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Friday Five (on Sunday)

Mr Adam ponders:

Going through some old papers my parents brought from their house last week, I found several notes to my parents from teachers I'd had growing up. I got to thinking about the legions of teachers I had for the first 21 years of my life, and wondered:

Who were the 5 that had the greatest impact on me as a person, for good or ill?

1) Miss Stoehr and Miss Palfy, both in 4th grade. The way our elementary school was set up, you had two teachers for each grade and would change classrooms after lunch. Miss S was a former nun who, I think, was simply too nice to make it as a god-penguin. Miss P later became the school's principal, which rocked. Both helped me through a rough year--rough mostly because my mom was coming unglued and home was, to say the least, unsettled. Miss S came over to dinner a couple of times and did the best she could helping my mom find some help. Miss P gave me a cool-ass copy of The Hobbit at the end of the year, simply because she knew how much I loved to read. I still have it, in fact, and it is a treasure.
2) Mr Conoran (I think that's how you spelled it), seventh grade English. He pushed us pretty hard, but, man, did we learn a lot about how to think and reason. Exactly the person you want teaching in Jr. High.
3) Mrs Babcock, second grade. We moved from Chicago to Pittsburgh right before second grade. When I went to go take the placement test, I was having a shy day, which I remember being pretty common right after the move, and didn't speak during the whole exam. Of course, the principal assumed that I had some kind of exotic learning disability and put me in the "slow" class. By the end of the first month, I would sit in class and cry, simply because I was so freaking bored (which isn't to say that I'm a genius, just that I was a little speedier than the kids I was with). Of course, it was then assumed that I had an exotic learning disability and a personality disorder. It was Mrs Babcock who figured out that I just needed more of a challenge and lobbied to move me into the other second grade class. It did the trick.
4) My trig teacher in high school. Can't remember his name. Horrible instructor. Never actually taught and would sit in front of the class, mumbling about cosines, then assign problems from the book, which we were on our own to figure out how to do. I still don't know squat about trig, nor do I ever care to know more.
5) Dr. Stephen Lyons, Allegheny College, history. Amazing teacher. Again, pushed us hard but it was so worth it. Lots of reading, lots of discussions--during which you were expected to be on your toes at all times. I'd always kinda liked history before but he made me love it.

As usual: other Firday Fivers in the left list.

maybe if I were blonde...

Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson's book proposal, which I'm sure will get snapped up quicker than tuna at a housecat convention. I'm of two minds, frankly. In some ways, dreck like this helps to fund the books that won't make mega-bucks. But it makes my head hurt that dreck like this is so dang popular in the first place.

Still, I'm sure Nick and Jessica have great advice on marriage to share with the world, which they have thankfully decided to share with us mere, trainerless, coloristless mortals...

Via gawker.

friday five

Posted by proxy from Mojave 66:

My apologies for the lateness-- I've been scrambling at odd hours to try to
get into San Francisco's City Hall to marry my partner of 12 years. It's
been an amazing, profound experience-- such an outpouring of love and
support from damn near everybody in our city. Florists have been dropping
off free roses, there are offers of discounted hotel rooms, people passing
around food and honking and waving their support.

So this week's question is inspired by all this: what are the five most
profound moments of your life? Those are those moments when you know your
life is going to be altered for better OR for worse, that the path you've
chosen has either been slighly altered or you've even fallen off a damn
cliff and now it's incredibly altered. You may have no clue where this new
path will take you, but you know for a fact that you're stepping off in a
new direction.

Rough chronological order:

1) Moving to Texas with Scott. Sure, we were serious about each other and lived together during our last two years of college, but it's a whole other ball o' wax to pack up and move 2000 miles from where you've lived for the past 10-odd years. Oh, and you really have no job prospects in the field you've just spent four years getting a degree in. And you're really just following some guy across the country because he's the one who really seems to know what he wants. It was a huge leap, made huge-r by having to unpack in frickin' Texas during August and during a drought. Good times. Thought I'd made the worst mistake of my life.
2) Not getting in to grad school for the second time. In hindsight, this was the best thing that could have happened. At the time, tho, it was devastating.
3) Catching an episode of Oprah my second year in Austin. I'm not really an Oprah watcher. No, really. But it was on and I lacked the will to do much else. The show was about regret. She did a whole segment about folks on their deathbeds and what they regret the most. And it got me to thinking--what would I regret the most, if I were on my deathbed? It was an epiphany--it would be not seeing if I could make it as a writer.
4) The Diva.
5) Moving to Oneonta. The jury is still out on this one. It made sense on paper, but the reality is something else. Too soon to tell.

Other Friday Fivers on the left list.


