Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hyperventilating .. need paper bag STAT!

An LL Bean outlet store opened today, a mere 80 miles from my house.

And thus, the question of where to spend my overtime pay has been answered.

Road trip, anyone?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Perfect unschool field trip, in pictures

Apple picking at Behling Orchards in Mexico, NY.

Onwards to Oswego, NY, on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Visit Fort Ontario.

Sewing "machine" in the Officers' Quarters #1. Note the treadle.

Laundry day, circa 1869.

Wash basin atop a shipping crate, covered in chintz.

I was bemused by the concept of a young military family "making do" with what they had. Sadly, it seems that the vast majority of my peers have succumbed to the gotta have it all, right now, and the Rent-A-Center will make it happen for us for only $20/month for the rest of our debt-infested lives phenomenon. But I digress.

Then, we were off to the Salmon River Hatchery in Altmar, NY. While the salmon run is not near its peak yet, there were some beauties at the ladder.

On the way back to our car, I spotted the perfect tree for our 2007 unschool portrait. My kiddo is pretty darned handsome, if I may say so myself.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Hello out there!! I am resurfacing after three nights shifts in a row. Those 12 hour shifts are a lot harder on my body than they were when I was in my early twenties, but I'm actually feeling pretty good. Yes, Mom, I'm taking my vitamins and getting good quality sleep during the day ;)

My sweet husband surprised me with a wonderful gift on Saturday. Steve and William took a boys' day out trip to Syracuse while I slept. They brought me an order of Venetian Apricot Chicken from the Olive Garden, complete with salad, breadsticks, and an Andes mint. So yummy! It was enough for my dinner* two nights in a row. Nothing chases the night shift dementors away like takeout from Olive Garden.

*or whatever one calls the meal at zero dark thirty after all the charting is complete!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Here comes the sun

About 0625 this morning.

A grateful recipient of those early morning rays.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Oh, no. No, no, no.

Two U.S. soldiers whose signatures appeared on an op-ed piece in The New York Times critical of the war in Iraq last month were among seven Americans killed in a truck accident outside of Baghdad.

Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray and Sgt. Omar Mora are gone. May they rest in peace.

Monday, September 10, 2007

And speaking of nuns ...

I had a truly bizarre dream last night, and I'm still trying to determine its meaning.

Here's the recap:

I was at a garden center, picking out some bedding plants. I found some beautiful blue hydrangeas.

That's not too strange, considering that I just planted Icicle Pansies and purple tulip bulbs in my front flower beds.

I went to some strange place to plant these hydrangeas. It was a woodsy kind of place, and the house was up on a bare rock outcropping. We (and I don't know who comprised the "we") decided that the hydrangeas would do best if planted in pots on the porch of this strange place.

A gaggle of nuns then went running down the rock outcropping. One of the nuns was quite old, appeared to have Alzheimer's or some form of dementia, and was scooting down the rocks on her hands and knees. Sister could move like no-one's business!

Then, a snake appeared. In my dream, I said to myself, that's just a garter snake. No worries. In real life, I'm actually quite fond of garter snakes. This dream snake was quite a bit larger than the standard issue garter snake, and was black with yellow blotches. The snake was not threatening, and it was headed down the hill as well. He was followed by many other four foot long, black and yellow snakes. None paid any attention to me. The snakes and the nuns were just moving away from the house as quickly as possible.

Then I woke up, but was it took me a good five minutes to work up the courage to get out of bed and heed nature's call, because I was afraid that there were snakes on my bedroom floor.

Blue hydrangeas, rocks, nuns, and snakes. Anyone care to interpret that one?

Anyone? Bueller?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Another call for impeachment

Full disclosure: I am a severely lapsed Catholic.

About 15 years ago, I found myself to be in profound philosophical opposition to many of the Vatican's dogmatic views towards birth control, divorce, and homosexuality. While only one of the above had any direct impact on my life, they were dealbreakers. I voted with my feet, and feel no guilt whatsoever about that choice.

However ...

I still have a soft spot in my heart for the nuns, especially those who channel their energies into social justice.

