The Hunter/Gather of Surburbia

Are we where we live?

September 24, 2010

The Ominvore's Dilema

The subtitle "A Natural History of Four Meals" sort of lets the cat of the bag, so to speak. "Our National Eating Disorder" is the title of the introduction. I would have to agree with Pollan. Americans are so ready to let others tell what is good to eat and good for us. I wondered why one year we are told we can eat as much meat as we want, as long as we don't eat bread or pasta, then the next year pasta is good and meat is bad. It is unfortunate that President Clinton recently stated the reason he has been keeping his weight off is because he doesn't eat meat or dairy. Really? It had nothing to with the super duper size hamburgers and shakes you were known to love?
It is nice to know that green tea will help me get rid of my belly fat. I will have to buy a truckload. I have been losing some, not a lot, of weight by just eating moderately and not going crazy. The next step is, of course, to restart my biking regime. Oregon and biking is a big thing, but I think all the bikers I see are truly dedicated. I really don't want to bike in the rain.
But back to Pollan's book, still reading the introduction but I am going to enjoy the book if the intro is any indication of what is to come. I went to Pollan's website, that looks like it hasn't been updated in a bit, but I found some good stuff I went to the web address in the book and it was wrong, no www in it. One cool thing, under the Animal Rights tab he mentions Temple Grandin! Yep! The brilliant autistic animal scientist and author. I am adding his site to my watched list because of this and the fact that there is some good stuff on there.
Watch the videos Food, Inc and King Corn, both available on Netflix if you have it. They are good companions to the book. Oh and The Botany of Desire is also a video and available on Netflix. And in case you like buy them Amazon has all three.

September 22, 2010

Can you love and care about animals and still eat them?

Well, yes I can. Long ago when I was in college and researching for a speech I discovered a cause, Animal Rights. I researched and purchased books by the big names in the movement. I am going to refocus my reading back to those books, the old ones purchased 20 years ago and newer ones like The Omnivore's Dilema. Ok, the The Omnivore's Dilema really isn't about animal rights, but about what we put in our big fat stomachs. I will start with Pollan's book and read his other book The Botany of Desire.
But first I want to put a bug in your ears, what would happen if PETA and HSUS get their wish and we all become vegans? What will happen to slaughter houses, oh this reminds me I will have to either purchase Temple Grandin's books or audiobooks, but I digress. Along with slaughter houses will be meat packing plants, feed lots, hog farms, sheep and cattle ranches, etc, etc. The jobs associate with those industries will go away and all of the people employed will be unemployed. It is ignorant to think that growing more crops will give those people jobs. And what about the animals? They will go the way of the dodo just as PETA and HSUS want it. Once they have gotten rid of the meat animals they will go after your pets. Actually zoos will probably be next on the hit list. Horse slaughter has been eliminated in the US, but horses are still transported to Canada and Mexico. There is legislation to stop the transport of horses for slaughter. I do not at all have an issue with not slaughtering horses. Sorry, but to me it is like putting one of my dogs on the roaster. But, wait, don't forget horses are basically pets to many of us. But PETA and HSUS have huge issues with horse shows, rodeos... well actually rodeos will be gone because there won't be any calves, bulls or steers. I am ambivalent about rodeos currently. Oh and horse racing and pacing. So... all of the things I like to do will be eliminated.
So the first book Omnivore's Dilema by Michael Pollan. I have it on audiobook so I can be lazy if I want ;-)

September 21, 2010

It has been awhile...

I have not finished Angus... and I have put it up on the shelf. I still recommend it and I think I will snag it from time to time for a good laugh. Not sure about the next book, but I'm a bit in dumper again and clinging to the hope that my settlement check for this month will cover my bills, feed me and the pets, put gas in my car, and actually I think that's it. I'd much rather have a job so that all of the settlement check could go to paying off the dang bills, but I think I am not going to find anything.

September 17, 2010

I have been lazy

I do believe it has been a couple of days since I last signed on. No excuses just tired of life. I found the Pink Hands video after seeing a piece on the news and then I asked my daughter and she helped me with the name.
Please watch it is wonderful.

Pink Glove Dance

September 14, 2010

All parents of pre teen girls should read this novel.

Yes, I said it and I'm not even a quarter of the way through it. Louse Rennison has channeled a teenage girl or she has remembered what it was like to be a teenage girl. Either way, so far, I am really liking this novel. She has the venacular down, well as good as I can tell not being from England.

I took some time and wandered through the glossary, I came upon the word "stroppy" just as a woman on Judge Mathais was demonstrating the state on TV. I remember being a bit stroppy at least twice a year when my students attempted to send me to the loony bin!

Why should parents of pre teen girls read this when the novel is about a teenager? That would because you will all get an extraordinary laugh from it and it will help cope when those cute little Tweens turn into monsters. Trust me.

September 13, 2010

The choice is made

I love watching BBC shows, not the comedies so much, but I think that is why I am pulled to this novel. Angus... is a diary written by British teenager. There is a glossary in the back in case you need, which I did just on the intro page, "nuddypants" is a person with no pants on! Yep, nude! I do believe Georgia will grow on me. Especially with comments like, "I don't see why I can't have a lock on my bedroom door. Every time I suggest anything around this place, people start shaking their heads and tutting. It's like living in a house full of chickens dressed in frocks and trousers."
Georgia is going to be fun to get to know, and like I said earlier in the day sometimes I feel like a teenager so ....

