Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hen Fruit Hoarder

Here's a tip. You might want to jot down a little note-to-self.

If you have 80 eggs in your refrigerator, contained in three 18-cartons, two 12-cartons, and a small styrofoam bowl, it is considered rude to ask that no more loose eggs be stored in a bowl on the top shelf, since all the cartons take up the bottom shelf, and, well, sometimes, there is such a thing as too many eggs.

Such a request is so rude that the owner and undisputed Lord of the Eggs will gather up the three 18-packs under his arm, place the bowl of two eggs on the kitchen table, and make a hasty, not altogether pleasant exit, with a snide remark over his shoulder that, "You aren't helping me sell any!"

When I became and egg broker, I do not recall. Hauling tiny globules which need the tender care equivalent to transporting nitroglycerin is just not in the cards for my T-Hoe and the gravel road. I decree that 80 eggs is enough for anybody, and it's time to stop hoarding the hen fruit.

The Queen of Hillmomba has spoken.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Somebody Needs To

After lolling about doing nothing on Saturday, having arisen at 10:00, too lazy, even, to eat bonbons and watch a soap opera if he'd been a housewife on a weekday...the #1 son drug himself into the laundry room to shop for clean clothes, and had the nerve to announce: "Somebody needs to do laundry."

Well. Seeing as how he and I were the only two persons in the Mansion, I had a feeling he was insinuating that I needed to do laundry. Upon ruminating on the fact that #1 has never done one load of laundry in all his born days, I was sure he was talking about me. And because I don't take kindly to being told what to do by sixteen-year-old Future Male Chauvinists of America, I made up my own little need-to list.

To garner the full effect, you must channel Tommy Lee Jones as Doolittle Lynn, coming home from the coal mine with dust on his face, to the little house in town where he moved 13-year-old Loretta as soon as he married her. It's the scene where the supper is so bad that Doo takes it out on the porch and calls for the dog. Then lectures Loretty on all the things she needs a little more time to learn how to do: "You need a little more time to learn how to cook. You need a little more time to learn how to clean the d*mn house. Plus you need a little more time to learn how to love your man the way you're supposed to."

At the Mansion, somebody needs to...

...bring the dumpster down from the end of the driveway where it's been since Tuesday.

...bag up the leaning tower of trash that is balanced on the wastebasket like an ongoing game of garbage Jenga.

...put away the stack of underwear and socks that have been laying on the living room floor since the first of the year, enjoying an open-air, convivial resting place rather than a dark dresser drawer.

...pour out the Diet A&W Root Beer and recycle the can that has been sitting on the cutting block for three days.

...pick up the Easter basket candy wrappers that decorate the coffee table.

...show respect for the hand that feeds him, rather than chewing it like a wolverine until it is a bloody stump.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

All Good Things Come In Threes

Remember Nellie? The pitiful, blue-eyed goat with a piece of 1"x 1" lumber affixed between her horns with yellow electrical tape? She gave birth to triplets on Friday.

The Pony took these photos with his phone. The babies look bigger than they are. Our orange cat, Genius, is bigger than them. Nellie does not like it at all when Genius strolls across the top of her pen. It used to be a chicken pen for hens with young chicks. Farmer H quarantined the triplets in an effort to avoid injury, since Nellie's previous twins were stepped on by the herd, and one died. So far, so good with the triplets.

We have two little boys who are black with white legs, and one white little girl. They are a sight to behold when they frolic about the enclosure, kicking up their heels and twitching their little tails. Nellie is a nervous nanny. She is ill at ease every time the cat comes to call. She goes straight to him and stares him down through the fence.

The triplets are learning patience at feeding time, since Nellie only has two spigots. If you've never seen a goat kid butting for his supper, please note that it's a wonder Nellie isn't black and blue.

I was just backing out of the garage Friday evening for graduation ceremonies when Farmer H called me. That was peculiar, since he had arrived home and spoken to me in the Mansion moments before. As I went out the back door, he went out the front door to reunite with his critters. He called me from the pen. "Nellie came running toward me, and I saw that she was quite a bit thinner. I got to looking around, and found triplets under a tree."

Well. Graduation could wait. I got out of T-Hoe and walked across the front yard to the pen. Farmer H held up each baby for me to see. He looked kind of like Rafiki holding up Simba in The Lion King. Three times. I'm surprised he didn't hand out cigars imprinted with: It's a boy...and a boy...and a girl!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The World-Class Manipulator

This is not the post I had intended for today. I am awaiting pictures sent to my gmail account, which is behaving about like Blogger a couple of weeks ago. There is no excuse. I demand better service for my fee of...absolutely nothing.

So this is a lesser post. Like a lesser babka. The cinnamon babka of Hillbilly Mom posts, if you will. I hope that you don't find a hair on it. I also hope that Farmer H is not in a liquor store, wearing a Gore-Tex coat.

The #1 son is at it again. He needs his own show on the Travel Channel. Food Battles. That boy always wins.

Let's start with a disclaimer. It has been a busy week, and I have not yet been to the store. Yesterday, though the students were released at 12:45, the teachers had to stay until 3:00. And then be back in time to find a parking spot to participate in graduation ceremonies. So the cupboard is bare, and this Old Mother Hubbard is tired after returning to her Mansion at 9:00 last night. So tired, I broke my almost-record of posting almost every day.

#1, on the other hand, enjoyed a school lunch cookout of hot dogs by the industrial technology building. Right after that, when dismissed, he and his crones went out to eat. Then after graduation, the choir teacher took his techie helpers out to dinner in lieu of paying them all year. Not that I'm complaining, but he had paid them for the last two years, and then pulled the plug. Whatever. I just wish he would have made it clear that payments had ceased, because what with his Pavlovian conditioning, they kind of expected something each time they gave up their own afterschool and evening plans to set up and run audios and visuals for his events. He should have crushed their monetary dreams right away. They still would have helped him.

It was shortly before 11:00 p.m. when #1 returned to the Mansion. He carried a styrofoam tray of what looked like fettucini alfredo leftovers. And he was mad that it had not come with the two pieces of chicken as advertised, but had not complained. Too bad, so sad. The choir teacher got ripped off.

