Sunday, March 23, 2008

Beannachtaí na Cásca

Went into SF this morning to go to Easter Mass with Mr. Bluejeans, had lunch with the parents, and got back home in time to fix the husband a ham steak and present him with a chocolate bunny and some jellybeans.

And I don't have to go to work tomorrow.

Feeling pretty good about that.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Watch Your Mouth Ms. Malkin!

So, a gentleman called Protest Shooter (who goes around taking pictures of protests in the Bay Area, because that is where he lives), takes a picture of a woman holding a sign saying "God Damn America".

And Michelle Malkin posts it on her blog, titled Typical San Francisco People.

Dear Michelle,

Part of me wants to make this a kind invitation to come and visit San Francisco--the REAL San Francisco, not the loopy caricature that your ilk so love to take pot-shots at. But frankly, I'm sick of being nice, sick of being offended to my core by self-congratulatory wingnutters, and I can think of few people I would less like to share lunch in Chinatown with, before climbing the hill to show you Grace Cathedral, and the view from the Top of the Mark that my grandparents had a drink at before he shipped out to the Pacific.

My tolerance for this kind of dreck bottomed out when your buddy Bill O'Reilly invited terrorists to bomb my hometown. By the time he was trying to slime Nancy Pelosi with the phrase 'San Francisco values' it was almost passe.

So we'll keep this short and sweet. Michelle. The gal with the "God Damn America" sign is not a 'typical San Francisco person', any more than the Reverend Wright, whose phrase she took is a 'typical minister'. However, the war in Iraq, whose fifth anniversary we just marked, is not popular with Americans. What sense we had that it is serving a good purpose is fading fast. I know you hate this, but it is, in fact, true.

Hence, protests. Now, I don't attend anti-war protests, Michelle, because they attract anti-Semitic and anti-American crazies, and I am allergic to these people. But we do have a fair number of them, on account of, you know, free speech and stuff like that. Now that I've clarified that, lemme ask you--these folks--are they typical Chicago people? Or just typical Catholic schoolgirls? Or do places other than San Francisco get to have nut jobs in their midst without being cursed and reviled by lazy journalists?

Have a happy Easter, lady, and get a grip,


Colored Eggs, Rabbits, and General Confusion

When I was very small, we used to go to my grandparent's house for Easter, and hunt for eggs in the front and back yard.

Every year, someone asks the relevent question, "How on Earth did a custom of hunting for dyed hard-boiled eggs left by a rabbit develop anyway?" And I have never been able to answer this question. I'm aware that the word 'Easter' in English derives from the Anglo-Saxon fertility goddess Eostre, and that rabbits and eggs were both symbols of fecundity in pre-Christian Europe, but still, rabbits that laid brightly colored eggs seem like a long stretch.

So, God bless Google, I've done some hunting this year. Per InfoPlease, I've got a few interesting details:

First, Lent. I hadn't made this connection, but since eggs were considered meat during Lent in medieval times, eggs laid during this time were boiled or otherwise preserved, and served in quantities at Easter, as soon as they could be eaten. (Note: during the Middle Ages, the Lent fast from meat was ALL of Lent, not just Fridays, and what they reckoned as meat was pretty all-inclusive.)

Decorating eggs for the Easter holiday in a variety of ways seems to be a tradition spread across Europe throughout the Middle Ages. Apparently it was the Germans, though, who developed a tradition of the 'Easter hare', who hid eggs for children to find, and brought the custom of the Easter egg hunt to America. They may have also developed the chocolate egg.

Per, in some parts of Europe, children go door-to-door, Halloween style, to ask for Easter eggs.

