I was going to post something bright and pithy. It’s a nice day and that usually puts me in a good mood. But I am not in a good mood. I think it is lack of sleep.

My parents arrived on Saturday, shortly before Jay, I and the girls returned from a party. I was pretty wiped out and wanted to nap, but my parents’ arrival changed that. The week was crazy, but for some reason, my parents have taken to going to bed around 8:30-9. So…that is before the girls go to sleep. The time that they were here, they did clean out my fridge and do the dishes. The picked up Soleil from the afterschool program twice. But when I asked for a night off, they couldn’t do it. Nor would they help with bedtime and putting the girls to sleep or read to them.

It was a frustrating visit. They stopped by only because they were in the Northeast. But still…. I’ve been getting to bed around 1am, and Luna’s been having nightmares so she comes in and sleeps with me. She’s not the calmest of sleepers.

So, I think this is why I am in a bad mood. Jay should land around 9pm and then be home by 10:30 (luggage and all that). My parents left this morning.



I just got off the phone with Soleil’s teacher.

1) She is going to be pulled out of class Thursday morning for reading. She and one other first grader are reading enough ahead to work on skills that are a little more towards fluency and comprehension of text rather than just understanding words.

2) She’s been hitting kids in class. And being mean. Sigh….

Slowly slowly, we have to help them grow up. A mixed bag today. 

To fight or not?

Earlier this school year, Soleil had a problem. There was a girl on the bus who picked on Soleil for having "brown hair". She also picked on another girl for stealing her name (the girls had the same first name). It came to a head when Soleil let her after school teachers know that this girl punched her on the bus and then kicked her under the seat.

Momma bear came out and so did, "Wait, maybe my kid caused it" Mama. So I gently asked if this could have been Soleil’s instigation in any way. The answer was along the lines of  "I can’t tell you who did this or what happened exactly" while shaking her head "NO!"

I got the full details later from Soleil and suggested she stay away from the girl for now. After consulting with Jay, we discussed the incident with the principal and suggested some ideas of how to prevent this. We also made it clear we didn’t want to punish the other kid, we just wanted to prevent this from happening again.

Most of the situation has been resolved. We have to remind Soleil that not so long ago, she had trouble controlling her own emotions so she shouldn’t antagonize this girl.

While relating this story to a friend, she got mad that I didn’t tell Soleil to fight back. I argued that at 6 the world is still black and white. Shades of grey aren’t there yet. As she gets older, we’ll work on when it is okay to fight back (yes, I believe there is a point where you have to fight back) and when it isn’t.

Then today I read this article. Yeah- In that case? In 6th grade? If ANYONE hit her or a friend or even just another classmate for being Jewish? I expect some ass kicking to be done.

Shivers of Winters Past

I was born in the early 1970s. I remember putting extra sweaters on for bed and having extra blankets for those cold, Western New York nights. We kept the thermostat at 65 and tried to conserve oil. At school, we would turn off the lights in the hallways during the daylight hours if possible. Class rooms always ran with half lights. Our area never did the February vacations, but other northern schools took a week from Spring Vacation and stuck it in February to not have to heat the buildings that week.

In the 80s and 90s, we were able to kick that puppy up to 70! Or in my parents’ case, 75 (yes, they are both on blood thinners, why do you think they moved south?) The sweaters were shed, the houses were cozy and all was good with our $0.89 per gallon gas.

Fast forward to today. Jay and I had gas inserts installed in both fireplaces. This reduces the drafts down the chimneys and these heaters are both beautiful and warm. The one upstairs can warm the main living area, but barely reaches our bedroom. The downstairs one can raise the temperature of the room from 66 to 72 in 45 minutes! They both radiate and are far more energy efficient than our furnace. So, we turn on the fireplaces as needed when we are home. Right now, we are keeping the house thermostats at 66. I sleep in long sleeves.

Most of my friends around here just turned on the heaters when we had the first frost. People who get oil have locked in a max price of the oil at $3.60-$4.00 a gallon. In 1999, Jay and I locked in $1.25 a gallon and were disgusted with oil prices then. (tanks are 175 gallons assume 2-3 fill ups a year if you are good at conserving.) We’re on natural gas (that’s how we could get the fireplace inserts). We don’t have to worry about the oil thing, but gas prices are through the roof too!

 Why was the world so short sighted the last time we had this issue? Why did we not start working hard on alternative energy solutions then? Why did we have to wait 20 years until the 90s and the environmentalist movements? Just think, if we had started in the early 1970s, the technology would be 35 years old now! (assume a 3 year lead time). The advancements become exponential at some point.

