Monday, February 26, 2007

Atta boy!

Levi had symphony rehearsals on Saturday afternoon. I took a book and went to the park to read while waiting for him. This park has a creek all around it and it's filled with ducks and geese. A bit of fluttering and squawking caught my attention and I noticed the following ...

A single goose came out of the creek, followed closely by two others then, a bit further behind, a single one. The first turned out to be a female, apparently in the "mood". The two right on her heels (if, that is, flippers have heels) were obviously, judging by their behavior, males. One of these caught her up and and hopped on, attempting to breed her. His efforts were forestalled by the second male who began biting at him and flapping his wings. First Male hopped off to fight off Second Male, who immediately hopped on the not-all-that-interested female. This went round and round for a few minutes. One hopping on only to be attacked by the second. All this time, the goose who had followed a way behind, sat and watched. Finally, First and Second Males appeared to forget all about the Female and concentrated on fighting each other. At this point, Third Male calmly walked around their battle ground, straight up to Female who has wandered off a bit, mounted her and bred her.

Kind of reminded me of the old story about the old bull and the young bull.

Patience is, indeed, a virtue.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Tale of Two Irregularly Sized Mailpieces

I mailed Valentine cards to my mom and mother-in-law on Monday. MIL's came back to me today with the following sticker on the front:

Return to Sender
Additional 13-cents Required for Non-machinable Surcharge

This mailpiece weighs 1 oz. or less and cannot be processed on Postal Service letter-sorting machines due to one of the following:

a. It has a square shape
b. Its height exceeds 6-1/8 inches, or its length exceeds 11-1/2 inches, or its thickness exceeds 1/4 inch.
c. Its length (dimension parallel to the address) divided by height is less than 1.3 or more than 2.5
d. It has clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices
e. It is too rigid or contains items that cause uneven thickness.
f. Its address is parallel to the shorter dimension.

* Affix 13-cents additional postage, remove this label, and remail.

My unforgivable (at least in the eyes of the USPS) sin was 'a' - a square envelope. Now, is it just me, or do some of these rules seem a bit ridiculous? 'c' sounds like a problem you'd get in math class. Were you aware of all of these rules? Because I certainly wasn't. Obviously. Or I would never have chosen a square card and envelope.

Now, I do understand that a service request which causes the business to go above and beyond the call of duty costs them extra money in manpower. For example, when I worked at a bank and a customer came in wanting a copy of a check that they wrote two and a half years ago, we charged them for it. After all, an employee had to be pulled away from their regular duties to go look through rolls of microfiche (do they even use that anymore?) which was not only time-consuming, but a pain the arse. Extra work = extra fees. I understand that.

But, in this case, my question is .... why couldn't the postal employee who took this envelope out of the reject bin to plaster the big sticker on the front telling me what I did wrong and then to place it back into the outgoing mail just use that couple of seconds to hand-sort it? Wouldn't that have been just as easy? And taken about as much time?

Just another fine example customer service.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Where is Mr. Darcy when we need him?

I've been becoming more and more disturbed and disgusted with a rapidly growing trend ... general rudeness. That "What I want or need is far more important than anything having to do with you" attitude. I'm sure you know the one I mean. I can't be the only one experiencing this on a daily basis. It's pervasive. If it were restricted to rude drivers or apathetic clerks, I could probably cope. But I seem to be encountering it more and more in every aspect of my life.

Rude clerks. Yep. You know ... those ones that speak to you for the first time when they give you your total, not even bothering to make eye contact. Or the ones that act like you're bothering them. Makes me want to leave my crap on the counter and walk out.

Self-centered drivers. The ones who dash quickly through the intersection behind the car in front of them at stop signs, even though it's your turn to go. Obviously, they're in a much bigger hurry than I am. Or just more important. Or the ones at the school who, instead of pulling to either curb to pick up their child like the rest of us, just pull up in the driving lane right in front of the school then proceed to sit and wait for their kid, thus effectively blocking in 20-30 others. Or the ones who refuse to let you into traffic at said school, even though you've been sitting there with your blinker on for 10 minutes. Or the ones who, when you are considerate enough to let them into traffic once you're finally able to squeeze into it, don't bother to give you the little "thank you wave". Obviously, they deserved to be let in and it is your duty to do so.

