Archive for January, 2010

Bdah bdah bdah. Would you like some serendipity with your pasta salad?

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

For the second year in a row, the Sunday after the Ann Arbor Folk Festival has been a serendipitously good day. For me anyway. The GG may disagree. He has a monstrous cold virus and slugged around looking like death warmed over all day. I don’t go to the folk festival myself. I cannot sit in Hill Auditorium for that many hours. I am sorry. But the GG is a regular. Last year we spent the day after the folk festival driving Sam (archaeologist, not dog) from our house to her parents’ house in the Lansing area. It was a gorgeously warm but windy winter day and we wound our way along the back roads in the Ninja. We had a wonderfull visit with her parents and then swooshed back to the Planet Ann Arbor. It was a serendipitously beautiful day that I will always remember.

Very coincidentally, that same Sam blasted through here this weekend. There was no joyride this time. At least not for us. They began their journey back down south toward their home in Hotlanta yesterday. And that was okay. Sam and I have learned not to plan things too carefully because we know that things can change rather radically in pretty short order. We have been friends for many many years and we just adapt to stuff like that. Like what? Well, like a few years ago when my dad died a few days before we were scheduled to meet. But back to today. Wow, I got a lot of stuff done. Just mundane housekeeping stuff like laundry and some light cleaning and a few groceries and some cooking and yes, I did make pasta salad. Want some? I got twice my minimum daily requirement of outdoor exercise in and I did some productive work on two (count ’em) unfinished prodjects (intentionally misspelled). It was a stress-free day of tinking away upon this and that and a few other things.

Of course, in between all of this other activity, I was checking in on them thar toobs. Other people’s blahgs, twitter, facebook, et al. Early this afternoon, I got a Twitter direct message from our northern correspondent Paulette, my friend and neighbor on Fin Family Moominbeach. One of the people that she has been following since whenever she joined Twitter wrote a Tweet that referenced one of his relatives, one who is also a friend of my daughter. I don’t know why this blew me away so much. This is a family that probably wouldn’t be anywhere near my radar screen if my kid didn’t move to the left coast and, well, you know, meet people that didn’t come from the Planet Ann Arbor. But yet, a friend of mine has already found a member of that family. The mind boggles.

Today is January 31st. Tomorrow is February and after that we go roly poly pell mell into summer and our little cabin on Gitchee Gumee will be open for business. Gin and tonics, anyone? Salty Dogs? Manhattans? Okay. I know that we aren’t going to exactly go roly poly pell mell into summer here in the Great Lake State.

Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

Teddy and the Remote Data Concentrator

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

The next Star Trek movie? Maybe not… Actually, yer favo-rite blahgger inadvertently made a joke today! 20 years ago or so, it would have been beyond my wildest dreams that I would one day utter the words “remote data concentrator” and get a laugh out of the audience. Of course, the audience today consisted of the tech genius Doc Burns, Sam of Archaeofacts, and the GG. And the laughter would be best interpreted as something like, “what the HECK is a remote data concentrator?” The GG did not laugh at first, probably in part because he remembers the remote data concentrator all too well.

The remote data concentrator was a large part of my work life many years ago. It had something to do with connecting our office computer terminals and printers to the University of Michigan’s mainframe computer, on which we rented space and computing power. Dealing with the remote data concentrator involved sticking your upper body into a closet and plugging/unplugging a virtual snake pit of waaarrrrs. I noticed it mostly when it went down. As long as it was working, I largely ignored it. My poor long-suffering (and now dead, sigh) boss Byron back in those days got stuck dealing with the remote data concentrator. Me? It was beyond my pretty little head to deal with such a beast. I hated doing network stuff then and I hate it now. Just a couple weeks ago, when my loverly old MacBook laptop could not find the Landfill printer after an OS upgrade, I tossed my pretty little head and asked whined for help.

Anyway, poor old long-suffering Byron spent HOURS hanging out in that old remote data concentrator snake pit. If the darn remote data concentrator went down, nobody in the facility could access the Internet mainframe. Hanging out in the snakepit was a thankless job and I was glad to let my boss do it.

And so today, we were talking about Teddy, aka the unfortunately named iPad, and personal technological trends in general. I was telling a story and I used the words “remote data concentrator” and our friends just cracked up. And then we did too. I was laughing at my 20 years younger self, telling people who couldn’t get online log in to the mainframe that Byron was in the snake pit trying to fix the problem.

Parents, do you know where your children bullies are?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

There’s this kid. He’s a middle school kid. I see him hanging around the elementary school waiting for the middle school bus in the morning. He’s a BIG kid. Quite a bit bigger than me. He is not shy around adults. He sucks up to the dog people. They all seem to eat it up. “Such a good kid. Loves our nice doggies.”

