Thursday, August 31, 2006

No Good Deed...

Ok, this is long, but until I get acclimated with my new status as college student it's going to be a bit of hit or miss with regularly scheduled postings for a few weeks! Thanks for hanging in there!

Is common sense something we're born with, or is it something that's learned?

Does anybody know? Please please please! I'm dying for that information!!

Our Little Guy at 16 has more common sense than any one person should be allowed to have. He carefully weighs his options and potential consequences before taking action. He's pretty successful at viewing the big picture as a whole.

Big Guy, on the other hand, would run out of the house without his head if it wasn't attached to his body, completely ignoring our cries of "Stop! Wait! You forgot something!"

Then he'd call us later and complain, "How could YOU let me run out of the house without my head? I didn't leave it in my room. Someone must have moved it. Did YOU move my head just to ruin my day? That's bad parenting!"

Of course, when he came home, his head would be sitting in its usual place on his dresser in plain sight.

I used to think it was just Big Guy who was afflicted with a no-common-sense gene. After the last 2 days, I'm not so sure it's an isolated case.

Bear with me. For this story, my Big Guy is named "Moe". It's a little weird and confusing.

And weird. And confusing.

Did I already say that?

Since Moe has decided to stay home and go to college this year, he has hooked up with a couple of friends from military prep school. One of them, "Larry", recently moved to our fair state, and is going to college about 4 1/2 hours Northeast from us. I'm not going to mention the college town, but if you're from Colorado, you'll know what I'm talking about if I tell you that the two main industries in that town are the state college and slaughterhouses. It's one big rough stink-hole, which I'll call "Collegetown".

Larry hooked Moe up with a mutual prep-school buddy named "Curly", who lives in Denver, which is a midpoint between our two burgs.

They all got together last week and Big Guy, aka Moe, spent the night up in Collegetown with them getting reacquainted. Missed his connecting bus home in Denver late at night and had to be rescued by his uncle (thought the "El Paso County" bus was going to El Paso, Texas and didn't get on instead of looking at the number on his ticket), but that's another stupid story.

Anyways, Big Guy (ok I'm going to give up the Moe thing now that I've gone for the Three Stooges effect) had two tickets for a Tool concert in south Denver yesterday. He invited Larry from Collegetown, and since Curly from Denver had a car AND his own ticket, Curly decided to pick Larry up and drive him down and the three would go together.

I got a suite thingy at the Holiday Inn that would sleep 5. The plan was that I would drive Big Guy to south Denver, we'd all meet up at the hotel, the guys would go to the concert, sleep over and Curly would drive Larry and Big Guy back up to Collegetown the next day. They'd all hang out and Big Guy would take the bus back home on Saturday.

Nothing ever goes as planned, and no good deed goes unpunished.

I'm going to skip over the part where Curly and Larry showed up at our house at 1am the night before the concert---2 1/2 hours out of their way---when we had school on Wednesday. And the part where they were tooling around while Big Guy and I were in class in the city and called Hubby for help (up in the mountains) when Curly locked his keys in his car. Oy!

So....Big Guy and I were at the hotel, 3 hours before the concert. Got in touch with Larry and Curly---who had resolved the keys-locked-in-the-car problem and were on their way.

I had planned to take the guys out to dinner before the doors opened at the concert, but when Larry and Curly got there---there was a problem.

Apparently Curly didn't actually HAVE a ticket. The concert had sold out within a day, a friend of his supposedly had an extra ticket and had offered it to him like 3 months before. The "friend" hadn't been taking his calls for a couple of days, and he didn't know if he could get in or not. Yikes!

Since he was the one with the car, he wanted to go to the venue right away to see if his "friend" would show up with his ticket. The other two stooges agreed, so no communal dinner. I told them that if Curly didn't get into the concert and went home to call me and I'd pick them up.

This is how it played out...

I went to Arby's and bought a buttload of roast beef sandwiches and curly fries (5 for 5 bucks!). With extra Horsey sauce. No Arby's up in our mountain town, and a roast beef sandwich slathered in Horsey sauce is my ultimate guilty pleasure.

I must be psychic. Stuck the extras in the mini-fridge and spent the evening napping and working on my schoolwork (since the guys had shown up in the middle of the night the night before, I'd had about 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep).

