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Thursday, September 30, 2010

What I Learned on Late Night TV

by Jody Worsham, all rights reserved for NyQuil, Lunesta, Tylenol PM

Never drink two glasses of iced tea before bed; between the caffeine and extra liquids, you won't get any sleep.

However, while flipping through 150 channels last night, I discovered some interesting tidbits not available during the daylight hours. For example:

1) If YOU ARE DEAD OR HAVE SUFFERED DEATH, you may be eligible for compensation if you ever took the drug Avandia. I guess you have to go through a medium or psychic to file a claim.

2) You can only file a claim if a loved one has died or been diagnosed with Mesophelioma. If you hated the (_*$_#&*^^*&, then I don't think you can file a claim.

3) Shipping and handling are more expensive than the item you just purchased (if you are able to read the small print as it flashes across the screen.)

4) A new joy toy, known as the Trojan Trilogy (I think that was the name. I was in shock over such a commercial and had my eyes partially covered) can't be ordered if you live in Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi or Georgia. I wonder what that says about those states?

5) The Australian girls you brought you the Pedi Egg, now bring you the suctioned cup plastic spiked flip-flop foot scrubber. It's amazing what your imagination can create from that one left over flip-flop after the other one breaks.

6) If you turn the sound completely off of the weather channel, you can play meteorologist and project when and where the next hurricane will make landfall and with just as much accuracy. You can also upgrade the next tropical storm to hurricane status and name it after your boss, ex-spouse, or latest wild child.

I think I will opt for warm milk tonight.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rejected by the FBI

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to pay for free lawyer

If you write and submit your writings, you expect to be rejected…a lot. If you suggest any rational or practical ideas at say an economic summit, you can anticipate no one in an elected office will listen to you. But if you sign on as a substitute teacher in a state so desperate for subs that anyone whose breath can still fog a mirror, even slightly, is called until rigor mortise sets in, you expect to be accepted on the sub list. Not so. I shall explain.

To increase security, or possibly to give some brother-in-law’s failing company a gigantic economic boost onto the bottom rung of the Fortune 500, our legislature is now requiring all teachers and substitute teachers to be fingerprinted at a cost of approximately $52.75 per teacher/sub. The fingerprints can only be taken by ONE company, the brother-in-law company; but once entered into the Brig Brother Data Base, you can substitute anywhere in the state.

I do not have a problem with this, well except for the Big Brother part and the single company monopoly part. When we adopted our last two children four years ago, both my husband and I had to be fingerprinted for a criminal background check. I think we may have even been fingerprinted when we applied to adopt two donkeys form the federal government’s Burro Reclamation Project in the 80’s. Since I also have a passport and driver’s license, my fingerprints are in several systems. Fingerprinting is not the problem.

The problem is the system. I was given a time to be fingerprinted. I had my Fast Pass, required before you can be fingerprinted, not to save time. I think the brother-in-law CEO of the fingerprint company may have just gotten back from Disney World. I had my driver’s license and my social security card. I even brought along my passport just in case. No one asked for my teaching certificate, number of years teaching experience, or my birth certificate. I guess that did not matter. I was anticipating and waiting for the fogged mirror test.

I think I have watched too many episodes of “Law and Order’ or “Matlock” because I also brought along baby wipes to remove the black ink. This was not needed as fingerprinting has gone high tech. I was photographed, each hand was scanned on a computer, each digit was rolled across the screen, and I could see the entire process on the monitor. The required sums were paid and I was dismissed.

A week later I still have not received any calls to substitute and I am sure rigor mortise has not set in. I currently have a heart beat and I can fog up a mirror. I am confused.

Today I received a letter from the brother-in-law fingerprinting company saying my fingerprints had been rejected by the FBI. Now I was not applying for The Silver Fox Anti-terrorist School for Retired Teachers. I did not want to be in the newest class at Quantico. I just want to substitute teach.

Rejected! Thirty-nine years in the classroom as a certified teacher with a master’s degree in three teaching fields and I was rejected. After I calmed down and found my glasses, I read on down to the bottom of the page where I saw REASON in big letters followed by “First rejection.” Were there going to be more? Then below that was “ridges too faint to read.”

Faint ridges? Faint ridges? Faint ridges! I have no fingerprints! Does that make me a vampire? No, vampires have no reflections. What is it when you have no fingerprints? A ghost? A mummy? The mob’s best friend? Then it hit me. Well of course the ridges are too faint to read. They are almost seven decades old. I’ve patted eight children to sleep over a period of forty years, sewed thousands of costumes, built a house and a barn, graded a million papers, and driven a quadrillion miles taking kids to and fro. I’ve even burned those ridges the few times I tried to cook. I pound a computer keyboard several hours a day and my new lap top doesn’t have a mouse. You just tap...with your fingertips. Of course they are worn out! But I can still out-teach a “mirror-fogger.”

