Friday, May 27, 2005

For the fashionable homeschooling mom

In celebration of RR&R's recent addition to the HE&OS blogroll, I present to you the Shoe of Homeschooling Happiness:

I have a similar black and gray pair of Enzos which I wear often with yoga pants, capris, shirt dresses, skorts and --of course-- my closet full of denim jumpers. These lovelies by Nuala are on clearance at BlueFly.

[Note to new visitors: Natalie regularly celebrates momentous occasions such as personal and federal holidays, accomplishments, bad moods, bar mitzvahs, Spring equinox, hormonal fluctuations, etc,. with shoe purchases. However, in an attempt to rein in the budget, she has taken to blogging rather than buying the appropriate shoe for the occasion. In keeping with budgetary constraints, all shoes blogged on RR&R are on sale. Links provided for those of you with no self control.]

Monday, May 23, 2005

MS Biz--May Article

Guilt: A Southern Fried Epidemic
by Natalie West Criss
Assistant Editor
Metro Business Chronicle

It is a basic fact of life that men and women behave differently, but no place is this more complicated than the office where our Southern-influenced feminine socialization and modern expectations collide. When is “demure” manipulative? At what point does “assertive” become “bitchy”? Exactly how nice is too nice? Finding that line of demarcation and navigating adjacent gray areas can affect how successful we are in achieving our career goals.

I just started reading a book by Lois P. Frankel, PhD., called Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers. The premise of the book is clear and its contents somewhat predictable, but there is something innately disturbing about reading a list of errors aimed at poking holes in one’s comfort zone. More than anything, it has confirmed my suspicions about my own shortcomings and highlighted just how common these are.

Although she doesn’t address it directly, most of the mistakes Dr. Frankel highlights can be attributed to guilt. Guilt breeds insecurity. Insecurity begets indecision. Indecision is deadly to success. In the game of business strategy (and it is a game), guilt makes losers out of potential champions and whiners out of would-be winners.

We often joke that it is better to ask forgiveness than permission, but we typically do not practice this at the office. When it comes to appropriate expenditures, time-constraints, ethical business favors and personal commitments, we “just want to be sure.” We unnecessarily ask permission, work longer hours, apologize too quickly, pad declarative or critical statements, make self-deprecating remarks, overextend ourselves, and don’t take credit for our successes. Heaven forbid that we inconvenience, offend or disappoint anyone. It might make us or someone else feel bad.

The professional women I know in the Metro have no problems getting their Via Spigas in doors, are not plagued by an inability to perform and easily gain the respect and trust of colleagues. At some point in our careers, we must transition from that dependable girl Friday to elite woman executive who guides the company. When that time comes, guilt can cause even the most confident, secure, poised, prepared woman to pause. And she who hesitates…

I have a local friend with a long history in sales. She gives a solid presentation, seems assertive, looks fantastic, follows through, connects well with people and maintains strong relationships. Sounds perfect, right? Her sales have stagnated, because she is uncomfortable asking for money. Instead, she believes that if the rest of her presentation is strong enough, the sale will close itself (which it sometimes does, sometimes doesn’t, hence the plateau.). Somehow, putting a potential client on the spot and pushing for commitment seems wrong to her. This is inaction rooted in guilt.

Another Jackson businesswoman I know possesses many of the same qualities. However, she likens closing a sale to going in for the kill, even once comparing her ability to recognize closing cues as “the smell of blood in the water.” Now, she gets it. She plays the game and knows how to win it ethically and unapologetically. There is nothing wrong with that.

In what is still largely a man’s world, guilt is predominantly a woman’s issue. Due in part to our Southern conditioning and our unrealistic expectations to be everything to everyone while attempting to have it all, we set ourselves up for failure, disappointment and, yes, more guilt. Fortunately, reprioritizing, reorganizing and reassessing internal goals and motivation easily break this cycle. Changing the way one views herself externally in the workplace marks the difference between consistent Team Player and invaluable Team Leader.

Still, some women refuse to even acknowledge that there is a game, not because they don’t know how to utilize appropriate strategy, but because they view engaging in office politics, strategic jockeying and calculated confrontation as manipulative and, therefore, wrong. As bastions of male subordinates sail through the ranks ahead of them, these women hamper their careers by limiting themselves within boundaries that they themselves created.

It is understandable that many who remain in subordinate positions despite having done everything right feel victimized by discrimination. While I don’t dispute that the glass ceiling exists, I do think it is smudged with the nose prints of aspiring female executives who have locked themselves out of the party.
Copyright Natalie West Criss 2005

Life Happenings...

Last week, while dining with my husband, I started to forego my usual entree just so I could exclaim, "I'll have the filet, buster!" Needless to say, the fight in the Senate remains top of mind. Other than escalating reports of "Here it comes!" followed by recycled information, there isn't much to report except that, once again, it seems to be coming to a head.

