I am the face of evil…

April 11, 2011 at 12:27 am (Funny at least to me, Somewhat Serious) (, , , , , , , )

Yep, it’s true. I am what’s wrong with Western Civilization. I am the face of evil…though I kind of think if this were *really* true, I’d be a little bit better dressed, and wouldn’t be weighed down by this pesky conscience-thing. But apparently, I have become the undoing of society: I am a teacher.

And frankly, I’m getting a little tired of the being blamed for everything that goes wrong. I’m a teacher, therefore I am why kids are failing at school (not because parents no longer insist that school is a priority). I’m a teacher, therefore my union is hell-bent on destroying the local economy by demanding exorbitant salaries and job perks (such as health insurance, and wanting to earn enough so I don’t have to go out and get a part-time job to support my family).

But I’m not really angry. Just frustrated. It’s so easy to point fingers and place blame on the little people…and let’s face it, teachers are the little people in education. Society points at the school board, who points at the administration, who points at–you guessed it–the teachers. However, teachers are also the most important part of the educational puzzle. We are the ones in the trenches every day, trying to keep a broken system from destroying what is left of the educational process. And though there are bad teachers out there, just like there are bad doctors and business executives, society may be better served by *supporting* those individuals who spend more time with a child that their own parent, rather than attacking them for asking for a fair deal.

So I figured what better way to deal with my frustration than through sarcasm and technology? Can I just say Xtranormal rocks?


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#25 has begun…Beads of Courage

March 27, 2011 at 11:20 pm (Bucket List, Somewhat Serious) (, , , , )

Time for another update on my “40 before 40” list…and yet, again, thank God I have over 2 years to get this done. I am moving at a snail’s pace, but I am happily blaming Mother Nature for deciding to extend winter, effectively pissing in my Cheerios and making it impossible to find my motivation. Thanks, Mother Nature. You’re a peach.

Seriously though, one of the most meaningful quests on my list is #25. This item involves me donating 500 beads to Beads of Courage. I encourage you to visit their site, but in a nutshell, BOC has programs providing artisan-made beads to children fighting cancer. When a child faces an event in their treatment when courage is necessary, they are allowed to choose a bead, and add it to their string. When they have beat the disease, and have completed treatment, they are given a purple heart pendant, which is also made from an artisan bead. The program began in Phoenix, AZ, in 2005, and has expanded to hospitals in 34 states, as well as overseas.

Those who know me in real life may, or may not, know that I make handmade glass, or lampwork, beads. I’ve done so for a number of years, mainly as a hobby and form of therapy. To be able to know that what I am creating will help brighten the day of a child with cancer has been so incredibly liberating on the creative front. Nothing but joy infuses these beads.

My first batch of beads for Beads of Courage

I still have a lot of beads to make before I reach my goal. Right now, I am sending in about 25. But I have never had 25 more important beads in my possession.

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The Queen of Soul Was on to Something…

March 25, 2011 at 1:28 am (Dating is Fun, Somewhat Serious) (, , , , , , , )

Photo courtesy of Sukanto Debnath on Flickr

Ladies, we need to talk.

Some of you are acting in a way that is hurting your sistahs. Big time.

It’s all about respect. Yes, that same R-E-S-P-E-C-T that Aretha sang about in the 1960s. Except, some of you aren’t demanding the respect that is owed to you. And it’s making it pretty rough on the rest of us.

When I first jumped back into the dating pool, I hadn’t been actively looking for love for about 7 years. I figured it would be similar to the last time, when I would go on a couple of winner-dates, and then hit it somewhat lucky and meet a man I could stand to be around for more than an hour at a time. And he would court me, like guys do when they have enough respect for you to actually try to let you know they might care.

Was I wrong.

Apparently, a lot of you are putting up with a ridiculous amount of crap, just in the name of not being lonely. Because the guys out there seem a little, no, make that a LOT, surprised each time I’ve called them on their crap.

