Old-School Blogger Here

Mamacita says:  Old school?  Me?  Yes. Thirteen years ago, in April of 2004, a former student told me that I should start a blog.  “You’ve got such a lot to say about the world,” he said.  “Who cares what I think about the world?” I replied. “Lots of people would,” he said.


I couldn’t imagine that.  I’m nobody.  However, Wes was an exceptionally wise person even back then, so in early May of 2004, Scheiss Weekly was born.   I still wondered if he was right. I was still nobody, and I still wondered if anything I had to say would be considered even remotely interesting to anybody else.

Since then, I’ve been to conferences all over the country, and spoken to crowds of people, both individually and on panels.  People seem to recognize me even before they see my name tag.  People tell me that such-and-such a post helped/spoke to them/influenced them, etc.  It’s really, really humbling.  And exciting.  And humbling. Who would have thought it?  Me, with a large readership and people who seemed to like me and take me seriously?  It’s like a dream.  The good kind, that comes true because you never dreamed it would be possible but it really did and you’re in shock and awe and Oz and Wonderland.  And Narnia and Hogwarts.  And the Tardis. And all the people who live in those places. And hanging out with people who knows what those places are, and who know who lives there.

Businesses found this blog, and liked my style.  Um, my writing style.  (My fashion style is liked by nobody, not even me, but I digress. . . .) (Oh, okay, I have no fashion style.  But I am one hell of a writer, and I know this social media stuff inside and out.  And I am good.)

People hired me, based on this blog, to represent their businesses online.  I love doing this, and I appreciate that trust more than words could ever express.  The clients I have now have become friends, and I would lie down in the road for them.  I use their goods and services and ideas myself, and everything I write about them is true.  But I digress again. . . .

Blogging is not dead.  It’s still alive.  It’s alive, and well, and thriving, and still as cool as it was in May of 2004.  It’s still a wondrous journey, and although I have no idea what the final destination might be, it’s the journey that’s the real experience, whether we’re headed to Disney World or Shoe World or Kroger’s or the moon or parts unknown.

I’ve met so many wonderful people during this journey.  Some of them are still virtual friends, while I’ve met many face-to-face, but I’ve also learned during these thirteen years that online friends can be as real as face-to-face friends.  Sure, there are creeps out there, but no more so than the number of creeps at the mall.

good and bad people online

I’ve learned not to be afraid of the world.  The world is actually pretty awesome, and it’s full of cool things and fantastic people.  Sure, there are fiery volcanic pits and treacherous waterfalls and cockroaches and tidal waves and tornadoes and school superintendents and vicious psychotic murderers and insane reality show morons who somehow become president and distracted underinsured drivers and fake friends who stab you in the back and people who lie, cheat, & steal, but there are also rainbows and sunsets and flowers and purring cats and awesome mothers and lifesaving dogs and Monk and clean sheets and cousins and people who are good, true friends.  The forever kind.  I have also learned, to my intense sorrow, that issues can cause some people to renounce friendship.  I would never do that to a friend, but I know now that there are people who do.

That I would still be here thirteen years after beginning this funky little blog is amazing to me, and yet, it’s also unthinkable to abandon it, as many are abandoning blogging for the shorter Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.  Oh, I’m on those, too, but this blog saved my soul alive thirteen years ago, and it’s done nothing but nourish me ever since. I am so grateful to the internet.  Really, I am.  It’s a world of wonderful people, a world that was always there, but we had no way of accessing it easily.  Now, we can travel anywhere, see anything, contact anyone, and work for a business that’s a thousand miles away, in our pajamas, at midnight.  We participate in the lives of people we could never have known before.  We watch their children grow up.  We know what they like best to eat.  We see pictures of their homes.  And they know us.

Thirteen years I’ve known this.  Before that, I was limited to a very small area, geographically and socially.  Now, there are no limits.

Thank you, dear readers, for making me feel special.  Thirteen years is as an eternity in the internet Hourglassworld, but somehow I don’t feel old when I’m here.  I’m happy when I’m on Scheiss Weekly.  I’m happy reading your comments.  I love visiting YOUR blogs. I love visiting with you on the other social media sites, too, but I don’t think anything could ever completely replace a blog.  In thirteen more years, I guess we’ll find out.

Also, I wonder if you really understand the title of this blog.  Scheiss Weekly.  Who speaks German? C’mon.  I tried to get Scheiss Daily, but somebody already owned it.  When I started writing here, I chose the title because it seemed like a pretty accurate and humorous description of what I did for a living: teaching in a public school.

