Saturday, April 30, 2005


My husband’s secretary competed in the “Mrs.” state pageant this weekend, and if she wins she will be in contention to win the Mrs. America crown. He doesn’t think that she will fare well, however, at the state pageant. The good looks and poise and brains she’s got plenty of, but her “platform” has problems; hers is, “Encourage Morality in Women.” While it is a valiant cause, the motto just doesn’t have any panache. Besides, ladies who win these things here are passionate to, “Stamp out Cancer,” or “Save the Salmon.” My husband’s idea: “Up with People.” “Oh yes, anything to do with the advancement of people, that’s what I’m for.” Come to think of it, that would be a pretty good Presidential platform too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

More about the office...

Last Friday when I came home, I was fuming about the situation at work. I actually had it in my mind that I would send an e-mail to everyone in the room that day and to the principal that read something such as,

“I apologize if I offended anyone with my conversation about the “World Population Crisis” today. It was never my intention to create a hostile work environment or make anyone feel uncomfortable during that five-minute conversation with Park.

In the future, might I suggest - since we are all adults here - that if a person takes offence by a workplace conversation, he or she would please just say so on the spot. Then, if the situation isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, go ahead and involve the higher-ups. In return, can we all agree to be courteous to the offended party?

It would also be good to remember that we have an open office space. Although we should be conscientious in that our conversations can be heard by all, also keep in mind that unless we have a “no talking” or a “whisper only” policy, voices will be heard in your work space.”

Of course after I vented to my husband about this and told him about my idea, he pretty much put the kibosh on that [Note: my theory about the affect of non-reading on the sense of perception is on hold too; G-man basically helped me see that I still need to think about that one some more]. Anyway, G said, “BSP, I don’t think that would be a good idea. You know what happened, don’t you? An employee complained, and so the principal felt that she had to do something about it to cover her ass. She is done with it; you should be too. Let it go.”

You know what, he is right. It’s nice to have a voice of reason around (and that will come in handy once or twice with five women in the house). MJ, my principal, didn’t care what was said, and she didn’t care who said it. She made an appearance, did the token reprimand, and I’m sure she’s forgotten all about it. It’s not like I’m bogging down the entire school phone system with my “full” voice-mail box (lol – just had to get that in). [Note: glad they didn’t give me voice mail so I don’t have to deal with that]

So yes, last Friday was irritating. I wish I had been able to read Pete’s “Working in a Bathroom Stall” post before I went into work that day – it would have given me some perspective. But now I have some suggestions to make to improve our work space environment that include a powerful sound system and a CD of a vacuum cleaner running…

Saturday, April 23, 2005

What an interesting time at the office yesterday.

For those who don’t know, I work part time for a local school district. I teach for the online high school [reason one for the anonymity…], and I develop English curriculum for the school that helps virtual students learn what is essentially taught in the classroom. I know, really exciting.

Things I love about my job:

*I am allowed to work from home most of the week, and that allows me to set my own schedule.

*I am more of a writing/literature mentor than teacher; I truly have the opportunity to tailor the education to the student.

*Ironically, I know more of my students better now than I did in the classroom.

*I don’t have to deal with classroom discipline.

Things I hate about my job:

*I am required to go into the office one day a week. The computer I was working on until last week did not have a word processing program on it (did I mention I was an English teacher?), was not hooked up to a printer (good God Almighty, I might want to have a hard copy or two of student work, grade reports, attendance reports – yes, we have to take attendance; don’t ask – or anything else I might have the notion to print out), and actually has a slower internet connection than what I have at home (I swear I feel like I am hooked back up to a dial up modem when I am there – did I mention that I am an online teacher = lots of time on the Internet?).

*Most of my time is spent grading papers, and that is not the most fun part of teaching English.

*It takes longer to grade a paper because not only do I need to take more time to be succinct, but I also need to wrap every criticism with “pillows and marshmallows” so that students will receive my input without being offended. Doing all of that = huge chunk of time spent on my job = more hours doing my job than would be required in the traditional setting.