And don't even get me started on the cell phones. At a recent high school play, two cell phones rang in the first act. Okay, I can maybe see forgetting to turn yours off. But, c'mon ... these things have been out plenty long enough that people know how to use them and SHOULD know their etiquette by now. But even if you did forget to turn it off, that first one ringing should have been a loud and clear reminder to everyone else in the auditorium to check theirs. Oh, and the second one was allowed to ring and ring and ring. I'm assuming this is because its owner was embarrassed to pick it up. So, during intermission it was announced over the loud speaker to please turn off all phones and pagers, and to please not take any flash photography as it was very distracting to the actors. Wanna guess what happened in Act II? Yep. Another cell phone rang. And another person was taking flash photos. So, what part of 'turn off your cell phones and no flash photography' did these people not understand? I'm guessing they understood it fully well. But this current atmosphere of I'm the only one that matters probably made them think the rules didn't apply to them.

I have spent my boys' entire lives trying to teach them to be polite, respectful and courteous. Am I wasting my time? Will, in their future, they be considered freaks? No, surely not, as I know a number of other parents that are doing the same with their kids. And, honestly, the majority of the rudeness I've been encountering has been coming, not from self-centered teens, but from adults who should damned well know better.

I mentioned to Dotti having just finished reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. It was nice for a while to lose myself in a more Victorian world where manners were not only taught, but actually used. She suggested I read more Jane Austen to remind myself that all of those pretty manners were kind of a pain in the arse. First, I love Jane Austen. Second, I think our modern world could use a few more societal restrictions and guidelines and that more people felt compelled to follow them.

I'm sure Mr. Darcy would agree.

Friday, February 09, 2007

[Brought to you by the weekly SS blog challenge.]


When is the first time you ...

...fell in love?
When I was 19, with my first husband.

... lost someone close to you?
My Grandma, when I was 28.

... drank alcohol?
In high school. My older brother used to have a lot of parties.

... got kissed?
When I was 15 on my first date (football game and pizza afterwards). It was nasty. He had some serious pizza breath. It was a while before I tried it again. ;-)

... went to the hospital?
When I was in 5th grade and my spleen ruptured due to a fall from a horse.

... got your heart broken?
When I was 23, when my first husband and I divorced.

... lost a pet?
When I was a senior in high school. Gordo was a peekapoo we'd had since I was three. I couldn't remember ever not having him.

... smoked a cigarette?
When I was twenty.

... broke a bone?
Never have broken one.

... got a job?
In early high school, working at a soda fountain.

... got cheated on?
About two months into my first marriage. (Explain the divorce?)

... rode the city bus?
In my twenties in Las Vegas. My small town has no public transport.

... went to a concert?
In grade school when Donna Fargo performed at a big city picnic.

... met someone famous?
Never actually met anyone very famous. Have had a few sightings.

... dyed your hair?
Never have.

... got your own cell phone?
When I was around 30 when I started having to travel for work.

... snuck out the house?
Never did. (Man, how boring am I??)

... drove a car?
Driver's ed in high school.

... got your own digital camera?
About three years ago.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It depends on how you define that

About a month ago, I started playing World of Warcraft. A lot. I never thought I'd get this into a video game, but it happened. My mom worries that I'm obsessed. Steve says I'm addicted. Well, let's see. Merriam-Webster offers the following definitions:

: a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation

This one sounds about right. It's certainly outside my regular occupation (taking care of the family and home) and it is my form of relaxation. When I get some free time, I hop on the computer and go kill a few murlocs or spend some time mining so I can get my level in jewel crafting up. Of course, it's not always relaxing. I'll admit that I get a little tense when I'm in a difficult area fighting higher-level monsters. Even so. It is my get-away-from-the-real-world retreat, so that makes it relaxing.

