I‘m Sooner born and Sooner bred, and when I die, I’ll be Sooner dead.

I grew up singing those words and believing them, and as an avid OU fan who’s spent her life loving the University of Oklahoma, going through the Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts programs there and teaching there, I know I will continue to live those words for the rest of my Sooner life.

That campus is like a beloved childhood home to me, and I still dream of finding some way to go back. All I from: http://www.gradprofiles.com/images/uoklahom.gifhave to do to get that familiar homesick feeling is to drive down Boyd and look at those beautiful red brick buildings, the fabulous statues and the amazing landscaping that adorn the campus, and I’m pulled right back in. You can practically smell the learning going on there. It’s as vibrant and alive as any learning institution can be.

Attending the University of Oklahoma is the dream of many young Oklahomans. If you’re an Okie, you’re most likely either aligned with OU or with OSU (Oklahoma State University). The rivalry is serious — so serious in fact that even the youngest among us choose one school or another, often before they’ve even stopped sucking their thumbs. Cut them, and they bleed crimson and cream or orange. The loyalties are that fierce.

How sad it is, then, that OU’s frequent tuition rate hikes are making the school an impossible dream for many Oklahoma citizens. In 2004-2005, they raised tuition rates by 10.7%. In 2007-2008, they added another 9.7% to tuition and now they are proposing a 9.9% tuition rate hike for 2008-2009. That’s an astounding 30.3% in a matter of four to five years.

What these hikes have created is a situation where only the richest and the poorest among us can afford to attend. Current in-state tuition for 30 hours at OU is $5,607 — not counting books, supplies and living expenses. The proposed rate hike will raise that amount to $6162 a semester or $12,324 a year. The very poor can get federal and state grants to attend the school. The very rich can just write a check. But the greatest majority of us — those who fit in the middle class bracket — can no longer afford to send our children to school there. The financial burden has just become too great. With books and supplies easily adding another $3,000 a year to the cost of attending OU, even middle class students who coninue to live at home have a nearly impossible chance of being able to get a four year degree there. Most middle class parents and/or students can’t afford to foot a $60,000 bill.

I know there’s another side to the story. University of Oklahoma president, David Boren, says the hike is necessary to make up for a shortfall created when the state legislature didn’t appropriate additional money to higher educaton this year. OU will have $20.5 million more in costs for the upcoming school year, Boren said, even as the university has to deal with $3 million in budget reductions. The increases in costs are in areas such as new faculty, tuition waivers, 2 percent raises for faculty and staff, building maintenance and health care costs. (AP)

That begs the question, though, why not just cut the fat rather than put the burden on students who can ill afford such exhorbitant tuition? A business, faced with a shortfall, would have made cuts to their programs; why not OU? It’s just sad that Boren and his staff would rather blame the legislature for their own out of control, pie in the sky spending.

If the University of Oklahoma is going to remain the powerhouse that it is today, something is going to have to change, or it won’t have enough students to support it. OU means a great deal to the citizens of Oklahoma, Mr. Boren. Please, find a way for it to be an educational dream come true for our Oklahoma youth, rather than a financial nightmare. I know you can do it. You are, after all, Sooner born and bred. Try not to forget that sitting up there in your ivory tower, or it’s likely to topple as the school falls into financial ruin.

Boredom sucks.

There, I said it. (And so eloquently, too) Boredom makes every minute seem like an hour, every day seem like a week. Thomas Szasz once said, “Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.” That’s where I am right now; every moment I spend at work waiting for something to do is a total waste of time. I could be doing something worthwhile, but instead, I’m twiddling my thumbs waiting and doing…NOTHING.

Frankly, I doFrom: http://vaishno.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/boredom.jpgn’t see how lazy people do it. We all know the types who avoid work like the plague, even when it means sitting at their desks staring into space. How can they stand that? I swear I’d slit my wrists!

I’m the kind of person who wants to be busy all the time at work, and if I’m busy with more than one thing, even better. When I’m busy, the day flies by, I’m happier, and I’m more apt to be on top of my game. When I’m bored, the day drags, I’m a drag, and all I want to do is leave and do something productive.

For me, there are two distinct types of boredom. One involves a job where there is often nothing to do. The other involves a job with plenty to do, but the work doesn’t require creativity or strategic thinking. In my current situation, I have both. I’m bored without the work and I’m bored with the work.

Frankly, I can’t think of anything worse.

