Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend 2005: The Light Side

IS the "Light Side" the opposite of the Dark Side? Come to think of it, I'm not sure the movies ever mention it, do they...? What else could it be, though- the Bright Side? Then again, the opposite of the Light Side could be the Heavy Side!! Who knows. Anyway, without further ado,

This Weekend's Quotables:

(Background: my dad writes fantasy stories on Narnia web. Rather obsessively.)

Daddy: "Now just to let you know. Catherine can teleport herself."
Chris: "The world is my Steak."
Daddy: "Oh yeah, there are two other characters I forgot to mention. Eric and Abby."

Neb: "What do they do?" [thinking, insurance agents? real estate?]

Daddy: "They're gargoyles."
Nate: "I looked at this [Popeye's box?] and thought it said 'Fries, Dope, Love'. And the greatest of these is Love."
(Background: after hour upon hour of Home & Garden TV, I was inspired to help Margaret finish her Rivendell-themed Bedroom):

Neb: "Okay, Daddy, we're going to go 'visualize the space' now. With your credit card."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ha ha! Ah ah ha ha ha!! PIctures! Pictures!

Okay folks, in case you didn't get the Hint, my website now has pictures!! And I am as Pleased as Punch. I will confess, it took me a rather embarrassingly long time to figure out how to even get a profile picture, and I had to download two... um, "McPrograms™"...? to do it. But it was worth it!? :-) I got "Hello" and "Picasa" because they were shiny! And Friendly! And promised that I could put Pictures on my blog with them! Using very small, simple phrases, like, "You can put pictures on your blog with them!" Ha ha! (I didn't get much sleep last night, in case you can't tell by the punch-drunk punctuational style.)

You have to realize that my husband and some [most] of his friends at school (hi Mike, Spite [posts as "rich" for some reason] and other friends are Linux/Unix/etc. geeks. This means they abhor (ABHOR!) McPrograms. They abhor these mass-marketed computerational abominations of big, bloated, control-freak programs. You see, Hello and Picasa are designed for people [like yours truly] who honest-to-Big Bird DON'T know squat about a computer beyond

1) This is the keyboard, screen, mouse (we have no idea what the tall black box does...)
2) This is the internet (yahoo, Chatting, shopping, music, pictures, anything as long as it's Point-and-Click)
3) Occasional MS Word document as need arises.

Even to the point that- it would be funny if it weren't so sad- to help you get pictures on your blog, Hello has a character called the BloggerBot which (I am not making this up) enters a Chat Room with you and dialogues to lead you through linking your pictures. Because- don't you see- that's the only environment on a computer we're comfortable with! a stinkin' CHAT ROOM!!

I have to laugh.

So anyway, these programs promised (PROMISED!!) to be Point-and-Click easy happy, but even then I had a little trouble. But eventually I started figuring things out and got a bit, um, carried away? Nahh... messing around with the Template for this blog. Hence the exciting picture in the middle of the sidebar. The blogger people didn't PLAN that to be there, people! That was my invention!! (Yes of course it was an accident. That doesn't make it any less Spectacular, does it?) I actually googled a request for some html code for that one, cut-and-pasted and forced it to Work. Before Nate even got home! (He told me how to resize pictures and several more things.)

I must confess that I'm not entirely sure what these two programs have done to Chelsea. Hello said something a bit vague at one point about "finding, taking over [taking over?] and organizing all the pictures on your computer" meaning I think that it can Glean from even the uttermost ends of the hard drive- but I have to wonder, what else did it do? I had a slight queasy feeling- you know, the kind when you're being Duped by a McProgram™ (oh you guys wouldn't know about that I guess; you're never duped) and you wonder, if this is how certain parts of Europe felt in the 30's? I bet Hitler was all charming and Point-and-Clicky in the beginning too, wasn't he? Huh?!? WASN'T HE?!? (told you I didn't sleep much.) Anyway, my dear husband has our computer set up to use good clean trouble-free programs like Mozilla- we don't like Microsoft things [for some reason?]- but McPrograms are generally set up assuming you're using IE (which is rather logical, in that if all you can do is Point-and-Click you aren't likely to have a browser that wasn't pre-installed). So I worry about Polluting Chelsea's environment with my little downloads. AND, as proof my fears are at least somewhat founded- since being online this morning I've had all kinds of things pop up- like Dell support, and Microsoft virus scanner, and something from Hello, and also my hotmail account did something weird...

Yes, just like Poland.

Anyway, I don't mean to sound proud of being very, very Dumb about computers (it IS rather cute if you don't look
too hard) nor overly proud for doing beginner-level html things (like pictures). I'm just really happy to make my website look a BIT more what I'd like. What would I like, you ask? Um, some lavender sections, preferably with little daisy-chains going around titles. Fancier borders and fonts and what not. (Oh hey, I could change the font, right?) My favorite U2 song playing. The scent of fresh baked bread to waft through the screen as you wait for all the other crap to load. That's not asking Too Much, is it friends? (Yeah, that's right, Linux-pervs: I want even MORE fru-fru. ;-)

Heck, I might eventually elimitate words altogether. Who needs 'em when pictures are ever so much more exciting? Anyone want to vote for me to redo my "100 things" as all graphics?

I finally managed to move that to the sidebar where it belongs. :-)

PS I'm posting this Fri. morning at 10:44 but I'm going to change the time to make it go BELOW the fabulous post-picture. :-) 'cause I'm sneaky that way.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Catching up, Reloaded

When I started typing "catching up" as the title of today's entry, auto-complete completed it for me, which is proof that I am, indeed, Repeating Myself. (i.e., entry on May 1st was titled the same.) Anyhow I've done the right thing by sequelizing the title with "Reloaded," yes? It's better than other suffixations I can recall, such as "Dumberer" or the ever-so-boring "II."

Speaking of sequels... or should I say prequels...? Well, we and another 1/5 of America went to see Episode III Friday night. Poor Anakin! He really had a rough time of it, you know? I mean, I can't think of anything much worse than getting three of your limbs hacked off, having all your flesh burn away, and then finding out you've phychoemotionally choked to death the woman you wanted to save. (I don't want to hear any complaints that I've spoiled the plot for anyone. If you haven't seen it by now, you aren't enough of a Star Wars fan to care, anyway. ;-)) Speaking of plot spoiling... I just can't resist blurting this out, you'll have to forgive me... you guys won't believe this, but, in the end, um... Anakin converts to the Dark Side!!! Yes!! Yes he really does!!!

I can't wait to see Episode 4!! When is it coming out, Christmas maybe?

The only thing that made the movie less enjoyable was a row of pre-adolecent boys sitting behind us who seemed to be having a contest entitled Let's Make as Much Noise as Possible!!

Object of the game: tick off as many surrounding patrons as possible. First one expelled by management wins.

Materials available: Mouths, Popcorn buckets, Shoes, Metal seat-backs, Pre-adolecent creativity.

Rules: Make as much noise as possible. Over- or Under-doses of Ritalin are permitted. Bodily noises are permitted. Fake bodily noises made with armpits and mouths are permitted. Drum solos on the backs of aforementioned metal chairs are permitted. Also, while you're at it, why not run down the steps every 3.2 minutes to check and see if mom is waiting with the minivan outside yet.

What can I say? We survived their worst. This part of the "episode" (hee hee hee) didn't make me too thrilled to receive this yahoo news story from my sister shortly thereafter (summary for those who don't want to click the link: moms and dads with "boy" jobs like engineering are more likely to have boys, while those with "girl" jobs like nursing are more likely to have girls.) AND I QUOTE:

"Kanazawa predicted that a physicist and a mathematician would be the most likely pairing to produce a boy, while a therapist and a chat show host would be odds-on favourites for a daughter."

There's no hope. :-( I mean I want boys, but I want girls too. I want 3 boys and 2 girls. God, and while you're at it, how about a German shepherd on the side.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Uproariously fabulous

My blog is not funny. My blog is Boring. I don't much like my boring Blog today.

That is because I have discovered: Finslippy.

Please, spare yourself me and go read her. It's so funny that I laugh out loud- a lot- and Nate wants to know what it is. It's so funny that I am patiently reading the archives, which date back to (I think) Feb. 04. (The good thing is- she doesn't write nearly every day, so the amount of material is manageable and every single post is Worthwhile reading.) It's the best blog I've found, so far. (No offense to you, my blogging friends.)

:-) Neb

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Late-night PBS and mathematical anathema

I don't have much to write because I've mainly been doing Math Problems, and I think talking too much about the math problems would make me sound quite Geeky. (Oh wait- it's too late for that already, right?)

I spent a good part of last night working on the kind of matrix index notation proofs that make me want to say A Lot of Really Bad Words All in a Row. (But I didn't, mind you.) I had forgotten how Frustrating math can be.

