Monday, January 30, 2006

Diamond Dogs

I have to interrupt my scheduled programming with this announcement.

I think I’m in love with a guy named Dave.

Dave is single, and totally available, and I believe he likes me too. As you understand, there are problems. First of all, Dave is a lot younger than I am. Also, while my son ChinchillaBoy loves Dave almost as much as I do, I fear that LilProgrammer will be afraid of Dave. Another thing is that Dave's upkeep will cost me a lot of money, and I cannot get Mr. Goldie to agree that Dave needs to come live with us. Dave is a three-month-old Siberian husky.

ChinchillaBoy and I met Dave yesterday, when we went to see a new pet store that has just opened in our area. It’s called Petland and it’s the best pet store I have ever been to. They have chinchilla supplies that I didn’t even know existed (our Nicky loved their pumice stone for 99 cents a piece!) I have made a few inquiries today and they really are very animal-friendly. And they have Dave for sale.

When we first saw Dave in a cage, and said something like “awww, he’s cute”, a salesperson asked us if we wanted to play with him. “But we’re not buying,” we explained. “That’s fine; we need to socialize our pets.” The store has socialization rooms where you can go and they bring you a pet to play with. Dave didn’t want to part with us. When it was time for us to leave, he grabbed my arm with his front paws and wouldn’t let go. That was so adorable. ChinchillaBoy and I spent the rest of our day today sighing and going, “I wonder what Dave is doing”. The rest of our family, however, freaked out. Plus, we’re not ready. We’re not ready physically, we don’t have enough knowledge yet to raise a dog, and we’re not ready financially either. Dave is probably very expensive. So, I’m afraid, he’ll have to go live with somebody else, and get a different name. See, it was me and ChinchillaBoy that decided he looked like a Dave. No one else knows. Well, Dave does. We told him.

Anyway, it is an awesome pet store and I strongly encourage you to go there for your pet supplies. If you see Dave, tell him we said hi!

The Goldie has spoken at 3:42 PM

Thursday, January 26, 2006

More from My Aunt, and an Important Announcement

Seeing as so many people liked my aunt, here’s another story. This happened nine years ago, right after Memorial Day. It was our first year in America. On Memorial Day, the four-year-old LilProgrammer asked us about the meaning of this holiday. To the best of my knowledge, I told him that this is when people pay respect to their dead.

LilProgrammer got curious. Although he will categorically deny it, there’s always been a goth deep inside of him, trying to get out.

“What happens to people when they die, Mom?”

How do you explain it to a four-year-old without freaking him out? I left out the “they go to Heaven” part, because he’d heard that already. Besides, it seemed like he was more interested in what happens to the body.

“Well LP, their families take their body, go to a special place called cemetery, and dig a hole in the ground. That’s called grave. They put the body in a wooden box, put the box in the grave, and cover it with earth. Then they put a nice stone up on top, plant some pretty flowers, and, every so often, they come to visit.”

LilProgrammer seemed satisfied with my explanation.

A week later, my aunt came over when I was out. When I got back, my snorting and snickering family members told me this.

LilProgrammer, who generally had bad manners due to being just a tad out of this world, did or said something my aunt didn’t like. Probably told her that he wanted to be left alone. My aunt decided that this would be a good opportunity to send LilProgrammer on a long guilt trip. Big mistake. Here’s what happened.

My aunt, indignantly, promised to LilProgrammer:

“If you keep on treating me this way, I am going to get sick, and DIE!”

And asked him:

“What are you going to do then?”

LilProgrammer knew exactly what he was supposed to do in this situation, and was more than happy to explain it to Aunt. Finally, a question he knew the answer to. Auntie would be so pleased with his knowledge of things.

“First, I’m going to take your body, put it in a wooden box, and dig a grave. I’ll put the box in the grave, and cover it with earth. Then I will put a nice stone on top, and plant some pretty flowers.”

LilProgrammer was explaining the procedure to Aunt in great detail. She should know that he has it all covered. She doesn’t have to worry; he’ll take care of everything.

Five minutes later, Aunt suddenly remembered that she had things to do, and left.

Never try to guilt trip an Aspie. They’re too literal. It'll fly right over their head, and what they say back to you may surprise you, not necessarily in a good way.


Next Monday is a big date for our family. Nine years ago on that day, we came here. I decided to celebrate with… what else? A long, boring story of our move here. Don’t worry, it’s not all that boring; I tried to keep it funny. It will be posted in a large number of installments, starting next week. Stay tuned.

The Goldie has spoken at 2:55 PM

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Shake That Healthy Butt!

I finally got that mix CD I had been promised.

I have to warn you that my tastes in music are pretty liberal. I’ll try anything, unless it’s some crazy racist/hate/extremely violent lyrics. That said, I got me a mix rap/hip-hop CD. My son ChinchillaBoy has been advising me on the latest (and not-so-latest) hits.

My favorite song on my new CD? “I Like Big Butts”, by Sir Mix-A-Lot. The more I listen to it, the more I fall in love with it. Especially since my own butt cannot stop growing. What can I do, I love good food and I greatly enjoy my own cooking. Resistance is futile.

I find myself quoting it all the time. Today, I told ChinchillaBoy to shake that healthy butt. He was not amused.

It reminded me of another song I really like, “Fat-Bottomed Girls” by Queen. Back in my Slate BBS days (six years ago!! time flies), it was very popular with the forum community. Every week or so, some n00b would grace the forum with his presence (yes, his... it was always some guy), and make a long, flaming post bashing fat people. “Just stop eating already”, “You’re ugly”, that kind of stuff. And one of us would always respond by posting the entire lyrics to “Fat-Bottomed Girls”. The rest would promptly join in, make fun of the poor n00b, and humiliate him into leaving, and possibly even rethinking his views on everyone bigger than size 4.

Those were the days. We were a terrific team, and had tons of fun. Most of us went back to real life, except, of course, me (as you can see, I started a blog). A few of us still stay in touch. I was fortunate to meet one woman from my old BBS in person, and we had a great time.

Another song I loved? “We Be Burnin”. I wonder if there’s T-shirts for sale. Wouldn’t it be cool to buy one, then wear it to my son’s DARE graduation? Oh my, I’m almost forty and I still want to do things for shock value. Time to grow up.

Here are the lyrics to I Like Big Butts. Enjoy (while I am enjoying all the hits).

Oh my god
Becky, look at her butt
Its so big
She looks like one of those rap guys girlfriends
Who understands those rap guys
They only talk to her because she looks like a total prostitute
I mean her butt
It's just so big
I can't believe it's so round
It's just out there
I mean, it's gross
Look, she's just so black

I like big butts and I can not lie
You other brothers can't deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung
Wanna pull up tough
Cuz you notice that butt was stuffed
Deep in the jeans she's wearing
I'm hooked and I can't stop staring
Oh, baby I wanna get with ya
And take your picture
My homeboys tried to warn me
But that butt you got
Make Me so horney
Ooh, rump of smooth skin
You say you wanna get in my benz
Well use me use me cuz you aint that average groupy

I've seen them dancin'
To hell with romancin'
She's Sweat,Wet, got it goin like a turbo vette

I'm tired of magazines
Saying flat butts are the thing
Take the average black man and ask him that
She gotta pack much back

So Fellas (yeah) Fellas(yeah)
Has your girlfriend got the butt (hell yeah)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it, shake that healthy butt
Baby got back

(LA face with Oakland booty)

I like'em round and big
And when I'm throwin a gig
I just can't help myself
I'm actin like an animal
Now here's my scandal

I wanna get you home
And UH, double up UH UH
I aint talkin bout playboy
Cuz silicone parts were made for toys
I wannem real thick and juicy
So find that juicy double
Mixalot's in trouble
Beggin for a piece of that bubble
So I'm lookin' at rock videos
Knockin these bimbos walkin like hoes
You can have them bimbos
I'll keep my women like Flo Jo
A word to the thick soul sistas
I wanna get with ya
I won't cus or hit ya
But I gotta be straight when I say I wanna --
Til the break of dawn
Baby Got it goin on
Alot of pimps won't like this song
Cuz them punks lie to hit it and quit it
But I'd rather stay and play
Cuz I'm long and I'm strong
And I'm down to get the friction on

