Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's that football team doing on the marching field?

I spent last Saturday completely away from the Internet and unable to feed my addiction to political blogs – or any kind of political talk for that matter. It was actually quite nice and a little taste of what my life will return to after next Tuesday. Not that I’m going to give up some of the new blogs I’ve discovered during this election cycle – I just won’t be as obsessive about checking them every 15 secondsminutes.

Where, you might ask, can someone completely escape politics just over a week before the most contentious election I can remember?

At the Idaho District Three Marching Festival.


I’m the kind of gal who goes to the football games solely to watch the halftime entertainment. In sixth grade, when confronted with the choice of choir, orchestra, musical history or band, both of my kids chose band. My daughter stuck with it until she graduated from high school and my son is currently in his first year as a member of his high school marching band.

Man, I had no idea how hard band kids work to learn the short programs they perform during halftime at the football game! They spend two weeks in the summer at “band camp” – which, in Meridian, is NOTHING like American Pie: Band Camp. They spend the vast majority of their time the first week just learning the basics of marching (it’s a lot harder than it looks) and, if they’re lucky, they might learn part of their show during the second week of camp after they’ve learned to combine music playing with the marching.

Then there is the twice-weekly evening practices – at least 2-1/2 hours each. Plus the time they spend in class learning the music.

By the time the first football games rolls around, the band usually only knows a couple of minutes of the show. The first time I watched my daughter march, I was completely confused. Like “Is that it? Is that what they spent two full weeks of camp, at least one week of practices and class time learning? THAT’s the show?” kind of confused.

Well, no, it isn’t. Our band usually doesn’t have the entire show memorized until right before they head out of town to their first competition. And one or two weeks later is District III – the event they’ve spent two months preparing for. Because if you think the marching band does all that work for the football game halftimes, you’re so very wrong. Until I had a marcher, I never realized how completely the band is ignored during halftime. (How pissed off that makes me is another story for another blog – because I don’t think the language I’d have to use to describe my irritation is appropriate here!)

Nope, they’re preparing for District III – when 25 bands from the district come together to strut their stuff on the blue Smurf Turf at Boise State University. Because THAT audience knows how much sweat and effort has gone into the show they make look so effortless.

Our school has a fabulous director – she came straight from college to a brand new high school and in her first teaching job, turned her students into an award winning band in two years’ time. We are so very lucky to have her.

I’ve been a complete band geek since the first year my daughter marched and I have a hard time understanding parents who don’t come to every single performance and volunteer for the myriad of behind-the-scenes jobs that keep the band director and students able to focus on the job they have to do. Both my husband and I travel to the away competitions – usually driving the equipment truck. We also help at any local competitions – loading and unloading the equipment truck and helping get the front ensemble instruments on and off the field. I served as the Band Booster president for one year and the secretary for the last three years (even during the “gap” year when I had no student actually in the marching band – since our school doesn’t march its Freshman students).

I love hanging with the band kids – they’re a refreshing reminder that all teenagers aren’t like those depicted on television or in the movies. Band kids are, for the most part, just nice kids.

My “Marching Band Parent” t-shirt says it all:

You Know You’re a Marching Band Parent When …

You know the difference between the pit and the battery

All your friends are other band parents

People ask about your social life and you say, “Oh, you mean the Marching Band?”

You know what a shako is

Your idea of a fun weekend is to watch teenagers stop the heck out of a football field

You judge time by the marching band schedule

You don’t question taking time off work to help the band

You are crazy enough to travel to who knows where with a bunch of high school kids

You feel like a band “groupie”

A well done program sends chills down your spine

You’re at the school at odd hours picking up, dropping off your student or helping the band

The highlight of the Friday night football game is the marching band

You have so much fun for free and work long hours for no pay all for the simple act of saying “it’s for the kids”

Friday, October 24, 2008

Now THAT'S rush hour traffic

Media alert from our local station just when Friday rush hour was getting started:

CALDWELL - Police have finally corralled a bull that was running the wrong way down Interstate 84.

It happened at about 4:15 p.m. on the freeway between Nampa and Caldwell. The animal got loose and started running east in the westbound lanes near milepost 29.

Crews were able to rope and contain the bull about 40 minutes later.