The inclusive PEAK Homeschool Network of Mississippi has sprouted another branch in the Golden Triangle, bringing us to a total of five groups (Midsouth, Tupelo, Triangle, Jackson, and the Gulf Coast) , not including the statewide legal forum. That's exciting considering that we were born in August. I must take full credit for its growth, because I have an uncanny ability to stay out of the way of naturally talented people, a knack for laying low, and a general aversion for being called "THE LEADER." Others call this lazy. I call it decentralization.

The weather has been lovely (90+ and humid...Aaah, spring) with just enough rain to soften the soil create that radiating steam sauna effect. I've been escavating the flowerbeds in the backyard, which haven't been worked in at least 5 years. I hate landscape cloth, particularly when it is buried under thriving colonies of weeds growing in 4 inches of decayed mulch. However, the end result will be beautiful and my skin looks great.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Ungraduation Store

Excerpt from the latest press release:

"Home Educator and long time blogger Chris O'Donnell has announced the non-opening of The Ungraduation Store at his well known website ODonnellWeb. This initiative is the antidote to those attempting to cash in on the latest educational craze, homeschooling. The Ungraduation Store will feature no products, and the website will never actually be created."

Thank you, Chris, for your non-support.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

TN Gov's poll: Geez, I'm stuffed!

Update: The poll has been removed (Sunday, May 15).

Seems that someone has been tampering with the ballot box on Gov. Bredesen's no-comments-allowed "blog" know, besides us. Though I'd hardly consider the results of a poll on a blog a "mandate", the fact that the Gov is interested enough that he would urge his pre-K proponents to vote is telling.

At last check, we Nays were just barely ahead (49% Againt, 48% For, 3% Undecided).

Tip Credit: Diane Flynn Keith

Criss Family Chronicle Debut

I've decided to use RR&R as a political/homeschooling news/occassional rant blog. Therefore, I present to you the Criss Family Chronicle, our personal homeschooling and family news blog. Stop by and say hello!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Gridlock is Good

The fight for the filibuster, which has been building for weeks, will come to a head very soon and rage on afterward with the Democrats threatening to shut down the government if they lose.
Under the so-called nuclear option scenario, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., will ask for a ruling from the chair -- where Vice President Dick Cheney will be sitting -- that will permit an end to debate on judicial nominees by a simple majority of 51 senators, not the current 60. If Frist is successful, the Democrats are expected to bring much of the Senate's business to a halt. Frist said Friday he would bring the nominations of Priscilla Owen to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Janice Rogers Brown to the 9th Circuit to a vote this week.

I'm just a poll and I'm sittin' at the State Capitol

But if things go my way
I just might be some day
...A bill

[my profound apologies to SchoolHouse Rock]

I know, it's just a poll. An unscientific on, at that. However, this one is on the TN Gov's blog page and asks if preschool should be "expanded" (read "mandatory"). Of course, my vote is no but the results show 58% in favor of mandatory preschool.

For those of you in MS, our officials watch the events in border states. Last session, MS legislatures introduced measures to prohibit parents from pulling their children from kindergarten during the school year, make kindergarten mandatory (effectively lowering the compulsory age to 5), move the 6-by birthday to January 1 or then to August 1 and other such items aimed at getting and keeping our kids on the school radar sooner and longer. Fortunately, these all died in committee this year, but many states signed bills lowering the compulsory school age to 3.

It's worth keeping an eye on what's going on around us.

Texas Teacher is Fed Up

And who can blame her? Just another example of the tragic results of incentive-based testing.
I challenge any administrator, teacher, parent, editor of any published material to come into a class, sit all day long with nothing but a restroom break, a 30 minute lunch break with no recess time, attend to the test and pass it! These children are 10 years old. Research shows us that developmentally, they can attend to a task no longer than 15 minutes. After that period of time, their minds are on some other task, play time, Mom, Dad, or friends. Some who are very bright have been "trained" to attend...I'm asking the public...Can't we do something to
stop this?
No wonder students in Texas are rebelling (login info-- email: password: homeschoo!).

Hat tip: The Other Mother

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Filibuster: Fight or Fright

You already know how I feel, so I'll can the commentary.

Showdown in the Senate
"The Senate's Republican and Democratic leaders called yesterday for a prompt showdown in the impasse over judicial nominations, a move that would undercut moderates' efforts to find a compromise to the long-running dispute..."

Demagogue Democrat
"Mr. Wallis told the bishops that Americans want a new way to mesh biblical faith and politics, using more conservative views on abortion and family issues with liberal takes on the poor, the environment and race issues..."

Political Pastor Packing
A Baptist pastor accused of threatening to banish from his church anyone who didn't vote for President Bush has chosen to depart, saying he spoke out on candidates' stances but did not make political endorsements...

