Wednesday, March 30, 2005

On Becoming Tamagotchiwise?

This is really strange.

All searches leading to this site can be broken down into two categories:

1) All things Tamagotchi. How a Tamagotchi eats, how a Tamagotchi poops, how to use a Tamagotchi matchmaker... you get the general idea. By the way, we lost our tamagotchi. First, I ran it through a washing machine, and then we lost it. So, oops. I guess there will be no more tamagotchi updates.

2) All things related to Gary Ezzo.

The more I think about it, the more sense it makes. I've always wondered if there is any use for Ezzo's books in real life. Now I know.

You can use Gary Ezzo's books to raise a tamagotchi.

I mean, think about it. You schedule-feed your tamagotchi. You have scheduled playtime, discipline time, poop-cleaning time, sleep time. At your scheduled time, all you have to do is select an option from the menu and click a button, and off your tamagotchi goes to play, poop, sleep, or be disciplined. You ensure that it lets you sleep through the night by turning its sound off. Just like the book says, huh? Then when it grows up, you hire a matchmaker to find a mate for it. The Ezzo parenting technique works perfectly with your tamagotchi, like it never would with a real-life kid. You can confirm that at any time, by clicking appropriate buttons to determine whether your tamagotchi is happy or healthy.

This is classic. Thank you, my readers. I would've never thought of it if not for you and your Google searches.

The Goldie has spoken at 5:39 PM

My Embarrassing CD Collection

I grew up on alternative rock.

I own about a hundred CDs with the 80's music. You know, the Bangles, REO Speedwagon, Eagles, Steve Miller Band… I have them. That horrendous number called “Video Killed The Radio Star”? I have it. Next time you hear any song, any song at all, in a department store or at your dentist’s office, just keep in mind – I have it on one of my CDs somewhere.

Talk about backsliding. How did it happen?

Well, it’s pretty embarrassing (as is my CD collection). It all started a few months after we came into the country, when I started at my first job and promptly developed a crush on a guy in the office. Please go easy on me as I am dying of embarrassment just typing that. For future reference, I’ll call him Mr. Crush.

Mr. Crush, to me, represented everything cool and American. My marriage was falling apart. My husband didn’t speak any English and couldn’t find work. I returned to the workplace, after four years at home with the kids, as an entry-level programmer. My entry-level salary was to support a family of four. I bought my clothes at Goodwill. Mr. Crush on the other hand, was a project manager, very smart, very good-looking, and (in his estimation, anyway) hundreds of miles above my league.

The man was my role model. Let me give you an example. He drove a ten-year-old sports car. The car was falling apart from rust and leaked various fluids. I thought it was the coolest vehicle ever.

I stayed in touch with Mr. Crush for several years and two jobs. During that time, I tried to learn as much as I could from him. To draw from the well of his infinite wisdom. To emulate his American ways. I worked hard at my English comprehension skills, so I could understand his verbal jabs and retaliate in a timely manner. I worked equally hard at my professional skills, so he couldn’t say I was bad at what I did, and so I could find another job fast if the need arose. (It indeed arose, and I found it fast.) In short, a lot of my accomplishments during those years were driven by Mr. Crush. At some point, I found out that he had a large music collection. I thought it’d be a neat way for me to catch up on American music.

Mr. Crush can be a very nice guy, I’ll give him that. For several years, he let me borrow his CDs, five or six at a time. Any time I came across a CD I liked, I went out and bought myself a copy. Needless to say, I liked most of them. And that’s how I ended up with over a thousand dollars worth of CDs that I cannot listen to.

Over time, Mr. Crush started compiling his own CDs. I still approved of his musical tastes. When he came up with a CD that had both a Cristina Aguilera song and a Britney Spears song on it, I, for the first time, thought that maybe I needed to stop emulating.

So, I stopped.

These days, I listen to hip-hop, rap, R&B and punk rock. Which is very much in line with what I used to listen to in my younger days. I know Mr. Crush would hate this music. Somehow it makes me feel good about listening to it, and enjoying it, in a weirdly rebellious way. I’d be driving down the freeway, listening to 50 Cent or something, and all of a sudden a little voice in my head would go, “In your face, buddy! So you like Britney huh? Well I don’t!”

Is that weird or what?

Mr. Crush is also partly responsible for me becoming a league bowler, but that’s a story that I will save for a later time. Unless, of course, he somehow comes across this site, and then I think there will be no more stories. Which would be a bummer, because a lot of really funny stuff happened during those years.

Keep your fingers crossed.

The Goldie has spoken at 3:07 PM

Monday, March 28, 2005

Attention Shoppers! The Attack of the Evil Kids

This is a vent. You have been warned.

I have long wanted to write a post about kids in public places.

Yeah, I know, I’m not being original. I mean, how many posts do you see in the blogosphere every week that start with, “so today, I was at Wal-Mart, and there were these really rambunctious kids, yada yada yada… and I just glared at their mother and wondered how hard it is to be a decent parent…” (Disclaimer - this post does not refer to any actual bloggers or their posts, any similarity to an existing Wal-Mart is strictly coincidental).

I beg to differ. I believe in age-appropriate behavior. A 3-year-old cannot behave like a 30-year-old, no matter how much time you spend teaching him good manners. Personally, I do all the grocery shopping for my family (because I like it that way), and I cannot even recall any rambunctious kids on my several-times-a-week shopping trips. Either my state has the best-mannered children, or I just don’t care what other people’s kids do, unless they cuss loudly, throw things, or get into my shopping cart. I don’t remember what mine did when they were young – mostly, I think, they sat in the cart. I do remember taking them to a Russian grocery store with me when they were 2 and 5 years old. We went there about once a week. It was a small store and there were no carts available, and the lines were pretty long. I remember that the 2yo always wanted to touch everything on the shelves (then again, being a 2yo, he always wanted to touch everything he saw), and the 5yo’s job was to keep him from doing it, while I stood in the line. Most of the time, they did fairly well as far as I can recall. The staff and the customers took it in good humor.

And let’s keep in mind that the kids didn’t exactly ask to be taken to this grocery store in the first place. They are bored to death, they don’t want to be there, and they don’t really have to be there. And most of them just had a rough and exhausting day in the daycare center. With that in mind, I tend to give them a break. I also suspect that “rambunctious kids at Wal-Mart” is failproof post material – say, when you cannot think of anything else to post, - but what do I know about the blogosphere, I’m a newbie, remember?

Guys. Seriously. You don’t know these kids. You don’t know these parents. You don’t know what kind of day they had. And, nine cases out of ten, IMO, you’re overreacting.

Speaking of overreacting. What triggered this post was a comment left on The Zero Boss, by someone named Emily who is a great supporter of the Pearls parenting methods (I should be easy on poor Emily, seeing as Jay has already given her a hard time):

Spanking was "out." "Gentle parenting" was in. The result? Just look at the
grocery stores, the schools, the newspapers (i.e. Columbine)...

Yep. The grocery stores and Columbine. Can you find ten differences between the two? Good for you, because Emily can’t. Apparently, if a small kid misbehaves at a grocery store, then, in all likelihood, he’ll grow up and shoot up his school. Yeah right!

And don’t get me started on kids in restaurants… babies and toddlers that have to sit still for hours just so their parents can enjoy the fine cuisine… this is my pet peeve that I will save for a later post. And if they don’t sit still, be sure you’ll read about it in the blogosphere (“so yesterday, I went to this restaurant…”)

Yes, life is hard and babysitting is scarce. Sometimes the kids have to tag along with us, wherever we go. It’s hard work for them. Give them a break. If they are not your kids, then give the parents a break too. They deserve it. If they are your kids, then plan a few activities for them so they don’t get bored, or prepare to face the consequences. Remember, these kids enjoy sitting in a grocery cart or in the restaurant just as much as you enjoy sitting in a two-hour staff meeting. They are there for our convenience. It’s not like we’re doing them a favor.

I hope our kids don’t learn from us. Otherwise, forty years from now, we’ll be reading posts like: “So yesterday, I went to this nursing home and this old lady was completely out of control, losing her memory all over the place… gee, what were her kids thinking? It’s not that hard to train up a parent, you know!”

The Goldie has spoken at 5:23 PM

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Train Wreck Watcher Mentality

Update: I had to take the link down because people are coming over here looking for the Jeff Weise flash, and it hasn't exactly been my intention to point them to it.

Sorry to spoil everybody's Easter, but this is what's going on right now. This is what our kids are doing right now.

K9 has brought my attention to this link. To be honest, I hope that, by the time you click on it, it no longer works (yeah, dream on , Goldie...)

As many of you are aware, Jeff Weise, the perpetrator in last week’s school shooting, posted a flash animation on Newgrounds about six months ago.

The animation is now on Newgrounds’ front page. My first thought was that it had been done in order to generate traffic. The explanation from the Newgrounds staff, however, says:

After much debate we have decided to feature Jeff Weise's Flash entry, Target Practice, on our front page. Now that the media is reporting as the site where Jeff posted his Flash entries we have had an increase in traffic. These visitors are heavily searching out Jeff's work so we have decided to make it easier for them to find. This will hopefully help alleviate the strain they are putting on our database server caused by their searches.

Even more amazing is the fact that there have been about 600 comments and 1800 reviews posted on Jeff’s movie in the past three days, by teenage kids. These are our kids. Coming over in droves to leave a comment for the dead guy. This is our next generation.

I’m not sure why, but this makes me incredibly sick. By the way, I was only able to read about a dozen of these reviews, and only because I was trying to get material for this post. I had to quit because I couldn’t read any longer, having come across reviews such as this one:

Are you all close minded assholes?
I mean honestly. this flash wasnt that good. and anyone who says its a piece of shit and could use some tweaking is right. but anyone else who says he should rot in hell and that the kids didnt deserve to die. think again assholes. he was tormented. those kids got what they deserved. Think about walking into school every day having to be tormented and just waiting for it to end. Well those kids deserved to be shot in the fucking head. No they were not going to cure aids, or help fight cancer, I bet they were just going to flip burgers at burger king. And honestly, anyone can do that. So
atleast 8 or 9 (i dont remeber how many he killed ) scumassholes are gone, so they cant reproduce and torment anymore kids like that kid.

A few reviews come from the victims’ families and friends. They have my deepest sympathy. The rest… like I said. Sick. Sitting in their comfy rooms, typing these reviews… sick sick sick.

PS. I did find a good review, after all. Thank you, whoever posted this. I wholeheartedly agree.

This Needs to Be Removed Now, all you are doing is giving him glory. I guess the needed the disclamer at the top of the page so they dont get in shit. This shouldnt even be on front page. And as for ripredlakehigh if it is true what you say my heart goes out to your family.

The Goldie has spoken at 3:58 PM

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Tempur-Pedic Anyone?

I12 is asking for a new mattress. Can’t say I blame him. Like I said here before, the one he has now was bought seven years ago for $59 at Mattress and Furniture Liquidators. To sum it up, the mattress sucks.

Somewhere on the Internet, I12 found out about Tempur-Pedic © and asked us if he could have that. We looked at the prices and said no. I12 then asked if we could order a free sample. So we did.

Yesterday, the sample came. Guess what… it’s a sponge. Granted, it’s a good-smelling sponge, but it is still a sponge. Trust me. I know a sponge when I see one. I buy them regularly, by the dozen, at our dollar store, for dishwashing and housecleaning purposes. That said, I don’t really feel like paying a thousand bucks for a gigantic sponge. And that’s what Mr. Goldie and I said to I12, after we were finally able to stop laughing.

We had to cut the free sample in half, because K9 wanted some too. K9 slept with his. He says it’s soft and cuddly.

Along with the free sample, Tempur-Pedic © has also mailed us a demo videotape, called: “Changing the way the world sleeps”. I haven’t yet seen the tape, but it has already made me think. The people claim to use NASA technologies to make their mattresses, and yet they don’t know how to burn a DVD? Hmm, I really wonder.

I12, in the meantime, is trying to find a way to clone the free sample, and keep cloning it until it is a full mattress. I will keep you updated on how the research progresses.

The Goldie has spoken at 10:42 AM

Friday, March 25, 2005

Dear Catholic and Protestant Friends

I am wishing you a Happy Easter! (ours is still five weeks away!)

I doubt that a lot of people will be on the Internet this weekend, so I'm going to use this as an excuse to take a couple days' break from posting. It comes at a convenient time as I12 is sick (yes... again!!!) and that has been keeping me very busy (think two gallons of puke... sorry for the TMI, but I just had to vent!)

On an even more self-centered note, today this blog got its hit #1000, which moves it from the Miscroscopic category into Puny! Hooray! Big thanks to everyone who visited, please come again! You guys are great, and I am learning a lot from you, even if it doesn't exactly show in my posts!

I'm off to the Dr's office... enjoy your Easter, everybody... talk to you soon!

The Goldie has spoken at 9:15 AM

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bring It!

I had an interesting conversation with K9 yesterday, wherein he was teaching me how to fight. Turns out, he’s been getting good at it lately, having beaten up a few fourth-graders who “attacked me and my friends”. Apparently, it’s a form of art.

“First you punch him”, he told me, “then you push him to the ground. Once I pushed a guy to the ground, and he pushed me, so we fell on top of each other”.

“Where do you punch”, I asked.

“In this area”, and he made a circle around his face and chest. “Or in this area if you’re very mad”, you can guess where he pointed to.

It is very interesting the way things work with little boys. I always wondered how they can get into a fight and then become best friends. In fact, that’s how K9 met his current best friend. I never knew how to fight when I was a kid, because, you know, we girls are different. We don’t resort to physical violence. We prefer to form cliques and spread gossip, or, if all else fails, scratch and pull each other’s hair. I was never good at cliques or gossip, but I was a mean scratcher. When two girls get into an argument, they become enemies forever, whereas the boys can throw a couple punches in each other’s direction and make up five minutes later. I always envied that about boys as a kid.

Sadly, though, fighting becomes a lost art. Zero-tolerance policies for violence are being enforced in schools. In all likelihood, no one will see you if you attack an innocent kid on the playground, but for the innocent kid, if he tries to hit back, there’ll be consequences. I’ve heard horror stories, one of them involving K9’s best friend, who beat up a school bully, and got in trouble for it. Not sure how K9 gets away with hitting back. He once beat up a school bully too. He was in first grade; the bully (a fourth-grader, by the way) attacked him; and K9 promptly kicked his scrawny bully butt. Somehow, he wasn't punished for that. My guess is, the teachers don’t suspect K9 of being able to hit back. He has this kindly look of a slightly overweight angel. (Disclaimer: knowing K9, I don’t think he ever attacks first).

So, while I’m certainly glad my son is, for whatever reason, exempt, the fact that kids are no longer allowed to stand up for themselves saddens me. Instead, they are told to report the incident to the teacher. And then we wonder why everybody is trying to sue everybody else? Because that’s what we taught them in school, duh!

I understand totally where the schools are coming from. If little Billy gives little Johnny a black eye, then chances are Johnny’s parents will sue the school. Besides, it probably isn't a good idea to let the kids knock each other out to their little hearts’ content. Bottom line, the intentions behind the zero-tolerance policies are good. The problem is that, somehow, they are not working out as intended.

I do not have a solution. Maybe it cannot even be solved on the school’s level. Maybe it’s up to each one of us to train our children accordingly. Personally, we tell our kids, “Don’t ever hit anybody first, but, if somebody attacks you, it is okay to hit back. Even if you’ll get in trouble at school, you won’t get in trouble at home”.

This may not be the best solution to the problem, but it’s better than nothing.

The Goldie has spoken at 5:15 PM

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

My Two Cents on the Schiavo Case

When K9 was four months old, he was accepted into the hospital with bronchitis. It was in Russia and the usual length of a hospital stay was two weeks. We checked in on a Friday afternoon.

I was asked if I was breastfeeding my son, and said yes. I was then asked if I was feeding him any solids, and said no. Based on that, the hospital denied us food – K9 didn’t need it as he was nursing, and I wasn’t eligible for any, because the hospital only provided food for the patients but not for their parents.

I asked my husband if he could bring us something to eat every day. He got very nervous. He was working two jobs, and now, with me in the hospital, he also had to watch a 3-year-old. He was worried that he would lose his jobs as a result, and he was the sole provider for our family at that time – I was unemployed. There was no way he could buy, cook, and bring us food. Neither could I go out and buy food – it was winter, and I had a sick baby on my hands!

K9 and I spent the weekend in the hospital. After every meal, I’d go to the kitchen and ask for leftovers. There were plenty as many patients were allowed to go home for the weekend. All in all, it wasn’t too bad.

On Monday morning, at a staff meeting, the head nurse stood up and demanded that we be put on a ration. She said, “Only a Nazi would deny a person food”. That settled it. We got our three meals a day.

Only a Nazi would deny a person food.

Think about it.

Since when has it become morally right to starve someone to death? We can argue about the definition of PVS, the quality of life, but one thing stands out. It is never right to let a person starve. We as a society have made a decision that is morally wrong. This scares me. What will be next? And how will we pay for what has been done?

I do not consider myself qualified or informed enough to say more about this case. I will let others speak.

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred (read all recent post – make sure you visit the links)

Maxed out Mama (same, read all recent posts)


A Witness’ Testimony

The Goldie has spoken at 10:41 AM

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

When Onions Attack

My children are addicted to a neighborhood Wendy’s. Every Sunday, they have to go out and get their fix. They always get the same stuff, too. K9 gets a double cheeseburger, plain (no veggies, no mayo, just the cheese), and I12 gets a double cheeseburger with everything on it, except for the onions (because onions make your breath seriously stink). I don’t get anything for myself. Sorry, but just the smell of this food is enough for me. In case you’re wondering, I tried offering my children homemade hamburgers, but no. It’s Wendy’s they want.

It seems, however, that we have a problem with this particular Wendy’s. I have a long relationship with the place. Once, I even wrote them a letter. You know these form letters they have, that you can fill out and send to their headquarters? I used one of those. I wrote, “you can get more customers if you remove the dirty rag out of the eating area”. I guess they figure they have enough customers already, because the rag is still there, and it stinks!