So ladies (yeah), Ladies (yeah)
Do you wanna roll in my Mercedes (yeah)
Then turn around
Stick it out
Even white boys got to shout
Baby got back

(LA face with the Oakland booty)

Yeah baby
When it comes to females
Cosmo ain't got nothin to do with my selection
Only if she's 5'3"

So your girlfriend throws a Honda
Playin workout tapes by Fonda
But Fonda ain't got a motor in the back of her Honda
My anaconda don't want none unless you've got buns hun
You can do side bends or sit-ups, but please don't lose that butt
Some brothers wanna play that hard role
And tell you that the butt ain't gold
So they toss it and leave it
And I pull up quick to retrieve it
So cosmo says you're fat
Well I ain't down with that
Cuz your waste is small and your curves are kickin
And I'm thinkin bout stickin
To the beanpole dames in the magazines
You aint it miss thing
Give me a sista I can't resist her
Red beans and rice did miss her
Some knucklehead tried to dis
Cuz his girls were on my list
He had game but he chose to hit 'em
And pulled up quick to get with 'em
So ladies if the butt is round
And you wanna triple X throw down
Dial 1-900-MIXALOT and kick them nasty thoughts
Baby got back
Baby got back
Little in tha middle but she got much back x4

The Goldie has spoken at 12:27 PM

Monday, January 23, 2006

My Aunt Makes an Offer We Cannot Refuse, and Other Weekend Shorts

Once again, I get solid proof that the most blogworthy moments come from our extended families. I had a call from my aunt last night. My aunt is in her early seventies, and she lives six miles or so away from us. She is a kind soul, but very social and, I’m guessing, very lonely. My aunt has never been never married or had any children. She lived with her mother for the first fifty years of her life, and then alone after her mother passed away. I feel for my aunt, and wish I could visit more often, maybe bring ChinchillaBoy with me. She’s very fond of ChinchillaBoy. As a matter of fact, it was about him that she called yesterday. My aunt has a plan and ChinchillaBoy is a big part of it.

The first call, wherein we learned about The Plan, was two weeks ago. My aunt and my Dad have a cousin, who now lives in Germany with her family. I don’t remember what the cousin looks like, though I recall being in her apartment for a visit, therefore I must have met her at least once. The cousin has one daughter, who has the same name as mine and is a few years younger. Goldie Jr. was the bane of my life when I was a kid.

You know how, when you’re little, your parents pick a kid from the neighborhood, or your class, or your family, and hold that kid in front of you all the time like a role model? Goldie Jr. was that kid for me. Everything I did, Goldie Jr. did ten times better. When I was seven and she was five, she ate all her vegetables and asked for more. When we were in school, she got all As, each time. She was always on her best behavior, she took piano lessons, and could leap tall buildings in a single bound. I friggin hated that kid, sight unseen.

Now, as I was told two weeks ago, Goldie Jr. has a son, who is exactly ChinchillaBoy’s age. You guessed it. Everything ChinchillaBoy does, that kid does ten times better. He’s cute, and he’s not the least bit overweight. He plays sports and musical instruments. He gets all As, each time. He takes Russian lessons with a private tutor. And that kid wants to be friends with ChinchillaBoy. My aunt called to ask for CB’s email address. CB gave it to her, and we forgot the whole thing.

Last night, my phone rings.

“Hello-o-o-o Go-o-o-oldie, and what are you up to?”

“Hi, Auntie. Same old same old. Nothing interesting. You?”

“Me, too – nothing interesting. What are you doing now?”

Now this is my pet peeve in phone conversations. I’ve heard people use this line a lot, and it just kills me. What I am doing now? I’m talking to you, duh. I mean, since you called me and all. This is IMO a terrible way to keep a conversation going. In fact, if this question is being asked, it means the conversation is already officially dead. Ah, whatever.

“I’m cooking wings.”

“Chicken wings?”

No, beef wings. “Yes, chicken.”

“With the skin?”

“With the skin.”

“Stocking up on that cholesterol, eh?”

“Well, Auntie, we’ve gotta do what we’ve gotta do.”

After this small talk, she turned to business.

“I talked to The Cousin. She says her grandson won’t be able to email ChinchillaBoy, because they don’t have Russian fonts on their computer, and he doesn’t know English.”

“That’s fine, he can still write in Russian using English letters.” (this is how you do it: ya pishu po-russki. Legko I prosto.)

“No, that’s not what they want. What she said they want is, they want ChinchillaBoy to write a letter to her grandson first, in English. They’ll translate it when they get it. It will be good for her grandson, because he’s taking English lessons now.”

“Fine, give me the address.”

She gives me The Cousin’s first and last name.

“Is that one word?”

“No, that’s the first and last name. Like Goldie Hawn.”

I’m getting confused at this point, but add a space after the first name. I wait for the “at” sign, but instead of it comes a street address.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute. So they want him to use snail mail?”

“What’s “snail mail”? They want him to write a letter – handwrite it – put it in an envelope, and mail it to them. And they will reply. And so the boys will be pen pals. Isn’t that great?”

Not so great if you ask me, but I said okay, we’ll do it.

What I planned to do was tell Auntie, next time she called, that we wrote and mailed the letter, and have no idea why The Cousin never got it. Must have got lost in the mail.

Truth is, I was feeling just a bit uneasy about my not-so-perfect family interacting with The Cousin’s perfect family. Here you have a boy who is ideal in every way, to the point of possibly being an AI. And there you have my son, who’s a great kid, but he knows every South Park episode by heart, likes rap music, swears like a sailor, and gets into fights at recess. (Not that I would trade him for an ideal kid – if my kids were ideal, I’d probably die of boredom.) Now have them write letters to each other that their entire extended families can read, and see what happens.

One thing I couldn’t understand was, if The Cousin wants her grandson to be pen pals with ChinchillaBoy so much, then how come they won’t write the first letter? Why are they dumping all the work on my son, who doesn’t even want it? And then it hit me. Just as Auntie told me The Grandson was dying to be pen pals with CB, she had probably told The Cousin that CB was dying to be pen pals with The Grandson.

My guess is, it has been her idea all along. The Cousin’s family thinks they are doing a favor to us, and we think we’re doing a favor to them. In fact, none of the two sides are in any way interested in this whole pen pal thing. My aunt is pulling all the strings, and both our families are tagging along.

I have to hand it to my aunt, that was pretty cunning. Chuckling, I called my parents to get their approval for my “letter got lost in the mail” plan. It was, after all, Dad’s cousin and Dad’s sister.

My parents, however, came up with a wholly novel idea that had never occurred to me.

“Why don’t you leave it up to ChinchillaBoy? If he wants to write the letter, let him. If he doesn’t, then don’t make him. If your aunt calls for an update, let her talk to him.”

Asking your kid what he wants – how very progressive. Why hadn’t I thought of it myself? I gave my parents’ message to CB, and he confessed that he didn’t really want to be pen pals with his cousin, four times removed.

So that’s where we are going to leave it.


In other news, we had a house blessing last Friday. (For more information on what a house blessing is, read here.) In case any of you have ever wondered what happens if a chinchilla is sprinkled with holy water, I am here to inform you that the chinchilla doesn’t mind.

I heard that it doesn’t work nearly as well with cats.


LilProgrammer had homework this weekend that he did not complete. For the last month or so, they’ve been reading the book “Inside the Walls of Troy” and doing reports on it. I try to read everything my kids are assigned, so, over winter break, I poked my nose into “Inside the Walls of Troy”. The most embarrassing thing happened… I fell asleep after two chapters. The book just knocked me out cold.

“Inside the Walls of Troy” tells the entire story of the Trojan War from the perspective of Helen (part I) and Cassandra (part II). As far as I could tell, it is all about who had how many suitors, who married whom, and who was wearing what at which point in their lives. In my opinion, it takes a special kind of talent to take something fairly entertaining, such as Trojan War, and turn it into an incredibly boring piece of literature that barely deals with the Trojan War at all.

LilProgrammer started on his assignment yesterday afternoon, and, by 7 PM, he still wasn’t done. I guess he had to take breaks in order to stay alive. I do not blame him. At 7 PM, his classmate called and asked if he could stop by and borrow the book. LilProgrammer said yes, but admitted to me that he wasn’t done with the book, himself.