Nice kid? Not so much. At least not in my not-so-humble opinion. Maybe if I had a ferociously growling nice doggy, I’d feel differently. But I don’t. I think he’s trouble. His swagger and aloof manner make me nervous. One morning as I walked into the schoolyard, he was in the process of tipping a sign over (like the sign in the photo). He had it about halfway tipped and then, looking me straight in the eye, he slowly pulled it back upright. Would he have tipped it all the way over if I hadn’t walked up? I don’t know. It would have been a petty act of vandalism but his demeanor bothered me.

Yesterday. A bunch of kids were inside the elementary school lobby waiting for the middle school bus. As I walked by, the big kid suddenly got up and ran across the room and out the door. He was pursued by a girl about a third his size who was yelling something like, “Give it back!” I was just past the school entrance. I stopped and turned around. I said, “If you have something of hers, give it back!” They both stopped. He looked at me like I was from Mars. How dare that old bag in the pink ski jacket and the goofy mad bomber hat interrupt me from ruling my petty little fiefdom.

I don’t know if he gave the girl whatever it was back. Actually, I don’t even know if he had taken anything from her. I’m just sick of all the middle school BS that goes on. “We have a zero tolerance policy on bullying, yada yada yada.” No they don’t. I know what happens. One kid torments another kid over and and over and when either 1) the victim finally flips out and whacks the bully a good one or 2) the victim’s parents have finally had enough and call the principal, what happens? BOTH kids get in trouble! Zero tolerance, right? Not.

This morning. The big bully was inside the school again when I walked by. He was messing around with a white board that was set up in the lobby. I don’t know what he was doing with it, Erasing or writing something. But heck, if you set up a whiteboard in the lobby of an elementary school and you allow middle school students to wait for the bus in there, you are asking for them to play with it. I walked past the school lobby. Our hero apparently saw me do that because Whomp! he ran out the door after me. He yelled something. I didn’t hear what. My ears are good but I was wearing my balaclava this morning, since the temperature was near zero. It sounded like he was challenging me! No. I am not going to go there. I turned around and stared him down for a few moments and then I continued on. Frankly, I was a little scared. This kid is big. He sucks up to adults but he doesn’t seem to respect them. I don’t know what will happen the next time I encounter this kid. As much as he creeps me out, I will call him out if I see him misbehaving. I think…

Middle schools are what they are, large chaotic jungles. There’s always all this lip service about how all forms of diversity are celebrated, blah blah blah. And yet somehow the same old run of the mill culture seems to dominate where it’s “cool” to get disciplinary referrals and the “popular” kids suck up to the teachers and bullies are allowed to torment other children at the bus stop. The teachers have to teach up to 100 children a day. Only a few of those teachers have the wherewithal to get to know what makes each kid tick.

I don’t know who this bully is. He was undoubtedly wearing diapers when my kids went to middle school. I don’t know what issues he has. And I’m sure he does have issues. Learning disability(ies)? Parents on crack facebook? Why is this all my problem? Because this kid does not seem to behave when he’s alone in public. And that’s his fault and his parents’ fault for not training him (no matter what the heck his issues are). His teachers can only do so much. They have to have some raw material to work with. I believe that if he is tormenting other children, he should be kicked off the school bus and his parent[s] should be driving him to school. Politically incorrect? Yes. Sorry.

Don’t click too quick

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

This little video (from 2006?!?) is not what I’d call work safe.

Disclaimer: I was reeeeeaaaalllly slow on the uptake regarding the name of Apple’s newest product. My opinions? No time now. Maybe later. Or not.

Cook me up some bacon and some beans

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Okay. You have come home early. You have a sore throat. Dinner is not ready yet. I’m getting there. I do not want your sore throat. I do not have any sick time at the moment. I know that I could take some sick time if I did get your sore throat. My boss would not want me there. He would boom out, “GO HOME!” and we’d figger out the time somehow. Mergers can suck the air out of the room even when you don’t lose your job. And I didn’t. yet. yay. But I do not want to get sick. I think somebody should sleep on the Green Couch tonight. Maybe it’ll be me…

That photooo is one that my trusty then-new powershot (this was 2007) took as I was trying to frame some wonderful view of downtown San Francisco and suddenly I was grabbed and dragged over to the curb. Apparently, I was just about to get run over and my beloved Lizard Breath dragged me to safety.

Hmmm. Tap tap tap. Do I still have a blahg? Yeah, okay. I didn’t cook bacon and beans tonight. I can’t think when I have cooked those two things together. Tonight I cooked a “hot pot” recipe from our loverly online newspaper. It was pretty good. I might do it again.

