Archive for October, 2006

“It’s Gonna Be Low Tonight”

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

So said Luke of Perrynet as he put the finishing touches on his Halloween decorations. I can never predict how many trick-or-treaters or shoe-on-ers or whatever we’re going to get. Last year Luke counted 21. We’ll see. I don’t really care. I’m not really into it this year. I’ve got candy to hand out and the GG has done a bit of decorating. But I’ve already had one little haunted house episode this month and that was more than enough. Anyway…

Click on pics to enlarge

A fellow blogger posted a link to an A2 Snooze article about “proactive parenting approaches” to dealing with excessive amounts of Halloween candy. (Note that I didn’t call Ms. Nall a “blahgger.” That’s because she’s a *real* writer, not just a random blatherer like yours truly. And, incidentally, she’s also a friend of Sam the Archaeologist and jcb.) grok grok. Hey, quitcher blatherin’ ‘n’ take me out fer Shoe On! Grok grok. (Shut up Froggy.) Sorry about that.

I’m sorry, but give me a break. I dunno why the A2 Snooze never seems to bother interviewing *me* about any of this stuff. Since they didn’t, I guess I’ll just have to write my own little article and post it on my own little blahg.

Halloween candy control at The Landfill:

  • The kids would go out and collect all kinds of candy and crap.
  • They’d come home totally exhausted and usually cold and wet (hey, this is Michigan).
  • They’d empty their loot out on the floor and get down to the business of sorting it out, like Tiger Mouse is doing in the picture.
  • They would eat whatever they wanted pretty much *whenever* they wanted it over the next few days.
  • They would lose interest and the bags of candy would subside into the shambling mounds residing in their bedrooms.
  • Eventually, I would dredge it up out of the shambling mounds and move it to another location, most likely up on top of the cupboard where the liquor is.
  • Around about Easter, I’d get onto another cleaning rampage (those were the days) and I’d stumble upon the by-then stale Halloween candy and THROW IT OUT.
  • Nobody knew. Nobody cared.

Honest to Pete, do we have to outlaw every single last little childhood pleasure in the name of perceived safety threats, healthy eating habits and following some lamely conceived family rules? Kee-reist!

I dunno how many kids we’ll get tonight. I’m feeling pretty ho-hum about the whole thing. grok grok. Hurry up! I wanna git ou’ there! grok grok Never mind him. I would not want my adult children living back here, I am happy they are growing up and moving away and being independent. But sometimes I do miss the old *times* and I guess this is one of them.

Trick ‘r’ Treat!!! Or Shoe On! Whatever you celebrate, have a good Halloween! Spooky but not too spooky.

And at 6:02, we’ve already had four customers! We may not run out of candy but whatever is left, I can always send to Kalamazoo. Maybe the football team’ll eat it.

Monday, Monday, or Quiz? What Quiz?

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Charlie wrote, “I still have to take the quiz for Usability!” and I jumped about two feet. Quiz? What quiz? I knew there was a quiz sometime during the semester. I remembered the instructor saying it was something like six points. Somehow I totally missed that it had to be taken by 9 AM October 31st. That’s tomorrow. I took it this afternoon. It was indeed six points. I answered all the questions and hit the submit button. Bam! Blackboard slapped me in the face with one wrong answer. I had overthought a question. “Overthought” is a big buzzword around here this fall. It’s just another excuse. It means something like, “I was too smart for my own damn good and I didn’t just go with my gut feeling.” Oh well. Six points is pretty measly. Now, if I can just get Deliverable 3 done by next week.

Mondays are pretty long, hard days. I go hucklety-buck to get over to WCC in time to “chillax” a bit before class. Mouse, I got that word from a friend of mine, one who’s my age. Just turn off your ears, okay? Anyway, when I arrived this morning, I was covered in burrs. Not sure exactly where I picked those up. Must’ve been in the woods. At least I didn’t have to chop a whole bunch of hair off to get them out this time.

My morning class, like all of my classes, is three hours. My team consists of five lively, sometimes rather contentious discussers and even on a quiet day, I feel like my brain is ready to explode at the end of class. A lecture on php forms today may have dampened the talk a bit but that’s only because it filled our brains up to the brim. I eat lunch with Sandy and then head hucklety-buck home for a couple hours, just long enough to double-check and print my database homework. Head back over here to “chillax” again and review for the weekly quiz in database. That commences another three hours of getting an overload of information pounded into my head. (And we basically did the same thing with Coldfusion in class tonight as we did in php this morning. My brain doesn’t actually hurt. Too much… Yet…)

Mouse, I promise I won’t make “chillax” a working part of my vocabulary. “Overthink” you may have to put up with. 😉

Midterm Lethargy?

