Thursday, November 26, 2009

House Shopping on the Internets

I did not get any sentences written on my main story, sorry. It turns out I started writing too soon and needed to go back and get some foundational shit done.

So this evening I spend two hours house- and job-shopping (kind of reminds you of last spring, huh?), and I got a lot of things figured out. Here are some of them, in no particular order:

Chanson, Colorado
Miles Tariq
Chanson High School, black/gold, Pioneers
10 miles outside of town
class conflict
solar farming

The solar farming part is especially brilliant because it is an incredible stroke of irony. You'll see. I am starting to see how things might turn out later, which is very, very good. I just have to get so excited by my plans that I can't wait to write the first draft, otherwise I'll spend the rest of my month planning and not writing (isn't that like 75% of a "real" novelist's work?).

Words Today: 0 (4 pages planning notes, though)
Total Words: same as yesterday
Sentence: sorry.
Brain Flashes Had: at least 11, maybe 12

I can do other things, too.

Damn, I cooked the shit out of stuff today. I promise to get at least one sentence written today so I can share it with you, but first:

Thanksgiving 2009

7 a.m.
Checked on pumpkin cheesecake made last night. Figured someone would notice if I had a piece for breakfast.
Rolled out and blind-baked pie dough from yesterday.

7:30 a.m.
Baked sweet potatoes in microwave.

8 a.m.
Mixed pie filling and baked.
Started grading papers.

9:30 a.m.
Put ham in oven.
More papers.

10:30 a.m
Didn't realize I needed more than a dozen eggs. Quick trip to the store.

11 a.m.
Made grits.
Started sweet potato casserole.

1:00 p.m.
Shit! I should have soaked the blackeyed peas overnight!
Found quick-soak method on internet.

1:30 p.m.
Put grits in oven.
Steamed squash in microwave.
Finished sweet potato casserole, set aside until marshmallow-melting time.

2:00 p.m.
Made corn fritter batter.
Put together squash casserole.

2:30 p.m.
Grits done.
Blanched greens.

2:50 p.m.
5-minute shower.

3 p.m.
Ham done.
Cooked onion and bacon for greens.
Sweet potatoes in oven.
Squash casserole in oven.
Fried corn fritters.

3:25 p.m.
Finished sauteing greens.
Put out vegetables.
Set table.
Poured drinks.

3:30 p.m.
Ate until cross-eyed.

4:30 p.m.
Made brown sugar-bourbon cream.
Ate sweet potato pie and cheesecake with a cup of coffee.

It's been a good day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Today's Stats

Before I post my word count, let me first say that 1) I did most of the actual writing in class while my students were working, 2) I spent lots of my writing time reading a book on novel writing, and 3) I worked on my story notes--to the tune of like 4 pages of character and plot stuff. Hopefully doing lots of planning up front will help get the draft written.

Words today: 255
Total word count: 1646
Sentence: Even when he brushed his teeth in the morning, Stephen seemed hardly to see his own reflection in the mirror. (You will understand why this is awesome when you know what's going on.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today's Stats

Words: 877 (Paltry, I know, for someone who wants to be done by the end of the year, but everything I wrote I did in six-minute chunks while I made five pounds of home fries for the Honor Roll breakfast tomorrow.)

A sentence: Stephen debated for a moment between the right answer and the correct one.

Words and Sentences

So. NaNoWriMo started November first, and, in typical fashion, I am getting around to it late.

Tyson and I can't in good conscience (or good credit) get each other the iPhones we were going to for Christmas, so we're going to write novels together. We figured we've got an extra hour or two in the evening that we might as well be using for something productive.

So I got an idea, and let me tell you--actually, I can't tell you. My idea is literally so good you will be unable to keep from stealing it and writing your own thing, or selling it to a producer of movies.

People who have writing to do sometimes need to find an activity that puts that writing off for just a little longer. One of the things these people do is join or keep a sentence a day blog where they post a daily word count and the best sentence they wrote for the day.

Here's yesterday's:
"All in all, Stephen looks as though he might have just emerged from the dryer."
Word Count: 514, plus 2 pages of notes
Total Words: 514

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Way to Go, Arizona!

Trent Franks is a fucktard.


How much of this rhetoric do we need before we see our first assassination attempt from the nutjobs who buy into this shit, do you think?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Via today's Daily Kos:

At the How To Take Back America Conference last weekend, conservative speaker Kitty Werthmann led a workshop called "How to recognize living under Nazis & Communists ..."