This morning it was just #1 and me in the Mansion. I got out of the shower to discover that he had eaten the two breadsticks from Captain D's that my mom had given me last night when I picked up The Pony after graduation. I found out when I offered to make #1 some sausage/pancake corndog dealybobbers. "No, that's all right. I'm full. I ate two breadsticks." When I complained that they were MY breadsticks, #1 was not contrite. "Oh, get over it. You can have my noodles." Which I did not want for breakfast, but filed away the thought for lunch. Because #1 was going to the movies.

About ninety minutes later, #1 said, "I wish you had made me those sausage/pancake dogs. You should make them for me now." I demurred. He had turned down that offer when it was on the table. Then #1 asked for gas money to go to the movie, because he might possibly be driving 30 miles out of his way to pick up a friend. And then demanded fast food money.

"No. I'm not paying for your friend to go to the movie. If you had to use your lawn-mowing money for gas instead of for $12 nachos whenever you feel like it, you would start charging your riders gas money. The other kids do."

"Well, if I was paying for my own gas, I would. Now give me money for McDonalds."

"No. I'll make you a baloney sandwich."

"I don't want a baloney sandwich. I want McDonalds."

"You're not getting money from me. You barely have enough of your own for a movie and snacks."

"I have it in my account, but I hate to take it out."

"You should hate it, for something like that."

"OK. Make me a sandwich. HEY! I'll have my noodles!"

"You mean the noodles you gave me when you ate my breadsticks?"

"Yeah. Warm them up." The noodles were gone in two minutes.

He left for the movies. Upon return, he complained that he had to spend $5 for a Slurpee.

"Five dollars! You could have gotten popcorn for that."

"I didn't want popcorn. Now what's for supper?"

"Who says I'm cooking supper? You can make a baloney sandwich."

"I don't want that. Make me hot chicken tacos."

"I'll put in the chicken, but you take it out. It takes 30 minutes. You have to turn it over after 15."

"That's too much work. You do it." He fiddled with the McDonalds bag that The Pony had carried in after his day with Grandma. "Hey! Here's a cheeseburger!" He started unwrapping it.

"That was going to be MY supper."

"Heh, heh. It's mine now."

"Let's see. You ate my breadsticks. Then you ate the noodles you gave me to replace the breadsticks. Now you're eating The Pony's leftover cheeseburger that I had claimed for my supper."

"If you let me have the cheeseburger, I'll cook my own hot chicken."

"I already put them in."

"Yeah. But I'll take them out." He chewed the last of the cheeseburger. "So all you have to do is turn them in 15 minutes."

That boy is a world-class negotiator. Or manipulator.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

An Old Classic Comes To Life

Today was the next-to-last day of school.

I used to be that teacher who assigns work until the last day. The one who waits until the very last day to collect the textbooks. It made for a very orderly end-of-school period. The students did not like it, but who cares about that? Not me, certainly. It's not my job to please them. It's my job to educate them, keep order, and maintain a civil, safe environment.

A few years ago, I changed my tune. Other teachers would breeze through check-out and exit the building before the last whiff of the last student fart had evaporated. While I was calculating grades, storing texts, compiling inventory, and readying my classroom for the summer scrub-and-polish. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me thirteen times, shame on me.

So I joined the majority. And I don't feel the least bit guilty. All year long, I give a written assignment at least four days a week. Often five. I have a vast point compilation on which to base my grades. Those 12 or 15 points during the last couple days mean little in the 750 to 1000 points parceled out over the quarter. I have no classroom control issues. The biggest offenders this week were an eye-roller and a butt-writer. With grades in the can, awards duly awarded, and textbooks stacked in number order, my check-out list is complete.

To maintain order and foster good will for the final days, I opened Cinema Hillbilly Mom. No refreshments, though. There are limits to my good will. The younger charges re-discovered Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Gory and violent, perhaps. But without sex and nudity. And rated PG-13. The older students were forced to watch The Bad Seed, a study in the nature vs. nurture argument. I say forced, but a majority voted for it over Apollo 13.

In case you haven't caught The Bad Seed on TMC, here's the premise. An 8-year-old girl who is descended from a murderess is the last person to be seen with a young classmate just before his death at the school picnic. His battered body is found floating by a pier, missing the penmanship medal that the young girl coveted. Scuttlebutt is that Rhoda tormented Claude Daigle all morning, chasing him, trying to snatch the penmanship medal off his chest.

Today, after the stunning end of the movie, one girl had turned sideways in her seat to talk to another. I was shutting down my control panel and removing the disk when I heard the following exchange:

Girl 1-What are you doing? Are you trying to grab my boob!?!?

Girl 2-No! You have a hair on your shirt. I'm just getting it off.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom-She's trying to grab the penmanship medal.

The kid behind the boob-hair girl started hee-hawing. That's the first time I've seen him show any emotion since he moved to Newmentia about six weeks ago.

Thank you. I'll be here another half-day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Day Everybody Had To Stay After School

We had a bit of excitement at Newmentia today. Just three minutes before the final bell, Mr. Principal announced that we were under a tornado warning, and to proceed to our designated areas and take cover immediately. Which was done in two nanoseconds. Or thereabouts.

Then we suddenly switched gears and trekked posthaste to a new venue. KUDOS to the man behind this decision. I have long felt unprotected in the designated hallway area. Underground is where we belong, even at the risk of taking two more minutes to filter through the two bottlenecks that take us there. A little fine-tuning as to which classes stay left, which classes stay right, and we'll have a quadruple line moving toward our hidey-hole with more precision than ants crashing a picnic.

Deep underground, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was reunited with my teaching buddy, Mabel. We've got to stop meeting like that. I'm not sure what I heard, but something crashed, something boomed, and then Mr. Principal appeared and explained that a tornado had been spotted 20 miles to our west, and that until the tornado warning was lifted, nobody would be leaving school. Somebody with a cell phone told me that rotation had been spotted over Newmentia City.

After the all clear, student drivers were dismissed, followed by bus riders, followed by everyone else, followed by teachers. I told the #1 son to drive straight home, gathered The Pony as soon as he arrived from Basementia, and hit the road. By the time we were halfway there, a new tornado warning had been issued.

We made it to the Mansion without incident, watched some news radar, and hit the basement safe room. By 5:30, the dangerous part of the storm had passed.