That was in late April.  In early May, I wasn’t doing that any more.  For no fault of my own, I wasn’t doing that any more.

I was traumatized when I began this blog, and that is not an exaggeration. Thirteen years ago, I was traumatized, and I had been betrayed by people I had trusted, and my heart was broken and I was foundering, and the title reflected that.  I’m fine now, but the title keeps me humble.  And fairly sane, although my children might argue that fact.

Time marches on.  Time flies.  And yet, it really doesn’t.  Time stands still.  We march. With every blink of the eye, yes, and briefer even than that, our lives are moving ever swiftly towards their ends. It’s this middle that we must make the most of.  I am.  I hope you are, too.

Time flies

Here’s to thirteen more years.  At a time, anyway. A day at a time, and they add up to years.

I love you all.  Literally.

Politics and Me: The Opposite of a Love Story

Mamacita says:  I would really so much rather be known as a kind person, an educator, a nerdy science-y person, a person who loves people, and I believe that I am, as much as possible. I try, anyway. However, when it comes to politics, which I never used to concern myself about in the least – and that is not something I am proud of – I seem to be overcome by a need to try to get people to see the truth of what the beast in the White House genuinely is, to see what being undereducated and uninformed has done to us as a nation and as a now-ridiculed world power. One outweighs the other and as much as I try to stay out of it, I’m in. I still have many dear friends who are supporters of the current White House, but try as they will, they can’t seem to defend “it” without a comparison/contrast/mention of Clinton. They have no way of defending one except by putting down the other. If a president cannot be extolled or defended on his own prowess, what is he?

It’s more than important that people understand this. Please, my dears, think. Think without using the names of other people.

Think about this only in terms of that one person, the one with a tiny pudgy finger hovering over a red button. Leaving out all mention or consideration of anyone else, think. This is the educator and people-loving part of me beseeching you: think…

Rugby and Refs

Mamacita says:  When I was in college, I used to go to rugby games more because I loved the man who always said “God bless you, referee, you are badly in need of glasses” every time he disagreed with a calling, or whatever the proper name for a ref’s whistle-decree is, than for love of the game. Because there was no love of the game, just love for that gentle old guy and maybe for a player. Maybe. Also, we had to stand to watch because there were no seats because the was no stadium. Or seats. Not for rugby. But it had the half-blind refs we loved so much because we loved that guy, and after-game parties, which I will not tell you about because I’m too genteel.


Hoosier Persimmon Pudding and Weather Predictions

Mamacita says: Autumn is officially here, and it’s time to make persimmon pudding.  Most of you don’t live where there are persimmons, and I’m betting that many of you don’t even know what a persimmon is. That’s probably not your fault, because persimmons don’t grow in too many places; however, southern Indiana is a persimmon tree’s favorite home, and the trees grow healthy and prolific here. In this community, most people pick the persimmons 

Jane Goodwin, Scheiss Weekly, Mamacitaoff the ground and run them through a special grinder to make the pulp. We can also buy commercially frozen pulp at any grocery store here, but it’s not fit to eat that way, and it’s best to use pulp you made, yourself, or that someone else just made. It keeps in the freezer for several years. My fantastic and generous Cousin Carol gives me persimmon pulp, fresh from her parents’ back yard, and I make homemade bread for her family.  I think I get the better part of the deal.

That’s right.  In southern Indiana we just go out in somebody’s back yard and pick persimmons up out of the dirt.  They’re best that way, and we rinse them off before we grind them up.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.

Hoosiers use persimmon pulp for many delightful things, but the favorite by far is Jane Goodwin, Hoosier Persimmon Puddingpersimmon pudding. It’s a specialty. . . a delicacy, as it were, that you’ll seldom find outside the Midwest, and in southern Indiana, you’ll find the best of the best.

Hint: Don’t EVER taste a green persimmon, unless you like the sensation a blast of raw alum gives to your lips and tongue. Persimmons must be ripe before they can be used. VERY ripe. Asking someone you’re mad at to just “touch your tongue to this green persimmon for a second” is a fun, albeit cruel (depending on the age of the taster) trick to play on someone. Raw alum on the tongue. Yum. It’s a sensation vaguely akin to being turned inside out by the tongue.

On second thought, everybody should try that at least once. How else can you appreciate the fun of doing it to someone else?  It’s scientific.  Besides, until you try it, you won’t believe the sensation.  It’s really not easily describable.

By request (ask, and ye shall receive) here is my very own tried-and-true persimmon pudding recipe again. I’ve tweaked it over the years until it became perfection in a pan.

