Sunday, May 22, 2011

Money Management Training, One Stringed Instrument at a Time


My son has spent the last three years teaching the Chess Club at his old elementary school. It's a 1.5 hour commitment per week, plus all the stress of lesson planning, plus the added stress of trying to keep 30 kids occupied (if not focused) when the only room made available to you is the gym, which is normally a place for running and screaming.

But in the end, the money makes it all worth it. He just got his yearly paycheck of $400.

"That's great!" I said. "And the good thing is, unlike last summer, you don't have a choir tour coming up where you'll be tempted to spend it all."

"Yeah," he agreed with a sigh, "It's funny how it adds up. I didn't think I was spending that much, but, y'know... A latte here, a ukulele there..."

It is true. I hear that ukuleles have been the financial downfall of many a strong man.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

"How to Play Strip Soccer"

First off: I, myself, (my middle-aged self) have absolutely no desire to play strip soccer. And for this the world is grateful. But, because I have YET AGAIN had my blog discovered by someone using the search string, "How to play strip soccer"?

Well, what can I say? I am nothing if not accommodating.

For the record, the reason my blog originally popped up for this search was because I talked about both quilting with fabric strips and soccer. Little did I know. And I found it so funny that I wrote about it, using the actual phrase "strip soccer." Which means that now this blog is pretty much the go-to place for all things strip soccer related.

My mother would be so proud.

But in the years since the original google search, I have unintentionally (and not altogether willingly) come into possession of actual knowledge on how to play strip soccer. And, because I am starting to feel guilty at having nothing in this blog actually relating to strip soccer for these google searchers, I am going to share it with you.

(No, don't thank me. It's what I do.)

Are you ready?

This comes to me via a friend who just happened to be in a bar watching the Netherlands-France game from Euro 2008 when a guy walks in and says he is going to remove one article of clothing for every goal Netherlands scores.

Now, normally in a situation like this, you are utterly safe. 0-0 is not an unusual score at the end of a soccer game. 1-0 and 1-1 are also common. Two goals is considered big, and three? Over the top. So when a guy walks into a bar and starts stripping down? You truly believe that it's no big deal.

Final score in this instance, however? Netherlands 4-1 France. And the guy was not wearing socks. You do the math. I hear there were some terrifying moments at the end, and the entire bar was rooting whole-heartedly for France.

And so, in summary, boys and girls who have arrived here googling "How to play strip soccer"?

Play at your own risk. Because one of the teams just might be a Netherlands.

Oh, and also? For the sake of the rest of us? Please play in the privacy of your own home.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Finally, he is gone

"I've never wished a man dead, but I've read some obituaries with great pleasure."
-- Mark Twain
-- Clarence Darrow

"Turn on the TV/Radio/Internet. Osama bin Laden has been killed by US troops in Pakistan! For certain, they have his body."
-- text from Andy, my future son-in-law

"Mission accomplished."
-- me, on Facebook

My sixteen-year-old son doesn't remember 9/11. He was in first grade at the time. He's studied a lot of world history this year, especially war history. He's looked at figures like Mao Tse Tung, Stalin, and Hitler, and he was reflecting on what it was that made Osama bin Laden so bad.

And so I described that morning to him. And I got to the part about the people jumping from the WTC, holding hands, to keep from being burned to death, reclaiming one last bit of control over their fates...

I remembered those people, and I started to cry.

Ten years later, that day still has this effect on me. Nobody who was not there can understand the feelings of helplessness, of impotence, that we all experienced. The "Oh, Lord, more? What's next?" that enveloped us as the attacks piled up.

And nobody who was a part of this country that day will ever be able to forget it.

The USA! USA! chants and chest thumping from last night are responses I understand but don't relate to. I can never rejoice when someone dies. (Although I'm not going to judge the people who do respond that way. They have their 9/11 memories as well.)

But when it comes to this particular death?

I am certainly not sad about it either.