During her session, Werthmann went through a litany of examples of how President Obama is like Adolf Hitler. She noted that Hitler, who acted "like an American politician," was "elected in a 100% Christian nation." Although she failed to once mention Antisemitism or militarism, Werthmann explained how universal healthcare, an Equal Rights Amendment, and increased taxes were telltale signs of Nazism. Werthmann also warned the audience:

"If we had our guns, we would have fought a bloody battle. So, keep your guns, and buy more guns, and buy ammunition. [...] Take back America. Don’t let them take the country into Socialism. And I refer again, Hitler’s party was National Socialism. [...] And that’s what we are having here right now, which is bordering on Marxism."

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Menace of the Public Option

From my librarian listserv today:

The Menace of the Public Option

M.C. Blakeman

This article appeared on page A - 11 of the San Francisco Chronicle Saturday, September 19, 2009


Of all the current assaults on our noble republic, perhaps none is more dangerous than the public option - specifically, the public library option.


For far too long, this menace has undermined the very foundations of our economy. While companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble struggle valiantly each day to sell books, these communistic cabals known as libraries undercut the hard work of good corporate citizens by letting people read their books for free. How is the private sector supposed to compete with free? And just what does this public option give us? People can spend hours and hours in these dens of socialism without having to buy so much as a cappuccino. Furthermore, not only can anyone read books for free in the library, they can take them home, too. They get a simple card that can be used at any library in town. No checking on the previous condition of books they've read. No literacy test. Nothing.

Yet, do these libertines of literature let you choose any book you want, anytime you want it? No. Have you ever tried to get the latest best-seller at a public library? They put you on a waiting list for that, my friend. And if you do ask these government apparatchiks a question about a book, they start talking your ear off, and pretty soon they're telling you what to read.

Of course, if you break one of their petty rules and return a book late, you have to pay fines that mount grotesquely each day. Even if you die, your overdue fees keep piling up. Is that not a death tax? How long must the elderly live in fear of burdening their children with these unfair sanctions on their estates?

Don't be fooled for a minute. Somebody has to pay for these "free" libraries, and I'll tell you who it is, pal. Those good ol' suckers, the American taxpayers, that's who.

Have you ever wondered who's really behind this public library option? And don't you think it's fishy that they mask their nefarious activities with benign-sounding names, like Friends of the Library? What's their real agenda - and why do they have so many "volunteer" meetings, anyway?

No, my fellow Americans. We cannot wait until we're all goose-stepped into a massive book checkout line. This assault on capitalism and our very way of life has got to end. Be subversive ... burn your library card! Go out and buy a book!

M.C. Blakeman is the co-author of "Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods" (Nolo Press).

This article appeared on page A - 11 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

We went ahead and renamed it "guano-insane."

Speaking of people brainwashing our school-aged children.....

(Oh, there's this, too.)

Friday, September 04, 2009


I hadn't realized how long it had been since I last posted. If you haven't friended me on FB, you may not be aware of the following things going down:

1. I am teaching half-time at an alternative high school. I facilitate a credit-retrieval class and teach senior English to 15 kids and am done by 11:30.

2. I am in grad school what amounts to full-time (technically two-thirds time, but no summer off) getting a Masters of Library and Information Science. There is a lot of reading to do. Then I get to be a librarian and make other people read stuff.

3. I got an extra job as a "theme reader," which means English teachers call me when they have too many essays to grade and the district pays me an hourly rate to grade them.

4. I found out yesterday that I can probably take one or two free classes through the state and be a school librarian next year, a whole year earlier than I thought. Also, when job postings say "master's degree required," it's sometimes okay to just be working on one (you're cheaper that way, anyhow).

So, good, I guess? I'm really liking working half-time, but we'll see how much when I get my first paycheck. I am really liking coming home by noon-ish, changing into PJ pants, and taking a nap.

I don't even know what to say.

Two polls going around FB today:

1. Do you think President Obama should be allowed to do a nationwide address to school children without their parents' consent?

2. Do you think President Obama should be allowed to address the nation's school children without a response from the opposition?

Right now, most respondents say "no" to both these questions.

Just who the hell ARE these people and what is wrong with them? The fucking PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (you know, the one the MAJORITY of Americans voted into office last November) wants to go on TV and tell the kids to study hard and do well in school and people just go batshit crazy? Really? Viral emails are flying around encouraging parents to keep their kids home, or call their principals, or give Republicans a chance to present OPPOSITION? TO STUDYING HARD??

It's a good thing it's a three-day weekend or I might actually be stressing out over this.

