Saturday, August 16, 2008

My best buddy

If you met me or read this blog, you would think that you knew me.

You would probably think that

1) I have a narrow view of the world

2) I was sheltered as a child

3) I am a bigot

But here are the facts:

1) I seriously considered leaving the Catholic Church as a teenager because it was too liberal. But then I learned more about it through reading.

2) I love homosexual, techno music. I used to run the fansite on MySpace for Erasure... I had over 50,000 page hits in the one year I operated it. (not kidding) Some of them were quite friendly and we would talk. For a while there, I think I could have had a free place to stay in Wales, Spain, London, L.A., Seattle, and Paris just from my MySpace Erasure site. Then I was shut down by Mute Records in 2006. I think Andy Bell has the most incredible voice on the planet.

3) I was sort of goth in high school for the majority of the 10th grade - but back then we weren't "creepy goth" but "pretty goth" with flowing long dark skirts, heavy red lipstick, and lots of black and dangley earrings with moons and little Merlins. I had my hair shaved up the back of my neck and dyed my hair "plum" with some L'oreal temporary stuff that lasted about 5 months. I couldn't wear red for the better part of a year because it would clash with my hair. Then in 11th grade I turned "hippie" with dangley earrings with little earths and gypsy beads and tie dyed shirts and Jesus sandals and crazy, curly, natural hair. I shopped fairly exclusively at thrift stores and wore lots of men's blazers in weird plaids with t-shirts.

4) I grew up marching and carrying picket signs against abortion and for home schooling.
I knew how to construct a picket signs for a crowd of thirty before I was 12.

5) I actually went lobbying in the State of Texas capitol when I was 13. I worked in the 1984 Presidential campaign and probably canvassed 5000 cars and houses with fliers that year.
That same year, I ate pretzels at Dick Armey's office (former US House Majority Leader) and talked to him about home schooling back when that was still a dirty word. By the time I was 14 I had sat in more politician's offices than actual years I had been alive.

6) I stood outside an abortion clinic with a picket sign when I was 11 and 12, 13, 14 and 15.

7) I have been to numerous car stereo competitions as a teenager and can install a "kickin' system"..... and it's NOT because I am Mexican.... because back then, there weren't any of those at the stereo competitions. I even know how to "port a box".

8) I can cuss in Vietnamese and German.

9) I have given my last Snickers bar to jungle children in an Andean rain forest.

10) I have been to so many AA meetings that I can't count them.

11) I have bailed someone out of jail.

12) I know how to suture skin and at can do at least 5 suturing stitches as I was trained by a Brazilian plastic surgeon. I have seen a decapitated human head in a kitchen freezer. (kept by the Brazilian plastic surgeon--- not my own freezer (ew)) Human heads are heavy, btw.

13) I have bungee jumped.

14) My best buddy isn't even Christian-- but what I would have to call "pagan".

What's surprising.... (even to me) that my life now, is relatively boring in comparison to my past.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Provacative clothing for ............ children?

pro·voc·a·tive [pruh-vok-uh-tiv] adjective
1.tending or serving to provoke;
click photo to enlarge

I would expect a C-average, pimple faced college freshmen to wear something like this during his first semester in the dorm.

I can see that.....

But what I cannot comprehend is what mother would intentionally purchase or allow her little boy to wear this shirt?

If you can't read it it says:

"i hate you
you are an idiot
so ugly
you stink
i still hate you
your band sucks
i want to smack you in the face
sarcasm helps keep you
from telling people
what you really think of them

click photo to enlarge

Eight year old boys would love this shirt,
mothers, (unless they have the mentality of an eight year old), should not.

This is a youth size. You can see from the photo that it is indeed small. Some company in California obviously has a white trash marketing niche for children's shirts with logos such as these.

Where did I get this shirt? Well, divorce is bad for a number of reasons. Having the ex-wife dress the children in things like this is just one of them.

Ed just moved and I was helping him out by taking all the dirty laundry and washing it. When I was folding the clothes I found this.

I knew it couldn't have come from Ed's batch of clothes.

Ed's daughter says it belongs to her 12 year old brother. But from the looks of how small it is, I think it belongs to the 8 year old. Ed says he thinks the 8 year old was wearing it.

I asked Ed what sort of message she was trying to give her sons by buying these clothes, I think he hit the nail on the head.

"Not sure. Probably speaking toward regaining the stupid disaffected twenty-something years she feels she missed."