And so, I am old and my kids have to keep track of me. When the little lizard was a walking baby and I was young, we left her once with a friend of ours, Master Woodring (aka Doug), for an evening. It was winter and he basically let our baby do almost whatever she wanted to do. Oh, he also gave her a beautiful blow-up globe as a gift. A wonderful gift. We left and after Lizard Breath orchestrated various indoor activities with Doug (who possessed a phd, by the way, which doesn’t mean anything except that he was a more interesting baby-sitter than most), she directed him to take her on a mission. The mission was titled “Find Mommy”. She decided that they were going to drive my 1979 Ford Fiesta (aka Mommy’s Little Gold Car). She handed our friend a pair of gloves and my car keys. They went outside to the car and got in. She pointed at the keys and then at the ignition. Doug stopped at that. He wasn’t going to drive my car anywhere. So they went back inside. Lizard Breath directed Doug to pack up her beautiful new globe into a paper grocery bag and off they went again. On foot this time. When they got to the end of the block, she stopped. The 15 month old walking baby knew not to step off the curb into the street without someone helping her watch for cars. Smart? You betcha. They stood there for quite a while and eventually, they managed to continue their walk and they ran into a drunk guy with a dog and I forget what else.

Kids? They do grow up and if you are lucky, they will be taking care of you, even if you don’t really need it yet. Not sure what I did right… And yes, this is really random and boring and I do NOT want to get a sore throat.

Dream Kitchen

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Er. Look right. Look left. Look over shoulder. Where’s Frooggy? I dunno. Sleeping it off in his “londry baskit”, I hope. Whew! I can actually blahg about kitchens again without Frooggy taking over my blahg with some ridiculous moooovie.

It is a rather fuzzy photo (you can click — as [almost] always — to get a larger version but it’s still a bit fuzzy). I guess that’s because there’s so much visual information clutter in it that my loverly little powershot couldn’t decide what to focus on. This kitchen, the Moomincabin Kitchen, was installed in 1960. I was six years old. It has been largely unchanged since then. I mean, the original refrigerator and stove have been replaced. The Commander has instituted other smaller changes, as she does every 2-3 years. It is a very small kitchen and, no, there are not any doors on the cabinets. I *think* this was partly to save money and maybe because this is a *summer* cabin on the Shores of Gitchee Gumee and shutting things up might invite humidity. The Commander will have to comment about this because I was six years old and the last thing I wanted to be involved in at that age was kitchen design decisions.

My earliest memories of this kitchen involve sitting in a child-sized chair in the back corner of the room washing my feet so that after a day of running barefoot on the sand, I wouldn’t get sand in my bed. I wonder if that’s why I *still* wash my feet at the end of most days. I would look up at the two-by-fours that met in the corner of the kitchen, holding up the roof. No there is no insulation in the place. Or central heating. And if it gets hot in the summer, you grab a screwdriver and remove the glass insets from the doors and replace them with screen insets. And yes, it gets hot on the shores of Gitchee Gumee in the summer (sometimes).

Again, it is a small kitchen. One great gray-green greasy limpopo Sunday when the Beach Urchins were young and the weather had been awful for days and there were no cousins around to play with, The Commander and I were getting dinner ready and someone yelled “Boat!” That meant that a lake freighter had come into view. Even though lake freighters constantly go up and down in front of Fin Family Moominbeach, the Commander and I got so excited to see *which* freighter was out there that we were bumping butts trying to get out of that kitchen quickly.

I love the Moomincabin kitchen. I love when we open it up in the spring and I hate when we have to close it up in the fall. Fin Family Moomincabin has a small but workable kitchen and my family has served any number of people out of that kitchen at various parties over the years. When we renovate the Landfill Chitchen, we will not have open cupboards and, at least at the beginning, we will not have cosmic debris but we all know that stuff creeps in no matter how hard we try to beat it back. So, I will have my fancy cabinets and my granite countertops and all that stuff and it will be beautiful and I will love it. But my dream kitchen happens in the summer in a tiny kitchen on Fin Family Moominbeach, where there is a grandmoom who once allowed all *four* of her granddaughters (count ’em) to climb up on stools and “help” her cook.

Oh, and you can’t see it but I see an old ski hat of mine from the 60s and I will have to remember that I don’t need to tote my ski band up there next Memorial Day because I can wear *that* hat!

Blue Monday

Monday, January 25th, 2010

It isn’t Blue Monday. Blue Monday was last week. Google it. January 18th. So why is it that everyone I encountered today just about anywhere was kvetching about having to go to work? Me. My co-workers. My boss. The clerk at Whole Foods. Mouse. In reality, it was a pretty good day. For me, anyway. Except that, by the end of the day, I had just a leetle beet of a teeny tiny headache. I don’t get headaches very often. I think the last one I had was a couple years ago. I could look it up on my blahg but I don’t want to be bothered. Being in the great outdoors almost always chases headaches away for me and so I am fine now.

