Wednesday, December 27, 2006


There's another TV ad that is getting on my nerves (yes, I hear you saying "just turn off the television, JMG"). This one is for a particular weight loss program in which you buy special food. In one of the company's ads, a woman says that as a result of this program she "got her life back," and then she says that her husband says, "I got my wife back."

If I were that woman and my husband said that to me, I'd be insulted. Did he not consider her his wife while she was fat? Was he ashamed of her? Just who was that fat woman that he was sleeping with all that time?

Surely that was just scripted for the commercial.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

New Blogger Switch & Other Stuff

I got my blog switched over to the new Blogger yesterday, but before I could use the new tools, I had to update my template, which caused me to lose my header image and my favicon. I managed to get my image back on there, but I haven't figured out the favicon yet (the favicon is the little spider I had next to the url in the address bar--if you use Internet Explorer, you probably never saw it).

I also switched Musings From the Chariot, but it's under a new account with a different username. So, if you see comments in your blog by someone named "professor j," it's me.

Readership is way down this week. I guess everybody is getting ready for Christmas rather than blogging. I'll probably blog a little less in the next couple of weeks since Husband will be home from work. We need to finish the upstairs bathroom project that we began a couple of months ago, and he has a new project that will likely require my expert help. He's taking the automatic transmission out of his Trans Am and switching it out for a six speed manual transmission. Apparently, this is supposed to make driving more fun, but I think it's just a ploy to keep me from driving it, since I can't drive a stick shift.

If I don't hear from any of you before then, have a good and safe Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006

I'm Not Buying It

Sears is running a TV commercial right now for their diamond jewelry. The jist of the ad is that even though the two of you decided not to exchange gifts this year, you know that means that you'll be getting each other something anyway to surprise each other with. This bothers me. As suggestible as Americans are, you know that someone who has made an agreement with his or her significant other not to buy presents this year will see that commercial and think "I'd better get him/her something anyway just in case he/she surprises me, and then I'd look stupid if I didn't have something for him/her." It's a ploy by the retailers to sell more, and it will work.

Another ad that's getting on my nerves is one for Directv high definition programming. Jessica Simpson is in her Daisy Duke role (her Southern accent absolutely sucks, by the way) telling some technical information about the resolution of the programming, and she says, "I totally don't know what that is, but I want it." This is about the stupidest thing that I've ever heard, but Americans will buy into this as well. If it sounds like the latest and best, we'll go out and buy it even if we don't know what it is or what we'll do with it.

We've been conditioned to respond to these ads, and it's obvious that they work because we're lined up at the stores to buy whatever we see. We see an ad and suddenly the stuff we have is no longer good enough, even though we liked that stuff yesterday. We need to get smart and stop being manipulated into parting with our hard-earned money every time we see something new.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Private Eyes are Watching You--And Ears are Listening

The government has a whole new way of bugging your conversations, and they don’t have to get into your house or office to do it. If you have a cell phone, it’s possible for someone to listen in on your conversations—not just your phone conversations. The microphone on your cell phone can be used as a bug to pick up any sounds in the near vicinity, even if your phone is turned off.

Apparently, if an agency decides to investigate you, they can have your cellular provider download some software to your phone, making the microphone active at all times. According to an article at CNET, “The U.S. Commerce Department's security office warns that ‘a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone.’ An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can ‘remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call.’” The only way to deactivate the bug is to take the battery out of the phone and leave it out. Law enforcement agencies need a court order to be able to conduct such surveillance, but this past summer, we learned just how broad is the government's scope in collecting information.

When I read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, I thought it was really farfetched that the TV could keep track of what people were doing inside their homes, but it’s totally within the realm of possibility. The next thing you know, we’ll hear that government agencies have been working with satellite and cable TV providers to download software into our cable and satellite receiver boxes in order to listen in on our conversations.

Scary stuff.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Midnight Call

Let me tell you what happened to me last week. First, some background info.

I allow my students to turn in essays through email, and I give them a deadline of 11:55 p.m. This deadline gives them a grace period of a few hours because they all know that I'm not going to check email in the middle of the night--it's usually late the next morning or early afternoon before I get around to getting their emails. When I do check email and find their essay, I send them a reply that I received it.

I have a class in the afternoons that I swear they all must have ADHD. They drive me nuts because of all their energy. I constantly have to tell them to shut up. Everyone in the class is very good natured; they don't cut up out of malice; rather, their chatter is usually related to the topic of discussion (of course, if left to their own devices, their conversation will soon go off on a tangent.) I like these students, but they drain me of my energy. There's one guy in the class that's sort of the main instigator. Everyone likes him, and he gets his energy from that. He's quite intelligent and he writes pretty good essays. However, for as good natured as he is, he also tends to think that everything he does and says is quite cute. You know the type--fraternity guy, party animal.

I give my students access to my cell phone number because it is much easier for me to have to deal with only the one number and one voicemail. So far no one has abused the privilege--until last week. On Wednesday night--actually it was early on Thursday morning (the morning before my surgery), 1:00 a.m. to be exact--my cell phone rang. I usually turn it off or put it on silent at night so that in case I get a wrong number call, it won't bother me, but this time I had forgotten. I didn't bother to get up and answer it, but then it rang again, so I thought it would be a good idea to answer. By the time I got to my phone it had quit ringing, so I checked the missed calls log and dialed the last number, which I did not recognize. As I was leaving a message my call waiting went off, so I switched over, and it was the above-mentioned student calling, so he says, to ask if I had gotten his essay (which was due two hours prior to his phone call) because he had not yet received a reply. When I heard that, coupled with all the background noise, I knew he was calling me drunk from a fraternity party. And I was pissed! I mean thoroughly pissed! I didn't say anything to him that I shouldn't have said--not that he would have remembered it the next day anyway--and I knew that there is no reasoning with a drunk person. I decided to tell him that he needs to remember who keeps the gradebook in this class, but about that time my cell signal died. I went back to bed, but it took Husband and me a couple of hours to get back to sleep.

Our next class period is on Thursday, but it is optional; they can come to figure their final grade if they wish, so I don't know whether he'll show up. I have plenty to say to him if he does. He is signed up to take the next course in the sequence--my class of course. I'm going to advise him that he needs to take someone else because I don't know how objective I'll be able to be with his grades after this incident.

Can you believe the audacity?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Take That, Bellsouth!

As of today, Bellsouth no longer provides me with DSL service. A couple of technicians did whatever it is that technicians do and determined that the homes on my street are no longer eligible for DSL service. As it was explained to me, "When the power company came in and redid their lines, something happened to our lines that caused problems with the DSL." It is obvious to me that Bellsouth has determined that to fix our problem will cost more that we are worth as customers. I won't tell you what all I said to the customer service representative--it wasn't pretty.

However, Bellsouth has lost me as a customer altogether. I just finished speaking with a representative from another phone company that will now be providing my home telephone services--at a substantially lower cost that what I have been paying. I will also be switching to a local dial-up provider, a small company in Murfreesboro that has been around for a long time. This means that my email address will change, so some of you will need to update your address books. I'll send that info as soon as I make the changes.

Now that I have finally made the move to completely break ties with Bellsouth (well, I'll still love my brother even though he works for that outfit), I feel much better.

Monday, December 04, 2006

What's the Point?

This is from an article in my campus newspaper today. I'm sure that my students will be rushing out to buy it as soon as it's available. I cannot, however, figure out why this combination.

Vicious Vodka, a new caffeine-infused vodka, is being marketed to the Nashville area by MTSU student Tim Grace, a senior public relations major and Tennessee distribution manager of the California-based company Vicious Ventures.


The company is targeting Nashville's young, single, contemporary crowd from ages 21 to 35, Grace said. First it will be marketed in the Nashville area, then eventually to the rest of Tennessee.

Vicious Vodka is also being marketed to the extreme sports crowd such as snowboarders, wake boarders and skate boarders.

Grace said he hopes to have Vicious Vodka on the shelves in Tennessee around January. The company is currently marketing the vodka in New York and Hawaii with promotions and special events.

Rendes has not disclosed how much caffeine is in the vodka, Grace said. However, per volume it is the same as coffee.

"The biggest concern I have is mixing a stimulant, the caffeine, with the sedative of the alcohol," said Pat Spangler, medical director of Student Health Services. "You're trying to offset the side effects of one product with the other."

Spangler said the caffeine could possibly cover the signs of being intoxicated.

Somehow, I don't think the caffeine is going to counteract the alcohol. The rest of the article is here.

The End Is Near!