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

For Bob and others in the Courtois tribe, here’s the newly painted garage, flanked by a couple of super-duper, jigsaw-carved jack-o-lanterns we had at Houghton Lake this weekend (yeah the pics are small, I’ll try to get around to hitchin’ ’em up to larger pics tomorrow):

Click on the images to make ’em bigger.

It was a great weekend in many ways but it went too fast. But weekends in the Great White North usually do. We drove up early Friday morning, after an absolutely infuriating mad scramble for the second set of blue Honda keys. Why they were not put in the blasted *basket* I do not know. But the rest of the trip was uneventful and the dark skies were seasonal in their own way.

Saturday morning, I woke up later than I wanted to (7:30), partly because it was raining cats and dogs and darker than all get-out. Bob expressed his opinion that it was too dark to walk but I hitched up my broken old bumbershoot and walked *anyway*. The weather continued to be crappy all day. In a gorgeous sort of way. Rain, sleet, snow, sun, wind, even a snowbow (I missed that one, I was washing my knobbly old boney old feet).

I love my classes but it’s halfway through the semester and I have a lot to do. I spent all too much time on Saturday cuddled up with my powerbook in an overstuffed chair. Looking outside but not *participating* in the great outdoors. When somebody asked, “Who wants to go to Walmart,” I was actually just about first in line. Get me outta here already!

I love my classes. I love making waaarframes. I love playing with Illustrator. But I spent too much time hanging around in an overstuffed chair with a rather old, decrepit powerbook and Illustrator this weekend. It made me feel like I wasn’t doing anything, even though I was making waaarrrframes like crazy. And writing a little CSS too.

I’m sure I’ll get over this. And yes, Lizard Breath, it has been a slow day. For blahg creativity, anyway. Not for driving. 😉

P.S. The Beautiful Gay is a whirling dervish when it comes to vacuum cleaners and the like. I cannot even begin to keep up!


Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Hee hee, y’all might’ve thought from the title that this post would be about clothing, eh? Jackets and vests and socks and sandals and hats and scarves and whatnot. Nope! It is about Adobe Illustrator. I love Illustrator. I love layers. Turn ’em off and turn ’em on and move groups of stuff around the page. And that’s all good because I have to make about a million waaaaarframes this weekend. See below if y’all don’t know what a waaaaarframe is.


That’s about as exciting as it’s gonna get. Well, except that it’s snowing cats and dogs. At least I am not asleep in front of a football game, like some other people around here are.

Geography of My Childhood, Just for Posterity

Friday, October 27th, 2006

South side Sault Ste. Siberia

This map represents my old childhood stomping grounds. There’s my school, Lincoln, and my grandma’s house was only a few blocks away. And Aunt Marion’s store, where we bought penny candy and popsicles and stuff. And (dun dun dun) The Gully! Where it was rumoured that bullies hung out, lighting things on fire and beating kids up. We didn’t go through there alone!

My best friend throughout grade school was Laurie, you can see where her house was. She went to the Catholic school, St. Joseph’s. You can see where that is, too. We each had friends in our own schools too but we hung around with each other the most. We played after school a lot and, every Saturday, I would get up and watch cartoons until I figured I could get away with calling her up. I can still remember her phone number. Five digits, that was back in the day. Her mom made her clean her room every Saturday morning. I never had to clean my room on a regular schedule but The Commander was stricter with me about other things. I guess it all balances out somehow.

Anyway, Laurie and I seemed to have similar spirits. I don’t remember us playing with girly toys much, even though we both owned them. I do remember us as being brave but not foolhardy, mischievous but not real trouble-makers. And we were snotty. Sheesh! We were not particularly nice to other children that we viewed as lesser entities. And, actually, she could sometimes be pretty snotty to me, telling me that Sunday School was for babies, among other things. I guess having to do catechism and sit through Latin Mass made you a grown-up at the age of eight or whatever. And I didn’t even *like* going to Sunday School. Anyway, I would go home mad but our fights never lasted very long and we’d be back out there running and jumping and plotting and planning and riding our bikes wildly around the neighborhood. And whatever.

