For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Shiney and new!

I am now posting this entry on our new computer! What a difference, that's for sure.

The last few days have been spent setting everything up, including moving the old computer to the kids' room (there's not enough room to have both in the living room, then setting up the LAN, and trying to transfer our stuff from the old computer to the new one. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to network them together - the default password to do that isn't working, so it'll have to wait until my husband can call someone during office ours. The new computer has memory card readers built in, though, so my husband has been loading some stuff onto memory cards from our digital cameras using the memory card reader he bought some time ago, then simply popping the card into the new computer. It doesn't work for quite everything, though. I've managed to get my bookmarks by having them emailed to me. LOL I still don't have my email address book, though. All in good time.

A couple of things didn't get changed. The kids get to have the stylish, skinny keyboard that came with the system. I was not about to give up my ergonomic keyboard! LOL The monitor has built in speakers and the sound really sucks, so we kept the old ones and the girls get to use a spare set we had lying around.

Oh, and now that we have a system that can use it, we picked up a scanner/printer again, too - and this time, we could actually install it! LOL It is soooooooooooo nice to have a printer that doesn't grab a half inch of paper at once and try to print on it. :-P I gotta tell you, we're sure hanging on to our reciepts - between claims and rebates, we'll be getting a fair amount of the cost back. Which is good, because this stuff cost way more than we can really afford. :-P

As for now, time to go an install some more stuff I need on this thing, and hope the software isn't too old to work on XP. We've already had a few that won't work on the new computer, though they're still working fine on the old one, so it's not too convenient.

Time to go play! :-D

Friday, September 22, 2006

Power Bars

Tonight, my shift at the grocery store ended *before* closing, for a change. As I was getting my purse out of my locker and starting to head out, my cell phone beedled at me. My husband had sent me a text message, asking me to pick up a few Power Bars. I thought this was rather strange, as they are rather gross, but I figured he had a reason. So, off to the pharmacy section I go and pick up a few.

When I get home, my husband asked me if I picked up the Power Bars. I said yes. As I was handing him the bag, he asks if I picked up 1 or 2. I told him three. His face seemed rather perplexed as he took the bag from me. Into the bag he looks, then asks me if I checked my text messages. Yes, I told him. You asked me to pick up some Power Bars, so I did.

It turns out he meant power bars, not Power Bars - as in the things you plug into, not the things you eat. He and the kids picked up a new computer today (yay!) and we need power bars to be able to set it up.


I pointed out to him that I work in a GROCERY STORE. Of course, I'd think of a food item rather than an electrical item! LOL

When they say, "education," they really mean...

As a parent who chooses not to send my kids to school, I've found myself much more aware of things that I probably wouldn't notice otherwise. Among these is how people use the term "education," when they really mean "schooling."

ed‧u‧ca‧tion[ej-oo-key-shuhn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1.the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.
2.the act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills, as for a profession.
3.a degree, level, or kind of schooling: a university education.
4.the result produced by instruction, training, or study: to show one's education.
5.the science or art of teaching; pedagogics.

school‧ing[skoo-ling] Pronunciation Key
1.the process of being taught in a school.
2.instruction, education, or training, esp. when received in a school.
3.the act of teaching.
4.Archaic. a reprimand.

By definition, education is something that can happen anywhere, and never truly ends. Schooling, on the other hand, is much more specific, and has a termination point. Yet the phrases I so commonly hear are things like this...

"When I finished my education..."
"Get an education, then get a good job..."
"It's important for kids to get an education..."
"Our future depends on educating our kids..."

I see and hear statements like these in many places. In newspapers, during business meetings, in conversations on the street. Yet very often, when people make these statements, they are no, in fact, talking about eductation, but schooling.

"Our future depends on educating our kids, therefore the government must give more funding to ECE centres, preschools and daycares."
"It's important for kids to get an education, so we have to do something about the drop out rate and keep them in school."
"Get an education, then get a good job - you need a high school diploma or a degree."
"When I finished my education, I never read a book again."

I think it's a mistake to use the terms "education" and "schooling" interchangeably, yet it is very common. In some ways, I believe it goes back to the early days of our country's developement. There were no schools, and parents recognised that they weren't able to give their kids all the knowledge they wanted them to have, so they started schools. It's interesting to read about early NA schools. The children tended to start far later than today - and most already knew how to read, having been taught by their parents. The amount of time children spent in the classroom was much lower. At the same time, what the teachers were expected to teach was much more basic. I believe that it's from this time period that the useage of "education" and "schooling" eventually evolved to become interchangeable.