Classes end this week, and a much needed vacation begins after I finish my grading. By the last day of classes on Wednesday, I'll have taken up essays from all of my remaining students. I haven't counted, but I think I have around 85 students still hanging in there. What's wierd is that one student who was doing really well and would probably have earned an A suddenly stopped attending. She had only a couple of weeks left and only one essay left to write. However, it was a well known fact that she did not want to be in school and was there only to appease her mother. Too bad that the entire semester ended up being wasted because she couldn't hang in there a couple more weeks.

For all of my complaining, I realize that I have a great job. I work for fourteen weeks (well, around 15-16 if I count the time from the end of classes until the end of final exams) and then get a month-long break, and then I work for another fourteen weeks , and then I get nearly four months off from work. Those two sets of fourteen weeks are killer, but the long breaks make it worth it.

On Thursday of this week, after I finish classes, I will have a little surgical procedure on my throat. I won't bore you with the nasty details, but suffice it to say that I'm having some excess tissue cauterized. I have been promised a sore throat for a few days and the possibility of some bleeding. All this right at the time that I have to begin a marathon grading session, so y'all pray that I recover quickly and that the soreness is kept to a minimum. The good news is that I'll have an excuse to eat lots of chocolate pudding!

If I find some good quoteable quotes, I'll share them with you. My last set of essays did not have any good ones, but I did read a teriffic essay on how to end a bad date early and ensure that you never get asked out by that guy again. (Some tips, ladies: order the most expensive item for both yourself and your date, lament the bareness of your ring finger, and complain about the amount of tip he leaves--whether it's too much or too little, or even if it's just the right amount!)

Y'all have a nice day!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mean Old Professor G.

My students have known since the 6th of November what the assignment is for their final research paper. We have used class time to discuss possible topics, and I accompanied my students to the library one day to help them with research. I even gave them two days off from class to persue their research. They have a draft due for workshop on Monday, and their final draft is due on Wednesday.

Today I received this email from a student:
I'm really having a problem finding information on my topic.
I can't find what I'm looking for. I'm writing on
What does this student expect from me at this point? Perhaps this will sound uncaring, but I replied that I cannot do her research for her and that she should visit the library and speak to the librarian at the research desk for help.

I really hate it when students wait until the last minute to do a task and then try to make their emergency into my emergency.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Double Take

I just saw a very incongruous sight in the campus parking lot: A white guy with long dreadlocks and shabby jeans got into a new Volvo with a John Deere tag on the front of it.


Monday, November 20, 2006

What's Happening

This week I have given all of my students "research days." They have assignments due next week after Thanksgiving, so since this will be a short week, I decided that they could use an extra day to spend in the library. Like they're really going to go to the library! I'm doing office hours today, but after that, I'm off for the rest of the week to grade papers and work on the new home improvement project that Husband and I have begun.

A couple of weeks ago, we began work on the upstairs bathroom. When we moved into our house eleven years ago this week, we did not finish the upstairs very far beyond the drywall stage and some doors. We finally decided that it's time to slowly finish the upstairs, and we've begun with the bathroom. I painted on Saturday. Husband finished laying the tile last week, and I'll grout it this week. Yesterday we installed new lighting. The next thing after that will be the vanity top, which we are going to make ourselves out of concrete and bits of colored glass. I'll post some photos when we get done.

In other news, I am on the warpath again with Bellsouth concerning my DSL service. I have not been able to connect since Friday (I am using dialup right now), after a week of very good service. Tech support told me today that I am too far away from the central office to get good DSL service. I say they are going to put me on a new central office or they'll lose a customer. They are supposed to send out a technician today to check my situation. Again. Something will have to change after today because I'm not going to put up with this any longer. Bellsouth is the only thing that makes me angry enough to want to throw something. Even stupid drivers don't make me as angry as this whole ordeal has, and that's saying something!

I should have some more good quotable quotes for you later this week, as I'll be spending some time grading essays.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Christmas Plans

Well, I got some good news yesterday. If you recall, a few days ago, I talked about the Christmas situation for my family, and how it has been sort of uncomfortable the past few years. I just found out that MIL and A have decided to have separate Christmas gatherings for their respective families. So I suppose that Husband and I will be participating, even though it will still mean that we'll be doing the whole gift exchange.

However, Streak has reminded me of a great idea (follow the link at his blog) that I heard about back in the summer. Micro credit is a program that allows people (usually women) in third world countries the opportunity to take out small loans in order to start businesses. For example, a lady might take out a loan for ten dollars and buy several chickens in order to start an egg business.

Last summer I watched a TV program that profiled one particular loan program and its participants. The thing that really struck me about this was the way that the loan program encouraged the women of a particular town or village to work together. Each week, the ladies who had taken out loans (men are excluded from this particular program because they aren't as reliable when it comes to making their payments) met as a group in order to make their individual payments. If one of the ladies had had a particularly bad week and had trouble making her payment, the other ladies would pitch in and help her. The idea of community was really being enforced with this program. Many of the women had benefitted so much from the first loan that, after paying it off, they borrowed again in order to expand their businesses. One of the ladies used her loan to buy a sewing machine and then she collected juice pouches and made purses out of them to sell to tourists. Another lady used her money to buy little toys and trinkets to give to neighborhood children in exchange for them collecting the hair out of their mothers' hairbrushes so that she could sell it for wigs. Almost exclusively, these women wanted to succeed in business so that they could have enough money to send their kids to school.

I think this is an excellent idea and a worthy cause, and I plan to learn more about it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Quotable Quote

From a student's essay about obesity:

American society today moves at a very fast paste.

My first thought was tomato paste.

You have to see it to believe it.

I've always been a bit skeptical about people who claim to see the image of Jesus in strange places, and I have a hard time seeing it for myself until someone explains it. This sighting is no different. See for yourself.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It's Just too Early to Start the Insanity

Yesterday at BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), I overheard a couple of ladies in the restroom talking about their Christmas trees. One lady said that she had just gotten hers up but it wasn’t decorated yet. The other lady said that hers was up and decorated and already has five presents underneath it. She said she wasn’t going to let Christmas sneak up on her this year.

I guess not!

Two Christmases ago, Husband and I were laying tile on our downstairs floors, so I didn’t bother putting up a tree. Last year I remembered that I had really enjoyed not having to fool with putting up and taking down all that mess, so I gave my tree and all the decorations to my niece. I didn’t miss it a bit.

When I heard those ladies talking yesterday, I realized just how free I feel not having to worry about something so trivial as decorating for Christmas. Now, if only I didn’t have to worry about shopping. (I blogged about this last year just before Christmas. Click here and scroll down to Thursday, December 15 to refresh your memory. Perhaps it’s early enough for all of us to consider some of these ideas and spare ourselves the headaches of Christmas shopping.)

Husband and I have discussed boycotting Christmas this year. We have even talked about taking a trip over to Asheville and touring the Biltmore estate, which neither of us have seen, instead of participating in the loot exchange. The only problem with this idea is the fact that some people on his side of the family will get their feelings hurt if we don’t show up. Is it better just to continue the tradition even though our hearts aren’t in it in order to keep peace in the family? We both are sort of leaning toward the trip, but we both are a little hesitant to be “selfish” this year, especially since we have the reputation of being the good kids. (Say, if any of y’all want to go with us to the mountains for a couple of days, maybe we could call it a spiritual retreat or something. Surely nobody could find fault with that!)

It’s really sad that what is purported to be a celebration of our savior’s birth has turning into an elaborate ordeal that involves rampant spending, tiresome and frivolous decorations, and has the potential to cause hurt feelings and resentment. Maybe this is the year to make a change.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Daunting Assignment, Should I Choose to Accept It

In the comments of my previous post, Tony, in his gentle and tactful way, basically told me to quit complaining and investigate why I continue to feel frustrated by my students' choice of paper topics. He, in essence, gave me my own writing assignment--identify a problem and solve it.

So, as the good student, I submit my essay.

As a writing teacher who likes to keep up with what is going on in the world, even if I don’t necessarily understand it all, I am continually frustrated by my college students’ lack of interest in topics beyond their normal circle of everyday movement. The issues that typically trouble the average college student—judging from their paper topics—are campus parking, dating, sex, sports, music, celebrities, beer, and marijuana. Every semester it seems, my students are less and less inclined to talk about larger national or world issues. Oh sure, they will engage in a conversation about, say, capital punishment, but their minds are made up on the issue. Invariably, a small handful of students in the classroom will offer the standard, trite arguments against capital punishment, while the majority of the class will regurgitate the same old tired diatribe in favor of executing criminals. The same holds true for hot topics of the day such as illegal immigration, or a few years ago, gun control. It seems that students make up their minds based on the standard tag lines that the media feed them (or that they hear from their parents), and they feel no need to further research the issue for themselves—unless they are forced to write a paper about it, and then they typically ignore sources that are contrary to their sensibilities.

