Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kick Them Out

Seriously, Arizona can secede from the United States at any time now. I'm okay with that.

I was offended back when the Arizona legislature decided people could be pulled over and questioned because of the way they looked. God forbid you look a little bit Hispanic. You'd have to prove yourself any time the police felt like stopping you.

Imagine you're on your way to take your kid to the dentist. You're running a little late because your kid decided he was hungry right when it was time to go and you had to ask him to brush his teeth again. But you're going to make it, barely.

Then, you get stopped on the way into town. You weren't speeding, though you had wanted to. Your only fault was that you looked Hispanic. The police officer spends twenty minutes discussing your heritage while you wonder if you could get deported to a country you've never seen in your life.You try, unsuccessfully, to tell the officer that you were born in the next county. What if you accidentally left your wallet at home?

Yeah, that's a civil rights violation. You betcha.

If Arizona got kicked out of, I mean seceded from, the United States, it might be common sense for them to join with Mexico since that's on their border and I doubt they'd have enough water and other resources to survive on their own. I wonder what Mexico would do with the white folks there. Would they have to carry proof that their heritage doesn't make them illegal? Could they legally get harassed on their way to the dentist? See, when you turn it around, the injustice always seems more clear, doesn't it?

So then, Arizona tried to pass a bill so that LGBT could be refused service at businesses because it violated peoples religious freedom to serve them. Just exactly what is that particular freedom people have with regard to religion when it comes to putting BLTs on a plate for two women at a cafe and taking their money for it?

Does my religious freedom include the right to refuse service to bigoted people? Unfortunately, I don't think it does.

Thankfully, today Arizona's governor said she'd veto the legislation.

Still, I don't believe a word the governor said about it being the right thing to do. Oh, it was the right thing to do, to veto it, but I don't think that one bit of her response was out of outrage. It's more likely that the only reason she made this decision was that people and corporations were going to boycott Arizona if she didn't.

I think that we should all boycott Arizona anyway. Oh right. They don't make much of anything. It's too hot there to get your M&Ms home from the grocery store intact. And there's nothing there to see except a big crack in the ground. If no one went to Arizona, they probably wouldn't notice anyway.

Thank you for listening, jules

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lunging Rabid Dogs

I took Teddy up along Rattlesnake ridge today. It was so confusing. The posted rules state that your dog needs to be well-behaved and that you have to pick up any messes. Well, I get that. I love that. But they go on to say that people may not want to meet your dog. So, I did that thing where I hooked Teddy up any time I saw people coming along the trail. He was annoyed. He likes running free. Part of me wanted to let him stay free, but I get that icky feeling some people get when they meet a loose dog on the trail.

No. I didn't have a problem with the posted rules. They're clear and it mostly works. Mostly.

There were two groups who had dogs on the trail who weren't friendly. One group called out a friendly warning, quickly leashed their wayward dog, and apologized profusely. Their other dog got a chance to play with Teddy because the first time we met on the trail, this dog came running up to us and the people held tight to the crabby dog. That totally worked. The second time we passed, we all stayed safely on our leashes.

No. I didn't have a problem with these people. They were clear and careful. They were friendly.

But then, there was this other guy. Teddy ran ahead of me on the trail while I was taking a picture. When I saw the guy and his dog, I called Teddy, but he didn't come. He was initiating play mode, focused. I called out to say Teddy was friendly, but the man said nothing. I called Teddy again. Then I walked to Teddy and hooked him up. I said again that Teddy was friendly, but the man still said nothing. He didn't move.


I eventually went on up the trail toward them even though I'd thought I should turn around. It was getting late. I didn't want to be near this strange man. He just stood there, glaring at me.

"Well, he is friendly," I said as we were passing. Just then, his dog lunged at my dog.

"My dog got attacked here last week," he said. "It was vicious."  He stood there, still glaring at me. I stopped talking about my dog and walked on. If he could let a statement go by without responding, so could I.

I tried to keep my mouth shut. I really did.

"Well, that's a shame," I said, trying to round out an uneven conversation. I kept walking fast. I wanted distance between the crazy man and his rabid dog. Despite the waning light, I went up to the snow line before I turned around.

Even still, when I turned around, I caught up and passed the man on the way back down the hill.

"I'm not intentionally dogging you," I said as I passed him, cringing at the unintended pun. He said nothing. His dog lunged and growled again. He held it tight and I held Teddy's leash against my thigh. I walked way too fast down that hill. My knee hurts now. I've learned that I need to respect my natural pace, until there's rabid dog on my heels. I hated having them behind me. I couldn't take any more pictures. I couldn't even slow down for fear they'd be at our heels, snarling.

When I got home, I told Mike that there were too many mean dogs on leashes on the trail. He said people with mean dogs have a right to walk their dogs too. I said they should go where all the dogs are required to be on leash so there's no question about who's at fault when my friendly dog wanders over near them. Mike insisted that these people had freedoms.