I think that the reason people were more “depressed” today than they were a week ago on the actual date of Blue Monday is because this year Blue Monday fell on Martin Luther King Day. Lots of folks had the day off and a long weekend to boot (not me though). This weekend, almost nobody had a long weekend and here in A2 we had a January Thaw and so everything was rainy and ugly and now that we are back to work, the sky is spitting snow. It’s okay. Yes, the folks I work with were kvetching but we were all laughing too.

I would like to describe the mound in the photo but I am not sure I can do it tonight.

Squee-grok squee-grok! I am in a moooooovie! Squee-grok Squee-grok!

Sunday, January 24th, 2010


Now that I know the difference between oak and maple…

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

I mean I know the difference between the *trees*. Apparently I did not catch that the grain of the wood was different. Duh. The subtle complexities behind this confusion are beyond description as is today’s light bulb moment that finally cleared [some of] that confusion up. I have a few pieces of oak furniture around here (bookcases and bedroom furniture) and I have a beauteous teak dining table/chairs purchased long ago in a moment of financial insanity. I think I am going to go with maple (as opposed to oak) for cabinets. I like its more subtle grain. Color? I *think* that I am going to go with a honey-ish kind of color. Yes, I know that I kvetched about beige not too long ago and I also railed against our old favorite, harvest gold (like the ugly upper cabinets shown in the blurry iPhone photo). A honey-ish stained maple looks suspiciously beige and not too far from harvest gold. I don’t care. A very dark wood would (wood would? woodchuck chuck?) be oppressive in this north-facing room and I’m just not going to go with white even though I actually kind of like it in other people’s kitchens. And the really light wood stains are just not turning me on. Style? When I was a kid, I fantasized about having “modern” furniture and fixtures. As an adult, I have always lived with a combination of Early Inlaw, Student Ghetto, and Former Owner decor (beauteous teak table excepted). I think I lost my sense of style during all those years. I am back to “modern” (contemporary, if you will) now. Simple and clean, not a whole lot of extra lines or folderol.

So. Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. THANK YOU, genevievedidit and family!!! Genevievedidit is the twitter handle for my sister-in-law Kathy. She is a busy mom of five and grandma (!) of eight six (I can’t count)! Six! Grandma? She is only a few years older than me and she is a grandma. A wonderfully active one. It always astounds me that people that are basically my age and often younger are grandparents already. I expect someday I will have grandchildren and, when I do, I will love them and spoil the heck out of them. But grandchildren are not imminent in my life and I don’t actually feel ready for them, whatever that really means. But then I had my first *child* at 30 and that was right for me. Maybe my bio-clock is just different.

Anyway, we drove up to visit genevievedidit and her family today. They do not do household kitchen renovations but they have a business that outfits schools and labs and offices and you name it. They know the cabinet business inside out and they were willing to try to beat the information into my brain that finally led to the above-mentioned light bulb moment. Not to mention that genevievedidit fed us a wonderful brunch of french toast and bacon (note to self: Why the heck don’t you make french toast anymore? Slacker!) And we got to check out the newest grandchild and talk family stuff and I love that I have somehow landed into this wonderful large family.

Thanks, you guys! I know I acted a little panicky at times but I really appreciated your input today. Love you. Kayak Woman.


Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I was really dragging you-know-what by the end of today. I am just about at the point in the cycle of my work where the brain work (hey, quit laughing!) required for one project starts tapering off and I am left with updating ancillary documents and stuff until my next project gets going. That is okay. My brain needs a bit of a rest sometimes and this gives it a chance to catch up a bit. (Hey you guys, I said to quit laughing!) Anyway. Friday afternoon can be a long, soggy, slodge when I am in this mode. And so it was. Morning was all right and then I met my Mousey for lunch. And then by about 2:00, I could hardly keep my chin from hitting my laptop keyboard. And so, against my better judgment, I went and got some coffee. And then I got another half cup. I did wake up. I wasn’t exactly jittery but I got into a kind of foggy neverland where I couldn’t focus on my work. As it turned out, everybody else on my team including the boss was in a similar mode and we ended up kibbitzing for a half hour or so in the aisle between the cubes and not too long after that, it was pretty much time to pack up and hit the trail. I was still feeling kind of nitzy when I got home and I realized that I am not getting quite enough fresh air and exercise. My hour of walking early in the morning is just not quite enough. And so, I walked after work today. As the dark began to fall. I am doing a little better now. We are about to walk over to Knight’s to meet our friends for dinner. And it is the weekend. Tomorrow will be a day of adventure and maybe Sunday will allow me some time for artistic creativity. I will definitely fit in some more time to walk in the great outdoors. I need it. Woops, we’re off to Knight’s. We have a reservation.

Kayak Woman

Have computer, will travel!