I read on further. There was a number I could call to reschedule a second fingerprinting/scanning session. If I reschedule, maybe I’ll get the Elmer’s glue and squirt a sad face on my finger. I’m not saying which finger. I’ll bet those ridges would scan.

The phone is in my pocket. I’m still thinking.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Six Words Worth Six Hundred

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to buy paper and pencil

There is a contest currently running in the AARP magazine ( that asks you to write the biggest mistake in your life in six words or less. If your six words are selected, you win a t-shirt with your words on it and you are published in their newspaper. I guess the AARP magazine, writing primarily for senior citizens, figures that six words is about as long as our attention span is for reading. Or else, if they didn't limit the words, we have lived so long and made so many mistakes that "War and Peace" would look like a mini novel compared to what we could write.

At any rate, I gave it a shot.
My biggest mistakes in 6 words or less.

Met your mom.
Your wife?

Friday’s funeral,
Thursday’s beans
Pardon me!

Lost one shoe
Limping diploma

Dress size 6
Body size 16.

Then I got to thinking about some of my postings. What if I reduced them to six words?

"Back to the Future...and It's Scary! becomes:

Kindergarten substitute
Smart Board, Dumb Sub!

"I've got Stats" becomes
Stats? Rats!
No one there (sigh)

Nah, economy of words is over rated!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I"ve Got Stats!

by Jody Worsham All rights reserved to purchase free AVG.

I don't know when I got them or how but judgjng from my blog where I accidently clicked on something, I now have STATS. I still don't have a blog counter. I've tried that twice. The last time I almost got to the end when it said to click some button, only there wasn't a button there to click. According to my STATS 782 people have looked at my blog (course 743 of those would be me clicking to see if anybody had left a comment.) but I don't have to tell anbyody that, right?

I gave up on trying to contact a living person at the McAfee Security place out in cyberspace and now have my computer at the computer 's doctor's office. I'm waiting for the diagnosis. I hope it died.

While I was out I decided to see if there was a way to connect my lap top to my existing printer. I asked about connecting my new lap top to my old Dell printer and the young (better-not-let-me-find-out-who-your-mother-is) man just laughed. I went to Wal-mart, bought a cheap printer, a USB cable thing, paid for it, loaded it all in my car, and promptly rolled back into a tiny Crown Victoria that was hiding in the blind spot of my suburban. He was older than me. I'm sure he thought he was honking at me and I'm sure I thought I was listening. The insurance lady asked if I was on a cell phone or a GPS (like I could operate those and drive, too.) Luckily she didn't ask me if I was thinking about computers and what I could do with smug-still-in-diapers-computer-type geeks.

When I got home, no UBS cord, no receipt for one either but I know I bought it. I can still see that silly grin on that How-May-I-Help-Make-You-Feel-like-a-Dinasour Wal-mart salesperson. So I bought another one, got it home and took a day off to lower my blood-pressure, cholesterole, and re-think my gun safety course.

Today, after much trial and horror and growling, I got it hooked up. I printed what I needed printing. However, one piece wouldn't let me print it. That piece was the reason I bought the *&$)&#(&b extra printer in the first place. I think I would have been better off just copying the thing by hand from the computer.

To breathe some sanity back into my life, I went to McDonald's, odered a super-size Chocolate Mocha Frappe, and just waited for that size 2 server to gasp, roll her eyes, size up my supersize t-shirt, or suggest she make it sugar free.

I think I may stop by the t-shirt place and have them make me up a t-shirt that says "Don't Mess with a Texas-size Computer Freaked-Out 67 Year Old Mother of a kindergartener and a Fourth Grader". I'm sure Miss How-May-I-Help-You would agree that there is plenty of room for all that on my t-shirt.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Old and the Sleepless! or Dr. Pepper Seniors, Up at 10,2, and 4

By Jody Worsham All rights reserved for a herd of sheep and a fence.

One of the side effects of getting old….er is the fact that you only sleep for about three hours at a time. Something about lessening levels of serotonin or increased melatonin. I personally think it’s the shrinking bladder which causes frequent trips to the bathroom that keeps you from your eight-hours-straight. Course add to that mix a five-year-old, a nine-year-old, and a thunderstorm and you can forget about any kind of continuous sleep.