More and more, in order to ensure a lively classroom discussion, I find that I must put myself into the shoes of an eighteen to twenty-year-old and learn what topics interest them and then bring those topics to class. However, this is a tiresome undertaking. I have about as much interest in MySpace and Facebook and music downloads as they have in political scandals or the wars of words that the United States engages in with other countries. Even when I try to bring up issues that I think they will realize will have an effect on them, such as privacy of their Internet searches, they dismiss them with an attitude along the lines of, “As long as it catches terrorists, I don’t see a problem.” Unless they can clearly see how an issue will directly impact their sphere of existence today, that issue is of little or no importance.

Most college students today do not have the imagination to envision how seemingly unrelated, unimportant events can, when viewed at the same time, come to affect their small world. They need to realize that the things that are happening in Washington and the events that are occurring half a world away in a place they will likely never visit will eventually come to touch their lives. Because my students have grown up with a cell phone attached to one ear and an iPod earbud in the other, with their hands busy at the keyboard while their eyes are glued to MTV, they have become numb to anything but the adolescent drama of their, and their friends’, lives. Events in another country might as well be taking place on another planet for as much as these young people are concerned. Until today’s college students either experience directly or can vividly imagine just how much discomfort today’s world events can bring to their lives, they will continue to remain isolated in their own little electronic worlds with their hormone-fueled, reality show existences.

And until I can figure out a way to prod some imaginative thinking, I'll continue to be frustrated at having to meet the teenage mind exclusively in its teenage world.

Tony, my essay is turned in well ahead of the deadline and contains 287 more words than the 300 word minimum that you imposed. I have also given you a shameless plug. I expect extra credit.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I Need a New Job

I have just finished a week of conferences with my research and argumentative writing students. They had to write a paper in which they speculated about causes or effects of a problem and then offer a solution to the problem. Two students wrote about the problem of marijuana being illegal. Someone wrote about steroids in sports. A few students wrote about obesity. One wrote about the fact that department stores don't carry a good variety of fashionable clothing for larger sized women. One student wrote about global warming. And the rest were not remarkable enough for me to remember what the topics were.

I need to read something intellectually stimulating. Unfortunately, my next task is to read my freshman students' process analysis essays which consist of such topics as how to end a bad first date quickly, how to apply makeup, and how to drive a stick shift.

I really like my students, but some of their writing makes me feel as though my brain is going to go numb from disuse.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Election Woes

I've been sitting here trying to blog about this election, and nothing is working for me. I see the ads; I hear the rhetoric; I hear the commentators' evaluations; and it's all meaningless. No one talks about what matters. No one discusses what real people are concerned about. The canditates all talk about what they will do, not how well they will listen to and represent us. It doesn't matter whom I vote for--they're all the same. Vanity of vanities. I'm fed up with the entire process.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Quotable Quotes

From my freshman essays:

"The United States should not pride into the business of other countries."

"I don't want people to think I'm ease dropping in on their conversations."

"We searched in every nook and granny of the house."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

My Little Rant

This is a copy of an email that I sent to Bellsouth Customer Care regarding their DSL service:

I'd like to make Bellsouth aware of the problems I have been having with Bellsouth FastAccess DSL, or what should be called LimitedAccess DSL. Most of the residents on my street are currently experiencing problems with their DSL service. The problems I have are
representative of the problems that all my neighbors have complained about.

From the outset, the reliability of my DSL service has been sporadic; however, in the past months, the service has become much worse. Early in the mornings, I might be able to connect and check email. In the afternoons, however, beginning at about 2:30, connectivity is nearly impossible, and this condition continues, I assume, until the next morning. On the best weekday, I might get four good hours of connectivity. On the weekends, it is nearly impossible to connect. I am tired of paying for a service that I have only limited access to;
however, my only other option is dialup.

I have spoken to my neighbors, and we all seem to agree on the condition and severity of the connectivity problems. We believe that the high internet traffic times (after kids get home from school, and weekends) are the times when we have the most problems. One neighbor decided to completely drop her service and go back to dialup. We all agree that if Comcast were available in our area, we would switch without hesitation.

Bellsouth has sent technicians out to try to help our problems, but the technicians agree that the phone lines and equipment running to our neighborhood are inadequate to address our needs.

I noticed this morning that Bellsouth has posted its 3rd quarter earnings, and they are impressive. Obviously, those profits are not being used to upgrade equipment and improve service in our area.

It seems that the only person on my street who is not having connectivity problems is my next door neighbor, who has the highest level of DSL service, which, coincidentally, is also the highest priced option that you offer. Hmmm. Could there be a correlation?

It is obvious that Bellsouth has the customer base in this area to warrant upgrading and/or replacing your DSL equipment in order to make our service better. It would seem, however, that because you know that Bellsouth is the only high speed option for those of us in this area, you are content to allow us to keep experiencing the substandard service that we have come to expect.

Thank you for your time.

I received a reply that my comments have been forwarded to Technical Support and that someone would be contacting me regarding my case.

I replied back that I hope my comments would also be forwarded to Bellsouth's CEO and to anyone else who has the authority to make a decision to take some action that would actually bring about improvement in my service. And I said that I would not sit on the phone for an hour with a tech guy in Singapore who can only tell me what I already know: that something is wrong with the phone lines in my area. I also said that I would contine to keep my blog readers updated on how bad Bellsouth's DSL service actually is.

So, I've honored my promise and will let you know what develops.

Update (Fri. 8:55 a.m.): The reply I sent yesterday afternoon to the reply I received yesterday morning (sorry if that's confusing) seems to have generated an automated response which urges me to contact technical support. The funny thing is that yesterday evening when I received this email (I checked around 5:30 p.m.), I was able to connect using my DSL (and I am connected at this moment). All day yesterday I had had to use my backup dialup connection. However, now things seem to be working, and at a fairly decent speed. Could I be receiving some results?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sick of TV Prescription Drug Ads Disorder

Sunday morning the CBS morning show did a story on one way that drug companies market new prescription drugs to consumers. According to the story, when drug companies have a new drug that they want to market for a particular disease or disorder, they hire ad agencies to come up with a new name for the disorder--something that is palateable to the consumers, a nice acronym that consumers feel comfortable using with their doctors, like ED (erectile disfunction) instead of impotence. On the story, the ad agency team was trying to come up with a new name for arthritis. One suggestion was PJD--progressive joint degeneration. I'd be willing to bet that we start hearing that one on TV commercials very soon.

I have very mixed feelings about all this. On the one hand, I am glad that I can do research and find out what might be wrong with me so that I can, along with my doctor, make an educated choice about my treatment. However, this proliferation of new disorders and new drugs is making people feel that they can take a magic pill to cure every little ache or pain that they have. TV commercials urge viewers to "Ask your doctor if (fill in the blank) is right for you." How many suggestible people have, after watching a commercial, decided that they have a certain disorder and called the doctor's office to get an appointment for the purpose of obtaining a prescription for that drug? Many, I'm sure. If the commercials didn't work, the drug companies wouldn't pay to air them.

This is just another symptom of our society's obsession with having all that we want when we want it. Instead of changing our eating habits in order to keep from having acid reflux, for example, we just pop a pill every day so that we can keep on eating crap. Rather than deal with our problems and decide to have a positive outlook on life, we take an anti-depressant pill every day. Because we are too lazy to do the work or make the necessary sacrifices in order to have better health, we'd rather depend on a pill to do the work for us, and if that pill doesn't work, some other drug company makes another pill that surely will work. And on top of that, we complain about the prices of prescription drugs and the fact that drug company executives make tons of money, but we keep on lining their pockets out of our laziness and complacency.

What is the matter with us? I'm sure that as soon as someone figures it out, we'll have a new disorder and a drug to treat it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I'm sorry I've not updated this blog in the past few days. I tried to post something this morning, but Blogger was acting up. I've also had internet troubles again. If some other company besides Bellsouth offered a high speed internet connection out in the country where I live, I would switch in a second. And as long as Bellsouth continues to offer the crappy service that they are providing, I'll keep pointing it out and bad-mouthing their service--even if my brother is a Bellsouth man.

In other news, yesterday I got the results of my sleep test that I told you about a couple of weeks ago, and I do indeed have sleep apnea. I stop breathing about 15 times per hour when I'm lying on my side and about 45 times per hour when I'm on my back. Tomorrow I go back to my ENT doctor to decide for certain what I need to do to correct the situation.

Nothing else has really been happening. I still have plenty of papers to grade, but that'll be the case until the end of the semester.