These are the sorts of things I think when I see 9th graders walk in to the classroom with sad clothes I KNOW their mothers bought for them.

Pronunciation: \di-ˈsərn-mənt, -ˈzərn-\
Function: noun

Discernment: a power to see what is not evident to the average mind.
Just because it's on a display rack or in a youth size doesn't mean that it's good for your kids to wear, people!
Have some ability to discern good choices from bad ones. I want my son to be an asshole
when he grows up!

I was wondering if I was just a little too discerning.

So, I asked a co-worker what she thought. She teaches business and is classy, contemporary and a very modern woman. Her immediate thought:

"That's real nice. It reminded me of a church sign I saw years ago.
"Sarcasm is the language of the devil."
You should have your own t-shirt made and give it to Ed's son."

That's an idea Heather, but that's little extreme. I would rather remark upon the world-wide-web. (but I like that you included sarcasm in your assessment! Nice touch!)

So then she said,
"You can sew. Fix it to put on your dog"

So then I asked some of my students who are 10th graders this year (15-16 years old).

Walter: The 15 year old "lady's man":

" i would give it to ma newborn if i had
its perfect... haha i like wat it says in the back lol"

You know, if I wasn't concerned with looking trashy, I wouldn't protest a newborn wearing it. They can't read and wouldn't get some depraved sense of taste from wearing it.

Alex: Fifteen year old girl and A+ student:

"that shirt is uuberr funny!
i love it!
but i dont think a kid should have it!"

Makes sense, a 15 year old boy has the brain of an 8 year old boy. And a 15 year old girl has many years of maturity on any boy the same age.

I asked some of my ex-students who have gone off to college:

John (age 20) said,

for a little boy? are we producing a cynic? :]


So the shirt goes back to the mother's house. She'll read this. She will probably comment somewhere. But I don't care. These are things she obviously didn't learn from her mother and I doubt she'll learn them now. If she likes in-your-face hateful clothing for her children, she can go on liking it. I don't. Maybe she'll dress her boys decently when we pick them up to come home in the future.

Maybe not.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I have a few new goals!

1. Become a contortionist. I am not kidding. I used to be pretty good at this stuff! Maybe some of you knew that I used to be in gymnastics, but as soon as I made the team, I quit. The coaches started getting mean and since I had no aspirations to do anything other than get married and have a family... I decided I had enough. Anyhow, I used to be able to do the right splits up against a wall. I was still able to do this a few years ago. But I tried in my classroom this year on a dare and I couldn't. So, I need to work out my ligaments. I found this link. "How to become a contortionist video series".

2. Try out for the Dallas Desperado Dancers. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA ! No really.
Something deep inside every girl is the desire to be a hootchy cheerleader/dancer. I don't know what it is.... but as an adult it's still there. I went to a Dallas Desperado arena football game and I was totally taken in by the Desperado Dancers. I want to be just like them when I grow up.

3. Become an opera singer. I went to the Andre Rieu concert and I heard Mirusia and decided right then and there that I have to become an opera singer in addition to a Desperado Dancer and a contortionist.

YIPES!!!!!!! Randy just dragged in a cicada and it's buzzing around the living room!!!!!!!

Gotta go!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Social Disorder

I just became the department chair for science at my high school.

So now, I get to do twice the amount of work for the same pay (basically)!

I am a real dipstick.

Which reminds me of this IM session I had with a co-worker......

[20:37] shiver: why does everyone in our department have some type of social disorder?

[20:37] KatrinaVanTassel: they are science teachers
[20:37] KatrinaVanTassel: dork = social disorder

[20:37] shiver: ah!
[20:37] shiver: salty....

[20:37] KatrinaVanTassel: so what is the "d" word?

[20:38] shiver: huh?

[20:38] KatrinaVanTassel: I heard this kid tell a teacher in the hallway, "she called me the "d" word".
[20:38] KatrinaVanTassel: and the teacher said aghast, "Are you sure?"
[20:38] KatrinaVanTassel: and I kept walking, but all the while I kept wondering, "How does that teacher know what the "d" word is and I don't?"

[20:38] KatrinaVanTassel: Doofus?
[20:38] KatrinaVanTassel: Dingaling?

[20:38] shiver: Dick?

[20:38] KatrinaVanTassel: Dork?
[20:38] KatrinaVanTassel: Dimwit?
[20:39] KatrinaVanTassel: Dummy?

[20:39] shiver: Douche?