And what “crap” am I talking about? To be fair, I must admit, I am very high maintenance…I am talking about a man having enough respect for me to refrain from discussing his oh-so-average manhood until I’ve known him for more than 10 minutes. I am talking about not lying about something major, such as your age, or the fact your marriage actually failed once were convicted of securities fraud. I’m talking about basic manners, where you call someone if you have to cancel on plans, rather than blowing someone off altogether.

I’m talking about seeing me as a successful, intelligent woman, not a pair of boobs. I’m talking about dressing in more than a ratty T-shirt with your oil-stained flannel from 1983 the first time we meet. Out in public. Not in your garage.

I’m talking about something as simple as holding the door open for me, not because you want to get into my pants, but because it’s who you were raised to be: someone who is man enough to still respect a woman.

But back to you, ladies. You know who you are. The one who says it’s OK that he calls only once or twice a month for the booty call that leaves you feeling like crap the next day. The one who ignores the fact that pokes fun at your weight, or your family, or your clothing, during the first date, because it’s better to feel small and be with someone than be alone, right? The one who makes excuses for why he is treating you like an afterthought (the truth on that one? He treats you like an afterthought because you let him).

Ladies, you may not expect respect. That’s your choice. But you’re ruining it for the rest of us who have an ounce of self-respect left. You making it seem as if it’s OK to treat a woman like a piece of meat, like a toy. Because you enable this ridiculously bad behavior every time you agree to see him again, every time you let him off the hook for his thoughtlessness, every time you demean yourself for the sake of being in a “relationship”.

So, ladies, please do me a favor. Do all of us self-respecting women a favor. Look at yourself in the mirror. Really look at yourself. And I want you to repeat to yourself, over and over again, until you believe it: “You are worthy of respect. You deserve to be treated better. You will not allow him to diminish your self-worth.”

Once you believe the message, send it loud and clear to those men who want you to accept their crappy behavior. Make it known that you deserve everything Aretha was singing about. Don’t accept anything less.

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NFL = Need a F*cking Life

March 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm (Somewhat Serious, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Photo courtesy of Zolotkey on Flickr

If I see one more report on the news about the poor NFL players, who already make millions of dollars, complain about being shafted by the owners, who also make millions of dollars, I may just learn how to throw a football properly so I can chuck one at Roger Goodell’s head.

What’s ironic, at least to me, is that this NFL labor dispute is happening the same time collective bargaining rights have been stripped from state employees and teachers in Wisconsin. Unions, especially teacher’s unions, are being made into social pariahs. Yet, I am supposed to give a damn about over-paid athletes and their greedy money-grubbing owners not being able to achieve labor peace.

What’s even more ironic, is I have yet to hear that the NFL players should be stripped of their bargaining rights. It’s OK for them to make millions of dollars, because enough people in the nation won’t blink an eye at handing over thousands of dollars a season to attend games and buy memorabilia. But ask people to pay 1% more to support education in their local community and you would think we had asked them to donate a kidney in a back alley. Because, God forbid, we mess with their weekly excuse to drink copious amounts of beer while watching our modern version of the Roman Colosseum.

I’m not anti-football. My family grew up loving the Buffalo Bills, so you don’t need to preach to me about the passion everyday people can have for a sports team, and how it can benefit local pride.

I am pro-education. And to attack teachers for wanting a decent salary, while not even blinking an eye as these athlete/entertainers demand more money per year than the average person makes in 20-30 years speaks to how really messed up our values have become in this country.

The average cost of an NFL game ticket for this past season was $76.47 (ProFootballWeekly.com).  There are 16 regular season games. That’s $1223.52 for a single seat, for a single season, not including any pre-season or playoff games. And people will pay that at the drop of a hat to watch grown men beat the snot out of each other for 60 minutes a week.

Ask the same household to spend that on education for an entire school year, of minimum 180 days, with a minimum of 180 minutes of instruction PER DAY, and the uproar begins. How dare the schools bleed us dry? Their only job is to educate our children and they can’t even do that…right?

