It’s a wrap




I hear it again and again… from family, friends, my son’s teachers. But it never gets me down; it will never change me.  I am who I am.

I love plastic wrap.

And I love a securely wrapped item sealed with the industrial-sized (‘food service grade’) plastic wrap that I lovingly keep on my counter at all times. Right behind my cutting board. It is always there for me.  It understands my need like no one else.  It lasts me 2-3 years at a time (because, well, yes, I date each new box…I’m a stats-nerd on a very shallow level…10/28/2012).

I was unaffected when my kindergarten-sized son would tell me his teachers couldn’t get his lunch items unwrapped.  I am unfazed at my step-father’s angst during Christmas when he cannot figure out how to unseal the cookie plate.  Find the crinkly edge, I advise, and work from there. You can always get in with a little perseverance.  It’s not Fort Knox, it’s just food.  Scissors – there’s always scissors.

I can unwrap any item I wrap – the formula for wrapping is always the same. With a little practice, you too can do it.  All my wrapping starts with a long piece that goes under that item and folds over; then turn 90 degrees and repeat.  If there is any possibility that air might invade, OR something can shift, I give it an extra piece across the top that tucks in at the bottom.  So start at the bottom… if that doesn’t work, start at the top…you can get in; I have faith in you.  And, well, scissors. There’s always scissors.

Ahh - that's the stuff...3000 square feet of happiness

Ahh – that’s the stuff…3000 square feet of happiness. Only my brother-in-law and my baker-friend, Leesa, understand

For Calahan

For Calahan – can or can you not open it?


This shall be opened only by a magi or someone handy with scissors ~

Posted in Baking, Food, Humor, Secrets | Tagged , , , , | 52 Comments

Rotary Terrors

It starts the same way every time…the dial-face looking at me. Me looking back. Even before my finger finds the “9” hole in the dial, I know I will not be able to manage this kind of phone. It’s a rotary phone. My finger starts its upward escalation and for a reason I never understand I cannot complete the motion all the way around…The danger is becoming more menacing and I’m in a full on panic, desperately trying to dial 911. Sometimes I get the ‘9’ completed but the ‘1’, which should be the easiest to dial, eludes me utterly. As the danger increases my abilities to dial decreases until I abruptly wake up. All day long I have a vague sense of unease. And then it passes.

I’ve had this dream ever since I could remember and I’m pretty sure it’s the reason I have a deep seated dislike for phones and phone-related technology. Even beyond the obvious reasons that most people complain about them in our phone-obsessed society. I hate phones for those reasons too – no worries. But it goes farther than that.

What prompted this phone post was a recent event at our house. My kid’s friend (age 10) spent the night and the next morning was calling his mom. I handed him our phone – the kind that has a (tangled) cord and mounts to the wall. He dialed than stared at the handset in confusion and said he didn’t know how to use our phone.  Hee hee…I suspect he was looking for some kind of ‘send’ button. Ironically, I’m usually the one staring hopelessly at any number of phone-based technologies and asking “how do you use this thing?” – From the simple cordless phone, to the dreaded work-phone-systems all the way to smart phones.  I still have an actual machine that answers the phone.  I like it that way.  I use manual caller ID: they call…they listen to the message…and they identify themselves.  Then I decide if I’m going to answer or not (most likely “or not”). I refuse to have a phone message service. Having to call to retrieve my messages defeats the whole purpose of having an answering machine; which is to not have to use the phone.

I like the wall phones with a cord and a number pad. And message machines.  So I basically stopped at that point along the phone-evolutionary chain. I jumped for joy when rotary phones went out of fashion. But pagers were a horrifying fad or gateway drug to cellphones, as I like think of them.  I’ve never even used a pager because even then (I was in my late teens/early 20s) I knew it was a bad decision to make yourself readily available at all times.  I have a cell phone – but it’s a relic. Don’t get me wrong, I think cell phones are great for emergency situations – but beyond that….the thought of having a phone constantly on me and ringing all the time puts me off. I advise most people to not call me on my cell (if they happen to have the number, which I cannot remember so I have it taped to the back of the phone). If they leave a message, it might be days before I turn my phone on. And a few more before I realized I have a message. I have to admit I get annoyed at having phone messages that I have to retrieve – which is irrational, I know.  My favorite is when people ask me how come I never answered their text messages…that they’ve unknowingly sent to my landline.  Also, the general assumption that have caller ID on that phone is kind of irritating but their loss, if they  call and leave no number….meh… one less call to make.

One of my friends used to keep their rotary (ahhhh!) phone in their freezer – so I’m not the only weird one.

I will end this short and pointless rant with some DJ Dave. We agree about phone-related technology.

Posted in Aversions, Humor, Philosophy, Random Thoughts, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 29 Comments

A Leap of Faith – The Week Wrap Up!