On the Late Late show on PBS (the one with the nice, liberal Black gentleman), they interviewed Anne Lamott. She may have written a good book about writing, but honestly, the woman is a FRUIT. (She's from Northern California, so what can we expect?) (I am sure Northern CA is a Lovely Place filled with Charming People of all sorts, but, you know, there are some Fruits, too.)
Anyway, she told us a lot about what a happy flaming liberal activist she is- she likes to get arrested a lot, apparently- and then she brought Jesus into it! She mourned about how she just CAN'T figure out why the right wing thinks "Jesus wants us to all be armed" or "Jesus wants to stop [gay ] people from loving each other"; after all, didn't Jesus just say to feed the poor?!? Jesus just wants us to feed the poor! Now go back to your lesbian-loving-abortion-filled-activist homes and do so.

Didn't CS Lewis say something about "Christianity-and-water"?

PS In my surfing to find "Christianity-and-water" I inadvertantly browsed away from this page and lost the text. Hurrah for the 'recover post' button! It really works!! :-)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Flowers in the Garden :-) [poorly structured passage]

There are finally flowers in the containers on the balcony. :-) Some little white daisies, purple impatients, yellow marigolds, some little wispy wildflower-looking plants, and one salmon geranium (?) that has yet to flower. (That last one was Nate's pick. I pointed out "it doesn't really match the others" and he said something like, "yeah, it's weird like me!") :-)

The fact that my husband, a responsible Horticulturist, has been involved in the selection and planting of this year's crops, bodes well for their survival. Nate is good with plants- photographic evidence exists of some florific miracles he worked in the backyard of their house in Reading, and we have 7 or 8 happy, thriving houseplants in our bedroom, to boot. He speaks tenderly to them, waters them regularly, moves them in and out of the sun (as needed), and calls each one by (scientific) name. Me? I look at plants and they wither. You could take a plant in the height of life, full bloom, healthy green leaves, and I'll enthusiastically water it, moderately, ONCE, and the next day it will be dead. I'm not kidding. (Well, almost.) I have, I must confess, managed to keep a lilly plant alive since Easter, but that's rather a special case. (Okay okay, if you must know... it's a little hokey. After Easter, when the blooms had fallen off, I noticed the plant was all dried out, and normally if it's not blooming I don't see what good it is and I don't care if it dies. But then I realized, I could keep this plant alive if I watered it. And I felt sorry for it because it was all dried out. This is when they weren't giving Terry Schiavo water, okay?? And I thought, okay, I can water this lilly. So it's kind of Terry's lilly.)

Back to Nate- as he transplanted little daisies outdoors yesterday, he rather Cooed at them- can you all imagine Nate cooing?- and murmered something [to me] like "this is for you to see how I'll treat the babies someday" (yes, there were Rewards in our bedroom later.) ;-)

It was Nice planting our garden together. And it was nice that we only have a little patio with a few containers. I think we're warming up to play house in a Big Regular house with kids someday.

PS We planted Bluebonnet seeds, too! (That's the official state flower of the Motherland, in case you don't know.) :-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Narnian Chivalry

There is a lot of Knight and Lady imagery in Narnia that I had forgotten about.

Everyone in Narnia seems very happy and secure in their gender roles, for the most part. Everyone seems to understand and accept an unwritten Code of Gendered Conduct that prescribes what is right and fitting and honorable for men and women to do. Men rejoice in being men, and women rejoice in being women. The one instance I can think of in the books when there is dissatisfaction with the code is in TLTWATW, when Lucy wants to fight in the battle, and Aslan tells her no; but He goes on to say that she has a different, equally important role (to administer the Magic Cordial to the wounded people.) [Interestingly enough, Lucy DOES fight in the battle in Archenland by the time we get to The Horse and His Boy; does this represent Changing Gender Roles in Narnia? I'm sure someone has written a Master's Thesis on it somewhere.]

Only through viewing worlds like Narnia and LOTR can I begin to understand what folks like John Piper and CBMW are talking about when they lay out Roles and Ideas about men and women that they say will make both genders happy. Like an angsty, confused teenager who's thought too long about Creating a New Philosophy of Everything and really just needs a good cry in mum's lap, our gangling culture is, I think, exhausted with its struggles toward Maturity. Not the culture at large, perhaps, but maybe the Christian subculture therein. Of course, maybe it's just me that's tired of wrestling with gender roles, and I'm projecting my feelings on those around me.