Anyway, one thing that bothers us is, we’ve been coming in almost every Sunday for over a year, and we always order the same thing. Yet we never get charged the same amount twice. It can be any random number between $10.50 and $11.50. I don’t really mind, I just wonder - how do they come up with these numbers?

Our biggest problem is ordering. I have an accent, so most of the time I’m out of the question. They don’t understand a word I say. Somehow I’m capable of talking to my own customers halfway across the country, and the customers are on the shop floor with the machinery running, and they still understand what I’m saying. But not the Wendy’s personnel. Oh well, I shouldn’t bitch, after all, I’m the one with the speech defect. So we try to meet them halfway. We don’t use the drive-through. We walk right in. I never open my mouth. K9 does all the talking. We come in every week. We always order the same thing. And each time, we get something different. We’ve taken to checking the burgers before leaving, so if there’s something wrong, we can have it corrected right away. I’ve got to give them credit – they always exchange our screwed-up burgers for the right ones.

Yesterday we got A Really Funny Burger. I mean, each time I think of it, I crack up. Too bad I didn’t have a camera. What happened was, I12 asked for no onions, as usual. So what he got was a bun… double patty… cheese… and a pound of onions! The onion burger. It was just… the weirdest thing I ever saw. I open it, and there’s this truckload of onions staring back at me.

Could be worse, I guess. Could be a rat.

The Goldie has spoken at 10:50 AM

Monday, March 21, 2005

Conversations of a Dysfunctional Family

As many other conversations between me and my children, this one took place in the car.

Me (sitting down): Oh, oh! Ouch!
Kids: What?
Me: My jeans are too tight. I gained this weight and I cannot get it off.
I12: Duh, you’ve got to work out.
Me: You’re right “I”. I’m going to start this week.
K9: Nice going, “I”. Now Mom’s gonna be coming home late.

K9: (chatting)
I12: Shut up, “K”
K9: (continues chatting)
I12: I said, shut up “K”!
K9: (continues chatting)
I12 (getting real mad): “K”, I said, shut the fell uck!
(silence in the car)
Me: I love you guys.
I12: Oh, stop it.

The Goldie has spoken at 11:14 AM

Friday, March 18, 2005

Vote Or Die – The Goldie Family’s First Elections

This time, I got my inspiration from Sara’s post, or rather its last part – the one about voting. It brought back the memories of the show that was the 2004 Presidential Election.

Those were the first elections for me, my husband and my parents, as we got our citizenship in 2003, and my parents in 2002, so for us, there were a lot of new experiences. On top of it, we live in a swing state. No, scratch that – THE swing state! O-hi-o, baby! Can you imagine what fun it was?

No, you can’t. Let me tell you, in chronological order, starting with… let’s see, January of 2004.

January 5, 2004 – all of a sudden, every car is sporting a Bush or Kerry bumper sticker.
January 6, 2004 – I order bumper stickers from
February 20, 2004 – my “Dave Barry for President!” bumper sticker arrives in the mail.
September 30, 2004 – we watch the first round of debates.
October 1, 2004 – we go out of town for the weekend. The roads are closed because Kerry is in town.
October 3, 2004 – we return from the weekend trip. The roads are closed because Bush is in town.
We still have no clue who to vote for.
October 8, 2004 – we watch the second round of debates and make up our minds.
October 9, 2004 – my Dad gets a call from a friend. Friend advises Dad who to vote for and Dad agrees. It is not the guy that we chose. It’s the Other Guy. (I hope no one minds if I call the candidates “Our Guy” and “The Other Guy” from here on?) Things heat up in the Goldie household.
October 12, 2004 – my next door neighbors put up The Other Guy’s poster on their front lawn. Did I say “their front lawn”? I lied. They put it up right on the friggin border of our properties! I start planning revenge.
October 16, 2004 – I set a humongous pumpkin right next to the neighbors' poster, on our property. K9 comments, “A pumpkin! How sinister”.
October 17, 2004 – we visit our friends. The friends got The Other Guy bumper stickers for free at their work, and have no idea what to do with them. They are also voting for Our Guy. The stickers are passed out, I put one in my pocket, and toss it on the kitchen counter when we get home.
October 18, 2004 – when I come home from work, there is a new bumper sticker on my Dad’s car. Yep, the one from the kitchen counter. As soon as Mr. Goldie and I walk in, Dad starts a political discussion. Chaos ensues.
October 23, 2004 – it’s Saturday morning and Mr. Goldie and I are enjoying some together time. The together time is rudely interrupted by a doorbell, which we try to ignore. On the fifth ring, I open the door in my bathrobe, just to make whoever it is go away. It’s a woman with a teenage kid, representing Our Guy’s election campaign. The woman asks who I vote for. My spirit of rebellion wakes up and I proudly say, “This is a very personal question”, even though we are in actuality voting for Her Guy. I then proceed to say my good-byes and try to shut the door. The woman isn't letting me. I manage to finally close it on the fourth try. We spend the rest of the day hiding from the election campaign activists.
October 24, 2004 – I finally find what I’ve been looking for, in a dollar store. It’s two skull and bones posters that glow in the dark. I stick them in the ground on both sides of my pumpkin (right next to my neighbors' poster, remember).
October 28, 2004 – my neighbors have taken their poster down!!! Gee, I wonder why. I'm leaving my pumpkin and skulls on my lawn, because, you see, they are Halloween decorations.
October 29, 2004 – yet another political discussion with Dad. This time, he likens me and Mr. Goldie to the occupants of Nazi Germany. Is it just me or is it getting hot in here?
November 2, 2004 – I get a call from my users at 5AM and work on it for several hours, so I end up coming to work late. (Yes, I voted before coming to work). When I come in at 11, it doesn’t look like any work is getting done in the office. This continues for the rest of the day.
November 3, 2004 – I don’t care who won, I’m just glad that it’s over.
November 4, 2004 – everybody’s ripping on our state. Why? What’d we do?
November 5, 2004 – I have the first (and possibly last) normal human conversation with K9’s principal, because, as it turns out, we had both voted for the same guy and our guy lost. (There, I said it). Group hug?
November 10, 2004 – hey, I kinda miss the election campaign. I miss the show and the hype and even the annoying strangers coming to my door. It was a major pain in the rear, but at the same time… it was fun! A sick and twisted kind of fun, but fun nonetheless. Well, we’ll do it again in 2008, but this time with two teenagers in the house. I have a feeling the next one is going to be even better!

The Goldie has spoken at 3:44 PM

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Where Do Generations Come From?

Think, McFly, think!

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

May the Force be with you!

I’ll be back.

These phrases are permanently engraved in my brain. And I wasn’t even here when the movies came out.

In a lot of ways, age included, I can relate to what they call Generation X over here. There’s the same way of thinking, same kind of humor, and some of the same background. In a lot of other ways, I am fortunate to have an outside viewer’s perspective.

I’m fascinated with this whole generation thing. I'd like to take it apart and find out how it works. How do you know when one generation ends and the next begins? I got an email recently that said, “because you were born between 1961 and 1981, we have included you in our GenX group”. Excuse me! How can two people twenty years apart belong to the same generation? Isn’t the second one young enough to be the first one’s kid?

But, the division is far from being artificial. There really is a generation gap. What prompted me to finally write this post was a review I read of Cattiva’s blog, "Does This Mean I'm a Grown-Up?", which I read regularly. The reviewer gave her a 3, which to my taste is a tad too low. The review (second one on the page) starts like this:

I could tell from the name of this blog that it was written by a parent. (I suppose it's sort of a private joke among Gen X parents to say cliche things like this.)

The reviewer then proceeds to basically slam poor Catt. (Oops, did I say “basically”? Never mind, it’s a GenX thing). I thought she was just being generally hard on bloggers, so I skipped over to the complete list of her reviews, to find out if anybody got a five.

Here’s a rave review of this site:

I love this site. I have been reading it almost daily for a few months now. Not because of its generic, blue, movable type format. Not because it has beautiful photos or other art. But because the writer is a 21-year-old guy whose observations and stories are funny, overwhelmingly funny in some instances.

I’ve gone over and read it. It’s funny. I didn’t, however, find it a whole lot funnier than Catt’s. To me, they’re equally funny. I blame it on the generation gap. There are things that I may not get, as they’re out of my age group. Likewise, there may be things that the reviewer in question doesn’t get, for the same reason.

This post is quickly turning into a rant about Catt’s bad review, whereas its intention has been to analyze how generations work. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll get back to that.

The baby boomers fascinate me. They are a lot like my own generation, by which I mean the 30-40-year-olds born in the former Soviet Union. Our 80’s were a lot like the American Sixties, except without the drugs. (We made up for the lack of drugs by increasing the amounts of alcohol consumed). There was a lot of political activity and the liberating of the country and the standing up for the freedoms. Oh, and a lot of rock music.

And they sent our guys to war, too. They drafted the 18-year-old kids and sent them to Afghanistan, to a war that nobody cared about or knew what its motives were. We can relate. Nelson DeMille is one of my favorite authors. I read “Dave Barry Turns 50” no less than ten times over. I can relate to a lot of it. There is probably a baby boomer inside of me, screaming to get out and apply for Social Security.

