Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hey! What did you get on that question?

Tara Marie and Maili took the quizzes below. I always get a little nervous about these, because I do hold myself out there as an educator. What if I'm not educated? What if I'm simply a snob who doesn't know her stuff? Anxiety....

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 9/10 correct!

You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 8/8 correct!

Whew! And I think the question I got wrong on the math section was the difference between the average (the number offered wasn't the average), standard deviation (it wasn't that either), mode, or median. I get "mode" confused with everything.

And now I don't remember whether I did choose mode because I never know what it is, so I ought to choose it because it may very well be the answer, or whether I didn't choose mode because I didn't know what it was, so I ought not...etc. So I can pass eighth grade, and I can assemble a posterboard project (one was due this morning for 5th grade, and one is due Friday for second grade), but I STILL cannot take a multiple choice test without obsessing over the possible answers even after the test is done. I'm such a dork.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Word cloud

Angie had a post about word clouds. She went here and got one. So, copy cat that I am, I did too.

I think it's funny that the last little teeny word is whispering, "Zorro."

I do love him so.

And now I know that he loves me enough to whisper his name across time into my word cloud.

(Or is that me chanelling Megan Frampton's observations about how very annoying paranormal, smelled you from afar, romance heros are? I'd rather it were the former. And, being my blog, I can say that it is.)

Hah! Zorro whispers to me.

And he's not a stalker. He simply admires me for my horsemanship, skill with a sword, sparkling good humor, intelligence, and riding skills. He also thinks that I am a terrific asset to Toronado, since I do know how to buff any jet-black horse into a glossy sheen, removing any annoying brown dust across the upper flanks, using only my strong arm, a curry comb, and a short-bristled body brush. Of course, then I am too tired to sword fight, tousle in the hay or in the bed, or even to engage in witty reparte while planning a daring escape from our enemies. He knows this about me, and this is why he does not require my grooming services. Instead he prefers to simply whisper his name to me.

I'm sorry. Were you saying something? Word Cloud? Hmmm?

I'll get back to you. Zorro needs some attention.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld is one of those books I really wanted to read, but I was sure I was going to hate. It had tons of buzz last year; it's supposed to be the one true ultimate novel about a girl (Hey, I'm a girl) who went to an East Coast prep school (Hey, I went to an East Coast prep school), and felt as if she didn't fit in (Hey, I felt as if I didn't fit in). If it's close to being a book about me, and there's lots of buzz about it, then I'm sure I'm going to have a problem reading it. To get a sense of the buzz about this book, check out the publisher's quote on Curtis Sittenfeld's website:

Curtis Sittenfeld's debut novel, Prep, is an insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition.

OK, gag me now. Insightful? Brilliant? Angst? Ugh. I hate hype like this.

I took this book out of the library, and returned it without reading it. I bought it and didn't read it. I took it to Tahoe earlier this month and didn't read it. The damn pink belt just kept appearing at odd moments from under the clutter on the kitchen table, taunting me, and I started feeling guilty that I had this thing in the house. I was sure I was going to just hate it.

I'm in a romance novel funk right now--the set-ups are really annoying me. I like the people I read about, but the last few I've picked up have had awkward set-ups or contrived plots. So I sighed deeply and picked up Prep.

I finished it in two days.

I was sobbing at the end.

Sobbing. Gulping, face in damp washcloth sobs.

I could now start the gushing review--what part triggered the tears, where it was real, where it hurt to read--except I don't really want to gush about Prep. Somehow that would be too dramatic for such a simple book. Not much happens in Prep.

My experiences at Andover were not the same as Lee Fiora's at Ault. (I never played sports, for example.) Nonetheless, Sittenfeld really grabs ahold of the anxiety of prep school which lives in every student's experience. (Is this what the teacher wanted in the assignment? Why is George sitting with us at lunch? Do I belong here?) Lee is a good enough student, but never sparkles in academics, popularity, or sports. (Although she is still able to find students lower on the totem pole than she, simply to reassure herself that she is not the biggest loser in the school.) Lee never steps in to her life--she watches other people and tries to grasp their motivations, which, of course, makes her an excellent narrator. I enjoyed reading it, but I wasn't swept away by either her observations, the writing style, the characters, or the plot. I enjoyed it, but wasn't flutttering.

After graduation, Lee looks back at Ault. She talks about looking back at prep school as if looking back at a first crush--the love you felt is so strong, but you know you'll never experience those emotions so strongly ever again. There's nostalgia in that, but there's also the knowledge that you don't want to have to experience those strong emotions again. At 23, Lee knows that she'll never again be in a place where everyone uses the same currency, that every single person is reaching towards the same goal, and that the hatred she feels for Ault is interwoven and inseparable from the love she feels for it.

