, but quickly picks up that same skills when it's secondary to an activity he enjoys. He's not big on puzzles either, by the way, nor is he very interested in reading books; but he is interested in letters and in how certain objects fit into certain spaces. His (and my) favorite activity is our computer time when we "do letters" as he says. For months, we've enjoyed Starfall.com, which uses a phonics-based approach. I suspect he enjoys the one-on-one time and the physical closeness more than the letters. That doesn't mean he isn't learning. He definitely is - the letter M happens to be his favorite one. But when we started out, learning wasn't my primary focus. I was mainly looking for an activity that he might sit still for and that would fit nicely into our daily routine. As for puzzles, I've given up. The other day, in the back yard, with as intense concentration as I've ever seen, Danny repeatedly slipped a thin stick into a tiny hole on our grill. For him, that's a puzzle.

Back to the MagnaDoodle ... unfortunately, the shapes are all now missing and while my OCD tendencies are kicking in, being eight-months pregnant has thus far prevented an all-out, hands and knees scouring. Incidentally, I had my husband take the feet off the sofa and chair in the living room so that toys (and dust and dog hair) wouldn't get swallowed. The downside? Now the sofa and chair are about two inches shorter and, for me, sitting down and getting up is a little more difficult.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

No respect

If you ever needed a more blatant display of government contempt for its constituents, here it is:

At a city recreation center, the five closest parking spots, other than the handicapped spaces, are designated for staff.

Really? Maybe it's just me, but seems that the people who pay the staff's salaries, keep the lights on and even pay an entry fee on top of city taxes should get better parking spaces than the staff (especially if a person happens to be 8 months pregnant with a toddler in tow).

To be fair, this attitude permeates society. I've seen employees of restaurants and grocery stores take the best parking spots. I once saw a store employee park in the last spot designated for customers with children and stroll in to work while I hauled my pregnant butt and a toddler into the store. To be sure, I had some words with the manager and never darkened the store's door again.

At least with a business, I can vote with my wallet (or what's left of it after Uncle Sam picks my pocket). With a so-called government service, there is no incentive to offer quality because the agency gets paid with stolen money no matter what.

Addendum: Not five minutes after I wrote this, I found this lovely article. Sen. Harry Reid is grateful that the Capitol Visitor Center is now air conditioned because in the summer, he says, "you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol." Wonder if those tourists got crappy parking spaces and had a nice, hot concrete hike to the Capitol.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What can 2-year-olds do?

A photo album from his birthday party yesterday.

Apparently, 2-year-olds can get out of their bed at 2 a.m., go downstairs and play with the trains they just got for their birthday.

At around midnight, Dan started crying and I went in to his room at least three times to calm him down. First visit: retuck him in, rearrange his stuffed menagerie. Second visit: New diaper. Third visit: Ibuprofen for teeth? Just a wild guess. After that, I decided there was nothing more I could do and just let him cry it out. And, no, that's not cruel at his age. He's learned to try crying at different frequencies, pitches and lengths to see which one will bring a warm body.

It was around 1:45 a.m. and I had just wondered aloud to Jim why Danny hadn't just gotten out of bed by now if he was so unhappy. Fifteen minutes later, Jim says: "I think he's downstairs."

Sure enough, there he was, wide awake, playing on the floor with his trains in the living room. Caught in the act, he didn't even flinch when I told him to come back upstairs with me. He slept until 7:30. I guess he just needed a little train fix.

Next time, I'll remember to latch the gate at the top of the stairs.