I, however, think we do ourselves and our children a disservice by viewing it this way. We've had it ingrained in us for so long that we go to school to "get an education," we begin to see education as something that's done *to* us, and as something that is finite. Education, however, begins from the moment we are born (or, argueably, even prenatally), and ends when we die. As humans, we are constantly learning, though we rarely think of it. There's no need to consciously think about it. Schooling, however, tends to be something that's forced upon us as children. It's human nature to resist being forced into something. As the years go by, we can hardly wait until we're finished our "education," so we can get out of an institution. I've met far too many adults who, because of their school experiences, resist anything that smacks of "education."

Argh. I'm having difficulty clarifying my thoughts to say what I intended to right now. It could have something to do with the garbage trucks that are currently outside my balcony. I can't think straight with all the banging, crashing, etc. It doesn't help that I've got a cold and my head is all foggy. LOL

Mostly, I just wanted to comment on how so many use the term "education" when they really mean to say "schooling." The terms aren't really interchangeable, but in the minds of many, they are synonymous. I feel that this, more than anything, is what makes is so difficult for people to understand home based education. In their minds, education has become something that can only be achieved in a classroom, with a teacher imparting information, with text books and testing. So when they hear me say that we don't use grade levels, that I don't make the kids sit down and "do school," they don't understand it. It doesn't mesh with their notion of what education is.

There are many tools one can use to get an education. School is one of them, but far from the only one.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pointy shoes and fashion fads

Many years ago, as a young child, I was visiting my aunt. Her adult daughter happened to be home for a visit as well. I still remember sitting on the floor while she stood near me and seeing her bare feet.

They were deformed.

Her toes came to a point, with the big toes turned inward, and the outer toes twisted inwards to the point that the baby toe was actually on top of the one beside it, and that one was mostly on top of the next one. She had, literally, pointy feet.

On the way home, I asked my mother why my cousin's feet were like this. My mother explained that she had an office job and had to wear dress shoes all the time. At that time, the fashion for women's office wear included high heels and extremely pointy toes. She wore shoes like this for so long, her feet were permanently conformed to the shape.

It was at that young age that I decided I would wear comfortable shoes, only!

Sure, I did wear heels and pointy shoes on occasion, when I had a formal event to attend. I doubt I have ever worn them for more than 24 hours total in my entire life. Most of the time, I wore sensible shoes. Unfashionable, boring, comfortable, shoes.

The irony of this is that after injuring my feet, I no longer have the choice. I will never be able to wear anything higher than a 1/2 inch heel again - at least not if I want to be able to walk for the next week - and the narrow shoes designed for women have long since forced me to buy my shoes at the men's department. Since I almost never wore these fashionable women's shoes in the first place, it's never particularity bothered me.

I also very rarely see the displays of women's shoes anymore. Not only do I just go to the men's section for myself, it seems my daughters have inherited both my wide feet, and my husband's long ones. They also like to actually walk around without risk of breaking their ankles, so we tend to go to the boys' section to get shoes for them, too. Why girls' sandals all have to have high heels and sparkles is beyond me. And what's with putting high heels on girls' runners, for crying out loud! How stupid is that?

Lately, however, even I have noticed that pointy shoes are back. Today, the girls and I happened to walk through the women's shoe section in a department store. It was horrifying. Not only are pointy shoes back, but these toes are so long, they're starting to look like they should curl them back, like the shoes worn by Shriners in parades, to keep them out of the way. There's a reason pointy toes went out of fashion. Aside from the fact that they're butt ugly, they make women's feet look several inches longer than they really are.

Ironically, we saw that short shoes are also in. These shoes aren't just flat at the front - they've got this folded back sort of look to them, with rubbery raised areas. Talk about gross!

Then there were the really weird heels. I saw a pair of shoes with what looked like ordinary, practical, 1/2 inch heels - except in the middle of the heel a tiny high heel stuck out of what looked like a hole in the sole. Aside from being silly looking (assuming the heel could actually be seen while worn, as it was so tiny), the design was completely unstable. Even though the heel was rather low, they were twisted ankles, waiting to happen.

