Monthly Archives: January 2011

The King’s Speech and my history deficits

Yesterday Jim & I saw “The King’s Speech”.   It was an excellent movie based on the true story of King George VI (the current Queen Elizabeth’s father) who stuttered, and his relationship  with his likable and unorthodox Australian speech therapist.  It was interesting and uplifting….2 thumbs up.  Like most movies of this sort, some of the historical details have been criticized, but the general plot was true, and  given my overall weakness in terms of history, almost everything in the movie qualified as “new learning” for me.

After all, I had Charlie Fox for World History as a freshman in high school, one of his last years of teaching the subject. His method for covering the material was to give each student a copy of  the huge history book and tell them to sit there and read it.  When you finished each unit, you went up to Mr. Fox’s desk where he sat, usually sleeping, and without disturbing him found the multiple choice and True/false “Unit Test” for those particular chapters, then took it back to your desk and completed it .    I think it was even “open book” and he gave us the key to grade them ourselves although I couldn’t swear to that this many years later.  Needless to say, not much world history was learned that year, although lots was learned about romance novels, relationships, parties, Erik Estrada and Charlie’s Angels (yes, I cheated and googled to see who was famous in 1978).  Most of the time I had one of those trashy novels with Fabio on the cover, his hair flowing behind him holding  the damsel with “heaving alabaster bosoms”, hidden behind the cover of the World History textbook.

These days I wish I knew more about World War II and less about Shaun Cassidy and Scott Baio  but most of us DHS grads still smile when we remember Charlie Fox, so it wasn’t all bad.   Jim claims that his freshman history course the following was taught by someone else, so by then Mr. Fox had moved on to sleeping in the passenger’s seat while we took turns driving to the Donut shop in driver’s ed.


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If you know me at all, you know I love  Rachel Maddow.   One of Rachel’s favorite words seems to be “Kerfuffle”.   In fact one of the reasons I love Rachel is she routinely uses words like “kerfuffle” without missing a beat.    So I decided to learn the origin of the word “Kerfuffle.”   I already knew what it meant:   a disturbance, row, or commotion of some sort but I wondered where such a funny-sounding word came from.

Apparently kerfuffle is a word that originally came from the 19th century Scots Language.    And BONUS LEARNING!! (good thing, because I haven’t been keeping up real well with 1 entirely new thing EVERY day)….according to Wikipedia, Scots is the “Germanic language variety originally spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster”  (next up—learn where Ulster is) and it is not the same as Scottish English or Scottish Gaelic.  Kerfuffle has had many spellings over the years and actually has not been well-documented, probably because it was typically used so informally that it was said, but not often written.   In fact, there have been kerfuffles over the origin and spelling of kerfuffle.  C.S. Lewis says  in his autobiography “I could put up with any amount of monotony far more patiently than even the smallest disturbance, bother, bustle, or what the Scotch call kurfuffle.”

Regardless of where it comes from, kerfuffle is one of my new favorite words.  It perfectly describes what my dogs have several times a day and gives me an excuse to say a serious word and still sound a little silly.

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Kim sent me this link about “immapacy”  and the true size of Africa.  Very interesting, and I had no idea Africa was this big. I’m now less immapate.

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Fanny packs

Today I learned that I shouldn’t wear my fanny pack in Ecuador.  Kim says fanny packs announce to everyone that you’re a tourist and scream “rob me.”  Personally I think my kids are just in cahoots because they’ve been trying to get me to ditch the fanny pack for years.   Here is a picture of me wearing my favorite fanny pack on a recent vacation:

How perfect is that?  My arms are free and yet it has room for all the essentials…a water bottle, sunglasses, my camera, cell phone, wallet and make-up. Plus it even has separate compartments so everything is all organized and handy. It might even qualify as cozy casual.

But I guess since Kim and most of her friends in Ecuador have actually been robbed several times I will trust her judgment, even though I doubt any of them were wearing fanny packs.


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Cozy Casual

I often find the most difficult part of attending events is figuring out what to wear. Usually the invitation has a suggested dress code, but trying to suss out exactly what the secret code means can be a major undertaking. Long gone are the simple days of “formal, semi-formal,and casual” (meaning: really dress up, wear something in between a ball gown & hoe-down clothes, or jeans are OK as long as they don’t have holes).  Several years ago, I received my first confusing invitation asking me to wear “Cocktail Attire.” I thought cocktails were something you drink, not wear. But we figured that out and didn’t look too out of place, I hope.