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Isa wrote, “Why *did* we bring that computer with us?” That would be the computer in the picture, which is now in a dark gray-green greasy Limpopo corner of the Landfill Dungeon. Isa is one of my five or so readers and she is also my daughter and therefore was on that trip to Floriduh. At the grand old age of seven. She was sharply observant then and I certainly don’t get a break now (that she is 25, yikes) and that’s okay. How did *I* raise someone that wonderful. I dunno. And my sister-in-law Kathy says things well (in the comments). We schlepped computers around then because we were who we were.

Before we had children, we bought an even older computer. It was the Apple II+ and we hooked it up to our then new and fancy 1980 Sony Trinitron TV so the GG could play Space Eggs or run his probability machine. Or we could play around with the BASIC programming language (and yes I did, “Hello world”). I remember one weekend when we drove to Houghton Lake in one of our loverly Ford Fiestas. It was Friday night and there was no one there and there was a *lot* of snow, so we couldn’t just drive in. We parked in the road and started schlepping stuff in (and shoveling). Clothes. Food. Skis. Computer. Sony Trinitron TV. Calculus books. I kid you not. We were nuts. Or were we? I mean, we *were* nuts but maybe we actually *were* just a bit ahead of the times somehow. I take my MacBook laptop almost everywhere I go nowadays. I am not the only person who does this kind of thing although I was a relatively early adopter. (Hmmm, a fly just flew by, odd occurrence on this otherwise typical Meesheegan January evening.) Except that now I am kind of moving ahead a bit and sometimes I just take my iPhone with me because it does just about whatever my laptop does except that I don’t have a full-fledged keyboard.

Now, taking that MacPlus computer (in the photo) to Florida and forgetting to include the keyboard that went with it? That was pretty stupid. On another tangent, I also used to use that Sony Trinitron to watch things like The Love Boat and Dallas. Who shot JR? (-;

All I know right now is that it will not be fancy but it *will* be beautiful.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

In other words, it will not look like this. I hope. If it does, whoever ends up being our floor installer when we renovate the Landfill Kitchen will find himself fighting off a crazy woman riding a Roomba!

This is the result of the last time we installed a new floor in the Landfill Kitchen. It was a DIY job. Lemme see, I think the beach urchins were about six and four but I couldn’t tell you for sure. The only thing I remember about it was that the DIY-er finished the DIY job while the rest of us were at Fin Family Moominbeach. We arrived home after one of those long, hard days of driving down the I75 SUV Speedway with two vee-hickles, with a stop at Houghton Lake midway. I think that was the trip that the Marquis hitched a ride on. If I remember correctly, that trip featured a flat tire in our old Jetta at Houghton Lake and then the Gumper testing the range of his CB radio by calling us continually as we drove on down south of Houghton Lake. Mouse spent the last hour in an exhausted sleep, lying across the middle seat over a bunch of crap that we felt compelled to travel with. She was wearing a tie-dyed dress and, yes, she had a seatbelt on. The Marquis escaped whatever ensued at the Landfill that night by catching a flight out of Metro back to St. Louis.

I think that do-it-yourself household prodjects intentionally misspelled are fine. But this one had taken a little too long. We spent at least a few weeks at the beginning of that summer with no flooring in the kitchen at all. I like to go barefoot in the summer and let’s just say walking on the sub-flooring or whatever you want to call it was not fun. And I did not want linoleum. There was linoleum in here when we moved in. I viewed our mini-reno as a chance to get rid of that stuff. At *that* time (not now!!!!!) I wanted ceramic tile. Everybody and his 3rd cousin seven times removed shouted me down! Unfortunately, I listened. We bought linoleum. From a snake-oil salesman. It was okay for a couple years. After that, the glue that we were sold to hold the crappy linoleum down began to react with the heat from that register. The floor started to develop orange spots. Over the years, the orange spots spread further and further out and the area near the heat register got darker and darker.

I’m not getting linoleum again. I am not going to get ceramic tile either. I haven’t decided what I’ll be buying yet but I’m going for natural materials. I’m not sure what yet. I know about bamboo and cork, et al. We’ll just have to see what I decide. But it’ll be my decision (and the GG’s). And if my new floor starts to turn orange over there by the heat register, heads are gonna roll. Make no mistake.

The new Landfill Kitchen will not be fancy. But it will be beautiful. Because that’s how I roll. That is all.

Hey. It’s January and this is Michigan and the weather, well, it sucks. So, dooya wanna go to Fla?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Sooooo. Let’s go. The year is 1992. The beloved Courtois grandparents are there. We’ll load up our beeyootiful red Chrysler minivan with everything on earth. Including a computer. It’s a MacPlus and it is wonderful. We can use Excel and Word and some really rudimentary image processing programs but we can’t get onto the internet, or actually, we can but it takes a whole lotta guzzinta. We will forget to bring the keyboard to the computer but we won’t discover that until we get to Florida.