Yeah well, freedom is great until it lunges at me on the trail. I think people and dogs with rabies should be put down, but that's just my opinion.

Thank you for listening, jules

Friday, February 21, 2014

Corporate Olympics

I'm still feeling crabby about NBC. Tonight should have been a slam dunk. They had us. The women's free skate probably had the biggest natural audience of all the winter sports the Olympics had to offer. Piece of cake, right? All they had to do was rerun the skating and throw in a bunch of commercials. At our house, we would have watched each one so that we didn't miss a thing. We would have made a night of it. I would have served food reminiscent of the Super Bowl. We could have begun as early as 7:00pm and ended at 10:30.


At 7:00pm, there was nothing. We switched to the Canadian channel, CBUT. Yay Canadians! By 8:00pm, the Canadians had shown almost all of the women's free skate! It was great! I even liked their commentators even though I didn't recognize them from the skating world. These people actually stopped talking and watched the performance now and then instead of talking through each jump. Then, since Mike got a call and missed the end. We grudgingly switched to NBC. At some point, they aired one skater, someone who had no chance to win. Good. Keep it going. We might have been on a roll, late start or not.

Next, they took away the momentum completely by switching to skiing after that first skater. Mike switched back and forth between NBC's commercials amid ski coverage and a dumb movie. I'll tell you this - we got to see most of the dumb movie.

Then, at around 9:15pm, they aired another skater! Yay! Skating. Was Mike going to see it after all?

Nope. After the second skater, they switched to something else again. And, we were back to the dumb movie again.

I can't believe that we watched a dumb movie during the last days of the Olympics! I had been watching on and off all week, but mostly on the Canadian channel. I never did find the biathlon on NBC. I didn't see many of the speed skaters and what I did was on CBUT. On that channel, I watched the luge and skeleton, sports I'm not usually interested in. Plus, they got me involved in watching curling. Yup! Curling was cool. There's so much precision in curling, physics, and strategy. I didn't understand a word the players said, even when they spoke English, but I had a good time watching. I loved the commentary and even some of the patriotic commercials. I had wanted to see some cross-country skiing too, but I didn't find that on NBC. I didn't find much on NBC at all.

So, at about 10:00 pm, NBC finally got into a groove of the women's free skate and Mike switched away from the stupid movie. We were seeing it. It was pretty exciting, though I already knew the scores from watching the Canadian program.

Mike loves watching the women skate. He has an eye for their abilities, for their jumps and their scores in artistry. He's hard to please. I love almost all of the skaters. I'm generally enthusiastic but clueless. Mike can pick the best just watching them warm up. He sees all errors and can put a name to them.

But something broke with this dedicated fan tonight. At 10:30 pm, Mike got up and went to bed without watching to the end. He was disgusted with all the waiting, with the interweaving of other events, and with the stupid movie. I don't blame him.

The days of gathering around a coffee table littered with chips, dip, and red, white, and blue napkins during the Olympics are over. The days of watching the talents from each country are over. The days of patriotism over our own athletes are over.

Welcome to Corporate Olympics. Watch if you can tolerate it for more than an hour at a time.

Thank you for listening, jules

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ready for a Straight Jacket

I used to be that kid who had a problem when she got an A- on her report card instead of an A. I tried not to worry too much, but I did anyway. I knew that good grades were my way out and up. I knew that my dad wanted me to get a good education. I knew that I loved school, books, teachers, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, all of it.

These days, I'm absolutely batshit out of my mind crazy. Yes, I could qualify for an 4-F exemption if I were drafted by the military. If there were a mental institution within a hundred mile radius of my house, I'd have been put there by now.


My son is careless about school, about doing homework, about turning work in that he's completed, about preparing for tests. The thing that gets me the most is that he's either smarter than I am or just as smart. I've studied his skills. Well, crap!

I spend hours nagging him to get working. I can still feel the anxiety that comes of procrastination even when it's not my work. I want him to succeed. I really do. I'm trying to figure out a way to back out of it completely, but he's in seventh grade. He's not quite mature enough for me to leave him totally alone when it comes to initiating homework time.

It's not working. If I tell him at 3:15 to get a snack and get started by 3:30, I'm still nagging at 5:30 when it's time to leave for karate. I'm nagging when we get back home and he surprises me, after doing some work in the car, with work he'd forgotten was due tomorrow, or an upcoming test.

Tomorrow, he's retaking a test he failed because he was sick last week. I get that. In fact, his teacher said that he could retake the test, that it was no problem. On the way home from karate, he announced that he was done with all of his homework.

I started to breathe again.

"Well, I have a Language Arts packet that I need to do too. I'm done with Math." Tears sprang to my eyes as they began to sting.

"And I have to retake a test tomorrow at lunch. I failed because I missed last week."

"Yes, your teacher said you might have some problems with that. So do you understand the material now?"


"So, if you took the test again right now, you'd get the same grade you got the first time?" My breathing became ragged. My heart rate increased by at least 50% and I tried to keep from swerving off the road as my vision blurred.


