Friday, April 25, 2008

License to Bully

Some of you may recall this post from two years ago about bullies on the school bus. Since that time, we've been dealing with other bullies in our condo community. I've had to call the police three times this school year due to actions taken against my son, and I'm sick of it.

Yesterday, our local paper published a letter that I wrote, hopefully to get the attention of other parents in the area and to call attention to the complacence of the police.

Here it is:

Parents: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know About Bullies

Since the beginning of this school year, I have learned something I never knew when it comes to protecting our children: Your son or daughter can be harassed and assaulted by 12 and 13 year olds, but until those kids are over 16, or until they physically injure your child, the [local] Police can do nothing more than write up a report and talk to these kids and their parents.

If the assault takes place on school grounds, the school can suspend them. If it takes place on the bus, an incident report is written up. But if it takes place when your child is walking home from the bus stop, you’ll get “I wish there was something else we could do” and that’s about it. Once you let the school know that you’ve met with an attorney, they will agree to put your child on an “overflow” bus that drops him off at your door. (What is wrong with this picture? Why isn’t it the delinquent children that get put on the “special” bus?)

The assault can include throwing your child to the ground, punching him, sitting on him, menacing and even exposing genitals to him. It can include taunting, mocking, and verbally harassing your child, even in your presence.

The parents of these kids are either of the “my kid would never..” ilk, or bullies themselves. Some are alcoholics and some of these kids clearly need psychological and/or medical help.

But in the meantime, your child can be on the receiving end of some very destructive behavior that leaves him or her in a hyper vigilant state, fearful of playing outdoors and unable to enjoy a leisurely walk home from the bus stop on a beautiful day.

We all know about Columbine, about Virginia Tech, about the recent beating of a Florida girl that wound up on You Tube. Whenever these horrific incidents occur, you hear the refrain, “The signs were always there.” People begin to recount the behaviors that had been seen an ignored for years leading up to the “big one”.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my child to be a victim of “the big one”. I don’t want to wait three years, and I don’t want to get the call telling me that a 12-year-old who is twice his size has broken his arm. We need to protect our children now, and hold these bullies and their parents accountable.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wiseass 101

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In "honor" of the Pope's visit to the US, I just had to rerun this fan favorite:

Longtime readers of this blog know that I went to Catholic school for twelve years. Barring the "peep peep" joke from 1st grade, I was a pretty good little Catholic in elementary school. High school, not so much.

I was in trouble a good part of the time, never for anything hostile or hurtful but more for antics like collecting the dissected worms from Biology class and putting them in various appetizing places around the lunchroom. (including the Coke machine and in an unsuspecting girl's sandwich). I was sent to the principal's office for organizing poker games that sometimes ended in fistfights (hey, not was those other crazy chicks!). I'd bring a giant Scotch bottle filled with pennies to school, tie ribbons around my sleeves and wear a visor for the poker events (staged on the filthy floor of the cafeteria). Remember, this was the early '70s...five card stud, not Texas Hold 'em.

When called out in Science class for who-knows-what, I enlisted two of my friends to join me in serenading our teacher, Mr. Arena (while sitting on his desk of course), in a plea to the tune of "Big Spender": "The minute you walked in the lab (boom boom)...I could see you were a man of demerits...a real five pointer..Hey, Mr. Arena! Take ....... this little demerit from me..."

For the outcome, read my 100 Things. ;)

I devised a way for us to go braless (under our white cotton uniform blouses) to drive the male teachers nuts. The nuns would actually approach us and say "Are you wearing a bra??" We'd glue little piece of bra-strap inside the shoulder area of our blouse and pull it out through the neckline and say, "Yes, Sister! Of course!"

Influenced by my still-in-the-closet best friend Andrew, I would also make decidedly inappropriate selections for book reports, like the one I did on a little missive called "Mother Camp" about transvestites and transsexuals. I still have the report, replete with all the frenetic red markings scolding me for not getting the book pre-approved. Hey, I thought it was really fascinating! A particularly juicy paragraph helped the reader (in this case, the prune-faced Sister Ruth Miriam) distinguish between the various types of "queens", including the "dinge queen, noted for having anal sex in public restrooms." That nun is probably STILL in an oxygen tent.

Anyway, I digress. What the papal visit really reminds me of was an article I wrote for the school newspaper entitled, "The Pope: Who Died and Left HIM Boss?"

Although I probably spent twenty-six thousand hours in detention, I think they secretly got a kick out of me.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

That Was the Week That Was

Spent last weekend at Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun... the casinos on the reservations in Connecticut. The purpose of the trip was to see Santana in concert which was A-MAZING. I had seen Santana at the Fillmore East in 1970, and this was equally exciting. The opening act was The Derek Trucks Band, worth checking out if you love you some jazzy slide guitar. You can catch Santana in concert on RAVEHD (another one of the Zoom network channels). What I loved most was Carlos' banter and the AV show which highlighted clips from Woodstock and other early appearances. And if you don't get out to see live music much, doing it makes you realize why it's so special.

