Saturday, December 31, 2005
hurricane katrina pictures
As many of you know, my in-laws, Tom and Donna, went down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi last September as volunteers for the Red Cross to assist with the hurricane relief effort. They took a lot of photographs while they were down there, and Tom has created a website that you should check out. There's some pretty amazing photos on the site, especially of the damage done in Buloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi.

When we think about the hurricane most of us tend to think about New Orleans. What I think too many people don't realize is that the devastation was far worse in parts of Alabama and Mississippi, yet those areas got only a fraction of the news coverage. We see the images on the news of the re-opening of the French Quarter and it's easy to assume that things are much better now in the South than they were in the fall. Unfortunately, there are many, many people who are still living like refugees in our own country, and they fear that America has forgotten about them. Perhaps we can all make a New Year's Resolution to remember one of the worst disasters in our nation's history and to do something to help in the arduous task of rebuilding. It's far from over, and for many people, things are far from fine. I know that we're all broke after the holidays, but it doesn't cost anything to write your congressman and ask that they support giving the South additional aid.

Here are some statistics about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the state of Mississippi:

$125 billion - Estimated dollar amount of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina
231 - Identified dead statewide
5 - Unidentified dead
67 - Missing
65,380 - Houses in South Mississippi destroyed
383,700 - Mississippi insurance claims filed (Katrina and Rita)
$5 billion - Claims paid (as of Nov. 21)
141,000 - Insurance claims filed in South Mississippi
$1.3 billion - Claims paid in South Mississippi
44 million - Estimated cubic yards of debris in South Mississippi
21.8 million - Cubic yards removed as of Dec. 5
20,447 - Red Cross staff and volunteers in Mississippi
5,543,006 - Red Cross meals served
42,768 - People sheltered by Red Cross
229 - Red Cross shelters opened
$185 million -Red Cross money spent in South Mississippi as of Nov. 30

Statistics were taken from the Mississippi Sun Herald.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Mahatma Gandhi: "Be the change you want to see in the world." Kudos to Tom and Donna for doing just that!

Friday, December 30, 2005
2005 - a year in odd numbers
The #1's of 2005:

Favorite Album: Picaresque- The Decemberists

Favorite Book: Haunted - Chuck Palahniuk

Favorite Dramatic Television Show: Lost

Favorite Comedic Television Show: My Name is Earl

Favorite Movie: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (I didn't go to many movies in '05)

Favorite Video Game: Resident Evil 4

Three New Hobbies/Obsessions:

1. Sushi- So yummy!
2. So cheap!
3. Blogging –So obsessive!

Five New Places I’ve Traveled:

1. San Francisco - ***** - Fantastic.
Go. Now. If you have upwards of $3 million to spare, move there.

Brooklyn, New York - **** - Excellent.
I’ve been to New York a bunch of times, but explored Brooklyn for the first time this summer. Go, but go with someone who knows the area, and never in July (or during mass transit strikes, for that matter.)

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - *** - Surprisingly nice.

Downtown reminded me a bit of Detroit without the gorgeous architecture, empty stores, and (surprisingly enough) ethnic diversity.

4. Driving through the state of Indiana - ** - Mind-numbingly dull.
Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve done this before, but I have no memory of previous jaunts through the state (selective amnesia?) Oddly enough, gas stations and fast food restaurants bear an amazing resemblance to a
John Cougar Mellencamp video (without women dancing on tables in their underwear, unfortunately).

Driving through the state of Pennsylvania - *- A part of me died.
Who knew the state of Pennsylvania was so vast? And despite all this wide-open space, apparently on one lives there. Seriously, do the people living in Mumbai, Shanghai and Mexico City realize all this empty land exists?

Seven Things I’ve Learned:

1. I could live without my DVR, but I’d rather not.

2. Installing crown molding is much, much more difficult than you would expect.

3. Making broad generalizations about people’s hometowns will tend to get you into trouble. (To the people of West Bloomfield
, Howell and Birmingham – I apologize that your cities are ridiculous.)

4. Always set page maximums when assigning papers to honors students. (15 pages about American identity on the eve of the Revolution - are you serious?!)

5. Avoid the Sunoco station on the corner of 5 mile and Middlebelt. There is a 75% chance that someone will approach you asking for spare change, free gas, a ride home, use of your cell phone, a date, etc.