But then again, I think there is evidence that our culture is, on some level at least, Confused. Two of our (non-Christian) friends at school were discussing the horrors and shame of a boy pushing a girl to the ground; one of them (I think perhaps of Catholic background) was Indignant, of course, that a Man should harm a Woman in such a way (invoking all the emotional/cultural/phychological implications of the old code of Chivalry that we've largely claimed to have Outgrown and put away.) The other was quite insistant that we should not consider the genders of the Pushing parties at all, but be dismayed by ANY instance of physical violence from one individual to another. Women's liberation has been hard at work to neutralize any gender differences in society, and our friend (the second one) was able to carry such ideas to their logical conclusions.

And our conservative Christian culture is confused, as well- evidenced by the arisal of organizations like CBMW and CBE, differences of opinion about moms who choose to stay home and moms who choose careers, and attempts made to supplant the old Chivalry code with rather half-baked compromises that give everyone everything they want.

And what kind of compromises DO we want, anyway? Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but within the Nebiverse I can tell you: I am glad to have the opportunity to pursue a lot of education and do the job that I want to do. Of course, there is nothing un-chivalrous about women studying math, nor being educated, nor teaching college. But it does fly in the face of a lot of Victorian sentiments about women staying at home and stitching on samplers. Furthermore, I am glad that our culture doesn't frown upon my inability/disinclination to cook (a wide variety of dishes, every day; such qualifications being necessary because I CAN cook some things, and I don't dislike cooking per se, but don't welcome it as an EVERYday sort of thing.) In fact, I do not consider the variety of housekeeping tasks that need to be done in our household as any more my responsibility than they are my husband's- a sentiment that would make Donna Reed's perfectly permed hair Frizz in a state of horror.

On the traditional roles side, I appreciate it when men carry heavy things for me, and I'm MORE than happy to not be registered for the draft.

Am I just being snaky here? Am I hoping to cast off those restraints or confines of the Old Gender Code that feel cumbersome while hoping to retain the benefits and privileges of being a woman that they entail?

If so, I fear that it is very Unwomanly of me. King Peter is frowning. :-(

Having written the last few paragraphs, I think a small light has dawned (don't laugh; I'm sure it dawned for the rest of you long ago, but it takes some of us awhile. And I'm sure it's dawned for me before, too, but things I discover, espeically about THIS issue, seem to resubmerge in a sea of Confusion and Second-Guessing.) Chivalry- the good, happy kind as existed in Narnia- does NOT equal arbitrary Victorian restraints on women (i.e., no math education) and does NOT equal Donna Reedian expectations of The Perfect Housewife. Chivalry goes much deeper than the artificially constructed gender roles that various societies set up; it goes straight to the heart of what it means to BE a man or a woman. Whatever that is...

And when it arrives there, it notes that everyone is very, very Happy.

That sounds like a great ending point, except that I haven't really answered any of my own questions. So for my (admittedly, small) Audience, here are the questions for you to comment upon:

What does it truly mean to be a Man or a Woman, beyond physical differences? And what causes Differences between Men and Women- anything beyond the physical or the environmental? I know the Nature vs Nurture question has been around forever, but I want to know if there are any differences that go BEYOND those two explanations.

Postscript: Sharon and I had an interesting conversation about this over lunch yesterday. I told her "there was something really Nice about Narnian chivalry... everyone was so Happy..." and she laughed and said, "because it's a BOOK!!" True, Narnia is a Fairy-tale; and perhaps Gender Harmony is somehow inextricably linked with Naiads and Talking Beasts? And then she did a little conflict theory social analysis of Narnia and pointed out that folks like King Peter and Queen Lucy had sub-minions to do things like laundry for them, so of course they were happy! I countered by noting that I'm sure they were very kind to the laundry people... and the non-royalty folk like the Talking Beavers and Centaurs were happy with their gender roles, too... but at that point the conversation collapsed under the whimsical weight of it own Nonsense and I had to go back to tutoring.

Monday, May 09, 2005

random observations

1) Books about WWII are Boring.
2) Parallel parking is Hard.
3) So is proving the Cauchy-Schwartz inequality when you're awake.
4) I'm writing this list to avoid Linear Algebra.
5) Also to irritate Peter, who thinks lists are Boring.
6) I'm finished now.

100 Things I Love

This is a variation on the "100 things about me" section of all the (all=2) other blogs I've visited. And after writing this I realize, a good majority of the list is Books, Movies, Music, and Art, which should perhaps have belonged in neat little categories in my Profile, instead? I think an interesting challenge would be to write a List like this that DOESN'T include anything in the categories above. Anyone want to give it a try?