We did take a trip to Florida in 1992. To visit my wonderful parents-in-law, who are now dead. Sigh. We took our then 11-year-old niece with us. The Beautiful Renee who has a masters degree in economics now and works for the Federal Reserve. We took a slow route down to Fla via Washington DC and the Atlantic coast. Our second night on the road was at Ocean Beach, MD. We chose an Italian restaurant and everything was fine except that our almost-5-year-old Mouse cried when we sang that old favorite “On Top of Spaghetti.” I cried on the beach at Chincoteague Island (actually, it was probably Assateague Island National Seashore) the next day (it made me miss my own beach) and after that, there was a long day of driving to Disney World during which we actually did not require Mouse to use a seatbelt because it was easier to deal with her flipping back and forth between the seats than it was to listen to her constant distress at being stuffed into a seatbelt for how many days? Heck, when I was a kid, I could flip back and forth between whatever seats there were and even sit un-belted in the back of a station wagon or jeep. Nobody cared. I know about the safety issues but, sigh…

We made it to Fla. We went to Disney World. We got to my beloved in-laws’ house. The beautiful red-headed woman in the photo is the Beautiful Suzie. She is my sister-in-law. She is wonderful with kids and actually all kinds of people. She took my kids “Pup Pup” golfing (as Mouse called it) during this trip. And (obviously) she swam with them. Mouse (on the right) is so excited that her tail is showing.

Snow-mo dreams

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I remember back when the United Snakes government started recognizing Martin Luther King Day as a federal holiday and began giving its employees a day off. That was problematical for me. Why? Because, although I worked at a government facility, my employer was a private contractor. My employer couldn’t have cared less about MLK Day. If us contractors wanted to get paid for that day, we had to either work or take a vacation day. The problem with working was that almost all of my co-workers had job responsibilities related directly to providing services to federal employees and others doing business at the facility. If the facility was closed, there was no business. Outside of a few security guards, nobody was there. Yes, that means there was NOTHING TO DO! I could never understand the difference between paying a bunch of people to drive into the workplace and sit there twiddling their thumbs all day and paying them holiday pay. Oh, I’m sure there are different “buckets” or whatever. But still. I was a conscientious, diligent worker who regularly went above and beyond the call of duty. I was also a busy young mother who could use a day off here and there to catch up on things. My memory is fuzzy about how we ended up handling MLK Day. I am pretty sure that I didn’t work but got paid and I don’t remember having to take vacation, so I can only guess that we figured out how to handle the situation creatively, if you know what I mean.

Not too many years later, the Planet Ann Arbor schools started closing for MLK Day. I don’t think I was working [outside the home, don’tcha know] by that time, so it was a non-issue for me except that it wasn’t any fun for the kids to be cooped up in the house in the bedraggled weather conditions that usually plague the Planet Ann Arbor in January (gray and drizzly with no new snow), so we had to find things to do and that often meant spending money or inviting a houseful of kids over (and cleaning up after them). Now I am working again and this year I do not get the day off. It doesn’t really matter much to me. My kids are out in the world looking after themselves these days. Heck, sometimes I even let them look after me just a wee little bit [wink]. But I can see that other people who have school-age children have to make some tough decisions. They can’t really afford to take a vacation day or time without pay to stay home with their young children but some of them don’t have any choice. Because the schools are closed…

In case you are wondering, no, this post is really not much about Dr. Martin Luther King. Or is it? I think we are kind of confused about this holiday and I am not really sure why observing it has resulted in what seem to be rather random work and school holiday policies. I know that there are ceremonies and celebrations everywhere that are related to Dr. King. But I have also traveled the Great Lakes State segment of the southbound I75 SUV Speedway many an MLK Day and I will bet my bottom dollar that not all of the snowmobile-toting southeast Michiganders I have shared the road with were ruminating upon Dr. King’s life, dreams, or accomplishments. And as to companies who do not pay holiday pay for MLK Day? Would Dr. King have wanted a family to have to go without pay for a day so they could celebrate his life? I don’t think so. I do think most folks need just a wee little bit more paid time off work than they get but I do not think it should be tied to federal holidays.

So what’s the point? Is this holiday a day to reflect upon Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream? Or is it just a day off school/work (for some but not others)? Or is it both? And is that okay? Didja have the day off? What did you do? What do you think?

A smooth drive on the I75 SUV Speedway in a vintage (’01) vee-hickle that’s goin’ on 140k.

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Whomp! We are back here on the Planet Ann Arbor. Thank you, Honda Express. Tomorrow is a government holiday and the GG gets the day off. I used to but I don’t any more. It’s okay. I’ll deal with it. For the last few winters, it seemed like I was always pulling my snowpants on almost wherever I was. I’ve heard tell this is an El Nino winter. It isn’t anything like the winter of, hmm, was it ’81, when it was in the 50s and 60s all winter. But it is warm. We have had some cold weather and we have had some snow. I think I have worn my snowpants once. At Houghton Lake this weekend, I could take walks without those things.

