Sunday, November 30, 2008

World Bird Santuary

About 10 years ago, Bill's brother asked if we would keep their pet conure, Bob, for an extended period of time. He and his wife had recently had a baby and didn't have the time to properly socialize Bob. Bob was attractive, smart, and came with interesting skill set so we agreed.

The honeymoon period with Bob was great. His squawking was lovable, his tricks were funny and novel, and his obsessive pacing along on his perch was mesmerizing. Eventually, though, I got frustrated with the poop, the feathers, the seeds, and the countless number of Bill's shirts that were in need of repair (Bob could unbutton and button your shirt but he, unfortunately, would create new "button holes" with his beak creating a shirt that looked liked it had been visited by some hungry moths). And as much as those things bothered me, I might have been able to tolerate them had Bob not turned on me.

Bob would appear in rooms that he wasn't in when I walked in. He would chase me around the house, wings fully extended, trying to land on my head, shoulder, or wherever. Bob even bit me, drawing blood, when I routinely went to offer him a finger off the perch. But, the incident that sent Bob packing was when he decided to not to back off of cleaning the tartar/foodstuff off of my teeth. Bob did this activity a lot. He'd force his head into your mouth and begin to scrape your teeth with his beak. It was an intimatidating skill at first but most of our friends got used to it and thought it was funny. I never did. Well, on this day, Bob pushed his head in my mouth and wouldn't budge. I had that odd feeling that this was going to end badly. When I finally had the courage to try and remove him, Bob bit me on the lip, held fast, and tugged and pulled my lip away from my mouth. Then blood. Lots of blood. Goodbye Bob.

While things didn't work out between Bob and I, I still do consider myself to be somewhat of a bird enthusiast. As the seasons change, I enjoy birdwatching and bird-listening, whether it's on a trail or in my backyard. Seeing the beauty of a common bird or one that is harder to spot like a kestrel can be an amazing thing. Which is why I totally respect what the folks at the World Bird Sanctuary are doing in trying to rehabilitate injured birds and provide homes for those that cannot go back in the wild. I go there as often as I can to view the birds and give my support to the birds because, let's face it, we owe them. Afterall, we've destroyed a lot of their natural habitats for our own perogatives. Anyway, you should go. It's a quite drive. Plus, you can drive through Lone Elk Park and see the bison and elk herds.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Autumn at the St Louis Zoo

Late fall and winter are my favorite seasons to visit most of the outdoor attractions here in St. Louis. No crowds! I especially love going to the St. Louis Zoo, which is where we ended up today. My dad, who has lived in Austin, TX for the last 25 years, was a good sport about braving the cold to go with us.

I also love finding winter berries. What's the attraction? Quite simply, I think it's the spots of bright color juxtaposed against such enormous grayness. They just pop, pop, pop (to quote my principal) when you stumble upon them.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Weird Neighborhood Sign #2

This weird neighborhood sign was spotted on my street, about two houses south of me. It's been affixed to a No Parking/Street Cleaning Schedule sign.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Harvest Festival

It's the official beginning of the holiday season. Up first? Thanksgiving. Yep, time for family, friends, and feast. After you've eaten too much, watched too much of the football game, had one too many cocktails, you know, generally overindulged yourself, why don't you head on over to Heifer International and share the wealth. You'll feel good that you did!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lovely Day for a Walk

Today was our first day of Thanksgiving Break. What a gorgeous day! So, after lunch at The Royale, we took my Dad, who is visiting from Texas, to the Botanical Garden. Normally, we're at the garden a couple of times a month but for whatever reason we just haven't gone much since the spring. I'm so glad that we decided to go today; we practically had the place to ourselves. No crowds, no human noise -- just the sound of nature. Ain't it grand?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another Cool Sunset , November 16, 2008

I'm a camera nerd. I have lots of different models for different kinds of jobs. But, for an everyday camera I carry a compact, very light-weight camera, a Sony Cybershot, with me where ever I go. It takes okay-to-decent indoor photos where the natural light is sufficient enough to require little to no flash. And, it takes decent-to-good outdoor photos (again natural lighting works best). I also like that the battery stays charged for an super long time. But, that said, it's not really a great camera (i.e. don't buy it if you're a picky photographer like me). Which brings me to my photos below. Bill and I were driving to a dinner party and saw one of the most beautiful sunsets. I decided to try and photograph it under these conditions: bumpy roads, moving vehicle, shooting through a windshield, a so-so camera, and a 3-year old in the back yelling about something that I've tried to tune out. So, I guess that you'll have to trust me when I tell you that this was an awesome sunset!

Date: November 16, 2008
Time: 4:50 pm
Location: In Bill's car, driving west on Hwy 40 near Kingshighway Boulevard.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jib Jab Time

Send your own ElfYourself eCards
The Situation: Recently, A.I. and I were having dinner at Pho Grand and we started grumbling about our illnesses and pains. Then, A.I asked if I had ever used a netipot. Talk about a surreal moment.

