The “New Math”

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One day,  a cave man put his interesting rock down next to another interesting rock. And something happened. An idea began to percolate in the depths of his tiny underdeveloped brain. “Hurg! Gurp!” he exclaimed! He had more rock! 

He scooped up his treasure and ran to the next cave where his buddy was chillin by the fire; “Hurg! GURP!” he explained to his buddy and set the rock next to the other rock to demonstrate his cleverness. “Meh…” said his buddy. And buddy got up and set down his rock, and another rock, and another rock. 

“Derp!” said the first cave man. His buddy had more more rock. It didn’t look the same as his more rock. So he hoiked up his loincloth, stuck out his tongue and decided he would have to give each more rock it’s own name. “Hurr…Dee…Durr” as he pointed to each rock in his buddy’s collection. Then he did the same for his- “Hurr..Dee……” and then, sweat pouring off his slopey brow, he gathered all the more rock together and declared “Hurr…Dee…Durr…Dum……Doh!”.

The second cave man took Hurr rock and bonked the first cave man on the head and wandered off.

Not much has changed about Math since then.

Well… until recently.

We are one curriculum change away from teaching kids that “the answer is whatever you feel it should be! If you want 2+3 to equal watermelon, then that’s just fine little Bobby! Good for you!”

For the moment however, the child has been coming home with an increasingly frustrating amount of unfinished math work all to do with guesstimating. Yep. “Use any one or two of these hundred vague strategies to estimate the answer to this question”

In theory, you can figure this out in your head in the same amount of steps, without having any other basic math skills.

In theory, you can figure this out in your head in the same amount of steps, without having any other basic math skills.

I get the point- they’re trying to teach kids “better” ways to solve more complicated problems. But where are the basics? I did the basics. Husband did the basics- and so did just about every parent out there with school aged children.

We did THESE...lots and lots of these fuc*ers

We did THESE…lots and lots of these fuc*ers

Remember Math Drills? The teacher would set the clock and you had one or two or five minutes to stumble through and get as many as you could. And eventually, if you made any effort at all, when someone asked you what’s 7×8, you knew, without counting on your fingers or outright having a STROKE that the answer was 56.

NOW, though, ask your 5th grader what’s 7×8, and they go through their little arsenal of half baked “strategies” and tell you “umm… it’s about 60”

Well, at this rate, “about 60” is how old I will be when my child will be able to move out of the house. Because without knowing how More Rock caveman and buddy caveman have together, higher education is but a dream.

Except I refuse to just sit by while the school system screws up with their “everyone must finish the race” policy. I know my kid is smart enough to know the difference between getting by, failing, and success. And emotionally mature enough to survive if he’s told that he is failing/losing/wrong.

So at home, we’ve started doing… (you guessed it!) MATH DRILLS. Five measly minutes a day, and none of the answers involve the words “About” or “Watermelon”. College, here we come!

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What are you doing here?

Not everyone wakes up one day and decides “Wow! Riding in the back of an ambulance up to my elbows in someone’s guts sounds like FUN!”

In fact, very very few people ever come to that realization.
And really, I didn’t just suddenly come to that either.

But everyone in my class has had to answer that question at least 100 times over the last few years. Starting at EMR (basic first responder) level, and through the interview and competitive selection process for EMT, and again each time we are meeting a new instructor; “Tell me your name, why are you here, and an interesting fact about yourself”. And we go through the whole class all over again.

I did my best to come up with a new and interesting answer every time; kind of a challenge to myself. If all I can come up with is one reason, what am I doing here?

So! We’re elbow deep in the course now. Reading week is upon us (hallelujah!), and today is all about doing nothing school related… nevermind I’ve already been up googling EMS news and that new gunshot tool.

This is not a toy!

What Am I Doing Here?
– I have for as long as I can remember wanted to be an “ambulance attendant”. No kidding. Even before I really understood what they did, I was fascinated by how confident and efficient they looked when they arrived at a scene. How they always seemed to know what to do, and had a handle on things. Hero Worship.

– Before I knew what it was they really did, I was good at it. In the midst of a crisis of any kind, I would feel a calm come over me and it would seem as though everything just slowed right down. Plenty of time to think and decide on an action. People would notice that I wasn’t the “Stand there and Scream” type and gravitate towards me and expect me to know what to do. And so I would do something.