While waiting at the bus stop later on (and waiting... and waiting), we ended up standing near a woman who's fashionable shoes were so pointy, she looked like she had skis for feet. We saw other women wearing huge, clunky heels that were bigger than the shoes they were attached to.
I don't get it. Why do people even buy these? How can they be considered fashionable? I realize that different people have different tastes, but wearing something that can cause permanent damage to your body, or that puts you at risk of injury, just doesn't make any sense to me. They're also incredibly ugly. I mean, my "sensible shoes" are hardly attractive, but with the bizarre styles coming out now, they're starting to look good by default.

I just don't get it.

(edited for silly spelling mistakes that got missed by spellcheck)

Well, it seems women aren't the only ones to suffer silly shoes. Tonight, I was at a business meeting. I was sitting in the front row and the speaker was on a speaker's platform, so his feet were at a height where I couldn't miss them. They weren't pointy at all, but they extended several inches beyond the tips of his toes (I could tell by where they bent as he walked back and forth in front of me), ending in a squared off tip. They looked like business versions of clown shoes!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

just plain tired

I haven't been writing much lately. I've fallen behind on my journals again - worse, I'm having a hard time even remembering when I last wrote, never mind what I have to write about. I've just been having a hard time getting my thoughts together. This bothers me, because writing has always been so important to me. It's my way of thinking. It's how I clarify things for myself. It's how I communicate best. The fact that I'm not only writing less, but not really missing is, tells me that something is quite wrong.

I think the main thing is, I'm just plain tired. I've given up trying to go to bed before 2 am. I just lie there, tossing and turning. I'm a night owl, and nights are when I tend to be more alert. If I could reverse my night/day sleep patterns, I would. As it is, I'm mostly shifted over to staying up late - but not really being able to sleep late, as there's too many things I have to do during the day - especially if I'm working that evening. I tend to be a light sleeper, but when I was working nights and sleeping during the day, I found I slept very soundly and deeply - something I no long thought I could do anymore.

The worst, though, is that even if I'm finally at a point where I can sleep, it's frequently interrupted. The noise levels outside our apartment have been really bad lately. During the night, there's the reving of engines, breaking of bottles, and druken sots shouting and swearing during the wee hours of the morning. Then there's that #$@#$@#$@ car alarm that keeps getting set off. One recent night, there was at least 2, possibly 3, going at the same time. Other times, people on the balconies above us start having arguements with people on the ground. There's someone that frequently pisses off his balcony during the night. Others (or the same one?) will throw their beer cans over the rail. Never mind that the ground floor apartments are all families with small children, who play in the patios now covered with piss and beer. Even in the evenings, it's sometimes hard to enjoy our own balcony, as still-lit cigarettes and matches tossed from above get blown onto ours.

Then there's the early morning, and the garbage and recycling trucks. Plus the construction going at the apartements across from us. For over a month now, we've been serenaded by banging as roof shingles are being replaced, and the sound of loud machines of various types. There's very little grass around the ground level of our complex, but it's cut by an industrial sized riding mower - with a noise level to match.

I have to admit, though, that it's more than just the unending noise - or perhaps the noise levels are making me less able to tolerate certain things. I'm finding myself becoming much more overwhelmed by my pain. I don't know that it's really any worse than usual. Mornings, when I first get out of bed, have always been the worst. It generally takes quite a bit of walking (hobbling) around before the stiffness and pain in my feet subside. It's frustrating, because painkillers have no effect at all. Sometimes I take them, just in case *this time* they will help, but there's no difference between when I've taken them, and when I haven't.

The stiffness and the pain that accompanies it does at least subside once I've walked around for a bit. A new thing has emerged, though. The outer bone of my left foot has started to hurt almost constantly, as if there were a fracture, and the spurs in both my heals have become more senstive. The use of special insoles does help, but only so much.

Lately, my legs have been bothering me more, though it's probably due to the seasons changing. I've become sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. I think it's the shooting pains in my lower legs that are the hardest to deal with. It doesn't matter if I'm standing or sitting, well rested, or if I've been on my feet all day. When they hit, they hit. For the second or two it happens, it's like the bones are splitting apart, shattering, snapping - and then it stops. I'm amazed I've yet to drop to the ground during the times it happens while I'm standing. That brief second of pain seems so much longer. Not knowing how quickly another one will come sure doesn't help. There's that sense of dread anticipation.

