Tuesday, November 25, 2008

WALL-E, preachy or just with a moral?

I recently saw WALL-E on DVD, after having passed on seeing it in the theater. I loved it. I have heard some right-leaning political types saying that it is over-the-top with preachy lefty enviro-whacky lessons, but I didn't see it. The environmental message is there, but it doesn't hit you over the head. There is no "Oh those HORRIBLE trashy people who destroyed the world!!!" or "Watch out or it will happen to YOU!!!" and certainly no "Mother Gaia is CRYING!!!"

I have even seen some left-leaning critics decrying the film for falling short of the environmental lesson it could have seen through with more diligence. Can't ask for a better recommendation that that.

The lessons about sloth and personal fitness are there and are more prominent than the ones about the environment. But, never are the people portrayed as being bad because they are fat. The message is overwhelmingly that people long ago stopped trying and became fatter and fatter. They let robots do all the work for them and paid the price slowly, without even realizing.
The people in the movie's present are very fat. They have never walked a single step. The captain standing and walking to fight Auto is accompanied by heroic fanfare as a monumental achievement. These fat people are heroes who rally to save themselves and each other when the time comes. If anything it is a POSITIVE portrayal of fat people, they can be smart, brave, and fierce. When presented with the chance to change their lives they took it. They fought for the opportunity to live on a re-emerging Earth as farmers. No one was shown wanting to stay on the spaceship and keep going on as they had been.

I loved the movie. My kids loved it. I can (and have already, even after just a few days) use the lessons of the movie to get them away from their video games and computers and off to play with their real arms and legs.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Unplugged This Week

For the next 5 days we are not going to be allowed to use the computers or TV between the hours of 8am and 5pm.

I think the kids and I spend way too much time in front of various screens. This may not break the habit, but it may help.

If it goes well I may set aside one week of every month for Unplugged Week. Or possibly even take on this policy permanently. The necessary computer stuff I need to do can just as easily be done after 5.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Tragedy has Befallen Us least that is what DH says he once read a caption on a Garfield cartoon say when the exact same thing happen as happened here tonight.

This is after the big pieces were picked up and before any mopping. Blasted thing landed upside-down, of course.

I tried my hand at pre-cooking this evening. See, it isn't much harder to make two lasagnas than it is to make one. So, I bought some disposable foil lasagna pans. Tonight I prepared twice as much as needed, put half into my glass pan and half into the foil pan to put that into the freezer. It turns out those foil pans are none too sturdy. I was almost to the freezer when it did a little twist-shimmy and the lasagna hit the linoleum.


I am just glad dinner was not ruined. We have had shimmying foil lasagna pans ruin dinner before, back before I cooked for real. But that wasn't ME who dropped it.

Of course tonight's fiasco happened BEFORE I had prepared the "tonight" lasagna in the glass pan. It was still unassembled sitting on the stove. And the clean-up really could not wait. I mean...ewww! So, even though dinner was not ruined, it is going to be very late. (given that I was already treading a thin not-quite-too-late borderline as it was.)

DD10 (who is of course NOT the DD10 that I have been mentioning for a year or so, THAT is DD11. DD10 used to be referred to as DD9. I'll let you figure out the logistics.) was an absolute GEM. Not only was she very happily helping me cook and being the cheese filling squisher, she also went to fetch the mop from downstairs, AND helped with the worst of the clean-up. There is only so much a mop can do with dropped lasagna; at some point you have to use your fingers. She didn't even complain. GEM, I tell you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Argiope aurantia

We have a lot of spiders here. This is an old house, on the edge of town, with owners who don't go "above and beyond" in their yard maintenance. Generally we avoid getting bitten by being careful with our behavior when we encounter them. Pretty much, if it comes in the house it is fair game, but is very likely to be safe if it stays outside, even in the windows.

Occasionally it makes for a nice home school lesson.

I present for your enjoyment a picture of a lovely specimen of Argiope aurantia.