*Unlike a college course where students have the ability to read a few chapters and respond to it in a two-page paper, I am teaching the nitty-gritty so that my students can be prepared to do that very thing (have the ability to respond to a few chapters in a two page paper). The curriculum consists of achievable chunks of learning that build upon one another so that the end result is a well-written essay, a well-organized, well-thought out criticism/evaluation of literature, or a well-researched, well-organized research project. Each course has approximately 35 assignments to be completed, each assignment takes from five minutes to thirty minutes to grade (refer to “pillows and marshmallows”), and each course has approximately 35 students in it. I teach three classes. Do the math, and you’ll get an idea of how much my job consumes my life.

*The public education system here is very intolerant of people who are critical about “left-wing” anything. Forget about the First Amendment if the main stream doesn’t agree with your point of view.

Which brings me to my day at work yesterday…

Two other employees were having a heated debate about President Bush signing the new bill regarding bankruptcy. One for, one against. Best line of the conversation: female employee says, “I’ve had lots and lots of sex over the years, and not once have I been pregnant. Preventing pregnancy is not that difficult.”

I listened to the conversation intently with amusement while I carried on with my work. I was in and out of the room several times during the course of the conversation taking care of other aspects of my job (the face-to-face meetings with students on occasion, giving opportunities for speeches, arranging time and space for kids to take proficiency exams, etc.).

When I got back into the room, another teacher chimes regarding the “World Population Crisis.” If you’ve read any of my post this year, then you know how I feel about that (sorry, but I can’t remember where I posted the rant about the Population Crisis or I would link you to that post). I just couldn’t resist chiming in at that point. For about five minutes – no more than that – I went on a rant about how the United Nations itself has not denied the fact that developed nations will actually decrease in population over the next fifty years, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. In that five-minute diatribe, the principal enters the room to pull out one employee from the first conversation.

When she returns, I am back to work, and she asks to speak to me outside of the room. Apparently, the conversation in the room is creating a “hostile work environment” she says, and another employee is offended. Shut up and get back to work. “MJ,” I say in aghast, “I’ve only been chatting for five minutes!” Her reply is, “That may be, but you are here to do your job. Get back to work.”


Nice that educators cannot take time out for intelligent conversation. Nice that another employee cannot simply say, “Hey, take your conversation to another room or shut up.” Nice that there are tattle-tales who go straight to the principal. Nice that the conservative, dissenting opinion is not tolerated. All nice. [Being able to bitch about this and to have a dissenting opinion, reason two for the anonymity…]

Needless to say, I probably have a black mark next to my name in the employee handbook. Black = creating hostile work environment. I always have had a problem with bucking the system.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sheesh - how did they know that?!

They have me pegged - I guess word is getting around...LOL

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

“Houston, we have a Pope,” or Pope-ouri

True story…In high school I had a friend named Tracy who was a chatterbox. She was from Korea. I learned really quickly that English colloquialisms do not translate into Korean very well. Tracy asked me a question one day, and my response was going to be, “Of course it is!” Instead, I said, “Is the Pope Catholic?!” Tracy looked confused and said, “What’s a Pope?”

Today the Pope was elected. Catholic or not, the election is a historic world event. John Paul was a dope Pope, and in honor of his passing and the election of Benedict XVI, my husband and I have decided that the word “Pope” deserves to be Pope for the day. There is no denying it; Pope is just a cool word to say.

And so the irreverent reverence begins…because there is more than one way to skin a Pope.

“What are you doing?” “Oh, you know, just Pope-in’ it.”

“Nice Popes.”

“Crazy – he must have been smokin’ Popey weed.”

“That’s a load of Pope!”

“This is pure Colombian Pope!”

“All we are saying is give Pope a chance…”

“Geeze – zip up your pants. I think I saw your Pope.”

“It was so sad! I got all Pope-ed up.”

“What in the Pope are you talking about?!”

“Quit Pope-ing around and get to work!”

“There’s no Pope like home.”

“I just Pope-ed my pants.”

“My, don’t you look Popely today.”

“What’s wrong? Feeling down in the Pope today?”

“How’s it Pope-in’?”

“What the Pope were you thinking?!”

“Is that a Pope in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

“You are so full of Pope!”

“Ooops! You stepped in a pile of Pope.”

“That’s the Popiest thing I’ve ever heard!”

“Go Pope yourself!”

“Pope you!”

Thursday, April 07, 2005

They called again!!!

This is hardly believable, but I just had this conversation with someone from “Fidelity such and Such Financial Services.”