All is well.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Dehumidifiers

Remember when I asked for a dehumidifier for Mother's Day? And I didn't get one?

Saturday, I reminded Farmer H that we really need a new dehumidifier. He got all woman, you don't know a dehumidifier from a three-dollar change purse on me, and pointed out that our home humidity was perfectly normal at 65%. Any fool besides me knows that the air conditioner already dehumidifies the house. (Never mind that twice a year a Lake Subterranean Mansion rears its ugly depths, due to a hose needing unclogging by one Farmer H.) And if I had only bothered to check that box on the wall, I would know that.

To translate for you, that box on the wall is a flat wooden dealybobber that Farmer H bought at an auction, with three dials: temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity. The humidity dial had 50% designated as normal, but that wouldn't sway Farmer H. You'd think he was growing orchids. Or that we were part of a clandestine, paid, Family in a Terrarium experiment.

My platform that every time I take a bowl of Ruffles chips to my office, they last about 5 minutes before succumbing to the soggy clutches of the indoor ground fog did not sway him in the least. I am surprised he did not go all woman, you don't need to eat chips anyway, how about you get to tendin' my orchids on me.

So I had to pitch a small fit and remind him that I had only been reminding him for nigh on four weeks that we need a new dehumidifier. That I had looked for one myself, but The Devil had cleverly hidden them in the far reaches of his Playground, and after traipsing from one end to the other, I was not about to go corner to corner.

With that, Farmer H jumped up and declared that he was taking himself on a winery tour. Not exactly a bon mot in my book, but a fitting exit line for himself, I suppose. Though I don't know why one would take a winery tour by oneself, or how one would avoid driving oneself drunkenly after sampling the wares. However, I suppose the humidity level of a wine cellar might make one feel right at home if one lived in an atmosphere of 65% humidity. Let us not dissect the timing of this exchange, the popular winery-touring hour of 9:00 a.m.

Later that afternoon, Farmer H returned to the Mansion with a $178 dehumidifier. He deposited it, still in the box, wrapped with those annoying plastic strips, next to the non-dehumidifying dehumidifier. Where it still sits. Because apparently, that's all it takes to dehumidify a Mansion.

I suppose the box IS soaking up moisture as I type.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guess What

Four. More. Days.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I See A Bad Bird A-Rising

I'm in denial. I'm telling myself that there are no such things as omens. Just wacky coincidences. Wacky coincidences that showed up a day late for the predicted apocalypse.

We went to The Pony's band concert this afternoon. It was a grand exhibition of 6th through 12th grade musicianship. The #1 son acted as a paid photographer with his expensive personal camera. That boy's got more irons in the fire than a blacksmith at a wrought-iron sculptor's convention.

On the way home, just before turning off the county highway, a big bird circled over the road. I'd like to think it was a hawk. Sometimes we see pairs of them circling over the river. But never so low, over the road, as we drove under.

About a half mile farther, having turned from the county highway onto the county road, we passed within five feet of a giant bird. He had been sitting in a yard, but spread his expansive wings and hoisted himself into the air as we passed. He had a red, rubbery head. That's a vulture, in case you're not versed in the ways of Hillmomba.

While hacking up some supper, I amassed a pile of strawberry stems. Farmer H's chickens are always foremost on my mind. They do love a treat tossed off the porch each evening. I took the tops outside and commenced to flinging. When I turned to re-enter the Mansion, I spied a prize. It was courtesy of Ann the shepherd and Tank the beagle, a regular tag team of killers. The gift they had bestowed was a rabbit. Make that one-third of a rabbit. The head and shoulders, to be specific. I don't know why they always start eating the butt first. I think they eat it while it's alive. I caught the cats doing that once. Animals can be so cruel. They're such animals.

I'm sure this trio of wacky coincidences signifies nothing. Nothing at all.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's Better To Give

When your are standing in the kitchen of the Hillbilly Mansion, it's better to give than to receive.

My mother brought The Pony home from a day of lounging about in her recliner, gobbling up high-speed internet and Captain D's breadsticks. He loves to go to Grandma's house. According to Grandma, she barely knows he's there. He kicks off his shoes, reclines, and opens up his laptop. Every now and then, when she asks if he's hungry, he will accept noodles and butter, macaroni and cheese, cereal and milk, or ice cream. He has been known to tell her, "Grandma, you can go upstairs and have a nap." She thinks maybe that's a hint that she's talking too much.

I drive The Pony to town. Sometimes I pick him up. Sometimes Chauffeur H can be roped into it. Every now and then, the #1 son is sentenced to the task. If the weather is good, I allow Grandma to return The Pony. Of course I must provide her with perks for her trouble. She does so much for us, I can't let her go home empty-handed.

Today's swag included:

*1 banana, mostly brown
Grandma prefers them that way. Really.

*1 National Enquirer
Grandma needs to know that Oprah is moving Stedman into her mansion, and that Gayle is livid.

*1 Globe
Grandma passes these on to her old lady friends. The first one works the crossword. About 10 people end up reading these magazines. I get my money's worth. And I look charitable.

*4 Entertainment Weekly mags
Who doesn't like glossy pictures of beautiful people?

*1 ear of corn-on-the-cob
We already ate the other four. Grandma won't buy this for herself.

*1/3 container of gas station chicken slaw
It's only from yesterday. No need to let it go to waste.

*1 slice of longhorn cheese
Grandma would not buy this, either. But she will eat it.

Now you see why it's better to give than to receive at the Mansion. One hillbilly's garbage is another hillbilly's dinner and entertainment.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Mutual Backscratchers' Society

Arch Nemesis caught me walking down the hall after bus duty this afternoon. She was a bit subdued.

"Would you say we are friends?"

"Um...yes, I would say that. Except you are the one obstacle that stands between me and world domination."

"You're so crazy. I was just wondering if you could do me a favor."

"Maybe. Depends on what it is."

"Would you take John Doe in your class next year?"

"Sure. Is that all? I never had any trouble with John Doe. I know a lot of the kids don't like him."

"He's just so condescending. And he doesn't even realize it. I'm around him for other activities, and it's just too much."