UPDATE: Here is an (unnecessarily apologetic) email I just got:

________ School District Parents:

As you may know, President Barack Obama has announced he will give a special "back to school" message to children across America on September 8, 2009 beginning at 10 a.m. Mountain Standard Time.

We have been informed by the U.S. Department of Education that the text of the President's speech will be released on Monday, September 7, 24 hours prior to the broadcast. You may find the text of the speech on Monday at the following web sites:

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the President will speak directly to the nation's children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The speech is expected to last 15-20 minutes and will air on CSPAN and online at

If you would prefer your child(ren) not view the President's speech, you may contact your school to request your child(ren) opt-out of viewing the address. An appropriate alternative activity will be provided for your student until such time as the President's address concludes. You may opt-out by simply sending your school a note or email message.

Further information about the President's address may be found online at the following U.S. Department of Education web site:


Friday, August 14, 2009


"I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty."

From a letter written by Thomas Jefferson concerning Shays' Rebellion (which nobody ever learns about in school).

Friday, August 07, 2009

My new health plan:

Don't get sick or in a car accident.

When I added my husband and son to my insurance a few years ago, my premiums went from about $75 a month to about $250 a month. So when Tyson started filling out paperwork for his new job and went to add me and his son to his policy, he realized it was going to cost nearly $800.

EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS A MONTH. That's nearly what we pay in rent. Shit. Just covering him and Nick is only going to run $140. So basically I'm out on my ass on this one. (Even if he had considered it, I would have asked for the $650 in cash every month instead and bought myself something nice.)

So today I've spent some time reviewing my other options for healthcare:

1. Go without, and hope for the best. I'm under thirty, in fairly good overall health. Odds are good I'll find a job with its own insurance in a few months. Tyson went without for like 30 years and still made it through okay. Plus, no insurance means I can go to the free clinic for my lady problems.
The major drawback to this plan is that pesky pre-existing conditions thing. Between the skin cancer, clinical depression, and history of frequent abnormal PAPs, I don't think I could get the care I needed when I got coverage again (and when I eventually need that hysterectomy, I don't want to be the one footing the bill).

2. COBRA. Because I voluntarily left my job, I don't qualify for reduced rates. Keeping my current level of benefits will cost about $650 a month, leaving us no better off than we were before. Or I can get an "at least I'm not fucked if I have to go to the hospital" plan with like a $3000 deductible for under a hundred bucks. Not really a lot of middle ground here.

3. Private short-term insurance. Depending on the deductible and co-payment involved (from 20% to a whopping SEVENTY PERCENT), I can get middling coverage for between $70 and $250 a month. Problem: The maximum length for this type of insurance is six months. I'm fairly confident of having an insurance-providing job by then, but the universe (and the economy) may have me waiting tables at Applebee's six months from now instead.

4. Private regular old insurance (AKA "Corporate Ass-Rape"). Basically for a lot of money I can have a shitty plan with a high deductible, with the option of continuing to pay the ridiculous premiums ad infinitum, if such is my desire.

I don't qualify for Medicare, I can't get insurance through my school, and, because I spent seven years as a liberal arts major, I have absolutely no skills that transfer to the non-school world, allowing me to get a good job in another field. Apparently, jobs in the field of sentence diagramming aren't required to provide benefits.

Being a grown-up sucks.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

This is the kind of thing I miss when I go out of town:

The Cupcake Collective is a charity cupcake party benefiting a kids' arts organization. Basically, you can pay $5 to make at least a dozen cupcakes and enter them in a category. Then you have to come to the party next Saturday and display them and be judged and everything. OR you can just show up empty-handed on Saturday and pay $5 to go eat other people's cupcakes.

As excited as I am to be starting my master's program, I am pretty bummed that it means missing a big cupcake party.

Friday, July 31, 2009

I just want to go on the record as saying...

  1. Insurance itself is a pretty socialist system. We all put money in a pool, and that pool is supposed to pay for others' injuries, property damage, or whatever, with the expectation that all the other premium payers help you when you need it. (After the Clinton "healthcare reform" in the 90s, though, it turned into just another big business.)

  2. Medicare is a great example of a socialized medical system that delivers basic coverage and keeps costs down. If you don't agree with a public insurance option, write your congressman and tell him to oppose Medicare. That'll give his staff a giggle.

  3. Veterans' care. See above.

  4. How can you take seriously a congressman (congressperson?) who lobbies against a public insurance system when he himself is covered by such a system? I don't think any of them pull out their Aetna card when they go to their doctors. It bothers me that these people rely on a government-administered insurance plan can accept campaign money from insurance companies, then deny regular people even the option for such a plan.