Education in this country is never going to improve until we value it more than we do our entertainment. It will never improve until we stop blaming teachers as the reason there’s not enough money to educate our children. It will definitely never improve when some parents make it clear they are willing to spend ridiculous gobs of money on a hard plastic stadium seat, but vocally decry schools for needing money to buy books and pay good teachers.

Let the NFL have it’s lockout. The world will keep spinning. Even more, life in the United States will not begin to crumble.

Keep attacking the teachers and pulling money away from education, and society will crumble. In fact, it already has. The barbarians are at the gate, but they joke’s on us…we are the barbarians, and we are breaking down the walls of our country.

P.S. I wrote this before the tragedy in Japan. Now, more than ever, I hope people begin to gain perspective on how ridiculous it is that we are allowing ourselves to give a rat’s ass about a bunch of whiny megalomaniacs (on both sides) wanting a bigger piece of the pie.

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It’s a small world after all…

February 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm (Somewhat Serious) (, , , , , , , )


Photo courtesy of Kenneth Lu

Growing up in this age of technological change has allowed me to see both sides of the coin. I remember when we only considered our friends to be those people we had actually met in person. You could only really build a relationship with someone who you spoke to in person. Your social network consisted of those people you interacted with on a daily or weekly basis, in person.

With the exponential explosion of online social networking, I began to hear stories of people who counted among their friends people from across the globe, whom they never spoke with on the phone, much less knew face-to-face. And I thought that was very weird. How can you know someone through the cold infrastructure of optic cables and servers…how can you really care about them like you might your neighbor next door?

Yesterday, there was another earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. I have never been to New Zealand. The closest I’ve ever been to meeting someone in person from that part of the globe was seeing an exchange student from Australia in the halls during high school.

But I do know a woman in New Zealand. Through the cold infrastructure of optic cables and servers. She’s a fellow lampworker, who frequents the same forum I do, who friended me on Facebook. I’ve never met her face to face.

The emotional reaction I had to hearing that there had been another earthquake was as valid and real as if it had concerned one of my relatives. My first thought wasn’t “Those poor people,” it was “Fiona! Is she OK?”

And I’ve learned an important lesson. You can know someone through technology. The world has gotten much smaller, not colder and more distant. Social networking has allowed us to reach out and embrace each other from afar, people we never would have known existed 20 years ago.

And isn’t that connection really what it’s all about?

Where we used to be limited to forming connections with those in our own towns or cities, the whole world now awaits our participation in its construction. I don’t need to see your face to know you. I don’t need to hear your voice to know you. I only need to reach out and connect, and you are now part of my world.

So the next time someone bemoans how distant the world in becoming, I will be more skeptical that they are choosing to withhold their contribution to the social network that exists in the clouds. Because those creepy little mechanical puppets in the Disney ride were correct in their little cult mantra: “It’s a small world after all.”

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Reflections should be limited to mirrors…and clean bodies of water.

January 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm (Somewhat Serious) (, , , , , , )

It’s been about a year since I started this blog…mainly as a therapeutic outlet for my foray back into the world of dating. I kind of knew going in that dating in my late 30’s was going to be nothing like dating in my 20’s, but even I couldn’t predict the gauntlet I would be running in the quest to find a suitable mate.

It makes me appreciate the idea of arranged marriages. For real, yo.

The past year has been funny, but not really fun. Thanks for bursting my bubble, reality–most of the good men really are taken. I’ve meet a few…OK,only two…that I even considered real mate potential. One of those chose someone else, allowing me to ask distance myself and then ask, ‘What the eff was I thinking?’ So thanks for the help on avoiding a major mistake, dude #1. The second, is phenomenal. Truly–one of the most interesting and highly admirable persons I’ve met in years, let’s not even worry about the dating aspect. Which we won’t right now, because the fates, sadly, are having none of it. But he does give me that little seed of hope, which sometimes, is the best of all possible outcomes.