Tomorrow I'll be sort of busy, but maybe I'll have something worthwhile to blog about by Friday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Talk a Little Louder, Why Don'tcha!

Yesterday I was sitting in a waiting room when a woman walked in and started talking. At first I thought she was talking to me, but she never looked toward me, and nothing she said made any sense. Then I realized that she was on her cell phone, but it was one of those wires that has the ear plug on one end and a small microphone that hangs down near the side of the face.

I absolutely hate those things. For one, when people talk on the phone, then tend to speak louder than when talking face to face, but when the microphone is not right in front of the mouth, the person has to talk that much louder. I thought this was really rude. I don't care if she was a big business woman who has to take lots of calls. Eavesdropping is no fun when you don't have to strain to hear everything, and usually the details aren't nearly as juicy either.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Blog World Comes to My Real Life, or What I Did This Weekend

This weekend was a really good one for me. I got to meet some new people that I had only heard of, and I got to meet some people that I'd been wanting to meet for a long time.

My mom and dad had a campout at their house over the weekend with some people that they have bible study with. Because my bed is only a couple hundred feet away from their back yard, I did not camp, but I did get to sit around the campfire and roast hot dogs (well, actually Husband roasted the hot dogs) with some people who are serious in learning about the bible. Most of the time that I was there, however, was not spent in serious discussion. Instead we sat around and quoted lines from what seems to be a favorite movie for most people: Sling Blade. We had a good time.

On Friday morning I checked my email and found that JettyBetty and Critter would be in town for a church event and that they were planning to attend Tony's church on Sunday morning. So I drove to Brentwood to meet them all at church, and it was great! JettyBetty greeted me with a big hug, and we began talking as if we had been friends for a long time--which we have--even though we had never met before in real life. I also loved meeting Critter, even though I don't read her blog as often as I read JB's. I also met Tony and his lovely family, and we also talked as if we'd known each other for years. In fact, after church was over, we all sat in the sanctuary, each of us on the end of a pew, just talking and talking and laughing until someone finally turned the lights out and we had to leave. They are all now well aware that I am not nearly as articulate in real life as I am on my blog. I really hope that we can get together again soon, and not wait until next year!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dumb Question

I wonder what's happening behind the scenes in Washington that this deal with Foley is diverting our attention from?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I just did something really dumb. Right now I'm on my lunch break sitting at my desk reading a book. As I was getting to the bottom of the page, I reached for my mouse so that I could scroll down.

I think I'm losing it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I'm sorry for the lack of posts this week, but the past few days have been pretty busy for me. I have collected my first set of essays from all five classes, so I've spent a lot of time grading--time I could have been blogging at the office! This busy spell will likely run until the middle of next week, so I may not post much.

Compounding the situation, tonight I'll be spending the night at the doctor's office getting a sleep test to see if I have sleep apnea, so tonight I get to sleep with wires connecting me to all sorts of machines that will measure all sorts of stuff. I hope I sleep!

I'll talk to y'all soon.

Update: They woke me up this morning just about the time I got to sleeping good. Actually, all the wires didn't bother me that much--it was the blood oxygen sensor that I had to wear on my finger all night that nearly drove me crazy.

When the guy came in to wake me up and take all the electrodes off, I asked him why he hadn't brought me any coffee. He said he didn't know how to make coffee. What's a girl got to do to get a guy to bring her coffee in bed?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Why Bother?

Last night Husband and I were sitting on the couch watching Survivor (yeah, yeah, I know) when a political ad came on—one of those where one senate candidate bad-mouths the other senate candidate. When it was over, I threw my hands up in the air and said, “I give up. I’m finished with the whole mess.”

Husband replied, “I’ve been trying to tell you that all along. It doesn’t make any difference who you vote for; they all lie and they all do the same s**t once they get elected.”

“You’re right,” I said. “I should’ve listened to you years ago.” Husband was very satisfied with that response, as you can imagine.

Last night when I said I was finished, I really meant it, but this morning I’m not so sure. I find myself lately going back and forth on whether to vote. All my life I have heard that voting is a right, a privilege, and, in fact, a duty for all good Americans. “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain,” I’ve heard. “Brave men fought and died so that you can exercise this choice that others don’t enjoy,” people say. I’ve heard all the rhetoric.

The problem is that if I vote, I want my choice to be a responsible one. I feel that if I decide on a candidate based on what the political ads say, I’ll be basing my choice on misinformation. Candidates frequently use these ads to tout their own voting records and criticize the voting records of their opponents. “So and so voted against increased funding for education; he doesn’t care about our children.” “Candidate Q voted for allowing convicted criminals to walk free without serving all of their sentence; he’s not tough on crime.” What these types of statements don’t tell you is that the education bill that So and so voted for had an amendment that would allow millions of dollars for the study of blue-headed desert fish in Alaska or other such nonsense and that the bill Candidate Q voted for was simply to clear the prisons of petty criminals like shoplifters and recreational marijuana users. Most political ads are designed to play on the emotions of the voters, rather than to convey really useful information.

If I want to make a truly informed choice, I have to spend tremendous amounts of time researching each candidate’s background; I have to read the entire text of bills that he or she voted on, bills that the candidate probably didn’t read all the way through; I have to attend town-hall-styled meetings and question and answer sessions—if the candidate is brave enough to take questions from an audience; I have to listen to debates; the list goes on. All this research takes up valuable time that could be spent on much more productive activities (like writing this blog). The truth is that most voters will not take the time to do the research necessary to make an informed choice. Instead, most voters will decide on the basis of half-truthful political ads and on the flyers they receive in the mail. Some voters will even decide based on which candidate is better looking.

None of this even takes into account the election scandals that have become so frequent lately. The newspapers are full of accounts of voter fraud in various places. The Diebold company has received plenty of criticism on how easy it is to hack into their touch-screen voting machines. I am not necessarily more confident in the machines that I was with the "chads" system in Florida.

All things considered, I believe that voting is much more trouble than it’s worth. Why go and vote if I’m not going to take the time to make an informed decision, and why take all that time away from other activities that make better use of my time?

If I really believe what the bible says in Romans 13:1, I would not even give a second thought to the political process. Paul tells us that “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” In verse 4, Paul goes on to say that the ruling authorities are “God’s ministers.” Daniel 2:21 agrees with Paul’s sentiment, stating, “[God] changes the times and the seasons; he removes kings and raises up kings.” Lest we believe that only the ‘good’ rulers are appointed by God, we should remember what God said about the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar: “Therefore the LORD Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the LORD, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin” (Jeremiah 25: 8-9). God called Nebuchadnezzar “my servant” and used him to fulfill a plan that God had in mind.

If I believe that back then God had a plan for the world and put rulers and kings and governments in place to accomplish that purpose, then the same must be true today. Does God need me to vote in order to make sure that his plan is accomplished? I think not. Why, then, do I feel that I must vote? Because society says that’s what I must do.

That said, when election day comes along, despite the fact that I have not spend an adequate amount of time researching the candidates, I will likely go to the polls and cast a vote. Instead of trusting that God really is in control of such matters and that all authorities are in place because of him and not because of me, I will likely cave into the pressure that society places on me and stand in the line in order to be able to say that I did my duty.

Monday, September 18, 2006

This Week Offers an Opportunity for Real Diplomacy

According to, “diplomacy” is defined as 1) the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations, and 2) skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility. A synonym listed for the word is “tact.”

President Bush has said that diplomacy is the best way to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Certainly this is correct. However, I have to wonder just how hard the Bush administration has tried to achieve real diplomacy. From everything I hear and read in the news, no real diplomacy is occurring. It seems that the only “negotiations” going on between the U.S. and Iran is for our government to make a demand and for Iraq to defy that demand. As far as I can gather, no real face to face negotiations have taken place.

Tomorrow both President Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are scheduled to speak at the United Nations. This seems to me the perfect opportunity for the two leaders to sit down at the same table and speak to each other frankly about what each of them wants. However, the Bush administration is going to great lengths to keep the two leaders from even passing each other in the halls of the U.N.:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims he'll dog President Bush this week at the United Nations to force the U.S. leader into a face to face debate over Iran's nuclear program, but the White House is taking extreme measures to keep that from happening.

For starters, Ahmadinejad won't be attending a welcoming reception for world leaders that Bush is hosting Tuesday night at the U.N. Asked if Ahmadinejad had even been invited, a senior administration official told the New York Daily News, "Definitely not."

The Iranian press quoted Ahmadinejad saying last week that Bush officials "did not accept this debate, but I hope that they agree and this debate takes place."

