Friday, August 28, 2009

Coming soon...Census explained

July 22, 2010 UPDATE!! Ok, do I reeeeeeally let the ball drop with this one. I had all sorts of advice for yall, and I overestimated the time impact homeschooling would put on me. It all boils down to this short anecdote....

Got a call from hubby one day that the Census worker had come knocking on our door. Not surprising, since I had 'neglected' to turn in my census forms, and I knew it was a matter of time. I was desperately hoping to be there when it happened, just to see what they would say to my answers, but alas I was out playing chauffeur somewhere when the big day came. Hubby handled it just fine, and after answering the basic 'how many peeps in your house' questions, the transcript went something like this:

Census Worker: "So what should I put down for your 'Race'?

Hubby: "Um, how about Ferengi?"

Census Worker: "Uh, ok, how do you spell that?"

Nuff Said.

What you can and can not do and why it matters. Check back later, these are just my research links.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Great Walmart Debate

I need to take a deep breath now, to settle myself. Right now I am feeling very discouraged and not a little bit angry at some fellow conservatives who I guess don't truly understand some of the values that define Conservatism.

Perhaps I am the one who doesn't understand?
Do conservatives believe in allowing the capitalistic forces of a free market system to unfold, whatever the outcome?
Do conservatives agree that we need less regulations on businesses, not more?
Don't we think that man is ultimately responsible for himself, for making his own decisions and living with the consequences of those choices?

When I hear things from fellow conservatives like, "Walmart is an evil corporation," "Walmart forces small hometown businesses out of town," "Walmart kills jobs," "Walmart buys cheap stuff from China and sells it to us," or the winner, "Walmart doesn't provide decent healthcare coverage," it just breaks my heart. Since when is it the job of any business to provide healthcare coverage? If someone doesn't like the benefits a certain company offers, then DON'T GO WORK THERE, Einstein! Oh? There aren't any 'other jobs'? Then move. There are always 'other jobs'. Common sense tells me Walmart would not be moving into an area that had no customers to begin with, now would they? It's not that there aren't any other jobs, its just that there arent' any other jobs that person WANTS to do. When Walmart moves in to an area, it increases the jobs, the revenue, the economic growth. Otherwise countless city councils across the country wouldn't be slobbering to get one in their city.

Now I am not condoning everything Walmart as a corporation does, especially the illicit 'imminent domain' deals they are complicit in. However, the blame for those catastrophies are to be laid directly at the feet of the City zoning boards that are perpetrating that particular type of crime on its citizens. Walmart, and other real estate brokers, are only the beneficiaries of these out of control elected officials' greed. I am not defending Walmart per se, I am only trying to use this company as an example, since they seem to be a popular target. I don't even shop at Walmart much anymore, but only because of their decidedly non-competitive coupon policy (oh, ok, I really wanted to say 'sucky,' but 'non-competitive' just sounds so much more civilized, lol). I actually do way better budget-wise at my local, more expensive, "boutique" store. Which, btw, has NOT been put out of business, and the competition is thriving. My point is this: Saying "Walmart did this, Walmart does that, Walmart is evil," is ridiculous. These same people are the ones who are quick on the draw when gun violence comes up in conversation, saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Walmart is a non-entity, it is a-moral, meaning it is incapable of having good or bad moral qualities. This personification of the 'evil corporation' is straight out of Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, and it pains me to see my fellow conservative sisters and brothers using that twisted tool of propaganda.

One other bone of contention that comes up is the 'unfair wages' canard, followed closely by the 'cheap crap from China' arguement, which in my mind are related. Last time I checked, there was a federal minimum wage of $7.25 in this country. And last time I checked, conservatives were for less gov't intervention into what states did. A quick check of base Walmart salaries across the country listed their lowest paid employees as getting at least a dollar more than the minimum wage. And again, I point out that should that not be enough, said employee is FREE to get another job somewhere else. They don't keep these things secret, you know. They do tell you before you get hired what the pay is going to be, as well as the increase structure.

And as far as China is concerned, I am as gung ho as the next guy when it comes to buying American, but even I realize that you can't NOT buy cheap crap from china sometimes. That would be like a vegan or Peta freak saying they would never ever ever kill an animal for any reason. That's just not reasonable, nor possible. Just tell them to start by looking down at those leather doc martins they are undoubtedly wearing. LEATHER. as in dead cow. I don't blame anyone for the fact that there are some Chinese products that I have to buy. I do blame those here who cry the loudest, yet are the main cause of the problem to begin with, the unions, who have driven a lot of needed jobs overseas. Just place the blame where it is due, not on the nameless, faceless 'Chinese'. They are just doing their thing, after all, filling a void.