Anyway, for what it's worth, Enjoy. :-)

1) Wildflowers
2) Celtic music
3) Mountains
4) The Chronicles of Narnia
5) Hot bubble baths with candles burning
6) Hazlenut coffee
7) Wind chimes
8) Group theory and the Sylow theorems
9) Quilting fabric
10) April in Houston
11) Library books (especially interlibrary loan)
12) Velvety patchwork skirts that Twirl
13) Breezes from off the Gulf of Mexico
14) Downtown Chicago
15) the Metra trains
16) drinking cold water
17) Snow days (i.e., when school is closed)
18) explaining the Central Limit Theorem and Hypothesis Testing to community college students
19) visiting and talking with friends over coffee, or on the phone
20) the international music section at Borders (especially headphones and samples)
21) Zoloft, when needed
22) cake, doughnuts, ice cream, cookies, and all other manner of sweets
23) my factoring handout
24) U2
25) Endorphins
26) reading on my patio when there are no Bees
27) Chaim Potok
28) shopping for baby clothes
29) gratuituous smiley faces :-)
30) passionate Sunday afternoon sex (followed by bubble baths; see above)
31) Rich Mullins (when in the right mood to handle it)
32) creative outbursts that rise above the confines of everyday life
33) "Life is Beautiful"
34) pondering Graph Theory questions I'll never be able to answer
35) writing until your fingers say exactly what's in your heart
36) ice skating
37) the park next to our apartment complex
38) amazon.com and ebay
39) homeschooling (as an Idea, apart from all the practical Problems and Limitations thereof)
40) Balderdash
41) speaking bad Spanish to our local Puerto Rican community
42) tulips, roses, mums, ivy, and lillies
43) Volvo station wagons
44) my blue hooded sweatshirt
45) Third Day
46) thrift stores, Aldi, and Walmart
47) exciting underwear
48) the ocean (viewed best while wearing sunscreen)
49) pictures of our family in meadows in Virginia with deer when I was 11
50) tricksy integrals
51) merry-go-rounds
52) my Story (the one I'm meant to Write before I die)
53) Picasso
54) JD Salinger
55) wrapping paper and ribbons
56) rocking chairs
57) dreaming about having babies
58) the Folk/Celtic music hour on our local NPR station
59) Ladysmith Black Mazambo and Alan Paton
60) Gilmore Girls and ER
61) Worldwide Message Tribe
62) Mere Christianity
63) spaghetti (with cheese and garlic)
64) our church
65) Group presentations and free groups
66) love letters
67) Saturday mornings
68) my mom's caramel frosting
69) Rice University
70) cape cod houses with dormer windows and flower boxes
71) the name "Madelaine"
72) dancing at Eileen Ivers concerts
73) ice cream from the Stupe
74) Monet's hay stacks
75) Making my husband Happy
76) Aaron Copland
77) Frank Lloyd Wright
78) Riverdance and Lord of the Dance
79) "The Bird" by Brancusi
80) White chocolate mocha at Starbucks
81) starting a new craft project before you know how difficult it will be
82) the end of Ulysses
83) the little secret quiet reading room at the Glen Ellyn Public Library
84) at Wheaton: Dr. Walford, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Wood, Dr. Isihara and the rest of the Math Dept.
85) trees that flower, like dogwood
86) Dave Matthews Band
87) folk festivals
88) Designing my own floorplans
89) wedding pictures
90) my house in Houston
91) bagels with exciting cream cheese
92) Run Lola Run
93) Watership Down
94) Kissing
95) Naps
96) emails with Good News
97) getting ideas for my Blog
98) flannel pajama pants
99) making long, semi-pointless lists
100) hoping that my friends will enjoy them :-)

Sunday, May 08, 2005


This morning at church, Becky said "You look tired."

Once in while I forget that "normal people" don't sleep 11 hours a night, take supplementary naps a few times a week, and still feel (and look?) tired most of the time. And most of the time it doesn't bother me, except that I realize I could Accomplish More if I didn't spend half my life sleeping. I could read more books, work more math problems, help other people more...? I also tend to compare myself to other people. The fact of the matter is, right now I don't have children and only work part-time. I don't know anybody else in that situation; most of my friends my age have at least one (and often multiple) children, and some work part- or even full-time. I can cope with my life right now, but perhaps that's only because I have the freedom to sleep 11 hours a night and take naps when I need to.

How will I function when the baby's born? (That's "someday," for any of you out there who don't know that I'm Not Pregnant but often talk as if I am.)