So what the hell are you doing?, I want to scream at him. Instead I tried to tell him that I was a National Merit Finalist, that I got three scholarships to college, that I was on the honor roll so much as I kid, it didn't mean anything to me unless I got straight As. I tried to tell him that his skills at the same age were comparable to mine, probably better in math. I tried to tell him he has the capacity if he only took the initiative.

"But Mom..," he said and grinned at me through the rearview mirror.

"What?" I asked, hoping I'd finally gotten through to him.

"I'm stronger than you ever were."

Certifiable, I'm telling you. I'm sure I qualify for the padded room by now and even then, they might have to keep me tied to a guerney.

Thank you for listening, jules

Saturday, February 8, 2014

NBC Fails the Olympics

Dear NBC,

You have ruined the Olympics. Two and four years ago, you started messing with the sports we loved, blending different events until my husband and I were exhausted by staying up until midnight every night to finally see what we were most interested in. Eventually, you managed to satisfy us to some extent. At least we could switch to the Canadian channel when we couldn't see the whole picture. Or we could sit down at the computer and pull something up on the Internet.

This year is different. Your stupid domination is so complete that in the three days the Olympics have been on television, we haven't seen more than three minutes of programming we'd like to see. That's it. Three minutes. I'm sure we've watched ten times that much in commercials just trying to hang in there. You might call that a success, but it's not if we stop watching. Right? You're losing us here.

My husband and I like to watch figure skating. That's pretty much it. Oh, we'd watch curling and the biathlon if you managed to show them at any hour but 3:28am, but we'd be happy simply seeing the skating since you can't seem to cover much else of what's happening in Sochi.

First, you aired the men's short program the night before you advertised the Opening Ceremonies. Shoot, as far as I knew, the Opening Ceremonies was the beginning of the Olympics, so I didn't know that we had already missed a sixth of what we most wanted to see before things even started.

Then, you buried the women's short program this afternoon. We had no idea we were missing another sixth of our favorite part of the Olympics.

Tonight, at 7:00 pm, my husband dutifully sat down and started watching. Nothing. Oh, you've shown guys crashing on snow boards and people flouncing around, dancing, in ridiculous outfits on ice skates, but you didn't show him anything he wanted to see, so he went to bed. Done. Tried that. Three hours later, he was done. Cooked. Finished. Great job, NBC!

At some point, rather than give his full attention to the television, he got onto the computer. You did want his attention, didn't you? Lost it! He looked for the men's and women's short programs, the third of what we were really interested in, remember? He figured we could watch it somewhere on the Internet. Somebody, YouTube, maybe, would show some of the spectacular falls and surprising grace of figure skaters around the world. He couldn't find any of it on the computer. Anywhere.

We were willing to watch your damned commercials in order to see it, but where the hell is it?

He checked Xfinity On Demand, but you have your hooks into them as well and all we could get are two minute highlight clips. We want to watch the whole thing, not just a couple of the Americans or a famous Russian. You know, there are more than just two countries in this world. Have you checked the map lately?

Years ago, when we first started to watch the Olympics, we could sit down and see someone from Indonesia floundering on the ice. It was great! We could compare Russian skaters, Canadians, Japanese, and Chinese to each other and to the skaters from the United States. It was riveting. There was so much going on in our living room and it was all focused on that one television station.

Oh, there were a lot of commercials, but it we loved it and sat absolutely glued to the television. It was like having a Super Bowl party over a period of a week or so. We invited friends! Then, there was the analysis afterward. We even watched that. You had us, NBC. We watched falls and foibles over and over and over again. We loved it, commercials and all.

Four years ago, you started blending other sports together with what we really wanted to see. Our interest waned. We'd flip channels back and forth until a piece came on. We stopped inviting our friends over to watch The Olympics. We tried to see what was happening in other countries as you made them fade into the background. Then, it seemed as if there were only three or four countries and little content. Same volume of commercials, but we were stuck watching skiing, speed skating, and the luge. OH MY GOD! It was boring.

I have no idea what you're up to here. Are you systematically driving us away from watching the Olympics? Would you like us to simply give up and wish the athletes that we love all the best without ever seeing a single event?

Seems like it.

You need to know that it's 10:46 pm on Saturday night. My television is off. I don't intend to stay up until 12:53 in the morning to see my favorite part of the Olympics because you thought you could keep us hanging on, watching other crap, until then. In the past three and a half hours, I hadn't seen a single thing I sat down to watch. Why should I keep trying?

It's as if you've blended the Super Bowl, the NCAA final four championship, and the world ballroom dance championships into one event. Your avid Seahawks fans would tear down the pergola if you tried to make us sit through that shit. Well, they already did that, but you get my point.

You can't make us fans of downhill skiing if we aren't. You can't keep our attention during snowboarding. You can't expect us to begin to enjoy ice dancing if we don't. You're right up against losing your entire fan base in this house.

Is that really what you want to accomplish?

Thank you for listening, jules