Procrastination (But I Digress)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Home must be here somewhere

I'm home again, but it's buried under lots of paperwork and things that need to get done. How did that happen? I'm back from a week in Memphis Tennessee--what a nice city! There's a trolley car that runs through downtown from the hotels, past the river front and down to Beale Street where all the clubs and restaurants are. We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and maybe it's just my diet, but wow that was the best burger I've had in a long time. We also ate at a famous BB-Que place and Joe's Crab Shack which thrilled the rest of my crowd. And yes, being in Memphis, it didn't seem right not to visit Graceland. I never have to do that again, although he was a lot cuter than I remembered and he had those eyes. Anyway, the rest of the week was meetings and seminars which overall were really good. If there wasn't so much junk on my desk, it would have been a fabulous trip. I'll survive.

We left at 5 a.m. from the hotel yesterday and got into LA at about noon pacific time. I had a class in West LA at 5 p.m. so it seemed unreasonable to drive two hours home and two hours back, so I was going to stay in West LA for the afternoon and was in no rush--exhausted, but in no rush. I had parked my car at Wally Park where Peter had told me he was going to park his car. We found a tram right away to take us to our cars, but the parking structure did not look familiar at all. I had remembered that I parked next to the north elevators and they were white. The only elevators at Wally Park were blue. Peter found his car no problem and off he went. My tram driver (nice girl) drove around and around looking for my car, but that pesky physics, wishing just didn't make it so. Finally I asked what other parking lots were on that street and sure enough there was another one run by a competitor. We could tell from the street that they had two elevators (my very nice Wally Park tram driver drove over there) and so I got dropped off in front and found the north elevators and there was my car, safe and sound right where I left it. Luckily they also took a AAA discount. Don't tell Peter, I'll never live it down.

I was so tired that I thought I would skip my class, but we did have a presentation due and so I decided to have lunch and if I was feeling better, I'd stick it out. I went to the Fox Hills Mall for lunch and found a great food court with no problems at all. It's probably been 20 years since I was in that mall--it was very nice. I felt great after lunch and so I found the Santa Monica Library on the map and went there. There was no parking--I had to pay for parking in the court parking lot. I hung out and finished my homework and my presentation for the class and then asked for a three hole punch. The library had no three hole punch. So I got directions to an Office Depot and not only did their xerox machine three hole punch copies for you, but they also had my calender refill that is no where in the catalog for the company or on their web cite. Is the universe looking out for me or what?

My presentation went great and I was really glad that I made the extra effort to attend the class, because the first set of grades are coming out next week and the presentation is a big chunk. Now I just have to get busy on the rest of my obligations: Reflections, Tour of Homes, ABWA, Kiwanis, Division, YWCA, Girl Scouts, WTD, 2006 Conv., grading for my class, planning my next lessons, WIB check, my own bills, more homework, PTA programs, I want to prepare a program on the new bankruptcy laws for Kiwanis, my speech (How I hate poetry the way I hate chocolate), my humorous speech (they changed the date just for me), MY REAL WORK AT WORK PILED ALL THE WAY TO THE CEILING and I'm reading a book called the Baby Whisperer because we're going to have a baby in the house any second. Oh, and I leave in 10 days for Grapevine, Texas. Then it's Thanksgiving and Christmas and the year starts all over again. I mean I'm happy to be busy, but this is ridiculous. I need a cookie.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

My First Memory

My first memory of Adrienne is her as a newborn from the hospital sitting in the bouncy seat on the table while we had steak and french fries for dinner. I think I remember lifting out of my seat over and over to get a peak at her and I remember getting passed the bone with the marrow in it because I was the only one who liked it. What was I thinking.

My first memory of Erika is not really of Erika, it is of a blue travel crib blocking the door to the living room in the trailer. I wanted to shove it out of the way, but someone (probably Mom) said, no you'll wake the baby. Baby, when did we get a baby was my thought. I wasn't too bright at four.

My first memory of Gretchen is the same memory as the blue crib--she was standing at the blue crib to try to crawl past and was stopped. I also remember that I tattled on her for not eating her soup and then I got a spanking. I remember because it was pea soup and I really didn't want to eat mine, but I was told that I had too. So when Gretchen wasn't eating hers, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Here I was helping my parents out by letting them know that Gretchen was wasting her soup and I got in trouble. After I got a spanking, I was asked if I knew what I had done wrong. I have a vague recollection of almost admitting that I didn't like pea soup, because that seemed like the bad thing I was doing, but I just said no, and I think that earned me another swat. Again, I was not the brightest child around.