Last night between claps of thunder, rounds of bedroom roulette, and trips to the john, I made some interesting discoveries. For example, did you know that even if you have 150 channels on your TV set, there is nothing worth watching at 3a.m.? Or if the reason you are up and watching the TV at it’s because you are suffering from low back paint which only a Joy Seat can cure, you are still cleaning your floors because you don’t have a Shark Steam Clean Floor Cleaner, or you feel the sudden urge to chop grape sized bits of onion, pickles, and tuna for a sandwich and you don’t have the Magic Slap-Chopper?

Not only that, did you know the TV shows that you watched before 9p.m. start repeating at 1 a.m.? Now this can be a good thing for me because I usually fall asleep before the third choice of a vacation home on Devil’s Island is revealed. I have, on more than one occasion, awakened three hours later to not only see the third choice but get in on the final decision, never the one I would have picked.

And, surprise surprise, the 24/7 live recorded weather channel is on some kind of video loop. I almost moved the entire family into an interior walk-in closet before I realized I was currently watching a rerun of the same thunderstorm I had just experienced an hour earlier. I watched that same storm cross my part of the state four more times in much the same way one watches reruns of a movie, just to see if you missed something the first three times. Plus I wasn’t in the market for a genuine cubic zirconium naval ring even if they were going fast and there were only 1,200 of them left.

I also discovered that there is a direct correlation between when a roll of toilet paper will actually run out and the wee-wee hours of the morning. However, this has not been totally verified as the empty-roll-syndrome has been known to happen when a) there’s absolutely no one else in the house and b) when there is absolutely everybody in the house including the preacher regardless of the hour.

I realized, too, that my hearing is 200% better in the hours after midnight. Why are sounds, any sounds, louder, spookier, and more irritating the closer it gets to morning? Tree frogs that were soothing sounds of nature at 10p.m suddenly sound like the latest reject of American Idol at 4 a.m. and can set every dog in the neighborhood howling at the moon, even when there isn‘t a moon. A slight drip from the water faucet you didn’t quite turn off at 7p.m. becomes Niagra Falls on a gigantic tin drum in the early morning hours.

I finally gave up on any kind of continued sleep and headed to the kitchen. That’s the other good side effect of getting It’s always time for
10, 2, and 4.…and all the times in between.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Love's Labor Lost

by Jody Worsham. All rights reserved for labor intensive rest time.

Labor Day Weekend is aptly named. It was a weekend for labor just with an extra day. Why is it that camping involves twice as much labor intensive loading and unloading as just staying put?

At least this Labor Day weekend was as close as we have ever gotten to a Norman Rockwell holiday. Our children had fun. They discovered cousins. Well, they were their second cousins. Actually, they were both their second counsins and their great-neice and great-nephew. However, genetically speaking, since ours are adopted, they weren't any relation to the others at all. Ok, it was not a normal Norman Rockwell. Like I said, it was as close as we got.

We slapped down two tarps on a hillside, turned on the water, poured a full bottle of Joy on the tarps and watched the four great-uncles-great-aunts-second-counsins-just-kids slide down the hill ending in a massive cloud of soap suds. They climped up the hill, slid down the hill all afternoon and went promptly to sleep at 7:30 that evening without a peep and totally clean.

The next day we labored over the grill and labouriously climbed in and out of the RV's for salt, spices, spatulas, plates, ice, drinks, porkchops, bratzs, napkins, forks, salad, chips, corn etc. Once it was all assembled, we ate the rest of the weekend.

On Monday we packed up the RV and returned home, unloaded, cleaned up, and repacked the RV. Thus we labored over Labor Day Weekend. Thank goodness there's not another holiday until October!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to the Future...and It's Scary!

By Jody Worsham, all rights reserved for Valium!

Emitting from the darkest regions of a lost and forlorn soul, the screams reverberated around the room. Such keening and wailing caused window panes to vibrate. The high pitched crying had dogs baying at the sun, small children covering their ears, and senior citizens tossing their hearing aids. And that was just from me.

Nothing in my 60 hours of college education courses, 39 years of teaching experience, or raising eight children had prepared me for this. I was being propelled through the time-continuum portal of substitute teaching in…kindergarten.

My 39 years of teaching experience occurred mostly in the last half of the twentieth century, and mostly PC (pre-computer). Even as a recent substitute, I had encountered the occasional power point presentation or DVD left by the teacher to be played, or the request to take attendance using the computer. Nothing, however, had prepared me for High Tech Kindergarten substituting.