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

And finally – the wrap-up on the reblog posts for Progressive Education.

Originally posted on The Mercenary Researcher:

The Wrap-up and a Huge THANK YOU!

“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” 
― Leonardo da Vinci

This last post wraps up my series on A Leap of Faith – Jumping Across the Abyss to Progressive Education.

However, we will have a couple of treats for you NEXT WEEK! I have some POV’s about education from places OTHER than America! Stay Tuned!!

But before that happens …

I want to thank the contributors, Jennifer, Harrison & Janet, for taking time out of their day to write a post for The Mercenary Researcher. Their insight and experiences are truly inspiring; exploring the road less traveled takes courage.  For all the great things each person wrote, there were undoubtedly rocky parts along the path.

I know my son was teased in summer camp by kids because he didn’t go to a ‘real…

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A Leap of Faith – A Parent’s Prespective

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

Here is part 4 – one of my favorite Kino parents ~

Originally posted on The Mercenary Researcher:

The mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled.  


I love this quote and was tickled to see that last part of the phrase on the outside of a garbage can at my son’s school…….. “ a vessel to be filled.”   Clever I thought.

My son’s school is based on a model of education called Progressive Education.  A model I stumbled across over 20 years ago.   I had been a Speech Pathologist and worked with children with learning disabilities for many years.  It was disheartening to see 7 and 8 year old students who had already given up on…

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A Leap of Faith – A Student’s Perspective

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

Part 3 – a Student’s Perspective

Originally posted on The Mercenary Researcher:

The Thoughtful Student

“For most people, the fundamental reason to choose, or offer, a progressive education is a function of their basic values: ‘a rock-bottom commitment to democracy,’ as Joseph Featherstone put it; a belief that meeting children’s needs should take precedence over preparing future employees; and a desire to nourish curiosity, creativity, compassion, skepticism, and other virtues.”

-Alfie Kohn, “Progressive Education”

When Denise asked me if I could contribute an article on progressive education, I was excited and nervous. I was nervous because for many years, a progressive approach to education has been a central part of my life, but because it is so important to me, I had trouble deciding where I should begin. Should I start with my own experiences: many years of various forms of traditional education, which I owe many things to, but which failed to fulfill some very basic needs of mine? Or overcoming…

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A Leap of Faith – A Teacher’s Perspective

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

Part two today – Teacher’s Perspective — enjoy

Originally posted on The Mercenary Researcher:

Unconditional Teaching

“Accepting students for who they are, rather than what they do, is integrally related to the teaching of a whole child”

– Alfie Kohn, The Whole Child

People often ask me why I am a teacher, they say things like “Well, you must have a really hard time with all the testing and standardized learning” or “That must require a lot of grading.” When I respond with “ No, the school I teach in does not believe in testing” or “ I really don’t grade, we write individual assessments on each child’s progress” they look at me with a sense of great confusion.

You see, I teach in a progressive education school. A large majority of people don’t really know what a progressive school is, or what it is all about. When I explain to them that it is very much about fostering self- directed learning, and being…

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A Leap of Faith – A Series on Progressive Education

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

Greeting People,
It’s November – you know that time of year.. no, not holidays – but that time of year when the first big break from school starts happening – and parents begin assessing their child’s education and/or start pressuring others about their child’s education. It’s enough to give you an ulcer.

So last year I began a series on Progressive Education and invited different kinds of authors to present their experiences on progressive education. I’m going to reblog them.

And here’s the update, we are still at the same school. My ‘5th’ grader/Mid Level son is now in his first year of Jr High. I was a bit worried – there was community service volunteering to be done, more classes, more work, more participation, some essays and a final project. Would he be able to do all that? Would he actually choose to go to classes?

Frankly, I was blown away. He’s got his project underway, has completed half his community service volunteering and has ‘exceeded’ expectations of all his teachers. I keep wondering if it’s just temporary or I’m dreaming… but so far so good. This kid is growing up…and he’s engaged in his education – that’s all I can ask for.

So without further ado… please enjoy
A Leap of Faith – A Series on Progressive Education ~

Originally posted on The Mercenary Researcher:

Jumping Across the Abyss to Progressive Education

“We destroy the … love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards–gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean’s lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys — in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else.”

–          Alfie Kohh,  Author, Speaker & Educator

It starts around late November, that niggling feeling that I might have made the wrong decision.  I listen to the chatter around the Thanksgiving table.  My stomach lurches.

  • My child has made the honor roll again – so I bought her a new iPad
  • My child is in the gifted program
  • My child has 3 hours of tutoring every day after school, then martial arts…

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Posted in Blogging, Childhood, Children, Education, Humor, Parenting, Philosophy, Progressive Education, Society, Teachers, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments