Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Public School Education Prior to 1975

Wow, this one sounds dull as dirt, doesn't it? But hold tight, because don't I always offer you some laughs?

I am in a unique position to evaluate this premise. My public school education began in 1964 and ended in 1977. Spoiler alert: I didn't learn diddly squat about guns.

I did learn stuff, though.

I learned how to turn chicken eggs in an incubator so that the chicks would develop properly. By doing this, I learned that birds turn their eggs. This stuck with me. That was kindergarten.

Grade 1 I learned to love snowfall. The teacher let me stay in the hallway and watch a snow storm, all by myself, while the other kids had recess in the classroom.

Second grade I learned that being left-handed sucks. Cursive writing was a horror.

Third grade I memorized all my times tables. I understand they do it differently now. Rote worked for me. We had flash cards and practiced at home.

Fourth grade I learned that there was an author named Laura Ingalls Wilder, and that she wrote fabulous books about growing up on the prairie in the 19th century. Literally, I think all I did in fourth grade was read "Little House" books and solve long division problems.  Oh yeah! The teacher was so furious that none of us knew the words to the National Anthem that she gave us one night to memorize it and then made all 31 of us sing it, solo, the next day.

In fifth grade I learned that if you can't play kickball very well, you can earn props from the more athletic kids by being a fair umpire.

In sixth grade *spoiler alert kinda gross* I learned in health class that I had been putting certain feminine items on backwards. My mother never showed me.

In seventh grade I didn't learn much of anything, because my mother had a major nervous breakdown, and that made me irritable, distracted, and prone to acting out in school. I would have been keenly interested in gun use classes at this moment in my life, but I didn't get them. There was no gun in my home, at any stage of my life, and that's why I'm sitting here writing this today. I might be dead otherwise.

Eighth grade I remember looking in the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature about a movie star and then getting magazine articles from the school library to write a report. It's funny how things work. I wound up making a decent living doing exactly that task, from 1984 until 2005.

In ninth grade biology class, I learned that eating a balanced diet every day makes multivitamins unnecessary.

When I was in tenth grade I learned that it's possible to fall head-over-heels, deeply in love with someone that modern society would bar me from pursuing.

Again in 11th grade, life was chaos at home, so I didn't learn anything. As with seventh grade, I would have remembered vividly having gun lessons.

In my senior year of high school, I learned a little bit of Latin. I wish I had studied it from freshman year forward. It's really great, and not just because of the bored gods.

So there, not terribly abridged, is my public school education! It did not include gun safety or gun use.

You know what? I'm going to tag this post with a "moron" label. Think about that quote above. In order to teach gun safety, there would have to be a gun or guns in school. That gun would have to be a common enough model to have readily available ammunition. For the love of fruit flies! What an explosive situation!

So, now addressing the moron who said I had gun safety classes in school, I reply most forcibly: Oh HELL no, I did not! The closest I got to a safety lesson upon which my life depended was in geology class, where we learned protective measures for exploring wild caves. Bite me, Mr. Gun Owner. There was a war being fought almost throughout the entirety of my public schooling. Three major political figures were assassinated. People thought differently about firearms in those days. Trust me on that, reader.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Anti-Bucket List of "The Gods Are Bored"

Everyone has a bucket list, right? I'll bet you have one. I won't hazard a guess what's on it.

My bucket list is boring and trivial. If you don't believe me, try this: It's my dearest wish to travel across Eastern Europe looking for mineral water towns. *YAWN* And more of that ilk.

But you know what most people don't have? An anti-bucket list -- things they absolutely, positively don't want to do before they die. For my money, that's just as important as a real bucket list. You don't want to wander into a situation that you would absolutely deplore, just because you forgot to make an anti-bucket list.

Here's mine:

1.  Disney World. Hard to believe, huh? I'm nuts about the old Disney movies, especially Peter Pan. But there's something about the expense, and the excess, and the lines, and the sun, and the canned fun that just makes Disney World a "must miss" for me.

2. Rolling Stones Concert. Gimme shelter from those guys! Their music is great, but they performed in Atlantic City last summer and charged $190 for a ticket. With parking and slots, that's almost three hundred bucks to see two geezers who were hideous when they were young. Cheerfully saving money on this endeavor.

3. Mega church Sunday service. No explanation needed on this one, and I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir.

4. Cottage cheese. Hate it. Always have, always will, not going to eat it anymore.

5. Tornado chasing. This is not for me. It's tempting fate. Those storms kill people. It's like inviting bad luck into your life.

6. Anything having to do with falling through the sky. Including, but not limited to, skydiving, hang gliding, cliff diving, zip lines, bungee jumping, and most of the more extreme amusement park rides.

7. Battle re-enactment. I know some of you like to do this. It's not for me. Not while people are running for their lives anywhere on the planet. I think it's bad form to play war.

8. Alabama. I don't even want to wander across the state line of Alabama by accident on a dark night. If you're reading this, and you live in Alabama, set me straight. If I get no impassioned defenses of that place, it stays firmly off the Anne chart.