The White House also isn't pleased that Bush and Ahmadinejad are both scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. U.S. officials were quietly working to see if the Iranian's talk could be moved to later in the week, hoping to avoid a confrontation between the two leaders in the halls and ensuring that the always colorful Ahmadinejad doesn't steal the day's headlines. (Read the rest of the article here.)

Bush says that he wants diplomacy to work, but instead of taking the opportunity to speak to Ahmadinejad while he is here in the United States, Bush is going to snub the man that he claims he wants to come to an agreement with. This attitude does not resemble anything like “tact.”

What would be so wrong with the two men sitting down together and each laying his cards on the table for the other to see? The Iranian leader claims that he wants a debate, so why not give him the chance for one while he is here? Would Bush look weak for sitting down with his adversary? On the contrary, I believe that if Bush were to meet with Ahmadinejad, he would look stronger. Right now many people perceive Bush as a little bully, someone whose slogan is “my way or the highway.” By meeting with the Iranian president, he could tremendously improve his image and gain respect as a leader who is sincere and truly confident in his convictions. If Ahmadinejad is not sincere in his call for a dialogue with Bush, then that will become evident, and a meeting with Bush will expose him as a fraud. Bush would then be able to tell the rest of the world, “I told you so.”

Bush’s cloak of confidence is actually a prideful, egoistic conceit. Instead of listening to his handlers, our president should be the confident leader that he claims to be and take Ahmadinejad at face value. A try at real diplomacy will expose both men’s true intentions. Maybe that’s what our president is afraid of.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I know you've been waiting with baited breath!

"Musings From the Chariot" has finally been updated, for those of you who are interested.

What does baited breath smell like anyway?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


From an actual conversation between some girls in my class as we were waiting for time for class to begin:

(The conversation was about concerts that they had been to lately and concerts they'd like to attend.)

Girl #1: I'd like to go to a Motley Crue concert. (This was really funny because she's such a sweet looking young little 18-year-old. I couldn't imagine her listening to '80's metal bands.)

Girl #2: Who's Motley Crue?

At this point, my jaw dropped to the floor in amazement.

Girl #1: They're a classic rock band. My dad listens to them.

At this point, I was shocked. "Oh my God," I said in complete amazement and horror. "Oh my God!" For a couple of moments all I could say was "Oh my God" and shake my head back and forth in disbelief. The realization hit me that people I went to high school with, if they started having kids right out of high school, could actually have kids attending college now. That idea, coupled with the idea that Motley Crue is a "classic rock band"--well, I don't have a word for how I felt at the moment except for hurt.

My students realized that I was having "a moment," and they were sympathetic, but they could never understand the gravity of what I was experiencing right then. After a few minutes I was fine and class began and I forgot about it. But yesterday at 9:35 a.m. I inched a little farther away from youth and a little closer to middle age.

I Was Rendered Speechless for a Moment

My mouth nearly hit the floor when I read this just now. You can read the entire article here.

Air Force chief: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."

If he really feels that way, I think he and his friends should be the first guinea pigs. And why stop with non-lethal weapons? Why not just go ahead and test how effective the lethal ones are while they're at it? As bad as that sounds, I think it may come to that one day.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Guilty Without Proof

In an effort to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to seek retribution from their alleged perpetrators years after the statute of limitations has expired, the Ohio legislature has enacted a law that would create a “civil registry” of people who have been accused of but not charged with or convicted of sex offenses. The registry would be very similar to criminal sex offender registries in that those listed would be subject to the same types of restrictions—community notification requirements, restrictions on where he or she can live—as convicted sex offenders. The law allows a victim to petition the courts to add the alleged perpetrator’s name, photograph, and address, where it would remain for six years, whereupon the alleged perpetrator could petition to have his or her name removed if no other accusations have been made and the judge believes that he or she is not likely to abuse anyone.

Victims of sexual abuse by priests in Ohio had wanted the government to lift the statute of limitations for one year so that they could sue their abusers, but instead the Catholic church apparently endorsed this alternative solution.

This is a terrible idea. One would hope that a judge would not add a person to the registry unless compelling evidence existed to substantiate the claims of abuse. How many accusations would be sufficient to add someone to the registry? One? Another problem is that a tremendous potential exists for the misuse of this law. Who is to say that someone with a grudge could not convince (or pay) a judge to add a name to the registry?

The fact is that those added to the registry will have been merely accused of a crime, not convicted in a court of law. The stigma that goes along with being a sex offender is bad enough for those who actually have committed the crime. Imagine being wrongly accused and having to live under that oppression. Ohio’s supreme court needs to put a stop to this law before it causes irreparable harm—and before other states decide to adopt the law as a model.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Re-Running 9-11

Beginning this weekend, nearly all the media outlets will be broadcasting special programming concerning the attacks on September 11, 2001. Many news stations will be replaying the original live footage from that day.

Do we really need this? What is it supposed to accomplish? Cynical me thinks it's all a ploy to make the republicans look better just before the election. "See, don't forget, this is why we're fighting wars in Iraq and Afganistan. Never mind the countless contradictions and the ever-shifting explanations for why we are in Iraq. Just watch this re-run and let your thinking mind go numb and give in to a spirit of fear."

I sure hope there's an Andy Griffith marathon on at the same time.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dinner and Supper

I mentioned the other day that I have a very rambunctious group of freshmen that meet on Thursday afternoons. I guess that late in the day they have gotten their second wind--either that or they're so tired that they're just crazy. They really keep me on my toes, but they are a good bunch.

Yesterday in class we were discussing grammar, and the discussion morphed into a conversation about differences in the way people from different regions pronounce the same word. One of my students, a young man from Chicago said, "Last week you said the word supper. That was the first time I had ever heard that word, and I had to go ask somebody what it meant." Everyone else in class gasped (except for the girl from Northern Virginia--I think she was familiar with the word but could understand why he didn't know it) in amazement that this guy had never heard the word "supper." He explained that it was "dinner" where he comes from, so I asked him if he knew what dinner is here. He guessed that dinner was lunch, and I told him that he was partially right. I told him that if you have a sandwich at noontime, it's lunch, but if you have a hot meal at noontime, that's dinner. Everyone in class seemed to agree with this idea.

Getting to meet people from different places is one of the most fun things about being a college professor.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Eleven years ago right now. . .

I was putting on the big, white, poofy dress and getting ready to take the long walk to marital bliss. Little did I know that with a new last name, I'd also get a new title: the ol' lady.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I don't have a title for this post.

I've met all five of my classes now, and they all seem like they're going to be a pretty good bunch. By far the class with the most personality is my late class on Tues/Thurs. They were rambunctious but very good-natured. They promised to bring me food if I let them out early on Thursday for the football game that starts at 6:00 (our class normally ends at 5:45).

I am suffering from a blocked right ear. All I hear all day and night is a constant "whoosh whoosh" of the blood rushing through my head. This has been going on for over a week but has gotten worse in the past couple of days. Now my back teeth on the right side are starting to hurt. I have an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist tomorrow. I sure hope this is something that he can clear up fast because it's about to drive me crazy.

I don't really have much else to talk about today--just wanted to let you know that I'm still here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Reflections Before the Start of a New Semester

On Friday I attended my department's annual faculty meeting and was pleasantly surprised. I was not really looking forward to the meeting because it usually drags on for a couple of hours with a few people talking about issues that affect only those few people in the department. The rest of us are left to sit and sigh and wait for it all to be over. But this time, the meeting ended after a short 45 minutes with no discussion of irrelevant issues. I hope this is a sign of good things to come this semester.

As I was leaving campus, I passed by some of the residence halls. Friday was move-in day for campus residents, and they and their parents were busy carrying in all the things that college students need to survive dorm life. Boxes and boxes of different types lined the sidewalks waiting for their contents to be placed into service in their new homes. Some boxes were obviously second-hand aquirements from the grocery store, once used to carry bananas but now pressed into service to haul books, linens and towels, and stuffed animals. Other boxes were brand new, shiny, unopened packaging for inexpensive pressboard furniture waiting to be assembled. I did notice, however, one box that stood out from the rest--it showed a picture of an electric chainsaw. I certainly hope that this box was recycled. I don't know how those dorm rooms are going to contain all the stuff that was sitting on the sidewalks yesterday. I suspect that some parents had to haul some things back home Friday evening.

The first week of classes always contains some light chaos. Some students will experience some sort of scheduling problem and will react as if the world is coming to an end. Other students will find that because they paid their fees late, they were purged from all their classes. They won't appear on my class roll but will insist that they had been previously enrolled. "You may very well have been on my roll last week, but you aren't today," I'll tell them. "Therefore you are not enrolled in my class. Good luck finding another one," I'll say with encouragement, but I'll know that this semester they won't be able to take English.