PS Okay I just realized that this post will look rather Odd juxtaposed with the last post. Really, I don't drink coffee late at night EVERY night, contributing to poor sleep habits. Really I don't.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Insomnia, Java [the non-technical variety], and White Powdery Drugs

I drank coffee around 10 last night and was mostly Awake for the next 12 hours. You would think, at the ripe old age of 25, that I would know better by now, but I simply don't. See, the plan was to drink the coffee and remain alert until around 2 (quality study time right there!), then fall effortlessly asleep and sleep until 9. Of course, what actually happened was that I felt ready for bed by 11:30, tried to go to sleep, dozed fitfully until around 4 when Nate came to bed and woke me up by talking to me, listened to the garbage trucks empying the dumpsters in our complex, and proved the Cauchy-Schwartz inequality backwards in my mind.

In Chaim Potok's books, the principal characters "sit around the kitchen table at night, talking and drinking coffee." Doesn't that sound nice and soothing? Apparently none of THEM have trouble sleeping afterwards; or else they guzzle Nyquil.


Speaking of drug abuse, we ran out of Sweet and Low yesterday morning. This represents a Crisis in the Bush household (not the Wentzel household, as my husband is not a User [or Abuser].) So I took my milked-but-not-sweetened cup of coffee with me, to slosh all over the car on the long ride to Lehigh and then LCCC, refraining from Drinking with great sadness and frustration. What disturbs me about this whole scenario is my Dependence on the fake stuff; I found myself frantically rooting through my car, looking for stray Pink Packets containing my substance of need. The plan was to raid the coffee cabinet at school, but I couldn't even hold out that long; I pulled into a gas station for an intended Sweeten-and-Go. After all, what gas station doesn't have Coffee, with the requisite accompanying selection of artificial sweeteners?

This gas station didn't. :-(

So I didn't have any coffee until I reached Civilization (the aforementioned coffee cabinet at LCCC).

Then I tutored 17 students in four hours. It was really quite dreadful.

Okay, I recently resolved that my blog should sound less Negative, and today's selection hasn't helped towards that goal, so I'll cut it off Here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Credit cards, coupons, and fallen trees

Nate and I like making money off our credit cards. We especially like making money off cards when we know we've earned more from the cards than we've paid in interest. (The secret to this is, of course, that unlike most Americans, we have almost never carried a balance on our cards from month to month. The cards get paid in full every month, unless we are in what is called a Bush-Wentzel financial crisis, which so far is strictly defined as either 1) Moving or [possibly? I can't remember now] 2) Chrismas.)

How do we make money off our cards? The best one right now is our Citibank Mastercard, which pays 5% cash back for groceries, gasoline, and drug stores, and 1% cash back everywhere else. Yes, cold hard cash; they sent us a check for $121 a couple of months ago! :-) We pay for everything possible with this card to get the free money. Some of our other cards give 1% back in other ways, like American Express Points or BP Visa Gasoline Certificates or Amazon.com Visa Points. (Yes, we inexplicably have 6 credit cards right now, but [at least] one of those will get cancelled soon.)

For years the credit cards have sent us Checks, too; checks which, when cashed, will activate our membership in some kind of Program that costs money each month. Up until recently I've just thrown them all away, assuming none of the deals were worth it. Then a few weeks ago, I actually took time to read the fine print on the thing:

"YES, this check for $10 is yours to keep, and you may call this 1-800 number to cancel membership and OWE NOTHING..."

I stopped to think about it. That's about what I make for an hour of math tutoring. And all I have to do to earn THIS ten dollars is... call a phone number to cancel? Piece of cake.

So this morning, it was time to actually make that call to cancel. Having done transactions like this before, I knew that I must Steel my nerves for the onslaught of... duh duh du duhhh... The Telemarketer. Here's an approximation of our conversation:

Me: "Hi, I want to cancel my membership in the Rewards Program"
Telemarketer: [Feigning friendliness] "Okay, I can help you with that. May I ask why you'd like to cancel membership in the program?"
Me: [thinking, okay, that's a fair enough question...] "Well, I looked through the coupons you've sent, and I really don't think I'd save money with the program. I don't buy very much from those stores. So I'd like to go ahead and cancel."
Telemarketer: [still feigning cooperation] "Okay, that's no problem. Now just to let you know, we're going to go ahead and send you... [some kind of coupon or something else]..."
Me: "Okay" [Meaning, okay, I'm listening to what you're saying and I don't think you're done yet.]
Telemarketer: [in pefectly soothing, quiet, agreeable, we-haven't-changed-anything tone] "Okay, so I'll go ahead and leave you enrolled in the program then..."
Me: [in slightly panicked tone] "WAIT! STOP!! I want to CANCEL the program!!" (as I wonder, what did I say that made it sound like I'd changed my mind?!?)
Telemarketer: [nonfazed] "Okay, that's no problem, I can help you with that." [In tone of voice that conveys, this time she's really accepted and agreed to the fact that I'm cancelling.] "Just to let you know, if you would be shopping in a store over the next 30 days and see an item you wanted to purchase, you could give us a call and we could arrange for you to save up to 50% on the item. So just keep that in mind- if you do go shopping and you want to get something, just give us a call, and it will be no problem, all right?"
Me: [interpreting her vague statements to mean that I have the option to call to reactivate my membership in the next thirty days if I want to]: "Okay..."
Telemarketer: [same quiet, soothing, agreeable voice as before] "Okay, so I'll go ahead and keep your membership active..."
Me: [starting to feel Increasingly Panicked and frustrated]: "NO!!! I WANT TO CANCEL MY MEMBERSHIP!! I WANT TO CANCEL!!!"
Telemarketer: [still nonfazed]: "Okay..." (and this time she actually took my name and address, cancelled my membership, and gave me a cancellation confirmation number.) :-)

I ask you, gentle Reader, are these tactics even LEGAL!?! I was expecting a couple of paragraphs on Why You Should Remain a Member of the Program, to which I would politely decline, but after this morning's conversation I think that I shall resolve to NEVER say something like "okay" to these people; you just don't know what you're agreeing to. SO tricky!! The whole experience reminded me quite a lot of The Green Lady in The Silver Chair; you have to keep saying NO, vehemently, loudly, to avoid saying "yes." The next time I shall call to cancel such a program, I shall just continually say "I want to CANCEL" until they ask for my name and address.

I thought Brainwashing was illegal in this country...?


Is there anyone out there who really LIKES coupons?

The sad thing is that I know- yes, there really are. Which means that there are Individuals out there, walking around in this fallen, messed-up world, who are so personally Intact and Competent and Together that they can actually Use Coupons Wisely. Do you realize what all this involves? To use a coupon Wisely, one must 1) Remember to have the coupon with one when needed, 2) Remember to Present the coupon at check-out, 3) Figure out when using a coupon represents an actual Savings of Money, as opposed to using a coupon just because it Exists or is about to Expire soon, which just leads one to spend more than one would have otherwise.

I fail on all three counts all the time, and needless to say, I Hate coupons.

One of the families I tutor for blessed me with a Coupon Book as a Christmas gift. You know the kind- sold as a fundraiser for some kid's something-or-other, filled with page after page of overwhelming Discount Nirvana. Suffice it to say that we have eaten at Bennigan's simply because we had a coupon for it, thus spending a good 20 or 30 bucks that we likely wouldn't have otherwise; and, we went to Burger King last week on the way home from church, completely forgetting about the entire PAGE of Burger King coupons that would have saved a good $3. (The coupon book was at home, anyway.) Coupons seem to exist to make me feel guilty about forgetting them, and nothing more. I'm much happier shopping in places that are just Cheap to begin with, like Ebay, Walmart, or thrift stores.


Credit card companies and the makers of coupons are just killing all the trees, anyway.

The credit card companies' marketing techniques just amaze me. We get solicitations through mail, phone, and email almost every day, and some of them are EXACTLY the same ad every time! We must have gotten 20 ads (identical!) for this one credit card that gives Hilton Points or something. I can't afford to stay at the Hilton and wouldn't want to put all my credit card points towards that, anyway. I've gotten at least 2 phone calls soliticing me to join Credit Protector (one of the here's-free-money-to-join programs described above) in the last couple of weeks- EVEN THROUGH I've just joined it!! In the computer age, is it so hard to take me off their list? They're wasting my time AND theirs! Yesterday Nate and I each got solicitations for the Mastercard we already have! (What, should we have two or something?)

It makes me sad that so many trees are dying as a complete and utter Waste. And I feel guilty if I don't try to Recycle the mountains of paper, but our local recycling center is only open three days a week and actually driving over there never seems convenient. Someone told me that if you mail everything back, blank, in the postage-paid response envelopes, that stops the barrage quite a bit, but that, too, would take effort.

Perhaps for now I'll just try to continue working math problems on the backs of envelopes, as Dr. Mann suggsted. :-)

Monday, May 02, 2005


The title pretty much says it all.

