3/29/17 National Test Day: Please Read

Hello, this is Liz. Maggie is taking the day off.

Most adults are sweating the April tax deadline. However, many kids are dreading April 8, “National Test Day”. In case you’re not familiar with this, on this date, high school entrance exams, the ACT, SAT, and other standardized tests are held throughout the nation.

My son James is taking the ACT with the writing portion on April 8.

I’d like to say, I’m not a huge fan of standardized tests. I understand perfectly that schools need a benchmark, but frankly, not all kids are great test-takers, and many students miss a great fit with their desired school because of standardized testing. One can’t show creativity and passion while filling in an oval. I’d like to talk about this a minute, and I apologize if this gets a little long. But if you only read one blog of mine this year, I beg you, let this one be it.

I’ve got three kids: Mike, my inherited son from Jim’s first marriage; my son Erik, and my son James. Each child is wildly different than the other. They’ve all had different approaches and attitudes about school. Imagine three different roller coasters, and you’ll have an idea!

Mike, quick on his feet and charming, was an outstanding test taker. He scored very high on the ACT. Mike loved high school sports and played on a couple of different teams, and was very good at the social aspect of school. Mike had a lot of friends and had a regular “posse” he hung around with. Although he was a great test taker, he found that a middle-of-the road curriculum suited him best for academics. Mike’s strengths were found in his social skills and ability to make and keep friends. After high school, he landed a commissioned sales job that suited his skill set very well, and today, he is happy with his career and is successful in his profession.

Erik, somewhat moody and wildly creative, was not a good test taker. He scored about average on the ACT. Erik had a terrible high school experience and hated sports. He excelled in Art, however, and flourished in any creative class that was thrown at him. From watercolors and calligraphy to pottery, he was truly in his element. After high school, Erik decided to pursue Cosmetology classes, and that is where his grades went through the roof. Comfortable in an environment that encouraged passion and creativity, Erik’s grade average was 96%+ and graduated with a straight A average. Erik is now a Master Stylist with a major chain, and has full benefits at his job. He has an astonishing request rate at the salon – even I have to make an appointment to see him!

James took the ACT when he was 13. He did very well. He took it again as a practice test last year, and scored two points higher. To prepare for the ACT this year, he is doing independent study, classes after school, and tutoring on his own time. He expects to raise his previous, practice ACT score by two or three points. James is enjoying high school immensely. Although his is not a “sports guy”, he’s a “Robotics guy” and enjoys tinkering with various projects. James has a knack for details and dates and hopes to get a specialized History PhD when he completes high school, with an eye on teaching college-level classes. He is relishing taking the Writing portion of the ACT because he feels this is where is greatest strength is going to be. On a side note, I never have to ask Jamie to do his homework; rather, I worry about him “beating himself up” about it too much.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I learned, through my extremely different children, that it’s OK to excel or not to excel at these standardized tests. And if you’re that parent trying to push your kid into being the lawyer or doctor or football star you never were – please, please, stop. Your kid might be your child, but he or she is his or her own individual person and we as parents might know them well, but still, you can’t be in another person’s skin and know what makes them tick. It’s OK to be a school person or not a school person. There’s something out there for all of us, but we have to find it individually.

You, as a parent, might be sweating National Test Day right along with your offspring. I can give you the wisdom of my experience to let you know it’s going to be all right. There’s room for lawyers, doctors, football stars, entrepreneurs, actors, scientists, teachers, salespersons, and all the rest, and some you can’t imagine. I am saying to you today, encourage your child to be THEIR best, not YOUR best. Let them shine in their own way, and they’ll do you proud and probably surprise you. Had I tried to fit any of my square pegs into round holes, it would have been a disaster.

National Test Day is right around the corner. Some will thrive, but we’ll all survive.

Your friend,



PS – I made the bed with fresh linens today and Maggie is enjoying the afternoon snoozing on the soft sheets and blankets. She sends a Woof and will see you tomorrow!



3/27/17 500 Followers, Woof!

In May, 2012, I realized my dream of finding my furever home with my furever family.

I started this blog not long after my adoption. WP has informed me that I have reached 500 followers, and I would like to take this post to thank YOU for following. It means a lot to me to have all of you on this journey with me! I love when you leave comments for me to answer. Thank you so much. I have met and made such good friends on this blog. I hope to remain blogging for a long time, and I hope to always put out a quality blog for you to read.

