30 January 2014

File this under What the Frak???

Elementary school kids' lunches seized because of debt.


An elementary school in Salt Lake City handles outstanding school lunch debt by taking food away from kids, and then throwing that food away.

Kids are being humiliated because of something their parents need to handle.

Look, the lunches have to be paid for. I get that. But instead of throwing the food out, just let the kid have it and give them a note to take home reminding their parents that their accounts are out of money. Most parents will pay up.

When I was in second grade, school lunches were paid for with tickets; we bought them in booklets of 10 or 20, and traded one ticket for one hot lunch. One day I went through the lunch line and reached for my little booklet, and discovered I had no more tickets.

I wish lunch had looked like this...
I was 7 years old. I wanted to cry. I had no idea what was going to happen. Was the man going to yell at me? Was he going to take my lunch away? I was hungry and I was scared. For about 10 seconds, I was terrified and I remember it so well because of that.

The horrible mean man at the cash register looked at my empty ticket booklet, told me I needed to be more aware of how many tickets I had, then handed me a slip to give to my mom that basically said, "Your kid got a free lunch today, but please take care of this."

Did some parents take advantage of that policy, which made sure grade school kids still got their lunches?

I'm sure some did. I'm sure even more made sure that their kids had enough money to buy a new lunch ticket booklet, and to pay for the free lunch they'd been given (which, if I recall correctly, was never accepted. Because forgotten lunch money happens.)

But hell, you want to really invest in education, make an impact that will likely do more for kids' ability to learn? Give them ALL free lunch, every single day. Make breakfast available every single day. Because if you keep decent food in a kid during the school day, you have a kid who is less fidgety, more able to concentrate, and more willing to expend energy in learning.

But that would cost money.


Find the money. Look to the schools that have already been experimenting with this concept and find where they're getting the money--because it's being done.

Raise my taxes?

Hell yes. If I can be guaranteed that a .05 to .1% hike on my property taxes would go towards free hot lunches for every kid in school, I'd gladly pay it. With legal, law-bound assurances that it will always go towards that, and that it cannot ever be switched to something else, I would have zero problems with that.

But *I* don't have kids in school, why should I pay that? I don't want my taxes to go to schools.

Tough shit, sunshine. I don't have school-aged kids, either, but this is an investment in everyone's future, in the kids that will run the country someday. And not wanting tax money to go towards schools? I don't want my taxes to pay anyone remotely involved with the Tea Party, but I don't get a say in that. Other people don't want their taxes funding the military, but they don't get a say in that. We don't get to pick and choose exactly where our tax dollars go, so...suck on it.

Feed the kids, dammit. And don't take away food when it's only going to be thrown away. That's so wasteful, and in the end the kids are the ones hurt by it.

Yes, I am ticked off by this. Very, very ticked off by this.


29 January 2014

I've been doing a lot of back and forth pondering about whether or not I want to commit to the Avon Walk or the Komen 3 Day this year. I have friends doing both events, and both would be a ton of fun, but after a lot of consideration, I'm opting out this year.

I'll still go to SF for the Avon, and cheer my friends on. Stalk them, carry goodies in the car or run errands they might need. And for sure I'm going to San Diego for the Komen, but again, to cheer my friends on, provide booze as needed (no, I wouldn't do that, not on a 3 Day. OF COURSE NOT. Maybe. We'll see...)

Do I want to participate?

Hell, yes.

But I think this has to be the year of diet change to really tackle all the intestinal issues I've had, and last year's Avon proved that I can't just wish those issues away. I hate the idea of fundraising and then having to back out of an event because it feels like my colon is trying exit through the pores in my skin.

This is going to be the Year of Virtual Events. As much as I don't want to have to bail on scheduled events, I don't want to just not do anything. Doing nothing is no longer an option.

For the first quarter of the year I have the St. Balrick's Shaving event (not virtual, but if I get sick I can still shave...I just won't get the t-shirt I covet), the Donna Half Marathon for breast cancer, the Cyberman Delete Delete Run, and the Firefly.