Ugh. I'm writing this here because I'm tired of yelling it at my computer screen or people on the TV.


From my news feed on Facebook:

four score and 200 years ago, are [sic] fathers set forth to build this country on Capitalisim [sic]. I'll be damned if I'll sit by and let them turn it into a Socialistic [sic] society. See your asses in Europe!

Who ARE these people?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Some Things

  1. Dog + unknown stuff in compost pile = ick.
  2. Berries are much cheaper when they're not shipped 1000 miles in from the Northwest.
  3. I am handy enough to make a closet into a pantry.
  4. Self-service dog washing is cool--especially for 10 bucks.
  5. A PVC sofa and chair may not have been the best choice for a house full of cats.
  6. It takes approximately 18 hours after establishing new phone service for telemarketers to start calling you. It takes 3 minutes to register on the Do Not Call list.
  7. Here, "clear across town" is 8 miles (3 freeway exits) away. Boise only has 5 exits.
  8. You can compost dog poop with a big garbage can buried in the ground and septic tank starter.
  9. Here, "It's SOOOOOOO hot" means it's 95 out. It's possible to be outside at any time during the day, not just from 10 pm to 10 am.
  10. I have three tomatoes in my yard. As soon as the dogs figure out there is food growing out there, I will not have any.
  11. I paid less than $2 for a gallon of milk.
  12. Central air rules!
  13. We've chatted more with strangers (the Starbucks girl, neighbors, the landlady, the cashier at Hastings) in the last week than in the last 9 years in Vegas.
  14. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies = AWESOME.
  15. Movie tickets, even in the evening, are under 8 bucks.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Get a pen and paper ready.

I am posting my new address and email in Boise for a few weeks so everybody can get it. I think my cell will stay the same for a while. All this information goes into effect on or about July 13th, and will only be posted here until August.

1033 E. Saratoga Dr.
Boise ID 83706
erinhdowney at gmail dot com

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How many people are blogging this today?

I thought there was nothing else Michael Jackson could do to shock me. Funny how I'm unimpressed by all the weird things he did, but then he goes and does the most normal everyday thing that everybody eventually does, and that's what's weird.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The best website ever?

I have frequently said that I should get a job giving people advice (without being responsible, of course, when things go horribly wrong as a result). Then I found, a website where people air their grievances and everyone votes on what they should do. It is my new source of entertainment.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ann Coulter is a cunt, in case you'd forgotten.

"Why aren't liberals rushing to assure us this time that "most pro-lifers are peaceful"? Unlike Muslims, pro-lifers actually are peaceful."

I knew I shouldn't have clicked.

EDIT: Sorry, Mom, for the language. There's just nothing else in English to describe that malevolent hate-spewing harpy.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Ducks in the Bathroom Are Not Mine

Tyson has commented recently on the prevalence of crappy news lately, so here is something I hope you will find much more to your liking.

David replies:

From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 21 May 2009 10.16am
To: Helen Bailey
Subject: Pets in the building

Dear Helen,

Thankyou for your letter concerning pets in my apartment. I understand that having dogs in the apartment is a violation of the agreement due to the comfort and wellbeing of my neighbours and I am currently soundproofing my apartment with egg cartons as I realise my dogs can cause quite a bit of noise. Especially during feeding time when I release live rabbits.

Regards, David.

From: Helen Bailey
Date: Thursday 21 May 2009 11.18am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Pets in the building

Hello David

I have received your email and wish to remind you that the strata agreement states that no animals are allowed in the building regardless of if your apartment is soundproof. How many dogs do you have at the premises?


From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 21 May 2009 1.52pm
To: Helen Bailey
Subject: Re: Re: Pets in the building

Dear Helen,

Currently I only have eight dogs but one is expecting puppies and I am very excited by this. I am hoping for a litter of at least ten as this is the number required to participate in dog sled racing. I have read every Jack London novel in preparation and have constructed my own sled from timber I borrowed from the construction site across the road during the night. I have devised a plan which I feel will ensure me taking first place in the next national dog sled championships. For the first year of the puppies life I intend to say the word mush then chase them violently around the apartment while yelling and hitting saucepan lids together. I have estimated that the soundproofing of my apartment should block out at least sixty percent of the noise and the dogs will learn to associate the word mush with great fear so when I yell it on race day, the panic and released adrenaline will spur them on to being winners. I am so confident of this being a foolproof plan that I intend to sell all my furniture the day before the race and bet the proceeds on coming first place.

Regards, David.

