Monday, September 29, 2008

I was reading this entry at a blog I look at on occassion.

I don't understand all of the deadly food allergies that are suddenly around. In my elementary school, we had one kid with a nut allergy (he happened to be my neighbor - I babysat him on occassion). And that was it. No one was going to be on the verge of death if they looked at a carton of milk. No one was going to explode if they ate a piece of bread.

And that one kid with a nut allergy? His parents didn't expect every kid in the school to go nut-free because of him. He ate his lunch alone during the actual lunch-eating period, then all the kids washed their hands and they went outside or to the gym for recess. The parents in his classroom were asked not to send snacks with nuts for birthdays and the like, but that was the only real accomodation that was made.

Now, all of a sudden, everyone has deadly allergies to some food or another. And parents expect the whole school to change to accomodate their kid. Why should I not put cheese on my kid's sandwhich because one kid on some other classroom has an allergy? It's ridiculous.

Sorry if I'm offending the parents out there. I admit I'm not one, and my perspective may be different because of that. I was a teacher, though. And if we had a kid with allergies at the school where I taught, the snack rule I mentioned above was in effect, but parents weren't told they can never give their own kids peanut butter sandwiches, or bread with gluten in it, or milk or whatever because one kid in the class was allergic. It was that kid who sometimes had to make sacrifices. Because you know what? Sometimes in life you have to sacrifice. I don't like amusement park rides that go upside down. Does that mean I ask the park to suspend operations of those rides whenever I go so I don't feel left out? No, it just means I don't ride those rides. Food with blue dye in it makes my stomach do unpleasant things. Do I require that the cakes people at work bring in for birthdays or whatever never have blue icing? No, I just don't have a piece of cake that day. See how it works?

Is it a hard lesson for a kid to learn. Sure. But it is a lesson all of us need to learn someday.

And I firmly believe that the reason we have so many allergies, and "sensitivities" and whatnot popping up these days is that kids aren't allowed to get dirty any more. Parents are always on the lookout for the slightest bit of dirt and standing by with hand sanitizer, wet wipes, etc. When I was a kid, we were outside in the dirt all the time. I probably ate my weight in dirt (and lead paint, to boot) by the time I was five. And aside from some ear infections and some upper respiratory infections (that were most likely caused - or at least made worse - by my mother's smoking), I made it through kidhood unscathed.

OK. Cranky time is over. Back to your regularly scheduled...internet.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Go read the last two blog entries from TG.

I rather enjoyed the one where she summarized our whole economy in the form of a loose tooth.

Tomorrow, I will share with you the latest Sunday School adventure, in which I gained three more students this week. I am amazed that we have so many already confirmed teenagers still coming to Sunday School.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I listed my status on Facebook today as "sad and frustrated." And I am.

The sad is probably 75% hormonal. I go through that every now and then. And it magnifies everything else that is going on around me.

Like my office mate taking a 3 and a half hour lunch today. It frustrated me to the point where I was close to tears. Of the 6.5 hours we overlapped today, he was only at his desk for two of them. Other than the lunch, he roamed the building for 25 minutes one time, came back to his desk for 15 minutes and then roamed for another 35. It makes me mad that they rest of us work like mad to get things done, and he takes off whenever he wants (seriously. I can't figure out how he does it considering he has the same number of sick and vacation days as I do.), wanders around the building, takes 3 hours to do one resume (it should take no more than an hour). I know my boss is aware, so I'm not going to tattle or anything. But it is still frustrating.

I have tried being patient with all this. He has a baby at home and his wife is a nurse. It's harder for her to take time off than it is for him. And honestly, if it was just the time off, it wouldn't bother me. The extended lunches, however, and the socializing around the building when we are on deadline, those kind of things just tick me off.

I don't even feel guilty about eating Raising Cane's while watching The Biggest Loser.

Monday, September 22, 2008

When I fantasize about getting my book published (of course, that would mean I actually have to finish it first - in my fantasies, that isn't an issue), I don't have any grandiose thoughts about being given multi-million dollar advances, multibook deals, or seeing my book turned into a major motion picture starring...well, I can't think of anyone famous who would fit in the lead role., I fantasize about three things.

1. Handing over a check to pay off my student loans

2. Being interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air

3. Going back to my high school reunion and saying to all the popular people who made my life a living hell at times, "Bite me, Bitches!"

