Friday, November 28, 2008

To match the fancy necktie

About a week ago, at conferences, Jeffrey's teacher told us that he needs to work on his spelling. She suggested that he practice by writing down everyday things, such as making lists.

So yesterday he wrote down some of the gift ideas for people in our family.

I am so getting Larry that third thing, he deserves it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Still Exactly the Same

Well the reunion was a lot of fun. Sometimes it took a minute to recognize people, but once we all figured out who was who we all enjoyed catching up, reminiscing, and speculating about the long lost classmates that did not show up. A couple of teachers were there. I noticed that the brown-noser types talked to them the most. Generally, everyone looked great. A lot of the guys looked noticeably balder and heavier, but the women all looked amazing. I suspect that they have more options for improving their appearance. (Body wraps?) Everyone said that I look exactly the same. I accepted that as a compliment but noted to myself that I have gotten the braces off my teeth and these highlights in my hair, so that's not exactly true.

I was glad to find that there was very little of the "so what have you done with your life?" conversation, we really have gotten past all of that. I did go up to the senior class president and mention that I knew of all her impressive accomplishments. She was humble about it and politely inquired about my career and family, and that was nice.

So there we all were set up for an enjoyable time and then the DJ "Solid Gold Sound" set up and started playing obnoxious music at full volume, all but inhibiting normal conversation. This bothered me a lot and I felt like a crabby old lady when I kept going up to the DJ and asking them to lower the volume, which they would do for just a moment and then crank it back up again for the next song. Also it was dark in there. Some people had brought along old snapshots that I really wanted to look at, but with the dim lights, grainy old Instamatic photo technology and aging 43 year old eyes, I could barely see the images. So the venue was counterproductive to what I wanted to be doing, which was frustrating. A much quieter and illuminated room would have been better. Such as the rec room in a nursing home! Har, har.

The one most interesting conversation I had was with my old friend Paul. He doesn't have kids of his own but is a high school biology teacher now. He told us that he was telling the kids in his class about his reunion, and trying to explain to them about how all of the rivalries and cliques that are so all-consuming in High School really don't matter once you're grown up, and that maybe they shouldn't stress about it so much. With all my parental wisdom I told him:

"Yes but you know they won't believe that until they have grown up themselves."

Paul shrugged and said "I know, but these are my kids! I so want to spare them all it if can, even a little!"

I'm doubtful that his statements will have any effect on those kids right now, but I do believe that someday they could be standing at their 25 year reunion remembering that really great teacher they had, and finally realizing that he was right after all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Go back to High School

I recently took the kids to see the movie High School Musical 3, and I just finished reading the first two books of the "Twilight" series, both set in High School. So I've been thinking about that lately, and now tonight is my 25 year Reunion.

My high school experience was pretty typical, and I honestly don't remember much about it, with the exception of the group of friends that I spent all kinds of time with the summer after our senior year. They were just a bunch of really great kids and we had so much fun together. Here is a picture that I found, don't we look like we could just jump up onto those painted cars and burst into song:

We kept gathering even a couple years after graduating, but eventually I lost touch with all but a couple of my closest friends, and even that turned into some years where Christmas cards were our only contact. Some I know I will never see again, and other pop up once in a while. There was a 20 year reunion that I didn't go to, but when we found out that some of our old friends were there Renee (my HS BFF, center in blue) and I made a pact that if there was ever another one we would attend. So here we go, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.

One of the guys from the gang also works at GM, and he instant-messaged me about plans for the reunion. Then he had to go and google our senior class president. Turns out she is a lawyer. (I never did finish getting my master's degree) with a high-profile job for the US Attorney General (my company just asked the government for some money) She is president of the local Bar Association (I wish I'd gotten that patent now) and has co-authored several books (I have a blog...)and is the mother of FIVE children (I only have two!) and from the picture she's still thin....ARRGH!

I forgot about the part of reunions where everyone wants to see what became of you, to find out if you lived up to your potential. At least I think they do that. I can't change the major events of my life at this point, and losing those 40 extra pounds is likely out of the question for this evening (how do body wraps work?) and my tanning experience quickly ended with an itchy rash.

I decided that the only action I could take was to do something about my hair. So I went to Sabrina's, the nicer salon here in town, and told the hairdresser that I had my reunion coming up and to make me look gorgeous. She cut it, and put these crazy foil things in, and sat me under some kind of steamer hood, for what I think might have been a little too long while she dealt with another client. When she finally spun me around and leaned over next to me as I observed us together in the mirror, I realized that she had styled my hair to look exactly like...hers! When she asked what I thought I said the one and only thing I could "It's gorgeous!" But that same night I went to a demonstration party and the women there started a conversation about letting your hair go salt-and-pepper gray. My "highlights" came out a little too light, I fear.