6. If you leave your car parked in a dark alley with valuables in plain sight in downtown Detroit, don’t be surprised when your car is broken into. (Got that,
Super Bowl visitors?)

7. If your cell phone company offers an insurance policy- for God’s sake - take it.

Happy New Year's everyone! Give yourself a kiss for me!

Thursday, December 29, 2005
am i going to hell for this?
I begrudgingly spent most of today grading the ridiculously long short stories that my honors students turned in just before break. Here's a snapshot of the experience:

Some characters I encountered:

Reverend Marmaduke
The Floda family, consisting of Zuegt, Reltih and Aerith Floda
a guy who suffers from the Geostigma

a botanical story including the following characters/victims:
Ryan Ash
Madison Hollyhock
Nicholas Fennel
Lily Matthews
Rose Jacobs
John Iris
Kristie Aspen
Mr. Crimson (yes, he's the killer)
The Cutmore twins (yes, it's really one guy, and yes, he's an axe murderer)

Notable Quotations:
"Let's just leave, go back to France and live the life we had so planned in those sacred days of

"I really did love you. I just wish you didn't go snooping around. You ruined everything you nasty whore!"

"Suddenly there came a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at his chamber door."

Am I the only one who finds this hi-lar-i-ous?

P.S. - I saw Syriana today and it scared the poop out of me. If any of that film resembles anything close to real life (and I fear it does) then we're living in a George Orwell novel.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005
an actual e-mail sent to me from a student who turned in a 25 page story right before Christmas break
I now send for word on whether you have graded or read rather my story
over this extended period of vacation. Anywho, no need to respond with
any haste, for there is no need to be hurried. I have realized there
was some slight length in my story, so I will not lie to you and say it
is short, therefore I can wait awhile...ya know? Anywho, have a Merry
Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Quanza, or winter solistace, or whatever
it is that the Hindu's and Shintoests are celebrating, or whatever
those athiests are doing, perhaps you are agnostic. Whatever, have a
good week.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005
haiku of the week (you're giddy with glee, i'm sure)

We often create
and, consequently, deserve
the chaos we face

Monday, December 26, 2005
happy boxing day!
Well, Christmas is over, and as I look over my bounty, I do have to admit that I did pretty well this year. I-pod nanos, gameboy micros, beautiful jewelry, countless sweaters, awesome food and time spent with family made for a wonderful holiday. I would usually be spending at least part of the day after Christmas in the mall returning things, but I got lucky this year and I don't really have anything to return. Despite my good fortune, as I sat in the car on the 2 1/2 hour return trip to Detroit from Muskegon I got to thinking about Christmas gifts past and present, and my mind kept returning to bad gifts from years past. This led to a pretty interesting conversation with my family, and a few stories that I feel compelled to share with others. Enjoy!

Worst Gift I've Ever received: A tape of Journey's Greatest Hits
Gift Giver: Bill, my 11th grade boyfriend.
I believe it was a Valentine's Day gift and not a Christmas gift, but it still makes the list. This gift wouldn't have been so awful if there would have been some discernible reason for it. I wasn't a big Journey fan, I don't think he was a big Journey fan, it wasn't an inside joke, and tapes were so passe. Needless to say, we didn't date long.

Worst Gift I've Ever Given: CD of Cat Stevens' Greatest Hits
Gift Recipient: My dad
I gave this gift to my dad for Christmas when I was about 19. Now, both me and my dad enjoy the music of Cat Stevens, so this gift would seem like a good one. However, my dad had already owned this particular CD and I liked it, so I borrowed it. He kept asking for it back, but I didn't particularly want to give it up. So, instead of buying myself a copy, I decided it would be funny to buy him a new copy, wrap it, and give it to him for Christmas. The worst part is, I think it was the only gift I gave him that year. I'm so sorry dad, I really have no idea what I was thinking.

Worst Case of Re-Gifting: Votive Candle Holders
Gift Giver: A nameless friend. We'll call her....Cathy
This one was a wedding gift. Now, I don't really have a problem with re-gifting, but this was one of the worst cases I've ever experienced. I received a box of three votive candle holders from a friend, which were nice enough, although Cathy apparently didn't cover the tracks of her re-gifting very well. Inside the box lay a gift receipt reading: "To: Cathy. From: Genevieve." Now, seeing as my name is Maggie, and not Cathy or Genevieve, it became pretty obvious that I was not the original intended recipient of these particular votive candle holders. They did spend some time in my guest bedroom, though.