Jim at his first Cocktail Party

Next came “Resort Casual”. Once again, I was stymied……a bathing suit? fishing gear? Bermuda shorts with flip flops and a big-brimmed sun hat? That’s what I would wear at a resort if I was feeling casual. Luckily Jim could get guidance on this one from someone who knew the code, presumably because Ben grew up in fancy Charleston Society instead of Venado Lakes where anything above & beyond cut-off jeans would elicit a “whooooaaa, aren’t YOU stuck-up?” and probably a push off the dock into the lake, or at least a beer-dowsing.

My idea of resort casual

The male version of these tricky dress codes is usually much easier than the female version. If you’re not sure, bring the tie & jacket and once you see what everyone else has on you can dump one or both. But “Resort Casual,” turned out to be pretty specific  for men, while women had more freedom. I have never seen more men in khakis, pastel shirts with no tie opened just a bit at the top,and blue blazers in one place at one time in my entire life, and I’m not sure I ever want to again. However, Jim did get a new pink shirt out of the deal even though he did not get to wear his favorite sandals and dark socks combination.

No sooner had we mastered Resort Casual than I was faced with “Dressy Casual”. Huh? Which is it…..dressy or casual? A nice dress with tennis shoes? Your best sparkly track suit?   And “Festive”?  Does that involve a grass skirt or Sombrero?  I’ve also done “Smart Casual”. And did you know the definition of “informal” changes depending on whether its day or night? 

Now, I have another invitation for another obligatory really exciting and awesome fundraising event.  And here is where the new learning comes into play.  For this one we are supposed to wear “Cozy Casual.” My immediate thought was that I need to get a Snuggie.

Then I thought I’d better Google “Cozy Casual”, just to make sure.  The Internet isn’t giving me much help with this one.   One of the first links that came up was for an actual “Cozy Casual” store.  They won’t let me download their copyrighted images, but trust me when I say I can’t really imagine the Fundraising moms having these clothes in mind when they decided on cozy casual.  And besides, its too cold for lacy tank-tops over zebra-striped leggings and I can’t afford the black leather jacket with all the zippers.

So moving on to the next Google results……perfect, here’s an article from New York about the cozy casual clothes at a fashion show.   If I can just follow their guidelines, I’ll show up looking like a suave and sophisticated, ultra-chic “Cozy Casual” expert.  Except I can’t understand a damn word it says: A girlishness and eclecticism are pervading some of the major labels of the week. At DKNY, Donna Karan crossed Bauhaus grid patterns and Deco florals with equestrian and haberdashery influences and gave it all a naughty schoolgirl spin. Skirts were micro short or mini kilts, paired with a man’s overcoat cropped to jacket length, and worn with ankle socks and platform brogues. But there was nothing too junior about the blanket trench trimmed in leather, the collage sweaters and hip tie dresses and the silver-painted faux fur coat. Too cool for school.

The best I can surmise, I’m supposed to wear a way too-short skirt with horses and stand on a platform speaking with an Irish accent.  Given the length of the uniform skirts I’ve seen on some of the girls at school,  that might be right.  And based on the pictures of the models, I’m also not supposed to brush my hair and I need to stock up on ghoul-white Halloween make up.

Looking all Cozy and Casual

Oh good, I think I already have this outfit in my closet


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Cats drink differently than dogs

Today’s learning comes to us compliments of 14 y/o Anna, who strongly believes teachers waste way too much of her time teaching her things she will “never need to use in real life.”   You know, spending time on things like algebraic equations rather than how to balance a checkbook (hint—if your education doesn’t go beyond learning how to balance a checkbook, you’re not going to have any money in the checkbook to balance).  Or they make their students memorize facts about some war that happened back before they were even born (like anything that happened longer than 15 years ago could even be important, much less interesting) when they could be using that valuable time to draw more wolf-like cartoon characters or hold a skype conference to discuss who likes who and what they should wear to the dance.

But in the midst of hearing her out and listening to the examples of totally WORTHLESS learning she has had to waste valuable brain-space on she said, “For instance, who CARES how cats drink?!   Why is it even important to learn that cats don’t lap their water up using their tongue like a ladle, like a dog does?”

Well, I care.  And Jim cared too.  So we had her explain process to us, and find a you-tube video to show us how cats actually curl their tongues the other way and pull the water up by kind of splashing into their mouths. And thus I learned my new fact, which I thought was pretty cool even if it didn’t involve any useful life-lessons such as where to buy the right undergarments to match your strapless dress or how its important to brush your tongue with a special tongue de-germing device to prevent bad breath.


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Quick, teach me something!

I realized this morning I didn’t learn or experience anything new yesterday.   Surely there must be SOMETHING – after all, isn’t the saying, “You learn something new everyday?”    But if I did learn something, I sure can’t think of what it was.  I heard news and learned new things about other people, but I don’t think that counts as knowledge.    So educate me…..I’ll make up for it today and do some extra learning.


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