This is a female. Males are not so large nor so colorful. These are also referred to as the Common Garden Spider and the St. Andrews Cross Spider (because the way they tend to sit makes an X with their legs.) They are found all over North America and even as far south as Central America. They are not agressive and their bite is not dangerous.

Notice the thicker strips in her web? Those are called stabilimenta. Webs with stabilimenta tend to catch fewer insects, but get destroyed less by birds bungling into them. There was a web on the front porch before I dug out the ivy that had a very pronounced zig-zag stabilimenta through the middle. I doubt this is the same spider, though. 180 degrees around the house is a whole other world when you are a 2 inch arachnid.

My lovely doesn't have to worry much about birds flying into her web, being within an inch of our picture window. I imagine the lights at night draw insects to her. We have had tree frogs on our front porch taking advantage of similar conditions there.

To show the impressive size of my new pet (LOL) I took a pic with my fingers near her. Of course, there is glass between us. Harmless or not, I am not getting my digits this close without the glass.

I also took a pic trying to make her look like a 5 foot spider in a tree. It wasn't easy to get the focus to work, so it doesn't quite look right. It was fun anyway.

Friday, November 7, 2008


There is a bathroom in my house that I never use.
#1, I rarely go downstairs.
#2, It has been broken for a while. The toilet is wonky and we haven't been able to spare the couple of hundred $ to hire the plumber. No biggie, we have two other bathrooms.

Never using this restroom has proven to be a HUGE problem this afternoon.

I have been downstairs for the last few days trying to catch up on the mountain of laundry that leaving that chore to the minions doesn't seem to get done. This evening, as I was moving the queue of baskets closer to the laundry room, I happened to catch a glimpse of something odd out of the corner of my eye.

The ceiling in the unused bathroom is turning black.

The aforementioned area of ceiling is directly under the shower in our master bath upstairs. You can imagine my reaction.

What the ...?! Son of a...!! (that is "heck" and "gun" for those of you who don't know me in person.)

Needless to say, I was feeling a bit gloomy as this evidence of my "new" house's true age reared its ugly head. Leaky pipes somewhere under the shower. We are probably going to have to tear out the whole floor/ceiling to get this fixed. (And by "we" I mean the contractor my husband and I hire.)

I have started to cheer up a bit since the realization first hit.

#1, before the end of the year we should have enough money (end of year bonus) to cover the repairs. (and tax refund will definitely cover it if the bonus doesn't)

#2, I HATE our master bath. It is TINY. I never shower in there. (I am not TINY.) The shower is smaller than an old fashioned phone booth. The entire bathroom is smaller than...hmm...I can't think of anything comparable...a department store dressing room, maybe?

Why does that cheer me up? you ask. Well, that side of our bedroom has two doors, the bathroom and a walk-in closet. The closet is just as deep as the bathroom, just separated by a wall...and if we are going to have to rip the floor / bathroom to the guts...Do you see where I am going with this? I don't really NEED a walk-in closet.

That moldy/algae-ish whatever it is that has been growing under our secret leak could be just the push we need to do some nice minor remodeling.

PS- My daughter, who is in charge is cleaning the cat litter box in the downstairs bathroom, said she noticed the spreading blackness, but didn't know what it was so didn't think it was necessary to notify an adult. grrrrrr, we are definitely going to have a talk...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Shades of Gray

No, I am not referring to moral ambiguity.

I woke up this morning to find my child was gray. Last night was Halloween. Her costume involved some spray-on black hair spray. When we returned home from trick or treating and the party at church I told her to take a bath. Then, instead of helping her or overseeing her progress, I went to bed. (I was tired.) BIG mistake.

She washed her hair and went to bed, not realizing that the spray that had washed out of her hair (mostly) had become one with the bath water and had coated her entire body.

Her normally pale complexion had grabbed onto that color like nothing I have ever seen. She looked like a corpse. Next Halloween if any of the girls wants to be a zombie or vampire, I have a better way than grease paint to really sell the look.

I wish now we had taken a picture, but I was more concerned with getting her somewhat cleaned up.

Here is a pic of the costume that caused all the fuss.