I look back to the job I had that was my favorite - CommunFrom: http://www.psidea.org/images/BangHeadHere.gifications Manager at America Online - and it’s easy to see why I loved it so much. I was busy all the time, things were constantly changing, my mind was creative and my thinking strategic. As busy as I was, I didn’t mind working extra hours, because it was more like play than it was work.

Contrast that to my current situation where I spend long periods idle, nothing changes and I’m never tasked to be creative or strategic. No wonder I want to run screaming from the building at 4:55pm every day.

I need some serenity. For the love of God, someone put me to work on something that matters!

Okay, I’m going to come right out and admit something to you.

I *hate* Daylight Savings Time. 

I don’t mean I dislike it. I mean I loathe and despise it. Daylight Savings Time is the DEVIL!

I know at one time it served a purpose.  Back in World War I, it was enacted to give people more daylight and save on fuel consumption for artificial lighting. But WWI was over a long time ago, and we still suffer through it. Last year, they even extended it by a month!  Why?  Still, all in the name of energy savings.

What about my energy?

The Monday after Daylight Savings Time begins is hard, but for some reason, Tuesday is worse.  I look around me today, and everyone is dragging ass.  We’ve all got headaches, we look like death warmed over, and no one is in a good mood.  Is it really worth all this exhaustion to save fossil fuels when there are obviously better ways?

In addition to the already mentioned negatives, consider that traffic accidents increase just after Dayliight Savings Time begins. So do violent crimes, according to some studies. Farmers, whose days begin very early, generally hate it, because they have to begin their work days in the dark.  So what’s it really good for other than making us all feel like crawling back into bed for a week or so?  Not much in my estimation.

I’ve got a much better idea, and over 1,000 US cities have already begun doing it. Forget Daylight Savings Time. Let it get dark. And instead of turning all the lights on in the city, TURN THEM OFF!  People sleep better!  Energy is saved at a rate much faster than DST saves it. 

Just look at this map of the U.S. at night. There are whole swaths of country that are dark.  What’s so wrong with that?  The answer is nothing. I say we go back to standard time and let nature take its course. I’m sure we’d all be much happier people!

Okay, I’m stepping off my soap box. I apologize for my crankiness, but at least I have an excuse! 

Daylight Savings Time — it’s the devil!


One of the things that bothers me the most about American society today is a pervasive “I don’t care” attitude. It seems that most people today really don’t care about the things our country used to stand for - patriotism, accountability and good grammar among those that stand out most.

Patriotism used to be so important to our citizens that it was never in question. People from: http://www.grandview.mccsc.edu/mlk2k3/IB/eagle.jpgstood up when the Pledge of Allegiance was recited; now, many schools don’t allow a recitation of the pledge. Similarly, people stood up when the flag passed by in a parade or color guard. Now, for the most part, only elderly people still honor our flag that way. Everyone else just doesn’t care.

Many companies and private citizens who display our flag no longer follow the rules of care. Even at the building at which I work, the flag is left up in rain, sleet and snow. Its white stripes are a dingy gray, its ends worn and tattered. I stopped and looked at the mast the other day. They have moved the tether up so far that someone would actually have to stand on a ladder to change the flag. I think it’s simply shameful, but the powers that be obviously don’t care.

At my old job, they treated the flag a little better — it was put up and taken down every day, flown at half mast when appropriate, removed during inclement weather — but even then, it was wadded up in a box while it rested instead of folded appropriately. It was allowed to touch the ground, even though, traditionally, that is a no-no. When I brought it up to facilities, I got shrugs and blank stares. They really didn’t care one way or the other.

Even at my alma mater, The University of Oklahoma, a lack of patriotism is sadly evident. At sports events, many people don’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem. Most talk right through it. What’s worse, many people who do sing along have replaced the words “home of the brave” with “home of the Sooners.” Some people who still believe in God and Country are appalled by this behavior, but for the most part, people are pretty laissez-faire about it. It’s the football game that matters, as for the patriotic trappings, well…they really don’t care.

Personal accountability has been tossed out with the trash along with patriotism. People just don’t seem to take pride in their work anymore, and if they can blame a personal error on someone else, they will do it in a flash. Similarly, many parents, when confronted with their children’s bad behavior in school, back up their child rather than the teacher, ostensibly pulling the rug out from under any hope that their kids will learn to take responsibility for their own actions. They don’t seem to care that their son or daughter is a teacher’s nightmare, nor do they seem to care that their child isn’t learning anything about discipline or a positive work ethic.