My instructions were printed out. The first thing I had to do was log in on the computer as the children arrived and sat on the carpet. Actually, the first thing I had to do was find the computer. I was looking for something similar to my ‘05 Dell, you know, big tv type monitor, tower, and keyboard with mouse, not a gray-black rectangle the width of a desk blotter.

After finding the blotter sized lap top I then struggled with how to open it. After a trial and error period of 10 minutes I succeeded. There was no icon, button, or big red flashing arrow to indicate that was where I was to log. When in doubt, click everything. The teachers’ aid rebooted it for me. The teacher next door came and clicked onto the Alphabet program then turned on the wall switch to the “Smart Board”. Thus I firmly established myself as an authority figure, one to be reckoned with, firmly in charge of the situation in front of my sixteen kindergarten students. Not! It went downhill from there.

Unlike my high school students I had for an hour and a half, I had these children all day long. And while I could divide my high school students into reading groups, send one group outside to rehearse an acting scene, and tell another group to begin painting; these couldn’t read, couldn’t be left alone a second , and t would sooner color each other than what they should be coloring. This was a whole different world I had entered.

By the time I got through the first page of instructions, I was twenty minutes behind schedule and would have missed the bathroom break if six little boys hadn’t suddenly broken into the Potty Dance. As a mother of eight, I know that dance well. After trying to herd my chickens to the restroom and back, I was now ten minutes past Alphabet time.

Alphabet Time had to do with the Smart Board and the Dumb Sub. Fortunately one of the five-year-olds was in charge of this portion of the lesson. He touched the picture of an arrow on the giant screen and the picture changed. He did the calendar as well. He drug the date from the side to the calendar. He moved the star to the correct month. Then he touched the arrow again and the letters of the alphabet appeared giant sized on the screen. The children were to trace the letters. I looked for some chalk but the five-year-old-techno-genius said “We use these” and gave me a pitiful look along with some kind of giant computer crayon. We were supposed to stop at Ee but we had to stop at Bb. It was lunch time.

I again began my attempts at “sweeping feathers” toward the cafeteria. Each child had his name on a “credit card” located in a slotted board. They had to have their cards to get lunch. I had left my glasses in the room; they couldn’t yet read their names. I held their cards out as far as my arm could reach and squinted amidst cries of “I’m hungry,” “Hurry up!” “We’re going to miss lunch”. “I want my Mommie.” “Our real teacher let us eat”.

After passing out all the cards, I was left with one. Panic set in. I had lost a child! I quickly scanned all the tables but I was having trouble trying to find my missing child among the 50 plus children with catsup smeared all over their faces. It was steak finger day. I asked the Aid for help. She told me that child had brought her lunch. Ok, LCA (Lost Child Alert) averted,

After lunch, we had recess. One hyper little child asked if he was going to have to miss recess because of his bad behavior. I thought to myself “Not on your life. Run, Forrest, run” He did. When we returned to the classroom, it was nap time. I needed it, but when I read down further, it was only for the children.

Nap time was an excersize in futility. I didn’t know how to get music on the Smart Board, or the computer and I hadn’t brought my old antiquated jam box and CD’s. I dared not sing so it was simply “Quiet time, please.” Four went to sleep right away. Seven did their best to keep five awake and did a very good job of it. I saw the 2020 gymnastic hopefuls working out their routines those who will one day appear on Dancing with the Stars were inventing new steps, and American Idol hopefuls were getting in tune. I just kept staring at the clock. At last it was time to go home. I got everybody who was riding a bus to the bus line. Everybody who was riding in a car was shuffled off to the pick-up line.

In theory substituting in a kindergarten class had looked easy. Follow the lesson plans and all would be well. In retrospect it was a microcosm of our world to come. Every kindergartener had a job, but just like their 20 year old plus adult counter-parts, they didn’t always like their jobs nor did they always do them. Shades of unemployment lines to come. One started crying loudly when another child cut in front at lunch. Geneva Convention violations. One moved his mat into another child’s space. Border disputes. Getting bumped by another student in line was a call to arms. Nuclear arms race continued. One child claimed another child had taken over his job. Labor Union negotiations .

I had observed in one day a microcosm of our world. I had been staring at the future…and it was scary!

When I returned home and reached for the wine bottle, no glass was needed, my husband was laughing.

“Ate your lunch, did they?”
“My lunch, my breakfast, and my supper.”
“Going back tomorrow?”
“Not on your life. I’m sending flowers, sympathy cards, a giant box of very dark chocolate plus a year’s membership to “Massage Stress Away Health Club" to every kindergarten teacher I know. They deserve it!”