We didn’t even take our skis to Houghton Lake this weekend. The temperature hovered around 30 all weekend but the snow was crappy. But we walked out on the ice! It was warm enough to do that. It was beautiful out there and I was warm even without snowpants or a balaclava. I think if we had decided to lie down on the ice, we might have gotten our faces sunburnt. The ice is 13 inches thick at this point. Two feet would be better but folks were driving trucks out to their ice shanties, so… There is enough bare ice on Houghton Lake this winter that a good skater could actually skate out there. Walking was quite interesting… Click here or on the pic of the ceegar-smokin’ twins for a Flickr set.

I hereby declare this to be No Politics Day and I ain’t herdin’ no cats neither.

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

And so I did declare that this very morning and after a while people actually stopped talking about bankers and wars and immigration and healthcare and Haiti and Obamanomics and blah-de-blah-de-blah. And don’t get me wrong. I am not for even one nano-second trying to suggest that any of those topics (particularly Haiti) are not important. I just couldn’t figger how all of us blathering about that stuff all weekend might make things any better. After a while people sort of started to get the drift. I think. Maybe they were just politicked out by then. Other than that, I pumped a little bit of hard-earned cash into the northern lower Michigan economy at the legendary Icehouse Quilt Shop and our favorite Best Choice Market for a few nice No Politics Day dinner supplies. No website for Best Choice. It is at Houghton Lake on old US27 just north of M55. Go there. Try the feta spread.

The weekend of No Politics Day is often a ski weekend for us but this year we are having an old-fashioned January thaw and there isn’t a whole lot of snow and it is just a bit too warm for x-c skiing (for us). So it was a relatively lazy day, albeit a beautiful sunny one. I took a late afternoon walk on the ice, watching the sun go down. I am blessed to have this place to travel to, although I often wish I had a some kind of a port-key to get here on a Friday afternoon. And I am blessed to have such wonderful in-laws to grow old with, not that we are planning on growing old any time soon. Facebook? What is up with all the granny ads showing up on my sidebar today?

Last but not necessarily least (and maybe funniest). Dear Loverly iPhone, it was wonderful this morning when you figured out that I was trying to type “boilerplate”, as in “boilerplate ice”. That was helpful and I was kind of surprised it was in your dictionary. But when I type “owly” (you know, as in the bird of prey), it is not appropriate to autocorrect it to “pelt”. (Y’all, I *know* I can disable auto-correct. I choose not to. Why? I do not have enough words to articulate the reason. Because I am, uh, ME!!! [rolls eyes])

Have a very happy No Politics Day!
Kayak Woman

HB Mr. Grinch!!

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Kayak Woman here: Happy Birthday to our northern correspondent Paulette too! Can’t believe I didn’t remember that!

I need a new computer and I need some new photoooos and I forget what else but I may change this title later when I remember.

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

So how about some milkman stories? Eh? Did you guys have a milkman? We had a milkman. We had a milkman at our house on Superior Street up in Siberia. We had a silver-colored milk-type box that the milkman would put our quarts of milk into every day or whenever it was that we ordered milk. I can’t remember how often. Once in a blue moon, we could actually get The Commander to buy a bottle of chocolate milk. We had Quik at our house and that stuff was good but somehow there was nothing better than buying bottled chocolate milk. We also had a milk man at the cabin, out at Fin Family Moominbeach. My dog Tigger did *not* like that milk man. Not a bit. When he drove in, Tigger barked like heck! I don’t know what was wrong with him exactly. Maybe he was just invading her territory. To her credit, when she got old and unknown folks occasionally walked the beach, she would walk up to them and wag her tail, asking for them to pet her. And they did and, “oh such a nice doggy.” Yeah. Not always but I did love my dog to distraction.

By the time I took whatever our high school’s senior-level math class was, the milkman was long gone. I was on the “college track” and I loved math and most of the kids who were in my class either loved math or were able enough to manage to get it. But then there was the “general math” track. My senior math class teacher, Mr. Kiczenski, taught both high-level math kids and general math kids. He was a young man then. When I looked him up in my yearbooks tonight, I can’t believe (by his looks) that we could respect him as a teacher. He doesn’t look any older than I did in my senior picture. And yet, he was through college and married and maybe had children by then. He was a wonderful teacher and we *did* respect him. Why? Because he knew his stuff!

One day, by the time he got to our class, he’d had a bad day. He told us that he had asked one of his general math students to do a problem up at the blackboard. Unfortunately, the problem involved a milkman. It had probably come from a textbook. This kid said, “I ain’t gonna be no milkman and I ain’t gonna do no milkman problem.”