OK, but I'm still asking myself, why would a rabbit, or a hare, be interested in bringing small children hard-boiled eggs? Checking with Wikipedia, I get this:

The idea of an egg-laying bunny came to the United States in the 18th century. German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the "Osterhas," sometimes spelled "Oschter Haws." "Hase" means "hare," not rabbit, and in Northwest European folklore the "Easter Bunny" indeed is a hare, not a rabbit. According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter.[4] In 1883, Jakob Grimm wrote of long-standing similar myths in Germany itself. Noting many related landmarks and customs, Grimm suggested that these derived from legends of Ostara.[5]

The German and Amish legends were most likely rooted in European folklore about hares' eggs [6] which seems to have been a confusion between hares raising their young at ground level and the finding of plovers' nests nearby, abandoned by the adult birds to distract predators. Hares use a hollow called a form rather than a burrow. Lapwings nest on the same sort of ground, and their nests look very similar to hare forms. So in the Spring, eggs would be found in what looked like hare forms, giving rise to the belief that the hare laid eggs in the spring.[7]

OK. For a really charming children's version of all of this, may I recommend The Country Bunny, and the Little Gold Shoes?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Small Children in Cute Costumes

Went out to the old shul last night for Purim. Adorable small children in cute costumes. (A white kitty, a teeny lion, a centipede in a stroller...)

Also, a smallish boy dressed as picket fence, which may have had a story behind it I didn't get. And a gentleman with a long black beard and derby, who when asked (by someone else) if he was a rabbi or Abraham Lincoln, explained graciously in a heavy German accent that he was Theodore Herzl.

Cute Purim spiel. The little girl playing Zeresh was very good, as were the scheming guards in MIB sunglasses.

And, hilariously, a young woman dressed as Terry Pratchett's Granny Weatherwax, complete with a handlettered sign reading I ATE'NT DEAD.

Oh my, oh my.

Keep that white light coming

Cousin's surgery has been put off two weeks. The affected cells apparently go farther than was thought, and they want to do some other things before they operate again.

This is absolutely lousy. Tehillim, rosaries and white light continue to be welcomed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tehillim/Rosary/White Light et al request

My cousin is going through surgery this morning. Open call to you all for whatever kind of prayers you do for a safe and speedy recovery for Kerry bat Maureen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Cheerful Thought

Now that I've dug out the kitchen, can I consider that I've ALREADY begun cleaning for Pesach?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Manager Rivka

For the last year and a half, we've been living in a nice two-bedroom apartment in El Cerrito, following our move out of the damp little house with the ants.

The new place is not damp. (The old place was so damp that when my parents came over for Christmas lunch, I found myself trying to blow-dry the dining room table.) It does however have one distinctly unfortunate feature, that as soon as the temperature outside is mildly warm, the inside of the apartment heats up to the outside temperature minus wind chill. Air conditioning? We live in Northern California. Who has air conditioning? You open the door when you get home at six or so, and the heat rushes out and smacks you in the face. I am currently wondering whether to pack all our stuff and move to Daly City, or Pacifica. Someplace very foggy.

There is also no place to get rid of cardboard boxes. We have recycling for newspaper, glass and aluminum and plastic, but that's it. I might risk throwing a cardboard box or two in the dumpster, except for Manager Rivka.

Manager Rivka is the nice older lady who runs the building. Her name is not Rivka, but you'll get her real name in three guesses. She lives in the manager's apartment with her husband, a WWII vet with many medals in glass cases, and keeps all of us in line, largely though detailed, written memos she attaches to the walls throughout the building, signed "Mgr. Rivka".

The laundry room has many of them. We are not allowed to do laundry after 9 PM, but apparently this ruling was being ignored, because we now have a handlettered pashkevil with many exclamation points denouncing these people attached to the door. Inside is a more thoughtful piece, discussing how Manager Rivka would not want her laundry gone through by others, and how she is sure you wouldn't either, and how, therefore, it is incumbent upon all of us not to leave laundry in the dryers, so that others must remove it to use the dryers. There is a detailed write attached to the trash can in the laundry room, urging people not to throw away old clothing, and another reminding us not to wash a single item in the washers.

Anyway, cardboard being left by the dumpsters is a special hate of Manager Rivka's, and cardboard left there sometimes gets written on: "Can you not read? No cardboard is to be left here! Take it to the recycling center, PLEASE!!!!" I don't think I could deal with the shame of having my cardboard written on. But I do have some cardboard, and the recycling center is a bit of a walk. (Not a bad walk, really, but a mile there with my cardboard boxes seems difficult.)