Worst Build up to a Really Good Gift: Matt's first guitar
Gift Giver: My parents
When my brother was 12, all he really wanted for Christmas was an electric guitar. My parents, being the generous people they are, bought a beautiful, cherry red, Gibson Epiphone S-G for him. Now, my brother and I had the unfortunate habit of counting gifts that were under the tree to make sure things were even. My parents knew this and, seeing as it would be the only gift Matt would be receiving that year, my mom decided it would be funny to wrap up a bunch of "ringers" to put under the tree for Matt to open before he got the real gift. I think it was somewhere around the 10th or 11th box of single-pairs of white socks that Matt began to cry. They finally took pity on him, and pulled the guitar out from its hiding spot behind the piano. Think BB gun from A Christmas Story. Good times.

Worst Gift Given For Selfish Reasons: Exercise bike
Gift Giver: My dad
Gift Recipient: My mom
The detail of this story are fuzzier, seeing as it happened sometime in the mid-70s. Apparently, my dad really wanted an exercise bike for Christmas and wanted to make sure he would get one. So he bought one. For my mom. Who has never exercised a day in her life. Needless to say, she wasn't amused.

Well, my gameboy mini (thanks, Matt) is calling, so I'll end my journey down memory lane here. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and that your returns are few!

Sunday, December 25, 2005
merry christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2005
so, i guess i have a masters degree now. how trendy.
So, we have a few hours between Christmas Eve mass and when Ebeneezer Scrooge is letting Nathan out of work, so I thought I'd might as well post my news (since people apparently read this now). Oakland University deemed me worthy of receiving a masters degree last week. Yippee! Bring on the pay raise.

Well, I've got cookies to frost. Peace.

Friday, December 23, 2005
a christmas miracle
So, I guess my little "secret" blog is no longer a secret, thanks to my husband. I've already gotten some feedback about my tendency to misspell words. Not nice. I'm fully aware of the irony of an English teacher who can't spell, but perhaps you, the reader, are unaware that my mom drank very heavily when she was pregnant with me, and the doctors said that it's a miracle that I can even tie my own shoes, much less string words together into a comprehensible sentence. So back off.

But now on with my story...

As many of you know, Nathan and I adopted a dog about 1 1/2 years ago. We thought it would be nice (not to mention cheap) to go to the Humane Society and rescue a dog in need. There we meet Chloe, who looked so sweet and innocent as she shivered with fear in her cage. When we were filling out the paperwork we were told that in her 6 months on this planet she had been abandoned twice. Now, many prospective pet owners may have heeded this red flag and kept shopping, but Nathan and I are both basically optimists, so we figured she couldn't be that bad. Besides, she was so cute.

It didn't take us long to discover her unfortunate oral fixation. The dog books claim that dogs chew your stuff because they love you. Freud claimed that oral fixations come from people who were breast-fed for too long (or was it not long enough?). I choose to ignore both of those "logical" explanations in favor of my own. I firmly believe that my dog is possessed by a demon. How else could she possibly know to ignore the items in my house of little to no value in favor of high-ticket items like cell phones, jewelry and eye glasses? Before today, Chloe had chewed the antenna off of three cell phones, mangled two pairs of glasses, and came damn close to swallowing my wedding ring once. We quickly learned to be much more careful of where we left our valuables.

I thought that I had learned from the mistakes of the past, and Chloe hasn't destroyed anything of value in months. But today, as I was in the shower, she struck again. Apparently someone (I'll probably never discover who) called while I was in the bathroom and Chloe tried to answer. I entered my den to the pathetic sight of my phone lying on the carpet in three pieces while Chloe was humping one of my pillows (another one of her bad habits - I guess she really does love me). So, on December 23rd, I had to jump into my car and drive to 12 Oaks Mall (which, if you're unfamiliar with the area, is a zoo on any given day) and hope that someone at the Verizon store could replace the antenna so I wouldn't have to pay upwards of $70 for a new phone.