During this quest, there have been so many nutjobs that I worry about the toxicity levels of the water here in Western New York. One guy couldn’t have a conversation without talking ad nauseum about how much he hated his ex-wife and what an evil bitch she was. Way to move on there, dude. After I told him I didn’t think he was in a good place for a relationship, he told me I was mean. Which I took as a compliment, because what he really meant was I am sane. Two weeks later, I get an email from him that he got married over the weekend. W.T.F.? You must be very happy in that world of yours you appear to be floating around in.

And this is mild compared to some of the other nonsense. Good thing I’m a high school teacher and used to dealing with humans under the influence of hormonal rages.

So, I guess this blog post really doesn’t have much of a point…just seemed like I should reflect on the year. Great idea. Now I just feel like I need a glass of wine.


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What’s next? Teaching them how to drive? Wait, we do that.

January 13, 2011 at 11:51 pm (Somewhat Serious)

Ah, the good old days...

My next blog post was supposed to be about my new love affair with red wine, but since that will always be a hot topic, I decided after hearing a news story today, that I had to bitch about discuss something else.

Today, I heard that the federal government has decided to attack the childhood obesity epidemic by overhauling school lunches. Great idea on the surface, right? The reality is, money that could be spent on books, technology and teachers will instead be diverted to adhering to the new standards. Wait, the feds have said that the will reimburse schools .06 per lunch. Sounds great, again. But if you’ve seen the inside of a super market, you know that overhauling the menu will cost a bit more than .06 per kid. Healthy food costs money, and unfortunately, crap is cheap, which is why schools have been forced to provide crap due to budget constraints.

Am I saying I want to have a bunch of tubby teens running around? Hell, no. I know first hand the costs of obesity, and believe me, the worst ones can’t be expressed in dollars and cents. What really gets me, is that schools are once again being called upon to do a job that should be done by the parents!!

You want to know a major reason why schools are failing at teaching the basics? Because we’re expected to be surrogate parents, not educational institutions. At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, back when I was in school, our parents taught us about this crazy idea called responsibility of choice…I know, it’s amazing we didn’t all cause the cosmos to swallow itself whole with that load of horse shit. Now, schools are being held responsible for teaching kids how to eat. Am I the only one who thinks this is a little crazy here?

Schools now are expected to teach manners, social skills, proper behaviors (yes, they are different from social skills), driving, how to find a job, and any difficult subject parents want to hide their heads in the sand about (sex or drug education, anyone?), plus somehow teach students to be independent thinkers in ever-expanding classrooms that force the upright nail to be hammered down to keep an orderly environment. Not only do these additional “curricula” cost time, they also cost money; money that is siphoned away from the real items that help students learn–good teachers, relevant materials and access to technology.

So you want to see the US start to get back on top? Stop relying on the schools to do the parents’ job, and allow us to teach instead. It’s pretty simple, really. OK, actually, fixing our education system is anything but simple, I realize that. But until we start to believe in schools as places of academic learning once again, we have no right to be complaining about why our students are lagging behind the rest of the world.

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40 by 40…watch out world!

December 31, 2010 at 12:00 pm (Bucket List, Somewhat Serious) (, , , )

Photo courtesy of Micheletb

I’ve always been a very goal driven person. So a few months back, I complained to my therapist that I felt like I was just floating along because I had no goals. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. Recently, I realized, duh, that my life is awesomely sweet now, and *that’s* why I don’t have the big goals that people usually set. I’m pretty damn happy, so I don’t feel that dooming sense of dissatisfaction lurking over my life any longer.

