Archive for February, 2010

The New McCarthyism

I read a post today on another blog about the vaccine debate.  This is particularly of interest to me because I have a nephew who is autistic.  Around the time that he was diagnosed, Jenny McCarthy was making a lot of noise about the whole supposed vaccine-autism link.  Of course it caused concern and guilt for many parents.  Now, it has been debunked but still she stands by it.    It makes me so angry that, as if this disease wasn’t enough of a struggle, people are lead to believe that they can somehow “cure” it or that there is some great evil out there that is causing it.  Autism is hard, but it’s not evil.  Perhaps we are too removed from the past reality of babies dying from diseases that we now see as no problem.  Perhaps we are too focused on everyone thinking and acting similarly.  We can’t deal with difference.  However, it is difference that is at the forefront of every innovation.  Someone was able to think outside the box.  Take Temple Grandin.

Mr. Cookie was kind enough to DVR HBO’s move on Temple Grandin, a woman who was born when autism was believed to be due to a lack of love from the mother. The response was to institutionalize these people for life.  Her mom refused to buy in to that and now Dr. Grandin is known for her accomplishments in the field of animal husbandry, among many other things.  One of the things she did was create a more humane, efficient system for slaughter houses (I know, the vegetarian is praising this).  She was able to do this because, as the title of one of her books explains, she thinks in pictures.  She notices minutiae that you and I pass right over.  She noticed that cattle move in circles.  She also noticed that unexpected movement, shadows, and loud noises spook them and lead to accidents.  Based on this information, she was able to create systems by which their handlers, as she puts it, “treat them with the respect they so highly deserve because of what we take from them.”

My favorite thing that she says over and over again, though, is that she is “different, not less.”  It took a lot of people believing that and encouraging it to help her become the woman she is.  Every teacher should realize that students learn in different ways.  That’s why there is such a push for differentiated instruction.  You have to play to a number of different learning styles.  You have to know how to tap in to all of your students’ strengths.

I know my sister and my nephew have a harder, longer road ahead of them.  But I also know that to look at this face is love and I know that he will exceed all of our flimsy expectations because he already has.  Different, not less.


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A Bright Spot

Shel Silverstein

I opened my eyes
and looked up at the rain
and it dripped in my head
and flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can’t do a handstand–
I might overflow,
so pardon the wild crazy thing I just said–
I’m not the same since there’s rain in my head.

The rain has been pervading my mood.  But, I and those around me are persevering!  Rallying forth!  Fighting the good fight!

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Queso Withdrawal

You’ve heard about the highlight of our trip, but I thought it only fitting to tell you… the rest of the story.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook are aware that my love for queso knows no bounds.  The means of conveyance is less important.  Whether it be tortilla chips, flour tortillas, corn tortillas, fire hose, as long as it winds up in my mouth I’m happy.  Except for the particularly crappy from-a-can queso we experienced in the Stockyards in Fort Worth.  NOT WORTH IT!

Still, the trip was not only about queso.  In my estimation, we ate Tex-Mex for about 90% of our meals (Mr. Cookie may or may not have approved of that).  But, eating probably only took up oh, say, about 50% of our time (I kid, I kid) so let’s take a look at what else we did while in the great state!

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The Stages of Racing

This post is dedicated to Mr. Cookie, without whom this race would not have been the same.

Thanks for putting up with all my ridiculousness, handsome.

I want to give you a little background into the above picture (taken race morning).  Compare my half grimace and squinty eyes to the cheerful countenances of Mr. Cookie and our friend, A.  Over the last several races I’ve done, I’ve noticed a trend.  I seem to go through stages surrounding a race that almost always mimic each other.  The Austin Half Marathon was no exception.

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Anatomy of a Niece Cookie’s Birthday Cake

Me:  “What flavors do you think Niece would like?”

Sister Cookie:  “Well, I know I want chocolate cake with the strawberry filling.”

Hey, when you’re four, apparently you don’t get much say in your birthday cake flavors.

And thus began the great cake assemblage of ’10.  Not to say I haven’t done this before.  Many times.  This was just the first major one of this year.  I thought I would document it so you could see a little bit of the work that goes in to making a Mrs. Cookie Special. Read the rest of this entry »

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One Week

No, not the BNL song. Sorry.

In one week, Mr. Cookie, A, and myself will be boarding a flight (first class upgrade, woo!) to Austin.  Then, two days later, we will be running.  For me, it will be the longest distance I’ve ever run.  I feel ready.  I know my feelings on this subject have been all over the place the last several weeks, but after a really strong 9 mile run on Monday, I feel confident.

I am really looking forward to getting back to Texas.  I lived there for a few years as a kid and have been back a couple times.  It’s a totally different experience that I’m excited for Mr. Cookie to have.  Great food, wonderful hospitality, nice weather, and did I mention great food?

Maybe once this is done this blog will once again become less of a running blog and more of a life in general blog.  Thanks for bearing with me, guys.

And thanks for not calling me crazy to my face, even when parts of me were bleeding that never should be and my foot looked like it wanted to fall off my body.

I have the best friends.

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Survival of the Fittest

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is that pushes us to needle and break down the people we don’t see as being mentally, socially, emotionally as strong as us.  Is it a leftover of a survival of the fittest instinct?  I know I lose patience too easily with the kids who are more challenging.  One girl likes to randomly start holding notes for a really long time as she works.  As in “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…”  She seems to think she’s gracing us with her talent.  Another one always has a cold and blows his nose SO FREAKING LOUD every two seconds.  Still another, with wobbly voice that gets quieter and quieter until it can hardly be heard, says “I don’t get it” to EVERYTHING when she really does but just doesn’t believe she does.  I need more patience.

Today, a student came into class and asked what we were doing.  I, in my characteristically sarcastic form of dark humor, responded that I was thinking we might sacrifice the smallest kid in the class.  Usually this gets a chuckle out of kids and it ends there.  But today, I overheard one boy as he turned to another and half jokingly said “forget the littlest, let’s just sacrifice xxxxxxxxxxx.”  Then the other one started laughing and agreed.  I got really angry.  I pulled them into the hall and reamed them out.  I threatened them with stiff consequences if I heard either of them making fun of another student ever again (they’re both students I have for academic advising so I sort of see them as “my kids” more than most).  They seemed cowed, meek.  It was a childish joke.  About a boy who, quite frankly, has some very socially inept tendencies.

Why do we tear others down?  Why don’t we (and even I) take my advice to just ignore people who bug us?  Oh, maturity.

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