Sunday, July 29, 2007

Homeschooling looks like this

When you school at home you get to wear your pajamas and take your hula hoop to class.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sweaty princess feet

Countdown to our Big Airstream Adventure. I've only begun to collect the things we need from home. I figure we can pick up what we need as we need it.

However, I did let Allie pick out this G.I. girly slumber bag. She insisted on trying it out tonight. Later her review of it included the dreary fact that it made her feet sweat.

Which means I might as well throw the thing out. She is like the Princess and the Pea. If there is any remote hint of discomfort she is quick to dismiss. Well, she didn't fall far from the royal tree--I, too, like my bedding comforts. I purchased sheets and a thermapedic mattress pad for the Airstream bed. I think the sheets were 650 count so now Robert can say he's closing in on his friend, Steve, who's got the 1000-plus.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hum This!

I love Denis Leary for his brutal honesty. He's going to spin the kilowatts just because he can--because he earned it. He played the game and those are the spoils. He's not going to let some overzealous "green" celebrities ruin his fun and tell him to shorten his big fat global footprint after he finally fit into the shoe.

The idea that Americans should now scramble to minimize their intrusion on the earth goes against what our society was built on: consumption. What the global warming activists are calling for is no less than a total upheaval in a capitalistic system that rewards personal consumption and waste with higher social standing essentially throwing society as we know it into self-doubt and confusion. What's an upwardly mobile American supposed to do now?

Thorstein Veblen tried to spell it all out for us back at the turn of the twentieth century when he reported:

"Unproductive consumption of goods is honourable, primarily as a mark of prowess and a prerequisite of human dignity."

Not that he was pro-wastefulness, he just understood it for its function in marking distinctions among barbarians--I mean, people. The wealthier you are the more you can afford to spend and waste. It's a mark of the prowess and domination of the gentle class. No respectable gentleman would stoop to scrimp and conserve resources. No, he would consume as much as possible to demonstrate his social standing. And better yet, hire as much help as affordable to care for the stuff he owns.

So according to Veblen's claim, when you are admiring my acres of perfect green lawn you are really admiring my wealth and the fact that I can hire laborers to weed, feed, and manicure my azaleas. (Ha! Dream on! My lawn is managed by the men in this household which means it has to knock on the door to asked to be cut.)

Now the do-gooders want to mess with a tried and true system and shame the haves right out of their Hummers. If the wealthy class can't exhibit their wealth though wastefulness then how else are they gonna differentiate themselves? Leary is pissed to be so assaulted and he's gonna burn the fossil fuels to show it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My carbon footprint can beat your carbon footprint

Leary: 'I'll Never Cut Back on Electricity'

Actor Denis Leary insists he'll never cut back on using electricity, despite the negative effects wasting energy has on the environment.

The star admits he loves his electrical home comforts too much to switch off appliances and lights -- and he hasn't exactly been moved by last weekend's global Live Earth awareness concerts.

He jokes, "You can take the carbon footprint and stick it up my ass. I don't care, I'm using electricity as long as I'm on this planet.

"I love turning stuff on, I love having giant plasmas everywhere. If I could drive an electric car with a plasma in it, I would. I don't care about how much electricity I'm using.

"My kids can suffer. I like turning stuff on. I like to have everything in my house turned on. I hope that my carbon footprint is huge."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My big fat carbon footprint

All my life I've had a tendency to worry over the big things. The small things I don't sweat--the things that fall into the "spilt milk" category. But what a shitload of bigger things there are to worry over, and what a lot of sources there are working hard to remind us. No wonder half of America is downing Prozac. There is even a website named "The Anxiety Center" that aids poor souls in delving through the sludge of fiction and fact of media campaigns. To listen and read news is to expose yourself to a depressing barrage of gloom and hopelessness. On any given day the alarm sounds for:

World hunger, AIDS, cancer, drug-resistant viruses, carbon emissions, ozone depletion, UV rays, global warming, overpopulation, random violence, child pornography, identity theft, the housing bubble, national debt, outsourcing, racial tensions, illegal immigration, the decline of culture, manners, and respect, the dumbing-down of education, contempt for authority, celebrity worship, Darfur, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Islamofascism, terrorism, gasoline prices, oil dependency.....and on and on.

What's a responsible citizen supposed to do? (Hide under the covers, I say. Ha.) We live in a culture of anxiety and I see no hope for a letting up. When I was a kid in the 70's there was a national campaign against littering. An Indian in a canoe shed a tear to see America dirtied up by the careless. It was an effective campaign, in the sense that it threw consciousness on the public responsibility for the earth's welfare. The 70's were all about consciousness-raising. For everything. Heck, we were told to talk to our houseplants and be sure to leave the radio playing for them to ensure healthy growth.