It isn't known where the bull came from or how it got loose.

No one was injured by the runaway animal. It is unclear if the bull had any impact on the evening commute.

Now, lest you think this is out in the boonies somewhere, Nampa is about 20 miles from Boise - the largest city in the state of Idaho - and Caldwell is just a wee bit further west. This'll probably make the front page of the paper tomorrow.

Oh, and in case you've thought about going to see the movie "Max Payne"? Don't. I can't remember if I've ever seen a movie quite so bad. I can think of no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I want those two hours back right now.

If you've seen it already, I'm terribly sorry.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Obsessed, I tell you

Well, as much as I would like to stay out of the political fray (just ask my husband – I just about post “No Politics Zone” signs on the door before we host a Mensa event at our house because I hate it so), I’ve been e-mailing back and forth with an old friend of mine all day on the topic.

Started with an innocent “What’s up with you?” kind of e-mail that segued into the fact that he was filling in on a local radio station in a Blue State, was strangely the only host who was an Obama fan, and ended with a little rant about being sick of hearing about Ayers.

I replied:

It might be best if you and I don't discuss politics.

Now, most of the time, I would just STOP THERE so as to avoid getting into a back and forth that would have me so irritated I would have a difficult time remaining friendly.

But not this time. This whole election cycle has me worked up to the point that I am CONSTANTLY checking blogs and news sites, reading the paper even more vociferously than usual and just generally unable to tear myself away from the whole train wreck. So, I ended up sending this reply:

I personally think that the Ayers issue is very valid. Not only because of the kickoff in the guy's living room (are you disputing that?), but also because of the ongoing relationship they have had (oh, wait a minute - he was "just a guy in the neighborhood." Or maybe their kids went to school together. Oops, served on boards together. Oh and Obama just happened to publicly endorse a book by Ayers in which he is mentioned - not very close, eh? But he thought he was reformed! Gosh, must have missed it when Ayers said on 9/11 that his regret was that the Weather Undergound hadn't done more. Really not the kind of guy I'd be interested in working with). Maybe if that were the only hinky relationship. But add in Odingo, Rezko and ACORN, etc., and I'm just not too impressed with the guy. I'd probably be able to overlook that a bit more if he espoused the same beliefs I have, but I'm not a spread-the-wealth, government-should-be-in-charge-of-EVERYTHING kind of gal. Thank goodness I live in a red state. I only wish it were one with more electoral votes.

Why, precisely, are you enamored with Obama? What, besides promising HopeandChange, has he actually done?

And, really, I would be interested in hearing an answer to that question from just about anyone. Because no one seems to have one. Just what he’s going to do for us. Oh, uh, like spread the wealth? I’m kinda with Joe the Plumber on that issue.

Was there an answer? Nope. Just a lot of Bush-Cheney babble.

To which I responded:

Dude, McCain IS NOT BUSH. Was a time when the Democrats realized that fact. So what if he "wants that base." It's the freaking Republican base. How the hell else is he going to get elected? And, for what it's worth, Bush has not single-handedly gotten us into the current mess.

Response? Something about how Palin would have to shut the hell up if they were to ever have sex.


Being as he’s a radio dude, I thought he would find this interesting. Because it kind of scares me. Mostly because of where else that might lead:

No response yet.

I’ll tell you what, if the “Fairness Doctrine” is put into play again, I demand equal time every time some dumb celebrity (Pamela Anderson, I’m talking to YOU) opens his or her mouth.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fairy Tale for the Assertive Woman

I have this posted on my refrigerator and it always makes me giggle, so I thought I'd share on the off chance it hasn't reached your in-box:

Once upon a time,
in a land far away,
A beautiful, independent,
self assured princess,
Happened upon a frog as she sat
contemplating ecological issues
on the shores of an unpolluted
pond in a verdant meadow near
her castle.

The frog hopped into the
Princess' lap
and said: "Elegant Lady,
I was once a handsome Prince,
until an evil witch cast a spell
upon me.

One kiss from you, however,
and I will turn back
into the dapper, young Prince
that I am and then, my sweet,
we can marry and set up
housekeeping in your castle
with my Mother,
where you can prepare my meals,
clean my clothes, bear my
children, and forever feel
grateful and happy doing so."

