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Snicker ... snicker ... Bwa ha ha!

From our local news insert inside yesterday's Washington Post, in the section that details calls to the humane society:

30th ST N, 4800 block, April 26. A woman called
animal control and was concerned about a dog in a
back yard that did not appear to have food, water or
shelter. The woman said that she first spotted the dog
the day before and that is appeared to be sick. She
described the dog as some type of hound. An animal
control officer went to the address and found that the
dog the woman had seen was a statue of a beagle.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall when they called the lady back to explain what she's seen. *g*

The stupid, it burns!

Amy's middle school swim season starts this month, and they had the call-out meeting a few days ago. She came home with a packet of info from the coach, but the first thing she mentioned when handing it to me was how ATROCIOUSLY it was written. She said she could barely concentrate in the meeting because she was too busy counting the number of mistakes in the handouts. And this was written by a teacher. A PE teacher, granted, but come on! Don't they at least need to pass a basic English class to get their degree?

Anyway, the teacher/coach put together an email list for the parents and kids, and has been sending out info to keep us all updated. I am pleased to be kept in the loop.

Until I got today's email. This is just a taste of what the longer packet of material looked like:

if you have not yet recieved a packet for swimming i have attached the files, i still have hard copies.

Swim suits have not been decided on yet, it will happen soon. Sport Fair is our supplier, when we decide on a suit you will need to go (if you choose to purchase one) you do not need the team suit to participate but you will need a suit without logos from your summer team or USS swim program,,,,


And this is in a district that is supposed to be one of the best in the country. ARGH!!!

(BTW, the full packet was worse than this because there would be whole paragraphs with several sentences run together with no punctuation. My eyes! My eyes!)

The downside of modern technology

There is clearly a downside to modern technology in education. You'd think having a school district that has the latest in computer technology would be a plus. But what happens when the teachers rely so heavily on the technology that they can't teach without it? My daughter found out today at her middle school -- apparently you do nothing all day.

The power has been out for the last few days in the main administration building, where the computer servers for the district are housed. As a result, there is no internet access or WiFi in any of the buildings. So what can't a modern school do without computers?

They can't take attendance. They can't communicate with parents via email or send out the announcements on the school listserv. The Yearbook class sits around because they can't code their pages. The Science class can't enter their data into their spreadsheets. The World Geography can't take their exam because it's computerized. And the Algebra class has to have an impromptu review day because the teaching material is normally all presented via the Smart board (a computerized, interactive display screen, for the uninitiated among you.)

I did ask my daughter why the heck they couldn't just use ... I dunno ... a CHALKBOARD in her math classes, and she told me that 1) the teacher said it would be inconvenient (!) to write everything out on the board because she'd just have to erase it each period before the pre-material quiz, and rewrite everything again, and 2) the teacher tried to use an overhead projector instead, but by the time they located one and figured out how to set it up (!!), the class was half over and they might as well just review. Oh, yes, and they don't have any chalkboards in her school. They only have white boards, with those dry erase markers. (Which means I am now officially very old.)

On the other hand, English class could go on with only minor adjustments, since they are reading and discussing an actual book they can hold in their hands (gasp!). Band and PE apparently went off as usual. And lunch workers were able to record who bought what, but only because their computerized system is self-contained and doesn't require WiFi.

I'm still shaking my head in amazement.


OK, drop whatever you are doing and go watch Stains the cupcake dog:

The embedding is disabled, so you have to click the link, but it will be worth it. I have watched it over and over, and each time, I laugh so hard I could hurt myself.

His face! His eyes! OMG!

(Oh and since it's a The Soup clip, there is some language in the second half that's NSFW, but you could stop the clip halfway through and skip that part.)


Well, I've finally got myself a Facebook account, something that still feels weird to me, after all these years of being semi-anonymous on the internet. I mean, putting your full name and all your personal details online? Really?

Anyway, it's been an odd week, because I'm suddenly seeing all these names of people I haven't thought about in years. Including my long-term high school boyfriend. Who I'd tangentially kept up with for the first few years after college, but he clearly felt awkward around my husband the one time we all got together, so ... that was that.

I mean, it's good to know that things seem to be going fine for him, and I got to poke around his photo area to see pictures of his kids and his wife (who, according to mutual friends who kept up with him after I stopped, is pretty much the complete opposite of me). But I feel weird trying to initiate any type of conversation, especially since, based on his profile, we are extremely different people and I have this irrational fear that he's going to go all Rush Limbaugh on me and I'd have to go all Keith Olbermann on him and ... yeah.

Maybe some things are better left unsaid. *g*

Snow day

We had a snow day here today ... for a whopping two inches of snow. *g*

Not only that, but they closed school early yesterday afternoon ... because they were expecting two inches of snow. ;) Hee.