"Well, there was that time I was writing the word "narcoleptic" on the board, and he spelled it out loud. Because he said he wasn't sure if I knew how to spell it. I thanked him, and informed him that I was, after all, the valedictorian of my high school class."

"Yeah. He does things like that."

"OK. I'll take him if you'll take Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. They didn't like me last year, and I don't think they'll magically like me any better next year."

"Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum? Sure. No problem."

"It's a deal."

"Of course, I don't have the class roll yet. I'm not even sure who I have."

"We'll work it out."

Thus ended the first annual meeting of the Mutual Backscratchers' Society.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Ows Of May

Shakespeare had the Ides of March. Teachers have the Ows of May.

This has got to be the touchingest batch of students to ever walk the hurtful halls of Newmentia. They can not keep their hands to themselves. Every hour of every day, I have to tell somebody, "Keep your hands to yourself." It should be an implied rule. Like implied powers in the Constitution. Maybe that's the problem. I've overheard many bemoaning the fact that they did not pass the required Constitution test. They have one more shot at it before the school year is over.

I am weary of watching students hug, poke, punch, flick, jab, hand-hold, lay-head-on-shoulder, pick up, kick, drape-arm-around-neck, back-rub, hair-stroke, arm-wrestle, leg-hair-pull, frog-punch, roller-derby block, flat-tire, trip, pinch, and face-palm each other. I am tempted to require hands in pockets, like tiny elementary fry learning the rules of the hall. The students see nothing wrong with their behavior. Nobody is getting hurt. Well, on purpose. They're just playing. I'm a fun-sucker.

At least they're not spraying graffiti on the building, or assembling a swimming pool in the cafeteria overnight, or shooting and stabbing each other. They're just gamboling like playful puppies. Keeping their yelps quiet.

The Ows of May.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flying The Coop

The week after school is out, Farmer H is taking the boys on a week-long vacation to the Badlands and Mount Rushmore and Pike's Peak. I will not be making the trip, because vacations make me miserable. Farmer H and I have reached a consensus on this issue. No need for every single one of us to be unhappy on vacation. And you know, when mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

I will enjoy the peace and quiet while they are gone. I have a little song in my heart just thinking about my impending solitude. That will last until about thirty minutes after they drive away. Then I will start pining for them. It will be too quiet. Except for at night, when I hear footsteps upstairs, and can't justify that it is only my family walking around listlessly from kitchen to bedroom. Or when I finally go up to bed, and have to leave the TV on to explain the noises that I hear while trying to fall asleep.

Maybe I will invite my mom out to the Mansion to spend some quality time. At night.

A couple weeks after the return, the #1 son is going to Engineer Camp in Rolla. He has wanted to do this for two years now, but it is only for upcoming high school juniors and seniors. It runs from Sunday to Thursday, so he will stay in the dorm and eat in their cafeteria. His dad will drive him down there, because he's not allowed to have a car on campus. He can't wait.

My nest is emptying rather rapidly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Giant Sigh Of Relief

I am a short-timer. Eight days of school left. One more Monday. The full moon is over. We will be building straw towers for three days, followed by the Fourth Annual Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Egg Drop Contest. Does it get any better than that?

Yes. It does.

The EOC scores are in, and Biology improved on last year's numbers by 40-something points overall. Unless the entire state of Missouri cheated, we should stack up fairly well compared to state averages. While I would like to take complete credit, there were two of us teaching this subject, and I am enough of a realist to realize that you can't compare apples to oranges. This year's students can not be measured against last year's students. Therein lies the problem with tying teacher pay to student achievement. Sometimes you have a good year, sometimes you have a bad year...even though you have honed your teaching skills over the decade and presented a uniform smorgasbord of knowledge to your charges.

My department shall rest on its laurels for 364 days. And hope that we are not challenged to make chicken salad out of chicken poop next year.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Blind Reading To The Blind

I forgot my glasses at school this afternoon. My bifocals. That's not really a good thing.

I can squint well enough to see some stuff, though not heating instructions on food packages or dosage on medicine. Thank the Gummi Mary, I served leftover spaghetti, and we are all relatively healthy tonight.

I can see the computer screen without my glasses. During a tour of the blogosphere, I caught the comment faux pas of "milk toast candidate" and "love never wained" without any visual issues. I even spied my old nemesis, "prolly". No, the computer screen is not a problem.

I have glasses in T-Hoe for driving, and I have an old pair just a tad off on the prescription for watching TV. The chink in my optical armor is the printed word of the size in newspapers, books, and Dove chocolate squares. I was a bit confused at my Dove foil-printed affirmation:

Take a mommy for yourself.

Well, isn't that special. I deserve some TLC! No offense to my actual mother, who moves heaven and earth to please me and make me happy. Dove thinks I need to take a mommy for myself. How warm and fuzzy is THAT thought! I feel all flannel-jammied and bedtime-storied and tucked-in cozy.

Oops! I held that wrapper at arm's length:

Take a moment for yourself.

Never mind.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Can't Help Myself

I can't stay out of my blog's stat pages. It's like when you chip a little piece off of your tooth because you crunched an ice cube even though your mom told you never to crunch ice cubes because they could break your teeth, and your tongue keeps going there so you can tell yourself that it's not a very big chip, really, and that nobody can see it, but you can feel that little edge where the enamel has gone bye-bye. Except that my mom never told me not to check my blog stats because they would most likely be full of bizarre search terms that would puzzle me, like when a dog hears a person fart, though of course not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, and the dog tilts his head and stares because every canine knows that reorienting his brain at a 45-degree angle will lead to greater understanding.

Here's what I've gotten this month:

hillbilly hoes-I'm sure this is all about farm implements, and not at all indicative of my man-pleasing proclivities.

hillbilly tits-maybe I need to re-evaluate my take on the hoes

hillbilly underwear-apparently, I need to invest in more supportive foundation garments

brownhole-for the love of Gummi Mary, what is the world coming to when such a term leads folks to my Mansion?

apocalypse mansion-there's my answer

carnage und woman-sprechen sie English, you unfair accuser of mass slaughter? Women don't massacre large numbers of people; men massacre large numbers of people!

odd linch pins-some folks have even linch pins, some folks have ordinary linch pins, some folks have complete, organized collections of linch pins, but only Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has odd linch pins.

grandma's house needs to be emptied-let's be careful not to throw grandma out with the linch pins.

chexmix conspiracy-guilty as charged. Wouldn't you like to know my secret recipe? Bwah, ha ha!

calling girlfriend baby creepy-I would never call my girlfriend's baby creepy

fat cart riders in walmart-talk about creepy...

gary busey robe opens-EEEEE! My eyes! Quick! I need a fat cart rider to take me away.

i am part of the problem-no I'm not. I'm rubber, you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Would A Perv, By Any Other Name, Still Be A Big Ol' Perv?