Here is a picture of me from the first day Mom, Dad, and Jamie brought me home. It’s a little blurry, but you can even see where the doctor shaved my tummy for the “spay”.

Woof! Love, Maggie


The Lunchmeat Informant : A Cold-Cut Chronicles of Conan

James is re-introducing his story to new readers and as a synopsis for those who lost his blog when he renamed his domain. I hope you enjoy this. Woof! Love, Maggie

Strength of a Thousand Men

How does a man who works in a delicatessen go from a lunchmeat gladiator to a superpower’s sneakiest spy? The tale of Conan Merriweather, an alien on the distant moon of Sesiqui, is a dice roll tale of courage, cunning, action, multitasking, and uncanny luck.

Conan was a young, able-bodied man. He wanted desperately to enlist in the Royal Republican Army, so he could help repel the swarms of robots that threaten his homeland. However, the army does not accept soldiers with mental illnesses, as getting his medicine to the front lines would be difficult and expensive. He was stuck working in his boss’s meat store, where Conan spent his days hearing sickening stories of the Mechanika-Profilia Conflict from the jaded veteran. However, one day a government agent tricked Conan into coming with him into a secret urban government warehouse, where they knocked him unconscious, locked him in a robot suit, and…

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3/23/17 Inspiration from an iPod

Sweating profusely at the gym, I get inspiration from the little Shuffle I got for Christmas.

“You better work!” chastises RuPaul.

“Reach up higher!” intones Muzzy.

“Begin again!” choruses Knife Party.

“Fun, baby!” smirks Grandmaster Flash.

“Pump it up!” chants Savoy.

“Tough it out!” howls Webb Wilder.

“Dammit!” screams Blink-182.

With such encouragement, how can I go wrong?

Your friend, Elizabeth

Bruce Lee, A Guest Post by Mom

A very sharp-eyed Gigi (https://gigisrantsandraves.wordpress.com) noticed my poster of Bruce Lee in the background of the most recent picture of Maggie (BSL and BS Politics).

I’ve admired Bruce Lee since I was in high school. Besides his (literal) kick-ass movies, Lee Jun-fan was ahead of his time in many things, and was an avid reader, artist, and poet. He became a star that crossed all demographic lines, and paved the way for other Asians in Hollywood. (It is this author’s opinion that Asians are still the “invisible race” and grossly under-represented in movies and on TV.) Bruce Lee inspired me to try my hand at martial and mixed-combat arts. Although I don’t consider myself an “expert” on Bruce Lee, I’d like to share some of the knowledge I do have with you.

Today, I’m going to pepper this blog with bits of trivia about Little Dragon, Lee Jun-fan, also known of course, as Bruce Lee.

Did you know that Bruce Lee pioneered protein shakes for athletes? His creations included drinking raw eggs and steak (yes, raw steak) and allegedly were so disgusting, even his closest martial art cronies refused to drink them!

Lee was born November 27, 1940 in California. His mother named him “Jun-fan” or “will return” because she felt he would return to America one day (more on that in a minute). It is believed the doctor in the hospital nicknamed him “Bruce”, and that was the name he would later use professionally. After Bruce was born, the family relocated to Hong Kong.

Bruce’s grandfather was of German descent, and therefore, his Chinese blood was not considered “pure”. Consequently, young Bruce was denied entry into many Kung-Fu schools. Knowing what we do now about him, this seems incredible! However, things worked out where he studied under Master Ip Man and learned the Wing Chun contact style of Kung-Fu. This was a really good thing, because…

Bruce Lee had very bad eyesight! The Wing Chun technique relies more on touch than sight, and we all know that Bruce excelled at his art! He did not let his bad eyesight prohibit him from doing his very best. I really admire that about him.

Speaking of eyesight, Bruce was an early wearer of the new invention, “the contact lens”, which is known for having been most uncomfortable when it was first introduced. It is said, however, that Bruce often wore his taped-up “Coke bottle” glasses to remind him to be humble.

Legend (there are lots of legends about Bruce Lee) has it that Bruce did, in fact, return to America after beating up a mobster. An incredible cha-cha dancer who won awards in Hong Kong, Bruce allegedly gave dancing lessons for extra pocket money on the boat back over to America. He arrived with about $100 in his pocket, which would be worth about $800 or $900 today.