As I write this, it does seem like a lot, but really, it isn't. I've had far worse pain - especially when living in Richmond's humid climate, when I found I could barely walk anymore because of it. God knows, there are people in far worse pain than I. I'm thankful that I *can* walk, and once I've been up and about for a while, it really doesn't slow me down that much. It's just that lately, I guess I've got less tolerance for it. I suspect that inability to get a decent amount of uninterrupted sleep has a lot to do with it. That, and I've sometimes not been as diligent about eating as often as I should, and that can greatly effect my mood.

The good news is, we're going to be doing something about it. We're going to try and get an apartment higher up in our building - much higher, like 12th floor or higher. Without the street noise, I should finally be able to get at least *some* sleep. My husband called the leasing office about it and was told that, since we have kids, we have to stay on a "family floor" (the three bottom floors). The woman that told him this, though, wasn't comfortable saying it - she knows our kids, and that they're older. Especially when he pointed out all the other kids, much younger than ours, that are living on loors above us. She told my husband to call back tomorrow to talk to a supervisor, as it's not her decision to make. If things go well, we'll be moving into a new apartment for Nov. 1 - at least that's what we're going to be asking for. The rent will be higher, but it'll be worth it. Actually, I'm not sure it's even a choice anymore. Sleep deprivation is stating to really mess me up.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Too Good

I had something happen to me during my shift yesterday that I'm still shaking my head over.

The head of another department came up to me and chastised me for being "too efficient" and "too nice" to the customers!

Now, I take customer service very seriously. To me, the customer in front of me is the most important thing, and I do my best to make sure that customer leaves my till feeling better than when they got there. The fact that I get customers who make a point of thanking me and telling me how much they appreciate my efforts, with some even telling me they make a point of going through my till if they see I'm on shift, regardless of how busy it is, tells me a lot. I mean really, people in general are quick to complain, not to compliment, so when I get complimented, I appreciate it.

One of the things I always do now is check people's eggs. I didn't when I first started, simply because I didn't think of it (after all, I always check my own eggs when I buy them, and I assumed everyone else did, too), but at one point I did and found some broken eggs. After that, I made a point of checking eggs and now it's become a habit I don't even think about anymore. I've even had other cashiers comment on it, and some of them have started to do it, too.

Yesterday, during my 5 hour shift, I found broken eggs on 2 occasions - and with one of them, the customer was surprised because she thought she'd checked them well enough before she picked that dozen. The other was buying 4 dozen, and the broken one was broken on the bottom, so if she'd simply opened the packages to check them, she would've missed it. It just so happened that these two incidents were within about half an hour (probably more like 15 minutes) of each other. The first time I called for a replacement, the guy from dairy brought over the dozen and took the package with the broken one with no issues (normally, I try to have someone working the front end do this, but there wasn't anyone available). The second time, though, when I told him on the phone that I needed another dozen eggs, he was snappy (not directed at me, just impatient that it happened again, especially so quickly) and made a snide comment along the lines of "why don't they check their own eggs?" He still brought me a replacement dozen in decent time, though, and I thought nothing of it.

About an hour + before the store closed, things quieted down for a bit, the head of the department that includes the dairy section came over and started telling me that I was just too nice, too efficient, and that I shouldn't be. I must admit, at first I thought she was joking. She had to be - the idea of being told NOT to provide good customer service was just too foreign to my thinking. She told me that they were really strapped, and that my calling them for this was making it hard for them. Like every other department in the store, they are short staffed, so I can understand that it was inconvenient, however the whole point of being in the retail business is taking care of the customer. That's how money is made, after all.

Two other cashiers happened to be near me when she did this - that was another reason I didn't take her seriously at first. Rule number one in professional behavior - keep negative feedback private. Still, her whole tone had me feeling like there was some sort of punchline. Instead, I was told not to do it anymore. The customers can check their own eggs.

After she left, I turned to the two cashiers beside me with what was probably a rather stunned expression on my face. They looked equally stunned.

At that point, I got another customer and we all went about our business. As I thought about it, and it finally soaked through my thick skull what had just happened, I found myself feeling angry. I don't usually get angry. Ticked, sure. Frustrated, who doesn't? But real anger is a rare thing for me. Part of the reason is that, when I become angry, I get teary, and I don't like that.

Now, I know that a lot of the other staff, including some of the other cashiers, seem to find customers inconvenient. They'd love their job if it wasn't for the customers. In the staff room, I hear a lot of complaints and stories of unbelievably rude customer behavior.