– Show me the Bloody. Yes, there are some things that are just effing GROSS. They are usually the things that have special smells to go with them. To quote one of my instructors “Body Cheese is a Real Thing people- deal with it”. But in the moment, when someone is hurt or sick and they’re looking at me to Do Something, I’m rarely bothered by the Really Gross.

-Ultimately, I am already the go to in my family for the Really Gross and the Bloody. And generally in the workplace, and whenever we are camping… I have First Aided all sorts of things from smashed fingers to nasty gouges to punctured air mattresses. I’ve been lucky enough to help out in the ER when the nurses realize I’m calm and competent and can follow instructions.

And finally (this is the one I usually keep to myself)
– Firefighters. I get to hang out with Firefighters. COME ON! How cool is that?!

Approximately 2% of all calls for an ambulance are actually serious emergencies. The rest are slip-and-falls, fender benders, “my back is out”, and “I googled this pain I’m having…”.

I am under absolutely ZERO illusions that this career involves any kind of real glory, and quite often, no gratitude. The only time you get your picture in the paper is when you crash the ambulance or get caught doing something embarrassing in uniform. Most of the people you deal with are sick, dying, really old or homeless, and in the true emergent cases, there’s often nothing at all you can do for them. Nothing.

So, that’s what I’m doing here. Giving Oxygen, rides to the hospital, and dosing reassurance. Because it’s what I’m good at. It’s what I’ve always wanted to be, and really, what I already am. (and even better when I start getting paid for it).

“Fun” is not the “F” word we’re looking for. (it’s actually “Firefighter”)

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Here- hold this…

Today was one of those “Everyone’s an Asshole” days. Every. Single. One of you. (Don’t get all riled up, what I mean by that is, I was a cranky difficult bitch all day and had my head too far up my own ass to have a clear point of view)

But it seemed like every opportunity I had to swing back above the crapline, something would happen and send me back. A Snakes and Ladders Day if you will. Except all snakes.

So one of the skills stations we worked today was all about stretcher handling, patient lifts and the dreaded “stair chair”. Way back when I took my EMR course, I had just had my gallbladder out and wasn’t able to participate- so this time I had hijacked a classmate last week who works inter-facility transfer and had her brush me up a bit on how the stretchers went up and down, with and without weight, and how to do it without murdering my back.

Keeping in mind, I already know how to lift properly in general- it’s more to do with how to do that using different types of equipment, and efficiently, and communicating with your lift partner.

Now. Little Miss Instructor has been working in EMS for… 8 or so years. Little Miss Instructor runs the whole lab, everyone gets a turn, including me, and everyone gets critiqued-except me. Which is fine by me- as I was the only one in the group who was able to do the lifts smoothly and competently, and with appropriate technique.

The thing is, “appropriate technique” includes not only the basics of safe lifting; keep weight close, lift with legs not your back, communicate with lifting buddy etc- but appropriate for me. I am 5’8”, have a…rather forward center of gravity, and a great deal more upper body strength than most women. Broad of shoulder and hip, I am MUCH more comfortable and STABLE with a fairly wide stance and transitioning from a “sumo” squat to standing to finishing the lift with my shoulders and biceps when necessary. I did about 40 versions of that lift today with both empty stretchers and with other classmates strapped on. Smooth and competent.

Finally, Little Miss Instructor realizes I’m the only one she hasn’t “tweaked” technique with and marches over and sets me up to lift like she does… Like a 5’3” 130 pound, skinny armed girl. Now, she’s great. I promise. And she has had to develop her own technique(s) to compensate for her size, especially since most patients over the age of say..16 are bigger than her. I get that. And she has years more experience on the job. I also get that. So in the interest of cooperation (she’s the one handing out the mark on the activity) I decide to give it a go.

Narrow stance, shins right up against the stretcher, ass out, knees bent and I’m practically nose to nose with my patient having to lean right over the top and as I lift I feel my knee grind and a twinge in my back so I just stopped right there.