As a result, “half assing” work assignments has become the norm in the corporate world. Some companies are built on the foundation that mediocrity is a way of life, and sadly,from: http://www.edfast.ca/assets/accountability.jpg some of these companies still do well. Why? Because they’re competing against other companies who half ass things. (Great…I’ve used the word “ass” twice now. Let the porn spam comments begin!) People with good work ethics come into these environments believing they can affect change for the better, but what usually happens is that they either quit in frustration or are fired for rocking the boat. (Ask the superintendent of Oklahoma City schools who was just railroaded out of his job, because over the past six months, he’s fired several people who weren’t doing a good job. This was exactly what the school board wanted him to do, but when it became apparent that no one was safe from his scrutiny, they decided to protect their own asses instead. [There’s that word again!] I guess they decided that they didn’t care as much about reforming the school system as they thought they did.)

Finally, Americans don’t seem to care about our own native tongue. As a student of grammar and linguistics, I’m fully aware that, through linguistic shifting and rubbing, languages evolve over time. If they didn’t, we’d all still be speaking Sanskrit. I’m also from: http://static.flickr.com/105/309587491_3c7a6c33db.jpgaware that every language in the world is weaker than its predecessor. Each language offshoot is more disordered than its parent and has less power of description. Modern English, at its best, is nothing but a series of labels attached to ideas and objects — the words have no intrensic meaning of their own. That said, our language has always been very ordered. You could take any sentence and diagram it, no matter how complex it was. Today’s English is becoming dirtier and dirtier. Just try to diagram the sentence, “Get a new TV for free!” It can’t be done.

When I was a graduate assistant at OU, one of my greatest disappointments was when I was told, “Don’t worry about a student’s grammar; focus only on content.” (Frankly, I couldn’t do it. My students were taught correct grammar and punctuation.) Just knowing that the administrators didn’t care about grammar hurt. It was even sadder to learn that their opinion that grammar didn’t matter was shared by almost every major university in the country. It’s no surprise that our language has degraded so quickly since university English departments adopted this “We don’t care” attitude.

I believe that our country’s downfall will be a result of our lack of passion for excellence in all we do. “I don’t care” will, eventually, drive us down the path of the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire and other great societies that fell. To survive it, we must adopt an “I DO care” attitude. And I don’t just mean a few of us — I mean all of us. Parents must be good role models for our children and demand only the best from them, teachers must be allowed to teach and grade on the things that matter and the rest of us must strive to achieve to the maximum of our abilities. If the majority begins to show that it DOES care, the minority will, for the most part, follow suit. It’s up to each of us to take a stand for excellence!

So, ask yourself…do you care?

The holiday season is upon is. Well, it’s more than upon us; we’re entrenched in it and have been, really, since before Thanksgiving, thanks to retail marketing.

During this time of year, I avoid shopping like the plague. The throngs of people on the roads and in the stores make me so anxious that I’ll do almost anything not to be around them. I’ve never understood those people who get up at 3am to be the first in line for Black Friday. To me, that’s like getting up early to be the first in line for the torture chamber.

Nuh uh. Not me.

When I think of all the pushing and fighting and waiting in endless lines, it does nothing but stress me out. Case in point, last night I had to go to GameStop and PetSmart for a quick game purchase and some pet food. Both places are in the same shopping center, which is about five minutes from my house, and I was literally in GameStop for less than two minutes — PetSmart for about five — but because of the ridiculous holiday traffic, it took me an hour and a half to get home. (I sat through 11 red lights at one intersection!)

The blatant commercialization surrounding this holy holiday has become worse and worse each year, until now, some Christmas advertisements begin gracing our TV sets and radios in early September. For many, Christmas has stopped being a celebration of the birth of Christ but an excuse to give and get presents. The sad thing is that, in our disposable, immediate gratification, get-what-you-want-and-get-it-right-now society, gift giving has become so difficult that there’s no joy in it anymore. It’s not like the old days when we lived more frugally and rarely got extras for ourselves; these days “I get what I want” is a way of life, leaving gift buyers scratching their heads trying to come up with just the right gift. Then, on Christmas day, as they hope against hope that the gift recipient will love what he or she got, they’re often disappointed by the lackluster response.

Because of all this, about five years ago, our family decided to stop giving gifts to one another for Christmas. I have to admit that the first year was strange, but as the years have progressed, we’ve all noticed something universal for each of us.

The meaning of Christmas has returned for us.

The focus is back on love and the joy of just being together. We have a wonderful meal. We talk. We laugh. We hug. We tell stories about old times and about family members and friends who are no longer with us. We play dominoes and/or cards. We watch a football game. We enjoy just being together for one of the few days a year when we are able to do that.