But I do like having goals. It forces my somewhat-lazy butt to get in gear and remember to live life *now*. So even though I won’t be 40 for over two more years, I was inspired by another friend to create a list of 40 items I’d like to accomplish by the time I’m 40…some of them will probably take the 2+ years to get there, so think of it as good planning. And I promise to subject you to all the lurid details when I cross one off the list 😉

  1. See the Northern Lights
  2. Climb a rock wall
  3. See the impact crater in Arizona
  4. Run a 5K
  5. Have my picture taken with one of the lions outside the NYPL
  6. Go to the Smithsonian
  7. Have deep dish pizza in Chicago
  8. Eat fish caught that day from the ocean
  9. Visit Ellicottville for the day
  10. Go camping (yep, never been camping for real, Girl Scouts doesn’t count)
  11. Go to the Eternal Flame Falls
  12. Swim in the natural pool at Buttermilk State Park
  13. Take a lampworking class from a well-respected artist
  14. Have a poem published in a print journal
  15. Write a novel-length piece of fiction
  16. Learn to play “Everlong” on the guitar
  17. Buy a pair of Doc Marten boots (preferably the red velvet ones)
  18. Donate platelets
  19. Sign up for the Bone Marrow Registry
  20. Swim with dolphins (preferably not because I got tossed overboard)
  21. Go whale watching again
  22. Find that perfect red lipstick
  23. Have dinner at the Buffalo Chop House
  24. Learn to make stained glass
  25. Donate 500 Beads to Beads of Courage
  26. Visit the Outer Banks again (need a replacement Dirty Dick’s glass!)
  27. Go snorkeling & hopefully see a sea turtle
  28. Make a homemade pie
  29. Make homemade lemonade in the summer
  30. Try 10 new fruits/vegetables I’ve never eaten before
  31. Learn to make stamped metal jewelry
  32. Make some resin jewelry pendants
  33. Go on a ghost hunt
  34. Visit Savannah, GA again
  35. Drink nothing but water for a week
  36. Have a butterfly land on my hand
  37. Take the train somewhere
  38. Learn to make clothes on a sewing machine
  39. Learn basic Calculus
  40. See the Persieds meteor shower

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How May I Not Help You?

August 9, 2010 at 10:45 pm (Funny at least to me, Livin' La Vida Loca, Somewhat Serious, Uncategorized)

Today one of my friends–we’ll call her Gloria, because that’s what Samir insisted on calling her, because apparently he couldn’t quite get the name Claire…who is actually Gloria here, but whatever. So Gloria Claire tries to contact customer service for our local cable company.

Local, as in, the customer service company is in India. Because it wouldn’t make sense to have the department charged with helping your customers located in your own country.

Now there is a semi-humorous exchange between Gloria Claire and Samir, which ends up with Samir being useless, and Gloria Claire serving as her own technician and solving her problem. Thumbs up, girlfriend.

But that’s not my real point today (yes, I actually have one).

How many of us have called customer service lately, only to reach a customer service rep who is struggling with English, and has an accent so thick you really not quite sure if they are crediting your account, or preparing to send you a contract for your soul? And how many have lamented about those damn foreigners taking away jobs from Americans due to the great outsourcing movement?

Now, I agree; outsourcing sucks. Big time. Outsourcing of jobs have cause friends to lose jobs, small towns to lose the livelihood of their citizens in one fell swoop. So I am totally anti-outsourcing.

But the problem, I contend, lies with us. Or with US.

Americans have an insatiable appetite for the cheap. We love our capitalism as long as it means we can buy jeans even cheaper…but the very same beast is responsible for your neighbors losing their jobs.

In order to produce goods cheap enough to satisfy us, companies have no choice but to move operations where they can get away with paying pennies…rather than the living wage we as Americans expect. What do we really think is going to happen? A company is going to take a hit on their profit so that they can keep jobs here and fill our need for greed? Not happening. Instead, we complain about having to deal with customer service from across the globe, when we are the ones responsible for its existence. Way to chase your tail.

So the next time you are bragging about the $10 jeans you got from Wal*Mart, be sure to go to your local unemployment agency, and thank anyone there who might have made that possible for you. Sure they lost their, jobs, but damn, you got a hot bargain. Awesome.

Photographic Evidence of Superlative Customer Service by James Cridland

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