As I said, I also have a lot in common with the American GenX-ers. We didn’t grow up in the same country, but, incredibly, we speak the same language. I have a sense of belonging. I like to think that one day, I’ll be in some nursing home with the rest of my generation, and we’ll be having some great together time and exchanging the 80’s movie quotes. I just hope I won’t have to listen to the 80’s music. I’m sorry, but it sucks.

Right now, I am wondering about I12 and K9. Being 32 months apart, they clearly belong to the same generation. What will their generation be like? What will they believe, what will they accomplish? What will they be famous for fifty years from now? I cannot wait to see. I12 is already getting into this rebellious stage – you know, the one where you think everybody over age 20 is a moron. I think this is way cool. This will allow them to come up with their own way of thinking, set of values, whatever.

I said it twice, and I will repeat it again. This fascinates me.

The Goldie has spoken at 5:14 PM

And I thought my kids had it bad

Found this on Anomalous Noodge (great site, BTW – thanks Muzik for making it your mystery blog for today!)

William Poole, a high school junior from Kentucky, was taken into custody and charged with threatening to commit second-degree-felony terrorism for writing a story about a horde of zombies who wreak havoc in a school. It seems the boy's grandparents had been reading his journal, found a story he'd been writing for English class and promptly turned him in. According to a police detective, "Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function, it's a felony in the state of Kentucky." Based on that kind of reasoning, a judge raised Poole's bond from $1,000 to $5,000 after prosecutors requested it, citing the seriousness of the charge.

Oh my goodness. Where do I begin?

The grandparents get all worked up because their grandson wrote a horror story that they had no business reading in the first place, as it was in his personal journal.

Instead of sending it to a publishing house of their choice, they turn it in to his school and expect the school to take action.

The school calls the police. Over a horror story. I know, I know… Columbine, zero-tolerance policies, you can’t be too cautious, and all the good stuff… but still!

The police takes the kid to jail. For writing fiction. No, wait. For terrorism. It’s the war on terror now. And, as you know, in the war on terror, any action is justified, even if it’s throwing a kid into jail for a zombie story he wrote.

I cannot believe there can be so many responsible adults in one city all acting like complete a-holes. I sure hope the grandparents paid the bail.

I also hope the kid won’t stop writing because of this incident. I suggest he rewrite the zombie story, so that it takes place in his grandparents’ house. Since it won’t involve a school or function, it’ll be perfectly legal.

That’s what I would do.

The Goldie has spoken at 2:38 PM

My First Really Funny Search

I finally figured out how to view the searches people use to get here.

I am but a small blog, and there are only a few people that came here via Google, so I do not have much to report. Actually, there's only one search I'd like to share.

Someone did a search for "what's Tamagotchi poop look like".

And they came to this blog.

So this is what it really looks like.

Talk about a reality check.

My kids were in stitches when I told them. I will be checking my searches periodically now.

The Goldie has spoken at 11:52 AM

Correction To an Earlier Post

Have you ever given out some really asinine advice? I have, here. Right where it says "don't count calories". I followed my own advice, and gained four pounds in two days!!! This is scary!!! It'll take me forever to get this stuff back off!

I'm going to add a lot of vegetables and rye bread, and see if that fixes the problem. If not, then I'll ask my priest for advice. I am really eager to fast, but I don't want to look like a beached whale come Easter!

So, I apologize for the bad advice I have given previously, and, if you find yourself ballooning up like I do, then go and ask your priest for further instructions! Good luck!

The Goldie has spoken at 10:54 AM

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Purpose Driven Corp. – Rick Warren in the Fortune magazine

I read this yesterday in the March 21 issue of Fortune and I just had to post it here. The article is called “The Best Advice I Ever Got” and is compiled of the 28 successful business people’s comments on those who most influenced their business lives. Rick Warren’s comment is on page 106. It’s pretty harmless, until you try to read it in the context of “The Purpose Driven Life” (or vice versa) – it made me go, “oh, so that’s what it was all about”.

I’m going to just post Mr. Warren’s message as it stands, without any more comments, because I think it pretty much speaks for itself. The parts that I enjoyed the most are in bold.

In life you need mentors, and you need models. Models are the people you want to emulate. I recommend that your models be dead. I’m serious. You don’t know how people are going to finish up. A lot of people start out like bottle rockets. They look great, but then the last half of their life is chaos. That can be quite devastating.

In my life, I’ve had at least three mentors: my father, Billy Graham, and Peter Drucker. They each taught me different things. Peter Drucker taught me about competence. I met him about 25 years ago. I was invited to a small seminar of CEOs, and Peter was there. As a young kid – I was about 25 – I began to call him up, write him, go see him. I still go sit at the feet of Peter Drucker on a regular basis. I could give you 100 one-liners that Peter has honed into me. One of them is that there’s a difference between effectiveness and efficiency. Efficiency is doing things right, and effectiveness is doing the right thing. A lot of churches – not just churches, but businesses and other organizations – are efficient, but they are not effective.

Another important thing that Peter has taught me is that results are always on the outside of organization, not on the inside. Most people, when they’re in a company, or in a church, or in an organization, they think, Oh, we’re not doing well, we need to restructure. They make internal changes. But the truth is, all the growth is on the outside from people who are not using your product, not listening to your message, and not using your services.

© Fortune, March 21 2005

The Goldie has spoken at 1:20 PM

Monday, March 14, 2005

I’ve Been Bad

Last night, I got a page from work, and had to call the user back right away. This can be difficult when your brain is still sleeping, but I’ve been doing it for five years now and I’m used to it. Or so I thought.

As I found out later, instead of the user’s number, I dialed (xxx) xxx-0314. Yep, that’s right… today’s date. Don’t ask me why. My mind works in mysterious ways when you wake me up at 1:30 in the morning.

So I dial this number, and a woman answers the phone. That took me by surprise, because I was calling a guy. Keep in mind I have just been rudely awakened by my pager, and cannot think straight.

Woman: Yes?
Me: (deep in thought. Why does Doug talk like a woman?
Well, I haven’t talked to him in a long time, maybe it really is Doug. A lot of guys have high-pitched voices, it’s no big deal).
- Hello, I am returning a support call, is this Doug?
Woman: (starts yelling) You have misdialed. It’s 1:30 in the morning (continues yelling)
(I get scared and hang up on the woman)

(I check what I just dialed. Dang. “0314”?)

In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have called her “Doug”…

The Goldie has spoken at 10:18 AM

The Man Who Tried to Save Me Part IV

part I
part II
part III

This is the last part. It’s going to be short. But in real life it lasted over a year. Long story short, Ivan returned to his duty in front of the Russian store, and started striking conversations with me each time I stopped by for groceries.

It was pretty annoying. I usually do my shopping after work, so, it’s getting late, I am tired and hungry, and trying to get it done as fast as possible, so I can get home to my family. Ivan usually attacked when I came out of the store. It is a small store and they don’t give you carts, so I’d come out the door, bags in both hands, and right away, Ivan would pounce.

He usually started with “how are you doing?”, then proceeded to ask after the kids, tell me the latest news about the Russian school, and add, “I hope that one day, you will come back to the school… and to our service, too!” After each sentence, I’d say “fine, thank you”, or “yeah”, or “sure” and start towards my car, but Ivan wouldn’t let me get away, and start talking at me again. On at least one occasion I remember talking to Ivan, standing with one foot inside my car. I was too nice to tell him to get lost; after all, he was doing it with the best of intentions! I kept dropping hints, mentioning hungry kids at home and all, but my hints flew right past him.

On one of my visits to the store, Ivan finally came out. He said something to the effect that he didn’t like the Orthodox faith, and wanted me and my family converted into something more to his liking. He chased me down the parking lot, complaining about the Virgin Mary. Believe it or not, I still tried to be nice with the man.

Our last conversation was brief. It was a nasty November evening, rainy, windy, and cold. On my way to the store, Ivan greeted me with the usual: “Hi, how are you doing?”

I gave him my sweetest smile and replied, “Doing well, how about you?”

Out of nowhere, Ivan got this professionally meek look on his face, and offered, “You would be doing even better if you were in the Lord”.

I had a dozen possible replies in my head. Unfortunately, every one of them involved swear words, so I didn’t say anything. I just rolled my eyes at Ivan and walked into the store.

I’ve got to give the man credit. He actually followed me into the store and apologized. I said, no problem. That was the last I saw of Ivan. The school and the church still exist, judging from the flyers I see in the store, but Ivan is missing from the picture. Maybe he got banned from the store yet again. Or maybe he gave up. I hope that he is doing well.

And so the story ends.

The Goldie has spoken at 8:00 AM

Saturday, March 12, 2005

My Family, The Cyber-Space Travelers

It’s a typical Saturday night in the Goldie family. We have four bedrooms, and each one is occupied. I12 is in his room, posting on a forum. K9 is in his room, playing an online game. I am in the office, well, posting on my blog, and trying to remember whose blogs I still have to visit today.

My husband is the only one that’s not on the Internet right now. He’s been in the master bedroom all day, watching movies on DVR.