I was reading here about how book and TV people do not act as they would in real life.

Here's what gripes me: fictional portrayals of teacher/student romances.

That is just so wrong. So nauseating. I don't care how clean and shiny and good-looking the actors are. It's gross. Don't glorify it. You might as well try to foist a sympathetic child-molester on the viewing/reading public.

Let's take one of my favorite shows as an example: Pretty Little Liars.

The Aria/Ezra storyline always jarred me right out of that fictional little world. I could buy that Ezra mistook Aria for a college student when he first met her. Being right out of college himself, and Aria all pretendy about who she was, fueled that mistaken-identity fire. But when Ezra saw that Aria was a high school student in his class that first day, he should have put an end to their budding romance. He's the adult.

Since Ezra allowed the relationship to continue, he became a perv. A perv who doesn't give one whit about his career or the tender psyche of a 16-year-old girl. A perv who plays along with his victim's fantasy that they are soul mates. It doesn't matter how mature for her age Aria appears to be. No matter how much coffee she drinks with Ezra, or how many art shows they attend, she's still a freaking child! Lock up that perv and throw away the key!

And seriously...Ezra? Why not just name him Ichabod, or Ebenezer, or Bartholomew, or Marmaduke. Here's a thought: Chester the Molester.

Adults who watch the show can reconcile fiction with real life. The kids are kids. They don't think the same way adults think. They romanticize. This storyline should be taboo. Or used to illustrate how very, very wrong such a relationship would be. Because Pretty Little Liars is a show designed to attract an adolescent audience.

Criminy! We need to stop glorifying pedophile/victim love stories. This show has an adult male of at least 22 years of age in a romantic relationship with a 16-year-old girl. Aren't there laws against that sort of thing?

Lock Ezra up and throw away the key. And his teaching certificate.

It's all I can do to watch every single episode.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

Here is the stuff my nightmares are made of, thanks to the photographers and writers of Science World magazine.

*hundreds of mosquitoes feeding on a watermelon-sized bag of cow blood

*hundreds more mosquitoes feeding on the forearm of a volunteer. A forearm from which tiny puddles of blood had seeped due to the anticoagulant properties of mosquito saliva.

*crabs the size of dinner plates. Bright red and blue dinner plates, jumbled together in a pile, breeding.

*Heidi the cross-eyed possum with thousands of Facebook friends

*a dude from Kentucky who shot a dime a world-record 11.8 feet by using his stretched-out earlobes, which he likes to roll up and stuff in his ears like earplugs. They stretch to 5 inches long.

*a woman who is a garbologist, who says you can make up to $80,000 per year IF you also become an activist and a writer and a candlestick maker or some other ridiculous side job

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

All Over But The Whinin'

End of Course. Is it just me, or does that sound kind of like the end of days?

I survived the End of Course test today. It's a Missouri thing. My kids all got logged in and signed on and only one deliberately disregarded the instructions of Mr. Principal. Twice. Guess you know more about how to advance from screen to screen and log yourself off than the man who has been giving these tests for six weeks, huh? I should have known that when the suggested 55-60 minute test took you 20 minutes. Kudos. I'm sure that will reflect positively on our district.

All of my class was finished within 50 minutes. Except one. The girl sitting next to him motioned that she thought he was asleep. But then he advanced to the next question, and she declared that she had been mistaken. At least we didn't have to hold a mirror to his mouth to ascertain signs of life. Funny how the one to take so long is the same one who has turned in oh...I don't know...maybe...a rough estimate here...10 assignments all year. And flat out announced at the beginning of fourth quarter that since there was no way he was going to pass, he did not see the need to bring his book or turn in any work. Funny how he put in such a concerted effort on this test. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that my plan time was right after that first 50 minutes, and all the other students were sent to their sixth hour classes, leaving me to supervise his efforts. Surely not.

All at once, we were invaded by Mrs. Not-A-Cook and her charges. I whisper-shouted, "We're TESTING!" to which they whisper-shouted back, "We're here to TEST too!"

Once prepared, Mrs. Not-A-Cook read them the first question. This was a modification for specific students. Unfortunately, science is not Mrs. Not-A-Cook's strong point. She mangled several sciency words badly. Mr. Principal rolled his eyes, and asked if I minded to stay and read the other 46 questions to them. Not at all. I'm always glad to help out if asked politely.

After 20 minutes, a teacher who shall remain nameless happened in, and volunteered to read while I took a little break. That was very generous of her, even though at one time she read a question about an octopus having eight testicles at a middle school academic meet. Nary a faux pas today, though. That I am aware of.

Whew! That's a load off my mind. Until the scores are in.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The P-O List, 1-5

Five Surefire Ways To Piss Off Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

1- Say, "People tell me it's boring," about the movie Mrs. HM is showing on the space race. Not a documentary. Not questions in a text. Not writing an essay about what you've learned. Simply watching October Sky. The very nerve of Mrs. HM, torturing students in such a cruel and unusual manner!

2-Laugh as the principal stands behind you, chastising you for squeezing a packet of BBQ sauce at the lunch table so that it exploded on eight boys. Because freshmen are above the law, apparently, and are given carte blanche to entertain themselves during that boring, soul-sucking, twenty-seven minutes provided to seek mid-day sustenance, and Mr. Principal just needs to lighten up, it was only BBQ sauce, and anyway he should have believed the lie that it was an accident as it was being given to an across-the-table lunchmate.