There are also virtual events to raise money for heart disease, lymphoma, and a few others. As the year goes on I'll sign up for a few of these. A lot of them don't require fundraising so much as they have entry fees, so I won't have to pester anyone for donations.

I've noticed as friends are getting into gear for their events, and especially as the Boy is trying to raise funds for his Polar Plunge, it's tight this year.  Even the superstar fundraisers are having issues. So maybe not doing the big multi-day events in favor of the smaller virtual ones will be better overall.

So...I'm going to Avon and Komen, but not as a walker. I am going to stalk the carp out of my friends and other people as they walk.

And instead of self-funding a big walk this year, I'll take that money to donate to my would-have-been teammates, as much as I possibly can.

Hey, it's tax deductible.


25 January 2014


30ish Woman: When Grandma gets here, she's going to ask if you want a cookie. Remember to say, "Yes, please."

6ish boy: No, that's not right.

30ish Woman: starts to speak, but stops

6ish boy: I'm pretty sure it should be, "Yes, thank you."

Score: kid-1, lady-0

Guy looking at the bakery items at Starbucks: Oh man! What's that?

Barista: Salted caramel square with pretzels and pecans.

Guy: Shut up! I want one. Does it have nuts?

(And yes, he was looking at several just like the ones pictured...)

In the parking lot: I'm in my car, top down, starting to pull out.

Guy walks up, looks the car over: Nice, but what the hell do you do when it rains?

I haven't been to Starbucks in a while...I think I missed it.


24 January 2014

A few more years and maybe 20 pounds, and I'll probably have the arm flappage that will allow me to be able to do this.

Something to look forward to.


22 January 2014

New year, new endeavors...

The Boy is gearing up for his annual Polar Plunge to benefit the Special Olympics of Northern California. He jumps in a month and if he reaches goal he'll go as a princess again, although I think he's willing to show a little more skin this year.

I dunno...I think if he blows past his goal of $3000, he should jump in a Speedo.

In any case, I think the jump is on Feb 22, and he has a ways to go. Donations are tax deductible. Just sayin'...

I have several events coming up. Some are fundraisers, a couple are just entry-fee-generated funding.
The St. Baldrick's head shaving event to benefit children's cancer research is on March 15, and so far I've raised $360. Not too shabby.

Per agreement for an upcoming donation, I went to Disney with crimson colored hair (and rocked it) and I'll go to the event with purple hair. And I'm still willing to humiliate myself for further donations! Unless it involves nudity, because no one wants to see that.
 In February I'll walk/run/crawl a virtual half marathon to raise funds for the Mayo Clinic to benefit breast cancer. I haven't raised anything for this yet, but I also don't think I've mentioned it before.

I still don't know if I'll participate in an Avon or Komen event this year, but I am totally not done with the pink things...and I can do this.

I'm just waiting for my info packet which will include my required race bib, and then I'll probably go to SF to wander along the Embarcaderro to rack up the miles.

Also on tap, the Cyberman Delete Delete Virtual Half Marathon to benefit the American Medical Athletic Association's Youth Fund. No fundraising for this...just the entry fee.

And to top it off, the Firefly 14K/14M Virtual to benefit Galgos del Sol and SOS Galgos (saving abused and injured dogs.) No fundraising for this, either.

Busy first of the year ahead.

It gets me off my asterisk, though, so it's all good.


19 January 2014

How writers and indie publishers conduct business in Disneyland:

1. Being all serious and chit, they sit at their tables discussing writer-like things, such as "Is this coffee caffeinated? I hate decaff," and "Are you gonna eat that? Because if you aren't, I will."

2. Someone's phone pings.

3. While one writer espouses on the lack of a common e-publishing platform, Phone Boy interrupts with, "Guys, that was my son. There are NO LINES IN THE PARK."

