Wednesday, November 28, 2007


So I'm being asked at work to do an important, labor-intensive job. There's something in it for me, but I suspect that "something" won't be worth it. Instead, I'll likely have 8 months of time-management hell trying to get it all done.

I want to be helpful, but at the same time, I have REPEATEDLY gotten myself into tasks that involve a lot of work and a little thanks. One nearly sent me to the looney bin.

In other words, yes, Bitty is a doormat.

You would think I would know better by now.

I do know better.

And I'll probably still agree to do it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mais oui....!

How unsurprised am I by this?

Personal to Alanna: you should do this. I'd love to see what it comes up with!

Your Inner European is French!

Smart and sophisticated.
You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

Found at Shakesville.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkey Float

I didn't know for sure that I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner until just recently, so I didn't get my turkey until Monday evening. It's ginormous, and the turkey websites advise a 4 to 5 day thaw for a ginormous bird.

I don't have 4 to 5 days.

Plan B advises thawing in cold water. And I quote:
You may also place the wrapped turkey in the sink and cover it completely with cold water for about 30 minutes per pound.
No, I may not.

Sounds like a plan, but (a) I have the shallowest sink in the western world, and (b) when I attempted to immerse the bird in water in a plastic bin, I floats. How am I to "cover completely" a turkey that floats? I may be a mere English major, but even I know that no amount of water will cover something that persists in bobbing on the surface. All I can think of is putting a weight on it.

Now where did I leave that brick?

Update: I tried placing a big, heavy bowl on top of the turkey, but the bird shoved the bowl aside and stubbornly rose to the top. I wondered if David Letterman ever tried to make a turkey float, but I found no results.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Week in Post Secret

We use LOL a lot here on the internet, but I really don't LOL all that often.

But I sure did today after visiting Post Secret:

Except in my case, I live in fear of something slightly less dramatic. A mere robbery or kidnapping, perhaps. Then, God help me, I'd be alive to face Griss and Cat. Because, fear or not, my house doesn't get cleaned nearly often enough.

The Name Game

I dropped in on one of my favorite reads, Maya's Granny, and found the name meme. I did something like this a while back on someone's blog with my real name, but I think I'm going to stick to my blog name, Bitty Sue, with "Sue" operating as both middle and last name. Let's see what happens:

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & first car) - Taffy Datsun

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie) - Butter Pecan Oatmeal (doesn't sound very gangsta if you ask me!).

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name) - B Sue (well, that was no fun)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal) - Periwinkle Cat

5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first) - Suebi

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink) - The Sage Pepsi

7. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers) - Ralph David

8. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter) - Hendricks Houston

9. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, favorite flower) - Spring Gardenia

10. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”) - Banana Slacksy

11. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree) - English Muffin Maple

12. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”) - The Reading Lightning Tour

13. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born) - Sue Chicago

14. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names ) Josephine Unknown

I think this at very least proves that I have no business being a gangsta, but I might make a great soap opera character or weather anchor...

Feel free to join in, in comments if you are without blog.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

In which Bitty gets one inflammatory forwarded e-mail too many

Not As Faraway Daughter (she's not as far away as she used to be) forwarded this e-mail to me recently.

How can this be!!Mom & DadMom was a homemaker and Dad worked all his life and paid into SS.Dad has passed away and now Mom can barely make ends meet. While thepossible "illegal" alien in front of her at the grocery store buys thename brands, Mom goes for the generic brands, and day old breads.She doesn't have out of state calling on her phone, because she can'tAfford it and shops at the thrift shops and dollar stores. Sheconsiders having a pizza delivered once a week "eating out". She grewup during the depression, watched her husband go overseas to fight inWW II a year after their marriage, and then they went on to raise, feedand clothe 5 children, struggling to pay tuition for parochial schools.The Senate voted this week to allow "illegal" aliens access to SocialSecurity benefits. I'm sorry, but how can the Senate justify this slapin the face to born and bred, or naturalized citizens. It is alreadyimpossible to live on Social Security alone. If they give benefits to"illegal" aliens who have never contributed, where does that leave usthat have paid into Social Security all our working lives?Attached is an opportunity to sign a petition that requires citizenshipfor eligibility to receive Social services. If you do not wish to signthe petition yourself, please forward on to anyone you think might beinterested.PETITION FOR: President Bush Mr. President: The petition below is aprotest against the recent vote of the senate which was to allowillegal aliens access to our social security! We demand that you andall congressional representatives require citizenship for anyone to beeligible for social services in the United States .