“Hello, Mrs. So and So. I’m Noardi from ‘Fidelity yadda yadda.’”

‘No way!” I thought to myself. ‘This guy couldn’t actually have the nerve to call back after I put him through the ringer yesterday!’ So cautiously I asked, “Didn’t I just talk to you yesterday?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“No, I talked to someone from ‘Fidelity yadda yadda’ just yesterday.”


“Yes, and it was a very funny conversation too.”

“Well, yes, this is a fun bunch to work with. These guys are pretty funny,” he laughed.

“He was quite a salesman too. He tried to sell me a mortgage and a credit card and a vacation plan…”

“Oh, that must have been Alex. I keep telling Alex, ‘Nobody wants to hear about your vacation plans.” But he just keeps on trying to sell them anyway,” he laughed.

“Well tell him I enjoyed our conversation yesterday. It made me laugh!”

“Yes, I’ll tell him!”

“And sorry, but I don’t need a new mortgage rate or a new credit card or a vacation plan. But I’m sure I’ll talk to you later!”

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Fun with Phone Solicitation

A guy called from “Fidelity Such and Such Financial Services,” and his intent was to offer me a lower rate for our mortgage. I pulled a “Chandy” on him. Our conversation went something like this:

“Hello, Mrs. So and So. I’m Alex from “Fidelity yadda yadda.” I think we’ve spoken before?

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Oh yes, I think we’ve spoke before.”

PAUSE – and then I went in for the kill…

“Oh YEAH – HI ALEX! How have you been doing?

Caught off guard, he chuckled, “Great. Now Mrs. So and So, what rate are you currently paying for your mortgage?”

“Oh, you know, Alex! The same rate I had the last time we talked!”


“I said I have the same rate as the last time we talked! It hasn’t changed.”

“Oh, uh…I don’t remember what that…Uh, Mrs. So and So… [Insert “uneasy” chuckle here] what I meant to say was that we might have talked before. I don’t really know if we’ve talked before, so I don’t know what that rate is…”

“Oh, so you are saying that we haven’t talked before?”

“Yes, I don’t think we’ve talked before. [More uneasy laughter] Mrs. So and So, can you tell me what your current mortgage rate is?”

“One percent fixed for the life of the loan. Can you beat that?”

“Now, c’mon Mrs. So and So, let’s be serious here. [More laughter] Is that what you are paying?”

“I’m not lying,” I lied, “One percent fixed for the life of the loan. Can you beat that?”

“No, Mrs. So and So, I can’t beat that; you should stick with that rate. It’s a good one.” [Insert “slightly annoyed” chuckle here] “So you wouldn’t happen to have any other debts…any car loans or high interest credit cards?”

“No,” I lied.

“No credit cards? No loans?”


“Mrs. So and So, have you considered going on a vacation? How about a vacation?”

“No, I don’t want to go on a vacation.”

“You don’t want to go on a vacation?! Why wouldn’t you want to go on a vacation???”

“Well, I have too much to do here.”

“Mrs. So and So, I’m afraid I don’t have anything to offer you today.”

“That’s fine. I’ll talk to you again real soon!”

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Contest

Have you ever received one of those e-mails that said, in effect, fill out this survey and win “(fill in the blank)”? The survey was soooooo long, and I thought it might never end. I really wasn’t interested in signing up for yet another credit card just to get the free thing. And when the “Enter a Poetry Contest” choice came up, I thought, “Hey, maybe I will get to skip to the end if I pander to one of the sponsors.” What I didn’t realize was that I would have to write a poem there on the spot and enter it before I could continue the survey. So in about five minutes, I wrote this:


Upside down, total blackness
Rising, rising
Frigid waters, power locks
In a corner, total blackness
gasping, gasping
One hundred stories up
This is the way love is.

Now please, please don’t tell me that it’s a “good” poem. Clearly, it isn’t. It was borne of neither sincere effort nor inspiration. Instead, it was connived and contrived in the mind of a teacher that has been thoroughly schooled in the common traits many lauded poems tend to have.

Still, I was surprised to get an e-mail the next week explaining that my poem was one of two-hundred chosen to appear in a “Classic, coffee-table quality hard-bound volume [featured] on a full page by itself…Printed on fine-milled paper specifically selected to last for generations.” This book in the series, Eternal Portraits , could be mine for a mere 49.95$. Right then and there I made a vow that in the future I would only agree to be published if they paid me and not vice versa. At that point, I could have requested to not have my poem published in the book and to be taken off the mailing list.