9. Pony. I don't really want a pony. They eat a lot, they need a large plot of ground, they attract horse flies. No, I don't ever, ever want a pony. [sour grapes bucket list]

10. Get eaten by Megalodon. Every anti-bucket list should have something on it that is easy to accomplish ... or, in this case, not.

So there you have it! All the things I certainly don't want to do, eat, or see before I die. If you don't have an anti-bucket list, I highly recommend it. You'll feel more satisfied on your death bed if you just review what you never wanted to do and know that you didn't do it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Interview with a Bored Goddess: Minerva

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we stray from our mission more than we serve it! (This makes us human.)

I've been thinking lately about how stupid I am when it comes to computers and their technology. I'm old enough to remember the first word processors that were sold for use -- first in universities, then in business. Back in the day, I was one of the first to use the computer that was installed at the company where I worked. Alas, my ground-breaking days are long gone. Computers have moved far more swiftly than my ability to understand them.

This is the moment when I have to get my arms around computers. "Woe is me," I thought. "There's no bored deity who understands web design and coding!"

BAMP! Wrong.

Please give a warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Minerva, ancient Goddess of Wisdom, who has come here today for a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, muffins, and local blueberries!
Anne: Oh, you brought an owl!

Minerva: It wants to visit with Decibel the parrot.

Anne: Have at it, owl! Steer clear of Decibel's beak.

Minerva: Anne this is a wise owl. Can I have some blueberries?

Anne: Help yourself! Minerva, I have a problem. This whole computer technology has eluded me. I want my students to be able to use their smart phones in class, but I'm so stupid with my phone that I hesitate to try it. I read all the time in the newspaper that coding is the latest and greatest job-creator, and I would like to help my students learn it. But I myself know next to nothing about coding.

Minerva: Ha! Coding is a snap! Can I see your computer?

[Minerva taps a few keys on Anne's laptop. The machine leaves the table and starts to do the breakfast dishes.]

Anne: How did you do that?

Minerva: I'm a Goddess of wisdom. These days, wisdom includes computer technology. Do you know how much time I have on My hands in this desperately dark era? Enough to hang out at MIT -- and in the basements of geeks looking for vulnerabilities to exploit in software applications. By the way ... that weird Russian message in your email inbox? Change your password.

Anne: So, will you teach me coding?

Minerva: What, do you want Me to wave some magic wand and make you a geek?  Slacker! Teach yourself! How do you think your students got way ahead of you? They weren't praying to Me, that much I know. They were working. Experimenting. Sharing knowledge. Want to be humbled? Ask your students to teach coding to you.

Anne: Wise Goddess. I was looking to cut some corners, I'll admit. Coding is complicated.

Minerva: Start here. Get up off your duff and stop moaning about how much better the 20th century was! You know what century was great? 24 BCE! Now there was a century!

Anne: Yes. That puts it in perspective. You deities kind of have to move with the times, don't You?

Minerva: It's that, or be twice as bored as We already are. If the only language I knew was Etruscan, I wouldn't even be able to talk to you. Are you going to eat that last muffin?

Anne: It's all yours, Great Goddess. Oh, I wonder if you would grant me at least a small petition?

Minerva: It depends.

Anne: Can you keep the dishwashing program in my computer? Look at the job it's doing on that bacon grease!

Minerva: Done, darling.

[Conversation is interrupted by a loud bout of squawking in a nearby room.]

Minerva: Your parrot is a menace to society. You know that, don't you?

Anne: Yes, Goddess. This is one wisdom I have acquired through long observation. Some jam for Your muffin?

Minerva: Thanks ever so much.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

May He Have Found the Summerlands

Robin Williams died Monday after a long illness.

Mr. Williams was one of America's most beloved entertainers. He was a hilarious stand-up, he starred in comedy television shows, and his list of films is longer than almost anyone else his age.

But even in his earliest years, Mr. Williams suffered from _________________, a chronic ailment that is treatable only by medication that has debilitating side effects.

During the early stages of his illness, Mr. Williams didn't know his diagnosis. He allayed his pain with over-the-counter medications, which some people who suffer from ____________________ find easier to use than the prescriptions available for the illness.

Eventually Mr. Williams received his diagnosis. He also understood that there was no hope for a cure, that he could only manage the sickness with a relentless and careful use of prescription medications. Unfortunately, for some people who have this illness, medication can interrupt or alter their abilities to do their jobs. Although I have no evidence, I would say that probably Mr. Williams was one of these people.

Many people who have ________________________ either deny it or are ashamed of it, or both. This is because ___________________ is an internal degenerative illness that has no clear physical symptoms. The kind of sympathy people lavish on patients with broken limbs or cancer is almost always unavailable to people with ______________. It's basically a sickness that has to be borne in silence.

Today we're hearing the usual outpouring of grief over Mr. Williams's death. Knowing his illness the way I do, I'm actually glad he lived as long as he did, and worked as hard as he did. An untreated case of _________________ can lead to much earlier mortality.

May Robin Williams have found the Summerlands. He fought the good fight with a dreadful illness, and he was remarkably productive despite his sickness. I admire him.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Snobville Annual Sidewalk Sale!