I let him get away with it.

I am a Very Bad Mother.

The Goldie has spoken at 1:34 PM

Friday, January 20, 2006

You Know it’s Time To Relocate When…

Hat tip to Mean Teacher II

Don't you just love it when, each time your city is in the news, it's because of something wacky some of the residents did?

Ohio High School Porn Homework Canceled


A high school research assignment on Internet pornography was canceled after parents in this Cleveland suburb complained.

Superintendent Jeff Lampert said that although the teacher's apparent goal _ to discuss the harmful effects of pornography _ was well- intentioned, he agreed with parents that the assignment was inappropriate for 14- and 15-year-old freshmen at Brooklyn High.

The assignment asked students to research pornography on the Internet and list eight facts about pornography. Students also were asked to write their personal views of pornography and any experience they had with it.

Lampert said he doubted the teacher would face any punishment.

Wow. I can only imagine what a DARE program in that school would be like.

PS. ChinchillaBoy looked over my shoulder when I was reading the article, and exclaimed, "Wow! Will I get to do homework on porn, too?" You never know, ChinchillaBoy... it's Cleveland... anything is possible.

The Goldie has spoken at 5:24 PM

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Fine Art of Writing a Horoscope - Redux

Originally posted January 23, 2005

Like so many other programmers, I’ve been thinking about a career change lately. A lot of us want to get out before some dude from India comes over to helps us pack so he can sit at our desk. Plus, when you’ve been doing something for fifteen-plus years, it does get boring. Problem is, I haven’t figured out what I’d like to do instead. Today I got an idea as I’ve been checking the horoscopes on my pager.

I have this awesome pager that I got from work – the one you get all sorts of what it calls “news/info” – world news, sports news, stock market rates. It would be a really neat device if it didn’t go off in the middle of the night. Anyway, among other things, I get the daily horoscopes on this pager. I read them whenever I can. They are priceless. Just look at today’s. Today is Sunday, right? Watch this.

ARIES: Check the ads in the morning paper for bargains.
(Duh, that’s what the Sunday papers are for)
GEMINI: You receive spiritual inspiration.
(No way! Where do you go to get that?)
VIRGO: Harmonious aspects prevail today.
(And here I was expecting another stressful day in the office)
SCORPIO: You can find big bargains in big stores.
(See Aries for newspaper ads)

This is so good, I’ll just have to look at the rest of the week.

SAGITTARIUS: This day gets off to a good start.
(You get to sleep in)
CAPRICORN: A pleasant and rewarding day is indicated.
(11 AM, you get up…)
AQUARIUS: Your personal life is stimulating.
(… and go back to bed, if you know what I mean)
PISCES: Get out, accept invitations, and socialize.
(Saturday night. ‘Nuff said)

FRIDAY – The Happy Hour!
GEMINI: Unify your mind and muscles to work in harmony.
(Do you have to drink that much at a Happy Hour?)
CANCER: You may regret the social entertainment you have planned.
(Gee, what’s with everybody getting hammered today?)
SCORPIO: Youngsters must pay for their own mistakes now.
(What? The kids have been out drinking, too?)

TUESDAY – Work, work, work.
PISCES – Assume the leadership role.

You see what I mean? Now this is the job I want. Writing horoscopes. Hey, I’ll go ahead and write one for tomorrow right now. Watch me.


ARIES: Life sucks.
TAURUS: Everything hurts.
GEMINI: Must… have… coffee.
CANCER: Your job gives you ulcer.
ULCER: Uh, never mind.
LEO: Coworkers annoy you and irritate you.
VIRGO: Stay alert and awake during staff meeting.
LIBRA: Avoid interactions with middle management.
SCORPIO: Just in case you’re a kid, you hate school.
SAGITTARIUS: Your teachers are evil.
CAPRICORN: You are tired.
AQUARIUS: You want to go home.
PISCES: Did I say life sucks?

There you have it. Let me know tomorrow if it was true. Let me also know whether you would like to hire me to do this for you every day. Remember, the Indian dudes just don’t know how to write a really good horoscope! Whereas I do!

The Goldie has spoken at 9:58 AM

A Year in Obscurity: My Blog Turns 1

Well, dear all, it’s finally my turn to do the “Blogaversary” (yuck, who came up with that word?) post. Exactly one year ago, I opened an account on Blogger and wrote my first post: to the tune of “Hello, World”. The world largely ignored it.

Then I wrote my first decent post. Both my friends loved it. No one else saw it.

Then, I started getting around and making friends. I met a lot of people through SC&A, back when he wrote about parenting and ripped on crappy blogs. Those were the days. These days, his posts are so politically inclined, they fly straight over my head.

I also made many friends over at Jay’s (no link here cuz the site is gone). Holley is a great online friend; and it was thanks to Jen that I was able to have my son, LilProgrammer, tested for Aspergers. The doctor was against it, until I told him, “Listen, people conclude that my son may have AS just from reading posts on my blog. Can we at least get him checked for it?” Hooray for Jen! Too bad Jay’s site is gone. Holley and I never did win the Blogging For Books contest, which is a bummer, because, as you all know, we are most deserving (and we made it to the finals together once).

I also actually met someone from my neighborhood. I’m not naming any names, but you probably read this person every day. And here I thought I was living in boring, Midwestern suburbia, where nothing ever happens. Boy, was I wrong!

Okay, who else? Mamacita is like the teacher I never had (and a good friend too – check out her today’s post on who’s cool and who’s not in the blogosphere, and why all this hierarchy is really a giant load of bull). John reminds me of an old online friend from my forum days. My friend went by the name of Ernest and he was a highly creative individual. The most memorable event occurred when Ernest decided to quit the forum and made a good-by post, whereupon we found out that he had been posting as at least five different forum members, who by the way used to have hilarious conversations with each other. As for Arethusa, she reminds me of myself when I was her age, except of course she’s way smarter and she doesn’t drink quite as much as I used to. And the list goes on and on and on.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say here is that, while I did not achieve fame and fortune, I met some very cool people and I learn from them every day. In a way, I got a lot more than I’d been hoping for.

As for my blog, it remains obscure and puny. You know how, on their blog’s anniversary, most people would start their posts with: “Well, my blog is now one year old and over the year, I got thirty thousand hits”? Well, my blog is one year old and, as of last night, I had a whopping 8,238 hits! And half of them come from people searching for “naked preteens” and “K9 spanking” (sighs). So, that makes my blog officially puny.

I decided I’d google image “puny blog” and show you the results, but all that came up was some people’s babies. I ended up googling “small and happy” and here I got a picture of someone’s really cute dog. Here it is. May it remind you of my blog for years to come.

PS. In best traditions, I’m going to have a rerun of my first decent post here. You know how it goes: “I created my blog, and I posted for a few days, and then finally I came up with a really neat post… and nobody saw it.” I’m going to bump mine up today. Stay tuned.

The Goldie has spoken at 8:57 AM

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Boss From Heck #2 – Continued

Kim’s post from last month, about the jobs she had as a teen, reminded me that I have never finished my Boss From Heck stories. Shame on me. Well, I guess I need to get back to it!

So, it’s 1994 and I am working for BFH#2 as an admin assistant slash computer maintenance person slash system administrator slash whatever. If you remember, BFH#2 owned, and was a principal of, a private school. It was called Private School of Free Development. And free that development was! The school’s primary selling point was that, in it, children would not experience the pressure and humiliation of the traditional academic system. Moreover, they did not receive any grades either, since grades (as we are all aware by now) are a source of low self-esteem and all things negative for an impressionable child’s soul. Instead of grades, the school gave out quality characteristics at the end of each term. What those were was, at the end of a term, each teacher had to write a small essay on each one of their students. Those were then printed out and handed out to parents. My coworker’s daughter was in that school, and the Mom used to rave about quality characteristics and how far superior they were to the ordinary grading system. (Her level of excitement was lowered considerably when, after three years, she had her daughter tested at a mainstream school, only to find out that her reading and math skills were two years below her grade level.) (For the record, the whole family was highly gifted. Quirky, sure, but highly, highly gifted.)