We stopped being buddies in junior high. We were still in different schools. Laurie was still at St. Joe’s (K-8) and I had to trudge downtown to Sault Jr. High. She turned into someone cool and popular. I turned into a shy, awkward kid who struggled to make friends all the way through junior high.

My family had some good times at the Superior St. house but we left it long ago and my grandparents have been dead for well over 30 years. I don’t know if Laurie’s family still occupies that house. I know her mom is dead. Aunt Marion’s (which was owned by a relative of Laurie’s, actually) modernized back in about the 70s and I’m not sure what, if anything, is there now. Lincoln School is still around, along with Washington School, which is across the street from the house The Commander lives in now. There were a bunch of other elementary schools when I was a kid: Jefferson, Garfield, Malcolm, McKinley, and, uh, Finlayson, which was named after my grandaddy. The Catholic schools closed for a long time but I *think* that some of them have started back up. And that’s very cool as far as I’m concerned, Sunday School vs. Catechism notwithstanding. And, in case you were wondering, The Gully is now filled with houses, natch.

Tag or Couch Potato?

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Edit: Happy birthday Suzie (sister-in-law in Florida). Love you!!

Tag: “One person is designated as ‘it’, and that person runs around and tries to touch someone else. If they succeed, the person they touch is now ‘it’ and tries to chase everyone else.” I found that on the Internet — I really don’t remember any rules.

But c’mon, are school districts *really* outlawing the game of Tag? I heard it on National Petroleum Radio and it’s not April Fools’ Day, so I’m gonna more or less believe it.

I don’t remember playing a whole lot of Tag. I don’t think I was very fond of the game. Dodge Ball either. Being chased and knocked into, a central feature of both games, was not my favorite thing. Fortunately, there were plenty of other games to play that didn’t involve bodily contact. Some of them could be pretty rough in their own right:

  • Extreme Swinging: Grab a friend and two of those industrial strength playground swings. Get a real good swing going. Swerve toward each other and let the chains twist together until they can’t twist any more and you get flung in all directions as they twist back apart.
  • Extreme Sliding: We did just about everything under the sun on those huge 9-foot (?) slides *except* climb carefully up the ladder and slide down. My favorite trick was climbing up the ladder, stepping over the railing right out into space, and sliding down the *pole*.
  • Monkey Bar Shenanigans: You don’t even wanna know. They don’t *make* monkey bars like the ones we had any more.
  • A “calvory” game that “the boys” (who, I don’t remember) played for a while one year. My friend and I wanted to be part of the “calvory” but we were relegated to the role of nurses. Definitely on the sidelines of the action, not my favorite place. (No offense to any real nurses, of course!)
  • “One, Two, Three O’Leary” — with golf balls. Betcha those’d be confiscated quick enough in today’s schools. Coincidentally enough, the only coherent description I seem to be able to find of “O’Leary” on the Internet seems to be on the Webster U website. Does anyone play that game any more?
  • Daredevil bike riding: a favorite trick was to get some good speed up, stand on the seat with one foot and stick the other leg out gracefully behind like a ballerina. Grfok grok. Bally-reena? Graceful? Roight. grok grok Funny that I could do *that* trick but couldn’t ride no-handed until I was an adult. Go figger.

That list is not exhaustive. There was also kickball in the street and jump rope and running/jumping contests and shooting basketballs into the crooked, raggedy basketball hoops across the street from my house and dodging the Waisenan boys’ rocks. I haven’t even begun to include the games we played during the long northern winter or running wild on the Shores of Gitchee Gumee in the summer.

I do not understand why we keep outlawing good old outdoor fun and then turn around and lament about childhood obesity and how kids spend too much time in front of a screen.

I did get injured. I spent quite some time in the nurse’s office getting my knees slathered with that icky old pink merchurochrome. Pink?!? Grok Grok. Green’s a much better color. Grok grok But I wore my bandages with pride!


Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Vicki’s house, Sunday the 22nd. A very Halloween-ish night. Guess which one I carved:


randomness on and off — the internet, that is

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

As Lizard Breath would say, “Moom, I can tell when it’s a slow day.” And it has been. Not that I haven’t done a lot of stuff today, just that I don’t have a nice, coherent post. Or even one o’ them thar long, rambly, kinda ranty things that do actually have some kinda point somewhere deep inside (like my bro’ used to like). And I have a good post percolating but the GG can’t get the photos to me. So, lemme see…

  • Manatees are now traveling to Cape Cod and Memphis and Snooty has a webcam (ooh, slow loading even here on the *new* home cable modem, WCC’s T1 lines were much faster, sorry). You *should* be able to at least see a very cute pic of Snooty anyway.
  • I told a classmate that my biggest problem was being shy and she said she couldn’t believe it. What the heck am I missing? 😐
  • For my latest User Design II project, we are working on a book-swapping site. And that led me to librarything. I am kayakwoman on there. I only have about six books entered. That’s not the site I’m analyzing, but it is distracting me!!! 😮 Join (it’s free) so we can share book ideas.
  • Shit happens! The first leaf pickup here is Thursday. Most of the leaves are still on the trees. I spent an hour hauling ten big plastic tarps of leaves out to the street. Actually, I’m working at about 12 loads an hour but I spent some time talking to Myra. But. But. But. The first thing I did was step in dog shit, which I didn’t see because it was underneath leaves. Crap! (Uh, sorry ’bout the language but I was channeling Grandroobly just a bit.)

Is that enough? Y’all do not wanna know about Coldfusion, I don’t think 😉 And, no, it is not the nuclear kind of cold fusion.

Happy Birthday To Me (grok grok grok)

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Click on th’ li’l rap-scall-yun fer some random pitchers o’ her ‘n’ lotsa others

Oh, yeah, ‘n’ happy birthday Jay!! Hers wuz on th’ 21st ‘n’ th’ stoopid ol’ bag fergot agin!

HB, Julia!

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

02julia.jpgI may not be the best about remembering birthdays but I don’t *ever* forget Julia’s birthday! And you’ll find out why someday sooner than you think.

Julia is my niece used to come over and stay with us sometimes when she was a little kid and she was a great help with the baby Elizabeth. She grew up into a beautiful young woman who lives in Colorado. I wish I had some decent pictures of her now but all I could find that were worth posting were from way back in the day. Click here or on the picture for more.

Have a good one, Julia!

Obsessive Compulsive Hoarding

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

What do you hoard?

Apparently I hoard mustard and peanut butter. There are something like ten containers of mustard in my refrigerator, five of them that yellow kind that I use about once every six months. And, until the other day, I had four jars of peanut butter but Mouse took two of those off my hands. There’s a woman in San Francisco who apparently hoards just about everything under the sun and doesn’t mind talking about it on NPR and the web. She looks like someone I could be friends with…

Hearing about psychiatric disorders like this always makes me a little nervous because I do have a lot of junk and I seem to be going through a period where I just do not have the psychic energy to deal with it. I’m not as far gone as Melodie. If you visit The Landfill (aka my house), I can offer you a better place to sit than The Blue Toilet. And actually, I *clean* The Blue Toilet every day. I also do laundry and clean the areas of the kitchen where food preparation happens. *When* food preparation happens. That’s a whole ‘nother problem and a whole ‘nother blahg. Throughout the rest of the house, clutter reigns. The floors are in desperate need of vacuuming but there is stuff all around the edges of the rooms that I would have to *move*. Dusting? Same problem.

I used to be pretty compulsive about cleaning and dealing with clutter. When we bought The Landfill 22 years ago, there was a minimum of furniture and “stuff” in it and I used to have a regular cleaning schedule. Everything (almost ;-)) had a place and at least once a week, everything was *in* its place (almost ;-)). I vacuumed all the time, even though I had the scariest vacuum cleaner on earth. It was a hand-me-down from Bolette, who had also been afraid of it. It felt comfortable here when everything was clean and most of the clutter was put away or thrown out or whatever.

What happened? I do not know. The Landfill is just a tad small for four full-sized people and, even though none of us are anywhere near what you might call “big,” it was a challenge when the kids were teenagers. But we all like The Landfill and the neighborhood and the woods and I have never wanted to move. I thought that once the kids flew the coop — and they pretty much have (knock on wood) — that things would get easier. I’m not one of those mooms that immediately take over the kids’ bedrooms and clean everything out when they go to college. But I did think that without as many people in The Landfill I’d be able to deal with some of my stuff or the household stuff that has collected over the years. Sigh, maybe not.

I’ve been more or less living out of an old LL Bean duffle bag, a back pack or two, YAG bags, and various vee-hickles for a couple of years now. I never quite get completely packed or unpacked. I think the last time I actually spent *time* cleaning up The Landfill was when Lizard Breath was due to return from study abroad in Spain and I had (with her permission) been using her room. I cleaned that and gave the rest of the place a pretty good once-over. I have sketchy memories of cleaning before Christmas last year but it was probably more oriented to stuffing clutter into cubby-holes and giving the place a lick and a promise.