“That isn’t going to work for me” I said

“Oh, well that’s the way I do it…umm”

“Ok, I understand why you want us all to lift the same way, but we aren’t all the same… would you be willing to try it my way and see if you can feel a problem with my technique?”

“Uh, sure, ok”

And she gets right up against the stretcher with a wider stance and toes out and gives it a go… but oh.. what now… she’s not tall enough to complete the lift…and doesn’t have the upper body strength to go any further… imagine that…

At that point, all she could reasonably say is “you’re obviously using your legs to lift and you seem stable like that so if it works for you…”

And fortunately she left it at that. So I carried my disgruntled mood into the next activity, which included waiting 20 minutes for that instructor to return from whatever he had wandered off to do, and then start a scenario where I “accidentally” killed a patient just so I could stop having to manually stabilize his stupid pretend open fracture.

Yes… extraordinarily unprofessional, (and petty and immature) but I promise never to do that outside of Scenarioland. And provided I’m not forced to injure myself before I’m even done the course, I will even wrangle your stretcher like a pro.

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Its that time of year. We’ve already had the generic “head lice” notice come home from the district “although no cases have been reported at your school, consider yourselves warned, and stay itchy my friends“… And even better, a measles outbreak in the southern part of the province. MEASLES! You know, one of those things we were all vaccinated against? And as dutiful parents willing to do anything to avoid having your kids get horribly sick, you had your kids vaccinated too…right?

the Internet told you not to…

Well I’m here on the Internet telling you that I think you’re a moron. “Preventable disease”.
I’m posting from my phone this morning so I’m not going to go dig up links and stats, but what you need to know is that the risk of complication from the vaccine is naught but a blip compared to the surety of miserable suffering caused by the illnesses intended to prevent. (Oh, and if your little organic eating ankle biter does get measles, the provincial health authority requires you keep them home and away from the population for 21 days! Neat!)

Now- I’m going to qualify that statement by saying I think the flu shot is mostly bunk- unless you are in a high risk category, filling your system and activating your immune response for something you might or might not get sick with as a healthy adult… Well, thats different. And as adults, we can choose whether to put ourselves at risk for suffering. But when your tiny helpless child erupts in a painful rash and/or itchy pustules and is puking and has a fever of a zillion and five and keeps you up all night for a week… and manages to take down your entire group of bunny hugging Waldorf faceless doll collecting vegan friends and their offspring… Well, don’t say i didn’t warn you.

Yes, it’s that time of year. And if there were a vaccine for generic runny nose and sore throat and chapped lips and constant dry hacking cough- basically if there were a vaccine against school aged children… I would be ALL OVER IT!

I was talking to one of my European friends who explained to me about childhood vaccinations where shes from. “Oh, it’s simple- you don’t have to take your kids in to have them vaccinated, if you don’t, children’s services will come to the house and take them for you!” And forget going to school in some places- no vaccination records, no school. IT’S FOR A REASON!

At the very least, consider this. There are so, so many horrible things in this world that we have no ability to protect our children from. Why would you pass up an opportunity to protect them from potentially deadly childhood sickness?

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Mean Mommy- Idiot Mittens


the kind of cold when your nose hairs freeze :(

It gets cold here. Really really cold. This morning was -26 (that’s -14 to my friends south of the border). Now, where we’re from before we moved to the frozen Alberian wasteland, the coldest winter I can recall in Southern British Columbia was -16c (that’s 3degrees Fahrenheit). And the difference between dressing for winter there and here works out to about $200.00 a year minimum for a growing child. We used to get the next size up on winter clearance at WalMart on mittens, coats, snow pants etc. And they would do just fine. After -5, nobody wanted to go outside anyway.

Moving to Northern Alberta meant a major shift in our winter gear needs. Our first year, we started out with the warmest looking Walmart coat and the most convincing mittens and the poor kid froze his ass off at the bus stop. I had to send him out in layers and mittens under the mittens until I went out and forked over a couple hundred bucks on some Helly Hansen. That’s 40.00 just for mittens people. And knowing full well that he probably wasn’t going to fit any of it the next winter.