What none of us realized was how the quality characteristics were made. I mean, physically made. They were to be handed out to parents on the last day of school. The deadline for the teachers to turn them in was the day before last. The office was located in our town; the school, however, was in a different town about an hour away. The teachers always waited till the last minute to get their essays written. Finally, at the end of the day, they turned the essays in to the principal, who arrived at the office at about nine PM, bearing ten composition notebooks (one for each teacher), each of which contained quality characteristics for all students in this particular teacher’s subject, jotted down in a great hurry in incredibly illegible handwriting. My job was to decipher those; enter them into a computer (an old, slow thing such as were usually available in Russia in the early nineties); sort them by student, so that I had all subjects for one student on the same page; and print out five copies for each student on an old, beaten-up matrix printer. I had to get it all done and ready to be handed out by 8AM the next day. Need I say I was up all night?

I lasted in that job for two terms. My last encounter with the quality characteristics was right before the winter break. It was dark and cold. BFH unloaded the notebooks, and ordered me to walk over to his apartment building and put the printouts in his mailbox when done. Because, you see, he couldn’t be bothered to drive the ½ mile back to the office in the morning. (Yes, the man had a car. I, naturally, didn’t.)

At three in the morning, dead tired, I staggered out of the office, carrying the printouts. I seemed to be the only person awake in the whole town. Bracing myself against the wind, I walked carefully across town to the place where BFH lived. It was very dark. I was very afraid.

On my way, I had to walk past a traveling circus that had just come to town. I could hear the animals stirring in their cages. I briefly contemplated the possibility of being eaten up alive by a hungry lion or tiger. Was this job really worth it, I wondered as I plowed through the snow.

Next day, I had a conversation with Mr. Goldie.

“This job is inhumane, and it’s killing me. If I have to stay up another night, I swear I will keel over.” (Eleven years later, I’m on call 24x7. Go figure.) “And you know we are trying to have another baby. There’s no way I can survive in this sweatshop AND stay pregnant at the same time. If I keep working for this man, I swear I will miscarry.

“I don’t care how badly we need my income. I don’t care if we all die of starvation. I want out.”

“Then quit,” agreed Mr. Goldie.

So I decided to quit. But I had to time it well. I already knew BFH by then. I knew full well that, once I gave notice, he wouldn’t pay me a penny afterwards. And he’d still make me work the required two weeks. For free. I didn’t want to work for free, especially for BFH.

By that time, BFH had gotten out of control. He’d summon me to his office at all hours, to type random stuff he’d just written. I didn’t have a phone, so he used to send our accountant to my apartment with handwritten notes: “Please come immediately. Thank you. BFH”. I jumped three feet in the air each time our doorbell rang. That had to stop.

I didn’t say a word to the accountant (who I had become friends with), any of the teachers, or, naturally, BFH. On my next payday, I brought my son LilProgrammer to work with me. He had just turned two. It so happened that BFH decided to stop by the office on that day.

“Did you get paid yet?” he inquired, ever so quick to care about his employees’ well-being.

The accountant handed me the cash. I put it in my wallet and said,

“Oh, by the way. My husband has found a second job, so, with him out of the house for twelve hours a day, I need to be home watching our son. So, I’m very sorry to say, I’m quitting.”

Need I say there was no second job?

“You need to give a two weeks notice,” BFH informed me.

“Oh, I’d love to. I’d really love to. But, you see, I can’t. He’s already started at his new job, and he needs me home ASAP, to watch our son. See, I had to bring him with me today? See?”

“Uh, uh. Perfect timing, huh? You just got paid, huh?” BFH was getting angry. A new thought went through his head.

“You know, when you leave, you have to turn over to me every item in the office. And you have to pay for what’s missing. Is there anything missing?”

“Not really,” I told him.

“Oh yeah? Let’s see. When you started working here, there were twelve floppy disks in the office. And now, there are eleven!”

I was puzzled. “How do you know there’s eleven?”

“Because I took one home.” A new light shone in BFH’s eyes. “This is very unethical of you, this quitting without notice. You have no integrity. But beware! Your sin will come back to you.”

BFH was dead on about the karma part. Two weeks later, I found a contract job as a technical translator at a software firm. Excellent conditions, great team (half of them my former coworkers), flex hours, fun and exciting work, and the pay three times as high as what BFH used to give me – plus the ability to make more on the side by taking random translating jobs. I worked there for eight months until I had ChinchillaBoy. We spent some of my earnings on good food and baby clothes, and set the rest aside. The money added up nicely over eight months, and came in very handy when we had two children and a single income.

BFH, on the other hand, spent the next eighteen months looking for a new admin assistant. He had many applicants, but none were willing to accept the measly salary he used to pay me. It didn’t exactly help that he stressed in his job ads that he was looking for a University graduate with a degree in computer programming, who would be willing to do admin assistant work.

This concludes my stories about BFH #2. There was also a BFH #3, but I’ll tell you about him later.

The Goldie has spoken at 5:36 PM

Monday, January 16, 2006

Weekend Chronicles

ChinchillaBoy and Intelligent Design

There’s never a dull moment in the Goldie household.

Last Friday, I was talking to ChinchillaBoy, and we disagreed about something, I think it was which ice cream is better, Snickers or cherry vanilla. I said cherry vanilla, and he started arguing with me. So I say to him, like any good mother would:

“Oh yeah? What do you know?”

To my amazement, ChinchillaBoy calmly replies,

“I know everything from the beginning of time.”

“What, since you created the heaven and earth?” – asks the sarcastic me.

“Yeah, everything from Adam and Eve. Oh, I remember when I put them on the Moon, I kept reminding myself: you need to put air on the Moon, you need to put air on the Moon, - but then I kept laying it off and laying it off ‘cause I was too lazy. I’d say to myself: there’s no air on the Moon, you’ve got to give them some air, - but then I’d forget, ‘cause I was too lazy admiring my own creation.”


At this point I’m hanging on to his every word, because, you know, I need to memorize it all for my blog post.

“Well, you know they ripped off that story in the Bible. What really happened, after the Bible story, I took Adam and Eve and I put them on the Moon, and they were all like, “I need air! I need air!” – and then they started flopping like fish. That was so funny! But then they stopped. They just lay there, and it was boring so I moved on to my other creations.”

“So what happened to Adam and Eve?”

“Oh, yeah. They died.”

The Flying Karma

On Saturday morning, ChinchillaBoy had a basketball game. It turned out to be a real nail-biter. The other team was strong and aggressive; plus, the ref kept giving them penalty shots for some reason. The two teams were more or less tied till the very last minute.

I got a seat in the front row and found myself next to, possibly, the two most loud, obnoxious, annoying basketball fans in the history of the game. They were a mom and an older sister of a player from the other team. The mom was actually fairly tolerable, but the sister, in her late teens, was out of this world. She could not keep her mouth shut for a minute. She kept hollering in my ear, and what she was hollering wasn’t nice. She yelled at her kid brother. She was giving orders to players from our team. She screamed at the ref.

She was giving me a major headache.

There are two girls on CB’s team this year. They are very good players, the best on the team most likely. Every time one of them would get the ball, the Big Sister would scream at their team to “get the ball from the little girl”. I was sitting next to her, thinking to myself, “Say something about my son and die”.

Finally, it’s the last minute of the game and we are leading by one point. Fifty seconds before the end, the other team scores and is now in the lead. The clock is ticking, our team gets incredibly nervous, and, one second before the buzzer, one of our kids makes a desperate attempt to take the game back by shooting the ball at full force all the way across the field.

By that time, Big Sister and her mom are on their feet, whooping and cheering because their team had just won.

The ball comes flying across the field at a crazy speed, missing the basket by a mile and heading straight for their faces. You know these moments when everything suddenly starts happening in slow motion? That was one of them. The ball moving in a perfect arc, coming precisely at Big Sis and Mom; the realization slowly showing on their faces; Big Sis and Mom ducking out of the way at the last instant.

Those were the best thirty seconds of my life. I really, truly enjoyed the show. It was well worth the one-hour wait.

In a few weeks, we are going to play this team again. I’m going to sit as far from Big Sis and Mom as it is physically possible without leaving the gym.

I mean, I can live with the yakking. But I don’t want to be anywhere around when that flying ball comes. It just isn’t safe.

What do you get when you combine a chinchilla and an altar?

