Felled by flu

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Well, not actually the flu. But felled by the crud the rest of the family has isn't nearly as alliterative.

Suffice it to say, I am sick. No blogging. No breathing either considering my swollen sinuses.

Hopefully, all will be back to normal by next week. In the meantime, I'm just enduring.

Sling Words out to fetch another box of Kleenex.

Teachers under fire - again

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I am not amazed at the number of teachers who leave the profession. I'm just amazed at the number who stay despite it all. Now they're going to sock it to them again. I'm referring to the changes being made to the No Child Left Behind Program, a program with laudatory goals but goals unable to be achieved in the real world in my opinion. Now, they want to change it with teachers bearing the responsibility to make it happen.

First, programs that focus on students passing some sort of competency test do not turn out educated human beings. It turns out kids capable of passing some basic test and that's about it. Witness all the kids working in retail who can't do basic math in their heads. I run into at least one every few days.

Second, if kids aren't succeeding in schools, don't look to the teachers. There are other forces at work in a child's life that should be the front line of responsibility for the child. Yes, this is an unpopular opinion, but parents are responsible for raising a child. Not the teacher, the school, or the government. Too much is expected of teachers. They no longer teach. They wear so many hats that most of them burn out within the first five years. Those who last longer than that do so because they still believe they have a calling.

I could rant all day, but just go read about this at the National Education Association. Write your representatives because this is a national issue not a local or state.

Sling Words out to compose a letter.

Valentines and candy

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The best thing I ever heard about Valentine's Day was in an old episode of Will and Grace where Grace was ranting about the holiday created by evil greeting card publishers, florists, and candy makers. Then she stopped in full rant and said: "Well, not candy makers. They do the work of God."

Diets die on this day. No matter how much I want to lose a few pounds, I celebrate today with dark chocolate confections with gooey, melt-in-your-mouth centers. God's work indeed.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Jack's pack

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I saw this in the newspaper the other day. Uncrate.com recently listed the contents of Jack Bauer's Backpack. You know, the bag you see him lugging around everywhere? DH and I make jokes about it.

Just in case you missed it, here are the contents:

Brunton Echo Pocket Scope Monocular (that's what I call his spy glass)

Motorola i880 cell phone with GPS and Internet microbrowser (Don't you wish you had one of those? Apparently, it never needs charging.)

HK USP Compact 9 mm handgun

Second Chance Apex bulletproof vest

Special OPs Watch with "electromagnetic induction charge" (whatever the heck that is)

As to tools for torture, Jack doesn't need any. A table lamp with exposed wires works just fine.

Jack, Jack, he's our man. If Jack can't do it, nobody can.

Let's send this dude to Iraq.

Southern grandma

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Occasionally, I post something funny. This joke is more than a joke. A friend who grew up with me sent it to me today. We are both from the same small southern town. He and I could probably name more than a dozen women, heck, make that two or three dozen, who could be the Southern grandma at the heart of this story.

Lawyers should never ask a Southern grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer. In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?" She again replied, "Why, yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him."

The defense attorney almost died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, "If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you to the electric chair."

Sick, sicker, sickest

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Seems as if I returned home just in time to play Florence Nightingale. Everyone here, except me, is sick. Nasty stuff this virus.

My husband has been home sick since Wednesday. When he stays in bed this many days, he's really sick. Not a very good patient either. Of course, he is a man. Never met one yet who was a good patient.

Hope my grandfather was right. He used to say: "Doctor a cold, and it will go away in a week. Do nothing, and it will last seven days." I can't remember when I was old enough to understand the droll humor in that. Makes me smile even today.

The writing process

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I normally refrain from writing, that is, writing with the goal of publication, during January. I use that month for closing out the previous year's accounting, getting the taxes ready, cleaning up all the messy stuff hanging around from the previous year - whether it be a cluttered house or a personal issue.

Then when February comes, I'm ready to dive back into writing. I'm probably the only writer who does this, but I find a month away from the biz allows me to come back refreshed. Or at least that's what I tell myself. Good writers are good rationalizers too.

By February, I'm antsy. I guess Leo Rosten was correct when he said long ago, "The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it."

So I pulled out the manuscript I didn't finish last year. To quote another famous writer, Robert Heinlein: "You must write. You must finish what you write."

Sling Words out to begin the process of finishing.

Back from the country

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Hey, Blogworld.

I've finally returned from my mom's place in the country. As faithful readers know, my mother moved to the country last summer. I think she has decided to name her new place Cactus Hill. She has a thing for cacti. Though one doesn't normally associate cactus with the state of Louisiana where she lives, she manages to make the prickly plants thrive.

At her former home, she had a large screened in back porch filled with plants of every description including lots of different varieties of cactus.

At her new home, she hasn't yet had a screen room added so she must move her plants in and out of the house. At my house, the few pot plants which survive my notoriously black thumb fend for themselves out on the patio regardless of the weather.

So I had a lesson in winter horticulture while I was there. Each night, we listened carefully for the agricultural weather forecast. If the temp was to be below thirty Fahrenheit, we'd start transporting plants into the house. The next morning if the sun was shining, we'd move the plants back outside.

Who needs a gym when you raise pot plants in the winter?

Needless to say, the next project she and I will be working on is to get that covered porch with alternate screens for summer and plastic for winter built.

Sling Words out to wade through my email Inbox in the first stage of that good old American game called Catching Up.