This gem was followed by 670 names, the last one being my daughter's.

(Before I get started on my rant, I question the wisdom of sending your full name, city, and state of residence around the web. That was in my third reply to Daughter.)

The day she sent this, I sent out a first reply, letting her know that when I had time, I had a few things to say about this. Here, then, was my second reply to her:

Dear Daughter,

I still don't have time to fully address this, but I never will and need to move on. Here are two things on it:

This petition and things like it irritate me for two reasons:

1. The probable intent is to inflame its readers, to make them angry. In this case, its intent is to intensify anti-immigrant, esp. anti-"brown people" attitudes. People read this and when governors or Congress or Presidential candidates try to deal in whatever way with immigration issues, they remember how pissed off they are about those social security benefits and how "the government" is trying to give away the store. What the e-mail DOESN'T do is accurately describe the issue and just serves to make people even more ignorant and reactionary than they already are. Look at how many people signed it without bothering to confirm if it's true or not!!!! This is true of ALL of these kinds of e-mails, which generally stretch the truth to appeal to people's prejudices and fears.

2. As I said, it's inaccurate. The 2nd link above addresses this in more detail than I had intended, but the bottom line is this: NO ONE gets Social Security benefits without paying in.

By the way, my first paying job was with Social Security. I worked in the department that handled claims by foreign citizens. That's right. We've been paying Social Security bennies to foreign people forever. Since the beginning of Social Security, I presume. In these cases, they were legal workers, but they were aliens.

Let's go for a number 3. It's this kind of crap thinking by Americans that makes my job harder; I spend all kinds of time trying to undo pre-formed opinions, a/k/a prejudice.

Don't assume that just because someone said it, it's true. Don't assume that just because it comes in an e-mail it's true.

Don't think with your emotions. Think with your brain.

I spend all kinds of time trying to educate my children, too, apparently.

It's possible that this e-mail was begun by someone who half-heard, half-understood what it was that Congress did and went off on a tear.

It's just as possible that this e-mail was begun by a sly political operative who wanted to further poison the anti-immigrant attitudes in our country.

It only takes one of these outrageous stories, true or not, to get people angry and then motivate them to vote according to misinformation.

Don't assume that just because someone said it, it's true. Don't assume that just because it comes in an e-mail it's true.

Don't think with your emotions. Think with your brain.


Post script: At least 13 years ago, I took a Culture Wars class. I had no idea how engaged I would be in those wars later. Anyway, the professor, 13 years ago, said that there's always talk about how Social Security is going broke, and that it would intensify as the boomers reached retirement age. He said that we will eventually fix it the way we've always fixed Social Security problems: invite a large influx of foreign workers into the country to increase the level of contributions to the fund.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


The cashier rings up the groceries.

I slide my check card through the black plastic card reader.

The cashier says, "Your total is $53.09."*

The black plastic card reader asks for my PIN.

I stand there, confused. Disoriented.

Something's wrong, and I'm not sure what.

PIN? PIN? This is an easy question. Why am I unsure of the answer?

I look at the total on the screen. $53.09.*

The confusion clears. My PIN is 5309.* My total is $53.09.*

For a heartbeat, my financial universe is in alignment.

*Like me, my PIN has a pseudonym.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside


I realize that for many around the country, 42 degrees at this time of year is a heat wave. However, this is our first night with weather like this. The sky is clear; thanks to the falling back property of Daylight Saving Time, I get an extra hour of life tonight; my heat works; and I have warm jammies, fresh sheets, and a good book:

(Ann Patchett: who I want to be when I grow up.)