So, what’re y’all hoarding?

HB, Kiddo!

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Taking a quick break from content inventories, IA diagrams, wireframes and user task analyses to say:



And, yeah, for those who mitaben wonderin’, that is a *perfect* example of something you can do with Photoshop but probably shouldn’t. 😉 grok grok. But it’s such a niiiiice purty shade o’ green! grok grok I guess so, Froog, and it is also a great color for a member of the MSU Spartan Marching Band.

Explodin’ Box! Do NOT Open! Grok Grok GrokGROK!

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Grok grok. There’s a surt’n holly-day comin’ up. I won’ say whuditis. Grok Grok. Ennyway, tha’ grate big ol’ goofy-lookin’ birdy’s revvin’ up ‘is flyin’ musheen ‘n’ gettin’ it all ready t’ go. Grok grok. Ol’ Smokie’s helpin’ ‘im. Ooh ooh ooh ah ah! Tha’ ol’ birdy ‘as got a big ol’ load o’ boxes t’ haul all th’ way ou’ t’ Callyforny. Grok Grok. Do NOT open ’em ’til th’ akshool holly-day er they’ll explode! Jus’ like tha’ ol’ vee-hickle o’ Grandroobly’s does when th’ ol’ bag drovens it over 50. frok grok! Tha’s 50 miles ‘n hour, not 50 years. She ain’t ever gonna be under 50 years agin. grokgrokgrokGROK!!!

Congratulations Grand Blanc High Girls’ X-C Team!

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

You Go, Pengo and team mates!

Eight Trombones and Other Care Package Items (I Love You Mousey :-)

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

What do you guys send in care packages to your college kids? Here are a few items from a list of things needed in Kalamazoo:

  • “peanut butter (there should be some in the cupboard already)” Yeah, like four jars. Take your pick: creamy or extra crunchy.
  • “maple pecan dream granola” Took me a while to sort through the granola at Whole Foods to find this particular kind.
  • “coffee!! arbor farms/whole foods, something organic. probably a lighter roast is better?” Ooookaaay. There were NO parking places in the Whole Foods lot this time and I was terrified of the crazy drivers in there, so I went over to Arbor Farms. Lighter roast? Hmmm, lemme see… After reading all of the labels on the organic coffees, I finally chose the house blend. Next problem. How fine to grind it. I think I randomly picked one of the “drip” settings.
  • “Plymouth bamboo US size 6 double pointed needles, 6″ if they have them. Also, if there are any Brittany Birch size 1.5 needles, i could use a set of those.” Wilma helped me find the proper needles. I showed the Brittany Birch 1.5s to a friend, who said, “Those look like toothpicks. What is she gonna knit? String?”
  • “crystallized ginger **trader joe’s**” Well, this is one item (out of about 15 total) that I failed to find. I even asked. The nice, cheerful young man pointed to some ginger and then raced off to some other part of the store. I looked closer. “UN-crystallized candied ginger.” Close, but no cigar. I guess I can read better than him. Oh well. One out of about fifteen items isn’t too bad.
  • “The other eight trombones”

So, I can’t believe it was only 11:15 AM when I got *back* from a trip to Kzoo. Whomp! Back on The Planet again. Got over there pretty promptly at eight to take Mouse and Lairi the Rake out to breakfast at the Crow’s Nest. And drop off all the loot. Plus a package from The Commander with a little bit of Grandribbly in it plus a china teacup and saucer The Comm was offloading. And a dress to a friend’s daughter. Back onto the I94 18-wheel Clogway before 10. Gratifying to see the cops stop a young punk who was previously seen weaving in and out of all the traffic at about 90. Getcher license out of a Cracker Jack box, kid?

And, yes, we do scatter our people widely.

onward and upward?

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Okay, phone retrieved. Somehow. I encountered the grumpiest security person on earth this morning. She moved and talked like a snail, went back behind a partition and rummaged around *forever*, finally producing the *wrong* phone. She then seemed to be trying to tell me it was the only one there. “Somebody in this office called my daughter from it,” said I, refusing to leave the room until it was found. Fortunately, another woman of completely opposite disposition entered the room and said cheerfully, “oh, no, it’s that other phone.” After some friendly chit-chat, I was off to negotiate the parking lot river and get my feet totally soaked for the second time this morning. The phone is locked in my vee-hickle. I don’t think I’ll ever bring it into one of these buildings again. They are jinxed. At least I didn’t drop it into a toilet.