You get ChinchillaBoy who is, also, an altar boy! Yay!! He had his workshop last Saturday, and yesterday was his first time in the altar. He’s loving it! He looks just like a little angel in his new golden robe.

Of course, we all know the truth.

The Goldie has spoken at 8:48 AM

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Blog That Made Me Think

Two days ago, I caught my son LilProgrammer reading this.

Since I believe my duty as a mother to be snooping on my kids as they navigate the wide world of the Internet, I went over there for a quick read. I’ve got to tell you, after the first few posts, I was freaking out. I was all, Who’s this woman? She is evil! And she obviously hates her students!

But she sure can write.

So the next day, I came back and read some more. As I was moving on from post to post, I realized that the author is, in fact, a very kind person who loves and protects her students. Check out this touching story about how she saved a little girl from the attack of an evil lunch lady:

"Lindsay's account was 35 cents short of a lunch. Thirty-five fucking pennies. The lunch lady throws an office pass her way and tells her to go call home.

This incenses me. NO ONE talks to MY tards in such a rude manner, especially not some bitch-ass low-rent money counter.

I snatch the office pass from Lindsay and hand it back to the lady, telling her "Lindsay will get her lunch now, and we will call home later."

She says no, that the balance must be paid right then. Lindsay is in tears at this point. She is hugging me, hysterically crying. She looks at the lunch lady and, in between crying fits, tells her that her mom spent her last ten dollars on scratch tickets, and none of them were winners.

This revelation breaks my heart, and the fact that the bitch-ass lunch lady had made Lindsay say this, in front of everyone, made me angry beyond reason. I lost it.

I take off one of my shoes, and slam it down on her little table. I tell her that she may keep my shoe until I am able to retrieve 35 cents from my classroom.

All my tards are staring at me, completely silent. Lindsay has stopped crying and is staring at me. I tell her to go get her lunch, that it was OK.


I call for the principal and tell him what had just occurred. I tell him that her behavior is not OK with me. He agrees, and I ask if he would take her the 35 cents, and bring me back my shoe. He does, and also has a little talk with her. "

And to think I almost missed all that because of some swear words and politically incorrect terminology.

So, if you are in search of weekend reading, I recommend this site to you. Start here and keep going until you’re done. There are 77 posts in all. The author is (or, rather, was) a special ed teacher so she writes about her experience. Thanks, LilProgrammer, for the link.

Have a good weekend, all.

The Goldie has spoken at 1:44 PM

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Lurk Away, My Friends!

So I was browsing some new sites and, at several different blogs, I come across this:

Apparently it is national delurking week and, if you visit a blog, you must de-lurk and leave a comment, or else.

Geez. No wonder no one’s been visiting me lately. The people must be scared to venture outside of their own blog!

What killed me was a comment I read at one of the sites, that went something like: “Yeah, totally! I hate it when people lurk. What a nasty habit.”

WTF? I like it when people read me. Since when did it become a nasty habit? Of course, if anyone does think it’s a nasty habit, they should by all means let me know, so I don’t lurk at their site ever again. You know, being nice and all.

As much as I love comments, I absolutely do not require my readers to leave one each time they stumble into this site. If I have managed to produce a thought-provoking post – good for me, in that case people will most likely say something. That is, if they have something interesting to say at the moment. Which is, I have to tell you, not always the case with me. I do most of my blog reading before I get my morning dosage of caffeine. The only comment I can produce in this state would be “Yeah, totally”.

I guess what peeved me off about it is that, to me, blogging is primarily about content. I realize that we cannot be Pulitzer-winning writers every day; it's the intentional dumbing-down of the blogosphere that makes me angry. Do you ever have one of these days when you hit one blog after another after another, and it’s all about what people have eaten for breakfast and the content of their babies’ diapers as of today? And then you finally throw your hands up in the air and wonder aloud: “Why am I still blogging? Why am I doing this to my time??” and your children, ever the supportive ones, agree with you: “We’ve been telling you, Mom, blogging is for losers!” (This does not happen when I stick to my regular reads, I hasten to add!)

I think the blogosphere has the potential to become a massive creative medium, or a place to exchange information. Or else it can become a place where people come to meaninglessly yak at each other. In my humble opinion, we already have plenty of opportunities for meaningless yakking in real life. For those of us who work in the office, it’s that area round the water cooler or coffee machine. For stay-at-home moms, it’s the playground (been there, done that). Do we really need to yak on the Internet too? Furthermore, do we need to require of others that they yak?

I guess that is what kills me about the National De-Lurking Week – it’s this militant demand that everybody yak. Well, I am not about to support that on my blog. Feel free to express yourself any way you want, my scarce reader. If you want to leave a comment – please do. If you don’t want to – that’s fine, too. If you want to leave five in a row – sure, it’s a free country! If you want to say to me: “Yeah, totally!” – I’m cool with that. Say what you want, or don’t say anything at all. I am not going to stand here with a baseball bat, coaxing comments out of everyone who visits.

Take that, National De-Lurking Week!

*rude hand gesture*

The Goldie has spoken at 11:57 AM

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Advanced Navel-Gazing

As you can see, I have changed my description on the side bar (and removed the annoying "About Me" line), and not only that, but I have actually done the ubiquitous "100 Things About Me" post. Actually, it's "99 Things About Me" because that's as many as I could think of. The link is on the side bar (or will be shortly). Enjoy (yeah, riiight... )

The Goldie has spoken at 1:52 PM

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Oh No! It’s the BOBs!

I had wanted to start this post with a joke, but finally decided against it.

No… the temptation is too strong. Alright, alright, I’ll do it. I’m doing it already! So. What do and have in common?

You guessed it right! Both were last year’s BOB finalists!

And this year, the new lists of finalists are up! (Well, most of them…)

I’ve gone and poked around and I am truly amazed at the amount of seriously cool blogs out there. Compared to them, I am a pathetic waste of bandwidth. I am not worthy. I’m shutting down this site…


But, seriously, go check the finalists. They’re new, and they’re awesome. I spent a good half of this afternoon reading this site. It is so good, it has by now inspired me enough that I can go home and cook dinner and clean my chinchilla’s cage (yuck) and feel good the whole time I’m doing it. One thing I realized while reading these girls' blog, though, is that I’m never moving to NYC. That city will eat me alive. Look what happened to poor George Costanza.

And, would you look at that? Our dear friend Miguel is in the finals for the most inspirational blog! Okay, now I need to know how I vote on that thing, because I really, really want Miguel to win. (Of course, half the time, I cannot read Miguel's posts, because they're not in Russian. Please forgive me, Miguel.)

I think BOBs is a very cool way to get the new people into the light and make them known, so we can all, you know, read them and stuff.

PS. Robbie, if you need to comment, please be gentle. Mwah!

The Goldie has spoken at 5:35 PM

Monday, January 09, 2006

Envy Me… I Have Boys!

I was at the doctor’s with my both kids this week. As we are sitting in the lobby, waiting to be called upon, the door of the doctor’s office opens and out come two cutest little girls I’ve ever seen. The little one was two years old at most and she had the most adorable smile. She kept smiling at ChinchillaBoy, and he was smiling back. The older one was four or five years old, and was very serious. Her little sister kept picking up toys and carrying them over to a table in the middle of the room, to play with them; and the big sister kept taking the toys away from the baby, and, with the stern look on her face, carrying them back to their original places. The baby reacted by frowning, saying “NO!”, and going back to retrieve the toys again. It was all very cool. Then the tired, harassed mother came out. She rolled her eyes at the girls, took them both by their hands, and led them out the door. The baby didn’t want to go, so I waved at her and said, “Bye!” and then she went. As the mother was leaving, she turns to me and says, “You are lucky to have boys”.

She left, and I stayed… with my jaw on the floor. In my thirteen (almost) years of being a mother of boys, nobody has ever said this to me. No one! In fact, when my kids were babies and toddlers, I used to avoid conversations with moms of little girls, because they always had to rub it in. “Mine has been sleeping through the night since she was born. What do you mean yours still doesn’t?” “He ran away? Why, mine just sits quietly wherever I tell her to sit and plays with her dolls.” “Does your son like homework? My daughter loves homework.” And so on and so forth, until the little girl hits adolescence, and then all of a sudden the roles are reversed – moms of teenage girls are losing their sleep and pulling their hair out, and my boys are as well-behaved as can be. I like to call it Mother Nature’s revenge.