Now. How many 5 year olds do you know give a shit about how much their mittens cost? So after 3 or 4 trips through every lost and found bucket in the school and finally a new pair altogether, damned if I didn’t SEW THEM TO HIS COAT. He was horrified, and I laughed and laughed.

At the end of the first winter, I got wise. Week after week digging through the lost and found at school, I began to realize apparently I was the only parent who cared at all about mittens. And coats. And snow pants. I was seeing the same stuff- high end winter gear that made it into the bins and never ever got claimed. So on the very last day of school, at the very last hour before it was all gathered up and sent to charity, there I was shopping for next winter’s snow pants and mittens. Bad for my Karma I suppose, but a brilliant save to my wallet.

This was all back in my Super-Mom days. I had nothing better to do than make sure all the kids were suitably outfitted and could play outside in all but the nastiest weather. Between my own child and all the daycare kids I had, there were more than enough extra hats, gloves, scarves and one or two extra coats and pants to go around. The bin inside the closet was full of last years, this years, and next years winter gear.

Now, we’ve moved. There are still boxes and boxes of unidentified miscellany out in the garage- I started running out of motivation and space a few weeks in. In there, somewhere is the Winter Bin, although I suspect that my ever-growing mutant child will fit none of it. We did find some gloves, but after a few days it became obvious that they were not only too small, but had zero waterproof rating. It was time for new ones. So we bought him some really nice Head brand gloves- same as the ones his dad and I have. They’re so warm and fuzzy and waterproof and oh was he ever so grateful to have warm hands- for two days.

Yesterday I’m at the school pickup, dressed in my Frazzled Mommy best- tights and my warm work-boot socks stuffed into my lawn mowing sneakers and I see the kids come out and head in the wrong direction. I had been waiting so long already that I was moved all the way up to the school so I finally roll the window down and shout at them. “WHAT THE HELL!”

“We’re looking for my other glove” he shouts back. FACK.

I took the neighbor girls home and left him to wander in shame, still looking around for his bloody glove. When I returned I marched in and rechecked the lost and found, wandered the halls, double checked the locker, the office, the classroom and even the garbage cans up and down the hallway. No glove. I asked him “when’s the last time you had both of them on?”
“umm, outside?”

It’s frowned upon to throttle your child on school property.

The short car ride home was long enough for me to shout him into tears. “DO I HAVE TO STAPLE THEM TO YOUR WRISTS!?!”

Parenting is hard. All you can do is try not to screw your kids up the same way your parents did to you. And find NEW and creative ways to screw them up.

It’s frowned upon to send your child to school in the winter without mittens.

We arrived home and I was still having a fit- I demanded that Husband not feel sorry for him and that he should also be angry and scold the child some more. No luck. Husband grew up in Alberta, and  his dad was a jerk and did not buy them good stuff for winter, so he suffered, and thus felt for the child and would not stay mad like I wanted.

And while I was wracking my brain for an argument, and child was upstairs in his room feeling sorry for himself, it slowly began to dawn on me that I was being an ass. Slowly though. Every time I opened my mouth I wanted to shout about the damn gloves. And my mouth was having a hard time keeping pace with my conscience- which was busy making me feel worse and worse.

Eventually I headed upstairs to find he wasn’t sulking like I thought- he was watching stupid kid shows on netflix- and he tried to apologize again but I cut him off and said I didn’t want to talk about it anymore and gave him a big hug instead.

“I love you even when you lose shit”
“I know mom”

I told him his next pair would be bright pink and have the idiot string to go through his coat…

It’s frowned upon to deliberately humiliate your child in public.

I told him he better get his dad to buy him gloves before I got to it.


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as Crazy Does

I make them battle it out by color, and then eat the winner(s) last

I make them battle it out by color, and then eat the winner(s) last.


So, since my last post, I have ass-over-teakettled into a nasty bout of depression. In fact, I think the whole Hoodie post was a big red flag had I bothered to notice.

Since the seriously crazy week I spent working out of town, they haven’t called me out for more work, and there was apparently a Management SNAFU and the guy who hired me in the first place isn’t there anymore, and the chick who replaced him doesn’t return calls. While I admit it would be nice to be out there making good money to offset what we just racked up to send me to school in January- I’m not prepared to beg- “pleeease can I come work? can I have my old room back with the sticky headboard? I don’t mind driving bush roads in the dark! I don’t even need directions!”… no.