We also spent time in the casino (fun except for the disgusting cigarette smoke...yeuch!). I was up by about 100% at one point but lost it all. It was ok... I had planned for it. It was just nice to have some grownup time (we stayed out until 3AM on Saturday...haven't done that IN YEARS!)


HOLY SMOKES. Did you see Fergie on Idol Gives Back this week? She looked amazing, she sounded UNBELIEVABLE... (I actually thought Ann Wilson was still singing because I had looked away, and thought "Wow... she really kept her voice!" and then saw it was Fergie!) and I want a pair of those PVC pants. The one-handed cartwheels put the whole thing over the top for me. Just awesome. (and how funny is "Band from TV"? Almost made Teri Hatcher sound good.) Anyway, I donated and tried to submit a request for a matching gift from my company. I got an email back stating "We do not match gifts to PETA or Greenpeace. Sorry." Huh??

And speaking of Idol... I was bummed to see Michael Johns go, but he'll do alright for himself. Still, Kristie Lee and Sayesha shouldn't have outlasted him.


And still speaking of American Idol, the AI Karaoke game for the Wii is great!! You sing and then get critiqued by Randy, Paula and Simon. Hilarious. As I've posted in the past, my little guy loves to sing but gives "tin ear" a whole new meaning. Don't quit your day job, Lucas.


Watched The Darjeeling Limited today. Initially I thought it was just going to be a fun and quirky/odd film but it really took a turn midway through that made it so much more than that. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Jason Schwartzman looks exactly like a boyfriend I had when I was 16.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Step Up and Win!

Update: So far, we've gotten lots of good wishes but only one VERY generous donation, from Fiona. Be a good blog buddy and go visit her! If no one donates more than $100 by this weekend, Fiona will be sporting a Dog's Breakfast t-shirt... aren't you jealous?

Over the past couple of years, I've directed you to read my cousin Mary's blog, "Upward Over the Mountain". She's smart, funny (even though she doesn't like Flight of the Conchords. Oh well, nobody's perfect!) but most of all she's an amazingly good person. She is one of the few people I know who doesn't just talk about making the world a better place...she's dedicated her life to it. She's worked with battered women, the homeless, the elderly...all the while maintaining a fabulous sense of humor (previous reference to FOTC aside).

Now, she and a friend are going to take an incredible journey and need help and support to do it. Here is an excerpt from the email I received from Mary:
Hi friends and family,

My friend Kristen and I are setting off in July for six months of volunteer travel. We plan to do volunteer work all over the world including building affordable housing with Habitat for Humanity in Hungary, organic farming in Italy, Tsunami relief efforts in Thailand, assisting at an orphanage in Cambodia, working on a eco-farm in Costa Rica, teaching English to kids in Belize and finally, helping with Katrina relief efforts in New Orleans.

Our goal is to not only help organizations and people that need it through hands-on work and financial contributions, but to learn about the issues affecting these communities through talking to the people that live there.

We're setting out with open minds and hope this trip is the beginning of a larger purpose in expanding our knowledge about the world, other cultures and how we can come back to the US and do our best to make a positive difference in our own communities.

To the point, we need to raise over $8,000 and are asking for your support.

More details about the trip, and the organizations we're working with, can be found at Voluntourists, our blog. You can donate right there in the sidebar!
It's easy. You know the drill. I'll spare you the Sally Struthers "for the price of a cup of coffee" spiel, and just say that you can trust that whatever you can give will be very much appreciated and be used to support a great organization that needs it.

If you can't donate at this time, would you please forward this email to friends, family and strangers that may be able and willing to help? Even if you can contribute, would you forward it anyway?

Do you have a blog and/or a website? Will you post about the trip on said blog or website? We'll return the favor and link to your site on ours if you'd like.

We'll keep everyone posted on our travels through pictures, blog posts, video, interviews, and even good 'ol fashion snail mail if ya like! If you have any questions about any of this, just let me know.

Thanks so much for your support. I hope this finds you and your crew doing well.



OK, peoples. I tell ya what I'm gonna do.

I've already donated $100 to Mary and Kristen. If someone reading this blog makes a donation, please email me at mvpublic at mac dot com to let me know (include your name and the amount of your donation, so I can cross-check with Mary). The person who donates the most will receive TWO outstanding prizes

1. A music CD mixed by moi. I promise you an outstanding and eclectic selection of supercool tunes.
2. Your very own Dog's Breakfast mug or t-shirt (long or short-sleeve, or hat or any other similarly priced promo item from Cafe Press)

If you also cross-post to your blog, I'll throw in a third "mystery" prize.