What I find strange is that, I never seem to get these customers. Sure, I get people in bad moods, and the odd unpleasant behavior, but nothing even close to some of these stories. I don't know why that is in come cases, but I do know that in a lot of others, *my* behavior towards the customers goes a long way to deflating potential problems before they happen. It's basic psychology. People tend to behave the way they are treated. Most of the time, the treatment customers get is rather neutral, so their response can go either way, based on their moods. Who knows - maybe someone just ran over their dog before they got there (I actually had that), so they're in a really shitty mood. I try not to be neutral, and make a point of dealing with each customer as an individual that's worthy of special treatment. I've even found myself reacting to someone who seems surly by smiling even more, being extra polite, and making extra effort to make things better for them. I don't even think about it anymore, but when I've noticed myself doing it, I've also noticed that the surly customer is rarely still surly when they leave my till.

My point being that I'm seeing a positive response from customers because of the things I do. Simply put, happy customers are repeat customers, and there's no advertising in the world better than a happy customer. In the end, though, I don't do it for the store. I don't do it because it's part of my job. I do it because I know what it feels like to go through a till as a customer, and I know how much better *I* feel when the cashier treats me well. I want my customers to feel that way, too.

Even more, though, is that to me, it's a matter of personal integrity. I am a strong believer in doing my best in whatever I do, even if it's mundane. To do less than my best goes against my personal work ethic. For me, doing "good enough" isn't good enough when I know I can do better, and I know I can always improve, and improving is one of the things that I find exciting about life. Doing less than my best pulls *me* down. It's a comprimise to my personal ethics that I refuse to accept.

So to have someone from another department actually come up to me and essentially tell me to not do my best angered me. Maybe "good enough" is good enough for her, but it isn't for me.

Needless to say, I'm still checking people's eggs.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Yes, it's that time of year again.

Across the country, parents and their children are getting ready. One final long weekend, and it's a "new year." Thousands of these families are preparing for NBTS Day.

That would be Not Back To School Day.

While other families have spent the last few weeks spending hundreds of dollars on school supplies (not just for their own kids, but for the entire classroom, for the entire year!) and clothes for their children, hundreds more on various school fees now required by our "free" public school system, and struggling to get their kids back onto "school time," there are parents like myself who have completely stepped out of the system.

On tuesday, while other children will be starting their first day of school (or already have, depending on what the first official day of school is in their province), thousands of home schooling families across the country will instead be attending their local Not Back to School Picnic. Still others have teens, many of whom have saved their own money for months for the occaision, that will be going to Not Back to School Camp later on. Instead of spending the last long weekend making sure we've got all the supplies on a list, that the kids have all their clothes and equipment, and trying to get the kids to bed at a "decent" hour, we will be deciding what potluck dish to bring to the picnic. Since it's in the afternoon, we'll probably stay up really late and sleep in that morning. While I wasn't able to get the day off work to attend, my husband did, and he will be taking the girls. It'll be the first one for us since we've moved. After that, we will be back to our regular monday get togethers at the park, which had been suspended for the summer.

For a lot of home schooling families - even unschooling ones - we look forward to the start of the new school year. That may sound strange, but I'll admit straight out, it's for a very selfish reason. It's because we will finally get the parks, libraries, museums and other favourite haunts, back from OPK's - Other People's Kids. So many people have been trying to cram so much into their few short weeks of freedom, it's become difficult to truly enjoy our usual outings, or take the time to fully experience our trips - even if it's just a daytime trip to the mall or grocery store. Don't get me wrong. Normally, I enjoy the company of OPK's. Just not so many of them at once. LOL

I'm really looking forward to the new "school" year.

But for now, any ideas for a potluck dish that's simple and can handle spending almost an hour on public transit, plus a lot of walking?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Five Love Languages

This is a book I discovered many years ago and highly recommend.

The Five Love Languages

My primary love language is probably
Acts of Service
with a secondary love language being
Quality Time.

Complete set of results

Acts of Service: 11
Quality Time: 8
Words of Affirmation: 5
Physical Touch: 4
Receiving Gifts: 2


Unhappiness in relationships, according to Dr. Gary Chapman, is often due to the fact that we speak different love languages. Sometimes we don't understand our partner's requirements, or even our own. We all have a "love tank" that needs to be filled in order for us to express love to others, but there are different means by which our tank can be filled, and there are different ways that we can express love to others.

Take the quiz