During the first couple of weeks when work is still relatively light, my officemate and I will occupy the free time between classes tracking hurricanes online. We do this every year with relish, keeping each other updated on the latest developments. Last fall with Katrina and Rita, we had plenty to keep us busy. I'm not sure why we do this, but I suspect it has something to do with reminding ourselves that there's a life off of our campus and concerns wider than comma spices and sentence fragments.

We'll also catch up with our faculty friends that we didn't see over the summer. It'll be almost as if we hadn't had nearly four months off. Three and a half weeks into the semester, we'll be saying, "God I'll be glad when this semester is over!" And that'll be the truth!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's the End of the Solar System As We Know It!

When we hear someone mention the name Pluto, we now don't have to wonder whether he or she is talking about the dog or the planet. Pluto is officially no longer a planet.

I'm going to have to adjust my entire way of thinking.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My New Freshman Writing Assignment

Over the past few years, I have noticed that freshman college students have many different reasons for attending school. Some know exactly what they want to major in, and some have no idea why they're there. Some don't want to be there at all. With this in mind, I have devised a new writing assignment for my first-semester freshman students, and I want to get your input on it. Here's part of the assignment sheet:

For some reason, you are a student at [this university]. Have you really thought about why you are here? I mean, for example, before you even applied to [this university], did you think long and hard about what you want to do for your career and how [this university] could help you to achieve that career? Or at the opposite end of the spectrum, was the decision to attend [the university] sort of like your decision to attend 12th grade: It was just the next expected step in life, the 13th grade.

I want you to take a long and honest look at why you are here. Some students are here because they know exactly where they want to go in their career path, and [this university] is a stepping stone on that path. [This university] may offer the perfect education for your career choice. Maybe [this university] is just the place where you plan to complete your general studies courses before moving on to your university of choice for your major courses. Some students don’t want to be attending college at all but are here because of a deal they made with their parents. Other students didn’t even get to make a deal and don’t want to attend college at all but are here because mom and dad are making them come here. Some students even come to college with the intention of failing all their classes so that their parents won’t make them come back.

Whatever category you fall into, you have a reason for being here, and you need to be honest with yourself about what that reason is. For your first writing assignment, you will explain to your readers what you hope to do as a career, how [this university] fits in with your career plan, how you came to be attending [this university], and how these three facts will shape your actions over the next few years.

There's more to the assignment, but this gives you the basic idea. My goal is that the students will honestly examine themselves and their motives and make a choice to take responsibility for their own education right now. They consider themselves adults, so I want them to start now to think like an adult.

What do you think? Do you see any drawbacks to this assignment that I should address before giving it to them? Many of you are parents of college students or children who will one day become college students, so your input is very welcome.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Suffering from Blog Withdrawal, and Wierdness

Very early on Thursday morning, I had just enough time to check my email, and then my DSL service went down. The entire neighborhood lost service for a few hours, but when it came back up, I didn't get mine back. To make a long story short, I finally got my internet service back yesterday afternoon after having to run a new wire inside from the phone box on the outside of my house.

Bellsouth DSL service sucks big time! I've had nothing but problems from the getgo, but it's my only alternative besides dialup.


Mugsy tagged me last week, so here are five wierd things about me. Actually, since I personally don't have five wierd characteristics, I'll include my entire household.

1. Sometimes I like to eat ketchup on my macaroni and cheese.

2. For nearly any situation that arises, my husband or I can quote an appropriate scene or line from either The Andy Griffith Show or the movie Sling Blade.

3. My Jack Russell Terriers' favorite toy is a piece of corrugated drain pipe. One dog gets on one end, and the other dog gets on the other end, and they have a good time tugging on it. They've gone through several pipes over the years.

4. My husband likes make up words to familiar tunes and sing to the dogs.

5. I love my husband a lot when he sings his little songs.

All right, Tony and Jetty Betty, you're it. Consider yourselves tagged.


Edit: OK, I'm an English teacher and I don't know how to spell the word weird. So sue me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Freedom is About to End

It's almost that time again. This summer flew by just like last summer did. In another week and a half, I'll be back staring at the walls of the old, cold dungeon known as my office, that basement room where I have to run a heater even on the hottest days of summer. Thankfully, I do have a window with a street-level view of the parking lot. But for all I complain about that space, when I really think about it, I'm still amazed that I have a place that I can call "my office." Not many people in the world have their own office (actually I share with a cool friend with whom I attended graduate school, so it isn't exclusively "mine"), and even fewer can say that they work--and teach--at a university. Once, a neighbor asked me what I do, and I said that I teach English at the university, to which she replied with awe in her voice, "You're a professor?" It was then that I realized that . . . well, I'm still not sure exactly what I realized except that people view what I do as something very out of the ordinary. The fact that I teach 18-year-olds at a university sets me quite apart, apparently, from those who teach 18-year-olds in high school.

(Technically, I'm really not a professor. There's no official title for those of us in my position at my particular university. We're designated as Full Time Temporary--no noun after Temporary. The most accurate noun would probably be Instructor, but no one has ever gotten around to actually naming us, so everyone just calls us Professor for the sake of ease. Most of the time when people I meet ask me what I do, I just say that I'm an English teacher, but if I'm meeting people who I can tell are sort of hoity toity, or if they're yankees, I'll say that I'm a professor.)

So anyway, yesterday I spent a lot of time working on my class website. Since I've learned how to do things like make my own buttons for links, I'm spending too much time making my site look cool and not enough time revising my handouts. I'll be working on that today and the next several days. I probably shouldn't have put it off this long, but summer break is called summer break for a reason.

It's close enough for school to start that I've begun having those dreams at night where I'm either taking or teaching classes, and I forget to go to one all semester. After school starts and the essays start coming in, I'll dream about grading papers, and it'll be one of those restless kind of dreams where I wake up as exhausted as was when I went to sleep. Thankfully, that particular one happens only once or twice a semester. (My husband still dreams about being in school, and he absolutely hates hearing the back to school commercials on TV, he disliked school that much!)

In a way, I'm sort of looking forward to going back to school, but most of me wishes I could just skip it. However, I didn't win the lottery this summer, so unless I win in the next few days, I'll be looking forward to making the aquaintance of another hundred eager (and not so eager) young adults in a couple of weeks. Actually, I really do like my job, for all the complaining I do. I get to work with some good people, and I really like my students, even though they can drive me near crazy sometimes. Once I get back to it, I'll enjoy it and anticipate going to class. Right now, though, going back to school just means the end of another summer of carefree living.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Yes, I Really Want to Exit Without Leaving a Comment

Could someone please advise me on how to stop the annoying little box that pops up on the comment page asking if I really want to navigate away without making any changes? I can't find an option for it in the browser preferences. I've been living with this forever, and it's finally about to drive me crazy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Don't Buy Your Toiletries Until You Get to Where You're Going

So because of this foiled terror plot, people can't carry any liquids onto planes. I was just watching the news, and they were showing all sorts of things that are being confiscated from people boarding planes: eye drops, deodorant, chapstick, toothpaste, hairspray. This is getting ridiculous.

The Walgreens stores near the airports will be happy about it.

To My Silent Readers

I know you're out there. You stop by every couple of days for a minute or two to see if there's anything new. You stay long enough to read the comments, and then you leave again. You leave no traces that you were here, yet you return again and again. I hope you are returning because you enjoy the conversation that takes place here. I have come to think of the people who comment regularly here as my friends--good friends that I could count on in a crisis--even though we've never met in person. Perhaps that's why you keep coming back, because you see people who really seem to like each other, and it's refreshing to hear (read) a conversation where people can agree and they can disagree and still like each other.

I'd like to invite you to become a part of our conversations here. This circle of friends has room to grow larger, and I'd love to hear what you have to say. I know that you are reading from various parts of the country, and since I've never been out of the South, I would really welcome getting to know you.

I know you're out there, Providence, Rhode Island. San Jose, California, I see that you've been here. And all you Texas people, hey, Texas is already being represented here, but you're welcome to join in too! (Texans must really like blogging. Or is it just that there are a lot of Texans?)

But even if you decide not to comment, know that I'm glad you're here.


I just thought of something. Maybe you keep coming back just to see what sort of drivel I'm going to come up with next. That's all right too!

Hope to hear from you!

Monday, August 07, 2006

It's Good to be a Heathen

I really like not being a regular church-goer. If the opportunity of a fun outing offers itself on a Sunday morning, I don't have to pass it up, and I don't have to justify to all my church friends why I missed church last week. It's also good to have friends and family who either aren't church-goers or who don't mind at all missing church in order to have fun with friends and family.