There is much more. Apartment complex rules are ridiculous (says the girl who can't find a rental that will allow pets for under $1500 in Eagle/Gypsum/Vail). I'm sure I'd think differently if there were eighteen dogs in the unit next door.

For more fucking-with-pencil-pushers fun, read his correspondence with a collection agency involving a seven-legged spider.

I'll pay attention to PETA as soon as we embrace "People for the Ethical Treatment of Other People".

PETA thinks now is the appropriate time to post billboards in Wichita, Kansas, to capitalize on the aftermath of the George Tiller shooting. Nice touch, PETA. With all the talk about "murdering babies" and the actual murder of one of the good guys, we shouldn't lose sight of the senseless slaughter of countless food animals each day.

Ugh. Makes me want to take an animal-tested aspirin, put on leather shoes, and go get a steak.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My GIMP book came in a few days ago, and I am learning all sorts of stuff about things.  This is Odysseus telling his story to King Whats-His-Name at the beginning of Book 9.  It has SEVEN different layers!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Just to clarify things...

We've gotten a few concerned emails and phone calls since my last post.  We really are not just going to move off with no plan at all.  If we have no teaching jobs by about mid-June, we'll find something--anything--that we can interview/apply for as soon as we get there.  We've got enough savings (for about the first time ever) to make it a few months without jobs.

I love you guys mucho mucho, but seriously it is not my plan to live in a tent in a horse pasture until someone calls to offer me a job.  Don't worry.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Here's to hoping things know how to take care of themselves!

We've ended the lease on our house, and we still don't have jobs anywhere else yet.  We started packing this weekend, and plan to July.

So far, we've had interest from Eagle, Colorado and Idaho Falls.  But if nothing pans out, we're waffling between three cities we think we can just show up in and make things work out.


Pros: We have friends there.  Good friends.  Friends who have offered us the bottom floor of their house or a pasture to pitch a tent camp in until we have jobs.  Liberal.  Full of hippies.  U of Montana.  Good, mild weather.  Small.

Cons: Small.  70K population may be too small to find jobs (especially education jobs with insurance). 

Idaho Falls

Pros: Pretty big.  Cheap (4 bedroom house=$800-$1000/mo.).  Farmy.  A few hours from the Tetons.  Summers hot, but not too hot.

Cons: Pretty vanilla.  The San Antonio to Missoula's Austin.  Close to mountains, but no actual, visible mountains to speak of.  Cold winters.


Pros: Metro area about 600K people.  Lubbock-like weather.  Way cheap housing.  Reputation for liberal politics.  State capital=state jobs.

Cons: Never actually been there.  Have heard it called "consumerist" (although we might not even notice, coming from Vegas).  Pretty far from Rocky Mountains.

So we are still waffling about.  Hopefully, something will come up.  Tyson is going to Idaho Falls in two weeks for a promising-sounding interview, and maybe our path will be illuminated.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Another result of fooling around with GIMP.  I loved doing this kind of work with charcoal and erasers when I was in college.

Polyphemus Eats Odysseus's Men (Book 9)

Created with GIMP.  I'm pretty sure it's capable of a little more than this, though.  I've got a book coming from Amazon, so Tyson will stop hassling me about getting this convertible-tablet laptop.

Monday, May 04, 2009

News Briefs

...or boxers, if you prefer.

I got rejection #2 today from a charter school in Nampa (next to Boise).  I figured since I'd applied six weeks ago and hadn't heard anything that I didn't have the job.  

I applied for a job as a research assistant in Eugene, Oregon, that sounds interesting.  I am probably only just qualified, but if they read my cover letter and letters of recommendation, I should at least merit a phone call.  I hope.

Boise finally posted their open positions--one in middle school English--that I was able to apply for with just a few clicks.

Helena doesn't have much going on in the way of high school jobs right now, but I'm hoping they just haven't posted yet.  They just barely got elementary jobs up last Thursday.

Anyway, jobs for next year are about all I am thinking about just now, even though I should be making a power point for American Modernism.

So keep sending your positive vibes our way.  I get the feeling this is going to be another seat-of-the-pants move.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's a good thing I wasn't drinking anything while I checked my facebook...

From my Facebook news feed:

________ took the What Does Jesus Think of You? quiz and the result is Jesus thinks you're a selfish bitch.

Jesus thinks you're a selfish bitch. All you do is shop, eat, and complain. Jesus is not asking you to join the Peace Corps or anything, He just thinks you should stop being such a twat and look out for your fellow man a bit.

This was seriously the funniest thing I have read in a long time, and I have been grading a lot of papers lately.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Job is Sometimes Dumb...