I'm not particularly proud of that last one, even in fantasy, but it would feel sooo good when I did it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I wish Oprah would stop endorsing books. I really, really wanted to read this one, but I made a vow to never read any book she picked for her "book club." I just don't believe that celebrities should be telling us what we should read, and I especially don't think that Oprah should have so much influence on the tastes of the United States that as soon as she recommends something it becomes a best seller.

Oprah is not the second coming, folks. (At least I assume she isn't. Somehow, I think the Big Guy would choose a less consumerist person for His reappearance on the third rock from the sun).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I bought a piece of what was advertised as pumpkin pie at Whole Foods tonight.

It has pecans in it.

And it doesn't say it has pecans in it on the ingredients list.

First of all, who puts pecans in pumpkin pie?

Second, with all the nut allergies out there, how can anyone sell anything with nuts in it without saying "Hey! There are nuts in here!"

How disappointing.

My alma mater's student newspaper is finally online.

I didn't write for them when I was in college. I was too shy as a freshman to go to their offices, and, truth be told, not all that interested in journalism. One of my regular readers did, though, so she'll appreciate this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

On the first day of Sunday School, Jesus gave to me...

...a much bigger class than I was expecting.

Based on the estimates I was given, I was expecting somewhere between 4-6 ninth through 12th graders yesterday morning. I ended up with four high school students, 3 eighth graders, one sixth grader, and a 20 year old who can't bring herself to sit through the adult forum, where the youngest participants are more than twice her age (I feel her pain...)

The eighth graders will eventually be taught by the interim pastor for confirmation when she arrives. I suspect the 6th grade will join them, even though she is too young for confirmation. She already made her first communion, so asking her to sit through that class with the 5th graders isn't fair.

I wasn't expecting to have such a wide age range, and the high school kids weren't really happy about it. They were even less happy about the "opening ceremony" which is planned for the opening of classes each week. It's intended to get everyone together to pray together before class, but the problem with that plan is that it is absolutley impossible to plan prayer for a group of kids from preschoolers through 12th grade. The middle school and high school students absolutley don't want to jump up and sing, "Allelu, allelu (Praise ye the Lord)" or "Jesus loves me." The preschool kids can't dig deep into prayer like the older ones can. It just doesn't work.

I told my class yesterday that if they didn't want to sit through that every week, they didn't have to. I can't subject them or myself to that every week. The problem is that the woman who is organizing that is a pinnacle of our congregation, well respected, very...outspoken, etc. She is also a first grade teacher who, I think, just doesn't get how...offended middle school and high school students are to be asked endure that. And it's not like they are being asked to plan, or read, or anything else, which I could get behind. They are just being asked to sit in the pew like good little boys and girls and jump up whenever the song calls for it. Blerg.

Oh, the supply pastor we had this week (who we've probably had more than any of the others) had an awesome stole for the Feast of Holy Cross. It consisted of patchwork crosses in different shades of green, but at first your eye only saw the darkest ones. It's very hard to describe, but it was very cool.

And the children's sermon was awesome yesterday. It was only three preschoolers up front with the pastor, but they were really listening and interacting, and climbing all over her. It was really fun. To see those little kids with so much energy and enthusiasm really gives me hope. I just hope the world doesn't crush it out of them down the line.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'll write about our first week of Sunday School later (in which I'll tell the tale of how I ended up with a class of 9 that ranged from 6th grade to college sophomore, when I was expecting 6 - and two of those didn't make it this week!).

But first, here is part of what is wrong with FEMA.

I understand requiring states and local governments to pay their share of disaster response and recovery costs. But there has to be some kind of sliding scale. East Feliciana is a small, rurual parish. They don't have a big tax base, and they don't have high property values. I belive the police jury there (a police jury is kind of like a county council) when they say they don't have the money to pay their share.

Yet, in terms of damage, East Feliciana was one of the hardest hit parishes. Gustav itself didn't do a lot of damage there, but the tornados it spawned sure did. I counted about 15 separate tornado warnings for East Feliciana - and those are just the ones I heard.

I'm not enough of a libretarian (and I probably mangled the spelling of that) to believe that we should abolish the federal income tax and let the states handle these things for themselves. But I do believe that if we are going to pay taxes to the federal government, they need to be there in times of need, regardless of whether a county or parish or whatever can afford to match at 25%.

Also, it's pretty wrong of FEMA to tell the police jury after the fact that they would have to reimburse FEMA for the blue tarps issued to residents. In the heat of the moment, when people have holes in their roofs and are desperate to protect their homes, no one should be thinking of how much this is going to cost the parish down the line. Will it make small counties and parishes less likely to accept that kind of aid later on down the line? What will they do then?