Anyway… I was about 2/3 through all 202 episodes of Greys Anatomy when I realized, I was seriously screwed up. All the wanna wanna was evaporated. I had been wearing the same nasty hoodie and sweats for at least 3 days, and other than fetch the kids from school I couldn’t make myself leave the house. I wasn’t totally paralyzed, although from here looking back it’s all rather foggy. I made food- sometimes, laundry- sort of, bathed- often enough, cleaned- ish… but mostly I slept late, watched tv, and slept some more. And felt really really sorry for myself.

I know my Darling Spouse noticed- but he didn’t dare say anything. He didn’t need to; who knows better than the crazy person what everyone is thinking anyway. So I continued to sit and rot in my self pity and frustration.

There were “good” days in there- I would apply for more jobs like the one I wasn’t working at- all with a pleasant and straightforward letter stating what I was looking for and that I would only be able to work full time until the end of December- and that I had a 10 day trip planned- but as October slipped through my fingers and we began to count off days in November, it became more and more obvious that I wasn’t going to get into the oil patch this year.

Which left me with retail jobs- everyone is looking for extra help this time of year! I figured I could stand to do just about anything knowing it would only be for about 6-8 weeks. So I applied at the new Costco for a cashier position. After a week and no call I tried a few other places, and Costco finally called me and asked if I was interested in a stocking job. Sure. Why not. I headed in for the interview- it was one of those horrible 2 manager and questions on a form events. “Tell us about a time when you handled a conflict”, “if you have one customer needing help and another customer asked you for help also, what would you do”, “how do you handle tasks”… fuck I hate those- I believe they’re designed to see how well you can fling bullshit on the fly. Which, fortunately for me, is quite expertly.

At the end of the interview I explained my availability issues and he said he would have to get back to me about that as they do not allow scheduled time off in December “however I believe you are a good candidate for the position”. *snort*

Another week slides away and I get a call to see if I’m still interested in a “career” with Costco. “Sure!” I say, “and the time off in December isn’t going to be a problem?”….
“oh…um…” he says, “I’ll have to call you back”
at which point, he un-offers me the job. And that, was the last straw for me.

I staggered around near tears for days. Nobody wants me. All my awesomeness is just a sham. I can’t even get a shitty job stocking shelves! STOCKING SHELVES! Everybody hates me. Maybe I should run away. Maybe I should go back up north and beg for my beer-store job and sleep on someone’s couch. Maybe if I lay here and count backwards from 99 for the zillionth time I will die. My spouse despises me. My child despises me. My cat all-out hates my guts. I am useless. This hoodie smells awful.

I wasn’t precisely suicidal but I wouldn’t have minded having a meteor fall on my head. And I knew that I was depressed, and that just about whatever I thought about anything was speaking directly from that depression.

So I started doing what a healthy crazy person does- I forgave myself.

I made myself a deal- I told myself I was allowed to feel shitty, but that I couldn’t do it all day long. So I got one episode of Greys, and had to get up and do a thing. One episode, shower. One episode, a load of laundry. One episode, vacuum… and on like that. Get the kids, drop them off, go get the mail- one episode… slowly but surely, the house got put back together, the giant heap of laundry (I don’t know where all that was coming from, since I was living in like, 2 shirts and 2 pants day after day) disappeared, the rest of the people in the house stopped whispering judgey things inside my head, and in return for the reprieve I made dinner out of more ingredients than “toast”.

Not my first rodeo- I’ve learned over the years that the only working treatment for my depression is action and distraction. And talk to my mom- who always knows when to pat me on the head, and when to kick my ass. And talk to my friends who tell me I’m amazing. And apologize to my Spouse for, truly, I treat him terribly when I’m like this and he’s so sooo patient.

Am I all better? No. Not even close. I am at this moment wearing my nastiest hoodie and my sweats over top of my pajamas. I need a shower and to put on my gameface (and actual pants- I have an interview today at the hardware store). I have a million things to do just to be prepared to start school in the New Year, and appointments lined up to knock down, and as if I needed another issue but I’m now having trouble sleeping- I must have had too much recently and my brain is in overdrive all night.