The Netipot Skinny: Two years ago my ENT doc recommended using a netipot sinus cleansing system to help relieve some of the sinus/allergies congestion that I get regularly. By coincidence, I had just watched a video of someone demonstrating the neti online. It looked absolutely torturous! My answer? No. Not now, not ever. Yet, the hope of long-lasting sinus relief kept me intrigued. So, I agreed to take home the doc's version of the netipot, the NeilMed sinus cleansing system. Unfortunately, I couldn't bring myself to use it, even after doc after doc after doc said I should (yeah, I've been to a lot of docs in the last two years). But, for some reason, when A.I. mentioned it, I finally decided that I would dust off the NeilMed, read the directions, and maybe even give it a try.

The Conclusion: When I got home, I did follow through. In fact, I even used the NeilMed. To my relief, it wasn't too bad. The solution was noticeably salty and, at first, a little easy to choke on as you squeezed the solution to your nostril (but easy to stop the choking too). The weirdest part was the very strange feeling of the mucus and sinus slime draining out of your nostril while, at the same time, also creating a blockage of that same said nostril. I didn't feel any immediate relief but did feel a little clearer and less congested the next morning.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Insomnia, Nick's Pub, and Prop 8

What to do when it's 1:30 am and you can't sleep? Blog! My problem? Adventurous content. Blogging has taken a back seat to the variety of illnesses that seem to have declared my body cavity good real estate. That means no new adventures, no new experiences, and no new photos. Phooey. But, it doesn't mean that I don't still have a lot to say. Phooey squared.

My friend and co-worker Dando has great Spidey-sense and knew intuitively that a pre-holiday, pre-progress reports happy hour was needed by all. So she sent out the invite, picked the spot, Nick's Pub in the city, and hoped that a few friends would show. My district is not very big but we owned Nick's that night (well, at least for the 3 hours that we were there). We had almost a full MS showing and the HS turn out was pretty good too. Shout out to the MS & HS Math peeps! You get the "Most Drunks in the Department" award by having 100% turn out.

Okay. Big election news. Sorry, Barack. This rant is not about you. In a bold, dramatic gesture, we elected our first black president thereby showing the world, at least superficially, that as a nation we are trying to put our racist reputation behind us. But, hey, world! Don't get too excited. Prop 8 passed. It amended the CA Constitution to legally discriminate against gay rights(i.e. human rights). According to this source and this source and this source and this source, it is purported that many of the same groups that showed up in large numbers, theoretically to support Prez Elect Barack Obama, also voted in favor of Prop 8 in CA. True? False? What about the Mormons? Unless they publish the election results by demographic, we'll never really know which groups overwhelming voted for or against Prop 8.

But that said, why would anyone vote for Prop 8? Okay, okay we get that Jerry Falwell didn't much care for the homosexuals. And you other religious folk--trust me, we hear you too and we know that you are no friends of the gays either. And while I absolutely without a doubt believe that ALL people deserve equal rights, I can understand that you believe in a God (albeit one that hates 10% of the population that, according to the bible, he made) that tells you homosexuality is wrong. And, this belief, however oppressive in my world, is one that ultimately though I cannot argue against. Belief in God trumps everything, whether or not it makes sense (think 9/11). The other group that I could see supporting Prop 8 is white men. No offense white guys--but you have demonstrated for centuries your predilection for oppression and bias. Your point was made with slavery, Jim Crow, and keeping us all barefoot and pregnant. So, the fact that some of you white guys in certain demographics remain loyal to the oppressive mentality of the 1920's is disappointing but not terribly shocking.

But, that some members of the other groups would cast a vote in favor of Prop 8 leaves me speechless, confused, and pissed off. Women and minorities, what's our prob? We should be better than that for all the hate, violence, and degradation that we had to endure while we fought for our human rights, our civil rights, the rights that had long been guaranteed to white men. It just makes no sense to me why victims of discrimination voluntarily opt to discriminate. God, under no circumstances, shouldn't trump that argument. Where was your God when the man was in charge? Someone, explanation please!

Let's talk about this for a minute. Are we physiologically or psychologically engineered to always victimize certain group(s)? History would suggest so. But, history also tells us that when scientific explanation and understanding is lacking, people often construct their own strange, often draconian, explanations to make meaning of a new experience (i.e. Salem Witches). So which, if either, explanation holds true here: do people always, even when they've been victims themselves, need a group to hate and oppress or is this a case of misunderstanding (i.e. people don't know that science explains gayness).

The Colbert Report, always topical, always hilarious, did his own little funny something, something:

The bright ending for this controversy, is that thousands of Americans gathered from city to city, state to state to show support for the repeal of Prop 8. Hundreds of St. Louisians braved the cold today to stand on the steps of the Old Courthouse in protest.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Maybe It's the Percocet? Sick Day Diary

Dear Diary,
Something moosey is brewing here. Since B.O. became P.E. I thought that we'd stop hearing from Scary Sarah P. from AK. But, that's not the case. If you don't believe me, read the news. Bottom line: It scares me to think that Superficial Sarah believes that she has a political future. I guess that she didn't hear herself speak. Unintersting, uninspired, unpolished. And, guess what else Stupid Sarah P. from AK says? She states, "I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door." And you know what scares me even more? That Slow-witted, simpleton Sarah still has the support of her stooges.