Don’t get me wrong, I did get something done today. I went to the awards ceremony at K9’s basketball league and picked up his medal (yep, everyone got a medal – it’s self-esteem time, baby!), finished the laundry, did some serious housecleaning, and, last but not least, I ironed! You know how much I hate ironing? If I could choose between ironing and pulling teeth, well, let’s just tell you I’d run up some sizable dental bills.

But the thing is, all the time while I was ironing, I was thinking of this post. I’m that far gone already.

And you know what else happened? At some point during the day today, I decided to give myself a break and go on the Internet for 15-20 minutes. I logged in, visited a few sites, and, by the time I looked at the clock, two friggin hours had gone by! Now how did that happen?

I think all my family has a serious Internet addiction. Well, except for my husband, who has a TV addiction.

Then again, maybe we don’t. Maybe we’re just like everybody else. I mean, everybody’s teenage kids that I know of are on the Internet the whole time. I know because their parents post about it on the forum. No wonder the kids are worried about Internet bullying. They are so busy on the Net, they have no time to bully each other in real life.

What is this world coming to? What if one day the Internet takes over, and the real life as we know it disappears? I try to look into the future and see people meeting each other online, dating in the chatrooms and via IM, proposing via email, downloading a marriage license from the court’s website, indulging in hot Internet sex, and having cyber babies. When the cyber babies grow up, I guess the parents can take them to a local zoo’s website or to an online amusement park.

Al Gore has created a monster.

I could write more, but I’ve got to go. I need to cook some real-life food, eat dinner with my real-life family, and get some real-life sleep, because tomorrow I’m going to have to go to the real-life church, and after that, do some real-life work. Wait, I need to get online to do the work.

I predict that work will be the highlight of my day tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it already.

The Goldie has spoken at 8:07 PM

Friday, March 11, 2005

My Great-Aunt, a Holocaust Survivor

Seeing as there has been some discussion about the Holocaust, I thought I’d tell my own family story. It is about my Mom’s aunt, a very nice, kind woman who is now in her eighties. She does not really like to tell her story, but some fifteen or twenty years ago my Mom finally got her to talk, and wrote everything down. I read Mom’s notes back then, so I will tell them the best I can remember.

Our aunt was the youngest of six or seven kids, born in the 1920’s in a Jewish family in a small Belarus village. When she was in her late teens, the war started. She was the only one still living with her parents. The parents were old and my great-grandma could not walk anymore.

Very soon, the Germans came to the village. First, they set up a ghetto. They selected one street to be the ghetto and moved all Jewish families to that street, several families in each house. They lived like that for a while.

Then, in spring of 1942 I guess (not sure about the year), it was announced that on Easter morning, all Jews were to report to a certain place for some sort of registration. Rumor quickly spread that it wasn’t going to be for registration. The Germans were going to get everyone together and shoot them. They planned to do it on Orthodox Easter as a gift to the Russian families living in the village.

Auntie talked to her parents about it, and asked them if they wanted to run away. They said they couldn’t. They were too old, and, like I said, great-grandma could not walk. They told Auntie to go alone. She ran away with a friend of hers. She was 19 years old at that time. Her parents went to the registration and were shot, as was everybody else. Auntie also said that great-grandpa carried great-grandma in his arms, since she could not walk. They knew they were going to their death.

Auntie, in the meantime, spent several months in the woods with her friend. I don’t remember the details. At some point, she bought a passport from somebody with a Russian name in it, that also said “ethnicity – Russian”. I think she said she traded it for a dress, but I’m not sure.

Eventually, she was caught by the Germans, showed them the Russian passport, and was sent to work in Germany. She worked at a farm, and returned in 1945, barely escaping the Soviet concentration camps. She lived a decent life, went to college, worked at a plant, raised a son, gave him a good education. I saw a lot of her in the 80’s, when I was in college. She is truly an amazing person, very kind, very trusting, always ready to help.

Once we were talking and I was telling her about the campus life, something about the foreign students we had there, that came from the Middle Eastern countries and treated women horribly. I was in my late teens myself, and just a tiny bit hot-headed, so at one point, I said, “God, I hate those Arabs”. For the first time in my life, I saw Auntie get mad. She gave me a long lecture about how wrong it is to hate large groups of people as a whole.

Need I say that she didn’t hate the Germans? When we asked her about the three years on the farm, she used to say that the food was good, the work was hard but she managed, the owner treated her well, and that she met her first love there at the farm, also a boy from Russia.

My Auntie is the only Holocaust survivor I know. Should I listen to her? Sounds to me like she has good credentials. She told me not to place the blame on any large group of people. I think I’ll do just that.

The Goldie has spoken at 8:31 PM

The Man Who Tried to Save Me Part III

part I
part II
part IV

I didn’t want to bring the kids back to the Russian school, but my parents thought we had to give it another try. I let them do it, and they took the boys there one more time.

After they dropped the boys off at their classes, my parents ran into Ivan, who said, “There will be a lecture in the auditorium, do you want to join us?” They politely refused.

Evidently, this had been Ivan’s plan all along – send the kids to class, use any excuse to lure the parents into the auditorium, preach at the parents, and, before you know it, wham! They are converted. How optimistic does one have to be to believe that he can pull this off? It just blows my mind.

My kids, in the meantime, behaved badly in class, distracting other children. Normally, I wouldn’t let them get away with such behavior, but this time, it seemed like a sign from above. We stopped taking them to the Russian school and considered the case closed. Ivan, however, thought otherwise.

He started calling us at home. Each time, we’d explain that we decided to pull the kids out, it wasn’t working for us, yada yada yada. Each time, he’d agree with us, say he understands, and then a week later, call again. He talked to both my parents, my husband, even, I believe, one of the kids, but no one could convince him that we weren’t coming back. Finally, one day, I answered the phone. The conversation went something like this.

Ivan: I’m calling because you’re not bringing your children to school anymore.
Me: Yes, we decided to pull them out, sorry about that, it wasn’t working. The school is awesome, it’s excellent, best school I’ve ever seen. It’s just that my kids are being the problem, they are not interested, they are disrupting the teaching process, it’s in the best interest of other students that we pull my children out. (Classic dumping line – “it’s not you, it’s me”).
Ivan: Are you sure? That’s too bad. We had plans. The school is only going to be secular for the first year. Then we’ll start introducing Bible lessons. Our second year, we want to teach Russian for an hour, and have Bible studies for another hour. Eventually though, there will be no Russian class. It will be all Bible studies (WHA????)
Me: That sounds very interesting, but, sorry, our decision is final, we cannot bring them back.
Ivan (slowly, in a very kind voice) : This is so sad. You see, your children had the only chance in their lives to learn about what is good.
(30 second pause as I am speechless)
Me: As you know, my children have been attending Sunday school in their church for five years now, so, trust me, they have their chances.
(Ivan apologizes profusely. We part on almost friendly terms).

That seemed to work, as Ivan never called our house again. But was it over? Not by a long shot.

To be continued….

The Goldie has spoken at 1:23 PM

Great Lent For Dummies

So, starting next Monday, it’s this time of year again - the time to give up all animal products for seven weeks, only to break down and start eating everything again three days later.

At least, that’s the way it’s been for me most of the time. It can be hard on a convert. I will not go into the extra-prayer, extra-Bible reading, extra-church going, extra-charity, etc. side of the Lent. I will, instead, talk about what has been the hardest for me – the food part.

I converted to Orthodoxy in early 1992. That year, my husband and I kept the Lent to a T. I was starving the whole time, and had wild, borderline-erotic dreams of bologna. I clearly remember eating fourteen boiled eggs at our church’s Easter party. I was that famished. The next year, I was nursing and therefore exempt. Then pregnant, then nursing again, then, believe it or not, nursing again. Then suddenly it was 1998 and it was OK for me to participate in the Lent. Only, I’d forgotten how. Plus, I had lost my support group aka my husband. He decided that he didn’t need to go to the church or follow the rituals. I still had to cook for him. The kids weren’t so keen on fasting, either.

I blew it miserably that year, and all the years after that. However, I did notice that, with each year, I get a little closer to the mark. Apparently, I have learned something, and I’d like to share what I learned in this post. My advice is not for the seasoned Orthodox. The seasoned Orthodox will probably bust their gut laughing while reading this post, as will the vegetarians. Thing is, I am a carnivore and normally wouldn’t last a day without meat. My advice is for weak carnivores like myself. If your family expects you to cook meat for them, all the better. Mine does, too.

Here is my experience of seven years, summed up nicely in one post.

It pays off. Believe it or not, fasting does make you feel better – not “better about yourself”, but physically better, “lighter” – and makes it easier for you to do all the other, spiritual stuff. I have also found that planning Lenten meals helps you get “in the mood”.

Plan ahead. Think about what you’re going to eat, what you will cook, what you will buy. And think about these things in advance. This way you won’t accidentally go into a store and buy a case of yogurt because you forgot.

Aim low. If you go into the first day of Lent thinking, “I cannot eat all these things till May 1st”, you’ll probably give up by the end of the day. Personally, I plan on staying off meat for as long as I can, and off everything else for the first week, and then I’ll see where it takes me. If I feel that I cannot keep it, then I’ll take a break and start over. I’ll have plenty of time for that. Then I'll stay off as much as I can for Holy week. That one's easy, because you're in church half the time.

