Monthly Archives: September 2011

My brain hurts…

So, a couple of weeks ago, I made fun of the size of my pathetic looking little history book. Well, it seems that the joke is on me! I don’t know if it is advances in printing or what, but I just finished my first quiz last night, and let me tell you, there is more information in that little tiny book than all the history I learned in school!

Now, let me also say this, the “quiz” is not like the quizzes we used to take, these bad boys are B.R.U.T.A.L. Below is just the FIRST question of 7 that needed to be answered on the quiz: 

The course textbook suggests that “too often in historical writing, Europeans reaching the Americas are portrayed as the carriers of a superior culture that inevitably vanquished people living in a primitive if not ‘savage’ state” (3). Discuss how this portrayal has been the case in prominent representations of American history in American culture. Consider things like what you have learned about American history in school, how American history is often represented in popular culture like films and television shows, and how American history is often represented in national monuments and museums. Also, explain what might be the ramifications of this simplistic view of history. In addressing that, also discuss how the many groups of people who were classified together as “Indians” by Europeans “were enormously diverse in the size and complexity of their societies” (4). Specifically describe some of the diversity that can be seen among these groups of people.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! Where is that answer in the friggin book?! Look, I only need this class for the credit, I am not going to be a history major, nor have I ever wanted to be a history major. I just need to get a “C” so that I can get the transfer credit. Can I get the “C” level questions please? How about something like “Hollywood’s portrayal of the Indians was depicted in the movie “The Lone Ranger”. What is the name of The Lone Ranger’s horse? Now THAT is a “C” level question my friends!

Ugh, I think I’ve seriously over estimated my mental capacity for this stuff. I’m more of a numbers gal. I can work numbers all day long, but give me something I actually have to think about and I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted just thinking about having to think!

Thankfully, I have a husband who is a bit of a rain man when it comes to history. “Silver, yeah Silver is his name…” But seriously, he helped me a ton and I want to thank him so much. I would probably still be propped up in front of the computer mumbling and drooling trying to answer those questions. He helps me think.

I’m sure all my complaining is helping somehow so with that being said, I better go and bury myself in that damn book again, I have another quiz coming up…


Autumn, my favorite time of year…

Well, it used to be, back when I was young, carefree, and living in one of the most gorgeous areas of the country for fall colors. Ahhhhh, fall inNew England, does it get any more beautiful? It’s that time of year when we break out the sweaters and boots, feel a slight chill in the air, and listen to the sound of changing leaves rustling in the breeze. 

Fall was my favorite time of year when I was a kid. Jumping into a huge pile of leaves should be a mandatory activity for children. My hubby just gives me a confused look when I say that. He grew up near the beaches of southernCalifornia… no dead leaves there. But I try to tell him that there is nothing like picking dead leaves out of your hair for days.  He doesn’t believe me… 

Watching the squirrels run around hoarding all the acorns for their winter stash was always entertaining for us kids…I still squeal with delight when I see one. (Again, my husband thinks I’m crazy…) But hey, I live in the desert where lizards are the norm, not squirrels, and lizards aren’t nearly as cute and fuzzy. 

It was the time of year when you could go apple picking and drink hot apple cider or hot chocolate to warm you up. 

Trick or treating was always fun. We spent so much time finding a costume, only to cover it up with a huge coat because it was cold as hell after dark, so everyone looked like little flashers walking around with a pillow case.  Ah, but we were cute… 

But now, here I am, living in the desert where today, the glorious first day of fall, it’s going to be 107 degrees! No sweaters, no boots, definitely no chill in the air, and palm trees and cacti do not change colors and rustle in the hair dryer hot breezes…Kids can go trick or treating in their bathing suits if they wanted to and be perfectly comfortable. 

No apple picking in the desert…and ice cold chocolate milk and apple cider are better than the hot stuff that just makes you sweat more. 

Only four years to go until I get this degree in meteorology.  Then we can move to someplace more appropriate. My kids WILL jump into a pile of leaves, they will drink hot cider and they will be little flashers (with maybe a butterfly and superhero underneath) for Halloween!!

One holiday at a time, please!

Last time I checked the calendar I believe it said September 18th. Not October, not November, and certainly not December! I was in Costco a couple of weeks ago and saw Christmas decorations…what?!?! Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas just as much as the next person, really…I love the lights, the trees, the sparkles…but I also like Halloween and Thanksgiving. How fair is it to rob these holidays of their time in the limelight?

When I was young, Christmas decorations did not come out in the stores until after Thanksgiving. The wait and anticipation made it that much more exciting. Now, I see decorations before I see Halloween items. How can I get into the Christmas spirit when there are skulls and monsters hanging out in the next aisle?! How can I get geared up to be a ghoul or witch when there are happy, sparkly Santa’s, Elves, garland, and blinking Christmas lights right next door?