All I can do is put one foot in front of the other and celebrate even the smallest achievements. Today I got out of bed before 7am (never mind that I didn’t actually sleep). I had breakfast with my kid before school. I wrote a blog post. *self high five* and my interview in a few hours will go well and even if I don’t get the job, it was probably for a good reason. And if I crash halfway through today, that’s what tomorrow is for.


“am I insane” asked Alice
“yes, but all the best people are” replied her father”
― Alice in wonderland

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Well I’m not naked…

Today I’m going to make some noise on the Daily Prompt… about my “style”… not because it’s meaningful, but because I feel like it.

I think I said it best in my Job Hunt post “…I’ll put on my least disgusting hoodie and a clean pair of jeans…”

Yes, the Hoodie. Best clothing invention ever. Well, maybe second to the Sports Bra- All Hail the Uni-boob!

The thing is, the Hoodie is so versatile. You can work in them, you can carry stuff in them- it’s like a sports-bra for your whole upper torso! I have summer hoodies, fall hoodies, and even heavy-duty winter ones, and when one isn’t warm enough, I can keep adding more. I have some that zip, and some that don’t, and one or two still kicking around that are barely better than rags…. *sigh* I miss the orange one… but when I get dressed in the morning, provided it’s not 90degrees already, it’s what I’m going to wear.

also known as the "One Girl Pride Parade"

also known as the “One Girl Pride Parade”- the Winter Hoodie (get your own from Kyber)

So, “Why?” you ask, won’t I put on something fancy, or at least something that comes out of the women’s section…

1. It’s comfortable. I don’t see why I should spend the day in something that itches, pinches, rides or makes me self conscious about my less than perfect physique. That would be for your benefit, not mine, and if you want to see pretty things, you wear them.

2. On my “less than perfect physique”… even back in the day when I was more of an… ‘off the rack’ shape, I have these fantastical linebacker shoulders, and as a result, have always had to buy 2 or more sizes up just to be able to lift my arms in a women’s shirt. People used to tease me about wearing shoulder pads (it was the 90’s), and then would poke me and go “oohhh”. At any rate, to accomplish that size discrepancy now, I’m looking at 3 and 4x mumu tops in the fat people store. Forget it.

3. You (and I mean you, and everyone I know) don’t seem to understand (or maybe just don’t care), that making a big fuss about how I look in makeup and “nice” clothes makes me really really uncomfortable. It’s a vicious cycle- I come down in anything other than jeans and a hoodie and suddenly everyone is falling over themselves exclaiming on how totally amazing I look and WOW and OOH and AAHH, and my first instinct is to bolt back up the stairs and change into the nastiest, frumpiest things I own. So maybe you think by gushing and acting like retards is going to encourage me to do it more, when in fact, I have been secretly emptying my closet and makeup bag into the trash so there can’t even be a next time, even should I be so inspired.

4. It’s a CONSPIRACY. Women’s clothing is not made to last. Designers and fabricators know that if a women’s item wears out, or shrinks badly or unravels, they will rush out and buy another. Men won’t. With the exception of a small target market, the average male will wear something until it falls off. And if a brand lets them down, they will switch eventually to something that does last. So when it comes to work and casual wear, men’s clothing will hold up forever- and I’m cheap- an “anti-shopaholic”, so my dollars go to comfortable, durable mens shirts just about every time.

I’ve had well-meaning friends attempt over the years to girlify me. They take me out shopping, and they pin me down and color the grey out of my hair- I’ve had some friends even try to raid my closet and confiscate my hoodies and baggy jeans. And I go along with it for as long as I can stand to, and eventually end up back in Marks Workwear groping through the racks to find another fuzzy comfy stretchy supershirt with a front pouch and a hood.

If I woke up one morning and found myself suddenly a size 14, I would rejoice. I would be able to steal my husbands clothes again.

So good for you girls (and guys) who take time and care about their appearance. I think it’s great that you feel good in lacy bras and heels and skinny jeans. And if you’re like me, and you really don’t feel good wearing that, you’ll never hear me criticize you for it. You can come over and borrow a hoodie to hide in.

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