The National Coalition of American Nuns has called upon Congress to impeach Bush and Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors.

I pray that their voices will be heard.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Gee, ya think?

Food additives appear to increase hyperactivity.

Allow me to respond to this, bit by bit.

Artificial food colouring and preservatives commonly found in many of the foods children regularly eat appear to lead to increased levels of hyperactivity, finds a study in The Lancet.

Increased levels of hyperactivity? Try causing hyperactivity. Visit a classroom party at an elementary school, resplendent with orange pop and chocolate, and try to convince me that I'm wrong.

The study found that it wasn't just children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who were affected, but all the children had trouble with inattention, impulsivity, and overactivity.

Not just the previously labelled children. All of the children.

A team led by Jim Stevenson of the University of Southampton in Southampton, UK, had 153 three-year-old children and 144 children aged eight or nine years consume one of three drinks:

Mix A, which contained artificial food colouring;
Mix B, which contained the preservative sodium benzoate and artificial food colouring;
or a placebo drink.

The food colourings used were: tartrazine, sunset yellow, carmoisine, and ponceau. The amounts of the chemicals in each drink were adjusted for each of the two age groups.

Behaviours were measured by a global hyperactivity aggregate (GHA) based on ratings by teachers and parents, plus a computerized test that measured attention spans for the older age group.

The researchers found that, among the three-year-old children, mix A had a significantly adverse effect on hyperactivity compared with placebo in GHA. The effects for mix B were mixed, with greater variability in the response to the active challenges than placebo in this group. Among the eight and nine-year-old children, they showed a significantly adverse effect when given mix A or mix B.

Colour me surprised. /sarcasm

"This study provides evidence of deleterious effects of AFCA on children's behaviour," the authors write, while adding that it remains unclear which specific compounds in their drink mixed were responsible for the behaviour changes. They say that should be further investigated in subsequent studies ... They say further investigation would also need to establish whether the age-related difference noted in their study -- i.e.: the effects of mix A being greater for three-year-old children than for the older children -- can be replicated.

Further investigated? Are you kidding me? What more needs to be discovered?

The researchers note that increased hyperactivity is associated with the development of educational difficulties, especially in relation to reading.

Ya don't say.

Myriad factors came into play when we made the decision to pull our son out of the public school system in order to educate him at home. Nutrition was one of them. For the first four years of William's formal education, my diligent efforts at sending a well rested, well nourished child off to school were regularly negated by the lowest common denominator - ie those other parents who thought that Cheetos were an appropriate snack for 5 year olds. I can confirm this study's findings that artificial food colouring (and Gawd knows what else is found in Cheetos) turn children into wolverines. Yeah, that's it. Wolverines. On steroids. And Cheetos.

Gawd only knows how much more time I would have spent in the Principal's office had I toed the party line and allowed my child to partake in the school breakfast and lunch programmes. Sugar-coated donuts, grape juice, and chocolate milk do not lead to a state of readiness to learn. Breaded, deep fried popcorn shrimp is not an adequate source of protein. Broccoli that is limp and brown no longer confers any nutritional benefit. I have not conjured these examples out of thin air. This is what I observed on a regular basis as a dedicated PTO mommy who volunteered at the school nearly every day.

It begs the question: How many of the children who have been diagnosed with ADHD at the behest of the school system are just acting up because of poor nutrition? What would happen if the cafeteria stopped poisoning their tiny little bodies with all of those food additives? How many of the children who truly do have ADD or ADHD receive diluted interventions and services because there are so many kids in the system with tartrazine-induced craziness?

The afore-linked article alludes to the need for "further research." Bunkum.

Here's all that they need to know:

Stop feeding crap to children. End of discussion.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

You have got to be kidding me!

From the Toronto Star:

SUV rams RIDE checkpoint.

An 18 year old, who inexlicably remains unnamed, rammed his 1996 Ford Explorer into a RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) spotcheck.

His BAC was a little under twice the legal limit.

This person needs to be named and shamed. He should never be allowed to drive again.

There is absolutely no excuse for drinking and driving. None whatsoever. Why don't people get this?