And then there are the clothes to obsess about, I bought this dress, and some sparkly jewelry to go with it, but then worried that it's too glitzy and I'll look like I'm trying too hard, even if I am.

By now you are saying to yourself "Oh good grief Mindy just stop it!" and I agree. Because when I think about it I'm not planning to make judgements about my old friends, and I don't actually care what they might think about me. I just want to enjoy being together with them again for this one night. I'll let you know if anything interesting happens, such as bursting into song.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spartan Spectacular

We took a 1 day "vacation" on Saturday. My friend JJS had recommended the "Spartan Spectacular" concert that his son the MSU music major would be performing in, and I got tickets for my family plus my niece and nephew who were staying with us for the weekend. To make the most of the drive we planned to tour the Michigan Historical Museum in downtown Lansing as well as tour the MSU campus and sights prior to the concert.

The museum is a very good one. First of all, it's free! (My favorite price!) I like it when the kids are having enjoying themselves without realizing that they are being tricked into an educational experience.

The museum takes you through Michigan history from prehistoric days through modern times. I found this sign to be sort of profoundly haunting:

Look it's me!

The concert was amazing. The first half was a variety of music displaying the kind of talent that just blows me away with awe. The kids were mesmerized, and didn't know they were soaking up some culture here too. The second half was the Spectacular Spartan Marching Band! It had everything including the flag twirlers, baton, drumlines, and the full band playing of course our favorite fight song but also the highlights of every halftime show this season. Who would have ever thought that I could get right to the part I like about Fall Saturdays without having to watch all that football! It was perfect!

Education and Culture are well and good but in stressful times there's nothing like being so happily and thoroughly entertained. I hope you had some fun this weekend too.

Friday, November 14, 2008


My 25 year class reunion is coming up. I got a new dress for it several weeks ago, but when I tried it on again recently there was something that I didn't like anymore. Actually, it wasn't the dress, it was my arms. The dress is sleeveless and I think that when I first bought it I still had my summer tan going on, and now that it's fading my arms look whiter, and...bigger.

Since there isn't even a sky anymore, just darkness that the rain comes out of, getting some sunshine in the usual way is not an option. But there is another way. I dug out the coupon book that came in the mail the other day, and found the ad for "Tropi-tan."

I was thinking about the new "spray-tans" that I have heard about, so I called the number to see what that was all about. The absolutely most perky voice on the planet came on the phone:

"Welcome to Tropi-Tan where the sun always shines! This is Sandy how can I help you?"

I explained that I was curious about their services, and that I have this event coming up. She squealed with delight and told me that they are currently offering one FREE week of Level One tanning and that would work out just perfectly for me. I asked a lot of questions to make sure that free really is free, and she assured me that it was. She was just so darn excited to be meeting someone new to tanning, and started to explain to me how they have all different lotions you can buy, and stickers! I was struggling to imagine what on earth the stickers might be for, and she went on to explain how it would make a shape, such as the playboy bunny head, onto your skin. I was starting to feel like I was being recruited...and I agreed to come in.

Since I have never done this before I decided to do some research first. Sure enough, they have a website. It was full of useful information including a Q&A page that answered many questions. When I got to this one, I was amazed:

Q. Why do we always hear that tanning is bad?

A. Tanning is an important issue to the dermatology industry because skin cancer represents the only subject that its lobbyists can promote as critical or life threatening. Unfortunately, in their zeal to scare consumers into their offices, lobbyists for the dermatology industry have twisted the facts and exaggerated many research findings. They continue to mislead the public about the dangers of tanning, whether indoors or outdoors.
There is also the issue of the “Almighty Dollar.” The fear of the sun generated by dermatologists feeds a multi-billion dollar industry lead by huge special interest groups who conduct and promote most of the research on skin cancer. Lobbyists for pharmaceutical firms that sell billions of dollars worth of sunscreens and SPF cosmetics have teamed with the dermatology industry to promote a misinformed campaign of sun abstinence.
Conversely, there is no major industry except the indoor tanning industry that makes money by promoting the positive effects of sunshine. The indoor tanning industry consists of small companies that can’t match the marketing power of the multi-billion dollar "sunscare coalition."
Over the last few years, thousands of indoor tanning professionals have supported an organization – the Indoor Tanning Association – which was founded “to protect the freedom of individuals to achieve a suntan, via natural or artificial light.” This organization is currently working to develop a national advertising campaign that will increase public awareness of “smart” tanning, the importance of avoiding sunburn, and the many positive effects of regular, controlled UV exposure.