All sources on the Lent that I have read, are, of course, saying that you should ask your priest first, which I absolutely agree with. But chances are, the priest will say, "Give it your best try".

Don’t count calories. If you’re thinking about giving up meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and carbs, you might as well give up now. Give yourself a break. Chances are, you’ll lose weight anyway.

Don’t check the ingredients. A lot of my vegetarian and Orthodox friends do that. They’ll read the label to make sure it doesn’t say “processed egg whites” anywhere. They won’t eat white bread for fear it has butter in it. I’m just not that advanced. I’ll be lucky if I can stick it out at all.

Avocado is your friend. I discovered this worthy vegetable a year or two ago, and it is priceless. It actually fills you up. Eat it with salt and rye bread, it’s almost as good as meat.

Say hello to your local deli. I did it last year. Once a week, I’d go to our local ethnic deli and stock on things like beef stew, stuffed cabbage, chicken Kiev etc. etc. I would then bring the boxes home and announce to my husband, “This is your food, don’t let me eat it even if I beg”. Worked great. The temptation is much less when you don’t have to actually cook the stuff.

I can’t believe it’s not butter. I plan on eating things that I normally wouldn’t. Canned vegetables, margarine spread, in other words, not your everyday organic food. The plan is to try these before giving up altogether. People tell me peanut butter is a popular Lenten food. I’m not a big fan, but I may end up trying that, as well.

I hope this helps. I also hope to do better this time than I did last year. I also have a crazy dream.

My crazy dream that my children will at least try to keep the Lent with me. Matter of fact, K9 has already told me he’s giving up Wendy’s. Could it be?

Good articles on Lent can be found here, here, and here.

The Goldie has spoken at 10:49 AM

Thursday, March 10, 2005

In Search of a Better Place

Blogger scares me sometimes.

It was down for several hours today. I'm pretty sure that eventually, it's going to crash and we'll lose all our good stuff.

Nothing is free. I think I need to switch to another provider, if there is a moderate charge, I'm okay with that.

Problem is, I have only been blogging for less than two months and I don't really know what else is available, other than Blogger. If any of you have any leads, please feel free to share.

Thanks in advance!

The Goldie has spoken at 5:06 PM

The Man Who Tried to Save Me Part II

part I
part III
part IV

On the first day of the new Russian school, the turnout was good. About 30 kids of all ages came, each accompanied by at least two adults. I guess the multitude of adults was because the parents and grandparents wanted to see the new school for themselves. We found a guy we knew, who brought his daughter.

Everybody was escorted to an auditorium. It looked just like school, except for the hymn books in Russian that were placed in every row. I picked one up to show my kids. To my surprise, I realized that I knew most of the hymns.

Before my conversion to Orthodoxy, in 1990, I attended a Baptist church in Moscow. I only spent one year there, and ran away screaming in early 1991. It was a very large church, and a very strict one. They had rules for everything – no makeup, no jewelry, no pants on women, no TV, no theatre… sure enough, no birth control. I remember leading a pretty exciting double life, acting all pious and rule-abiding while in church, and like a normal human for the rest of the week. For whatever reason, the Moscow Baptists hated the Orthodox church, which incidentally was one of the reasons I later decided to check it out – if those guys didn’t like it, it had to be good! I quit going after a church member chewed me out for making plans to go see a classical ballet performance. He asked me: “What if Jesus comes back, and you’re sitting in a theater watching ballet? What will you do then?” Right there, I realized that no power in the world could make me go back to that church again.

The hymns in the “Jewish Messianic” church were the same hymns that we used to sing in our Baptist church in 1990. Big red flag.

Ivan stepped onto the stage and the meeting started. It actually went well. The teachers introduced themselves, Ivan and his wife took turns talking about the school, everything sounded very professional. After a while, we were asked to take our children to their classes.

As we were getting up from our seats, Ivan said, “Oh, and by the way, since this is our first day, we have prepared a concert for the parents. You don’t have to attend, but we put a lot of work into it and you will probably enjoy it”. How could we turn this offer down without looking utterly ungrateful? So, to the concert we went. My parents and I sat next to our friend in one of the back pews.

I cannot for the life of me remember exactly when the concert became a Baptist church service. It just sneaked up on us. One minute, we were all listening to a (very nice) performance by a lady playing her violin, and the next moment, it was already Ivan giving us a sermon.

Slowly, the realization showed on everybody’s faces. We were tricked into attending a service we never wanted to attend, and could not leave without making ourselves look bad. Everybody just sat there, completely stunned, as Ivan went on and on in circles about God’s love.

Now I have probably heard a few thousand sermons in my life, but never anything as boring and pointless as the one Ivan delivered on that day. I don’t know if he prepared for it in any way, or how much background he had as a preacher. I have a feeling that he was used to just getting up there, opening his mouth, and assuming that God would help him through the rest. He repeated the same things ten times over without even knowing it.

Finally, Ivan said, “Now we’re going to sing a worship song, and after that, we’re all going to pray”.

I looked at my companions – my Atheist Mom, my mildly Jewish Dad, and our (Atheist, I think) friend. They didn’t look so good. From the looks on their faces, they really didn’t want to pray with Ivan. I couldn’t blame them. I got an idea.

In a very low voice, I said, “After he’s done, he will have to get off stage, and the girl that sings will get onstage. While they’re doing it… on my command… on count of three… we all get up and walk out”.

Ivan, in the meantime, finished the sermon. He is a big guy and it took him a while to walk to the end of the stage and down the stairs. I turned to Mom and quietly said, “one… two… three”. We stood up and left.

You’re probably not going to believe it, but the next Saturday, my parents went back and brought the kids to class.

To be continued…

The Goldie has spoken at 9:30 AM

I12 Weighing In On the Bible

Written in Sunday school last week.

The Bible was written to spread the word of God. It has a bunch of stuff about God in it. A bunch of people wrote the Bible. It is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. The old one was about before Jesus was born, and the new one after. The Bible consists mostly of Miracles.

The Goldie has spoken at 9:23 AM

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Man Who Tried to Save Me Part I

part II
part III
part IV

John inspired me with his car stories (I, II, III, IV, and the just-released V). Plus, I promised to tell the story about a guy who tried to convert me and my family. So, here goes.

Our town has a sizable Russian-speaking community. We have several Russian grocery stores, which we frequent. It was in front of one of these stores that I first met this man. I will call him Ivan. It was cold and windy, with snow blowing all over the place. Ivan was standing in front of the store passing out invitations to his new “Jewish Messianic” church.

Now I’ve got to tell you that our Russian community is really, from the ethnicity standpoint, predominantly Jewish. Back in Russia, most of these people were atheists, but here in America, they try to follow the Judaic traditions, observe the holidays, go to the synagogue a few times a year, etc. Very few people take it seriously, but practically everybody views it as honoring the traditions of their fathers. Need I say that converting to Christianity is frowned upon? You’re better off not believing in anything at all than confessing the Nicene Creed. I was the black sheep in our community for years. Then Ivan came along and took the title away from me.

I have to admit, it takes a lot of courage to stand in front of a Russian store in the evening, when people normally stop by after work to get their groceries, and hand Christian literature to hungry, hostile men and women that look upon you as a traitor. I am not sure how many people Ivan converted this way. I’m estimating zero. But he kept doing it, rain or shine, for at least three years in a row. Sometimes, the store owner’s patience would run out, and he would ban Ivan from standing in front of his store. Ivan would go to the next store, spend a few months there, get kicked out, go to the next store, and generally keep rotating in this manner. He had a wife, four kids, and a full-time pastor job, he was very obviously not welcome in these stores, and he still kept coming back. Even if his actions didn't make much sense, they bordered on heroism. This is the part of Ivan that I admire.

Then, there’s the other side of Ivan. The one that makes me think I’ll be able to crank out some pretty funny posts about him. Here’s what happened a few years ago, when I12 was starting 4th grade.

It was a warm, dry summer, and Ivan spent most of his free time in front of the store. We talked a few times. He even met my husband and they had a nice, long discussion about the meaning of life. I don’t quite remember which one of us gave Ivan our home telephone number. One day in August, he called us and left a message about a new Russian school he was opening. While we were mulling the message over, Ivan’s wife called with more information.

The school was going to run once a week, on Saturday afternoons. It was going to be tuition-free, “for now” – later on, depending on the school’s success, there might be tuition. They had hired real schoolteachers with fifteen to twenty years of Russian experience to teach on a volunteer basis. The school was geared towards the children from Russian immigrant families, who were rapidly forgetting their native language.

The idea was great. The need for this kind of thing was tremendous. The only thing that bothered me was that the school was located in a church, and organized by a church, and I wasn’t sure if what they were teaching would be in line with what my boys were already learning in their Sunday school.

I voiced my concern to Ivan’s wife, and she assured me that the teaching would be strictly secular. I had no reason not to sign the boys up, so I gave her their names. The next Saturday, we all went to the new Russian school. My Atheist Mom and my mildly Jewish Dad came along, too.