[20:39] KatrinaVanTassel: Dumbass?

[20:39] shiver: Dill-weed?

[20:39] KatrinaVanTassel: Dickweed?

[20:39] KatrinaVanTassel: I couldn't figure it out.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

My Hippie Mother

My mother was a hippie.... but not so much anymore. Although she is still a healthy eater.

So she was a hippie....
Sort of.

I was born in 1971, so I still remember the 70's.

The seventies in Dallas / Fort Worth were cold in the winter (with snow) and pleasant in the summer. I remember running around the back yard under medium sized shade trees in my halter top and scooter skirt (all homemade).

My mother wasn't a political hippie. I must make that distinction. However, she may well have voted for Jimmy Carter..... she just might have..... I'll have to ask.

She was a health food hippie and we always wore seat belts or else the car didn't budge. I don't know if she would see herself that way, but she was a radical in those times. She wasn't a lunatic fringe vegetarian or vegan but there were rules that weren't broken none the less.

On Junk Food:
I never had any Hostess products growing up. Our next door neighbors (she secretly called "honkies") would give me a Twinkie, Ding Dong or Little Debbie from time to time and I felt guilty and didn't want Mom to know. One time they gave me TANG. Mom still doesn't know about that! (hi, Mom) [ My mom didn't think of herself as a honky, despite her blond hair and aqua eyes... she was Czech and German! Before she knew the word honky - like when she was a kid, her family called these types of people "Americans" ]

I only went trick or treating about three times that I remember. Mom said it was stupid dressing up begging for candy... so it didn't happen often. Plus, I was terribly shy and didn't want to walk up to stranger's doors in the first place. I would watch out the window.
On the few times I went with the neighbors (honkies) or my cousins from the country, Mom would confiscate my candy and ration out a few pieces for that night-- then tell me that she was putting the rest up in the pantry. I could ask her for a piece when I wanted one. I think the candy sat up there for about ten years after the last Halloween begging escapade. I always forgot about it and so did she.

I didn't drink a full-strength soda ("coke") until I was about 5 years old, and then only about once or twice a year. Before this, I would be given coke watered down by half. So it didn't taste good and I didn't want more. When we went to our family reunions in Schwertner, Texas I was allowed unencumbered access (as were all the kids) to the ice chests and drank my fill of orange Chek Cola.

When I started soccer in the 1st grade, I again looked forward to soccer practice and games because I would again get my own can of soda pop. I would plan out what I would get at half time all throughout the game. "Would it be grape this time? or lemon-lime?" I couldn't wait. I think the ball passed by me multiple times but I was too busy trying to figure out which ice chest would be the best one to aim for first. The best soccer game ever was when it was Mom's turn to buy drinks! I got to pick out the selection of Chek Cola. Pure heaven!

I have been told that at the tender age of 4, I chastened a child in Vacation Bible School about eating junk food. I said something like, "If you eat junk food your teeth will rot and fall out of your head!" Mom told me that and I believe it to this day.

There was NO junk food at home, I guess you can imagine. We even made homemade ice cream. Cookies didn't come in a package, but off a cookie sheet. That's just the way it was.
Cookies in packages were called, "Store-Bought Cookies" but never called, "cookies". Icing was mixed in a bowl and gingerbread houses were made from scratch with ginger.
To this day, "StoreBought Cookies" still only partially qualify as a dessert in my book, and I think people who pass them off as treats for meetings and parties are down-right lazy.

On Bread:
No one on Mom's side of the family bought white bread except for Grandpa Schlesinger (her dad). As kids, my cousins and I weren't allowed to eat white bread as "bread" but we were allowed to eat it as a "treat". I remember my cousin Suzy rubbing a piece of white bread with margarine and "showing me how it was done". She pulled off the crust and then mooshed the slice of bread into a tiny ball about the size of a large marble. I remember this so vividly because I was so impressed! I was only about 6 years old. Then she popped it into her mouth and sucked on it.
Mom didn't call "white bread" bread. It was called "cake", because that is what she said it was. Cake. Not fit for consumption as "food".

Mom would make the weekly drive across town (WAAAAAAAY across town-- about 20 minutes) to the Orowheat store. In those days, finding whole wheat bread was hard. The regular grocery store only carried stuff like "Roman Meal" which Mom to this day still doesn't recognize as "wheat bread". She knew about whole-grains being good long before the rest of the world was talking about it.
I remember Mom talking about how expensive the bread was. But that's what she bought.