And poor Thanksgiving. It just kind of gets lost in the myriad of furry spiders, skeletons with eyes that light up, nativity scenes, and wreaths.

Maybe this year I’ll dress the kids up as elves, give them stockings to collect their Halloween candy and pass out turkey legs. Since the stores are so hell-bent on combining the holidays, as of November 1st I can just cruise through the rest of the year while everyone else around me stresses about family gatherings and finding the perfect gifts. Hmmm, now that I think about it, maybe they are onto something!

The Climate Reality Project

I just wanted to quickly suggest that you log on and watch The Climate Reality Project presented by Al Gore. It’s 24 hours of climate change in 24 time zones. It started today, September 14th at 5:00pm local Arizona time. You can see it at The Climate Reality Project. Check it out, you can’t ignore the facts. I would love to start a conversation about it, so if you have an opinion or thought, please share!

My (not so) personal experience of September 11, 2001

I remember the phone ringing. That’s what woke me up on a normal Tuesday morning in September.  I answered the phone to the sound of my ex-husbands voice, which just kind of irritated me. Then he said, “Are you watching the news? A plane just hit the World Trade Center.” Here in Arizona, the first plane hit at 6:46 am local time. I rolled over and turned on the news. As I sat and watched I don’t remember thinking much of anything except how amazing it was that a building could withstand a hit like that and stay standing. Then, as I watched, the second plane hit. Just to demonstrate how complacent I was (and the country, I think) I thought to myself, “what the hell are the guys in the traffic control tower doing?!” Not once, not even for  a split second, did the thought ‘terrorist attack’ trickle into my mind.

I didn’t cry. I just sat there, shocked. I got up and started getting ready for work, keeping the news on. Then more reports started coming in, The Pentagon, the field in Pennsylvania, every plane in the United States ordered out of the sky. It was crazy. When has that EVER happened?! How do you land every single plane streaking across the sky?

The drive to work was odd. All of the cars on the freeway were going 55 mph. I remember this vividly. Phoenix highways aren’t exactly the friendliest places to drive during rush hour. But that morning it was like everyone was in a trance. No one was cutting anyone off, it had never been easier to merge, and I could look over and just know that the driver in the car ahead of me, behind me, or beside me was hanging on every single word of whatever news report on whatever station they were listening to, because every single station was reporting it.

The rest of the day was just a blur of news reports, updates, speculations, disbelief.

I spoke with my family in Connecticut. My brother-in-law is a firefighter and so it was especially hard for them. They lost a friend in New York that day. A firefighter for the FDNY Rescue 3 Special Collapse Unit. He was never found. They had friends that worked at ground zero in the days following to help with the rescue and recovery. I can’t even imagine the horrors they would have seen.

I say “not so” personal experience because I did not personally know any one of the 3,000 people who lost their lives that day. I was only slightly inconvenienced as I was supposed to take a plane that Friday, the 14th to visit a friend in Ohio. There were thousand and thousands of people stranded in airports far away from their original destinations that needed to get home. Friday was the first day that they would get that opportunity. Who cared that I had a weekend of fun planned. It was less than important. And to be honest, the idea of getting on an airplane scared the hell out of me.

I know people who have personal connections to that day, but my grief is not personal, it’s a grief that every American felt that day, and all the days since. I grieve for the thousands of faceless names, the families that experienced tremendous loss, as well as the loss of our sense of security. The days and weeks that followed were filled with a show of unity and patriotism. Every where you looked people were flying the American Flag proudly. We were banding together to show that we were not broken, we would get through this and if anything, it made us stronger.

Now, here we are, ten years later. There are memorials planned all over the country, but I think the most anticipated memorial will be happening right at the sight of ground zero. The memory pools mark the site of each tower, with the names of all of the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons that perished that day, not only at The World Trade Center, but The Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania.

This was my generation’s John F. Kennedy assassination. You can ask anyone where they were and what they were doing when they heard that news and they can tell you.  You can ask anyone where they were and what they were doing on 9/11. That’s all you need to say and they can tell you.

Ummm, this is it?!

Where did all the history go?

Did I inadvertently sign up for History lite? Or perhaps somebody got a little edit happy and pulled out all the good parts of history to leave this shell behind? I mean, come on. The book is only an inch thick! What happened to the 3+ inch volumes that we had to lug around in our backpacks when we were in high school? Did they finally figure out that all that weight is not good for growing boys and girls? Ah, so this would explain my measly 5’6” frame… 

For those of you wondering what the hell I’m complaining about, this is not me complaining. This is me breathing a deep, huuuuuuuge sigh of relief. If History books had looked like this in high school maybe I would have cared a little more, possibly paid closer attention (ok, probably not, I was a teenage girl after all!). Nothing like going into a class and realizing you have to get through an entire encyclopedia volume in 9 months. A little daunting…But this! This is merely a novel, a scant 500 pages of glorious history telling! (I’m really trying to ramp this up in my head…) 

So, let’s get this party started! First assignment, read the first 50 pages. Sounds easy enough…

Today is the day!!