3-Glare at Mrs. Hillbilly Mom at the copier when you storm in ten minutes after she has commenced to copying, and state that somebody interrupted your 300 front-and-back copies of math answer sheets. Never mind that Mrs. HM found the copy machine abandoned, not running, and blinking that it was out of paper. In every single drawer. So she put in 500 sheets to run her 180 copies, oblivious to the fact that you had abandoned the copier to do more important things that surely Mrs. HM does not have to do fifteen minutes before the bell, as evidenced by her staying by the machine to make sure all of her copies come out without jamming or eating up all the paper. Mrs. HM did not turn off your orphaned copies, though she has a good idea of who did, having heard him profess that he does so every time he sees the machine running a plethora of copies unattended, because he is there to run his own copies, not to be a copy-machine clerk for his absent peers.

4-Leave an open magazine on your desk after your quiz, and try to walk out the door at the bell. Because it's not like Mrs. Hillbilly Mom knows whose desk that is, having picked up after you last week, and can't see you trying to make your great escape, and is such a shrinking violet that she won't call you back to pick it up and give you a good lecture, to boot, on how she is not your personal assistant and does not come to your locker and clutter it with stuff that you have to deal with before being able to use your locker the next hour.

5-Stage-whisper, "She's stuck-up," as Mrs. Hillbilly Mom walks by your lunch table,
just because she has pointedly ignored your catcalls and attention-getting mouth sounds that you have issued every single day for the last six weeks, even after Mrs. HM told you politely that this act was getting old, and that she does not want to interact with students on her lunch time, just as she does not come plop down at your lunch table and monopolize your time with your peers. She is not your buddy, and not your equal, and has no desire to be, even though she enjoys interacting with you in a classroom setting, in a manner that does not distract from learning.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Bridge To Fear

Today in class, we had the official Paper Bridge penny-holding contest. One piece of paper, an eight-inch span...you be the engineer.

The low bridge on the totem pole held 49 pennies. That's one penny short of a Solo cup. I kind of like that. It might be my new saying. My own personal "fetch". You won't get that unless you're a Tina Fey/Mean Girls fan. In case you haven't been dropping into the Mansion regularly, and are afraid to risk my ire by asking what a Solo cup has to do with anything...GET WITH THE PROGRAM! Scroll down and figure it out your own self. Criminy! I feel like I'm in class with two weeks left of school!

The current reigning champion held 289 pennies. That beat last year's grand champion of 237. There is still one class left to test, so we'll see how the pennies stack up tomorrow.

I put the students in groups of three by drawing index cards with their names. It's the greatest invention since sliced bread. I have used this process since...well...since the invention of sliced bread. You can pick people to read out loud, people to answer your question that the whole class is pretending is rhetorical, form groups, choose special helpers, pick the order of presentations, and more! It's like the Popeil Pocket Picker. Not to be confused with the Popeil Pocket Fisherman:

That could be dangerous, picking students with the pocket fisherman. It could get all snaggy and bloody and out-of-hand. I don't need those kind of headaches. No sirree Bob!

The groups were allowed to name themselves. Bob the Bridge Builders went in the first round. The Dudes was simple and to-the-point. I had to veto the proposed name of STD, even though it was the initials of the members. I tried to veto Two Gingers and a Nerd, but they had all agreed on the name. Team George should have been renamed Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater, but I refrained. One moniker that caught my eye, but not in a pocket fisherman kind of way, was Dr. Bridge.

After we wrap up this construction contest, we are settling in for a viewing of October Sky to complement our recent Science World space exploration issue.

The school year is almost over, you know.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Would Mother's Day, By Any Other Name, Still Taste So Bitter

Time for the obligatory Mother's Day post.

I love my mother. She's a special person who is not responsible for my lack of manners. She raised me right, but somewhere I took a wrong turn into Cold-Hearted Snark Territory. I call Mom every morning and every night. I see her several times per week. This morning, I gave her a lovely card that will make her cry, a small cake with buttercream icing, a pint of homemade potato salad, a National Enquirer, and a Globe. That's what you give a woman who has everything and asks for nothing. Things she values. Things she enjoys.

That said, let's turn to my own Mother's Day festivities. We are having a barbecue supper. Put-Upon H had offered to take me out to a restaurant, but I wanted no part of the crowds. So I spent the morning making potato salad. If the menu was left to Carnivore H, we would have meat. And bread. The bread is so your fingers don't get messy. I'm not going all out. It's Mother's Day, you know. I whipped up some Hidden Valley ranch dip with an envelope of powdered mix and a tub of sour cream (which I had to make a trip to Save-A-Lot to purchase this morning) to go with baby carrots, and later I will slice the tops off some strawberries.

Put-Upon H and I disagree on the celebration of Mother's Day. He seems to find it an inconvenient holiday designed to rob him of 45 minutes of his valuable goat-and-chicken time in order to allow our sons to provide me with tokens of appreciation. It's to the point where I wish it was just another day, so I wouldn't have to deal with his put-uponness.

I, on the other hand, see Mother's Day as an opportunity for children to show their mom that they appreciate how she has given them life, or taken them into her home, and made a concerted effort to raise them to be upstanding citizens with compassion for all mankind, plus devoted her time to providing them with shelter, sustenance, a clean wardrobe, playthings, an education, and swabbed their fevered brow in times of illness, fostered their tender self-esteem, and above all, loved them for who they are. And because they start out as kids, they need a role model such as...oh...I don't know...perhaps...a father to show them how to do this. Maybe with kind words, or hugs, or breakfast in bed, or homemade crafts, or store-bought cards, or a day off from cooking and laundry, or a movie, or just some peace and quiet to do as she pleases.

I am OH SO OVER expecting material mementos of affection. Even though every year I am asked what I would like. Put-Upon H has grudgingly hauled the boys to The Devil's Playground most of the previous years in order to provide me with store-bought love. He seems to think, instead, that children are capable of trekking eight miles to town, unsupervised, in order to barter their old toys for something suitable for a loving mother. Yesterday, Put-Upon H heaved a heavy sigh, called to The Pony to announce the impending sacrifice of his precious animal-bonding time, and shot me an are you happy NOW look. Thank the Gummi Mary, the #1 son can drive himself, and has earned lawn money enough to purchase a card for me. Whether I need it or not.