I applaud Walmart's ability to fend off unions (so far), which are primarily to blame for inflated wages in most other manufacturing areas. And inflated wages make for inflated product prices. It's simple economics. The more you have to pay your employees, the more your product is going to cost. Also, the more your product costs, the less of it you will likely sell. So no wonder stores are looking overseas for more inexpensive suppliers. And no wonder they are keeping costs in check by paying their employees what the market will bear. It is a cycle. And when the gov't puts artificial price controls on businesses, they are messing with the free flow of commerce, gumming up the works. Gov't has NEVER, EVER, NOT ONCE been successful at lowering the price of an item for any substantial length of time, and had that company come out more efficient and profitable. So why would we conservatives want to suggest starting that now?

What is killing me the most is that all of the above statements were made by confirmed conservative friends, all supposedly working to improve capitalistic endeavors thru, the American Constitution and Capitalism Defense Front. Individuals have their pet peeves, their opinions, and that is great, but when those feelings are in direct contravention to core conservative principles which they claim to adhere to, then those individuals need to take a closer look at what they really stand for.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hampton Roads Tea Party June 26, 2009

What a fun 'early July 4th' Hampton Roads Tea Party! It started at 3pm, and was hot out, 95 or so, but the excitement there easily made you forget any discomfort. Ice cream helped too, lol!

The signs say it all:

yes, my kids immediately yelled, "Hey look! It's Fillmore!"

There were a couple of live bands at the amphitheatre, an amazing Janis Joplin sound-alike, and a country group doing all the best redneck standards, including Sweet Home Alabama, some ZZ Top, The Georgia Satellites 'Keep Your Hands To Yourself', and of course a wonderful rendition of Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless the USA'.

Ed Kelleher band

I can't decide what my favorite part was,... the music....

the portajohns....

that's Eric "Toilet Paper" Holder

Janeane "Got To Go" Garofalo

McCain, John

Aww, John, why the long face?

And of course,

The food was pretty good...

But no, the best part was definitely the 'Egg Toss' game....

my girls take aim!

Nancy Pelosi was by far the most popular target of the day, followed by...


I didn't get to stay for all the speakers in the second half (it went til 8pm), but I did get to hear Karen Hurd, the organizer of our local Tea Parties, and she was on fire!!

Thank you Karen for all your hard work putting this together!!!
(and of course everyone else who helped!)

It was a gorgeous day at Chesapeake City Park, and the patriots were out in full force!!

There were a ton of kids there this time, and the whole place just had an old-fashioned 4th of July picnic feel to it. My kids loved it, and love to tell people about it. They wanted to wear their costumes, but the heat prevented it. FYI, most of these pictures were taken by my 11yo daughter!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax day Tea Party in Va. Beach, VA

Just a quick note regarding our local Tea Party today..

Network coverage for Tidewater area was adequate to unsatisfactory, natch. The one network that captured my kids on raw video had the least coverage. I think the guy who was sent (sans logo-tshirt, sans microphone wielding talking headster) to get the raw footage, spent a grand total of 10 minutes there, and from the looks of the film, he only shot towards the end, after 90% of the attendees had left. Pathetic. However, it was an AWESOME tea party, with speakers and a huge collection of tea bags and pork rinds, approx. 10 huge lawn bags full that I could see, and more that had already been taken for delivery to the various senators' and congressmen's offices locally. I spoke with a reporter from an online news service, , and he estimated the crowd at about 1800. Not bad for unseasonably cold weather, considering the organizers were hoping for 1000 if the weather was nice! We scored a couple of free Randy Forbes for Congress tshirts, and a nice gentleman was handing out pocket Constitutions to all the kids. If you want to see the pathetic 'raw footage' from channel 13 with my cute kids on it, click here! They are at the very end, not that the footage is very long, snort.

They each had a large trashbag with TEA written on it in electrical tape (yes, I am the MacGuyver of crafts), stuffed with newspaper. The homemade tags they wore said "9 years old and $42,000 in Debt!", "Future Congressman", and "Only 7 years til I can VOTE!".

This gentleman had the biggest flag there. It was tattered, and he was flying it upside down. His wife stopped me and wanted to make sure that my children understood the significance of the upside down flag and explained to them the feeling of distress he was trying to convey, and how tattered they felt. She said the flag had been shredded in the hurricane, but he could not bring himself to burn it.

Here they are posing with their teabags and a few of the lawn bags filled with tea and pork rinds everyone donated. The organizers insisted we put ours in the bag too, and the kids loved it!

I wish I had better pictures of their costumes, but it was raining and freezing, and I only had my cellphone to take pictures with. Here is a close up of my oldest in her Martha Washington costume.