4. Then, "Guys, we could totally talk about all this stuff IN THE PARK."

5. So business is discussed in line IN THE PARK, where writers who use their Amazon ranking in obscure genres to promote themselves as Best Selling Authors are the topic, and wherein they are determined to be frauds and dootiheads.

It's a hard life.

Things were learned, though. It was learned that future workshops/conferences/meetings/roundtable discussions will not take place in Disneyland, because writers are immature and Disney is fun.

It was learned, too,  that you want me along, because, dammit, I am classy as frak.

Also, I dress professionally. Always.

Also also, since I didn't get to drive my little red convertible to Disney (seemed like a bad idea, honestly, what with the smell of cows all down I-5) I found another one to play with.

No worries. The kids I shoved out of the way so I could get in the car were not hurt. Badly. There was no blood, I swear!

There was a lot of good food, so we ate...a lot.

(That was seriously the best fried chicken I've ever had, I think. It's at the Plaza Inn and the end of Main Street.)

And I gave drinking a try.

These were insanely good. Black Cherry Mojitos at ESPN Zone. They weren't strong at all--I had two and didn't even get a buzz--but they were freaking tasty. They were also a lesson learned: I should not drink at all, especially not when away from home. The only upside to having them (aside from how tasty they were and writers DRINK, dammit!) was that I had them on Thursday, after we were pretty much done, so the resulting return of my rage rock band, Thumper's Throbbing Intestines, on Friday didn't really get in the way of anything other than a lot of walking around.

We really lucked out with the crowds; on Wednesday and Thursday the crowd levels were so low that we pretty much walked onto the rides we wanted to be on. The waits were like 5-10 minutes tops, and we managed to get on everything 2-4 times. Even Radiator Springs Racers, which normally has a 1-2 hour wait, we only waited for 40 minutes at most...and that was in shade with a nice breeze, so it didn't feel like it was that long.

But Friday.

Space Mountain. 4 times. 'Cause we could.
Holy hell. I'm glad we got everything done we needed and wanted to, because on Friday the winds were gone, the heat was not kind to me, and the crowds were awful.

I was exhausted by then, my gut was churning and my back was screaming, and we didn't get too far into Disneyland in the morning before heading back to the hotel where we just chilled until around 4:30, then tried again. It was still warm but there was a lot more shade, so we wandered around...and realized there were more and more people, and it was so crowded it was hard to turn around without bumping into someone else.

By 6:30 we were hungry and getting twitchy about the crowds, so we noped it on out of there and went to Downtown Disney to get dinner, because surely it wouldn't be as bad there.


The wait to get seated at Rainforest Cafe was 1:45 to 2 hours, and looking around it wasn't any better anywhere else, so we went back to the hotel and ordered room service. We'd expected to wait just as long for that, but figured we'd be comfortable while we waited...but less than half an hour later we had a table in our room and ate before the people who'd been just ahead of us in that Rainforest line were even seated.

It's the little things...

I did have to take a few breaks--no surprise there--but we had a great time. Good enough that we decided we really do like Disney better than Vegas and would like to go again this year, probably in the late fall when the weather is cooler and the crowds are a lot like they were most of the time this week.

No more work type things there, though. That just didn't work out well, and next time we want to have fun people with us. coughcough Disney would be a great getaway from Texas. Just sayin' coughcough.

Now the fun part of the Spouse Thingy's time off: the toilet in his bathroom is clogged, so we need a plumber, but we're not paying for a weekend or holiday repair, so we're sharing a bathroom right now and I HATE SHARING BATHROOMS WITH BOYS. Or anyone. Because inevitably, when I realllly have to go, someone has already gotten in there before me.

And no, Max did not miss me. He had the Grandma. I actually think he resents that we came home.

12 January 2014

I get choked up over a lot of things: TV commercials designed to jab at a viewer's soft spot, adorable/sad/sickly wonderful pictures, beautiful song lyrics. But rarely do I see or read something that makes me literally cry out, and causes real tears to fly our of my eyes so hard and fast that they wind up splattering my glasses.