1 : the quality or state of being addicted
2 : compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

Now, this is where I think we start to get a little out of hand. Compulsive? Habit-forming? Well, okay, habit-forming I can see but compulsive is going way overboard. And this game is certainly not known by this user to be harmful. Oh, well, there was that one person that died because they played it compulsively for three days, but that won't happen to me!

1 : a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; broadly : compelling motivation
2 : something that causes an obsession

Nope. Uh-uh. No way. I don't think you could say I'm preoccupied with WoW. Just occupied. Big difference. BIG. Compelling motivation? Well, I am motivated to level, but not necessarily compelled to.

All in all, I would say WoW is just a harmless, little hobby. A take-me-away-from-the-real-world place into which I escape from time to time. And, really, don't we all have these little escapes? Maybe yours is losing yourself in a good book. Maybe it's scrapbooking. They're all escapes in a way. And what's wrong with that?

Plus, it has given me an insight into the boys' heads. They both play. And they both like to tell me what they've accomplished. But now, instead of just smiling and nodding absently, when Levi tells me he's looking for a Mithril vein to mine as he's trying to get his skill in engineering up to 250 so that he can craft a Gnomish Shrink Ray, I understand what he's saying.

So, I'll freely admit that the World of Warcraft has become a favorite hobby of mine recently. To call it an obsession is definitely inaccurate. An addiction? I suppose I can see where some people might think so, but really ...

I can quit any time I want to.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Slide Show
[Brought to you by the weekly SS blog challenge.]

Here's your challenge: choose a group of photos and make a slide show! Choose key photos from a single event, or showcase a collage of photos from all over the place. It doesn't matter! But choose a grouping of photos and tie them together somehow with a story or an essay or a letter.

The following are a miscellaneous sampling of photos the boys took to enter in the fair for 4-H. Not all were winners. Not all even made the final cut to be entered. But I like them all for various reasons. Some, because they're just really good photos. Some because we had fun when we went on a "photo hunt" that day, looking for likely subjects.


Friday, February 02, 2007

[Brought to you by the weekly SS blog challenge.]

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
What defines beauty in your life? Look up the definition. Think about what "beautiful" means to you. Write about it. Whatever it is, be introspective and allow yourself to write from the heart on this one. Write it for YOU, not for your audience.

Go. Write. Be beautiful!
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

1 : having qualities of beauty: exciting aesthetic pleasure
2 : generally pleasing

A few things I find beautiful ........

Levi's laugh. He's normally a pretty serious child. He's nearly always a pretty quiet child. So when he laughs out loud, it's rare. And it's not a laugh, it's a giggle. It's the sweetest, funniest sound.

Lane's sense of humor. Well, most of the time. He's so quirky and off-the-wall, it's hard not to be charmed. In fact, I was pretty mad at him the other day and he knew it. He kept joking with me and I kept telling him to stop because I was mad at him and didn't want to laugh at him. It didn't work. I laughed anyway.

A certain guitar riff in the song The Dark from Tran-Siberian Orchestra's Beethoven's Last Night CD. It's so achingly poignant, I want to cry every single time I hear it.

The full moon on a snow-covered landscape.

Laugh lines.

Twilight's (one of our cats) fur. It's so perfectly, evenly black and feels like mink.

Patsy Cline's voice.


True friendship.

The first warm breeze in the spring. You know, that first day you're comfortable being outdoors in short sleeves and that sweet, soft breeze across your skin feels more luxuriant than silk.

The boys playing their instruments.

Stephen King's books.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

One year, one month and eight days

A couple of years ago if you had asked me how I felt about the boys getting their driving licenses, I would have told you I was dreading it. How could I have been so silly? I can't, can't, can't WAIT for Lane to get his. I feel like I spend my whole life running back and forth. I made six trips to the high school yesterday. I only had to drive to the middle school twice for Levi, bless him.

Maybe this ramped-up level of busy-ness for high schoolers is God's way of preparing parents for their kids driving. By the time they're old enough to get that license, we're no longer worried about them driving on their own and just thrilled that we don't have to do it!