For already severely conscientious kids like me, those messages worked on my anxiety. I was responsible for the future and health of everything. The world was still a small place for me. From what I understood it was limited on resources and if I didn't do something there might not be any left for me when I grew up. First, I obsessed over trash. Where did it go? How soon till we were buried in it? Through the years it was one concern after another. What about the poor animals that are killed for their fur? Save the baby seals. What about all the trees used for making paper? Save the trees. What about the polluted oceans? Save the whales.

Today maybe it's a combination of age, weariness, and mistrust that lends me to eye the current global warming campaign with skepticism. Hearing that a bunch of rock stars and celebrities gathered for a Live Earth save-the-planet fest I was unimpressed. Yawn. I'm just not too responsive to being told how bad I am, how I'm killing the earth, how I should use less toilet paper. I'm resigned to pay heavily for my over-consumption. I own a 1969 house that was built without energy conservation in mind in a suburb built when gasoline was cheap enough to commute to the city for work. I'm kinda stuck now.

I was a do-gooder once. It was anxiety provoking so I gave it up. I've tried hard to stay up to snuff with current events, but that too is proving too big an assignment. What to attend to first? What to prepare against first? Not that long ago Meryl Streep was warning me about the alar on apples. Now Madonna is shouting at me to "jump, motherfkr," if I care to save the planet. And worse, Leo DiCaprio is taking the fun out of diamonds--now that Robert can finally afford some for me.

Recently I've rediscovered some songs from Harry Nilsson that I downloaded from iTunes. Songs from my childhood, music being a respite from scolding hard news and consciousness raising guilt tripping. Harry's my new soulmate.

Everybody's talkin at me
I don't hear a word they're saying
Only the echoes of my mind.

I'm going where the sun keeps shining
through the pouring rain
going where the weather suits my clothes
banking off of the northeast wind
sailing on a summer breeze
skipping over the ocean like a stone

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Letter to Daniel

When we visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. we got there late so didn't get to see enough which was probably best considering Allison's young age. However, she did experience the "Remember the Children: Daniel's Story exhibit.

We moved from room to room in a recreation of a young Jewish boy's environment as it transformed from a safe, happy, home to the despair of the ghetto to the hell of the concentration camp. The exhibit follows pages from Daniel's dairy as he experiences the confusion and ultimate sorrow of his people's plight. As Allison read each page and began to comprehend the story we followed in silence knowing the tragic end.

At the completion of the exhibit was a station where children could write their thoughts, wishes, blessings, to Daniel. I can't remember a more effective learning exhibit for children, nor a more moving one.

On the other hand...

Yuck. I'm looking over my recent posts and gagging. Yachts and horses and vacations and travel trailers. Please friends, excuse my focus, but we're on a bit of a splurge, apparently. Here--I'll temper my narratives with a few less rosy factoids from the homefront:

Ryan's tuition account is overdrawn.

The first thing I did upon returning home today was mop, clean and wash laundry. I fished three beer caps out of the garbage disposal and threw away a pack of Penthouse playing cards I found on the coffee table.

I discovered that my son and his girlfriend slept in our bed while we were away.

Robert tossed our luggage against the garage door in anger because I insulted the great state of Missouri one too many times.

I'm driving an old car from our finance lot since Beau wrecked my Honda Pilot while we were in Mexico. (His first wreck....but my car)

The new patio we are adding in back is now in its seventh month of incompletion much to the consternation of our neighbors, I'm sure.

I have an appointment tomorrow to color the gray in my hair.

I ate a fish sandwich and a fried cherry pie from McDonalds for dinner tonight

There's more, but there's a limit to what one is willing to share.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One fourth to remember

It's hard to find a place to start. We just returned from 10 days on the east coast visiting Robert's sister and family. Every day was eventful. We toured old town Philadelphia showing Allison and our young friend, Taylor, the historic sites like Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross house, the Liberty Bell. The same for Washington D.C. Two days of walking the Mall and seeing as many things as possible left us exhausted but thrilled.

We celebrated Independence Day watching a firework display from aboard Sherry and Mike's new yacht in the Chesapeake Bay. But more fun for Allison was when Robert pulled the girls on an inner tube from the dingy. We took the boat down to Baltimore Harbor where we hooked up with other yacht-owner friends of Sherry and Mike's and lounged in style a short time. Of course, with the girls we couldn't just sit around drinking daiquiris all day; we had to do kid stuff. The excellent Maryland Science Center ate up a whole afternoon. We were lost in time among the dinosaurs and exhibits and interactive science stations. Science centers will definitely be on the agenda for our Airstream road school. What a great resource, and they're all over the country.

We saw and did so much that we haven't had time to process it all. What stands out the most? Was it the Lincoln Memorial? The Constitution under glass? The carriage ride through old Philadelphia? The masterpieces in the National Gallery? Every bit of it was rich. Mostly, I enjoyed the feeling of pride in showing the girls our national treasures. Every parent should be so lucky to show their children those things. Every kid should be so lucky to see them.