Hoosiers can be very protective and possessive of their persimmon pudding recipes, but I’m not. People always ask me for it, so here it is:

Jane’s Persimmon Puddingpersimmons

First of all, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. NO HOTTER.

Get out a very large bowl.

Put the following ingredients in it:

2 C. persimmon pulp (Use fresh or frozen; the canned stuff is terrible.)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 C sugar (I use Truvia)

1 C brown sugar (don’t use fake)  (It’s brown sugar, so there are no calories.)  (Shut up.)

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt (don’t leave it out!!!!) (don’t use fake salt, either.)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

2 C flour

2 1/2 C evaporated milk (not sweetened milk)

1/4 cup softened butter (not oil) (not margarine, either.)

Put everything in that large bowl and mix thoroughly. Use an electric mixer if you don’t think you can get it blended by hand. Get the lumps out.

Pour mixture into a large buttered baking pan.

Put the pan in the preheated oven. Set your timer for 60 minutes.

After the timer goes off, stick a toothpick in the center of the pudding. Clean? It’s done.

Let it cool just enough to slice. Most people like to top it with whipped cream. Non-Hoosiers often sprinkle nuts on it.

You can also add coconut or pecans or cocoa to the mixture, but then it’s not Hoosier Persimmon Pudding. Your call.

Oh, and by the way. . . the persimmon seeds are saying that it’s going to be a mild winter.  That’s what I said.  The persimmon seeds can predict winter weather.    Try it and see.. It’s as reliable as the weatherman and maybe more so.  At any rate, this method has been around a lot longer than the weatherman.

Persimmon seeds can predict winter weather. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Just to be on the safe side – no weather prediction is to be trusted -, be sure you put your snow shovel where you can grab it quickly.  Make sure everybody has warm coats and gloves.  If you put salt on your driveway or sidewalks, buy it now before the snow starts and the prices go up.  It’s also a good idea to make sure everybody at the office or factory or school or restaurant or whatever your place of business might be, knows the snow day policies.  I tell my students that if the weather conditions are dangerous, to stay home, no matter what the radio announcer is telling them the official stance is.  Nothing is worth a life.

However, if a student calls me at home and asks, I will always say “yes, come to class.”  Because they’ve been told how to find out and I didn’t take them to raise.  I also develop a mean streak when there’s a blizzard out there and someone phones me at 6 a.m. to ask me something that’s all over the radio AND on the syllabus AND was part of the lecture last week.

Oh, okay, I don’t really tell them that.  But I do snarl. At that hour of the morning, I can be very snarly.  How snarly?  I hope you never find out.

Signing Off and Test Patterns and Peacocks

This is a test pattern.

Mamacita says:  Most of you have never seen this picture before. Most of you have never known a time when television wasn’t a 24-hour marathon of programming.  This is a test pattern.  If you turned on your television after midnight, this is all you saw.

The fact is, things used to have down time. Stores closed. Television and radio stations “signed off,” and each station often had its own unique signoff ritual. After midnight, people went to bed; they didn’t stay up for hours and watch because there was nothing to watch. When people said, “There’s nothing on TV,” it wasn’t just an expression.  Radio stations signed off, too.

Sometimes I think it was better the old way. After midnight, people generally went to bed. People didn’t watch show after show just because something was on, because something WASN’T on. Just blackness, static, or a test pattern.

I can remember turning on the TV on Saturday morning, seeing nothing but the test pattern, and waiting patiently until 6:00 a.m. or so for the station to “sign on.”

When my cousin C and I were kids, and would stay at our grandmother’s house every weekend we could manage it, the sign-off for Indianapolis’ WTTV channel 4 was a few minutes of Mahalia Jackson singing.  I can’t remember what she sang, specifically, because C and I usually watched our grandmother when Mahalia sang.  It was one of the few times we saw Mamaw laugh out loud.  Mahalia’s kind of singing just wasn’t heard much in southern Indiana, and the shock value of it set Mamaw off every Saturday night.

Most sign-off rituals were religious in nature, and patriotic as well.  A local clergyman would speak a few words, the National Anthem would play, and the sign-off words were spoken, along with a promise to sign-on again in the morning.  It was kind of cool.  It was also a signal that everybody still up ought to go to bed, as well.

Maybe that’s one reason people stay up so late these days.  They’re glued to the TV, and there’s nobody now to tell them it’s time to sign off and go to bed.  As long as there’s SOMETHING on TV, some people will watch it.  I’ve never understood the mentality.