From an email posted by our principal today:

If you have ever wondered where our Federal dollars go here's one for the books.

Today I had a federal investigator from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Enforcement Bureau, Los Angeles Field Office, come to my office. A student filed an official complaint that Foothill HS has an illegal "jammer" in the 700 wing of the school. The investigator didn't find one on today but is keeping the case open and will be checking again. Believe it or not the student had in his complaint that he can't use his cell phone during tests because this is when the blocker is on.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Paula Deen on Wait Wait

Paula Deen was on Wait, Wait this afternoon on NPR.  It was hysterical.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hooray for me!

My big envelope came yesterday as an email, and I'm in!  Hooray!  I'm a grad student!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thank GOD

we don't live in Texas anymore.

Also this...

Bonus points for whoever finds the rhetorical strategy going on here.  Do come up with something a little more fancy-pants than "double entendre."

Because he is!

Gak.  And I actually liked tea, too.  And coherent rhetorical techniques.  (Did you know, for example, that "halle-fuckin'-lujah" is an example of tmesis?  This really is the coolest website ever.  Even the Venerable Bede does tmesis.)

In other news:

Today is the last day for U of A to accept applications for their fall cohort (that's graduate school for "class").  They only accept 40 students into the program each year, and they'll start picking in the next week or so.

I did my taxes in February.

I definitely did not get one job at a school just outside Missoula.  No word yet on jobs I did get.  Phone interview with Idaho Falls went well, I think.  Fifteen people applied for the high school job in Troy (pop=1200).  

My bosses will not fill my job here until I have a contract elsewhere, even though it may mean not having a choice who takes the job during the "involuntary transfer" period.

When we drove through Idaho Falls last Thursday, I saw 5 beavers sitting on the shoulder of the interstate.

I thought maybe I could live in Salt Lake, but it took an hour and a half to drive through the whole thing.

Montana is a very progressive state.  It has a "banana belt."

The kittens are almost 9 weeks old and are able to get into all kinds of trouble.

Tyson's x-rays revealed a hairline fracture in his ankle, but he won't be able to see his written report for another 5 days because that's "standard procedure," even though they faxed it immediately to his doctor.

We are hoping to have a massive garage sale and get rid of about half of our stuff, Montana or no.  Anyone interested in a good deal on an old leather couch?  I hope we do not have to sell the fixtures and appliances in the back house.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Waiting for that big envelope...

I got a tiny little envelope from the University of Alabama today, and I almost had several heart attacks before I saw that it wasn't a rejection letter, just a "WTF?!" from the financial aid office who received my FAFSA information and wondered why they were getting that stuff for a person who didn't even go there.

In other news, I have a job interview with the school distict in Idaho Falls next month!  Okay, it's actually a scheduled time to appear at a hiring fair and be interviewed, but it is still cool.  I am also applying for a job at a brand new charter school in Nampa, right next to Boise.  The job description sounds a little intimidating--the requirements for dress and comportment seem pretty stringent--but the classical model on which they base their curricula sounds interesting.

Besides that, things are boring; that's why I took two weeks off from blogging.  It looks like things are going to stay boring, at least until I get some big envelopes in the mail, so stop waiting at your computer pressing refresh every other minute to see if I've updated.  Those are hours you can never get back.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I spent the whole day today in the kitchen.

We bought a new smoker last weekend and about 12 pounds of meat to cook last night.  We set up the brine bucket (when not in use for brine, it holds all my knitting stuff), and this morning I was up at 8 to rinse, dry, and put on dry rub.  I put the pork shoulder on, wrapped the ribs in plastic to season, and started on the beans.  Check this out:

Smoked Barbecue Beans

2 cans Bush's Maple beans

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup ketchup

1/2 T dry mustard

1 small can crushed pineapple

salt and pepper

1/2 onion

1 jalapeno

2 serranos

1/2 pound bacon

1. Cut bacon into 1/2" pieces and cook in a skillet until fat renders.

2. While bacon is cooking, dice onion and mince peppers.  Mix all other ingredients together in a large bowl.

3. When bacon is done, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and add to beans.  Saute the onion and peppers in the bacon drippings until the onions are browned.

4. Remove onion and peppers with a slotted spoon and add to beans.  Stir everything together, pour into a deep 9" disposable square pan, and put in the smoker, uncovered, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Remove to a 350 degree oven until very hot, 30 minutes to one hour.

When those went into the smoker, I added the ribs and started making a grocery list for the rest of the week.

This afternoon, I made an apple-raspberry pie with a vodka crust that was truly the best and easiest to roll out ever.  The vodka adds moisture without messing with gluten formation in the crust, so you can make a moister dough (read: easier to roll), and the crust still comes out flaky.