Any gift giving we do are for those less fortunate than ourselves; people who have needs that are unmet, people who are alone and/or infirm. People who can’t pay their electric bill, kids who have no shoes, families who have no food for a nice meal. Those are the gifts that truly count. Those are the gifts that mean something.

As the retail world continues to push you into giving them a bigger piece of your hard earned money, consider taking this route. The economy will survive, and you and your loved ones will benefit in ways you never expected.

Try it, and have the merriest of Christmases — from me to you!


And now, an admission, which may seem — on the surface — antethetical to everything I just said…

In spite of my panning the commercialization of Christmas, I have an admission to make. My favorite Christmas song, next to John Denver’s Aspenglow and The Carpenter’s Merry Christmas Darling, is a commercial jingle that’s familiar to almost every Oklahoman.

My love for the jingle began when I was just a tot growing up in Elk City, OK. We didn’t get many TV channels back then — especially living in a little prairie town in far western Oklahoma — but one of the channels we got if we moved our antenna to just the right spot was an Oklahoma City channel. Each year, starting the day after Thanksgiving, this jingle began playing on that channel, and since it coincided with the Christmas spirit rampup, I associated it with Christmas.

When I was six, we moved to Lawton, OK, a town that didn’t get Oklahoma City channels. For years, as Christmas approached, I always felt like something was missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then, when I was about 12, we finally moved from the dark ages and got cable. The day after Thanksgiving that year, I was in my room watching TV when the B.C. Clark’s Anniversary Sale commercial came on. I immediately stopped what I was doing and just stood there, transfixed, as waves of emotion came over me — nastagia and joy filled my heart with each note.

I have learned since then that that little jingle means the same thing to many, many Oklahomans. Megan Mullally, a native of Oklahoma City who became a household name when she starred on Will and Grace for many years, sang the jingle on The Tonight Show. It has been sent to service men and women overseas, sung on airplanes full of homesick Oklahomans, performed at school pageants and even in church services. It’s just not Christmas around here without it.

So for those of you who live near and far, here is the B.C. Clark’s Anniversary Sale jingle, so you, too, can share in a little Oklahoma Christmas tradition!

Growing up in the era I did, I thought I was familiar with the plethora of things people do to get high. Alcohol, marijuana, PCP, cocaine, acid, heroin, airplane glue, mescaline, etc. were the drugs of choice in the 60s, 70s and 80s, but today’s druggies are reaching new lows in their desire to scramble their brains.

Drugs like Oxycontin and Ecstacy are bad enough. With the former, a user can easily die on the same dose they’ve previously used to get high on, and with the latter, they’re left with depleted levels of seratonin in their brains for the rest of their lives. Oh, wow. Do this drug and you can never really experience joy again. Yeah, that’s something I want to put in my body.

Then there’s meth that is made from such things as Draino and bleach that turns users into such scab-picking freaks that it’s hard for them to ever be normal again.

Some drug users today, though, are doing things to get high that I can’t imagine.

While I thought toad licking was just a joke from The Simpsons, people actually smoke from: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/pmahon/tcl-hypnotoad.giftoad venom to get high. There’s a toad that lives in the Sanoran desert of Arizona (down by Tucson and Tombstone) called “bufo alvarius” that has specialized multi-celluar glands in its neck and limbs that produce a milky-white venom that contains large amounts of the potent hallucinogen 5-MEO-DMT. When dried and vaporized by heat and smoked, it produces an intense psychedelic experience that lasts a short while, with a lingering psychedelic afterglow.

Okay, as weird as that is, it’s not as bad as the newest craze called “Jenkim.”

Jenkim, aka butthash, is made from fermented human urine and fecal matter. Yep, you read that right. People are using their own waste to get high.

How do they do it? They put their waste into a jar and put it in the sun for several days with a balloon on top as a lid. Then they inhale the gas, which induces a euphoric high similar to cocaine but with strong hallucinations added in.

One of the side effects of this is that users’ mouths taste and smell like feces for weeks at a time. How would you like to date a guy who’s done that?

“Come over here and kiss me, baby.”

“Uhhhh…I don’t think so. Nope…never again!”

What will they think of next? I can’t even think of an example that’s worse than that!

It just makes me happy that I did my own experimentation a long time ago. (Though I have to tell you, no level of peer pressure would have ever gotten me to be a crap sniffer. You could have offered me a million dollars to do it and I never would have.)

Kind of makes me want to go brush my teeth just thinking of it!

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