On Cereal:
She only bought healthy cereal. Nothing with sugar or flavors added.... Corn Flakes, Reg. Cheerios, Rice Chex, Corn Chex......Rice Crispies, Grape Nuts.
Even Honey Nut Cheerios were too sugary. (but she did loosen this rule a bit as I got into my teens as long as I mixed it with something else).
On occasion, Mom would buy the six pack of sugar cereals as a treat. I could have them after school -- dry as a treat. I remember eating a package of Fruit Loops this way while watching The Bugaloos and Sigmund the Sea Monster after school.
Sugary cereal for breakfast was a TOTAL NO NO.

Funny, probably every other kid in the world was eating Cheetos and Pringles after school and I was eating like candy what they had for breakfast.

On Music:
Let's just say that there are The Seekers, Judy Collins, Mary Hopkin, Peter, Paul and Mary and John Denver in my 45" collection.

Other oddities:
Mom made her own sprouts.
She had a gallon jar that she sterilized and seeded with a layer of alfalfa seeds. Over the jar she would layer cheese cloth and tighten them with rubber bands. I was forbidden from touching the jar as they sprouted in the hall closet.

Mom would put sprouts on my school sandwiches. My school sandwich was made with the ULTRA thin wheat sandwich bread, Italian dressing, sprouts, American cheese, and thinly sliced ham or turkey or roast beef . In my lunch box there would be a tiny piece of foil wrapped around a few tablespoons of raisins or peanuts (plain of course). Sometimes there would be a small bundle of grapes or cut up fruit in a cup (never fruit cocktail!) Sometimes there were bread sticks with sesame seeds or Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. Rarely, and I mean RARELY there would be potato chips. (probably non- salted) If I was REALLY lucky, there would be $0.35 in there to buy an "Orange Thing" (ice cream pop)

Mom had an herb garden and drove to nurseries all over the metroplex finding unusual herbs, like tansy, and mint marigold and horehound. She had a neighbor friend (not the honkies) who was a "REAL HIPPIE" and made homemade yogurt and squash birthday cake and bought all their toys and clothes at garage sales and auctions. She did plant and garden stuff with this real hippie woman, Bonnie. Bonnie's family was very "earthy", but the kids had every Lego set ever invented and all the Atari games. Going to their house was like going to toy heaven..... except eating there was an adventure.

Time at Home:

Mom would take me to the library downtown about once a week when I was little (usually before school age). She would get stacks of books. HUGE stacks. A lot of the books she would look for in the adult section were about paper crafts and making things. We would sit around the kitchen table and make Christmas ornaments, origami, pinatas, and doll furniture. We were very crafty. At one point I had a potter's wheel. But it didn't work very well.

But, my mother is EXTREMELY creative. She needs to do more crafty stuff.

I can't remember anything else right now.... I need to find pictures.

Maybe I'll add more later.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Randy Cat needs more meat.

However, my kitty, Randy Cat, has been eating plain, cheap, dry cat food all his little cat life.

Randy, began his kitten life in a British home. Harvey was from England, and was my ex-husband's best friend back in grad school. (This was years before we were married.) Harvey, while a graduate student in Albuquerque, NM owned Randy and then called him, "Tabahsco". (said with a British accent) I thought "Tabasco" was a very gay name so I had to pick a new name for him.

I got Randy when he was a year old. At the time, I was living in the small west Texas town of Canyon, the county seat of Randall County. I decided to name him Randall. (or Randy for short)

Randy's official name is Randall P. Cat. Only Randy's Gammpaw (my dad) calls him "Randall" though.

Harvey and his fiancee' Lan, fed Randy Wal-Mart Brand cat dry cat food, "Special Kitty". When Lan and Harvey got married and moved to England, I took Randy from them because the tax and quarantine on pet cats coming to England was too immense for their budget.

I originally bought Randy the same cat food that he was accustomed to, but one day I did a taste test. I bought him a name-brand cat food instead and he would never eat the "Special Kitty" again. When I gave him the Special Kitty, he would look up at me, and say in cat expression, "You've GOT to be kidding!" Then I tried to mix it in to use up whatever was left and to "fool" him into eating it and not wasting it. Randy ate around every stinkin' kernel of Special Kitty-- leaving them in the bowl for me to witness.
I had to give whatever "Special Kitty" was left over to the dog. Not kidding.
How they sell cat food in Istanbul

Randy is practically human. He knows when I am supposed to get up to go to work, he knows to let me sleep later on weekends, he knows when I am sick, he knows when something is amiss and he tells me.