Holy cow! I start my History class today! I get to relearn about Columbus, the Puritans, the first Thanksgiving, how we took this land from the Indians, all the way through to the end of the Civil War. Woohoo!!!!!!!

Ok, maybe I’m not that excited. I HATED History when I was in school. I mean really hated it. It didn’t interest me in the least. However, I do find myself much more curious about it the older I get. Maybe it’s because I have a husband who is a World War II fanatic so we end up watching the History Channel a lot. Of course, he used to sit at the knee of his grandfather as he was told first hand stories of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and how his grandfather was blown off the West Virginia (or the Missouri…ugh, I can NEVER remember which ship he was on!) and how he was in the water with burning oil surrounding him. I think that would have peaked my interest as well…

It could also be that a few years ago I started to research my family tree. Finding out why my ancestors left their native lands to come here has been an interesting journey. There are a lot of politics and economic issues that I COMPLETELY missed my first time around in History, so I’m kind of looking forward to that.

But at the same time, I am nervous about starting classes. As if my life wasn’t busy enough, from my 16 year old high school varsity cheerleader who’s dating a football player (mom’s, you know that keeps me up at night…) to my 6 year old 1st grade twins. I mean, I already have to do homework with them every night! Hmmmm, I wonder if they’ll be able to help me with my homework…no, probably not. 😦 Not to mention my hubby who, while being very supportive of this new direction I’m taking, requires some quality time as well. Cloning myself is sounding mighty tempting at the moment, except I’m sure the thought of more than one of me would scare the hell out of my family. 🙂

So, today I pick up my history book, and if memory serves, I might need a back brace to be sure I don’t hurt myself lifting it. At least it’s an online class, so I can sit at my computer in my jammies if I want to and nobody will care…

Bring on the rain!

Please, please, please let it rain tonight!!! According to the National Weather Service the Phoenix area has a 40% chance of rain this evening. If you live here, you know that those are some super good odds! I think anytime the chance of precipitation goes above, oh…10%, people around here get pretty excited. Hmmm, could it be because it seems that this years monsoon has brought more dust than rain? Maybe the 33 days of 110 degrees or higher has us all a little loopy. Who knows, but when there is a good chance of rain I get all warm and fuzzy inside. Not to mention there’s always the possibility of a pretty good lightening show!

Of course with storms rolling in there’s also the possibility of another dust storm. I’m just hoping that if we do get more dust, then the rain follows, and more than just enough to turn the dust on my car to mud…

Ever seen a haboob?

I have this photographer friend who is a little nuts about taking photos of the weather (he’d be the first to admit it…). He will jump in his car and drive all over the place to get shots of storms with their amazing lightning shows, microbursts, soaring cumulonimbus clouds (gasp! I used an awesome weather word!!) His name is Mike Olbinski. Perhaps a few of you have seen a little time lapse video he did of the massive haboob we had here in Phoenix on July 5, 2011. He became a bit of a celebrity and I am so proud to call him a friend. 🙂 Check out his website here. You can find the time lapse here.

I happen to find this video awe inspiring, amazing, crazy, awesome, scary, pick an adjective. Holy heck, if you haven’t seen it yet, you NEED to watch this!

He has some AMAZING still photography on his site as well. Check him out and let me know what you think. I promise, you will not be disappointed!

What is my contribution?

With the approach of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I’m reminded that, along with many American’s after that tragedy, I felt the desire to give back somehow. What could I do to contribute to my country? So, I joined the Navy Reserves. Yup, that’s right, I did. It’s was the longest year of my life! Alright, I know, only a year. But it took me all of a month to figure out that I was a wife and mother, I was the one giving the orders in my world, I wasn’t taking them! So after I got yelled at in the face and dropped one too many times, I got out. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but I did. I still have moments when I wish that I had stuck it out. It’s easy to think that now, because my eight years would have been up on July 31 of this year. But oh well…

However, the desire to contribute to this world hasn’t gone away. Today I was reminded of what I can contribute to my world when I read an article about a huge piece of ice that broke off from a  Greenland Glacier. And when I say huge, I mean approximately four times the size of Manhattan! You see, Meteorologists aren’t just the people you see on your daily news with the perfectly coiffed hair and pearly white teeth (not that there is anything wrong with that at all!). There are teams of men and women that provide research of our atmosphere and how various factors contribute to global warming, droughts, weather patterns, etc. The American Meteorological Society has a great resource on their site for anyone interested in a career in the field.

So, I am super excited that I get to study a field that I not only find interesting, but that can assuage my need to give back somehow, to do something that is bigger than me. That I can be just one small part of the whole, but still make a difference. What would you do to give back?

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