I thought I gave my best flirty grin to the man at the service counter, but I guess I just wasn't his type. My 6 month old phone was declared beyond repair and I had to buy a new one. To add insult to injury, they now charge $10 to transfer your phone numbers when you get a new phone - robbery! On the upside, I did see the most amazing mullet I've ever seen while waiting for my new phone. It's too bad I didn't get a camera phone; It's an image you would truly need to see to believe.

So, I came home with a new phone (again) and $60 less in my pocket. So what's the Christmas miracle you ask? The miracle is that I haven't freakin' killed my dog. By the way, if you know of anyone who performs doggy exorcisms, please let me know.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005
and one for my homies...
who live in NYC. i whine about my 40 minute drive to work, and my brother had to walk for three hours to get to work for the last two days. across the brooklyn bridge. then work. then repeat. thankfully, the strike is over, giving the chaffing between his thighs time to heal. god speed, little brother, god speed.

haiku of the week

those who choose to dance
reguarless of age and skill
maintain youthful smiles

Tuesday, December 20, 2005
top 12 singles of 2005 (sorry, 10 just can't hold me...)
So, I thought I might try my hand at the top 10 albums of the year, but that proved too daunting. Then I thought I'd do my top 10 favorite songs, but that proved difficult too. So, here's a list of my top 12 favorite songs of 2005. No one else does a top 12 list, so that just makes me that much more original. So, if you care, here's a list of what I was obsessed with throughout the year...

#12 - "Not About Love"- Fiona Apple
I wanted to love this album for sentimental reasons, but I have to admit that the first time I listened to the Internet leak I wanted to just throw it away. Fortunately, I didn't, and the more I listened the more I liked it. This is one of the strongest moments on the album.
Notable lyric: "And last night's phrases, sick with lack of basis are still writhing on my floor."

#11 - "My Doorbell" - The White Stripes
I admit that when I heard this album for the first time I was a bit disappointed, but the more I listed to it, the more of a fan I became. This is one of the songs that sold me. I know Meg is an easy target, but the juxtaposition of her childish beats with the obvious sexual innuendos of the lyrics are something that I find very amusing.
Notable lyric: "Take back what you said little girl, and while you're at it take yourself back too."
#10 -
"Baby C'Mon" - Stephen Malkmus

Infectious, pop-y goodness. Is there ever a time when I'm not in the mood for this song?
Notable lyric: "If you give it to me Timmy, I'm out here on a limb-y"

#9 - "My Humps" - Black Eyed Peas
he he heeee, I just couldn't resist. I don't approve of their obvious deal with the devil (Fergie?), but daaaaaaamn, this song is catchy. Besides, I can't resist a song that touts my gifts. It reminds me of every club experience I've ever had....oh, the memories.
Notable lyric: "What you gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside that trunk?"

#8 - "Land Locked Blues" - Bright Eyes
This is arguably the saddest song of the year. And sue me, I'm sucker for that shit.
Notable lyric: "We made love on the living room floor with the noise in the background from a televised war, and in the deafening pleasure I thought I heard someone say, 'if we walk away,they'll walk away.'"

#7 - "Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie" - Belle and Sebastian
Belle and Sebastian have always been a bit touch and go with me, I loooooove this ablum, and this particular song never failes to make me smile.
Notable lyric: "Wouldn't you like to get away? Kerouac's beckoning with open arms, and open fields of eucalyptus - westward bound."

#6 - "You're the Reason I'm Leaving" - Franz Ferdinand
Although this album can't hold a candle to their debut, but there are some truly notable songs, and this is one of them. There's something about Franz that is so endearing and lovable, that I can't deny them a spot in my top 12.
Notable lyric: "As we ride along under an optimistic sun, the radio sings that Everybody song by rem."

#5 - "The Jessica Numbers" - The New Pornographers
Although my feelings about this album are mixed, this particular song is genious.
Notable lyrics: "Slip through, ever the thief is posed to hero, but we'll see."

#4 - "Ladies and Gentlemen" - Hot Hot Heat
Boy do these guys make catchy songs. And I like catchy songs. Nuff said.
Notable lyric: He's a gentleman who plays a caricature of a character he wishes he was.