Dear Diary,
So there was another pit bull attack on some poor, unsupervised kid and it got me thinking about how cliche that is. And do you know what else? Pit bulls are cliche. Want to hear some more? Sagging pants are cliche. Giving the peace sign while being photographed, regardless of your real or imagined celebrity, is cliche. Tattoos are cliche. Piercings are cliche. Smoking weed is cliche. Irresponsibility, of any kind, is cliche. Even cliches are cliches.

Dear Diary,
This is my fifth sick day this school year. WOW! And if you add in days out for curriculum writing you get an even bigger WOW! I haven't been out this much since I birthed the kid. What does this say about me? My impenetrable power to ward off illness is diminishing? I have too much job stress? I have Munchausen syndrome? I don't care anymore? Sadly, it's all true. Well, except the Munchausen. But it would be cool to have a friend with the Munchausen. You could be like.....yeah, this is Christine, you know, my Munchausen friend. She's just back from surgery. What was it this time?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day, or I Hate War, or I Can Still Be Grateful

Military service is, thankfully, not a tradition in my family. So, the only real memories of Veteran's Day that I have come solely from my childhood and having the day off school. And what American kid doesn't love having a day off of school? Woo Hoo! But seriously, I hate the military because I hate war. Hate it, hate it, hate it. No good reason for it either -- although I'd agree that going to war when the US is invaded might be justified as a temporary solution. Otherwise, I see very little evidence that problems can't be resolved without violence, i.e. peacefully, with sincere words and ethical actions. But, until everyone thinks the same way as me, I guess I have to live in a world where stopping violence or abuse or oppression with violence or abuse or oppression is the acceptable, even preferred, norm. Despite my personal feelings about war, and even military recruitment practices (that's another blog entry) I am still grateful for those Americans that have enlisted in the military, especially with the knowledge that they might be called to serve (and die). And I am grateful that we have a day reserved to honor people that have served and sacrificed. Both of my grandfathers served, Grandpa Dean in the US Army Air Corps and Grandpa Johnny in the US Navy. And while they have passed on, I am proud this Veteran's Day to put aside my personal beliefs about the war to remember and honor them for their service and sacrifice.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Day of the Dead

I've said it before, and I'll say it friend Colette throws a super mean party! Here are some photos from that we took from the Day of the Dead party she threw last weekend. Willa and the other kids had lots of fun making Day of the Dead art--skull masks, sugar skulls, papel picado, and altars. She probably liked decorating the sugar skull the best but I most enjoyed helping her make her altar (dedicated to her Great Great Grandma Ruth, her Great Grandpa Dean, Great Grandpa Johnny, and her Great Grandma Violet).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's Showtime!

Hopefully everyone got out there today, as I did, to cast a vote for our nation's next president. Wow! It felt good to vote. It felt good to throw my support behind a candidate that I hope will lead us away from debt, bullying, problem-ignoring, and embarrassment and toward domestic and foreign policies that not only help Americans immediately but that also work to eliminate the underlying socio-economic issues that cause the problems in the first place. I'll sign off for now. Got an election to watch. And, you betcha, I wouldn't miss that for the world.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sarah Vowell

Despite still being one hacking cough and gasp away from the netherworld, I decided to go to the Mad Art Gallery to listen to Sarah Vowell read from her new book, The Wordy Shipmates with my friend, Colette. Much to my surprise, my loud, unproductive coughing did not lead to me being thrown out by security. And I'm glad for that because Vowell was very smart, very interesting, and very amusing. In fact, I think that I'm going to require that my incoming 09/10 AP kids read this book over the summer.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween 2008

Halloween is not a favorite holiday of mine. Sure, I enjoyed it as a youngster but not at all since I entered young adulthood. The costumes, the haunted houses, the parties, and the pranks are just not my cup o' tea. Now, because Willa has figured out Halloween, I have to pretend to like it, even if it's just for one night. So, last night we put on our smiles and took Willa out trick or treating with her friend Evan (more kids in their neighborhood than ours). She had a great time and, despite my initial apprehension, I genuinely enjoyed myself. My beef (and you know that I have one)? The rude behavior of the questionably costumed, suspiciously tall, totally aggressive, I'm stocking up for the cold season kids and their parents. I get that, for some kids, it's cool to try to "fool" candy-givers into thinking that you're 8 when you're really 15. Ha ha. Good one. Didn't see that coming. So, okay, I'll play the game--I'll pretend to not notice the gianormous hobo with the smooth beginnings of a 'stache when he approaches for a treat. But, in return, is it too much to ask that the kids with pubes not push my kid (or any one elses kid), cut in line, or demonstrate any other aggressive behavior toward the kids that have a right to be out there in the first place? And that their parents, yes, some of them actually did bring along their parents, be adults and agree. I think not.