I suppose I could break down the box into small pieces, and throw it out in the trash. Or take it to school, and put it in the dumpster there.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Starting Slow

I'm starting by cleaning the kitchen--the kitchen needs it--and thinking carefully about the dimensions of my dissatisfaction with what's going on around here.

The situation at George C. Moonbat High is tricky, and I do not want to go into it in too much detail online. But basically, I find myself:

1. Teaching high school English to students who do not want to put in the minimum effort required to pass high school English, and openly express how annoyed they are with my lame attempts to get them to do so.

2. Spending WAY too much time on the job, never catching up, and feeling guilty and depressed most of the time.

3. Without a driver's license or vehicle, and so, stuck in suburbia without a whole lot of mobility.

4. Short of cash.

5. Not doing many many things I want to do, in some part because of reasons 3 and 4. Take an evening class at shul? Hour each way, minimum. Visit a friend? Anywhere from an hour each way to three or four.

6. Burned out.

I guess question #1 is, can the job at George C. be saved? I plan to stay to the end of the year--ten weeks from the time I return to school. I can see myself, if other things changed, returning to teach history, or study skills, or many other things. Not English. I don't know if this is an option, but I guess I should discuss it with the directors.

I really don't want to start a Whole New Job. And I like the students. But I can't teach English like this next year.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

The Balabusta is currently off work for two weeks. The second week is just because the school is having spring break. The first week--starting tomorrow--is because the Balabusta is burning out, and needs some time off.

It's cool to work for a school that acknowledges things like this. But it's not so cool to teach kids that make you feel as though you need it.

So I'm planning to spend this next couple of weeks figuring out some starting steps for fixing what's going on in my life. Some notes may end up on this blog.

Basically, I'm feeling worn out and upset. I've spent four years teaching, and haven't felt successful yet, and this year--I don't know. It's been really, really hard.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Local Politics (And It's All Local)

Well, not only is Ralph Nader running for president again--for reasons best known to Ralph Nader--but Matt Gonzalez, otherwise known as the non-hair-product candidate for Mayor of San Francisco, is his running mate.

Some years ago, this gentleman faced off with Gavin Newsom, the current mayor of San Francisco, and oh, 'twas a grand fight altogether. Gavin was accused of being part of the Burton Machine, a handpicked heir of Willie Brown, a 'compassionate conservative' (his face on posters with George W. Bush and Schwarzenegger's), and a Republican.

(This may require some explanation. San Francisco is a Democratic party machine town of old. Not crazy lefty radical fringe, as we are inaccurately and persistently stereotyped, but solid, even stolid, Democratic politics as usual. Think Chicago, not Berkeley. San Francisco Republicans give their time and energy to state and national politics, and run one sacrificial candidate for mayor, just to remind people that Republicans are San Franciscans too.

(However, San Francisco is in the middle of the Bay Area, home to many of the crazy lefty radical fringe, and as a result, our mayoral elections tend to get run through a peculiar perception, with the result that non-San Franciscans in the area will sometimes swear to you that a guy like Gavin Newsom is a Republican. I once had to talk seriously to a friend from the East Bay who was convinced that Frank Jordan, of all the nice Irish lads, was a Republican. Frank had his problems--taking a shower with DJs from Los Angeles being the most spectacular of them--but he was definately a Democrat.)

Gavin won the election, and promptly demonstrated his compassionate conservative credentials by legalizing same-sex marriage in the city of San Francisco, just to see what would happen. (What happened was that a lot of radiant forty-something ladies got married, and that the resulting legal paperwork is still ongoing, but that is a story for another day.)

Matt continued to serve as a San Francisco supe, and did not let defeat influence his hairstyle. (Gavin is the hair-gel man, Matt the natural and tousled guy.) And now he is running for VPOTUS, alongside Ralph Nader, Self-Proclaimed Lord of the Lemurs--wait, that's someone else...