Big Guy had 50 bucks in cash to buy a t-shirt at the concert. The boys used it to buy a scalped ticket so Curly could get in. In return, Larry used his debit card so Big Guy could get his shirt. Somehow, Curly got off without having to pay anything, but I haven't pointed that out to them yet.

After the concert, the guys were starving because they missed dinner. Big Guy had no more cash, Curly was broke (or else he could have bought his own damned scalped ticket), so Larry magnanimously ordered them all dinner at Mickey D's.

His debit card was declined due to lack of funds. His well was dry.

Larry and Big Guy got back to the hotel about 12:30am. Curly decided to sleep at his own home. They were grateful for leftover Arbys.

And oh yeah. Curly couldn't drive them back to Collegetown the next day, because he had to go to work and had already spent their up-front gas money.

There was absolutely NO way I was going to drive 6-7 hours to get Big Kid and Larry up to Collegetown and myself back home. I had appointments and stuff to do, like a pop-essay due to be submitted online that afternoon. I needed to be home when Little Guy got off the school bus at 3pm.

So as soon as I woke up I called the Greyhound Buslines. There was a bus leaving in an hour and a half across Denver (during rush hour traffic), so I rolled the guys out of bed, got packed and kicked their butts to the station. Made it within 6 minutes of bus departure.

I pulled into the loading zone, popped the trunk, threw a handful of cash at them and screamed "Run Forrest, run!"

Ok not exactly that, but close.

They made the bus.

There's a lot more silliness and stupidity surrounding this, but I've abbreviated it because this post is so long.

I swear that I just don't "get" the lack of common sense in all areas. On one hand I'm relieved, because it proves that my son isn't an anomaly.

On the other I'm a little scared, because these boys have had the best prep-school education money can buy and to be frank, a sack full of hair seems to be better prepared to face the world. What the heck?

As a side note...

I waited in the bus loading zone for 30 minutes, just in case the boys missed the bus and came out.

Of course, Larry had forgotten his charger, and his cell phone had no juice. I knew that going in. Son, on the other hand, had his phone turned off, and didn't think to call me to say "We're on the bus!" I called the number about 12 times before hitting the road home.

I got on the highway, fought the traffic, and an hour into my drive home I was more than a little groggy.

It was 10am, and I hadn't had a drop of coffee all morning or a morsel of food.

Plus I had to pee like a racehorse.

I pulled off into a small town with services and limped my way into the 7-11. After sitting in a car for almost 3 hours, everything was stiff.

A handsome young guy breezed past me and got to the bathroom ahead of me. I wondered if I should get my coffee while I was waiting (looking ahead to my day's obligations and speculating if it would cut time) but decided that I didn't want to risk my place in line and really---didn't actually want to find a spot to put the coffee when I was in the can, if there wasn't a convenient shelf.

While I was mulling it over, I heard the toilet flush, and the young guy came out.

I went in, and GAK!

He'd pissed ALL OVER the toilet seat. And even hit the floor in a couple of spots.

So I came out, and caught up with him as he was buying his obligatory pack of smokes at the counter. I had ENOUGH of young-manly nonsense!

I said to the clerk, "Excuse me. I need to use the bathroom, and this young man (pointed in his face) pissed all over the toilet seat. Could someone clean it up or give ME some cleaning supplies, because I really need to use the facilities."

Then I turned to him (he was beet-red) and added, "Didn't your mother ever teach you to lift the seat or clean up after yourself? You should be ashamed of yourself!!"

He bolted out of there.

Turns out that this 7-11 was a mom and pop and daughter operation. They laughed their butts off.

And gave me a free coffee.

Made my day.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

You Are What You Eat...

Ever wonder if some people just get up and eat a big steaming bowl of stupid for breakfast?

I do.

Especially lately. I can't turn on the news or read the paper without some story about willful idiocy jumping out and biting me on the nose.

Jeffrey Cullen from Kingman, Arizona knew that his local fire department only responds to fire calls.

So when his cat wouldn't come down from a tree, he called 911 and told them that his tree was on fire.

I guess he figured that once emergency services got there and discovered there WAS no fire, they'd say, "no hard feelings" and get his cat down anyway (trying to follow his logic here).