It killed me.

Prep school set me apart from every other person I know who hasn't gone to prep school, but I also don't want to relive my school days with those who were there with me. I never liked them enough, and it would be too painful. But prep school has given me a huge advantage as an adult. Should I feel guilty? Pleased?

Prep was a raw and insightful book which is so easy to read that the truth slips in without you realizing its entering the room.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Where did Suisan go?

OK, so I started writing this post last week, and, well, just never got back to it. Understanding of course that what was current then is now a week old, here's an update.....

originally titled: Reading, Knitting, Meeting-ing and other ings.


I'm trying to do the TBR challenge. I have Julia Ross's Night of Sin, but I can't get past page 13. I have three more non-romance TBR's which are authors new-to-me, so I may do those. But I'm kind of in a "Meh. Not so much" kind of reading mood. So I'm thinking I'll just write about Kate Rothwell's two romances I read in Tahoe Feb 2 and 3.


While I was in Tahoe I knit my cabin-host a thank you gift of socks. And then I started a pair for myself. Had a round of kids' doctor appointments recently, so I've managed to almost finish them. Except for the last maybe ten rows of the second sock. Now they've fallen to the floor of my to-do list. "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up." I know how this goes: project almost done and I don't finish it.


Gah. I've been assigned to sit in on union negotiations with our school district. I've never talked so much to so many people wherein we all say repeatedly, "I agree with you," only to end the conversation back where we started at the beginning. And then I spent all Friday in an email back-and-forth with a parent who wanted clarification of what I had said. I clarified, he asked for further clarification: round and round we go. I've been doing so much of this, I actually found myself saying to a friend on the phone the other day as we tried to set up a coffee date, "I'll need to check my calendar to resolve this." Resolve this? Resolve what, you arrogant twit. As soon as the phrase came out of my mouth, I laughed and said, "Apparently I REALLY need to go to coffee with you, because I cannot stop talking like a politician. Rescue me!"


Yesterday was just too much.

I had a City/School Liaison Committee meeting which started at 8:30 am. The main topic of discussion was a Joint Use Agreement which we have negotiated in the Liaison Cmtee for at least two years. We discussed it until 10:00 am. Then I met with the School Board president until 11:00. (Then I went to the bookstore to pick up the Tamara Peirce books my daughter had ordered and grabbed lunch.) Then I went into a meeting to prepare for negotiations at 12:15, and went into negotiations at 1:00 pm. During this meeting we learned that the employees had questions about the Joint Use Agreement. So we negotiated until 3:00 pm, and then the Superintendent came in and we went over the JUA (line by line) until 4:30 pm. At 5:00 pm we went into a joint meeting (televised) including the City Council and the School Board to review (line by line) and adopt the JUA. Which, thankfully, we did at 6:30pm.

Then the School Board retired into Closed Session. (I love that phrase--makes us all sound like limp tulips drifting out of the room, losing petals as we walk.) Closed Session lasted until 7:30, whereupon we came out into Open Session (televised) to have a public meeting which lasted until 10:20 pm. I was barely coherent there at the end.

Recent comments added to the end:

So this was one ridiculous day, but the pace just hasn't let up. I've gone into prep meetings for negotiations, all day negotiating sessions, school site visits, email "conversations" with irate or annoyed people which have taken all day to settle. This Monday we had no school, so we spent all day celebrating my older daughter's birthday. I truly enjoyed myself, but I swear by Tuesday I was dragging again.

I remember reading once that women usually write when they feel lousy, and that it's a challenge to sit down and write when you are feeling happy. Partly, I think that's true. I think we use writing as a tool to deal with discomfort. But on the other hand, I get so busy that when I'm feeling good I just keep cruising, a hamster on its wheel, until I run out of gas, sit down, and blog. Hmmm. Must find way to write about good stuff. Note.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Supernaturalistic Pseudoscience

I heart the National Center for Science Education. The NCSE is a group, based in Oakland, CA, dedicated to upholding the teaching of evolution in public schools. Eugenie Scott, the Director, has appeared on NPR and has written about evolution and creationism. I get their weekly news updates, and this blurb comes from one a week or so ago.
Wisconsin Proposes Anti-creationism Legislation

At a press conference in Madison, Wisconsin, on February 7, 2006, state representative Terese Berceau (D-District 76) announced her intention to introduce legislation in the state assembly which would, if enacted, prohibit the teaching of supernaturalistic pseudoscience in the science classrooms of the state's public schools. The Madison Capital Times (February 7, 2006) reported that Berceau's bill would "require that anything presented as science in the classroom be testable as a scientific hypothesis and pertain to natural, not supernatural, processes. The material would also have to be consistent with any description of science adopted by the National Academy of Sciences."