Not that I minded the snow day -- I rolled over and went back to sleep this morning after verifying the closure on the radio -- but it was quite amusing. Granted, today's closure was probably more about the sleet/freezing rain that had moved in overnight, and it was pretty slippery out there this morning (though Jim still walked the 10 minutes to the Metro, without any problems.) But the Washington area was clearly moving into hunker down mode as soon as the first flakes began to fly.

For our part, though, we've been missing our midwestern winter, so it was really nice yesterday to walk Donny to school and back in the snow (it was coming down in big, fat, gorgeous flakes), and he spent a significant amount of time playing outside in it after his early-release on Tuesday. I'm glad he enjoyed it, since who knows if we'll get anymore.

Meanwhile, back home in Indiana, Amy's old classmates also had a snow day ... because they got several inches and temps close to 0 F. Yeah, I think they win. *g*

Kathy's Inauguration crowd experience :)

Given the number of people who have asked me if we went into DC today for the Inauguration, I figured it would make a good LJ update. :)

No, we did not brave the crowds to go into the District today -- we never even considered it, given the absolutely insane number of people that we knew would be down there. The Washington Post has been covering the preparations extensively for months, which has been really cool -- you really feel like you're "in the know" a lot more than just regular national coverage would give you. So we had a pretty good idea, early on, that there was no way we'd watch from anywhere other than our warm living room. :) (And what an awesome ceremony it was!)

That said, Jim and I did go into the District yesterday morning for a reception on the top floor of the Library of Congress. (A Michigan (where we grew up) pre-inauguration open house. I don't know if Indiana had one or not ... they didn't invite us, if they did. ;)) We figured traffic would be relatively light, given that there weren't any huge events planned on the Mall. (Unlike the free music concert on Sunday; we were out to lunch with friends when the Blackberries started humming with emails -- the concert started at 7 pm, but by 11:30 am, "the Mall was 1/2 full and if you were planning to come down, you better hurry up!")

So, anyway, on Monday at 10 am, we headed over to our local Metro stop (East Falls Church, about 6 blocks from our house), and found that the train was busy but not packed, which was good news. By the time we hit Rosslyn, though (the last stop in Virginia, before going under the Potomac into the District), it was definitely full of people -- at every stop, more people poured in, but very few got off. Still, we were exiting at Capitol South, which isn't a particularly busy stop (and past several well-used Mall-area stops, like Smithsonian or L'Enfant Plaza), so we weren't too worried. What we didn't know, though, was that inaugurations tickets were being distributed at the Senate and House office buildings that morning ... and the instructions to attendees were to get off at Capitol South!

Well, let me tell you, getting off the train and out of the station was a real experience. The train doors opened and people poured out ... only to find the entire platform was already near full capacity with people from previous trains lined up to exit. After incorporating ourselves into the crowd, we slowly made our way towards the up escalators, which unfortunately had not been turned off. And sure enough, as we reached the top (about 10 minutes after exiting the train; a trip that would normally take 30 seconds), the escalator pushed us off into the back of an already completed packed upper area leading to the exit gates. Some shouting and worried pushing occurred in the crowd as everyone realized how dangerous the situation had become -- the escalator kept bringing more people, with nowhere to put them and no way for anyone to turn around. Exactly the kind of thing you read about in the news, where people are crushed in a crowd.

Luckily, the escalator was turned off a few moments later, and soon after that, we heard the Metro police shout that the station was now Exit Only -- they weren't letting anyone enter, only leave. Still, you had a thousand or more people stuck in the station by this point, with more arriving every six minutes, and people were exiting very slowly though the turnstiles. (If you've ever used the Metro before, you might recall that you need to stick your paper ticket into a reader, the collect it again from a different slot, which opens the gate. Many locals have permanent passes that we just need to wave over the scanner, but the tourists in town were surely confused by the process, which only slowed things down more.) Clearly, even the Metro people hadn't expected this particular station to be so overcrowded.

Another 15 minutes or so passed, as everyone moved very slowly (and very patiently, I might add; Washington is actually a very friendly place, and the general happiness over the weekend made most people even more helpful and understanding than usual), until finally the Metro police shouted that they were opening the gates and for everyone to just move, move, move! (I'm sure they were even more worried than those of us in the crowd, since it was certainly the kind of thing that could have turned dangerous very quickly.) We still had to take another set of very long escalators up to street level to leave the station, but since they'd made the station exit only, we were able to walk up the down escalator, which turned out to be a good choice, since while we were halfway up, the up escalators overloaded and stopped abruptly, nearly causing a lot of people to take a serious tumble!

The good part, though, was that the whole time, the crowd was remarkably friendly and patient, everyone kind of bonding in the whole situation. We also all kept talking about, "If it's this bad today, what will it possibly like on Tuesday?" which led to some nice conversations with those who were there to pick up their tickets.