Last night I sat in bed with my iPad, poking through reddit, and found a thread in Ask Reddit that showed a lot of promise for humor and insight. The question asked: Reddit, what's a quote that makes you feel both happy and sad a the same time?

There were some song lyrics that surprised me; pop tunes that are catchy as hell, but when taken out of the melody behind it are actually quite sad. Quotes from South Park that are funny but fairly deep. Lines from major literary works, some well known, some obscure.

And then there was this, a quote someone pasted from another reddit thread.

click to biggify
To say it hit me in the feels is an understatement. My feels were instantly on fire and I couldn't see for the tears.

Happy and sad.

Holy shit.


10 January 2014

In a few days the Spouse Thingy and I are packing a couple of bags and heading south for a few days. On one hand, this is a "work" thing; on the other, it's at the Disneyland Hotel, so how much work will really get done?

The work part started as a rather large indie publishing and writer's workshop, which became a slightly smaller workshop, which became a temper tantrum between some participants, which is now...who knows, but I'm going and taking the Spouse Thingy with me.

We're doing it much like we did a couple years ago--staying on site so that I can crash and burn as needed--with the added stress of people I don't know wanting to discuss things about which I am not particularly eloquent and one woman who may wind up tied to a pole inside the Monorail because she's just...just. Let's just say she is not going to be a fan of mine, what with the tattoos and drag king vibe, and the hair.

Oh yeah, the hair.

Crimson, or what should be crimson. A donation deal was struck with he-who-forgot-he-has-a-blog: show up to this thing with crimson hair, and then purple for the St. Baldrick's Shave.

I thought the hair was going to be darker, but, I'll live with it. I'm not thrilled about how thin it's obviously getting--made worse by that dark patch which is the result of having dyed the crap out of my scalp--but overall it's not bad.

I mean, it's not neon pink, which is good and bad. Good because it's not going to draw the slack-jawed staring pink tends to, and bad because...I like the pink.

It suits me.

I'm hoping the weather works out...while most of you are shivering, I want to be driving with the top down, except through that one stretch that smells like cow poop.

And don't worry about the kitties. They get the Grandma while we're gone. They won't even miss us.


4 January 2014

Char: …so Rach asked why it was all right for him to say that, but not her. He answered without hesitation, “because I’m a grown-assed man, and your brain hasn’t finished cooking.” She looked to her dad, who shrugged and said, “Well, he’s not wrong, sweetheart. Your pre-frontal lobe cortex is still in development, areas of the brain that control logic—” and that’s when my dad cut him off with, “You can be a fucking drag sometimes, Glowboy.” It might have been inappropriate, but even Ian laughed.

The topic*—

[*How we got on the topic: after dealing with a very judgmental woman in an indie writers’ group, who—without knowing much about any of the other participants—declared that all who used the word “fuck” and any variation of it to be classless twits devoid of intelligence, anyone with tattoos to be classless heathens headed straight for Hell and deserved damnation, and anyone who sports piercings (of any kind), wildly dyed hair, or “improperly styled hair” to be classless thugs who should not be spoken to. She may be at an upcoming publishers and indie writer’s workshop this month meeting in Anaheim; this later prompted Murf to tell me (in regards to dyeing my hair) “…the first time she rolls her eyes, tell her that stick up her ass is antithetical to her so-called Christian, giving lifestyle, and your hair is, at the very least (and unlike her online sermons), doing good in the world.” It just rolled on from there.]

—whether or not to make a New Year’s resolution to cut out swearing. I’m not one to make absolute resolutions, like lose 50 pounds or go to the gym 3 times a week; I prefer to set more attainable goals, like eat better, move more, give more. The only goal I would likely set where words are concerned would be to write gooder.

I am not likely to ever agree to change the way I express myself; on paper I choose words with more care than what tumbles out of my mouth, but in both cases I will say what I mean, even if I drop a “frak” instead of its more colorful cousin.