No dice. They told him to call animal control or wait for the cat to get hungry and come down by itself.

Cullen must have had an extra helping of stupid that morning. He was so disgruntled that he went back in his house, came out with a gun and tried to shoot the fire fighters (and a 12-year-old neighbor who was watching the show) for failing to rescue his cat.

He's being held on 4 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

An honorable "steaming bowl of stupid" mention goes out to the Orange County man who wasted around $30K of tax payer's money and emergency resources because he was too ashamed to take himself to the ER when a little booty experimentation went awry.

You can read the whole sad and sordid story at this link.

I KNOW there's got to be a gerbil joke in here somewhere!

And how was YOUR week?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Silliness and Frustration on the Academic Front

Sorry I've been AWOL.

It's the first week of school for all of us! Except for Hubby, of course.

He's had to deal with corn dogs and chicken nuggets for dinner for a couple of nights, but he's a real champ!

Or too scared to complain.

Either way, it's all good.

So our first week of classes are done (Big Kid and I go Mondays and Wednesdays).

I'm pooped.

Not from the classes. They're delightful and I'm really enjoying them. Everyone is full of enthusiasm, and it's been great meeting new people. Lots of moms like me coming back into college, and the kids are so friendly!

It's the administrative BS that's driving me nuts.

I wrote back in my posts
Feeling More Than a Little Annoyed and Revenge of the Cranky Admissions Lady, about trying to get my proper legal name and address into their overburdened and archaic system.

Today I went to the admissions office to get the last snafu corrected during a period that I had off and Big Kid was in class.

I waited until classes were in full swing so I wouldn't be number 20 in line. I was number 5, which was a blessing, because incredibly, there was only 1 person staffing.

3 stations, 2 closed, 1 person to help.

At 10am.

During the first week of classes.

I have a sneaking suspicion that a few weeks from now, when the add/drop period has ended and there is absolutely nothing going on, that all 3 of those stations will be fully staffed all damn day.

I'll report back.

When it was my turn, I explained that somehow, my name was listed as Attila S. Mom. My middle name isn't S. It's never been S. Where in the world did they come up with S.?

Can I see your student ID Card?

"I don't have one. I need to get this fixed first."

You have to get your ID immediately.

"I realize that. But I need to get this fixed first (Hey Buddy, I could get the ID with my incorrect info, but it will cost me 10 bucks to get a replacement!)."

I need the info off your ID card.

"You can't look me up off my social security number? Or my assigned student number?"

We're in the process of changing our system from the city-wide system to the state-wide system. Your student ID card assigns you a whole new number.

"Ok, so....I'm no longer listed under my social or previous student number that was assigned to me a mere month ago?"

You are, but it will take longer on the computer to look up your info.

Well BFD!! I've patiently waited for in line so you could deal with everybody else's problems! Sh*t or get off the pot already!

Gak. It took 5 minutes and it was done. Whoopdedo! Big hardship for him. He didn't even break a sweat!

I, of course, sucked up shamelessly and thanked him profusely.

I'm learning the dance.

Big Kid had an afternoon class that meets only on Wednesdays, is about 2 3/4 hours long and today was his first day.

I decided that since I was in the city and didn't have any homework to do on campus, I'd run over to Walmart and get the guys their fall supply of undies and socks.

A half-hour into Big Kid's class time, I'm tooling around Wally World, comparing prices and styles on Hanes and Fruit of the Looms.

My cell rings.

Mom! I need help! I went to room 201 for my class, but my class isn't there! It's an English class! I talked to the instructor, and she didn't know where my class is!

"Is there a note on the door?"


"Ok, take your schedule and go to admissions or information and ask them to help you. Then call me back!"

Another half-hour later, I bought all the necessities, got back in my car, thought about stopping somewhere to get a nice ice cold soda (it was 93 degrees today) and my phone rang again.

Mom! Can you come get me? The admissions guy has the same schedule that I have, and they don't know where my class is!

So I picked the kid up and we went home.

As soon as we got there, I got on the horn and called the college.

This was the surreal conversation with Enrollment Services and Scheduling, and I am NOT freaking kidding you!

I explained the situation about son being registered for the class, and not finding it at the room 201 that was on his schedule, and how the school computer system apparently still said that the class was being held in room 201.