Sigh. Mr. Kiczenski was a wonderful teacher! I will almost bet that he eventually figured out a way to teach general math to all of the students in those classes and I will bet that he encouraged some of those kids to take more advanced math classes. I hope so but I don’t know. I do know that Mr. Kiczenski always encouraged yer favo-rite blahgger to go into math… But she chose music instead. And… Then computers. Which wasn’t the worst thing, actually [wink]

Quick little blast from the past

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

[Nothing is ever quick when I start blathering…] It was 1965! I was in 5th grade at Lincoln School (Stinkin’ Linkin’?) up in the frozen northern outpost of Sault Ste. Siberia. You Were On My Mind by the We Five was a favorite song of mine. I heard it on the AM radio station. I wonder if I ever owned the 45. Not sure. Were 45s 75 cents in those days? I can’t remember. We bought them at the fancy new Woolworth’s store. When we could afford them on our 50-cent allowance or whatever it was. I had totally forgotten about this song until the GG played a cover of it last night. Wham! Right back into the 60s! He hit YouTube and found the first video below. I went back there today and found the second one, which *looks* like it is the same group all grown up and old like me. If those are all the same people as in the original group, they are older than me and doing fine! I never knew much about this group when I was a kid. I never knew that they were San Francisco kids, for example. When I was that age, I only had a vague idea about where San Francisco was or what it might be like. Dee-troit was *my* favorite city, thank you very much. In my defense, Detroit was a healthy, vibrant city in those days and my maternal grandparents lived there and we were so well taken care of when we visited there, being driven around in Funny Grandaddy’s Cadillac and buying clothes in the downtown Hudson’s. Nowadays? I am still not very well traveled but I have definitely left my heart in San Francisco. I’m kidding but I love that place and I wish I had more time to fly out there although it would probably drive my wonderful daughter nuts. What am I gonna do with moom this time… (I’d prob’ly drive Marty nuts too). Anyway…

I live under a rock

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

It’s okay. It’s a beautiful rock. Sandy orange and yellow colored with veins of amethyst. And look at the view from under my rock!

So, who the heck is this Henry Harry Reid thank you Sam for keeping me honest guy and what did he do? (I *said* I lived under a rock.) Oh, he slipped and said the N word. And he’s a senator? Oh yeah, I thought I’d heard his name before. Oops. Not good. How the heck did somebody like that get to be a senator. I will never be a senator because I am afraid to run my mouth for fear that something politically incorrect will fall out. I doubt that it would be the N word but that would be because I was pretty much taught from an early age that people were people no matter what their skin color or religion or whatever. And I was taught that in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for anyone who thinks Da Yoop is a total backwater. It is not. But since I rarely speechify and give my opinion about political stuff, it’s doubtful that I will ever become a senator. And that’s okay. Life under my amethyst rock is just fine, thank you very much.

I am not totally sure what I think about this. It was a really stupid thing to say, but I think it was a slip-up. If we are constantly evaluating people’s speech and ostracizing them when they do slip up, we’re going to spend all of our energy squabbling about rhetoric and not dealing with real problems.

When my children were in high school, there was a big flap here on the Planet Ann Arbor about a young Caucasian teacher who used the word “nigger” during a class. Okay. The teacher was a very popular teacher of a very popular poetry class. He helped found a “poetry slam” program at a local teen center and coached students of ALL ETHNIC BACKGROUNDS. If I am correct, quite a few young African-American teens (and others) were able to find a talent and a “voice” by working with this Caucasian teacher. He cared about all of his students, no matter what outward characteristics were expressed by whatever DNA that they were dealt. And then one day… Parents were invited to attend classes with their children. During the class, the young Caucasian teacher recited a poem written by a young African-American person. Guess what? It included the n word (not even the N word). And so. The African-American parent of one of the students in the class raised a huge stink. “He said the n word, blah-de-blah-de-blah.” I am not sure but I bet his own child was embarrassed. Eventually, the teacher was exonerated and, as for the complainer…

…believe it or not, the father who raised the stink was also a teacher! Go figger. He was my daughter’s forum teacher during one of her years at Commie High. He was such a horrible teacher that I was almost ready to put my helicopter rotors up and complain to someone. My daughter did *not* want me to do that and I didn’t. After all, forum was not an *academic* subject but a good forum teacher supposedly looked after you in the jungle of high school and maybe even college applications. This guy was more interested in himself and how students perceived him. Sigh. Another parent did complain and the district removed him from his forum teacher duties after that year and then he complained *in class* that the child’s parent had taken his forum away from him. In the end, I figured that my daughter learned a whole heckuva lot that year and that’s ultimately what school is about.

I dunno. We really really need to be careful about what we call people who have different backgrounds than we do (or anyone). On the other hand, we cannot go forth any farther into the 21st century if we still have to squabble about labels all the time. Let’s talk about this stuff or not talk about it but can we go forward?

Goodnight. I am going back under my rock now. My beautiful amethyst rock with the beautiful view.