And Ike...ugh. But it's good to see that the media is generally not treating this as such a big deal either. I don't feel quite as left out now. All those downtown skyscrapers losing windows? Who cares? A couple million without power long term? Not sexy. Very few deaths? We're ready to move on. At least they are consistent.

I have to say though (on a slightly unrelated note) that I'm really, really glad that one of the Longs (and I have no idea which one - they all run together) declared that East Baton Rouge Parish couldn't have any buildings that were taller than the state capital (which is the tallest state capital in the country). We don't really have any skyscrapers as a result. That's a good thing in hurricane country.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend the movie Saved!. I had been wanting to see it for a while because it got really good notices when it first came out, but it sure didn't play here. Any move that might suggest that maybe the fundamentalist approach to Christianity isn't necessarily the right one wouldn't play here, in the heart of the Bible belt. Of course, very few independent films actually make it here regardless, but the theme of this one really, really made it unlikely.

Anyway, it was a fantastic little movie. If you liked Mean Girls, you'll probably like this one, too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A local TV station here started a run on gas around here yesterday when they reported on their noon newscast that gas could go has high as $5 a gallon overnight (from $3.54 on average) as a result of Hurricane Ike. Of course, they did say that it would likely not increase more than $0.75, and some chains of stations said not more than $0.13.

Naturally, no one heard that last part. Lines at gas stations stretched out onto the roads and blocked traffic all afternoon and well into the evening.

People are stupid. Yes, gas will increase. That's what happens when refineries shut down for several days. No, it will not suddenly spike to $10 a gallon. That is price fixing, and it is illegal, and the attorney general here is watching for it. Folks, when you panic like that, all you are doing is making life more difficult for all of us. Think of all the gas you wasted sitting in line. All to save $1.30 on 10 gallons of gas? Is that really worth it?


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Listen to this interview with Kip Holden, the mayor of Baton Rouge. This is what we are dealing with.

By the way, Kip is a very popular politician here. He is honest, and he gets stuff done. And he is the rare breed of southern politician, an African American man extremely popular among whites.

I get to go home tomorrow.

I'm listening to a coworker help his son (about 7 or 8) with his homework. It makes me want a kid.

It will pass, though.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Totally Not Hurricane Related...

I'm still in Anniston waiting to see where Ike goes, and I still don't have power in my building in Baton Rouge.

Yesterday, I went to church with and and lunch with some lovely, if really, really old, Lutherans. It was a tiny little church, with a pastor from Birmingham coming down every Sunday (though they are about to get a lay minister all their own). There were maybe 50 people in attendance (if they were lucky), and they were all really, really old. They insisted that I join them for their fellowship hour (which consists of a potluck every week - even really, really old Southern ladies insist on cooking for potlucks, I guess). The food was good, they had no idea Gustav was so bad (thanks, national media!), and they made me take leftovers back to the hotel with me.

Oh, and LP, you would have loved this church. Traditional architecture, Stations of the Cross on the walls, a side altar with a cross and icons (I couldn't get close enough to see them clearly, but I think one was Christ Pantocrator, and the other one might have been Marian).

My church missed out on the opportunity to get a discount on the Gathering 2009 in New Orleans (Lutheran Youth Conference). We got a really late start because of the retirement of our pastor and the fact that no one stepped up to take care of the youth in his stead until I did. So now, instead of having to raise $200 per person, we have to raise about $600-700 per person. And doing that is complicated by the fact that so many of our parishoners had severe damage to their homes. I hate asking people for money when they've taken such a big financial hit. Oh, and we've missed the deadline for applying for scholarship funds, too.


Oh, and (for those of you with ties to Gannon), when did they start a Catholic House in addition to the Kirk House, and why? I liked the fact that the KH was interdenominational. I think it was a good thing for all concerned. It sounds like a lot less fun than the KH was, too (well, except for the election of '92...but we don't need to talk about that...).

Also, can y'all figure out where exactly this place is? Isn't 6th and Myrtle Wickford Apts (well, Wickford, the Erie Women's club, a law firm, idea what is a across Myrtle from Wickford)?

The things you discover when you are in exile in the middle of nowhere, waiting to get to go home.

Friday, September 05, 2008

I know I said I'd write more when I'm settled here in Alabama. I will do that.

I want everyone to know, though, that Louisiana is still receiving damage now, even though the rains and winds have passed. There is one neighborhood that started flooding today, when debris blocked a drainage ditch for a creek that flows from the Comite River. Ironically, the creek's name is Hurricane Creek. 100 families have anywhere from 3-8 feet of water in their homes.