But I wanted to put all of my chips on the table and let it ride; there was a chance that my little piece of poetry could win me some serious cash. So I continued to receive the e-mails and letters even though I knew the promise of being a published poet was only a racket – it was kind-of like being one of a select 10,000 in the “Who’s Who” of poetry. Lord knows there must have been at least 10,001 entries.

Anyhow, after a week or two of being hounded about buying a copy of the book and more offers to publish a book of my own (I pay for it, of course) and to have my poetry recorded on a CD, I finally discovered the pinnacle of the racket: I was invited to attend a Convention for Poets for only 500$ - not including the air-fare to Florida, no less. So for a thousand dollars, there could be a chance that I could win some cash.

I have to admit, it was a tempting offer - and not because of the promise of fame or fortune, mind you. At this point, I didn’t really care about winning anymore. I might pay a thousand dollars, however, to see who attends this sort of thing. A Convention for Poets. What would that look like? It would be an interesting character study. And there was the promise that Carol Brady herself – the talented Florence Henderson – would be there. I silently wondered what Florence would have to say about poetry to a bunch of poets. Was she a poet herself?

Sadly, I didn’t go, and I didn’t win, and the e-mails stopped. Secretly I was glad. I really wanted to believe that if there was going to be a poetry contest that there were some kind of standards guiding this thing. That it wasn’t just about money.

Who knows, maybe I’ll enter the contest again some day.

Monday, April 04, 2005

More on poetry...

Into the Wasteland Elliot did go,
And Dante sojourned the Inferno.
Let’s not forget that Chaucer as well
Went on and on until he told his ‘Tales.’
Homer, too, the king of verse,
Took two trips; he was not terse,
So long or short, with words I’ll sew
A quilt of verse for the average Joe.

Where in Hell are you?

Oh, here is a hilarious time waster...speaking of Dante, you, too, can find out which level of Hell you could go to according to the Inferno:

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Art of Being Brief

I have a long-term goal of learning to express myself succinctly and briefly. Oh, I can be succinct, but I have trouble being brief. Typically, I ramble on and on, raging on this tangent and that, before I finally finish my point - but I digress. That's why I am not a poet. You see, a great poet has refined the "Art of Brevity." My plan is to start out as a blogger (getting better), turn into a novelist (I'm not doing so swell with that yet), and then eventually whittle my verbiage into poetry (not even close).

Saturday, April 02, 2005

And there is more...

Here is the synopsis of the test:

Advanced Global Personality Test Results

Stability results were low (30%) which suggests you are very worrying, insecure, emotional, and anxious.

Orderliness results were moderately low (40%) which suggests you are, at times, overly flexible, improvised, and fun seeking at the expense of reliability, work ethic, and long term accomplishment.

Extroversion results were moderately high (60%) which suggests you are, at times, overly talkative, outgoing, sociable and interacting at the expense of developing your own individual interests and internally based identity.

And I had a great laugh about the words that describe my personality:

Trait Snapshot

paranoid tendencies, irritable, anxious, fidgety, dependent, worrying, emotionally sensitive, prone to regret, depressed, second guesses self, somewhat fragile, dislikes change, prefers organized to unpredictable, suspicious, phobic, craves attention, not a risk taker, low self control, very sensitive to criticism, unadventurous, does not make friends easily, defensive, obsessive, low self esteem

Paranoid - yes, anxious - yes, worrying - yes, phobic - yes. Those descriptors are true, but they are humorous too. All that I worry about and am phobic of I spend 90% of the time laughing about it. Only when I am, for example, hugging the toilet yet not allowing myself to puke is when it isn't funny. That's when I'm crying. That is a rarity. The other traits could be me at my VERY WORST; I won't deny the fact that I could go there. But I don't. Basically, the "traits" make me sound like I am a psycho. Not that there is anything wrong with that...

Enough about me, let's talk about me

Here is my personality profile:

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Female cliche83%
Physical security83%
Need to dominate50%
Food indulgent50%
Work ethic43%
Self absorbed36%
Change averse30%
Conflict seeking30%
Peter pan complex16%
Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
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