What??? This seems awfully twisted around from what I know to be true about the dangers of the sun. Dermatology lobbyists misleading the public? Who are we supposed to believe anymore? This is reminiscent of other types of statements out there: "He's a Muslim" ..."Too big to fail"... "Detoxifying foot pads"...when someone wants you to believe something all they have to do is say it...and the people who want to believe eat it up like lunch.

The tanning "industry" for me falls into the category of things like Auto Racing and Toby Keith Music, where I am somewhat aware of their existence and yet amazed to find the enthusiastic crowds already involved when I finally check it out. The tanning salon was abuzz with activity. They have over a dozen tanning machines in there. I always figured that these places were used primarily by body builders, and maybe strippers, but clearly there is a large section of society willing to risk early wrinkling and cancer and purchase memberships.

I bought these odd little goggles and some lotion and went into the room where this giant scary glowing spaceship-like machine was waiting for me. The goggles hurt my eyes and the lotion smelled like puke but I was glad to see that there was a little sign on the surface of the tanning bed that it had been sanitized. I laid down on it and pressed the button and it started to glow, and fans whirred, and when I pulled the lid down it felt like I was closing my own coffin. After my 7 minutes of being a human pannini I still wasn't sure why anyone would choose to do this regularly, and was questioning my own sanity over the experience.

I'm still not sure if this was a safe thing to do. I know that I at low risk for burning due to my olive skin. I am usually very careful to put on sunscreen when I go outside, and the tan I do get is from riding my bike (fronts of thighs, tops of hands and forearms) and when I'm watching the boys in our backyard pool or at the beach.

I didn't consider that I would be in a different state of undress in the tanning bed than my usual summertime activities. So while my arms might have gotten a slight shade darker, I now have an itchy pink "bathing suit" that doesn't come off. Ow.

I'm thinking now about going with a fake tanning lotion, or maybe a long-sleeve sweater.

Monday, November 10, 2008

First Time White Stuff Crazy Day

Today was the first day of the season with enough of the “white stuff” (snow) to stick to the ground. Therefore everyone crashed their cars and effectively shut down the roads of Southeastern Michigan.

I am fascinated with the field of economics, the way that they take data and use it to identify trends and draw conclusions from them. I like to participate in that except for the data part, where I substitute my own observations and then make stuff up.

I have such an observation about the first snowfall in this area each year. Everyone seems to go a little bit crazy and the amount of traffic accidents are way out of proportion to the truly hazardous conditions we will experience later in the season. It is possible that everyone forgets how to drive in snow and ice and then re-learns it throughout the season. I used to think maybe all these accident-causers were the people who were new to the area, such as having moved here from the south, and were experiencing cold weather for the first time, but that theory doesn’t hold now that nobody has actually moved into this state since about 2005.

And then there’s this:

Notable expert Mindula Oblongatta has been quoted as to the spike in traffic accidents on the first day that there is noticeable snow drifting through the air. “It is due to the phenomenon of light reflecting off the snowflakes and into the retina of the eye of the driver causing a blockage in the brain that controls proper usage of a steering wheel.”
Oblongatta goes on to state the following: “The sound of the local newscasters shrieking about the weather, when entering the ear of a driver, directly affects their ability to operate a brake pedal with their foot.” These impairments are then combined to result in general driving hysteria that correlates to both the temperature and accident count trends.

I knew it! Be careful out there.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The past two days here have been unusually pleasant. We have had sunshine and temps reaching into the 70's. We're talking about November in Michigan! Do we still call these days Indian Summer or is than not PC now? Yesterday was a GM day off, so I could enjoy the weather by spending every moment possible outside. The boys and I rode our bikes to vote, and I took the kayak out around the lake, and went on another bike ride later...because I could! And the weather trend continues through today.

It just feels so good out there, crisp and fresh. Even though the leaves on the trees are different, and we know that winter and all of it's challenges are coming soon, for today, it feels like SPRING. Sunny, optimistic, and hopeful. Very nice.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Approved This Message

Sometimes the boys like to grab my camera and practice taking pictures with it. This usually occurs when there is nothing to photograph except the one exciting thing in our house, the cat.

Timmy took this picture, which I think is pretty good. Then he cracked me up when he put a title to it:

"I'm Missy and I approved this message."

Can you see why he said that? You know that the message is getting across when it seeps into a kid's humor.

The only thing I know for sure about this election is that I will be glad when the campaigning is over, so we can all move on. Such as to Christmas Music, which they started playing on the radio this week.

Happy Election Day!