We figured the worst of the crowding was over at this point, since most of our fellow Metro riders seemed to be heading over the Senate building (there were already hundreds of people in line as we passed, wrapping around the building), and we had a nice walk over the LIbrary of Congress, marveling at all the people milling around the streets. (And overhearing other locals marvel, as well; even those who have lived here for years have never seen anything like this!) Oh, but the one building that only had a few subdued people milling around? The National Republican Club. Hee.

When we finally arrived at the Library of Congress, however, we could only laugh even harder at the ridiculousness of it all -- there was a several minute long line to get into the building (through a security checkpoint like they have at the airports; shoes stayed on, but you did have to put your coat and purse on a conveyor belt), and THEN, once we got inside the lobby, there was another 10 minute line to get on the elevator! Apparently, they were already at capacity in the reception room and were only allowing an elevator car to go up when a full one came down of people leaving.

We did finally get upstairs and did a couple loops around the room, but by this point, it was more to say we'd done it than anything else. We never did see Governor Granholm (who is a friend of Jim's parents, and the main reason we came), though we did see Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, as well as various Congressmen we wouldn't know from Adam. The coffee and hot chocolate were all gone (more laughter from us; I guess even the organizers had no idea they would be that popular), so we took the opportunity to enjoy views from the various windows, then headed back downstairs to give someone else a chance to ... well, to do nothing except say they'd been to an Inaugural reception. ;)

The trip home was much easier -- figuring the Capitol South Metro station was still exit only (since the line was *still* wrapped around the block at the Senate offices!), we decided to walk the several blocks to Federal Center, which was a good choice as it wasn't crowded at all. We passed by several of the Inauguration entry gates on our way, well-staffed with security guards, that would allow those with tickets to enter on Tuesday, which was neat because we got to see them again on TV this afternoon. And I even managed to snag one of the last seats on the train. (Good after walking around the District in heels for a couple hours. :))

All in all, it was a fascinating way to kill a few hours on a holiday morning ... and it made us doubly glad we would be spending today at home. :)

Happy Inauguration Day, everyone!

16 Random Kathy Facts

I was tagged by rosewarren, which was kind of cool 'cause I never get tagged. *g*

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 16 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 16 people to be tagged.

16 random Kathy factsCollapse )

I'm not going to tag people, but I would love for everyone on my flist to do this!


We annexed Toronto!

Jim and I took a last look at the NORAD Santa Tracker before heading off to bed for the evening. And he just happened to scroll by Toronto's entry, showing that Santa had just visited ...

OMG, Santa gave us Toronto for Christmas!


ETA: They've fixed it now. What a gip, giving us a gift like that, then taking it back before we could barely unwrap it. What a bunch of Scrooges. ;)
Types of cookies made so far: 1. The apricot cookies, which, after eating three four of them over the last few hours, I am reminded of why I only make these once a year. They are truly dangerous. Cream cheese, butter, flour ... with a spoon of homemade apricot jam in the middle. I refuse to figure out an exact calorie and fat gram count because I would probably never eat them again. And I just ... can't let that happen. ;)

Presents opened: 2, one for each kid. The tradition in my house growing up was that siblings could exchange presents on Christmas Eve if they both agreed, and I've continued that with my own kids. They get as excited about it as my sister and I used to, which is really fun to watch. :)

Christmas Eve dinner menu items: 3. Glazed Ham, Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, plus milk for the kids and red wine for the adults. Completely by coincidence, it made for a very beautifully colorful plate!

Full dishwasher loads run: 3. Man, we generate a lot of dishes when doing all this cooking and baking.

Last minute trips to the grocery store: 2. The first one was semi-expected, since I couldn't find the brand of stuffing mix I prefer on my regular shopping trip earlier this week, but the second one was very last minute, after I realized that I'd, 1) bought the wrong kind of baking chocolate for the chocolate cookies we'll be making tomorrow, and 2) forgotten to buy the snacks to include in the kids' stockings tonight. Whoops.

Major plan changes: 1. After all that negotiating (and teeth gnashing) over going to Connecticut to celebrate with my husband's family, the whole plan got tossed out the window at the last minute anyway. My sister-in-law in Chicago asked if we could move the entire thing back a week to New Year's Day, and the family agreed, so all that rushing around to get everything done to leave on the 26th was for naught. Sheesh.

Visits by Donny to the NORAD Santa Tracker over the course of the day: Too many to count, LOL. It was quite fun to see how excited he was by the whole thing. At 7, he's at the height of Santa belief, which is very fun to watch. And though I'm sure she'd deny it, even Amy was getting into it. *g*

Minutes walked, to burn off those deadly Christmas cookies: 45. Which really probably only burned off one or two of them, but hey, managing to go for a walk at all on Christmas Eve, especially at 9:00 at night, is pretty darn good. *g*

Merry Christmas, everyone!



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