But, the mom at the doctor’s office was actually implying that little boys are easier to raise than little girls. Could that be right? Yes. Here’s why:

1) Barbies. ‘Nuff said.
2) When boys disagree with each other, they just exchange a few punches, get it out of their system, and become best friends again. Whereas girls will be mad at each other for weeks, plotting behind one another’s back.
3) Boys don’t really care about clothes, name brands, makeup etc. In fact, they will wear anything as long as it isn’t pink. Saves a lot of time and money.
4) Parties and sleepovers. I’m being told that, if you get a group of excited little girls together, they will scream their heads off, and that, I’m told, can get really annoying.
5) I am the only female in the family. Everybody gives me breaks, tells me how hard it must be for me, and carries heavy stuff for me.

At the same time, I think mothers of girls are lucky too. Here’s why:

1) Shooter videogames. ‘Nuff said.
2) When girls disagree with each other, they talk about it and work out their differences, while boys always have to beat each other to a pulp.
3) Girls don’t miss the toilet every friggin time and then explain it by saying, “But, Mom, I can’t help it, I have morning wood!”
4) Parties and sleepovers. A group of little boys can be easily used as a weapon of mass destruction. We had a birthday party once where our little guests managed to rip a 200-pound punching bag out of the ceiling.
5) I am the only female in the family. Nobody understands me. When I hunt down a pair of cool new shoes, there’s no one to admire them with me, unless you count a “Gee, Mom, do you really need another pair?” as admiration.

So, I don’t know. It looks like, after all, nobody wins. But there’s still one thing we can do.

We can lie shamelessly about how perfect our children are, and watch the other side cringe with envy. Sounds like a good plan to me.

The Goldie has spoken at 10:50 AM

Saturday, January 07, 2006

My Luck, My Luck, My Crappy Lady Luck

My year seems to be off to a great start.

On Thursday, I went out to lunch, and, while I was eating, without any warning, my contact popped out and disappeared. It had a power of minus 6.5 whatever it is you measure contact power in. Basically, it means that, without my contacts, I’m blind as a bat. I managed to get by just fine on one eye for the rest of my workday, but the 20-mile drive home on the interstate, in the dark, in the snow, during the rush hour, with my right eye pretty much not working, was big joyous fun – better than an action movie.

Friday morning, I took both kids out of school for what was going to be a brief doctor’s appointment and a quick lunch. I had every intention of bringing them both back to their schools. When we came out of the doctor’s, my tire was flat. Without going into details, let me just say that the kids got to skip school that day.

Friday afternoon, I found out, by pure accident, that LilProgrammer’s new therapist – the one he has just started seeing after I spent a year trying to get on her schedule – the really good one – no longer takes my insurance.

You want a piece of me, 2006?! Bring it on, Dawg!

At this point, I wonder – will 2006 be one of my really crappy years? I sure hope not. First of all, my really crappy years never start off like that. Instead, they kind of creep up on me. One minute, it’s a perfectly normal year, and next thing you know, you’re in deep brown substance with no idea of how to get out. I’ve had two really crappy years in my life, and they were 1996 and 2000.

The strange thing, though, is that, during each of my really crappy years, something really good also happened. It’s almost like things were consciously balancing themselves out. (Could it be divine intervention?)

My year 2000 started out perfectly normal, except we accidentally hit the sleeping ChinchillaBoy with a champagne cork during the New Year celebrations, waking him up and making him very mad. Next thing we knew, CB came down with a bad case of fimosis and had to have an emergency circumcision. He stayed home for two weeks until he healed, then went back to daycare.

On his second day back at daycare, he fell off a 3-foot ladder and broke his elbow. He was in horrible pain for several weeks. The nerves were hit. He could not move his fingers on that hand for six months, even after physical therapy. He stayed in the hospital overnight, had surgery, and had steel pins in his bone for a month. He was 4.5 years old.

We were going to have him tested for early school entrance that summer, since he was only two weeks behind the cutoff date. Naturally, we had to cancel the test and CB got himself an extra year in preschool.

Two weeks after that, Mr. Goldie and I got into a terrible argument (for a variety of very valid reasons that I will not list here) and almost split up. Right after that, Mr. Goldie went on vacation to visit his family. While he was gone, my Dad had a heart attack. That made me the only driver in the family, which can get kind of challenging if you work full-time. I didn’t pick up Dad from the hospital, because they decided to release him three hours early, and when they tried to call me, the line was busy. I was at home watching the kids and posting on the Internet, waiting for the time to come when I was supposed to pick Dad up. Like everybody else in 2000, we had dial-up, so I essentially hogged the phone line. Dad arrived shortly in a friend’s car and he wasn’t too happy.

A few months after Mr. Goldie returned from vacation, he got sick. The kindly doctor told him right away that he was suspecting bone cancer. So, when a week later it turned out to be bone infection, we were all actually relieved. He was in the hospital for a week, had two surgeries, and had steel pins in his bones (forgive me if I’m repeating myself) for about two months.

What a fun year. It makes me tired just to type all this. I distinctly remember having the unpleasant feeling that someone up there was out to get me and my family. As soon as one bad thing ended and I got up on my feet, life threw me another punch. But, it was during the same year that I found my current job; took up league bowling; met my friends from group #2 (through the bowling); got close with my friends from group #1 (or “Russian Crew” as ChinchillaBoy calls it); and LilProgrammer had an absolutely amazing teacher, who actually understood him, was able to help him succeed in school, and recommended him for the gifted program a year before his test results came in. Oh, and ChinchillaBoy made the most of his extra year in preschool by being in the center of a popular group. He still speaks fondly of his glory days in daycare.

Same thing with 1996. I won’t go into a lot of detail here, let me just say that it involved one hospital stay for me, four weeks total in the hospital for ChinchillaBoy, two months at home on quarantine for LilProgrammer (he caught dysenteria in the daycare, and actually shut down his entire class for a month), and (this is really sad) a funeral for a 18-month-old in our close family. Oh, and Mr. Goldie and I almost split up – I know, I know, repeating myself again.

But, in the same year, ChinchillaBoy learned to walk and talk and play with other kids (including his big brother), and our papers for America finally came through. By the end of 1996, we were all packed, tickets in our hands, and ready to leave. I believe this was the best thing that ever happened to us as a family. And it happened during a really crappy year. Go figure.

So I guess this all means that, even if I am indeed looking at another really crappy year, something good will happen anyway.

May this year go easy on you, reader. May it bring you a lot of fun and exciting events, and just enough crappy stuff to appreciate the good things you’ve got. (The crappy stuff is optional.)

The Goldie has spoken at 9:23 PM

Friday, January 06, 2006

Fantasy and SciFi Magazine Review – February, 2006 Issue

Recently, I had a new idea for what I could do on this blog. How many of you subscribe, or consider subscribing, to the Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine? When you get this sizable volume, do you ever say to yourself, “Geez, I wish I knew which ones I must read and what are the ones I could skip, for my time is valuable and cannot be wasted on reading crappy novels”? Or, do you ever wish you had a record of things you liked, so that, when you read a certain number of stories by a particular author and enjoy them all, you can go out and, I don’t know, buy his book or something?

Or, are you still trying to decide if this is worth it to even subscribe to F&SF – again, is it worth spending your time on? Or do you ever want to know who the new rising stars are in the F&SF world, because you don’t care for Robert Jordan and you want to see what else is out there?

To answer these and many other of your questions, I bring you my new feature – the monthly F&SF review. From now on, each time I get a new issue, I promise to drop everything I’m doing, read it back to back in under a week, and post my humble opinions of each entry in the issue (rest assured, no spoilers). I will also rate the stories on a 5-point scale, as follows:

5 = This is a masterpiece. I want to bind it, put it on my nightstand, and re-read it every night before I go to sleep, instead of my Bible.
4 = Very good quality work. If this guy has a book out, I want to read it.
3 = Not bad, pretty decent in fact.
2 = I died inside a little from reading this stuff.
1 = Wow what a putrid piece of crap! You don’t want to read this, unless you’re masochistic.
0 = Ewww! I need to have my stomach pumped.

