Monday, June 29, 2009

A painful admission

The Supreme Court handed down a huge ruling today in the New Haven Firefighters case. I heard about this case a few months ago on NPR and it really riled me up. Apparently, the city of New Haven, CT, administered an exam to its corps of firemen for the purpose of determining promotions. The test was not a new thing; moreover, the people who were going to take the exam had received a syllabus and study information to help them prepare for it. It's not that there were no blacks that passed--38% of them did--it's that none of those passing scores were high enough to fill the certain number of promotion positions. So the city threw out the test results for everyone in order to avoid a potential lawsuit from minorities. What did they get in return? A lawsuit from the white firefighters (and 1 Hispanic) who should have, according to the test results, gotten a promotion. Wanting to avoid a lawsuit is no reason to ignore the law, SCOTUS said. So the Court, in its opinion today, was essentially saying that the results could not be ignored--not that the test was necessarily good or bad.
So yes, I agree with Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy. As much as it pains me to say that for the first four in that group, I think the decision (authored by swing-vote Kennedy) was a good and fair one.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Skatin' off into the sunset...

So Michael Jackson died today. I am feeling a rush of emotions right now. I have an overwhelming urge to say some totally inappropriate things, such as, "There won't be much for the embalmer to do..."
But I won't. Instead I'll just say that it's sad for his three young kids to grow up without a father. I'll also say that his talent was extraordinary and the music world is definitely better thanks to his amazing skills as a musician, singer and dancer.
One parting moment of inappropriateness-- as overheard by someone (who shall remain nameless) at his place of work (again, remaining nameless)...
"Wow, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett in the same day... That's like when Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day..."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Just beachy

We did something totally out-of-the-ordinary for our family a few days ago--we went on a mini-spur-of-the-moment Vacation! On Sunday, after church, Mike asked me what I thought about going to the beach, as we all had a few days off from work/school. Hmm... So we went home, did a little research on the Shore, and created a little getaway! We stayed a little mom-and-pop motel in Point Pleasant, about an hour from our house. The room was actually two bedrooms, which was perfect with W, as he was able to go to sleep at his normal time and Mike and I were able to stay up later (as in, until 10). We were such "old folks," playing Yahtzee and watching The American Experience on PBS. It was so relaxing and enjoyable.
The boardwalk was a typical boardwalk, with the silly rip-off games and greasy, too-expensive food. However, there was a decent, albeit small, aquarium that we enjoyed. We got there just in time to see them feed the seals (they also brushed the seals' teeth!).
We ate lunch at a little diner that was surprisingly quite delicious. Mike was craving a cheeseburger, I had a chicken panini, and W had (no big shock) chicken tenders. With full tummies, we went to our hotel, where we had arranged early check-in so that W could get his nap. He was excited about the BIG bed (we barricaded him in with pillows), and went to sleep without a fuss. After naps, we headed to the beach. You have to pay a nominal fee for most beaches in Jersey, so we got our beach passes at the hotel and trooped down to the shore. The water was waaaay too cold (we didn't even get near it, though there were lots of dummies out frolicking in the waves). We instead sat in the sand and showed W how fun it was to dig in the sand.
He was skeptical at first. In fact, he hated it at first. But he quickly warmed up to the idea of it and soon had a great time.

Here he is with his daddy, filling his dump truck with sand and shells.

He got really into running up and down the beach. We were flying his Elmo kite, which he thought was pretty neat.

On Tuesday, we found a practically deserted public beach further south in Bay Head. It was great. The tide had recently receeded, and we were able to collect some really neat shells.

It was pretty nippy and windy.

You can see how windy it was from the flags.

We got home by naptime on Tuesday. W was asking about the "'tel" and the "beech", which leads me to believe that he really enjoyed his trip and would be game for a repeat at some point in the near future.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


We had the End-of-Year picnic at school yesterday evening. There were lots of fun activities for the kids--sand art, spin-painting and face painting. W was leery of the face painting at first, so he decided to get his arm done. After standing in line for a while and seeing other kids getting their faces done, he decided to go for it. He wanted something "pink" so we went with a pig face.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's June!

June just crept up on me! Memorial Day has come and gone, school's out... Sort of. Good news--I found out that I will be working at W's school this summer! After months of waiting, a slot came open, and they asked me to work. So that will make it MUCH easier to keep sending W to school through the summer. Routine and consistency is so important to him, so this is a fantastic opportunity for both of us to continue our daily grind.
My mom flew up on Wednesday for a last-minute-planned trip... As in, got her ticket on Tuesday. See, she and Dad were supposed to drive up to see us, but Dad had to stay in MS (ridiculous MS legislature), so it looked like a visit was off... Until Mom found a ticket that she could get with Frequent Flier miles! So she's here. She and I drove down to DC on Saturday morning to go to some museums--specifically the Smithsonian's Natural History museum. They have an exhibit going on right now that explores early North American European settlements from a forensic perspective. One of our distant-distant relatives was dug up and studied as part of the research. While we didn't see him on our visit (he's since been re-interred), there was a little blurb about how he had likely died of lead poisoning. Turns out, wealthier people generally died of such ailments, as most of their utensils and dinnerware was made of or coated with lead-- po' folks had wooden stuff. Very interesting.
Anyway, we did that, then went over to the American History museum. The last time I was in DC, it was closed for renovation. Well, it's open now. It's very... sterile. I enjoyed seeing Julia Child's kitchen, which is on permanent display there. Seeing the Star Spangled Banner was really cool, too. As for the new decor, however, I'm less than impressed.
After that, we backtracked and visited the National Gallery of Art. I love that place. It is so beautiful. We were in search of one of my favorite paintings, Renoir's Girl With a Watering Can. My mom has pictures of me standing beside it at ages 10 and 20. We were hoping to get a shot of me standing next to it in my 30th year. No such luck. I looked at their website and it seems that she is no longer "on display". Very interesting...
So then we went back to our hotel... The Ritz! My dad surprised us with reservations at the Ritz-Carlton because he was so bummed that he couldn't be up here with us. We relaxed a little bit, then set out for Georgetown, to one of my old haunts, Clyde's. Clyde's has great food and a relaxed atmosphere. I had a burger (I was craving it!) and Mom had crabcakes. Everything was delish. We strolled around a little bit, ducking into little shops here and there, but were so tired that we didn't last long. We hailed a cab back to the hotel and kicked back. I took a luxurious bubble bath in the gigantic tub and snuggled into the comfy featherbed. I slept like a rock.
Breakfast was huge, and delicious. I was only able to put away a fraction of what was on my plate, but enjoyed it immensely. We checked out soonafter, got our car, and made our way out of DC via some very interesting neighborhoods. We made it home in about 3 hours, thanks to my E-Z-Pass tag. It sure does save time when you don't have to stop to pay tolls with cash. With E-Z-Pass you just slow down a little bit and sail on through. Nice.
So we're home now. Mike and W survived our absence. The only time W really missed me was at bedtime last night. He wanted to sing "Baby Beluga" and Mike doesn't know the words/tune. But W's Smart Papa had a solution--call Mama! So there I was, standing in Barnes and Noble, singing "Baby Beluga" to my son over the telephone. The things we do for our children.

Amen, Uncle Jesse.