I mean, June Cleaver was not expected to drill the Beaver with algebra flashcards when he was 6 months old. June Cleaver was not expected to drive 10 hours round trip to a soccer match. June Cleaver wasn't expected to home-school and, by the way, look sexy the whole time doing it. So even June Cleaver couldn't meet these standards today, which are absolutely through the roof. So it's actually different from the '50s: It's more intense.

From The Mommy Myth, which Salon, MSN and others have been talking about. It's about damn time we started talking about the "new momism," where every mother should be fulfilled by nothing but nurturing the offspring and pleasing (in all sorts of ways) her mate--and if she isn't led to utter bliss by this, clearly she is somehow defective. Authors Douglas and Michaels tap into the swelling underground of disaffected moms who keep being told to be quiet and make tofu snacks for Junior's Montessori class. It is just as potent as The Bitch in the House--but 30 times funnier and smarter. A balm for this mom who has been accused of being too mouthy on more than one occasion and a spark for a much-needed public debate during these cloyingly conservative times.

the lastest salvo in the rodent war

So this morning, as I'm sitting here beavering away in front of the machine, I notice a weird metallic clanging from the heating vent behind me just as the heater kicks on. Odd, I thought, then (mostly) forgot about it.

Until the dining room smoke detector started shrieking, that is, and the house filled with a strange smokey smell. No actual smoke, far as I could tell, just the smell, which was reminiscent of a bug slowly charring in a halogen lamp. I leap from my chair. Then the basement smoke alarm goes off. Still, no smoke just that smell.

After a minute of running around, I figure out that it would be a good idea to turn off the heat, which I do. I go into the basement, where I open up what I could of the furnace, which seems fine to me. (A note, here: I'm a writer, not an HVAC technician. This is a good thing.)

So I call the spouse. After a brief round of furnace Jeopardy, he decides to come home.

It dawns on me, suddenly, that Mooch had been acting strangely (that is--more strange than usual) all morning. He spent his a.m. lounging on the office heating vent while staring down it, something that he never, ever has done before. Like the weird clanging noise, I filed it away and (mostly) forgot about it.

Scott comes home. I tell him about Mooch's (relative) weirdness. We come to the conclusion that he's probably dropped a toy down the vent, hence the clanging, then the smell. Still, it would be better to remove it, just in case it should catch on fire or emit toxic fumes or something.

You might be able to see where this is going.

Scott descends into the basement. (Another note: our basement is best enjoyed by folks under 4'11". Scott and I are both taller than that. By a lot.) More clanging ensues.

"It's a toy mouse," he calls from the basement. "Wait, no, it smells too organic for that." "Organic" is his word. But he's right.

Problem is, he can't see into the heat exchanger very well, given the ductwork and the low clearance. We try to remember where we have a small mirror. I lament that this is one of the few times that it would be great if I wore make-up regularly enough that I carried a compact. The Diva's room is searched and a book with an attached mirror is found.

It turns out to not be needed. I follow Scott back into the basement, bash my head on a duct corner and contort myself in front of the tiny hatchway into the belly of the furnace. I'm just enough shorter than Scott that I can get a better angle on what is stuck in there. It is a nicely charred mouse.

Old salad tongs are located. I try to remove said barbecued vermin, but just push it deeper, past the point where we can reach it with the tongs. Scott dashes up the stairs and returns with a pointed stick (at this point, imagine reading that with a Monty Python cant to the words, which is exactly how Scott said it. Giggling occurs.)

The mouse is jabbed at with the pointed stick. No luck. It can be speared, but we just seem to be pushing it further into a spot we can't get to without taking the entire furnace apart. It is, at least, no longer on the parts of the thing that get very, very hot, which should end the burning meat odor. Which is something.

During the mouse-poking, I have the brilliant idea of pulling the filter out to see if I could get to the crispy critter that way. The answer would be no. However, I did find the fairly fresh remains, uncooked, of yet another mouse, one who had clearly chewed through the filter and had been decapitated by a turbine or something. You don't want to know what it looked like.

Through all of this, Mooch sat at the top of the basement steps and watched us with rapt (for a cat) enthusiasm. Near as we can figure, he injured a mouse, which either scampered or was dropped down the office vent. If something more sinister happened, I'd prefer to be kept in the dark.

So--for those keeping score, Mooch is no longer useless. Not all that helpful, granted, but not useless.

weird silence

No Friday Five yet. Class prep for this week is kicking my behind. And we seem to be suffering from a Biblical-type plague of mice. They're very cute--no bigger than my index finger, gray fluff and tiny tails. The cats, however, are still useless. Woo.