This Sunday afforded us the opportunity to take a canoe trip down the Caney Fork River with family and friends. (The friends are church-goers, but apparently they felt compelled to miss without guilt this day.) We put our canoes in at the Center Hill Dam and floated nine miles downstream to Betty's Island, stopping for lunch at Happy Hollow. We had our coolers strapped to a float that we pulled behind one of the canoes, so we were able to carry more than just a sandwich and bottle of water apiece. People who see us always comment on what a great idea it is, as if they couldn't have thought of it themselves.

Everyone we met out on the river was friendly and considerate. You know that commercial with the boaters waving to each other? Canoers and people fishing do the same thing, but we can chat because we don't have loud motors going. Actually we did see a couple of canoes with motors, but they weren't loud enough to keep us from exchanging pleasantries. And we saw some interesting things too. Before we saw the guy, we smelled his weed. He was sitting in a fishing boat not fishing--he said he'd already caught his limit. I guess he just hadn't smoked his limit yet.

Out in the river, away from the distractions of daily life, everyone is pretty much in the same boat, pun intended. Everyone speaks to each other as equals; no one is better than anyone else. You can be friendly with the guy who's getting high just as easily as you can with the game warden. The journey along the river and all that the journey brings is more important than reaching the getting out place.

We had a good time just floating along, laughing and talking, seeing wildflowers and cows, and stopping every now and then to put our feet in the cold water. If you think you'd have a good time enjoying God's outdoor church some Sunday morning, you can go with us next time.

Friday, August 04, 2006

It Begins

As I knew would happen, Hilleary and Bryant have already said what a great senator Corker will be. Puleeeze!

Corker seems to have already come up with a mantra: "You have a choice between me, a (fill in the blank), or a career politician from Washington; me, a (fill in the blank again), or a career politician from Washington.

By the time November arrives, I'm gonna need some Head On applied directly to the forehead. Head On applied directly to the forehead.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I Approve This Message

I'll be really glad when Friday gets here and this primary election is over with. I am sick of hearing these republican candidates for senate slinging mud at each other and giving each other down the road over who lies and who hires illegals and this, that, and the other. The really ironic thing about it all is that on Thursday night when we find out who has won, the two losers will say how much they support the winner and how he's the best man for the job and a whole bunch of other BS.

Yesterday I finally figured out whom I'll vote for for county mayor. There are three guys in the race, but one of the guys has a commercial that makes it sound like there are only two people running. I heard on the news last night that the one candidate has spent $300,000 and the next guy has spent $130,000. The other guy (the one who doesn't count) has spent only $5000 and won't allow anyone to contribute more than $100 to his campaign. I'm going to vote for him.

Another good thing is that after tomorrow I'll get fewer campaign flyers in my mailbox. Every day I receive flyers from at least four different candidates running for something. Yesterday I got one from a guy who I think I went to high school with. It started out, "Dear Republican Friend," and it said, "Put a Reagan Republican on the State Executive Committee." That one went straight into the garbage. But at least this guy let me know what party he is affiliated with. Have you noticed that almost no one in the local races is coming right out and saying whether they are democrat or republican? Are they ashamed to say which party they are with? That speaks volumes about how people feel about our two main parties.

Yes, I'm looking forward to the end of this election cycle, but I'm afraid that it will only get worse before the general election in November.

Go out and vote tomorrow, or don't. It really doesn't matter because no matter who's elected, it's going to be the same old crap that it always has been.

I'm JMG, and I approve this message.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Rich Get Richer

On Friday, the House passed a bill which raises the minimum wage to $7.25 over a period of two years. This would be the first time in nine years that the minimum wage has gone up. It’s a nice gesture, but a little late considering how much the cost of groceries and gas has risen in nine years.

Attached to the minimum wage bill is a proposal to cut the estate tax, a bill which republicans have been trying desperately to pass and which benefits only the richest Americans.

Here’s a very interesting analysis of the bill (from Axcess News):

The minimum wage increase helps some 6.6 million Americans with an average dollar benefit of $1,200. The estate tax cut benefits some of the nation's wealthiest, about 8,200 people, with an average dollar benefit of $1.4 million.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said Friday that the House approach of marrying the minimum wage hike to estate tax cuts juxtaposes policies that are aimed at two groups at opposite ends of the economic spectrum.

The Center argued that the House version of the legislation passed on Friday doesn't give minimum wage earners a benefit from $7.25 per hour level for two years. The citizen's advocacy group also said that the estate tax will only benefit the nation's wealthiest individuals.

The Center stated that, "While these income gains could be critical to the well-being of a low-income family, the dollar amount of the gain pales in comparison to the dollar gains for estates benefiting from the House estate tax proposal. The Tax Policy Center estimates that in 2011 an estate tax with a $10 million per couple exemption ($5 million per individual) and with tax rates of 15 percent and 30 percent - similar to the proposal under consideration in the House - would yield an average tax cut of $1.4 million for the 8,200 beneficiaries, relative to making the 2009 estate-tax parameters permanent. Thus, the average tax benefit for these estates would be more than 1,000 times the average yearly income gain for workers who would benefit from the minimum wage change. Moreover, the benefit of the estate tax reduction would grow with the size of the estate -- for example, the Tax Policy Center analysis shows that the 900 estates worth more than $20 million would receive an average tax cut of $5.6 million in 2011."

Friday, July 28, 2006

I'm Thinking About You, Mrs. Mackey

I've been following the news about the trial of David Gilley, who is accused of killing Laura Salmon back in 1984. I started high school that year, so Laura's death was a big topic among students a couple of years older than me. Because I did not know her, however, I never really had more than a passing interest in the conversations.

When I became a senior, Laura's mother, Lourene Mackey, was my English teacher. Let me tell you that she was a fabulous teacher! I learned how to write a research paper in her class, and I think her meticulous instruction is what helped me to succeed in college English. I won't say that Mrs. Mackey was necessarily an inspiration to my becoming an English teacher--several factors played a role in that decision--but she had a great teaching style that made me want to be in class. And I can't say that the way she carried herself through her grief was inspiring to me either because I wasn't really that aware of the situation back then. But looking back on it, I have a real respect for her for carrying on with life and making sure that her students learned what they needed to know, and I hope that this trial can bring a speedy conclusion to a long chapter in her life.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Scammer Round Two

I was right. The scammer hasn't called, but he did email me again. Here's what he said:

Hello there
How are you doing and how is the going over there,I am out of state
rightnow as i am now in australia i had to come down here for a business trip
and i am not allow to recieve calls due to the conferences we came for but i
have access to mails,i would have like to come and text drive the truck but its
due o my absence in state ok i really need the truck for my new project and i
will be making the payment through cashier check which is drawn from my US Bank account and once you get your money the shippers will be coming for the pick up at your location ok send me your full name and contact address for immediate payment also let me know the final asking price of the truck including the taxes tittle ok get back to me asap
Best Regards

He completely disregarded my statement that I deal only in cash, and he asked for personal contact information again after I explicitly stated that I wouldn't give out that information. So I emailed him back saying that the truck has been sold. Unfortunately, the email address,, is now defunct. So I'll probably hear from this guy again.

I would love to figure out a way to scam this scammer, but I'm afraid there's no way to beat him at his own game. I have perused some of the scambaiter websites, but everyone who has played the game just strings along the scammer for a while until he finally gets fed up and goes away.

Do you have any creative suggestions for me, or should I just ignore him the next time he emails?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I Wasn't Born Yesterday, Sucka!

Husband recently decided to sell his pickup truck, so I put an ad in the Wheels and Deals last week. I can't believe how much it costs now to list an item with a picture. I remember when a three week ad cost only $15. Anyway, that's not the story.

Monday morning when I checked my email, I had an inquiry about the truck. Now, I did not list an email contact in the ad. Apparently Wheels and Deals has an automated anonymous feedback system, and that's how this person emailed me. I thought it was sort of odd that someone wouldn't just pick up the phone and call, and I really thought it was odd when I opened the email, which came from

I am interested in immediate purchase of your Truck and i will be making the payment rightaway,will like to know the working condition and final asking price and also send me some pics of the truck ok get back to me asap Best Regards

Now, being an English teacher, I was particularly offended by the text of the message, but I decided to put that aside and give this person the benefit of the doubt. Of course, the word "scam" was running through my mind, but perhaps, I thought, this person might be legitimate. So I sent some extra pictures and even provided an additional phone number. I did not give a final asking price, opting instead to let Husband do that. Then I sent the email and forgot about it all.