Hat tip: TIA Daily

And now for something completely different

I've been tagged by Jema. Doggone it. Since she cornered me, I am fulfilling my obligation (I'll get you for this, woman.).

If I could be a (better) writer...I would be, no, I should be more disciplined. I'm perpetually late, unintentionally sloppy, and (most recently) extremely uninspired. That said, I believe I'm a much better writer in print than I am on this blog. It is much easier to write for a defined audience numbering in the tens of thousands as opposed to the nameless, faceless, countless e-masses who just happen to click by. However, since my role as an editor/writer increased as of last month, I need to get off my lazy duff and shed some ink. Perhaps a combination of cardio-vernacular, syntactic strengthening, and page lifting is in order. I began last week with Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation and Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English. Both are light, entertaining, and revealing (News Flash: It's perfectly alright to end a sentence with a preposition. How liberating! From now on and as frequently as possible, I intend to.). I highly recommend them to anyone who utilizes language in any way.

If I could be a painter...I'd try to convey with color, light and texture what I attempt to do with words: interpret the beauty and complexities of reality. I am much more intrigued by art that mimics life (forget that meaningless post-modern BS). Currently, I am thoroughly disappointed with (and sometimes disgusted by) the art that garners attention these days. However, there is an artist in the MS Delta whose work I'd love to own: Sylvia Ledoux. Sylvia, whose work is like Monet viewed through prescription lenses, can paint Delta scenes so vivid that one can almost feel the weight of the humidity in the air (I originally cited another artist here as well, but cannot find info on him. Will update if I find it).

If I could be a gardener...I'd grow my own vegetables and herbs. Growing up, my dad had a "garden plot" (aka small plantation) that we kids plowed (remind me to tell you about the time Dad decided to plow with a mule...), sowed, weeded, and harvested every year whether we liked it or not. I didn't know it at the time, but the food we grew allowed us to eat and trade for things we would not have been able to afford otherwise (we was po'). Though we complained loudly and often, it truly was a character-building I'd like to inflict, er, share with my children.

If I could be a chef...preparing incredible meals from in-season produce from my own garden would be a thrill. Instead of bragging to my family about the great deal I got on this-here pot roast, I could include them in the from-the-plot-to-the-pot experience. When I grew older, I'd pass down my heavily guarded secrets to my grandchildren (and tell them for the seventeenth time about the time their great-grandpa tried to plow with a mule).

Ok, let's see. One more...

If I could be a justice on any one court in the world...well, duh. Read the blog! lol

Since I must tag three more people, lest I meet a fate worse than toenail fungus or death, I chose the next three people who read this...tag, you're it.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Extreme Makeover: US Military Edition

"Before and After" photos:
"Why life as a top Al Qaeda operative is not good for your health and well-being, not to mention your skin."
Overheard: "Does the diameter of this spider hole make my ass look big?"

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Great Review from Planet Weekly

Criss Takes Aim
by Julie Whitehead
Planet Weekly Contributor

The very cover of Jack Criss’ Ready, Aim, Right! Editorials, Essays, and Reviews 1990-2004 (Quail Ridge Press) conveys a hyperbolic picture of the rhetoric inside – you see Criss with a Dirty Harry scowl aiming a ballpoint pen and standing in a peculiar battle stance. There seems to be a whole “the-pen-is-mightier-than-the-sword” vibe going on here – but it is a largely accurate representation of the type of aggressiveness Criss brings to his writing, as we see in the opening essay, “Civility by the Wayside,” first published in the April 2001 Delta Business Journal:

“It’s a shame and disgrace when the wonders of modern technology are used to produce such an abundance of Neanderthal products and traits. But that is the world we live in. We either act to change our corner of it, or be overrun by all the junk. As a father, writer, and businessperson, I plan to fight back. Are you with me?”

Similar denunciations of crass culture, politics, and business practices follow in various chapters, all culled from the editorial pages of the Jackson Business Journal, the Delta Business Journal, and Metro Business Journal, where Criss has held various editorial positions over the years. But readers shouldn’t stereotype Criss as a Bible-thumping red-state conservative theocrat – further reading reveals a distaste for conservatives who preach censorship under the rubric of family values and a taste for such private pleasures as Dewar’s on the rocks and an occasional issue of Playboy. Read more...

Cobranchi Lawsuit

Beloved blogger and homeschool advocate, Daryl Cobranchi, has been threatened with a lawsuit for defamation and libel over a couple of obscure, archived posts. Thanks to Mimi Rothschild of Learning By Grace for giving this information new life. I wonder who she'll threaten to sue for the bad publicity her organization is about to receive.

Rothschild's claims are bogus and unsubstantiated. If you have a blog, online group or message board, spread the word and cast some light on this.