Yesterday (Sunday) was a Helping Day. We showed up at church and I got roped into nursery to substitute for someone who wasn't there. I went to the ladies' room and heard sobbing behind the door, and I would tell you all about that situation (anonymously, of course) except that The Anonymous Lady really didn't want me to tell Anyone Anything about It at all. So I'll just leave it at saying, there are a lot of broken-hearted people in this world with problems that only Jesus knows about...

Here's advice: never ask kids at your church, "So, are you ready for the Statistics AP on Wednesday?" Their overzealous parents will immediately invite you over for Lunch (and, of course, a little Tutoring...) So we were at their house until 4. (I really didn't mind too much. We did, of course, get a Free Lunch out of it. ;-)) Then we went to Paul and Sarah's house so Nate could help fix their computer. (Sarah and I went Baby Clothes shopping. Mwah ha ha ha ha!!! For baby Levi, Paul and Teresa's new baby. Babies R' Us takes my mall gift certificates! Woo hoo!)

So we didn't get home until around 10:00. And I think that's why I've been so tired all day. I had three private tutoring appointments, which is Good Money, sort of. And I got most of the things on yesterday's "To Do" list done. Still have to go to Aldi in the morning.

WHEN am I going to start studying math for the summer? I made a Study Plan and it says I'm supposed to do the first 4 chapters of the Calc book this week... (all the picky stuff about limits).

I'm going to Bed.

Love, Neb

PS: I have a List of Things to Write About some day. On the list right now: Flowers, Bees, Headaches, and Evangelicals.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Catching up

I guess I've just gone through a few days where posting didn't seem worth the effort. We were busy and everything, and I just couldn't seem to get started. Didn't want to, really. So now I have a Backlog of thoughts. But I'm tired. So this may not be long, anyway. We'll see.

I can't remember anything that happened Thursday.

Friday morning was stressful. Finals are coming up at LCCC, so everyone is Needy and Desparate and Stressed, and sometimes it really Gets to me. I had nine students Friday morning, and I felt like the mother of Nontuplets. Tom is in both Math for Finance and Business Statistics, two classes that the other tutors don't tutor because they're Rare and Obscure and Difficult, so I simply had to help him. Dave and Farzad (from Iran; oh I love the non-American students!!) are in Calculus, and Ed doesn't feel ready to tutor that yet. Donna and Radusha (sp? She has an Indian name that she's written for me, but I can't read her handwriting) are in Statistics, which Ben could tutor, except that Ben tends to sit around reading books and waiting for people to come to him for help instead of offering people help (GRrr!!) Then there's Paulette and Carol- both in regular algebra classes that Tom or Ed COULD tutor just fine, except that both ladies decided early on that they Liked Me and Want Only Me to Help Them. Grrr!! So I try to be all nice and kind and helpful and friendly and patient and give people good quality explanations, but everyone's demands build up till I feel like I want to scream.

It's not like that all the time, mind you. It's okay.

But at 12 we got a nice break: the annual Tutor Luncheon. Which means [obviously] a proverbial Free Lunch, and, this time, for me, a nice Going Away card and a gift certificate for $150 for our local mall. So I feel Appreciated. And they said when I die, they're going to name the Math Lab after me. That's right, folks. The Nancy Elizabeth Bush Memorial Math Lab.

I'm pretty sure Fred was just joking about that.

Friday night and Saturday morning we had play practice, and Saturday night was the play. As Nate said, it went really well, and there were only one or two slight instances of Line Forgetting which were not really a big deal. The Holy Spirit definitely helped us, as some of the people who had missed a lot of rehearsals were still struggling with lines the morning of(!!) I've been saying the past few weeks, WHY are we doing this...? Just too many rehearsals... Well, last night when we performed, I found out why. There was a doting old lady in the front row: big poofy hair, denture overbite, pink polyester pants. She hung on every word we said; laughed at the funny lines and most of the ones that weren't, too. I think she was the Fat Lady that Seymour talked about. Buddy said it was Jesus Himself.

I'm so sleepy and I have a to-do list a mile long, but it's time for bed.


PS My to-do list, so I don't forget:
*Check bank balance, pay rent, tithe, hospital bill, 3 credit card bills
*Call Chrissy's mom, Laura's mom, buy Laura a new math book, call The Anonymous Lady I talked to this morning
*Fold the load of laundry scattered on the living room floor, wash dishes, groceries
Okay, that's not a mile long. But over half of that stuff needs to get done Tomorrow Morning.