I think he appreciates that I took him out of a relationship with my ex-husband, who abused him.

Randy loves me.

If I am snoring too loudly in the middle of the night, he will gingerly put his paw over my mouth to quiet me. If he runs out of food, he comes and gets me and leads me to the empty bowl so I can see it for myself.

I think he understands English.

So Randy is indeed a special kitty and I want him to live a long, good kitty life.

So over the years, I tried many times to get him to eat healthy and expensive cat food or at least "wet food" every now and then.

Nope. Every time this attempt ended in failure.
He will have nothing of those foods.

Randy is an odd cat. When I buy him canned, stinky cat food, he runs into the room yeowmering and yammering like only a hungry cat can do. He is drawn to the sound of the can top popping open as he bucks around my legs in impatience.
Then when I put the food on the floor for him, he takes two sniffs, perhaps a lick, then jumps back and does and about-face as though I just gave him the most horrible thing he could ever imagine.


But still I try, I try at least biannually and always get the same result.

So I was reading the ingredients on the package of the Purina "Indoor Cat Formula" which seems to be his favorite variety right now. ( I do taste preference tests with Randy from time to time).

The first five ingredients of Indoor Cat Formula are in order of decreasing percentage:
  • Corn Meal
  • Poultry by-product
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Soy flour
  • Animal fat

Hmmm. Too much corn and not enough meat.
The label for Purina Indoor Cat Formula

As stated before, cats (ALL CATS) are obligate carnivores. This makes an almost all vegetarian diet tantamount to animal cruelty.


I have always known that the dry cat food I was giving Randy was insufficient for optimal health. It was basically FAST FOOD for cats. Something that tasted good, but had almost no nutritional value for a carnivore's exclusive diet.

I reasoned that since Randy has always had issues with hair balls, and goes outside to eat grass and then puke (to rid himself of hairballs) that maybe a bit more fiber in his diet wasn't so terrible.

But I am neglecting his other diet needs in doing so.

But then, Randy is so dang picky about his food. He should have been introduced to a variety of food types when he was younger. (just like you prevent from having picky kids)

My darling fiance' Ed, called me the other day and bated me with this question.

"What do cats eat?"

I said, "Meat. Is this a test? I am a biologist, you know.... They're carnivores. A member of the Order Carnivora".

Ed had seen a commercial for a cat food that tickled his funny bone. It said something like, "with all the fruits and vegetables your cat needs!" or some such lunacy. He was just reinforcing that he wasn't off his rocker. THEY WERE.

"Okay", he giggled. "Just checking".

But that got me thinking again about cat food and a cat's requirement for meat to THRIVE, not just survive.

I did a Google search. My search terms were, "what cat food has the most meat?"

That's how I found EVO - the grain-free pet food. Their website's banner reads, "The ancestral diet meets modern nutrition." This piqued my interest, making my animal physiology notes from 1993 come to mind. Hmmm!

So now I am on a hunt to find this ancestral nutritional diet and try it out on my feline with the "fast food" appetite. (like mother like "son")...... But he has no choice and is therefore better off, he can't run to the Taco Bueno whenever he his resolve weakens..... but I digress.

Here are the EVO dry cat food ingredients:


Click on an ingredient to learn more.

Chicken Meal
Herring Meal
Chicken Fat
Turkey Meal
Natural Flavors
Potassium Chloride
Alfalfa Sprouts
Herring Oil
Cottage Cheese
Ascorbic Acid
Dried Chicory Root Extract
Rosemary Extract

Yeah, some of the ingredients are ridiculous. I think maybe to give taste or sweetness maybe they work as natural binders, or maybe to make it interesting to these American cats who have been eating Purina and Whiskas all their lives. Who knows?

But what makes this food appealing is this:

Well, that's something.

This made me think of something entirely different but not too far off topic,

I would guess that a vegan cat diet would be animal cruelty. I would have to say that feeding your cat nothing but plant parts would merely be survival, then. Not thriving, not at all-- like a human living on bread and water. Great for third-world prisoners and it can be done with
enriched bread, but what a horrible diet! But that brings out the obvious irony and absence of logic to a vegan pet lifestyle....

How could you endorse a vegan cat or dog diet and be against animal cruelty and a supporter of PETA?