Howdy howdy! It's me, Anne Johnson, your favorite gal on the street, bringing you highlights of the Snobville, New Jersey sidewalk sale!

Every year during the first week of August, Snobville holds a sidewalk sale so that the merchants can get rid of their summer merchandise. There are great deals to be had, if you're rich and like to feel like you're saving money.

There are three kinds of stores in Snobville: Stores that sell stupid stuff, stores that sell designer stuff, and CVS Pharmacy.

Snobville abounds with chic little boutiques. They all participate in the sidewalk sale. What bargains there are to be had! The $315 pair of blue jeans are 50 percent off!

Seriously. How did I ever wind up in this town?

If what you want is a cat coffee mug, or some little sign about your dog, or yoga pants that started life at $175, or yet another little clutch purse, or Nike sneakers made in Vietnam, then Snobville is your go-to sidewalk sale. If, on the other hand, you buy clothing for comfort and durability, you can give this little affair the brush.

There's one exception to this Rule of Expensive Sidewalk Sales.

If you are looking for a bridal gown or a prom dress, then Snobville's sidewalk sale is your bargain-hunting dream.

Snobville has four stores that sell gooey gowns. We all know the deal with bridal gowns: the samples get tried on by legions of cranky Bridezillas. Then the season ends and the new styles come out. So the stores sell the sample gowns at the very reasonable price of $150. Now, that's what I call a deal! (Are you reading this, Heir and Spare?)

Ditto, but to a lesser extent, prom gowns. Usually the bargain prom gowns at the sidewalk sale have some issue, missing sequins being the predominant gripe. But seriously. Who looks at prom gowns that closely? Put it another way: How hard is it to sew a sequin back where it belongs, when it's hanging there by a thread already?

If you paid more than $25 for your prom gown, you should have come to Snobville in August.

There's no moral to this sermon. I just spent the morning strolling around Snobville and the afternoon reading library books. It's how I rolled today. Other people go to Paris on their vacations, but I'm perfectly content to peruse bargain bridal gowns, cat coffee mugs, and jeans that will go onto someone else's butt.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


Has this ever happened to you?

I had a colleague with whom I had to work closely, because we were the only sophomore teachers at our school. I loved her dearly, but wow, she was a challenge at times. First of all, she wore makeup like a movie star, perfect every day (which, folks, will take 20 years off your age). Then, she dressed impeccably every day, with matching jewelry and heels. Last but not least, she was one of the most anxious people I ever met. Last year was her final year of teaching. She sweated through her evaluations and worried herself sick about new test prep lessons. Sweet lady, but boy oh boy did she fret. She retired with no little fanfare on June 27.

I was afraid they might not replace my colleague at all, but they did. For the last two days I have been in a workshop with the replacement teacher.

He wears tie-dye shirts that he makes himself. Every day. He shaves if he feels like it. He would rather talk about bluegrass than teaching. He's a union rep. And he's my age. He and I will be the sophomore teachers this year.

Have you ever found someone in your life replaced by someone so completely and utterly opposite that you can't quite get over it? I've never been in this situation before. Every time the presenter at our teacher workshop says, "Pair up with the other teachers at your level," I find myself looking across the table at a person so completely opposite his predecessor that it boggles the mind.

Please tell me if this has ever happened to you. I'm not upset about it, I'm just adjusting to the new, completely different, reality.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Don't Be Jealous of My Druid Grove

Envy is a sin. I want you to keep that in mind as I describe my Druid Grove's Lughnasadh ritual. Of course we all strive for perfection. Can I help it that this Grove has been together so long that we have achieved it?

A good location is important for any worship. Here's ours. It's an easy 26-hour flight to Fiji. We don't mind the commute a bit. Worth it to praise the bored gods the way they ought to be praised!

Our leader, Archdruid Wallace, insists upon careful observation of all ritual activities. You'd better not forget your lines or your cues.

This is one of our seven altars. We used this one today because all the native flowers were coincidentally blooming at this one moment.

Our Chief Priestess is so misunderstood! Her colleagues at the Fed belittle her all the time about her "silly hobby." And props to her. She works in a building with $80 million in the basement, and she never contemplates revenge. Strong woman.

I know attendance can be an issue for some of you folks, but as you can see, Black Oak Grove has it going on. Not to brag or anything.

We held our Lughnasadh Ritual on August 3, and as always, it was perfect. Let's face it, perfection should be the goal of every worship service. The Gods and Goddesses will not accept a ho-hum performance.


Black Oak Grove met in a local state park. The pavilion was not available; it had been leased.  We were eight in number, a high for us since about 2009. We didn't have an altar ... or mead ... it started raining ... our fire was small and listless ... and we loved every minute, and the Gods love us. Wherever and whenever someone raises a prayer to the bored deities, They are simply delighted.


A reader of this blog came to our ritual! His name is Cliff, and he's a great guy. I snapped this little photo of him while he wasn't looking:

Black Oak Grove: Bored God approved since 2005!