My first memory of Karl is playing on the raised bed in his room in the trailer--we were playing house under the bed and on top of the bed and I remember that he was a bit wild, but I hadn't thought about using the bed as the house in addition to under the bed, so I was impressed with his creativity. A duplex.

We used to have a blue boat on Navy--it was a wading pool, but we used it as a boat. The alley behind the house sometimes would flood and I remember riding in the boat across the alley. Karl was the orchestrator of this endeavor, but I felt very rich indeed to have been a part of the adventure.

Gretchen and Erika and I shared a room on Navy and at the beginning we shared a great big bed. We folded our blankets (the two or three times our room was clean) in half to section off our part of the bed. Unfortunately I often had to take the middle, because both Gretchen and Erika wanted to touch my foot at night so they wouldn't be scared. I felt very inconvenienced at being in charge of "not being scared at night" for them--I mean I didn't want my foot sticking off the bed in case the boogiman came to chop it off any more than they did.

On Christmas eve, Karl would sleep in our room too. We would try to stay awake and see Santa Claus on the Howard's roof. We stared so hard at the bright snow covered roof, I thought my eyes would burn out of my head, but we never saw Santa. That guy was very cagey.

When Mom was pregnant with Adrienne, she wasn't feeling well one day and came home from work early. She sent Erika to stay with Marcel and Pat (Erika "ran away" from home by hiding between the garages so that she wouldn't have to go and the Fritz's told us they saw her up on Vernor Highway--omg). Karl, Gretchen and I were admonished to be quiet and not bother Mom, but no one else was home. We were out of cereal and so we knocked on Mom's door (probably waking her up) and said we're out of cereal. So she gave us four dollars and said go to the cornor store and buy a box and don't wake me up again. I guess I was eight, Karl was six and Gretchen was five. We only ever got Cheerios and Wheaties as our cereal, but we saw commercials for other cereal. When we got to the store, we all kind of gravitated to the Lucky Charms. They are supposed to be "magically delicious." I wanted cheerio's, because I hated wheaties, but Karl and Gretchen held out for Lucky Charms and let's face it I secretly wanted Lucky Charms too. We could only afford the small box. We didn't even make it home before all the marshmellows were gone, then we sat down to have bowls of cereal (even though it wasn't breakfast or even dinner time) and probably within 30 minutes of receiving the four dollars the cereal was gone. Oh, oh, now we had to wake Mom up to tell her we still needed cereal. She was pretty mad. I have no idea why we thought we had to tell her at all, but we did.

Starlight, starbright, we're going to see a ghost tonight. What a cool game that was in the twilight with a big crowd of kids. Our house was the house to play that game, because our back yard was full of hiding places and you could even go to the alley and cut around the block if you were really adventurous. You could hide in the stairs down to the celler--no one would look for you down there. And looking for pennies on the floor after the card parties--some times a kind adult would drop a nickel. And racing across Grandpa Beauregard's basement in our stocking feet. How rich were we!

Friday, October 21, 2005

We're going back to gold stars

The first test that I gave my class, only 5 students out of 11 showed up. Three turned in the test late for 1/2 credit and three are still missing in action. For my second test only 4 students showed up. I called all the students that I had good phone numbers for and one said he totally forgot we had class and he came late. Two had excuses and two are missing in action. Two I don't have good numbers for. This is very sad. I'm going to make a big board and put gold stars next to the student's names when they come to class and turn in assignments and take tests. It's very depressing to spend three hours of my own time cominig up with a test that is challenging, but not too hard and then have so few kids there to take it.

I ordered a game called Debate This and we have been playing it in class. The kids form teams and rotate against each other. Declaring a winner of each round is very difficult, but we're making headway. With five students, one student and I acted as the Judge for each round and that critique was almost as important as the debate. It is a very good tool.

I went to visit another high school's civil law class. They were having a moot court for my benefit. I got some good ideas for our moot court and how to limit the facts. The more I learn, the more work I make for myself.