THEN I made a pot of braised collard greens with onions and bacon.

The only think I don't like about spending all day cooking is that by the time dinner is ready, I'm tired of food.  Good thing there will still be pie for breakfast.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This is the job I want:

Here is a job description for a Virtual Librarian in Boise. Too bad I’m not qualified—this is pretty much exactly what I want to do.

The IDLA Virtual Librarian is responsible for the researching, compiling, organizing and formatting of educational digital resources. This position will maintain and update a vast database of digital media resources in an efficient and organized manner that will be utilized by in-house and statewide stakeholders. The Virtual Librarian will also provide training, reference, and instruction on using and retrieving available resources.

Experience and Training
Bachelors Degree in Library Science or technology-related field
Minimum of 2 years experience as a librarian or related field

Masters Degree in Library Science from an ALA accredited institution
3+ years of experience as a librarian or equivalent
Additional training or certification relevant to position

This is so what I want to do after I go to librarian school.  Did I mention this is in Boise?  And that it STARTS at $50K?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The best phrase in the English language

...has got to be "President Obama."

It keeps taking me by surprise--a moment where I realize the world really can be the place that, for the last 8 years, we could only imagine.  I feel a little leap in my chest, like when you wake up at 4:30 in the morning and realize it's Saturday so the alarm won't be going off in an hour and you can roll over and go back to sleep.

What impresses me most is the sheer number of people who share this feeling and who are also willing to answer Obama's call to service.  It feels like the trend toward apathy and inaction may be breaking down.  Today, a local paint store donated paint and supplies to repaint an elementary school.  Dozens of volunteers have signed up to help paint this weekend at USA Service, a site designed by the Obama team to connect volunteers with projects in their communities.

I think the Rude Pundit today put it best:

"If you think about it, this was what this America was poised to become after September 11, 2001, had the former administration decided to harness the power of unity. But, then again, it was never very good with alternative forms of energy."

This is exactly what we should have been doing after 9/11, and what were we asked to do instead?  Shop.  Go back to being good little consumers so we can keep playing this neverending game of money and politics.

I feel so much better now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A different kind of patriotism

Those of you who know me would probably not use the word "patriotic" when asked to describe me. I don't say the pledge, or, if I do, it's just so my students will do it so I don't have to. I don't wear anything red, white, and blue--ever (it's tacky, no matter how much you love America). I don't have a flag, look forward to the fourth of July strictly for the blowing up of stuff, and only care about Veterans' Day because it means I don't have to go to work.

But lately I have been getting all sappy. First, the plane crash in the Hudson river last week made me all "Go America!" because we can sure do infrastructure. There may be problems with our government, but it is directly responsible for enacting the systems that keep us safe on a daily basis. It's like someone has child-proofed the entire country. I am still amazed that on September 11, only three-thousand-something people lost their lives, when places like Turkey or India can have earthquakes or mudslides that kill ten thousand. Then today, on the way to my test, NPR broadcast the entirety of Martin Luther King's speech on the national mall in 1963, pointing out how fitting it was that, the day after what would have been King's 80th birthday, Obama will take the oath of office.

(I still can't believe he's going to be president. It's like what I imagined democracy was supposed to be like back when I took government my senior year.)

Even better than my sappy feelings of goose-bumpiness and gushing, teeny-bopperish rhetoric about coming changes is seeing other people who are this excited, too.

In which I enumerate my awesomeness

I took the GRE today, and I was really nervous because I needed a decent score for U of A (not to mention that I base 80% of my self-worth on standardized test scores).  Not only have I not taken a high-stakes, thinking person's test in quite some time (about 10 years), I started to think that my brain is atrophying the longer I go without college (about 4 years).  I especially loathed the math portion of the test because it made me realize that, except for balancing my checkbook and calculating grades (besides, the computer does most of both of these tasks) I just don't think in numbers anymore.

Am I missing out?  Really, I nearly had a panic attack when I forgot how to find the perimeter of a circle, and then I had to multiply square roots of things and find the greatest common factor for 3 to the 100th power and 3 to the 97th power.  It's not that I can't reason my way through these problems, most of the time, it's just that the foundation--all the geometric theorems, the formulas for finding out things, the rules for multiplying numbers with exponents--those things are all rusted and shoved into the very back of my brain where all the other stuff from my sophomore year of high school lives.  But do I really need these things, except if I need to take another test sometime?  Is my daily life really less for not knowing?  Weigh in on this, readers, and I will start thinking about math again.