And why weren't there 20+ displaced students waiting outside the door?

Me: Could you please give me Professor XXX's office phone number and email address?

Dork on the phone: Did you say the class was still in session?

Me: Yes, I think there's still about 20 minutes left of it.

Dork on the phone: S
ince class is in session, Professor XXX probably won't be answering his phone.

Me: (Uh DUH!) I realize this, but we need to contact him to explain why Big Kid wasn't in class (since not showing up the first day is grounds for being dropped).

Dork on the phone:
Why don't I just give you the room number so he can go to the rest of the class?

Me: Well, considering that there is now about 15 minutes of class left, and it will take us 45 minutes to get back there, I think the class will be over. But we DO need the professor's phone and email address.

Dork on the phone gave it to us.

Me: By the way, what IS the correct room number?

Dork on the phone:
Hang on a minute.

Came back.

Dork on the phone:
It's room 201.

No sh*t!

I gave the professor's office number to the Kid to call and leave a message.

He called it and the number was disconnected.

So he called the college MAIN switchboard number and asked for the Professor by name. Got his voicemail, and left a message.

I was so stressed out and practically in tears when Hubby came home. We have our in-the-city class schedule worked out precisely to fit in with Little Guy's.

Hubby had a different perspective.

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but Big Kid is registered in the CSI program. He's interested in being a crime-scene photographer.

This particular class (other than the general academic stuff he has to take for his degree) is the first class that involves the program.

So was this a test?

Was he supposed to follow bread crumbs and deduce where his class would be?

If so, I'm going to break my foot off in somebody's butt.


Thanks, Friends, for checking in and I promise, I'll catch up shortly!

Best to you all....


An update: After talking to no less than 4 bodies, I finally found out what happened.

Number One son went to room 201, except it's now really room 204.

Apparently this semester they added (?) 3 rooms on one end of the hall or something and it bumped the room numbers up.

They just haven't actually changed the room numbers yet. It should be fixed immediately.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Getting Gouged on More Than Gas

Biff!!! Zowee!!! Kapow!!!


No, you're not watching an old Batman rerun. And I'm not doing a one-on-one interview with consumers pumping gas at their local service station.

This is the sound of my wallet being beaten to death while trying to buy college textbooks.

As most of my blogfriends know, I'm going back to college alongside the Big Kid. I always wanted to get my Paralegal Certificate, and circumstances being what they are, now is a great time to do it.

Classes start next week.

The college we're attending is promoting the heck out of its "Women's Re-entry Program".


Let me say that again.

Ha! Ha ha ha ha ha! And Ha!

I've already commented on my difficulty with the entire admissions process in previous posts.

Big Kid and I don't qualify for any financial aid or grants.

That's ok. We qualify for in-state tuition, and it's a--koff--bargain.

But even at used prices, the books we require for our classes from our college bookstore are a little over 1/4 of our total combined tuition.

That's if there are any used books available. Tack on another 30% or more for new books.

I understand that colleges rely on revenue from the bookstores, but this has become outrageous.

Instead of competitively pricing their textbooks, they exert an enormous amount of energy and manpower to keep you from being able to buy them elsewhere.

It's reminiscent of the old Colorado Mining Camps. There's only one store in the camp, and it's owned by The Company. You gotta buy your supplies there at a huge mark-up, simply because there's no place else to shop.

You'd imagine that colleges would have grown out of that mind-set in this age of the internet.

Guess again!

When the Big Kid came back from college last spring, he was an absolute medical mess. He had to re-take two of the classes he failed that last semester down in the city over the summer because they were required.

I called the bookstore to find out if the English 121 book he had at the previous college (we paid $93.79 for it) was also used for THIS English 121 class.

They refused to tell me. I asked for the ISBN number, and was refused.

"You have to come to the book store personally to ask. We're not allowed to give this information over the phone."


So we went down into the city, we had the wrong book, and shelled out another $72 (used) for the correct one.

Afterwords, just for comparative purposes, I went to Alibris online and found out that we could have purchased either book, used and in excellent condition, for around $35.00.

Oh joy.

So this time, I got the info available on the college website (author's last name, abbreviated title, edition, astronomical price) and went to Alibris first off. Found the closest matches, including ISBN and went to the bookstore to compare, along with our class schedules.