Monday, October 16th, 2006

This has been a bad day but tomorrow is another day to quote GWTW.

Yeah, it’s another day all right and it has gone from bad to WORSE — in a precipitous manner!!!! Not only has the internet service in my house degraded to the point where I have to GO ELSEWHERE to accomplish anything on-line, I CANNOT SEEM TO FIND MY CELLULAR TELEPHONE. I had it when I left the Gunder Myran building after class thismorning and now I don’t. Yes, this is the SECOND time I have lost the blame fool thing. No, I can’t call it because I silenced it before I went to class.

I CANNOT get my homework done without a viable internet connection. I CANNOT be without a cell phone. Oh, and my powerbook battery is going south too (third battery) and I don’t have time to deal with that either.

I am a supreme loser. Somebody please just shoot me, willya?

UPDATE: hi moom, i think you’ve probably gotten my message/discovered this by now, but your telephone is in the security office at washtenaw. love, mouse

Yay for whatever honest person picked it up. Now, may tomorrow PLEASE be a better day.


Sunday, October 15th, 2006

I’m still here. Our internet connection is terrible right now. It was an awful day in general. All kinds of demons were in my head. Cassandra was hanging out there. I couldn’t get rid of the demons or Cassandra. For days now, our internet connection has been “shit.” I hope it improves. We’ve called Comcast. We’ll see. G’night. This has been a bad day but tomorrow is another day to quote GWTW.

Over Hill, Over Dale

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

I was never a soccer mom, thank the gods of overscheduled children. But today I was a cross-country cat aunt! The Grand Blanc team, featuring my favorite runner, Pengo Janetto, came down to Hudson Mills Metropark for an invitational meet and I dropped everything to head out there and cheer her on. It was colder than blue blazes and I turned into an ice cube, sun and wind-burned to boot.

Pengo did not come in first but she held her own and she is always first in my book. Karen and I were greatly inspired by the stragglers who chugged along at the end, refusing to give up (Janet was *not* in that category). Whatever team you’re on, you go, girls! And Go Grand Blanc!

Frontier Girl?

Friday, October 13th, 2006

kitcarson.jpgWhoof! Sorry. I do NOT like real estate developers! But I don’t hate everybody and I used to have a crush on Kit Carson when I was a kid!

Grok grok. Whuddarya thinkin’ now, y’ ol’ bag! Grok grok. Ol’ Kit Carson wuz dead long bee-fore you were born. Stooopid ol’ bag. Grok grok. (Get off my blahg, Froggy.) Anyway, I was doing some writing this morning and Diane Rehm was droning along in the background.

Somdbody Somebody said, “Kit Carson,” and all of a sudden I was transported back to the kids’ section of the Carnegie Public Library in Sault Ste. Siberia. I was about nine or ten and I was hooked on biographies. Specifically the Childhood of Famous Americans series. I just googled that, I certainly didn’t remember the name of the series and probably couldn’t have cared less as a kid.

Those books wouldn’t win any awards for great literature and I’m not even sure how accurate they are. Formulaic stories about events that purportedly happened to famous Americans during their childhoods, they had anti-climatic endings that mentioned one or two facts about the subject’s adult accomplishments and that was it. Small wonder that I have such a tenuous grasp of American history.

Nevertheless, I checked out every single blasted biography that I could get my hands on. Five at a time, that was the limit. I would schlep my books up out of the dank basement where the kids’ books were kept and fill out the little white form required to check them out. I felt really important doing that and carefully printed my name, address, and phone number, and the title, author, and copy number of each book. I’d hand it to the librarian at the counter, who was often my great aunt Anna Raeburn, schlep my books home, and get down to reading.

Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and Clara Barton may have been interesting, but I identified with the frontier boys the best. Kit, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone. I don’t remember exactly why, but I think I daydreamed about going on wilderness adventures with them. I was pretty wild at that age, but my adventures were limited to running and jumping and dare-devil bike-riding and playing kickball in the street in my south-side Siberian neighborhood.

I don’t remember what kind of books I moved on to after that little phase. My kids definitely sought out better literature than I did. Grok grok. Yeah, *they* read stuff like Froggy Gets Dressed. Grok grok. Groog, getcher own blahg! Groog?