The next program you see will be in color.

This picture, now, is the NBC peacock, telling us that the next program would be in living color. Those of you who thought In Living Color was nothing but a funny television show have a lesson to learn here. And now you know why the title of that show was funny in more ways than one!

Seeing that NBC peacock flexing its tailfeathers was the signal that Bonanza was about to start. A lot of the old 50’s sitcoms had been filmed in color but never seen in color, and eventually those started to be shown as was intended, too.  I am not a fan of colorized film, but if something was originally filmed in color, I’d like to see it in color; it’s all about the lighting.

Here’s your laugh of the day. I didn’t know The Wizard of Oz was partly in color until I was in my teens. It made the expression “a horse of a different color” understandable, for the first time.

I’m not really QUITE that old, but my family just waited that long to get a color TV.

It’s All Poop

Poop. It’s all about poop.


Mamacita says:  It’s all poop.  All of it.  Poop.

See this cartoon?

I was forced to do stuff like this for over twenty years and I hated every second of it.

Do you hear me? Every. second. of. it.  I know that there are kazillions of teachers who live for vicarious participation in athletics, but I was not one of those.  They made me do it anyway.

I stood outside in the pouring rain and the falling snow and the freezing toe-numbing cold and the blistering heat, taking tickets and selling popcorn and saying things like “Go!” and “Jump!” and “ Oh shit golly whillikers, was I supposed to start the clock before they started doing that?” I was given a score sheet with no instructions. I was given chalk with no instructions. I was given measuring tapes but I wasn’t told what to measure. I was given large sheets of paper and big magic markers with no instructions. I was given a stopwatch; what was it for? I was given remote controls that had something to do with big electric neon things with numbers that made the crowd yell at me, with no instructions. I was put in charge of outdoor things involving stupid costumes uniforms and weird shoes and rules that I didn’t know. I was put in CHARGE of these things.

I wasn’t asked to help out. I was ordered to be there. I had no choice.

Nobody told me how these little games were played. Nobody told me where to stand, or what to write down, or who’s on first. I only knew about “I don’t know.” And I wasn’t sure where third base was.

Something I do know is that a lot of teachers quit the profession because of this kind of thing.

Funny, isn’t it, that we were all required to ‘do our part’ in areas such as this, but if a teacher asked for some help at a concert or play or dance, that teacher got a lot of blank stares and no office backup whatsoever. Sometimes, people laughed.

During those last few years at the public school, teachers were no longer required to do all the athletic gruntwork; what a reeee-leeef.

Did I mention that I hated every microsecond of it? Did I mention that I’m still bitter? Did I mention that the very thought of some of those ‘coaches’ and parents makes me want to scream and yell and throw things?

I will admit that I was forced to run the clock at a basketball game only once. I was so terrible at it, after fifteen minutes NOBODY knew what the score was. We narrowly avoided a riot, in fact.

It would have helped if I’d known the rules, and what all those strange noises and gestures meant. I mean, what did they expect? I avoided gymnasiums like the plague, normally. I don’t even like the way they smell.

So yeah, I messed that game up, royally.  But I didn’t know the rules.  I didn’t know how to do it.  They made me do it anyway.  Oh, I know I’m probably the only person in the world who didn’t know how these things were done, but I knew how to do a lot of other things; why couldn’t they let me do those and let sportsy people work scoreboards and measure jumps and stuff?

On the bright side – it was shiny bright, as far as I was concerned – they never made me work a basketball scoreboard again.  What a break for me.  I suspect it was a break for everybody concerned.

If I’d only known that was how to get out of it, I wouldn’t have tried so hard at all the other sports things they forced me to help out at, because I did try.  I tried really hard.  I just wasn’t interested.  I resented being required to do these things.

I didn’t go to university for a million years just to stand outside in the cold and sell M&M’s, or to measure how far a kid jumped in sand that had been pooped in by every cat in the county.

Let their parents do that. They’re the ones who cared about it, anyway. I didn’t. Let them yell at each other, instead of me.  I had terrible earaches and colds from standing out there trying to do something I was not prepared to do.  I was sunburned and blistered.  And they still made me do it, even after I begged to be let off because I did not know how to do these things.  I am not knowledgeable about sportsing.

All of my heart and soul and attention and life was directed at those same kids; it was just aimed elsewhere.

But you know, I wouldn’t have minded as much if the joy had been equitable. As in, “You help me with this concert, and I’ll help you with your little outdoor game.”

Since it wasn’t set up that way, I agree with the cats: poop on it all.