I leave for Memphis on Monday--everyone tells me I have to go to Graceland. I've never had any interest, but it does seem like a shame to be in Memphis and not to go. We'll see.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The words for the day

I am the grammarian for our Toastmasters tonight and the theme for the evening is "Explorers." I have to put forth two words with definitions that the group will attempt to use in the course of the meeting during table topics and their speeches. I'm kind of a show off and so I want some really spectacular words. Explorers brings to mind "adventure" so that will be one of the words, but for the second word I wanted to be really adventurous. Steven Cobert had his first show last night after the Daily Show. I could only stay awake for the first ten minutes, but he made up a new word "truthiness." We're not going to let Webster tell us what to do, says he. It means that you "feel" something is true. You know in your head that it's not, but you feel in your gut that it is. And he gave an example: There are move nerve endings in your gut, then there are in your head. Sure, some people will look that up in a book and say it's not true, but it feels true--it has truthiness.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Thunder, Lightning & Hail

Wow, are we having wild weather here. Last night on the news they were all "Storm Watch" which they do whenever the slightest bit of moisture enters the 50 mile radius that is Los Angeles. So when I heard a few raindrops at 10, I thought, wow, they were actually right, we have moisture. The lightning at 1 a.m. was surprising, but the thunder and torrential pouring rain for over an hour with no breaks that kept me awake was alarming. Then I went to a funeral (graveside service) this morning--it was partly cloudy, but the rain was over or so we thought. As soon as we got out of the cars, it started coming down in buckets. Luckily, my friend said everyone should get back in their cars until they put up tents, because a few minutes after I got back in my car, we had hail--a lot of hail. I know you Michiganers are saying, ok, when are you going to get to the wow part, but this is a big deal to Californians who never have any weather to speak of. There was a big rig that overturned on the 5 at the 134 and both sides of the freeway were closed down for hours this morning--that is huge.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Shopping Therapy

Dinner for Mel and Ris's birthday was nice, but pretty quiet. Not much talking out of the kids and Adrienne has a cold. I should have told a joke I thought as I was driving home. I picked up a few pretty good ones at the Education Seminar. "Don't put your feet in your mouth, you won't have a leg to stand on." "If you loan a friend $20 and never see them again, it was money well spent." "Some mistakes are too much fun not to make again." "The early worm gets eaten, so always sleep late." And then there's the one about the three contractors, one from Florida, one from Texas and one from New York, who went to Miami on vacation and stayed at the same hotel. There was a storm and a retaining wall was damaged. The manager of the hotel asked the three contractors if they would give him bids to fix it--he was sorry to ask them while they were on vacation, but he was in a jam. The first fellow from Florida gave a fair bid of $2,000--the materials would cost about $1,000 and the labor and overhead would be $1,000. The fellow from Texas was competitive and he said, I can do it for $1,500. The fellow from New York turned in a closed bid of $3,000 and the manager took him aside and said, why would your bid be $3,000, so much higher than the others. Well, said the fellow from New York, the materials cost $1,000, I'd hire the guy from Texas to do the labor for $500 and you and I will split the other half for our trouble. That doesn't sound as funny all written out. Oh well, Happy Birthday girls.

After we ate, we went to Target and a fine time was had by all.

Friday, October 14, 2005

It's Birthday Time

Happy Birthday Mel! I just brought her a plate of yummy cupcakes and started singing, but the first words she said were please don't sing. Ok, Happy Birthday. I saw her at the bus stop and went to give her a ride, but the bus was barreling into its stop and I narrowly avoided the collision. Oh well, I thought of you Mel.

We're going to Outback for dinner and I think I'm looking forward to it too much. It's been so long since I've allowed myself to go there, I'm afraid they won't live up to my inflated expectations. Maybe I'll try wishing on a star first.

I had the kids in my class watch "12 Angry Men" to show jury deliberation and reasonable doubt. What a good movie--Jack Klugman was so young. I have to cancel class the last week of October because I'll be out of town (going to Memphis, TN for a DOJ conference--is there anything fun to do in Memphis?) so they have to make up the classes by coming to my office. That will be so convenient for me. TTFN

Monday, October 10, 2005

The World As We Know It

I am a firm believer that nothing is boring. If I can become an avid basketball fan (which I really really did) for a game in which all they do is run from one end of the court to the other back and forth, then nothing is boring--it is simply a matter of getting beneath the surface and looking deeper.