To be continued…

The Goldie has spoken at 5:00 PM

Monday, March 07, 2005


Both our kids have their own computers. We're weird that way. Their furniture was bought in 1998 at Mattress and Furniture Liquidators, but they each have their own computer.

In one of our rare flashes of parenting wisdom, we have configured our wireless router to automatically cut off the kids' Internet access at 11PM every night.

Yesterday, I12 stayed up late because he couldn't sleep. Not sure when he went to bed, but definitely after one in the morning. This morning, I came into his room to wake him up.

The floor was covered with Scientific Americans. On the desk, there was a Bible. In the Bible, there was a bookmark. I opened it - it was the Sermon on the Mount.

Seems like I12 has learned a lot in two hours yesterday. I'm jealous.

I'm going to ask my husband to cut off my Internet access for a couple days.

The Goldie has spoken at 1:19 PM

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Weekend According to Goldie

1. Passed a car on the freeway with a bumper sticker that said:

“Don’t blame me, my vote didn’t count”.

Problem is, we’re in Ohio… we are, like, the new Florida… can you tell the sticker looked just a tiny bit out of place?

2. I took I12 to a new psychologist (for reasons I do not plan on posting here). When we came to the office, we were greeted by a skinny guy, in his mid- to late 20’s, about five feet tall (both I12 and I are 5’9”). We talked to him for an hour (he actually seems very good at what he does), but when we got into the car, the shallow part of me took over, and the following dialogue took place:

Me: Wow “I”, that guy was small!
I12: They call him “shrink” for a reason.

I was unable to drive for the next ten minutes.

Tamagotchi: The Circle of Life

When K9 got sick a month ago, I finally gave in to his pleas and bought him a tamagotchi (with his January’s allowance, of course). Tamagotchis are all the rage in K9’s school now. He named his “K”, after himself.

I’ve never seen a tamagotchi before. I’ve got to tell you, that thing is weird. It goes from baby to kid to teenager to adult to old person in one week, and then it dies. It connects to other tamagotchis and has babies. If it cannot find a partner, you can hire a matchmaker and the next day, a baby is born as a result. We think that tamagotchi sex is boring and uneventful, based on the fact that we haven’t been able to observe it. The babies just pop up on the screen, apropos of nothing.

Over the last month, K9 was able to raise five generations of tamagotchi, going from “K” Junior to “K” V. This all came to an abrupt end yesterday, when K9 went to a friend’s house for a sleepover, and, unbeknownst to me, left his tamagotchi behind. When I found the poor thing this morning, the screen was full of tamagotchi poop; the creature was extremely hungry; and it was extremely unhappy as well. Grabbing the manual, I tried to come to the rescue, but, even though I followed the instructions, nothing worked. The poop still dominated the scene, and the tamagotchi was still unhappy and starved. I put it into my purse, and headed for church with I12.

After the service, I went around the church looking for kids who could give me instructions. There were three boys in the office, playing on the computer.

Me: Hey, does any of you guys know how to take care of a tamagotchi?
Kids: Naw.
Me: (desperately) K9 is at a friend’s house, and this thing has pooped all over the screen, and also I gotta feed it, and I don’t know how. I think it’s going to die, I pressed all buttons and nothing works.
Kids: We don’t know either.
Me: (giving up) Alright, he killed it.
Kids: (laughing hysterically)

Sure enough, by the time I picked K9 up, the tamagotchi was long gone. Oh well, I tried.

Turns out, you can generate a new one if your old one dies. Which is exactly what K9 did. The new one is a girl. He named it after me. I don’t know if I should feel honored or not. All I know is, he better feed this one!

Keeping Attendance

Has anybody ever come up to you in church saying, “My, I haven’t seen you for a long time”? Talk about a charged statement! Somehow, I never know what to say to this one.

- Yeah, I’ve been partying hard lately. Kinda hard to get up early on Sunday after you’ve gone to bed at four in the morning. Not to mention the hangover. Do you think Chaser would help?


- As a matter of fact, I’ve had a 75% attendance this year, here are the records that can prove it, and here are the three witnesses that I’ve been having coffee with during the fellowship hour every Sunday for the last few months.


- I know, I’ve been wondering myself what happened to you. Have you been sick?


- Who the heck has made you attendance monitor? Why do you feel the need to ask people tactless questions? Has it ever occurred to you that the purpose of your being in church is not to check on other people’s attendance? Have you ever tried minding your own business?

Nope, I don’t say any of these things… I just give the person my best deer-in-the-headlights look. Any better ideas? Please feel free to share.

Update On the Tamagotchi

It's been two hours since I made this post, but I have to edit it.

I am a very bad mother.

I have just run the tamagotchi through the washing machine, as it was in the pocket of K9's jeans. Even though I used the gentle cycle, the darn thing is showing no signs of life whatsoever.

K9 is sleeping, and doesn't know it yet. I do not know what he will say when he wakes up. This may be my last post.

I'm gonna go make a will now.

The Goldie has spoken at 9:45 PM

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Random Blog Surfing

I’ve been thinking for a while about doing that. Just get out there, hit a random blog, and see what I can find. As it is, I have a few spare minutes right now so I gave it a try.

I decided I’d find five blogs and/or posts worth linking to, and then stop (for now). I’d go to Blogwise and hit three at random; then go to TTLB, find mine, and hit one above mine and one below.

So here goes.

1. Living the Illusion of Truth and Meaning – am I lucky or what? My first hit, and it turns out to be good, quality stuff. I’m bookmarking this one.

2. - if any of my sons ever make a site like this one, I swear I’ll have a heart attack, then kill them, then tell them to refund me for all the tuition fees I’d paid. This stuff is funny! Hey, the man actually links to Maddox! Just like I12!

3. This one is actually a funny post on a joke site – “Goofy answering machine messages”:

"Hello. I am David's answering machine. What are you?"
"Hi. I am probably home and just avoiding someone I don't want to talk to. Leave me a message, and if I don't call back, it's you."

4. QueerJoe’s Knitting Blog – I can’t believe I can just randomly click around and end up on good sites like this one! I must have the magic touch. Check out his “Disgusting Hotel Sheet Story”.

We were talking over all the good times, when Mary Lynn started talking about the time where Don decided he wanted to know how often the hotel changed the sheets on his bed, so he put a black magic marker dot on one of them.

Diane started groaning with disgust, so Mary Lynn responded that she had never heard what the result was, so she didn't know how frequent the sheet changes were, at which point Diane told us that she had noticed when she checked in to the hotel, that one of her sheets on this hotel stay had a black magic marker dot on it.

I used to knit, too, back in my Russian days.

5. No #5. I gave up. I poked around the list and a lot of stuff came up that was either extreme leftwing, or extreme rightwing, or the background was of such radical color it hurt my eyes, or all of the above. Guess my luck finally ran out.

And in addition to all that good stuff, you’ll never guess what I found on the Blogwise sidebar:

“Purpose Driven Life – huge savings on case qty.”

Yes, I clicked on the link. I just had to – the wording captivated me. Nope, I didn’t buy a case of Purpose Driven Lives, although the temptation was strong!

The Goldie has spoken at 4:05 PM

When Celebrities Made a Difference

I have to confess. The first time I saw this post about the Oscars, I skipped it, because I don’t care about the Oscars.

Then I read the follow-up and knew I had to come back and finally read the first post. As it usually is with everyone that contributed to it - interesting and thought-provoking, and a good read on top of that. I didn’t even realize things were that bad in our society. Everything Holden Caulfield said about show biz, multiplied by a hundred, seems to be today’s reality.

My family, thankfully, has so far been immune. I barely watch TV. People laugh at me because I never recognize movie actors. I’d walk into the room when my husband is watching a movie, and I’d be, “hey, that guy is cute. Is this his first movie?” – “Duh, it’s Tom Cruise”. I12 is a computer geek. ‘Nuff said. K9 is the only exception. He wants to be a rapper, and every rapper on MTV is his hero. Me, I don’t know if I can ever take it seriously. Those guys, in their 20’s, making millions and singing (or is it rapping?) about living in poverty… they just crack me up. I listen to the music, and actually like some of it, but I just don’t have it in me to take these guys seriously, period.

I am, however, old and foreign enough to remember a time and place when things were different. I’m guessing it was similar to the American sixties, though I’m not sure – you be the judge. Picture this. Early to mid-eighties, the USSR. A super-totalitarian country. Government-endorsed pop music blaring from our TVs and radios. And in the middle of all that, we had underground rock groups. Coolest thing I ever saw in my life. I consider myself fortunate that I was exposed to this phenomenon, as it was limited to major cities and only lasted a few years.

These people sound unreal, compared to today’s celebrities of America. All of them that I know of, except for one man, had good college education, mostly in engineering. By the early 80’s, though, they had to quit their jobs, as music was taking up too much of their time. They worked night shifts as janitors and security guards, because these jobs allowed them to work a "one day on, three days off" schedule. They were dirt poor and their families lived in old apartments same as everybody else’s. They recorded their albums on tape at their home studios, and performed at other people’s apartments for close groups of friends and acquaintances.

On top of it, they were all banned for anti-Soviet content of their music. The names of their bands were on black lists. One man spent ten years in prison, just for writing songs. Another was summoned to the KGB office and told to sign a paper, promising not to write anymore music. He refused.