Until this morning when I checked my email again and found this message from mensfield_dee:

Hello there

How are you doing i hope all is moving on smoothly if so give thanks to amighty,I will give you a call soonest,I really need the truck and i wil be making the payment rightaway and once you recieve your money we will be arranging for the pick up at your location ok send me your full name and contact address for immediate payment also let me know the final asking price ok get back to me asap

Best Regards

Of course now there's no doubt in my mind that this is a scam. Some sucker thinks I'm going to give him my name and address so that he can send me a bogus check for more than the purchase price and then have me send him back the difference. Who does he think he's fooling?

I started to reply that he'd better give thanks to "amighty" that I don't know his real name and address and then say something about a shotgun, but I was a little more polite than that. Instead I replied:

Your email sounds really shady to me. If you want to make a deal on the truck, then call the phone number listed in the ad. I will not send you any personal information. If you want to come see the truck, I will be happy to sell it to you, but I only take cash.

Do you think he'll call? I'm betting not.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Do Huggies Come in Adult Sizes?

At least once every two weeks, I get free samples and coupons that I neither need nor want. Somehow Pampers and Huggies and Luvs think that I need their products. I'll admit that I do save the shampoo and lotion samples, but if I had saved all the diapers that I've gotten in the mail, I'd have enough to make some mom really happy. Today I received a newborn size Huggies diaper sample. If Huggies follows the same pattern as Pampers and Luvs, during the next few months they'll be sending more sample diapers in increasingly larger sizes. I guess I can be thankful they're not dirty.

Nobody in my house can use diapers, but in about twenty years, I'll probably look forward to finding some Depends in my mailbox.

Friday, July 21, 2006

My Opinion About a Dumb Question

The question I asked in my previous post seems to have struck a nerve in some people. I’ll tell you that I do not have a good answer to the question, but I’ll offer an opinion.

The problem lies in selfishness. It’s very easy to have an opinion about frozen embryos because they don’t require action on our parts. Frozen embryos are stored away in a container in a lab, and we don’t have to do anything to provide for their needs. It’s easy to fight for the rights of an embryo because it’s going to stay in the freezer until someone wants to have a baby, and then that person will be the one responsible for taking good care of it. We don’t have to be involved at all. We can make a call to our senator and tell him how we want him to vote, and then we can sit back and feel good that we have helped save a life.

But it’s a different story when the children are already born. We prefer not to get involved with that argument because to do so means that we may actually have to get up and do something. If I see a child suffering, then it’s my responsibility to take some action to make sure that child gets the care it needs. However, that’s going to require some effort and sacrifice on my part, an inconvenience that will disrupt my comfortable life. Most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, prefer not to get our hands dirty. The extent of our involvement usually consists of referring someone to the appropriate government agency.

When we look at the TV or magazine pictures and see children—or any other innocent people—dead from bomb blasts, we can take the easy way out and place the blame on such-and-such group. If that group would only see the error of its ways and concede that it is wrong, this senseless killing wouldn’t happen. The blood is on their hands, we say. And when the “right” side in the conflict fires a missile into a civilian area and kills innocent people, we shake our heads and call it the unfortunate consequences of war. If such-and-such group hadn’t provoked the “right” side, we say, this wouldn’t have happened. We can then sit back and feel bad for the innocent people while at the same time comfort ourselves knowing that while we personally can’t do anything to alleviate the suffering, at least we are taking the right side in the conflict.

I’ll admit that there isn’t really much we as ordinary people can do to help innocent people in a war zone. However, we can do more than what we’re doing now. Instead of trying to figure out which side in a debate is the more moral side, we can go out and sacrifice our time and energy to help someone who needs it, whether we like that person or not. That’s always the moral thing to do.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dumb Question

Why is it that when a frozen embryo is killed, that's immoral, but when an innocent child is killed in a war zone, that's collateral damage?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

If we can't get any better candidates than this, I think I'll just stop voting.

My county commissioner is running for re-election, and lately I had resigned myself to the idea that he had no competition because his were the only campaign signs I had seen. However, recently I saw another person's sign, and I went to the county election website and found the sample ballot. I was relieved to find out that I have another choice, and it looks like a pretty decent alternative.

I received a mailer from my commissioner yesterday, and I was embarrassed for him. Now, I occasionally misspell a word or make a grammar mistake on this blog, and I'm an English teacher, but if I were sending out a mailer to several thousand of my "constitutes," I'd be sure to pay several other people to proofread it and correct all of "it's" numerous mistakes.

I have no idea how my commisioner was elected in the first place. Don't ever say that a "regular" person can't be elected because he is living proof that it happens. My commisioner used to live on my street, so I know what one of his hobbies is, and lots of other people who live in my part of the county also participate in the same activity. However, I had no idea that the fighting rooster crowd was large enough to keep a commisioner in office. There must be more powerful people in that crowd than I imagined.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


This is my first ripe tomato from the vine this season. What a great tomato sandwich it's going to make!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Perpetuating Suffering is Never Excusable

In a previous post, I discussed the situation for non-Jewish resident aliens living inside ancient Israel. In short, foreigners who wanted to live in Israel were to be treated the same as Jewish citizens and enjoy the same rights and privileges. The Jews were not allowed to mistreat, exploit, or oppress any foreigner in the same way that they themselves were oppressed while in captivity in Egypt.

Today in Israel we see oppression of Palestinians by Israelis. The political situation does not matter. Disputes over who owns what land do not matter. It does not matter who fired the first rocket at whom. What does matter is that innocent human beings are suffering. That is a fact.

As the side with the most power in the conflict, Israel should be the first to come to the aid of innocents whether they be Israelis or Palestinians. Countries that say they support Israel should point out where Israel is falling short and make an effort to help correct the situation. The United States is led by a man who claims Jesus Christ as his favorite philosopher. If this is so, then this man knows that Jesus preached reconciliation, reaching out in love to our enemies. For this man to say simply that Israel should exercise restraint in an effort to reduce collateral damage is merely an approval of the continuation of suffering.

A long time ago, when the first king of Israel did a terrible injustice to innocent people, someone was bold enough to step up and confront that king’s actions. If the leader of the United States is the Christian that he is purported to be, then he too will step up and point out when injustice is taking place. He will not offer tacit approval by turning a blind eye.

This, in fact, should be the attitude of all Christians. Instead of being on the side that’s most powerful or that’s “right,” we should be on the side of the one who is suffering, and that may mean we have to be on both sides or not choose a side at all. There is no “you’re either with us or against us” if innocent people are suffering on the other side.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Cold Supper

Last night Husband and I went to eat at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. As we were seated and began to munch on chips and salsa, I couldn't help but notice the family in the booth across from us. The woman sat on one side by herself all the way next to the wall. The man sat on the other side all the way next to the aisle, and the little girl, about three years old, sat next to him (this was one of those really wide booths that can sit three adults on each side). The woman stared out the door of the restaurant, and the man stared in the other direction toward the kitchen, while the little girl kept herself busy finishing her meal. No one spoke except for when the man answered his phone, which rang three different times.

I said to Husband, "Those people don't like each other very much." He was sitting at such an angle that he couldn't easily see the other couple, so I described the situation. Occasionally he stole a glance in their direction to see what was happening.

After the second phone call, the man tossed his keys over to the woman, apparently indicating that she could go sit in the car if she wanted (I couldn't hear what was said). They had finished their meal and were waiting for the child to finish, neither really paying her much attention. She seemed oblivious to what was happening. The woman did not take the keys and leave. Instead, she replied something to him (again unaudible to me), and as she did she made a gesture with her hand sort of like a chopping motion. She was obviously pissed off at this guy. As she spoke, she looked at him with the coldest look I have ever seen--not a look of anger or hurt, but one that lacked any passion at all. If he had suddenly keeled over and died, she would have picked up her child and walked out of the restaurant without a backward glance.

I relayed all of this to Husband, who even though he couldn't see much, could tell without a doubt, even from only cursory glances, that this couple was not happy and probably had not been for a while. We remarked on how sad the situation was, especially for the little girl.

There's really not a point to this story, no real reason for telling it to you except that it was an interesting look into the lives of other people. It's amazing what you can tell about someone just from a brief encounter. It's also surprising that people who have such an intense problem don't even try to mask it in public. If they are that transparent out in front of strangers, I wonder how horrible life must be at their home in private where they can say and do what they want. I can't imagine what their little girl is exposed to. I imagine that family is a divorce in the making.

Friday, July 14, 2006


President Bush is urging Israel to exercise restraint and limit the number of civilian causualties and damage to civilian facilities in their attacks.

How much restraint is the US exercising in Iraq to keep their civilians safe?