It's hard for me to remain (heh) bright and cheery on this day, seeing as how on Father's Day, King H wants for naught. Nigh on three figures are spent to provide him with tooly things and fowly things and knifey things, and Falstaff beery things that he enjoys hoarding. I do not begrudge the time or effort that it takes to find the proper gift-worthy items, whether it means The Devil to pay, or traipsing through flea markets, or bidding on eBay. The boys play an active role in the mission. Because they are kids. And they need to be shown how to provide special treatment to a loved one on a special day.

Put-Upon H has somehow arrived at the idea that Mother's Day has nothing to do with him. He has the same comment every Mother's Day, when I tell him to just forget it if it's such a big deal, that I don't want anything. It's preceded by a huffed-out sigh. A shrug. An excuse. "You're not my mother." Indeed. I'm not Santa Claus, either, but everyone in this house gets surprise gifts to open every Christmas morning. Oh. Except me.

Somehow, I'm not reaping the benefits of how this you're not business works. I am sad, but not surprised, to report that I did not rake in my requested gift of a dehumidifier. Is that too much to ask? Really? A dehumidifier to put in the basement of the Mansion, to replace the one that is five years old, and runs loudly for four days without filling up? The one full of mold, despite the bleach I used to treat it? The stachybotrys breeding ground? I think not.

Let me leave you with photos of the champions of my Mother's Day Hall of Shame gifts, from several years ago:

Let the record show that it was a single box of SnoCaps. And that the quarter was not included with the change purse. It is merely used to represent the size.

Now that I have let the ungratefulness seep out of my pores, I am feeling less bitter. I shall purchase my own dehumidifier, by cracky! And I will plop a heaping helping of that potato salad made by my own hands with the sweat of my own brow onto my own plate. Right after I serve it onto the plates of The Pony, #1, and Put-Upon H.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Clogging The Playground

I have a problem. Okay, I have many problems. But those are none of your concern. Stop messing in my business, you Nosy Nancies. If it is not too much to ask, will you all just back the freak off, as movie drunk Sandra Bullock, wired on caffeine, shouted to her therapy group at the rehab center, early on in her sentence of 28 Days, before she hooked up with Viggo Mortensen the sex addict.

My current problem involves The Devil's Playground. How The Devil can have less variety, and smaller packages at the same old prices, yet take up more aisle space with bedraggled displays is beyooooond me. You'd think there would be more wide-open aisles, less junk crammed into the finite square-footage.

It's like one of those M.C. Escher freaky staircases. A conundrum. An enigma. I cannot find brands I once bought there. Some have been replaced by The Devil's own Great Value brand. Others are simply gone, missing from the shelves where their competitors still reside. And there are pallets of merchandise blocking the main aisles. Not new merchandise. Old standby merchandise. Is The Devil double-stocking? Are the same items on shelves as usual, and also lined up down the aisles?

That's the only plausible answer. Before long, The Devil is going to have to redesign the carts, replace them with tiny Dollar Store carts in order to get down the aisles. That means the beeping fat-rider carts will need to be streamlined. And the broad-beamed beeper-riders will wonder what's up. Just last week, my butt fit in the seat of this annoying conveyance, and now I can't get to the back of the Playground for my sugar-free 35 calorie Jello chocolate pudding.

The Devil conspires against his captive customers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Penny Master

I was sorely disappointed today, as I am every year at this time, to discover that fifteen-year-olds cannot count to fifty.

Every year, hope springs eternal. Surely this will be the year that I can give a cup of fifty pennies to a group of ninth-graders, and they will return that same cup full of fifty pennies at the end of the class period. Au contraire. This is not the year.

Today marked the Fourth Annual Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Paper/Penny Bridge Contest. Students were placed in groups of three, randomly, by the drawing of index cards with their names on them. Each student built a paper bridge able to span an eight-inch gap and hold as many pennies as possible. No tape or paperclips allowed. Each group then tested their three bridges to determine which one to enter in the finals, to be held on Monday. At stake are ten bonus points for each class period winner, with five bonus points for second, and three for third.

Each year, at the conclusion of the contest, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom sits alone after school and counts out fifty pennies at a time. She does this by placing pennies in stacks of ten, then putting five stacks in a penny roll. Kind of a fool-proof method. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a master's degree. Which may or may not be in penny-rolling. Each May, she removes the baggie full of rolled pennies from her classroom cabinet, confident that each roll still contains fifty pennies. She opens the end of the roll, and pours the pennies into a bright green Solo cup. Though more pennies remain in rolls, available for the finale on Monday, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a strict rule about only practicing with six cups of fifty pennies each. Because she knows there will be issues.

First hour, upon taking their cup of pennies to their work area, a group called out, "We only have 49 pennies!" Funny how a penny can evaporate right out of a paper tube and Ziploc bag in the course of twelve months. This declaration emboldened a second group. "Yeah! We only have 49 pennies, too!" A third group, well into the testing process, having borrowed other cups of pennies, announced, "These two cups had 47 and 48 pennies! And we need more to put on our bridge."

I handed them a fresh cup, one that had not been used due to the small class size. Nobody had touched it since I poured the 50 pennies in. The testing group used that whole cup. And announced, "We're going to win! Our bridge is holding 153 pennies right now!" Because, you see, in Hillmomba, 47 + 48 + 50 = 153. I told them they were full of baloney. Either they couldn't count to fifty the first time, or they couldn't count to fifty three times.

By fifth hour, when I saw the ringleader in the lower hallway, he declared that his bridge had held 157 pennies.

Here's how the kids count pennies: they hold a fistful, and plink them out with their thumb while counting out loud. Not so accurate, compared to stacks of ten.

After second hour, I had to count those six cups of pennies again. Wouldn't you know it? I came up with 300 pennies.

That's because I have a master's degree.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Refresher Course Is In Order

New CPR guidelines say that chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is even more effective than the two together.

That is really good news if you are a male in Hillmomba prone to heart-stopping episodes. That's because all of your male teenage future resuscitators find it absolutely repulsive to even think about giving another male mouth-to-mouth. I know this, because many of them chose that topic to write about in an assignment about what was learned from a recent issue of Science World magazine.

Who knew that dudes would wait for somebody to call 9-1-1 rather than get down to huffing lifesaving exhalations into another dude's mouth? Somewhere, somehow, Hillmomban officials have missed the boat. The boat loaded with pamphlets explaining the difference between mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and FRENCH KISSING! The boat with a video illustrating the difference between CPR and SOFT-CORE, SAME-SEX PR0N! Seriously.