Half of the books we needed weren't even there. There were just empty sections with tags where the books were supposed to be.

I asked the lovely young clerk with a Charlie's Angels-do about it. She came over and took a look at the empty spaces and said, "Well, we're out. You'll have to go buy them at the main campus (far far away) or order them online from our website. You can pick them up here at the end of the week."

I said, "Can I at least get the ISBN numbers or titles so I know what I'm ordering?"

She gave me the hairy eyeball and snapped, "We're not allowed to give that information out!". And flipped her hair and flounced away.


If we choose NOT to order from the campus bookstore, we have to show up at class the first day unprepared because the college refuses to tell us what exact materials we need, either on the phone or in person?

How messed up is that?

I stood there helplessly for a moment after Miss Hair stomped off, not knowing what my next step should be. Then I turned my head.

The freaking tags in front of the empty spaces had the ISBN numbers printed large as life!

So I whipped out my pen and copied them down while she glared at me from behind the counter.

When I got home, I went to Clevermoms coupon site and got an online coupon for 20 bucks off a purchase of $100.00 at Alibris.

Even with expedited shipping (around 25 dollars), I purchased mostly NEW books and saved almost $300.00 off the "used" price the college offered.

What in the heck is wrong with this picture?

I would have been more than happy to forgo the high shipping price and the wait for delivery if I could have bought these same books at a reasonable mark-up at the college bookstore.

I don't MIND supporting the college as long as they aren't strong-arming me and robbing me blind!

But you know, in the end, they got me.

When I left the bookstore (which was hot and airless), I stopped by the nearby vending machine kiosk.

Put a dollar bill in to get a Diet Pepsi. Clicked on the button, nothing. Clicked on a different button, nothing.

So I hit the change return.

Got 3 quarters back.

Looked at a little note taped on the machine.

"For refunds go to the bookstore and request forms B4 or B7".

Thought about facing Miss Hair again.

Pocketed the quarters and scrammed.

I'll just use them for the parking meters that charge $1.00 an hour in the required student fee-paid (whether you have a car or not) parking lot.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Thanks and Howdy!

I just want to extend a big howdy to all my recent visitors who have dropped by to check out The Crash Course. My stat counter has just sky-rocketed in the last few days! I'm really enjoying all the comments and email.

Many thanks to Mir at BlogHer, and Ellie Biscuits Blog for mentioning it!

Special thanks to Belinda at Ninja Poodles for blogging about her shopping experience and for bringing it to their attention (and for bringing BlogHer to mine!).

And of course, thanks to Mr. Fab at Pointless Drivel for getting me started in the first place!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Yes, I'm Weird!!

The Autistic Bitch from Hell over at Whose Planet Is It Anyway? tagged me with a "weird" meme that's been making the rounds. I'm supposed to list 5 weird things about myself.

Only 5?

1. Although he's the most wonderful man in the world, my hubby's feet scare me. Nobody else's feet, just his. They're not smelly or buniony or gross---but his toes are very long and knobby and---pointy. They look like they have an extra "toe-knuckle". I try to keep my own feet curled up when I'm sleeping, because the thought of those toes accidentally poking me gives me the huzz.

I guess the weird thing about it is that our Little Guy has a foot phobia. He has an intense aversion to all feet---even his own. After a shower he can run down the hall butt-nekkid but he's not self-conscious if he has socks on. If he runs down the hall with his shorts on, but no socks, he'll call out, "Don't look! Don't look!"

Is there some genetic connection to this?

2. I LOVE escargot! In garlic butter. Yum yum. Although I was a briefly skeeved out by Anna's post on snail orgies, I remembered that they have to reproduce somehow. More snails for me!

3. Every day I make a to-do list. But I have to do it in numbers to get anything done. Instead of writing down "Clean the kitchen", I have to write "do 25 things in the kitchen" (or "25 family room, 25 bedroom", etc). And if I count them down while I do them, I get the work done twice as fast.

Would that be considered OCD or just anal?

4. I usually read 2-3 books at a time. I've got one in the bedroom, one in the family room and one in the bathroom (No snickering! I read in the tub, too!). I even have one somewhere in my car to read in waiting rooms. Sometimes I get the plots confused, but it just makes everything more interesting!