#3 - "I'll Follow You into the Dark" - Death Cab for Cutie
It was a toss up between this song and "Soul Meets Body," which I also love, but this is the song that I just can't stop pressing the "back" button on my i-pod. The lyrics are just too damn poetic, and I can't help it if there's a romantic lurking in the back of my cynical heart.
Notable lyric: "If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied, illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs, if there's no one beside you when your soul embarks, then I'll follow you into the dark."

#2 - "My Mathematical Mind" - Spoon
It was such a close call between this song and "I Turn my Camera On." Both songs are among my favorite of the year, but this is a song that I can't relate to at all (seeing as I don't understand anything that's not in story form, and have the furthest thing possible from a 'mathematical mind') but I just can't stop listening to.
Notable lyric: "And planning for the apocalypse is not considered, considered cool."

#1 - "The Engine Driver" - The Decemberists
This is one of those songs that I can listen to on repeat for an hour and not get sick of it. There's something so sweet and earnest about me a romantic, but what girl wouldn't want a man who calls his heart her home?? awwww.....
Notable lyric: "And I am a writer, writer of fictions,I am the heart that you call home. And I've written pages upon pages trying to rid you from my bones."

Monday, December 19, 2005
a dash of music and a sprinkling of movies
Say what you will, but I'm a sucker for "best of the year" lists. My favorites are usually Pitchfork's list for music and Ebert's list for movies. I know a lot of people don't like Ebert very much, but his tastes in movies usually gel pretty closely with my own. I still haven't decided if I'm going to bother creating my own list or not, primarily because it seems like there's just so much stuff out there and I can't seem to come close to wrapping my eyes and ears around a fraction of it. I know I haven't seen many movies at all this year, so unless my list consisted of nothing put Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ten times, I can't really rank my favorite films of '05. However, I think I'll probably sit down when I have a moment (two more days of working drudgery before two weeks of sweet freedom!) and squeak out a top 10 albums of the year list at the very least. (This is mostly for my own amusement, since no one reads this.)

So anyway, I take issue with many of Pitchfork's choices for the best singles of 2005. I love The Arcade Fire and all, but didn't that album come out in 2004? And how on Earth did Madonna even make the list? I guess it's not trendy to hate her anymore. Oh well, I'm just soooooo 2003. And Kelly Clarkson? Pleeeeeeeese. I know that "Since U Been Gone" is catchy and all, but how can Spoon's "I Turn my Camera On" rank somewhere in the 40's while her trite, albeit catchy, crap is chilling in the top 5? Lame.

I got a bit depressed looking at Ebert's picks for his Top 10 Films of 2005, primiarily because I pretty much wanted to see all of them, and haven't seen a single one. Boy, for a girl who fancies herself to be a movie buff, I'm not exactly supporting the industry. Literally, Good Night and Good Luck is the only thing from that whole list that I saw in '05, and it wasn't even in the top 10. I'm dying to see Syriana and Brokeback Mountain, so perhaps and Christmas day treck to the theaters is in order. Other than that, I guess I don't have much to say about the movies of '05. I guess I spent more time watching Nanny 911 and Survivor reruns on OLN than I did going to the theaters...

Filter's celebrity lists are interesting to peruse, assuming you care what Shirley Manson and The Crystal Method (they're still around?) rocked out to in 2005.

And with that, I'm out. Is there anything worse than a Christmas cold?

Saturday, December 17, 2005
1984 meet 2005
I'm sure that by now everyone has heard of the controversy surrounding the Patriot Act and the White House's current hobby of making paper airplanes out of The Bill of Rights. But just in case, check this out.

Apparently in order to protect some, we have to deny basic, fundamental rights to others. But it's all in the name of stoping our "amorphous" enemy in the war on terror, so that makes it justified, right? I guess I should just be thankful that my right to purchase guns at WalMart and off of the Internet is safe. Ho hum.

Thursday, December 15, 2005
announcing haiku of the week and taking requests...

those moments captured
blinking, unprepared, and raw
reveal life's true joys

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
this is an excercise in futility...
So, this post marks my maiden voyage. Seeing as I don't plan to tell anyone about this (with the exception of my husband, perhaps) it's doubtful that anyone will ever read this. Well, perhaps someone in Indonesia will go blog-hopping someday and stumble upon my meager page. Mr. future blog-hopper, this post's for you.