These young lads are not as attractive and in-demand to the dying as they imagine themselves to be.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Emperor Of Cornville

Is there really any nutritional value in corn?

That is not a rhetorical question. It is a pet peeve of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. A major pet peeve, outgrowing its pants, getting too big for its britches, too old to go trick-or-treating, too big for a kid's meal, now paying full price at the cinema, able to enter R-rated movies, and eager to buy lottery tickets and cigarettes.

You would think that such a massive issue would be confronted. Dealt with. Resolved. But that's not how we do things in Hillmomba. This overgrown problem pet peeve would be swept under the rug if only we could find a loom large enough to supply such a carpet. It is the elephant in the room. The eggshells upon which we walk as we search for a suitable dune in which to bury our noggins.

For 12 of the last 13 years, I have lunched with a certain member of the faculty. We joined the Newmentia crew the same year. We teach the same students. He is like the lunch table paterfamilias. I bear him no ill will. But I am approaching my breaking point.

Every time I sit down to lunch, on a day in which the top chefs of the cafeteria serve corn (at least three times per week), Colonel Corn leans into my personal space, the 1/8 of a round table that I have commandeered for me, my paper plate, and I. He whispers conspiratorially, "Is there really any nutritional value in corn?" Every time the cafeteria serves corn. For 12 of the last 13 years.

I think I have shown remarkable restraint. I chuckle. I shake my head. My eyes don't roll. I don't suggest that Colonel Corn place a foot-garment in his oral cavity. I am not sure of my brushstrokes in the big picture. Is the Colonel inquiring rhetorically? Is he expecting an answer concocted from my vast stores of scientific data? Is he trying out his stand-up act on me?

Last week, I mentioned it to LunchBuddy, who sits to my left. How Colonel Corn can't seem to stop asking me the same question. After 12 of the last 13 years. She thought it amusing. I think her exact words were, "CACKLE, CACKLE, CACKLE--HEE HAW!" But not in so many words.

Today, we had Max Snax Tacos with a side of corn. I steeled myself for the inquisition. In fact, I waited the entire twenty-three-minute lunch period (from 10:53 until 11: 16) for the shoe to drop. LunchBuddy distracted me by revealing that she had an important question to ask me, but that she could not do so until lunch was over.

At the bell, she leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Is there really any nutritional value in corn?"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Yes And No

Things that go together:

ebony and ivory
hot dog and bun
love and marriage
horse and carriage
cheese and crackers
peanut butter and jelly
shoes and socks
dinner and a show
salt and pepper
moth and flame
snips and snails and puppy dog tails

Things that don't go together:

long-tailed cats and rocking chairs
a fish and a bicycle
apples and oranges
oil and water
students and the teacher lunch table
goats and prized lilac bushes
Hillbilly Mom and tailgaters
thunderstorms and DISH Network
uprooted trees and low water bridges
hacky sack and a school hallway
my Christmas tree and the month of May

Monday, May 2, 2011

That's Not A Good Defense

Chalk up another one for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Never Ever List.

Right after lunch, within five minutes of starting class, I smelled an odor. My students have been warned about smelling up my classroom. I stopped what I was doing.

"Why do I smell an odor?"

"What kind of odor?"

"It wasn't here a minute ago. It's like nail polish. Something strong."

"We don't smell anything."

"It's Buffy."

"Yeah. It's me."

Buffy had moved away, and just returned a couple of weeks ago. She was sitting all alone in a row by the wall, her cohorts being in turn absent and in In-School Suspension. Buffy agreeably took the rap. She was right under my nose. She and I both knew it was not her.

"I've told you people not to smell up my room. Now I'm stuck with it. I'm going to start coughing. I just got over being sick, you know. I hope you're happy. Now I'm going to have to open a window. And since I'm right in front of it, I'll get a chill. Way to go, you guys."

"I got sprayed with something earlier."

"It's not you. You would have stunk up the room from the beginning. This just started."

"We don't smell it."

"I'll figure it out."

At the end of class, we had a few minutes left. Miss Tardy said, "Would this be a good time to finish my nails?" She set out three bottles of nail polish on her desk. "I have Cherry Red, Pronto Purple, and Blue Streak."

"I KNEW somebody had nail polish. NO! Now would NOT be a good time to FINISH your nails! Why would anybody think that was permissible? I TOLD you all at the beginning of the year not to get out anything that smells, or put on make-up during my class."

"Oh. I wasn't listening to you."

"You are not doing yourself any favors here."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Sign Of The Apocalypse

What's the world coming to?

That's a rhetorical question. I'm not waiting for you to answer. I'm used to that. In my classroom, you'd think all my questions are rhetorical. For my older kids, anyway. The freshmen are pretty good at having one or two designated question-answerers per class. I don't know if this is a conscious plan, to take heat off the ones who don't want to be called on, or if the attention-seekers are well-spread-out this year.

The reason I rhetorically asked what the world is coming to is because of what happened when I drove through Sonic today, after doing battle in The Devil's Playground. I had one of those receipts for a free Route 44 drink. The receipt where you call in and rate the Sonic, and they give you a code number. My mom does the calling for me. She volunteered. That's how she rolls. She's really on the stick, that ol' gal. Unlike someone else we might mention, who has taken four months to use that receipt. Seriously. It was dated December 31. I don't think it matters to Sonic. I used one Friday with the same date.

Here's the deal: I mentioned right up front that I had a receipt for a free Route 44. Told the voice the minute I drove up to the speaker.

"What can I get for you today?"

"I have a receipt for a free Route 44."

"What kind would you like?"

"A Diet Coke with lime."

See? No mystery there. I ordered the same way on Friday. That's where the similarity ends. On Friday, the dude said, "That will be $2.08. I'm sorry. That will be FREE!" I drove around, sixth in line, and a girl brought it out to me.

Today, I ordered the same way. And the dude said, "That will be eleven cents." WTF? Now free sodas cost eleven cents? I drove to the window, where he repeated, "Eleven cents." I forked it over, along with my receipt. The receipt which did not say you are entitled to a Route 44 for eleven cents if you call in and rate your service.

I've got to get construction started on my handbasket factory.