5. The books I like best are ones with continuing characters. Then I have to read all of them in the series! I even have feelings for some of the characters (yes I know they're fictional!). I've been known to cry my eyes out if someone gets killed off. It's like I've lost a friend.

So that's just 5 of the weird weird things about Attila the Mom!

I'm going to tag KL at Shoalbear's Growlings. Since she's a newbie blogger I'm going to toss her in the deep end.

Swim girl, Swim!

P.S. For the first time in MY meme history, I got my knuckles rapped for NOT tagging someone. So I'm going to tag another friend Mary over at The Eleventh. Tag, you're IT!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Crash Course Update...Woohoo!

I know I said I was taking a few days off, but I got a really fabulous email late last night.

Why was I checking email and not eating crackers in bed with the Hubby?

Simply because last night was the Broncos/Lions pre-season football game.

I could rub steak all over my body and serve a Heineken in my cleavage and all he would say is, Did you see that fumble?

"Yeah Buddy, you're dropping the ball right here, right now!"

So he got to eat crackers by his own bad self.

Belinda at
Ninja Poodles (I just LOVE her banner!) read my Crash Course posts, took them to heart and jumped in feet first. Or would that be head first?

She was kind enough to
blog about her adventures and to email me an update. Go check her out! Way to go!

Be back soon, Friends!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Blog Pimpin'

Big Guy and Little Guy have been away for the last few days, visiting their original dad and his family out in California.

Hubby and I have 5 more days alone to rediscover all the wonderful things that made us fall in love with each other almost 14 years ago.

For example:

He still reaches out to hold my hand while we're sleeping.

And I can still hit the first 5 notes of The Star Spangled Banner in perfect pitch blowing farts with my mouth (aka zerbits) on different parts of his belly.

So we're going to spend the next few days making new laughs and memories---doing things like running around nekkid and scaring the dogs, eating crackers in bed and laughing our tushies off at Beavis and Butthead reruns (something we'd never EVER let the boys catch us doing) on DVD.

Since I haven't blog-pimped in a month or so, and I have lots of fabulous blogs in my sidebar, I thought I'd encourage anybody stopping by my little space while I'm gone to check them out.

If you're in my sidebar and haven't been pimped yet, don't feel neglected---I'm getting to it!

This is Ladies Week!

Ruth Dynamite at Ruthless in the Suburbs is having a birthday today. Drop in and give her your best wishes! Stick around and read her posts---her commentary is so lyrical and flawless!

Ditto with I Obsess. I can't tell you how much I enjoy this lady's writings!

I feel really bad because in my last pimpin' post I wrote about a couple of guys (RC and Jeremy) and their Pop Culture blogs. I completely neglected to include Sheila from My Arms Fold Back.

She gets the best photos, especially of current art exhibits, and you can't beat her commentary! Drop in and give her a holler!

Anna, at The Alternative Anna, can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Hedgehogs and Snail Sex. I mean it! The fact that she's really funny is a bonus.

For truly entertaining blogs from ladies who don't take crap from anybody, and are brilliant at describing the snarkier side of life, please visit Shaking a Fist in Impotent Rage at the Sheer Malignancy of Fate and the Enema Portal for Groan-ups. I promise, you won't be sorry!

Last but not least---you have to check in and read Women Having It All. It's a blog shared by two long-time friends, Lisa and Kelly, who've taken different paths on the career and mommy tracks. Great concept for a blog by two really superior writers. I relish every word!

Be good, stay well and don't forget your sunscreen while I'm gone!!



Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar...

Fair warning to the gents. This is sort of a ladies-specific-post, so you might want to hit the back-button now!

Then again, if you just can't contain your curiosity...we won't tell!

When I was 22 and pregnant with my Little Guy, I invited a single girl-friend of mine from work to come spend the holidays with my family. She was fairly new in town, was unattached, and wasn't able to get back to Chicago and her folks for the season.

I couldn't bear the thought of anyone being alone on Christmas, and my dad always threw the most fabulous do's. Everyone was welcome!

During the gift-giving part, I received a back-massager from Dad, similar to the one pictured above, except the top padded part was larger (this was 17 years ago and I guess the model has been streamlined).