I'm not sure that there's an ice-cube's chance in hell that this legislation will ever be enacted, but it warms the cockles of my heart to think that somewhere a legislator (yes, one of those publicly elected fools) is standing up and trying to do something about this ridicuous trend in American education.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day.

Today started with me getting a speeding ticket.

So I suppose it can only get better.

Friday, February 10, 2006

School Daze (Shameless cribbing of title. I apologize.)

I have two children in Elementary School. Another is due to start Kindergarten in September. (Actually August since we start before Labor Day. Long story.) Kindergarten registration is on March 28 or thereabouts. So I went online to verify that I have to BRING the immunization record with me. (Maybe I could fill something out in advance and bring it then? No. No such luck.)

And I discovered that this is what I need to bring.

The following documents are REQUIRED for enrollment:

Birth Certificate (certified copy)
Immunization record (copy of official records)
Proof of [Name of Town] residency
(2 proof are required as listed below):

Mortgage coupon book with name and [Town] address
Rental/lease agreement signed by tenant and property owner
Purchase contract with anticipated close of escrow date


Current utility bill with name and [Town] address

Updated 2/5/06

I'm sorry. Are they freaking kidding??? My little anarchist heart is thumping with anxiety.

First, I don't have a mortgage coupon book. (Yeah, I know that I can bring a mortgage *bill* instead of the coupon book, but --whining-- that's not what the list said.) Second, I'm a sucker for overthinking, so I'm trying to figure out why I need 2 proofs from the first selection PLUS the utility bill. But then I unthunk the overthinking part and realized that the mortgage bill plus the utility bill qualifies.

And do I *have* a certified copy of her birth certificate? Eh.... This is the problem with having three kids; all t's are crossed for the first and you can't find anything relating to the third, because, you know, I already went through that anxiety and realized that I didn't have to carry the birth certificate with me to the doctor's office for the well-baby checkups, so I guess I can wait to order the certificated copy for this one from the Registrar. And Immunization Record? Eh.... I think that means another trip to the HMO with a request for her shot record. Which I have now done so many times for the middle child that, I swear, the secretary recognized me the last time I requested yet another copy. (One for day care. One for summer camp. One for sports. One for new day care in the fall. One to bring to start-of-school preregistration. Yeah, OK, keeping these highly important documents available to me is not my strong suit.)

Kee-riste. This sort of paperwork just makes my stomach turn over. (Which must be why my passport expired in 1986 and has yet to be renewed. And my signature has changed since then--will this be a problem? But I don't want to sign the new one as I did when I was 19. So maybe I'll just not bother with the passport renewal until "I feel ready to tackle it." And that will be in which century?)

Of course the kicker here is that I sit on the School Board. And I never want to feel as if I'm asking for special treatment (although it's VERY nice when that happens), so I want to have my little ducks in a row to prevent some school secretary from rolling her eyes. But my other two kids are already enrolled--I still have to prove residency? (How would I still be on the school board if I had left town? Doesn't that violate your conditions of office?) Oh Dear. Very much flustered by even reading the list. Now venturing into dark and squishy realms of overthinking. Gack.

In other somewhat related news, I have decided that I never, ever, ever, EVER want to be involved in another posterboard project for school. This year (one 5th grader, one 2nd grader) has been the ne plus ultra for posterboard projects. Fifth grader has brought in three separate posterboards demonstrating various attributes of Massachusetts, her chosen state for the State projects, and she has two more coming up that I know of. Second grader has had to detail his family tree and do (God help me) book reports on posterboard. And they are all due on weird days, like Tuesdays. (Who assigns a project due for a Tuesday???)

They all have ridiculously detailed instructions:

Only on posterboard, not foam board.
The entire posterboard will need to be covered in a solid color other than white.
"Take two posterboards 12" x 28, no larger, no shorter."
"The picture of the Environment goes in the circle in the middle, the picture of Food goes in the square in the upper lefthand corner. Please follow the enclosed diagram."
"Your second grader will need to write all sentences in pencil. You, as a parent, will need to go over his writing with a black felt tip pen. Please, no blue."