Bruce wasn’t the biggest firecracker in the bundle – he was only 5’7″ and, at his top weight, weighed 160 pounds (he was about 125 pounds when he died) – but he definitely had the most spark. I have seen videos of him doing pushups with his thumb and forefinger, and his famous “one inch punch” is absolutely devastating to watch. But Bruce Lee wasn’t, and isn’t, just about the physical aspects of martial arts. He had a formidable mind and wasn’t afraid to break the rules. For example…

Kung-Fu used to be a closely guarded secret. However, in 1964, Bruce Lee opened his first school and welcomed not only Asian students, but Caucasian and African-American pupils, as well. Keep in mind, this was absolutely unheard-of. Bruce felt the discipline taught in martial arts was too important not to share with everyone. This mindset won him both fans and garnered him enemies. Bruce Lee taught his “Jeet Kune Do”, or, “The Way of the Intercepting Fist”, which dismantled the traditional structure of Kung-Fu; again, winning him friends and gaining him enemies. Nonetheless, he continued teaching and opening schools. It is wonderful to me that he wanted to share this gift with so many others.

On July 20, 1973, Bruce Lee collapsed on a movie set in Hong Kong, suffering seizures and headaches. His death is still a mystery. Did he have a fatal reaction to prescription medication? Did the mob finally catch up with him? Were too many people upset about his teaching? We’ll never know. Bruce Lee died at the age of 32, leaving behind his wife Cindy, and two young children, Brandon and Shannon. (Brandon Lee later died in a freak accident filming, “The Crow”). Bruce Lee left us way too soon, but left behind a comprehensive body of work in not only in his movies, but in his drawings and poetry.

I will close this blog with one of my favorite quotes by Bruce Lee:

                      “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”


brucelee (this image is from Google Images. I don’t own it.)

Your friend, Elizabeth


3/20/17 BSL and BS Politics

I’ve been having a very hard time writing these days. Mostly it is because I am upset over news coming out of Washington, where your human Pack Leader (for Americans) resides.

I can’t help but notice some similarities between Breed Selective Legislation (against dogs; BSL) and the BS politics (against almost everybody else,) nowadays.

Under BSL, dogs can be shot on sight simply because they “look” like a Pitbull. If you’ve got a dog with a big head, beware! Dogs can be taken from their owners with little or no notice. Owners are required to muzzle their dogs and carry heavy insurance loads. Pitbull-type dogs are not allowed in doggie daycare, yet critics of these breeds say, “They need more socialization!” This discrimination is selectively enforced. Is this starting to sound familiar?

Under BS politics, “Shoot first and ask questions later” seems to be the rule. Families can be taken from each other, especially if they “look” a certain way. If you’ve got darker skin or a headscarf, beware! Discrimination is selectively enforced – Mexicans and Muslims are out. Their children are not going to be allowed in school. What about other illegals – the ones from European countries where the skin is not so dark? I have a problem with animals and people being discriminated against due to their looks. I could give you other examples, but I think you’re seeing my point!

Frankly, it’s disheartening.

A Pit or Pit-mix dog can’t help its breeding. A person cannot help their heritage or nationality. It is odd and unfair, from my canine point of view, that appearance should have so much weight in decision-making; especially, in life-altering decisions. For example, I understand that there have been no criminal attacks against the U.S. from any of the 6 countries that the American Pack Leader has put on the “hot list”; yet, there they are. This doesn’t make sense to me, just like the sign on the doggie daycare near my house that says, “No Pitbull type dogs or Akitas are welcome” doesn’t make sense, either. Shouldn’t we all be judged upon our actions?

I remember one time, when I was out in the yard and saw a rabbit. I burst through the fence and rounded the corner to the front of the house in hot pursuit. At that moment, a city worker pulled up in her truck and walked to the front door. Immediately, I changed course and ran toward this visitor. I bounded up to her, placed my paws on her shoulders, and began enthusiastically licking her face. How would this story end if BSL was enforced that day? I’ve never bitten anyone, but I could have been shot right on my own front porch. Some would say I deserved it.

Under BS politics, poor people, elderly people, anyone who relies on public education, and so forth, are under attack. It’s like they’re getting shot at. Some would say they deserve it. A shot was fired recently toward public radio and television. Aren’t you humans learning from the past? Haven’t you learned yet that a double standard is never fair? It makes me so unhappy.

A sad look today – no happy Woof.

Love, Maggie