We’ve looked into solar, wind, and geothermal for our house. The last one is out unless we switched our entire heating system from water baseboard to forced hot air. Solar may only work in summer as we have tall trees to the south. And wind seems feasible, but we would need to see what small wind stations are available for our area.

 But for now, we bundle up and shiver as I did as a kid.

What is your heating solutions? What are you doing this winter?

If you’re in the south where this isn’t an issue, think about the summer…how do you cool then?


Snap crackle pop!

I am still dealing with my sciatica. I have seen my acupuncturist again. I have also visited my office mate’s chiropractor. Ah! That helped! Both did actually. Yesterday, the chiropractor looked at my ancient X-rays of my back. He told me everything I knew about the scoliosis and the malformed vertebrae I have in my lower back. He debated on the extra vertebrae, but agreed that it was malformed no matter what. And then we did ice, a gravity thing with wedges to have one hip pull the other into alignment, an actuator (it give a tiny punch to the muscle) and then a quick adjustment. I have have 3 cracks to my lower back since the visit. Ah! Relief! I go back today for a second round.

If you read yesterday, thank you. I normally do not discuss politics here. I will try to refrain in the future.

We had to drive Soleil into school this morning. Not because we missed the bus, but because her school offers a "language program" (quotes mine) for 6 weeks for the 1st graders. She is doing 6 weeks of American Sign Language. We need to get her in at 8:25(school starts at 9:05) and she takes a half hour every Wednesday. Sigh… The traffic going to work that way is still pretty slow, but it was nice to get in a little early.

Luna is still in her big kid/little kid phase. It’s annoying, but getting better. Sigh….Last night she was tired, so lots of crying. She wants to be in kindergarten so badly that she keeps begging to be taken out of pre-K and sent to Kindergarten. Sigh….

I need to text my parents. They were leaving NC yesterday and will arrive in Boston when they darn well feel like it. I would love to have at least 24 hour notice as Jay is heading out Sunday afternoon for a trip to a Spitzer meeting.

And that is all for now. I need to stick my head under the hood of some JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) code today and I am just not in the mood for it. 


This, I Believe….

I have been involved with a large political discussion over the weekend with a group of web friends. These are people I truly respect and love. I don’t want to hurt these people because I disagree with them. One person wrote to me that she is not sure about what I think anymore. So I decided for my own sanity, I need to write this. I have closed the comments because I don’t want to fight. I just have to write out my beliefs and feelings.

Friends from the Refuge: Please know I love you all. I know we come from different walks of life and we have all had different experiences. These reflect in our own actions and beliefs. I don’t feel any animosity towards ANY OF YOU! 

This, I Believe:

I believe humans are, in general, good in behavior. They want to do the right thing and they want to be good toward other people. All humans have feelings of pride and honor, all humans can feel greed and envy. One of the wonders of people is that we share emotions regardless of race, class, religion or gender. We have a connection to our fellow man based on these base emotions.

I believe all people sure have their basic needs met. This means, food, shelter, clothing, health. Right now, our country makes an attempt to help people. We have homeless on our streets. We have people going hungry.  Clothing can break a family’s budget. Health is a large issue in the United States. People go without regular doctor visits. Your health care is directly related to your income. Those who have little money still use ERs for basic care. A good insurance allows a person to get good care. Some parts are regulated by states. Other parts allow people to go without. Despite research indicating that dental health is important for the entire health of a person, dental coverage is often separate and sometimes, not even offered.

I believe that people should be able to donate their money where they wish. However, a 2005 study found that 8% off all the money donated was directly earmarked for meeting basic human needs. Yes, the arts, science, religion, etc should be donated to also. However, this 8% figure is strong evidence that PRIVATE DONATIONS ARE NOT ENOUGH! We need the government to step in to help our fellow Americans and the immigrants. It is in the best interests of our country to meet the basic needs of all citizens. To create a population that lives in basic human conditions will probably reduce crime. If the government doesn’t do it, no one will be able to help this happen. And I don’t mean a steak for dinner every night or a house for everybody. I mean that nobody should HAVE to sleep on a park bench with an empty stomach. A shelter with meals can help, but now they are overcrowded and underfunded. We currently can’t help people enough.

I believe taxes are reasonable. Even though I keep getting told that 50% of my money goes to taxes, I don’t mind because we have a strong military, a strong government, arts and sciences are funded, history is preserved, items that make a culture are funded. 

I believe we need to cut pork projects. I believe that if we took the 0.1% of the federal budget that is pork and tossed it towards basic human needs, we would do much better as a country.