Anyway, I kicked so much ass on the verbal part of the test--700 out of a possible 800.  I'm glad I looked through that section of my GRE guide because I was able to recognize some of the tricks and traps on the test.  In math, I got a 660, which gives me a total score that is plenty good for an MLS program, but not good enough for engineering school.  I think my essays were decent, too, but again, I'm just not writing like that anymore now that I am not in school.  And the experimental portion of my test was a second essay (I was hoping for more vocabulary questions), so I had to write 3 total.  My brain is exhausted.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Better, thanks

I've been taking Wellbutrin for about ten days now, and I'm feeling a lot happier.

And, well...


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Suck on this, fucktards!

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

Although the site says that 390% of the pages on the internet have swearing, so I'm not sure I trust the math whiz that cooked this one up.

Monday, January 12, 2009

GRE Jitters

I sometimes really thrive on living life at the last minute.  I am taking the GRE a week from today, and I have't taken a test that was both difficult and important in about 10 years. (I took the Praxis II, which was important since a non-passing score meant no teaching license, but it was not difficult in the least, except not being able to leave or read a book when I was done.)

I decided, for sure, about a week ago that I really did want a Master's, so I found a school I could afford, filled out the online application, requested information on financial aid, ordered transcripts from UNLV, and registered for the GRE.  All in one night.

The next opportunity for taking the test on a non-school day would have been late February, way later than I wanted to do.  I want my score as soon as possible so I can do a retake if I need to, or just walk around feeling good about my score for that much longer.  Which means Monday.

I tell myself it's not a dumb decision to prepare in only 7 days.  After all, even if I signed up 6 months in advance, I doubt I'd start working on test prep until about a week before.  Example: I was engaged for a year and a half.  I started trying on dresses 4 days before the wedding.  

But I'm still nervous, and excited, and know this kind of pressure pushes me to do my best.  It's been a long, long time since I've felt like this.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Writing on the Wall

It's starting to look as though it might be time to pull up the stakes here.  Yesterday, our governor proposed cutting teachers' salaries by 6%.  Combined with the 4% cost-of-living increase that won't be coming this year, that's an effective 10% salary cut next year.  Hell, they're even talking about cutting salaries for THIS year.  As in, the one we're having now.  The one we signed a contract for in August.

Because, God forbid, we make it more costly for businesses to relocate to Nevada, or institute even a fraction of a percent state income tax, or require user fees to participate in competitive sports.  Not to mention rewriting overtime rules for school district and other public employees.

I signed up for the GRE in two weeks.  I'm applying for admission to the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program online at University of Alabama,where I can learn to say "shhhhhhhh"  for only $275 a credit hour.  Some of the programs I looked at, like Rutgers, cost for a semester what I'll pay for the whole degree, or just about the same amount as I'm paying on my student loans right now.  It will be so exciting to pay cash for a semester of school!  I don't think I have ever done that before.

I've been poking around shopping for jobs and houses.  Barring amazing and astounding developments at Tyson's job (possibly involving a move to Florida for a few years--in which case I can be a Gator for $200 a credit hour), we basically have narrowed things down to:

  • Missoula, Montana.  We have several friends, including a family with teenage kids (and horses!), that have moved there in the last year.  U of Montana campus.  Mountains.
  • Idaho Falls, Idaho.  IF reminds me a little bit of home, if Lubbock were Mormon instead of Baptist and three hours from Yellowstone.   Bonus=affordable houses made of brick and U of Idaho down the road in Pocatello.
  • Spokane, Washington.  Forty-five minutes and $100,000 away from Coeurd'Alane.  Cheap houses.  Snow.  According to the salary schedule I found at the school district website, I'd be making about $5000 more there, plus a $1400 stipend each November to employees with a Master's.

So my work is cut out for me the next few weeks: cramming for the test, tracking down transcripts, asking for letters of recommendation.  In addition to regular work, coordinating and implementing a new program for next year (which I'll do regardless of my being here or no) and managing my seratonin levels like a diabetic watches his insulin.  I can't very well get any of this done if it's hard getting out of bed in the morning.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Dead Computer

The fan on my laptop stopped working, so the engine wouldn't even turn over.  Sorry, Target card, I missed that payment.  I couldn't get to my login information in time.  It would be no problem at all to move all of my settings to Tyson's computer with the miracle of Transfer Wizard or whatever Vista calls it, but my hard drive has been turned into a slave drive and I can't install the program.  And I didn't export my bookmarks before my computer died, so I'm having to find them again manually.

Ugh.  I think I'm done for a while today.