And they rocked. Seriously. They wrote really good, quality stuff. Mostly classic rock and punk rock, with really awesome lyrics and catchy tunes. At one point in ’84, I got hold of their (again, underground) magazine. The mag was something else, by the way. You know these really old mainframe printers that used to print out these long scrolls of paper? It was printed on that. Anyway, all throughout the mag, the underlying thought was: “If only we had freedom to do what we want! If only we had good recording equipment! If only we had working conditions like the musicians in the West do. If only… if only… if only… We’d produce some really great music then”.

And then it happened. The Communists fell, and the underground rock stars came out. All of a sudden, they were celebrities and on national TV. They got the recording equipment, the conditions, the money, the fast cars.

That’s when their music suddenly began to seriously suck. Go figure. And that was the end of the unique phenomenon known as the underground Russian rock of the 1980’s. I mean, it was the end of it for me. The bands still exist.

Does anybody have any idea why? Why, when these people had no money and were outlawed by the government, they wrote incredible music? Why couldn’t they continue doing the same when they got the money and the permission to write? What if we pass a ban on today’s celebrities and take away the millions and the mansions (relax, guys - I'm just brainstorming here)? Will it make them suck less, or do we have to send them to college first?

And last but not least: how do I get it into K9’s head that Eminem is not a role model?

The Goldie has spoken at 10:54 AM

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

My Favorite Mensan

It’s quite interesting the way the blogosphere operates.

Today, for some reason, everyone I’ve visited are discussing IQs and Mensa is getting a bad rap.

To redeem this fine organization, I’d like to briefly introduce to you someone I met at last year’s Regional Gathering. Yes, I actually went with my family. My poor husband hated every minute of it (except for the homemade beer tasting - he liked that part. I was with the kids, so I have regrettably missed it). I, on the other hand, enjoyed talking to people and playing board games. Then again, I’m easily pleased.

The kids were in a separate room the whole time playing video games. K9 was fascinated by a 15yo boy he met. The boy was very good-looking, apparently very popular in his school, and his parents brought him to the RG as a punishment. That’s right, he came there because he was grounded. K9 is into all things cool and popular, and followed the guy for three days like a puppy, asking his advice on how to be cool, how to get a girlfriend (God bless the guy – he told K9: “you don’t really need one in 3rd grade”), et cetera et cetera.

Anyway, during the RG, I met this man and I am still fascinated. You should meet him. He’s been a member forever. And, unlike myself, he really is a proud member. I mean, he told me he goes around starting conversations with random strangers, telling them about Mensa and trying to convince them to join. The night we met, he went to a local IHOP to grab some food and struck a conversation with a girl behind the counter. The message he’s trying to get across is, “look what I found, this is so cool, wanna do it too? – I’m sure you can” rather than: “I’m a member and you’re not, so I’m smarter than you are”.

He is an awesome conversationalist. The things we talked about. This man should have a blog. It is a crying shame if he doesn’t. He switched careers several times in his life, and for the last ten or fifteen years, he’s been teaching ballroom dancing. From what I gather, he’s very good at what he does. He can train pros, he can train average Joes like you and me to dance at weddings and other formal events, and he also does rehab. My feeling was that he considers rehab the most fascinating part of his work. Teaching ballroom dancing to disabled people. People that have been badly injured and have trouble walking straight, much less dancing. He told me how their lives had changed because of the lessons they had received from him.

As long as this guy is a Mensan, I ain’t quitting. I will continue being a member just on the off chance I’ll bump into him at another RG sometime. When you’re in NYC, look him up. Tell him I sent you.

The Goldie has spoken at 5:22 PM

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Do Your Children Have TSFHOG?

Yesterday, I’ve been reading an absolutely fantastic “parenting drive-by” thread on Chez Miscarriage. Go ahead and read the comments here and the (brilliant) post, followed by the comments, here. Oh, and read this one, too.

One of the comments on the first thread, however, has prompted me to respond here.

I'm not sure this is a drive by, but the story still appalls me.

A family member is the mother of a 3yr old. When speaking to another family member who is the mother of a child around the same age, she proceeds to report with complete conviction that her son is a genius. She reports that she has had his IQ tested and it is 140, and that her son's social issues are due in fact to his genius status.

First of all, is it even POSSIBLE to test the IQ of a 3 year old (someone please tell me because I am dying to know), and secondly, why the fuck would you a) test your 3 year old's IQ to begin with and b)basically tell another family member that your child is superior to their child? Social issues, anyone?

As someone who’s been involved in this whole “gifted” thing for almost five years now, I felt the urge to say something, so here goes. First of all, I’ve always had this nagging feeling that we shouldn’t use the word “gifted” to describe these kids, as it pisses the other parents off to no end. We need to find a term that has no positive connotations to it, such as “touched in the head” (courtesy of Mir), or maybe TSFHOG (too smart for his/her own good). Hey, I think I like "TSFHOG" - can you believe I just made that one up? It rolls off the tongue nicely. Would make it so much easier for us, the parents of the TSFHOG kids. Compare these two hypothetical conversations. No, wait, the first one is really an actual conversation I once had with my son’s psychologist (on our first and last visit to her office).

“Oh, and another thing you need to know, my son has been ID’d as gifted”.
“I think this term is overused. I don’t believe in ‘gifted’ kids. And anyway, if he’s indeed, as you say, ‘gifted’, then how come he’s not a straight A student?”

Now the conversation could have gone on like this:

“Oh, and another thing you need to know, my son has been diagnosed with a TSFHOG disorder”.
“TSF… HOG? Oh… I am so sorry to hear that. Poor little guy”.

Now that we’ve got a nice, non-offensive term for that, let me continue. I am not sure about the 3-year-old in the original post. I can only speak for my own kids, and myself when I was growing up. Yes, TSFHOG kids are different. And things can be incredibly hard for them. Like with I12, their way of thinking can be so different that people will have a hard time understanding them and vice versa. Or, like K9, they may be constantly in trouble in school because they’re bored out of their minds. And yes, they need special programs in school and special treatment, just like the LD kids. Otherwise, best case scenario, they will lose interest, learn to be just like everybody else (on the surface, anyway), and never reach their full potential. Worst case scenario, they will wreak havoc in school. I still shudder when I think of the one school year when I12 decided it would be cool to hang out with the troubled kids and be a school bully. It actually worked. K9 went to the same school and brought the latest playground gossip to me daily. And these are your mildly TSFHOG kids. With your severely TSFHOG kids (IQ of 160 or more), you have big problems. Parents usually end up having to pull these children out of the school system altogether, because they just do not fit in, no matter how hard they try or how many grades they skip.

Now let me address the “superior” part. Being TSFHOG does not necessarily mean being superior. It also does not mean that a TSFHOG child will grow up to make more money than his non-TSFHOG classmate. It means, first and foremost, having a different frame of mind. That’s all there is to it. Granted, it also means having a potential for, at some point in the future, becoming better at certain things than most of your peers. But that potential may never be realized. We all know people with high IQ that have accomplished nothing in their lives. For those that are interested, I recommend you read the books “Smart Boys” and “Smart Girls”, by Barbara Kerr (I think “Smart Boys” also has a coauthor, whose name escapes me at the moment). You can also check out the Hoagies Gifted link on my sidebar.

To keep the reader from falling asleep, I’d like to close with a story that K9 wrote in class last spring. He got a quiet room for writing that. A copy of the story was sent to our house with all the inappropriate words highlighted. I had a phone conversation with the teacher, wherein she learned, for the first time in her life, what the word “levitating” meant. She also questioned me as a parent, because of the story K9 wrote. K9 got so scared he stopped writing stories altogether. He’s just starting back now. Welcome to the life of a TSFHOG kid in an elementary public school.

The Force

Ever have to be dragged down to Bloody Hill? Of course you didn't. I did, brutally. I was sleeping, light sleeping. I heard a scream. I woke up in shock. I heard "get away you beast!!!" a thud. I heard a thud. So what? It could be anything. A knife flew through my window. I better have gotten help but I didn't. It was probably a nightmare. Suddenly, I see a flash, a flash so big I went blind. I could see but I was flying, I let go of the blanket. This was my first time levitating. Suddenly I was transported into a mansion island. I could see the mansion, the swimming pool, the lighthouse, the zombies!!!!!!! I didn't know why but I have two katanas in my hands. I get them out *slash! slash!* zombie guts everywhere. I took weapon class. I put them back. I take a peek inside, looks safe enough. I step inside, I see the heater switch. I flip it. Ew!!!! Blood rushes inside, guts, intestines, disassembled heads goes through the heater holes. I go to the mansion bam! The doors blow open, the walls tear down, a weird monster jumps in with five eyes. Nothing is reality anymore. The thing is communicating to me. I don't understand it anyway. I just walk away quietly. I see a man chanting something in the other room casting a spell. He says, "Hit me, kill me and you shall come back to reality. Miss and suffer". I take my katanas swoosh! bam!!

Read the Force 2: Return with evil

PS. The post quoted in the beginning is a fine example of a parenting drive-by. But, who cares?

The Goldie has spoken at 10:30 AM

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