Two choices...

Both of these books interest me, obviously I was intrigued by them when I added them to my first donorschoose grant. But now I see that there is a series of "confessions of Georgia Nicolson" novels and I may get addicted. I hate getting addicted to a book series, because I get all OCD and I have need to read them all. Luckily this is the first in the series.
Given no input from my plethora of readers I will have to choose on my own. Stay tuned.


Well I'm done in one two hour marathon, I have completed the rules of survival! No real spoiler alert as I hate those things and I won't tell end of the novel here.

Matthew, Callie, Emmy, Murdoch, Ben, and Aunt Bobbie are the kind of family you would want. Maybe not all they've done, but how family rallies around in a time of need. Nikki reminds me of other characters in other books before I knew what bipolar was or had had any experience dealing with it personally.

Something I realized as I was reading is that sometimes, like recently, I feel as if I am still a teenager in need of an adult to take care of me. The post earlier about being self centered was a slight dump on myself. My parents were always there to help me, but with a firm knowledge that there was some kind of payback coming in the future. When that unmentioned payback never came there was always the total lack of support in whatever I was doing. It didn't matter if it was horses, sheep, college, or my marriage there was no real support and always an underlying sort of sabotage. The kind of sabotage that would have me running home to them.

My mother was a master at it and my father just followed along because he loved her so much. My mother was more likely a borderline personality I think. Manipulative in her push pull of her family and friends. Not manic then depressed like a bipolar person.

This is the kind of novel students can get a grip on because of the children against parent theme. It is nice because it isn't filled with all the angst that can sometimes run rampant through a young adult novel. Readers can identify with the characters even if they have never experienced the hyper manic bipolar. We all manipulate in some way and we all have at one time or another tried to keep the family waters smooth. A good read, a good reading circle book for the high school classroom.

Now on to a new novel...

the rules of survival

I am nearly at the halfway point in the novel. The dawning realization by Matt and Callie that their is more to what their mother does is slowly coming to light. The youngest, Emmy, prayed before bed that Murdoch would return to them. This of course enrages Nikki and mobilizes Matt and Callie to protect their little sister. Folded the book closed at the point where Matt and Callie have been kicked out of the house to go to church. Emmy having to stay home with Nikki and the man she brought home with her, because Emmy has been bad and doesn't deserve to go to church.

Today, when I thought of the title of the novel, I realized we all in some way create rules for ourselves and sometimes our families that help us survive the truly rough spots. I don't think I would have realized this if I wasn't going through this particular rough patch right now. Without a job and, for the time being, no money it is difficult for me to see beyond. With the settlement from the school district I will have money and health insurance for six months. But that is little comfort when I don't have a job. I'm drinking more water, obviously because it is free so that is making me a bit more healthy and I'm losing weight because I am trying to make what I have in the house right now last until the first settlement check shows up next week. I hate being self centered and thinking about myself all of the time. I had finally clawed my way out of that rut years ago. A side effect of being an only child I think, but once you have to think of others you can claw out. Once my children came into my life I was able to see that what I wanted wasn't as important as what they needed. I guess that's why I feel so hurt that Kelsey has just severed our relationship. I know that she is the sole of her family and that my life is second to them. But, they have lived in my house rent and expense free, other than their food since last August. Only once did I have to rely on them to pay the monthly bills. Now, when I need her help again I am made to feel guilty for asking for help with things like the electricity bill for July and August and to buy dogfood when their two dogs are here with me. I do not and will never feel guilty for asking for help with the phone bill since I am paying for Matt to have a phone!
I hear that voicing these kinds of frustrations is cathartic, but I don't feel like any weight is lifted off of my shoulders. I am more depressed than when I first started writing this.
Going to go sit on the porch and read some more. Maybe the next book will Angus... and full frontal snogging.. Makes me smile just trying to remember the entire title.

September 12, 2010

Credit reports and finding or not finding a job.

I would apologize to you all if there were actual people out there reading what I am writing. But I'm thinking that if you are you aren't letting me know.

I have been lax in my reading the past three days. In an emotional slump from which I will eventually emerge, I hope. I am down about not finding a job, feeling as if I have no marketable skills and that my credit report is so bad that for some reason that makes not a good choice. Which is interesting because my financial woes are not an issue when it comes to work. It's one of those catch 22s that I can't get out of. I can't mend my finances without a job and I cant' seem to find a job with a bad credit score. Interesting.

On to the novel, I am really liking how the main character, Matthew, is evolving within his retelling of his family's story. A mother that is bipolar is a difficult thing to live with. She puts her youngest child in harm's way deliberately because her children and new boyfriend are boring. The incident pushes the boyfriend away. To Matthew and his sister Callie Murdoch was going to be their savior and he was for a time. Even their little sister Emmy, who at three had yet to string a sentence together, begins talking to Murdoch.