Despite what it seems from the national media, Louisiana is really in bad, bad shape. And I'm talking about the whole state. The northern parishes didn't have much wind damage, but the got absolutely dumped on with rain, and hundreds upon hundreds of homes flooded. I was going to say nice things some of the government entities responding to this thing (even the one that starts with an F and ends with an A), but I changed my mind.

I will say, however, that Bobby Jindal, is doing a heck of a job (sorry - I just realized that echoed GWB from three years ago, but I mean it sincerely). It pains me to say that, because he is a Republican. Pay attention to him, because you are looking at your Republican nominee for president in either four or eight years. And, even though it pains me to say it, I will probably vote for him.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I'm OK...

...but Louisiana isn't.

I'll write more tonight. I've relocated to Anniston, AL for a while so I can continue to work.

I'm really, really frustrated that the media (and therefore the rest of the country) isn't acknowledging how bad all this really was. New Orleans is fine, so the rest of the state must be fine. In reality, about 90% of the state is in really, really bad shape. At one point in time, the largest energy company in the state had 1.4 million of its 1.9 million customers without power, and in fact still has 750,000 without. It is going to take a long, long time to recover from this because of how widespread the damage was.

But New Orleans is fine, so who cares?

Monday, September 01, 2008

I'm crying for the first time

and I don't know why. All things considered, I don't have it bad. A leaky ceiling is deal-withable.
I guess I'm just crying for my city. There is so much damage, and...I don't know. We're a smaller city than New Orleans, and not as important (despite being a state capital), but it hurts to see and hear about the damage the city has endured.
My battery is almost gone, so you might not hear from me tomorrow.

Last Post

There is a ton of damage throughout the entire southern part of LA. We got hit harder in Baton Rouge than they did in New Orleans. Our entire parish is without power. Trees are down everywhere.

If I ever get a better connection and the chance to plug in my laptop, I'll share some pictures.

My ceiling is leaking...

...and I'm on the first floor. If it is leaking here, the upper floors must be really bad.

Gustav Update

The entire parish is without electricity, as is all of West Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ascension, and a whole lot of other ones, too. Overall, with the storm not reaching the western part of the state yet, over 750,000 households are without power. They said it could take up to a month to restore all the power.
EBR is under curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. tomorrow because we have no power, because trees and utiltiy poles are down all over the place, and because there is debris all over the place.
By 6, the winds should have died down enough that I can go see if I still have a functioning car.
Sigh. I really hate this.

Gustav is still here...

Water is leaking under my door (I've blocked it with towels and it's fine.
Lots, and lots of wind. We've had a couple gusts that have shook the building, and there are branches down everywhere.
I think I parked in a very bad place, and I'm fully expecting my car to have broken windows at the least, be totalled at the worst.
I really can't afford to have that happen right now.

I'm on dial up now...

This is worse than Katrina in terms of wind and rain for Baton Rouge, and I think it will be worse in terms of rain than Rita.
Next time, I swear I'm coming north.

Still no power...

...but I have an internet connection. Weird.
Rain and wind have both picked up, but they are still saying that the intensity will be less than what they were originally forecasting.

Power is out...

...but apparently cable is still good because I got an internet connection.
If I post at all going forward, it wil be rarely, I don't know when I will be able to get somewhere to plug in my computer to recharge my battery, and I don't want to run it all down today since it will be at least Wednesday, most likey.
Lots and lots of rain right now. BR. hasn't gotten the worst of Gustave yet, though.

Still Fine...

Still Here.

Nothing new to report. I just happpened to wake up. I tried to eat nectarines for breakfast, but they were all really gross. So I'm skipping breakfast instead.

Wind is picking up a little, but it isn't supposed to be bad here until at least 9.

Nevertheless, I'm probably signing off now.

Look for me on Wednesday, Thursday at the latest.

Still here...

Still fine.
We dodged a little bit of a bullet here in Louisiana. Gustav will still be a Cat. 3, but it apparently picked up some dry air on its way to the coast, which caused it to be a little less organized. That's a good thing.
In Baton Rouge, it looks like we won't get any hurricane force winds. We are expecting tropical storm force winds, though, for about 12-18 hours starting sometime this morning, and we are still expecting around 10 inches of rain. We are on the bad side of the storm for that.
Pop music had it right when they said, "Waiting is the hardest part."

THIS may really be my last post...

...David Tennant (the 10th Doctor - I'm watching Doctor Who again) is really, really dishy in a nerdy kind of way. He's definitely got the Geek Hot.