So, here we go – my first try. I have with me the February 2006 issue that I got right before New Year. I rate the stories/novels in this issue as follows:

Gary Shockley: The Cathedral of Universal Biodiversity – 3.0 Some seriously interesting concepts are being explored in this novel.
Terry Bisson: Planet of Mystery (Part II) – 4.0 Now we’re talking! Quality sci-fi with a side love story and completely unexpected ending, that kept me glued to the magazine until I was finished.
John Morressy: The Long and the Short of Tall – 3.5 I enjoy this author, but, in my opinion, this particular story kind of flops. It starts out highly entertaining, and then, just as the reader gets sucked in, it ends right there.
David Gerrold: Thirteen O’Clock - 2.5 I do not much like stories that attempt to cash in on a hot, controversial topic. Still, it has good literary style.
Madeleine E. Robbins: Boon – 3.5 A very nice, sweet story. Not exactly your LOTR kind of elves!
James L. Cambias: Parsifal (Prix Fixe) – 2.0 Mmmm, mmmm – tasty! This story made me eat a monstrous dinner and gain the two pounds I just lost. So, 2.0.

Not really fiction, but worth mentioning:

Paul Di Filippo: Plumage to Pegasus: Brother, Can You Spare a Hyperlink? – 3.5 How dare Paul Di Filippo make fun of us bloggers?... absolutely hilarious!

Lucuis Sheppard: Films: A Mound of Blunder – 4.0 I don’t normally read movie reviews, but this one is written so well, it borders on perfection. Way to blam a crappy (according to the author) picture! (“The Sound of Thunder”, in case you’re wondering.)

Well, this is it. Was it of any help? Let me know if I should keep doing this or not.

The Goldie has spoken at 9:56 AM

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Four Thing Meme!

Yay! I got tagged by none other than Paula!

1. Four jobs you've had in your life: admin assistant, coatroom attendant, milling machine operator.

2. Four movies you could watch over and over: That Old Feeling, Heavyweights, Eight Days a Week, Animal House.

3. Four places you've lived: Vyborg, Russia; Petergof, Russia; Chernogolovka, Russia; Cleveland, Ohio.

4. Four TV shows you love to watch: South Park, Family Guy, War at Home, That 70s Show.

5. Four websites you visit daily: Michele, Paula’s blog, Google,

6. Four of your favorite foods: steak, cherry vanilla ice cream, crème brulee, bbq chicken wings (but only if I’ve made them – all the rest suck).

7. Four places you'd rather be: Jamaica, Paris… ah, who am I kidding? Anyplace other than here is fine!

8. Four albums you can't live without: Greatest Hits by Queen, Greatest Hits by Stray Cats, this album, and the rap/hip-hop CD ChinchillaBoy promised to make me. He hasn’t cut it yet, but I can’t live without it anyway… this is not living.

Four peeps who must do this: Yes, I said “peeps”!

Mean Teacher

The Goldie has spoken at 9:35 AM

In Da John

Just followed this link from a comment on Michele’s to a (reportedly) the most hilarious post of all time… because I do need a good laugh.

Sadly, I have already heard this joke a few dozen times (at the very least). But the opening line of the post sure brought back the memories:

“… I embarked on my third trip to the restroom. As I went about my business, I read the walls of the stall, because this is a shitload of fun.”

I was all, Yeah! I’ve seen those too. Some of those writings on the walls are genius. Here are the top three.

3. Hottie list. There’s a story behind this one. One time, ChinchillaBoy came home from school in a horrible mood, and, when questioned about it, confessed that he’d had a very bad day. Turned out, the girls had made a “hottie list” in the school bathroom, listing all the hottest guys (in CB’s elementary school… *rolls eyes*); the boys found out, and two of them decided that, to keep things fair, they needed to make one of their own, listing, of course, the hottest girls. Now who would those two adventurous boys be but my very own son ChinchillaBoy and his best friend? They went into a stall, locked the door, and started writing the girls’ names on the wall. At that time, another kid happened to come into the bathroom and heard the voices. He got so curious that he got down on his hands and knees and crawled under the bathroom stall door to get in (ewww). Long story short, the hottie list was discovered and erased by the teachers, and CB and his friend got busted.

What killed me was CB’s reply to my, “Do you realize that it was a very stupid thing to do?” He said, “Mom, the girls already did theirs, so the boys had to do one of their own. Because, if the girls are allowed to do it, and the boys are not, Mom, that’s just sexist!”

2. “Jenny loves Evan”

Right below it, in a different writing:

“Evan dumped Jenny. He found someone else while she was writing shit on the bathroom walls”

- Blossom Music Center, Akron, Ohio

And the winner is…

1. “Jesus loves you!!! John 3:16” – followed by a full Bible quote.

- Fudrucker’s restaurant, Columbus, Ohio

I mean, seriously… What is the purpose of writing this? To convert people? Exactly how many people have been converted to any religion because of something they had read on a bathroom wall?

This is my top three list… do you have one? Feel free to post – either in the comments, or post on your blog and leave me a link. Let’s spread the bathroom humor, people!

The Goldie has spoken at 9:11 AM

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

King Kong

Went to see it with ChinchillaBoy last night. I know it’s been out for a while, but we were all busy being sick.

The movie is awesome! I’ve got to tell you, I had been feeling a bit guilty for not liking the Narnia movie. Concerned friends at the forum were asking what was wrong with me that I did not find it perfect. Was I getting old? Had my taste deteriorated from watching too much Family Guy and War at Home? But last night I realized that I am still capable of enjoying a quality picture. Good acting, good scenery, lots and lots of action, plus there’s a moral to the story – more than one, actually (don’t put your work first; don’t capture wild animals; and (ChinchillaBoy came up with this one) don’t fall in love with someone out of your league, or else you will get hurt). I saw the previous version as well, sometime in the Eighties. I don’t remember much, but this one is definitely better.

The theater was almost empty, which was a good thing, because CB just couldn’t stop it with the Bush jokes. Each time he’d see a close-up of King Kong, he’d crack one. I don’t know why this kid does it. He’s got to be the most political one in the family. I kept telling CB to shut his mouth, but in reality, no one would have heard him over the noise anyway.

You see, we had a couple of really interesting characters in the theater. When CB and I first walked in, we took a pair of nice seats in the middle, away from everybody. All of a sudden, this couple comes in and sits right behind us. That was a red flag right there. I mean, why sit right next to somebody else if the place is virtually empty? Sure enough, as soon as the movie started, they turned into a pair of human hyenas. Suddenly everything was funny to those two.

You know these comedy shows on TV, where they play a laugh track every time anyone says anything? That was what those two sounded like.

A respectable-looking middle-aged couple… go figure. Cleveland is full of surprises.

Twenty minutes into the movie, I got a great idea. All these long weeks I had spent dealing with “penomia” (sorry, I just love the word!) finally inspired me.

I gave ChinchillaBoy a gentle nudge and whispered in his ear: “Hey, do this. Have a coughing fit, and then I’ll say that you cough too much and we have to move”.

CB is a very smart kid. He gave me a low-five under the chair, then promptly bent over and started coughing his lungs out, with me quietly giving him instructions such as “Okay, once again” and “Harder”. Finally, it seemed enough, so I told him, in a voice loud enough so the hyenas could hear, “You cough too much. We’ll have to move”, and we moved across the aisle and over to the side. Unbelievably, we could still hear the hyenas. But at least, it wasn’t in our ear.

The poor misguided creatures actually had a laughing fit at the end of the movie. And it was a very sad ending. I will say no more, even though all of you probably know the story.

CB promised to write a review of his own… stay tuned.

The Goldie has spoken at 11:21 AM

Monday, January 02, 2006

Aspie Digest - January 2, 2006

This one is a long read, but it contains the story of my life, complete with the hilarious stories from my childhood, so please read on!

I haven't been writing a lot in the Aspie Digest lately, for several reasons. One, I think I have learned enough about AS to be comfortable dealing with my own son and making decisions. And two, we have finally found the therapist who really knows this stuff, so now I no longer feel like the pressure is on me to gather information on AS and share it with the school. As for my insurance problems with this therapist, I was told that I will get coverage starting January 1, 2006, so I'm crossing my fingers for that! We have already met with her once and she had some very good advice for me and LilProgrammer.