Tearing my hair out at the roots. This is educational?? I cannot believe how many trips I have taken to Michael's Arts and Crafts this year to buy posterboard and specific bizarre items such as 40 pink chenille pom-poms. And, of course, black felt tip markers.

And then there's the 100 Days of School project which made me crazy. Thank god my kids are too old for that. "Bring 100 items, but group them in groups of ten and then attach these ten groups to posterboard." Aigh! I forgot! Darling youngest child will soon be in Kindergarten where they do both a family tree and the 100 Days of School! Shoot me now.

I love my schools, and I love the teachers. But the posterboard crap is just insane. Maybe I can convince one of the stepford classroom mothers to adopt my neglected children and oversee the remaining posterboard projects. "Oooo," she'd squeal. "Come on, Johnny! Time for another posterboard project! How about recreating your immunization record on this BIG piece of paper? We can do it in pom-poms!"


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Suisan

1. I love crystallized ginger.

2. I love crystallized ginger dipped in chocolate more.

3. My favorite crayon color is periwinkle blue. Don't much like the gold, silver, or copper colors. They're not convincing.

4. I can make myself forget something. Usually I only use this to make myself forget that I have to use the bathroom so that the full bladder sensation doesn't bother me until I get to the next bathroom. But then as I'm driving past the Rest Area on the highway I remember that I had to use the turn off, and then I have to start the whole cycle again.

5. My favorite horse color is bay, and I keep meaning to look up why "bay" means brown. Is it related to the color of bay tree wood?

6. I keep meaning to look up the root of the word "pruning" but I keep forgetting. (Query: Is it related to the fruit? Like "appling" or "cherrying"? Or are the similarities between noun and verb simply coincidence?)

7. Vacuuming makes me angry.

8. Folding clothes makes me tired.

9. Doing dishes used to make me angry, but I retrained myself to simply do them with no emotion attached. But it took so long, I'm reluctant to start in again on the vacuuming and laundry issues.

10. I have a little figure of Zorro on his horse near my computer. (Which is neat because he stays balanced in his fencing pose if you take him off Toronado.) My kids keep walking off with him, but seem genuinely contrite when they return him.

11. When I grow up I want to live by myself with some cats for company. But I worry that I may become a shut-in.

12. I keep forgetting how old I am. But I don't think I'm forty yet.

13. I had to buy a guide book so that I could understand how my daughter's iPod Shuffle worked. This makes me feel aged and rather dim.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Better and Worse

I heard on the public television self-help program that in order to make yourself a better person, you should surround yourself with better people. Playing a game of tennis with a better player will make you a better player because of the challenge.

But how does that work, exactly? How do you go about finding people who are better than you? And wouldn't they want to surround themselves with people who are better than them and not muck around in the dirt with slothful trolls?

There's an unbalanced equation there which is making my head hurt.

In other news of recent imponderables, I took a large group of relatives to a local tea house. We stuffed ourselves with sandwiches, salads, tea, lemonade, and bread puddings. And when they came back to my house, one of them said, "Ugh. I'm so full. Would it be possible to ask you for some tea?"



Ended up making her tea, and she enjoyed it immensely.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


My husband went to New York last weekend and brought back his mother. On Thursday afternoon I left my kids in her capable care and drove to Lake Tahoe to retreat into a cabin my friend leases up there.

I was all by myself from Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning.

And I did nothing.

Well, actually I kept a fire lit, drank a bottle of Ravenswood Zinfandel, knit a pair of socks, and read Kate Rothwell's Somebody Wonderful and Somebody to Love, and Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels. Somewhere in there I took a long bath.

It was thoroughly delightful to be up in the woods, listening to the fire pop and the creek rush behind the cabin and not be beholden to a soul.

Of course, now that I'm home, I'm starting to tell myself that I should have used the time to get some writing done, or knitting-pattern calculations completed. Oh, Please! Just shut up, internal critic!!

I did learn how to prop a paperback open while knitting--it unfortunately involves cracking the spine, which I'm not that happy about. But hey, now at least I can tell ole bossy boss in my head that I did get SOMETHING done while I was away.

(And they deserve their own reviews, but I loved Kate Rothwell's books. Especially Somebody Wonderful. I'll have to go back to skim so I can remember details about what I liked or noticed, but the shortest possible review would be--read them. In terms of Loretta Chase--I think she's a bit heavy for me right now. I've got drama going on up to my eyeballs, and I can't quite tolerate her drama on top of my own. But I can tell that Lord of Scoundrels is a great book--I stayed up late to finish it. But it sort of wore me out. Or maybe that was the Zinfandel.)