(Battlestar Gallactica fans may be dismayed to find out that their beloved word “frak”—or “frakk” as it is sometimes spelled—did not originate with the series. I’m not sure where it came from or exactly how long ago, but it was the choice F-bomb alternative at BYU well over 30 years ago, and had been in use far longer than that. Zoobies—BYU students—are not supposed to swear. Not “real” swear words, anyhow. As is the case with most people, when disallowed one thing, another pops up as a substitute, and for whatever reasons, that seems to be all right with TIIC. )


Son of a biscuit eater.





Every time you spout off a substitution, clever or not, you’re still swearing. I know it; you know it even if you’re not willing to admit it to yourself. Much of the time, I substitute something else not because I’m refraining from the obvious word choice, but because it feels funnier. I tend to prefer a good FRAK to the tried and true F-bomb in blogs and other written forms; I prefer to work my asterisk off, not my ass. I tend to write, “well…carp” instead of crap, but I know my intention and I’m not trying to fool anyone.

If I drop a hammer on my toe, I’m sure as hell not going to let loose a string of Pollyanna Sweet Sunshine words. Oh, goodness gracious, that stings! No. I’m going to swear as hard as my inner sailor can swear—and I’ll feel better for it. Hell, yes, swearing can ease pain. Why would I not use that specific duct tape in my psychological tool belt?

And hey, it turns out that people who swear tend to be more trustworthy and honest.

I am not unintelligent; I may lack smarts now and then, but I am not stupid. Nor do I lack creativity. Nor do I lack the capacity to find other words. I swear because I swear, it’s as simple as that. I swear because I understand that more often than not the use of watered down colloquialisms is a rather immature approach to the spoken language, an alternative that is appropriate for children, from whom we really don’t want to hear a string of ill-timed swear words—their brains aren’t finished cooking.

There’s nothing wrong with using the less adult language, not at all. I don’t find it off-putting if an adult chooses to use the more immature versions of the bluer words; we’re all immature sometimes. Sometimes that other word is the better choice.

I don’t find particular umbrage with a well-timed “Well…fuck.” (By the same token, if every other word out of your mouth is tinged blue, you probably do have issues with self-expression; issues not rooted in a lack of intelligence per se…my guess would be in anger.) A few months ago I sat in Starbucks and a guy walking by dropped his scone and uttered just that. Was I offended? No. It was appropriate to the situation. It also could have been any of a dozen other words; whatever popped out would have meant the same thing.

I do find umbrage with those who would look down their noses at others simply because of the use of a particular word. It’s rarely kind and it’s often hypocritical; face it, if you can’t abide by hearing or seeing “goddammit” but freely use something like “gal-dangit,” you’re engaging in a fair amount of hypocritical thinking. It means the same thing. If you freely say “damn” or “hell” but judge someone else for saying “shit” or “fuck,” you’re a hypocrite.

Hell, damn, bitch, shit, fuck. They’re just words. It’s what you mean in saying them that matters.

Words carry the weight of intention; the finger you point at someone for saying them carries the weight of judgment.
~K.A. Thompson

So pretty much, the next time you let slip an “oh, dammit!” and then think ill of the person you just heard utter, “that’s fucking awesome!” just stop and think about it. (Oh, and Matthew 7:1 and all that, in case you lean that way.)

I don’t have a swearing problem, mostly because it’s not my issue. So no, I will not resolve to stop swearing. I may make a goal, however, to do it more colorfully, because, hey, I can only use the word “asterisk” so many times, right?

Oh, and yes, the hair is going to be dyed soon. Crimson for the upcoming trip where we will pretend to be exchanging ideas about the turning tides of the publishing industry and how indie writers can attain better marketability while retaining rights and higher royalty distribution while sipping Red Stupid Drinks in Trader Sams, and purple for the St. Baldrick’s Shaving event. During both, I shall endeavor to display my tattoos, and offend as many uptight people as I can with my unrefined, headed-to-Hell lack of smart thinks.

Holy hell, I’m classy.