What a fun day and a great opportunity to teach my children about civic responsibility and freedom of speech!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Once More, From the Top!

Or, My Rant in Defense of Homeschooling

Here is a little (snort) note I left as a comment on this poor woman's blog this morning, found as I was perusing local blogs. I certainly don't expect everyone in the world to agree with me, but I am getting really tired of having to 'explain myself' every time the subject of homeschooling comes up. Her post was just the same old, same old, hackneyed, tired, worn-out stereotypical rant against homeschooling, written after meeting a mother who works full time and homeschools two kids at the same time. The blogger goes on to condemn homeschool parents who dare to put their kids into sports programs or other activities associated with the public schools in their area, saying it should be an all or nothing proposition. In her defense (and she has a really cute name for her blog, lol), she did concede the point in a response to my comment.

Note: If you think you are one of the 'friends and family' I mention below, you probably are. I still love you, I just wish you would not get your panties in a bunch over something that really has nothing to do with you. I am not judging you, so please give me the courtesy of doing the same.

You didn't say how old these kids are, but if they are old enough to be left at home alone, then they are certainly at the point in homeschooling where most of their curriculum can be self-directed, with grading being done by mom and dad later in the day, or, if they are doing online classes (which most homeschoolers I know are doing these days), the work is monitored remotely. In this day and age, you can 'spy' on your kids from any computer, or even you phone, seeing exactly what they see on their screen at home or in another room. Not to mention the fact that actual 'class time' needed for homeschoolers is WAAAAY less than the 6 or 7 hours spent in a traditional school, due to the individual attention given to these kids. Most elementary grades don't need to spend more than 2 hours, with a max of usually no more than 4 hours for higher grades.
Please don't lump everyone in who homeschools as 'weird', when you don't know them personally. I do not homeschool (yet), but I am leaning heavily towards it, for financial and other reasons, and I am getting these same stereotypical judgements from close friends and family even, who really don't understand the motivation behind this decision. My girlfriends with kids in public school immediately get all defensive if the subject of homeschooling arises because (in their 'everything is about me' little world) they assume YOU are judging THEM, roflol!! Nothing could be farther from the truth. It's not about the school, I live in an area with the best public schools around (Great Bridge). It's not even about religion, or some holier-than-thou ideal that I am earning points in heaven or something like that. It is, however, about curriculum, and my kids learning styles, and character training, and the individual attention that some kids with ADD and other issues need.
Now I was lucky enough to grow up around a lot of homeschooling families (I went to Va Beach public schools myself), and I have a lot of friends today who do it. Yes, one or two are what some people might call 'weird', but isn't weird just a label for 'unfamiliar', 'not like me', 'different', etc? But they are a tiny, tiny minority of the millions of families that choose to follow this path. 99.9% of the kids and adults I know that are/were homeschooled have gone on to excel in their life pursuits, not handicapped in any way. In fact, these people and their example are a big part of the reason I defend homeschooling whenever I hear these stale myths being dragged out again. I am sorry this is so long, but I guess I am just as passionate about defending this very personal choice as some are to condemn it.

Here's a link to some interesting stats, if you would like to educate yourself on this topic a little better.

Oh, and yes, I absolutely would take advantage of every single resource available to me as a parent, especially public school sports and other extracurricular activities. The taxes used to pay for those non-academic pursuits is MY MONEY. You jump through hoops every year to get your tax refund and wouldn't dream of leaving off a child or two worth of deductions, would you? It's YOUR MONEY. You ever apply for a student loan or grant in college? Hello! No difference. Shoot, I would apply for and gladly accept any kind of government assistance/food stamps/WIC/whatever if I qualified, AND fight for welfare reform at the same time, without one ounce of guilt. Anyway, I am not here to berate or guilt you into or out of anything, just to provide information and open up a window of understanding on something that is much maligned and sorely misunderstood.

It's bad enough I have had to justify my decision to put my kids in private school, and a religious one at that. I have just had it up to here with people who don't know jack about a subject, or have had very little exposure to something, thinking they are the expert and know how to run everyone else's life around them. That kind of thinking is what got us a Socialist in the White House. I also just don't get the passion (fear?) that this topic seems to engender in people when it comes up. It's worse than discussing race relations or abortion! What is it about the choice to homeschool that freaks people out so much? Are folks afraid they may take over the world? That it might actually work? What is so threatening about that? I don't know.

Whew. Now, again, for those of you who still think I am judging your decision NOT to homeschool, or feel that MY decisions regarding MY children will somehow negatively affect you, let's say it all together now, "It's NOT about YOU". That is all.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Win free flowers and support the Troops!!

From Emom at Mail Our Military blog....

Monday, February 2, 2009
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