When LilProgrammer told her that he couldn't understand why he had to adjust to the neurotypical world, because he is happy enough as it is and doesn’t care what anybody thinks of him, the Dr. told him that, because of the way he is, people may misinterpret his words, and think of him as rude and disrespectful when he really isn't. As a result of their reaction, he may get hurt or get into trouble. That got LilProgrammer's attention. Another thing the Dr. told him was that, to help people understand him better, he can say things like, "I'm the kind of person who cannot look you in the eye when you're talking to me - that doesn’t mean I'm not listening", or in some cases just plain tell them that he has AS.

What I want to find out now is how to prepare for life in Junior High, and, later, high school. Do we need an IEP, and, if yes, what should be in it? What other things need to be in place to prevent the high school years from being a nighmare? LilProgrammer starts Junior High in about nine months, so we still have some time to figure it out.

Another thing I want to know is, how to teach LilProgrammer to reach out beyond his special interest area? Right now, he thinks that anything not having to do with his special interest (programming) is a waste of time, for example, socializing and having friends; playing sports and working out; spending more time than the absolute minimum on schoolwork and homework. This just kills me, not to mention gives his teachers a lot of gray hairs! So far I haven't been able to convince him otherwise. We have discussions about it which I enjoy, but LilProgrammer's logical reasoning is very good and he beats me every time.

One of our discussions

Mom to LilProgrammer: LP, there are taken-apart computers and electronic parts all over your room, I really need you to clean that up, actually you know what my dream is?
LP: That I play sports and have friends and get good grades and do not have Aspergers, but it's not going to happen.
Mom: No, actually I was going to say my dream is that one day, you put your main computer back in its case. (As I have already mentioned, LP gutted his computer about a month ago, because "it needed hardware changes". The very sight of various computer parts, connected by cables and spread liberally all over LP's desk, is freaking me out.) But now that you mention it, I wouldn't mind if you did all those things - sports, friends, grades, and then had, you know, a little Aspergers on the side.
LP: What's the point of having Aspergers if you cannot use it?
Mom: (cracks up. End of discussion. Once again, LP wins.)

Currently Reading

I have started reading this book I have, "Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome", by Luke Jackson. Luke is in his late teens or early twenties, and lives in Australia. He wrote this book when he was thirteen years old. It is a really good description of what it's like to live with Aspergers from an inside point of view. Luke has a great sense of humor (somehow the therapists I have talked to are all puzzled that LilProgrammer has a good sense of humor - they think Aspies are not supposed to have it... apparently, it is possible!)

I strongly recommend this book, although this is the second time I started reading it. The first time around, I got through the first chapter, where it says that Luke has three brothers and three sisters, and most of the children in his family are special needs. So I said to myself, "This is all very nice, but this doesn't apply to my family at all", and put the book aside. My advice to you is to get past this first chapter and keep reading. It really does apply to our AS kids and it has very good descriptions of what it feels like. The book is very relevant to me and my family. There are chapters on bullying, rules of dating and other information very important to a teenage kid. I think Luke gives a lot of very good advice in this book.

Confessions of a Reformed Aspie

As I have mentioned before, AS is predominately hereditary. So, who does my son get it from? It is hard to tell, since AS was unheard of when we were kids, but I am guessing myself, and here's why.

As far as I can remember myself, I was a very strange kid. I could never fit in, and kids were picking on me, even in preschool. I didn't know how to hit back. That said, I always had one or two close friends. My favorite toys when I was little were construction sets. I remember being fascinated by Lego sets or Erector sets (whoever came up with this name for a kids' construction set, deserves to have his first name changed to Erector!) I loved sorting things and putting them in order by color, shape, etc. I was a picky eater, and was rarely hungry. My poor parents resorted to all kinds of dog and pony shows trying to shove some food down my throat, but it was not easy, seeing as most foods looked and tasted like slime and maggots to me! I was extremely clumsy as a kid, and never got picked for a team (in Luke's book, when he talks about his classmates saying to gym teacher, "Aw, Sir, do we have to have him?" - totally the story of my childhood!) In fact, I still hate team sports because I have extremely slow reaction.

I was incredibly socially inept. I can remember all kinds of totally inappropriate things coming out of my mouth when I was a kid, that make me die a little of shame and embarrassment each time they pop back into my mind. I had no idea how to socialize or make myself fit in. I remember wondering, even in college, how this whole society thing worked. When girls around me talked about relationships or friendships, I listened in awe and literally couldn't understand a word. It's like they were speaking in a foreign language. It was just my luck to end up in a dorm room with a group of incredibly social girls (not in the sense that they were popular - they weren't; but in the sense that they had an almost physical need to socialize with each other 100% of the time). Needless to say, we didn't get along very well. I was only able to completely crack the social code after my children were born. Apparently, raising a small human and being around him 24x7, forces you to understand the way he interacts. It’s like people learning foreign languages through immersion.

As long as I can remember, I had intense special interests, but they changed all the time. My poor Mom was going crazy. She was forever trying to make me not be so insane about my special interests, but never had any luck. I read a lot of books, and every once in a while I'd get a crush on a book character and talk about nothing else for months. That was in preschool and first few years of school. The amazing thing is, I sometimes managed to get my (very neurotypical I have to say) friends to follow my special interests with me. Once in 3rd grade, I read a book that fascinated me so much, I decided to direct a play based on the book. I got my two best friends heavily involved, and we worked on our "theater" for almost a year. Nothing came out of it - obviously, I was no play director!

Then suddenly, I lost interest in the book completely, and became interested in cats. My same two friends and I formed a cat club. One of us had a female cat and our plan was to breed kittens. We were going to get male cats off the street, and have our female cat do the deed with them. (Of course, none of us really knew what was supposed to occur, other than we were supposed to get kittens as the end result!) Our club had its own songs that we wrote (all about cats and romantic cat love!), an anthem, a cat roster, and all that good stuff. We actually managed to catch a couple stray cats on the street, confirm that the cats were indeed male, and try to fix them up with our female kitty (she was NOT happy). We never did produce any kittens. Eventually, the kitty, probably on her last nerve, ran away and was never found. My friend's Mom got him a male cat instead, that was promptly neutered - so much for our breeding plans! I cannot believe it myself, but our cat club lasted for three years. Then my friends caught the early puberty train, lost interest in catching cats, and the whole thing broke up.

Then I was interested in politics. Then for a year or two, I was interested in Indian culture. When I was twelve, I made my first money at a temp job delivering telegrams. I used it to buy an LP that was made in India and had about a dozen songs from an Indian movie I'd never seen. With deep apologies to my readers who enjoy Indian music, I have to tell you that, in retrospect, the LP sounded like a cat being strung by its balls. I loved it madly, and played it at least five times a day. My poor, poor parents.

Then I had a series of crushes on guys from school, camp, etc. The guys had one thing in common, they were all entirely out of my league. Looking back, I realize that my crushes also had a special interest flavor to them. Poor, poor guys.

Then I went to college, then to work, got married, had kids, and before I knew it, I was boringly normal. Or was I? My closest family still tells me that I tend to make rude remarks and I should watch what I say to people. For the longest time, I thought they were making stuff up, because people like me and I have a reputation of being a nice person and I have lots of friends. But now I wonder. What if they'e right after all, and I am still the socially inept Aspie that manages to get along by my charming good looks or whatever? Not sure. Maybe I could use a lil therapy myself!

I still can get intensely involved in something, as indicated by this blog. I fondly remember the time when I had an interest in my work and could spend hours reading literature on the subject, and trying all different ways of coding. That really helped with my professional growth. Too bad these days are over. And, of course, I've been hugely interested in parenting ever since my first child was born. I think this really helped me succeed as a parent (if you can call this success, hehe) because I had no experience with children whatsoever, and it would have been extremely hard for me to learn the ropes if I didn’t have the intense interest in the subject. So, you probably can say that I have, as I said to my son LP, "a little Aspergers on the side" and it works pretty well. Add to that the fact that I understand my own son (and a lot of my coworkers in IT!) very well due to being of the same mold myself - and you will arrive at the same conclusion that I did. AS is in no way, shape or form a disability. It is instead a special frame of mind, and it can be fun if you know how to adjust to living with it.

I hope that my son manages to adjust, as well.

The Goldie has spoken at 11:41 AM

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