That night,
while dining on lightly sautéed
frog legs
seasoned in a white wine
and onion cream sauce,
she chuckled to herself and thought:
"I don't fucking think so."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Not a political blog, but ...

Is this one of the most contentious election cycles we’ve ever lived through, or am I just paying more attention this time?

And I’m not talking about the negative television ads, although they are plentiful – from both sides of the spectrum at all levels of political office sought.

I’m talking about the vitriol pouring out of regular folks – verbally, in letters to the editor, on message boards and on blogs. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m noticing the contention – because I’m reading a lot more blogs this time around.

And I’m amazed to read the nasty name-calling.

Referring to folks in the audience at one of the conventions as “smiling, clapping idiots.”

Actually typing something like this: “You're even bigger losers than I thought. I can see you now, sitting there dressed in your underwear in your dirty little run-down room with the empty pizza boxes, jars of Cheez-Whiz and wrinkled copies of Playboy and Hustler, posting your ridiculous rants on-line about how much you hate Americans who work for a living and live normal lives.” And maybe even believing it.

Shouting vile things at political rallies. Wearing disgusting t-shirts.

It hurts my heart.

To the dismay of many members of my family, I’m not a religious person. But I do take “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” rather seriously. Because I think that’s the best way to get along and really the best way to behave.

I’m not averse to giving my opinion. I have one – and it’s a strong opinion.

I do, however, try to do it in a reasonable, thoughtful way. Without saying, or implying, that anyone who holds the opposite view must be a complete idiot. Because I don’t feel that way. I believe that most people have the best interests of our country at heart. Even folks who disagree with my views. We all want what’s best for America and her citizens. We just differ on the best way to accomplish that goal.

I’ll be so glad when this election is over and I can go back to being amused by bloggers who are not normally political. Naturally, I’m hoping my candidate wins the election. But I’m not threatening to leave the country, or have my head explode, or vomit on my own t*ts (as someone so crassly put it in a comment I read) if the opposition wins.

We really will muddle through the next four years no matter who is in office.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Daughter of a son of a sailor man

I mentioned, waaaaay back in the first entry of this silly little blog, that my daughter had applied to the Naval Academy for the second time. Once again, she was not accepted. I think she found it harder the second time and we tried to console her as best we could.

I admit that many times I wondered if her wish to attend the Academy was more due to a desire to please her father, and less due to a sincere desire to join the service. And I also admit that I selfishly hoped that if she started college locally, she'd decide she loved it and would stay close to home FOREVER. I mean, she's my favorite, er, only, daughter and the thought of her leaving home kinda freaked me out.

She had been talking about meeting with a Naval recruiter for awhile, and she up and did it in mid-September. She took the ASVAB (the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) and scored pretty darn high, so her recruiter said she could pick just about any career in the Navy (excepting one that would put her in a submarine). Before she took the physical and met with a Naval career counselor, my husband counseled her not to sign anything before coming home to discuss it with us.

You know where this is going, don't you?

She came home with a done deal - all sworn in and signed on the dotted line. So, she's going to be a sailor. For six years.

Saying I needed some time to get over the shock is putting it quite mildly. In fact, I admit to some tears.

Don't get me wrong - I'm incredibly proud of my daughter for wanting to serve our country. And I don't think that everyone's kid BUT MINE should do so. I'm just going to miss her so very much when she's gone.

She initially decided to be a sonar operator/technician since she would have a marketable skill (electronics) should she decide to leave the service after her initial inlistment term, but she'd be able to spend a goodly amount of time on ships during her enlistment. She loves learning languages (she's picked up a little bit from each of our exchange students, and speaks German relatively fluently after two years of high school and one semester of college study), so she decided to take the DLAB (the Defense Language Aptitude Battery). She rocked that test too (the guy who administered it said he had never seen a score as high as hers).

So now she'll be attending the Defense Language Institute after graduating from basic training. Her score qualified her for one of the "strategic" languages. She'll learn either Russian, Korean, Arabic or Chinese. She won't know which until she arrives at DLI.

I'm still not totally sure what she'll be doing when she graduates from DLI. I think she could tell me. But then she'd have to kill me.

Or something like that.