It is in that spirit that I went to a concert at the new Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown. It was the Julliard String Quartet playing Beethoven Unbound. The concert hall is really fabulous inside and I found the gift shop with no trouble at all. They only sold pepsi, but I was there for the music. The fellow sitting next to me (I had a single ticket that Phil Jackson at my office couldn't use) was very knowledgeable and after I embarrassed myself clapping in the wrong place (I wasn't alone mind you), he shared his knowledge. You don't clap for the artists, you clap for the composer at the end of the entire piece, not at the end of the movement.

The first part was almost pleasant--there was a lot of repetition and false endings to trick us--that crafty Beethoven, but very well played. The first violinist had his back to me (I was sitting on the side--the theater goes all the way around behind the musicians) and even from the back you could tell that he was very expressive. The guy on the cello looked like a Marz Brother playing the cello--very expressive facial movements with moments of surprise--quite comical. Of course I'm pretty sure that I was the only one laughing on the inside--most everyone else there in the audience looked very serious.

In short order (after I had composed a very nice speech in my head about poetry and chocolate), it was time for intermission. My neighbor then regaled me with ten minutes or was it ten thousand seconds of information about the concert. The background was actually facinating and it was just the kind of inside information one must have to get beyond the "torture" in chamber music. So we heard Beethovan's String Quartet No. 1, but Beethovan probably renumbered it, because it is a stiring piece and his real number one was not as good. Later we were going to hear No. 16. No one played 14 through 17 for years because they were too dissident. They were ahead of Beethovan's time. Now the Bartok (which we were to hear next) was a 20th century composer and Beethovan's 16 was more like 20th century compositions. [Yea, I thought sarcastically, dissident music--my fav, well I won't fall asleep anyway.]

Bartok was pretty dissident--they plucked the stings and banged the stick against the violin in parts, but I mistook the last movement for Beethovan (trying to anticipate the end) and enjoyed that one--I thought I heard three bars from West Side Story. Then four movements of Beethovan's later work--the first was ok, then the second was good and the third was really good. The final one was amazing even--the musicians were so finely in tune with each other and the tone was so clear. At the end, I was on my feet clapping loudly and my neighbor said I'm not sure if they'll play an encore. Ooops, I forgot that's what happens when you stand up and clap--they think you want to hear more.

Friday, October 07, 2005

How can it be Friday again?

It was Friday yesterday. Man, time is speeding so fast these days. Nothing it getting done--time just goes on by anyway. I had to hand out progress reports for my students yesterday. That was really hard. They only give you standard remarks to make about the students that don't begin to tell the real story. Unfortunately attendance is still a problem--I can't give them all A's if they don't show up.

I had my students do an art project last night for my level one class. I have to turn in a sample of work from five diciplines that I do in my class, but coming up with an art assignment was a challenge. I read a testimony from a deposition describing a car accident and I had them draw a diagram of the accident from my description. Most of them got it ok, but some were completely clueless. Which was the lesson: that sometimes you need a diagram and pictures to tell the full story to the Judge and Jury.

I also went to my first Teacher In Service. What a collosal waste of time. They spent about three hours teaching us how to input the attendance. My tech had already shown me in a few minutes how to do it and I'd been inputing it for weeks already. Sure, I still ask her again everytime I do it, but it only takes her five seconds to say yes that's right. Then we met our advisors. Then we met our boss's, boss. Three hours of travel time and seven hours of class, that's the equivelant of $2,250 lost income for me. Ouch. Three more to go.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Big Lie, Small World

That's the name of a song by Sting and I never knew what it meant, but it keeps running through my head today. I got measured. The gals at Curves are in seventh heaven that I have lost so much weight (small world), but my body fat went up (big lie) so I am depressed. Well as depressed as anyone who's lost over 50 pounds can be anyway. I have stayed about the same weight since June, so I'm happy with the weight part, but I hate to rest on my laurels. Doesn't that sound like a great goal to have in life, to rest on your laurels.

We are crazy busy in the office this week and I have meetings every night, but next week I don't have a single meeting. Incredible. Well except for Classes and Toastmaster. Then ABWA on Saturday. And Mel's birthday dinner--that doesn't count as a meeting.