Life is good.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Random amusing photo

I was going through some pictures, and I came across this one. It's the house next door to where, until recently, my great-aunt lived. It's not something I'd expect to see in my suburban Florida neighborhood, and so I took the photo, but in rural Illinois, I don't suppose it's so surprising to see corn growing in a gutter that's past its scheduled cleaning.

(Click on the photo to embiggen and better see the corn.)

Snurg, Piffle, Burst!

Found at the blog of the delightful Maya's Granny, and so suited to the blog of an English teacher that I just had to make a home for it here.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A rose by any other name...

Those ubiquitous stickers on the back windshields of family SUVs with an outline of a sports figure and a name: they scream "Mama of a Baseball/Football/Soccer, etc. Player on Board."

I had to pass the SUV and get a good look at that mama this morning, because I wanted a firm picture of what kind of woman names her child Anakin. (However, this mama was either a grandmama or she'd been living a seriously rough life.)

Some of the baby name sites that offer meanings and origins of names take the name Anakin seriously and attribute it to George Lucas, yadda yadda. The site I linked to above says it means "warrior." Whatever. Other say "no results," as it should be. I tried checking to see what it might mean to name a baby Chewbacca. Surprisingly, no results.

As I clicked along from link to link, I arrived at the Social Security Administration's baby name site, a site in some ways more interesting than others because it has the weight of a really good set of statistics behind it. (Anakin does not make SSA's top 1000; that's as far as SSA's statistics run.)

I gave up the search for Anakin and had fun playing with the SSA's site for a while.

Clicking on "Popular Names by Birth Year" and limiting myself mostly to the top 20, I see that the year Marine Son was born, his name was #1. I knew this well before today, but at the time of his birth, I only knew a few people by that name and thought it was quite unusual and lovely. Ha!

The year Tall Son was born, his name was ranked #16. There goes Bitty being all cutting edge again.

The year Not As Far Away Daughter was born, her name was #5. (Both the year of TS's birth and D's, all three of my children's names made the top 20 list.)

The year of my birth indeed reads like my high school yearbook. Whatever happened to Barbara, Brenda, and Cynthia anyway? And why don't people name their daughters Linda any more? Yet I was a bit surprised to see that the year I was born, my own non-Bitty name was #10. I don't know many people by that name, but those I do are all indeed around my age (give or take 10 years). Apparently we were really hot for a short while. However, had I been named Mary, I'd have been #1. (Between Marine Son's and Tall Son's births, Mary dropped out of the top 20 after a very, very long run at the top.) Interestingly, the year my mother was born, in the early 30's, Mary was number 1 and my mother's name, like mine during my birth year, was #10.

The year Grammie was born, in the early nineteen teens, Mary was still flying high at #1, not imagining a day when she'd be bumped from that honor. Grammie didn't make the top 20 list (she made the top 100), but her name was in the top 20 for some years when her own mother was a child.

My children have been more successful at thumbing their noses at trends. None of my four (count 'em, 4!) grandsons made the top 20 lists for the years of their births, although Grandson #1's name is currently in the top 20, and Baby A, born recently, may be at the beginning of a trend, since Indian Princess reported that several babies in the nursery received the same name that he did.

Most of my current students are 18 or 19, and sure enough -- I've griped about this before -- the top three girls' names in both 1989 and 1990 and in the same order both years were Jessica, Ashley, and Brittany. In fact, looking at the top 20 lists for both girls and boys for those years is pretty much like looking inside my gradebook.

I will probably retire in 2022 or 2023, unless they make me do it earlier. That last year, the young men in the classroom, who are now in the sandbox with my daughter's youngest son, will sport names very similar to those I see now. But when it comes to girls, I can expect to face a classroom sparse on Brittanys and instead, except for an abundance of Madisons, full of girls who sound like they should be Grammie's classmates: Emily, Emma, Abigail, Olivia, Isabella, Hannah, Ava, Grace, and Chloe.

And not an Anakin in sight.