Since my Big Guy was 12+ pounds and a hair shy of 2 feet tall at birth (yes, he drove US home from the hospital!), and Little Guy looked to be heading for the same size, my back ached all the time. For me, this was a wonderful gift.

I threw my arms around Dad and thanked him profusely. "This is so perfect! Thank you SO much!!! I can't WAIT to use it!!!"

My girl-friend just gaped.

A little later, during the festivities, I asked her if something was wrong.

She shook her head and said, "I can't believe your DAD gave you a VIBRATOR for Christmas!"


Color me naive, but as it turned out, this was the same model of back massager that she and a couple of our other friends used for--uh--electronic pleasure.

My dad had back problems and was a gadget freak. My brothers and I had back aches, muscle strains, etc from time to time while growing up. We were used to having back-massagers laying around the house.

For back massaging.

My friend/s, on the other hand, presumably came from homes with strong and ache-free backs. They saw the label "Back Massager" and thought "Instant Man Without Issues".


The reason why I'm bringing this up is because of a recent article I read about how some enhancement products (which once were available only by mail-order or at sex shops) can now be found at your neighborhood drug store.

Plus I was looking for an excuse to tell the above story, which I thought was kind of funny.

Apparently, in addition to the condom displays, a couple of other things are now being offered specifically for women, like personal lubricants or oils.

And the Legion of Moral Decency doesn't like it, because you don't have to be 21 to buy them.

The Trojan Condom "vibrating ring" was referred to, and I had absolutely no idea what that was.

Believe me, I studiously perused that particular aisle as I reported in my post about condoms. If I had seen anything resembling THAT, I might have taken a closer look!

But I just now found out that I happen to live in one of the 8 states that "have laws that limit or forbid the sale of products designed to stimulate genitalia." They include Texas, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia.

What the heck?

And would this ban include Back Massagers too?

I did some googling to see what nefarious products were currently disguised as aids for back and neck pain, and came upon a few that seem suspect. We women definitely need to be protected from these!

This massaging back-rest "cushion" has got to go. What's to keep us from turning it upside down and sitting on it's face?

Or how about this one? Looks like it gives good head to me! Good head is BAD! Ban it!

This back massager in the shape of a crab must be done away with. Because it could lead to things like--uh--more crabs. Wait a minute. I think this is a lobster. Never mind then.

This next one should be safe for womanly use. Other than giving a heavy-duty deep muscle massage, I can't imagine anyone using it for purposes other than sanding a deck.

Life's ridiculous sometimes, isn't it?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Parents Behaving Badly

What would Mr. Rogers say?

You know, when I read the first stories about the following incident, I was furious. I imagine I looked like a red-faced cartoon character with steam shooting out of my ears.

And I had tears in my eyes.

After a neighborhood spat, Darren Galbraith hung a sign in his yard directed at his neighbor, whose 13-year-old son has autism and other developmental disabilities.


Despite protests from the community, the police and disability advocates, he refused to take it down.

Carrie Heaton, the boy's mother commented, "They've put up this sign now, that we feel is very discriminatory against my son."

I sat down and wrote an indignant post full of scathing comments such as "flabby bully and high-mileage wife", and noted the misuse of the apostrophe with, "who's the 'retard', you ignorant dipsh*t?"

Obviously, this incident was a huge trigger for me.

I put the post on ice, and walked away from it for a few days.

Since the initial reports came out, additional articles have followed-up on the story and given a more complete--and complex--view of the situation.

My self-righteous fury (which seemed to be so black and white originally) is now muddied down to many shades of gray. I thought about abandoning this subject completely, but it has been weighing on my mind.

It seems as if most of the adults in this boy's life are failing him, and it makes me feel so sad.

In the two years that the Heatons have lived in this Nephi, Utah neighborhood, the police have been called many times.

On one side are multiple neighbors who've complained about an unsupervised boy who throws rocks (at cars and at other children), exposes himself, pokes dogs with sticks, enters their homes uninvited and rummages through their belongings.

On the other is a mother who blames the situation on mean-spirited and bigoted neighbors who are picking on her son for his disabilities.

"People like to use him for a scapegoat. They're always threatening, if he steps on their grass, 'Well, we're calling the cops. We're calling the cops.' You know what? Call the cops."