I believe people WANT to bring themselves up. I have been told that if people have their basic needs met, they will be lazy and not work to improve themselves. I do not believe that! Every generation has wanted better for their children. Every generation wants the pride of being on their own. I know very few people who have been on some form of public assistance who want to stay there. They want to do this on their own.

I believe  public assistance needs to be changed for the economy of the specific region. I believe taxes need to be adjusted accordingly also. You can’t say that someone earning $10,000 in the rural mid-west has the same expenses as a person in an East Coast city. You can’t force people to move because of the higher costs of some areas.

I believe the organization of federal programs needs to be streamlined. Part of the bulk and bureaucracy  is based on changing laws. Let’s find a streamline for programs. Find a way to get money to people and spend less on overhead. Savings on the process in time and money come back to the people in a way that we can help people more.

I believe if you tell people that they are stupid and will not succeed, they will not. We need to change our mindset and believe that we can all have a happy life in America. We need to stop the cycle of poverty. We need to respect the jobs that the blue collar workers do. We need to pull people up so they can move forward instead of pushing down by saying that pregnant teens are crack whores or that if you live in a certain area you are a delinquent or if the color of your skin is different, you’ll never go anywhere.

I believe there will always be people who cheat the system regardless how positive the program is. This is unavoidable. There are some people who  always have an ulterior motive and are looking out for themselves. I DON’T think programs should NOT be funded because there are those who abuse the system.

I believe there is a group of people known as the "working poor". These families fight paycheck to paycheck to raise their kids. They want to do better. They try to save and then the furnace goes, or the car dies, or another unforeseen problem. This wipes out savings and sometimes causes a downward spiral of debt. These people are currently over qualified for help from our government, but they are struggling to keep just above water.

I believe the wealthy (people who earn $1M or greater a year in my opinion) can afford to pay higher taxes. We Americans like our space and toys, but do we need quite this much money to keep to ourselves? When we see bonuses going to Wall Street execs that exceed 5 digits, I wonder why these people are earning so much money. Why is it bad to tax those who can afford more, more? A flat tax is scary because 10% for a person earning $20,000 is a much harder hit than 10% for a person earning $2,000,000. It is not equal.

I believe people who are given opportunities to improve their lives will.

I believe people who are given positive assistance and encouragement will have a better chance to improve their lives.

I believe religion has no role in politics and morals that are given by one’s religion should not be imposed on other people.

I believe no one person can make all of this happen. You can be inspired by Obama or McCain, but if you go out and do something, it will never be enough. We all need to find a way to help.

I believe that helping others through the government is NOT SOCIALIST. Socialism is everybody having the same share and all work for the state. One for all and all for the state. The United States will never because socialist. We are far to independent here. We are the land of golden streets and a chance for everybody to move up, but unless we have a national system that provides the basic needs for everybody, we are not giving everybody a chance to move up. We are creating a system where some will succeed and many will fail.

I believe people will be upset with my beliefs. I understand. I don’t want to set up fights, but I just have to get this out of my system.

We all have different backgrounds. Here is mine

I grew up in a small town. I knew people who got divorced and needed to take public assistance. These people who cried at night because they were taking "a handout". People who took hits to their dignity because of our country’s view of the lower class. I have worked 2 or more jobs at one point. I have worked through college to get where I am. I have lived paycheck to paycheck.  I have seen families destroyed by bank charges. I have seen people I love hurt by a simple illness that takes out their savings.

I don’t give nearly enough to charity. I always feel like I need to give more. I am not perfect.

And neither is the US.

I am looking for a change. 





Recently, a fellow blogger wrote why she was supporting John McCain. She has since removed her post as some of her friends were upset by it.

I plan on voting for Barack Obama. So I think it is a fair statement to say we disagree. However, we have been emailing back and forth about politics. She sends me Michele Milkin items (I feel this blogger is very biased and spreads hate), I send her NY Times articles (she doesn’t trust anything from the Times).  The nice thing? We are agreeing to disagree. We listen to each others’ concerns. We explain our point of view, but don’t expect the other to embrace it.

This is what we need in American Politics again. Civility. Adults discussing their veiwpoints while maintaining friendships. No people shouting "Kill him!", nobody calling Palin a MILP (mother I’d like to punch), no threats, just discussion


The day the lights went out at CfA

We had an unexpected power outage today. From 10:45-12:30, the entire of our building complex and the next block over were dark. It was a bit surreal. All of these scientists coming out of their offices. Some actually using PENS and PAPER to record things. What? We were without the INTERNET? Dear Lord NO!

After a nice walk and discussion of what we can do for the kitchen storage solutions, Jay and I went to lunch. We came back about the time the power came on.

Weird how wired in we all are now.