Writing about the novel has made me want to go back and read some more. Nice trick. The book link from Amazon is for a book that my reading read for September. No I didn't read it, remember I have no money for luxuries like books. Anyway, it sounds like this would be a good grown up read and it is a true memoir if you don't like to read young adult fiction like I do.

September 8, 2010

Reading slowly but loving it.

I haven't gotten too far, not sure why, but I am loving this novel. I don't have any brothers or sisters and I am finding the sibling dynamic very enlightening. Not that I didn't know that siblings can be self sacrificing for one another, it's just that reading it now when I'm not feeling a whole lot of family support it hits home.
I knew long ago that my children wouldn't or couldn't be self sacrificing to help me. It isn't how the parent child relationship works.
Anyway, the prose is easy to read and the plot grows more enticing even though I still have that darn spoiler floating around in my head. Matthew, Callie, and Emmy have a hard time dealing with the explosive anger of their mother. Got the first real feeling of that this morning as I was reading. You will too, no spoilers from me.

September 7, 2010

Poetry SLAM SAFE for StudentsPoetry SLAM SAFE for Students

Just a test, though I love Slam poetry... See the video below with Taylor Mali.

the rules of survival

So far, this is a really good novel about family survival. As the oldest, Matthew, has spent his growing up years protecting his sisters from their mother. The novel is a letter/diary written by Matthew for his youngest sister Emmy. It opens with a letter to Emmy from Matthew telling her that if she is reading the letter then he has decided she is old enough to know what happened.

Amazon has an author page for Nancy Werlin, something I didn't know about until I went searching for a picture of the novel. The edition that I have and that is offered on Amazon also has a discussion guide at the end of the novel. I  haven't read it as I want to read the entire novel first. I did come across a spoiler at the end, don't read it like I did because now that spoiler is stuck in my mind as I read it.

September 6, 2010

Taylor Mali on what teachers make

A new book

A book perhaps just as gloomy as Nip the Buds, but maybe it is something cultural I can't get past. This one has the US as the setting. The back cover says, "For Matt and his sisters, life with their cruel, vicious mother is a day-to-day struggle for survival." Gloomy but hopeful I hope.

On page 42!

I am sorry to say that I just can't wade through this book at this time. Perhaps it's is my personal junk getting in the way of a good read. This is the second time I have gotten this far and no further. Back on the shelf and on to another from my classroom shelf, well I no longer have a classroom, but one of the books I had on the shelf when I had a classroom.

September 5, 2010

It's not looking promising...

I am only on page 36 and already I've read "faggot" more than once and references to male prostitution. I'll keep on trudging. In the introduction the editors mention Lord of the Flies and I'm thinking a good companion. But, we'll see. I like the prose, though I haven't read much, if any, translated works I am seeing that perhaps the prose could get in the way of a good read for some students.

Next read..

A book that has the word, "penises," on the very first page. There is a huge introduction that students will find odious to say the least. Well at least many of my former students. I am not certain, though I am barely into the book that this is a book I would share with an entire class. I will have to finish the book to see if, with parental permission, I would recommend to any student.

What am I reading?

The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. A very easy read, especially for middle school students. The story is told in the first person omniscient from the point of view of Helmut Hubener. The story follows Helmut from his 14th year to his 16th when he is executed for treason for listening to the banned BBC News and posting leaflets throughout Hamburg, Germany in 1942.
What struck me about the story is Helmut's determination to get the truth out and the cost he paid for doing that. The novel illustrates how bystanders can and do cause genocide to happen by doing nothing. It also shows how fear can lead people to betray loved ones and colleagues for fear of being arrested, tortured, and executed yourself.
Every time I teach about the Holocaust I wonder what I would have done. Would I let my friends and family be taken away to save myself. Or would I, as some did, try to stop the Germans at the cost of a beating, imprisonment, or death? I can't answer that question with certainty. I know what I feel I would do and I would rescue as many as I could. The risk would have been great, but rescue is much less likely to cause my family to be hurt.
The novel is designed for young adults to read and is not graphic in its detail. There is a section at the end of the book with pictures and a short biography of Helmut's friends Karl and Rudi. There is also a discussion guide on Scholastic that I have not yet to explore

All I can think about is that I have no money...

and that hurts me to my soul. I have no control over what certain people say about me that I must put into each application. I hope that these people say neutral things about me, that they don't let their personal issues with me fog up my ability to get a teaching job.
This is the longest time I have not been teaching since 1994. This is the first time in my life that I think I could lose everything because of my inability to better manage my savings over the summer. I haven't ever been this disabled by a lack of money. I know that my father is probably trying to pound his way out of his grave to berate me for my lack of foresight.
Summer is always hard for me. But the past 8 or so summers I have been teaching summer school and I have used that money to at pay up bills so that I am not in the spot I am in now.
I am a burden to my family and I would so rather have them be a burden to me. My daughter is the only one working right now and Burgerville has cut her hours because there were family issues this last week and she took time off. So, they cut her hours. Her husband is being the stay at home dad, but should really be working. I could watch the girls, I mean I am getting no interviews so why not help them out that way.
I am hoping that Tuesday will be a good day and I will be having to arrange interview times rather than automatically saying I can be there whenever.