Just like in her last neighborhood.


What was that?

The police have a different story. Heaton's son does have a history of throwing things at cars and going into other people's homes. He once walked into an elderly woman's bathroom while she was in the bath.

They've been loath to issue any citations because of the boy's disabilities, and have usually left the scene after giving Heaton a good talking-to.

And so the neighbors are beyond frustration, because the behavior is ongoing.

Due to ridicule, condemnation and publicity, the Galbraiths have taken down that horrific sign and social services are finally stepping in.

It's about damn time.

It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but I truly think this boy has been failed by most of the adults in his life. In my opinion, this ugly episode might have been avoided had the police and/or neighbors contacted Child Services after each incident.

A few complaints from specific individuals could possibly be considered to be discrimination (God knows that there is still plenty of prejudice against those with disabilities---even in blogland---where the ignorant pepper their posts with "retard" and worse yet "f*cktard" in attempts to be clever).

But multiple complaints from a whole neighborhood? From two neighborhoods?

I think Ms. Heaton is in deep denial. Or maybe she's simply overwhelmed. Either way, her son is not living in a safe environment. She needs supports to help with him, and maybe this incident will force her to accept them.

I hope she sees this as a wake-up call.

At least for her son's sake, if for nothing else.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Asshat of the Week---Jill Greenberg

Our blogging buddy Carmachu sent me a link the other day nominating a potential Asshat.

He was feeling rather digusted over a photographer who was making babies cry to produce a political art exhibit.

After reading the link he sent and doing some googling on my own, I have to agree.

There's been a lot of controversy surrounding photographer Greenberg's recent show at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles.

Although her work has been mostly commercial, her "fine arts" resume consists of photographing monkeys.

And now it includes making babies cry while taking pictures of them for art and profit.

She's taken around 35 pictures of different children for her exhibit, some of her own two, some from friends and some from modeling agencies.

Greenberg defends her work by saying, "I have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and she cries for no reason, a hundred times a day. It's normal."

I don't know about anyone else, but as a parent, I certainly don't think that at two-and-a-half, crying "for no reason, a hundred times a day" is "normal".

What were the parents of these children thinking? Stars in their eyes? Heads up their butts?

Let's see....they take their babies to Greenberg's studio. Under the lights, she takes their shirts off, pokes them with a stick to make them cry and takes pictures of them.

In the meantime, these idiotic parents sit in the wings hoping that if their baby cries attractively enough, Greenberg will make him famous.

Ok, I made the "poking with the stick" part up. I really did.

Greenberg actually gave them lollipops, let them lick them and then snatched them away. And zoomed in with her lens.

She says, "Maybe getting kids to cry isn't the nicest thing to do, but I'm not causing anyone permanent psychological damage."

How does she know this? By taking The Dr. Phil 20-Minute TV Seminar on Advanced Psychology? By sleeping at a Holiday Inn Express last night?

Frankly, to be honest, I don't think she's really causing them permanent psychological damage either.

But why in the world would any responsible parent deliberately allow some photographer to make their most precious child--their baby-- frightened or distressed enough to actually cry for the sake of profit?

It's your job to keep them feeling safe, you boneheads!

Forget about art for a minute. Do any of these parents imagine that Greenberg would have done this project if there wasn't a financial incentive?

It makes me wonder.

How far is too far when it comes to our children?

What is acceptable for the sake of :::koff::: art?

Should lines be drawn? And where?

A couple of weeks ago, RC at Strange Culture wrote a post about how many search hits he had gotten off his blog when he wrote about a controversial new movie that 12-year-old actress Dakota Fanning is filming, called Hounddog (post is at this link). He has an interesting debate going on in his comments section. Go check it out and take a minute and weigh in.

Apparently some of the backers have pulled out, because there are explicit scenes of Fanning's child character being brutally raped, and scenes where she is naked or clad only in her panties.

My stomach hurts just contemplating this. How necessary are these explicit visuals to further the plot (or--puke--maintain "artistic integrity"), and how much is titillation for pure profit?

And what in the hell are HER parents thinking?

Previous Asshats:

June 10th's Asshat

May 24th's Asshat

May 8th's Asshat

April 25th's Asshat

April 10th's Asshat

March 28th's Asshat