Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm Not Gonna Take It Anymore

Maybe it's the caffeine and the sugar talking, or maybe the hormones; but I am in one of those "kicking butt and taking names" moods right now. A couple of days ago we received an application for Princess to be nominated for the Gifted and Talented program. I was asked to provide a short paragraph on why she deserved to get in, and I just blew up (or as close to blowing up as I get, anyway). I basically said that she should get in because she's bored out of her skull and her teachers are exploiting her as a tutor for the other students (yes, I used the word "exploit" and the phrase "bored out of her skull") and it was about frickin' time (no, I didn't use the word "frickin' ") that they actually started teaching her something at her level, before she gets so tired of the School Game that she starts underachieving.

Also, some dude named Fred Flener left a comment on my post "Math or Technology: Take Your Pick" over at Edspresso (no link directly to the post; I don't want a trackback from that post to what I'm about to say about some guy I don't even know) that really cheesed me off. He seemed to think that training some kids to put numbers into a spreadsheet was going to give them some sort of deep insight about compound interest. This guy must be from the Hollywood School of Deep Insights, where Tom Cruise gets cast as Plato and "$#!^ Happens" is considered really, truly profound. This, folks, is what we get for cutting ancient Greek and Roman classics from the curriculum. We get people like this guy who think "the numbers go up" is a profound mathematical insight. He doesn't know enough math to know what he's missing.

I had a student last semester who admitted that as a result of her not understanding fractions, she never shopped on the discount rack. She was never able to calculate what, say, 30% off the price was. For fifty-something years this woman had paid full price for all her clothing, because she couldn't calculate 30% off. When I taught her how to do it, it was a revelation. This same lady was completely thrilled to learn how to solve simple linear equations because now she could program her own spreadsheet without help from somebody "smarter". This woman worked in low-paying, dead-end jobs for decades because of her ignorance and was excited to finally be able to move on to something better. Mr. Flener can take that and stick it in [your favorite bodily orifice here] and frickin' light it on FIRE, if he thinks ignorance of fractions and algebra doesn't affect your real life.

Obviously people can survive without fractions. Our medieval forebears clearly lived long enough to reproduce, and maybe they even had some fraction-free fun on saints' days. But if you believe in universal public education, and if you believe that it should include things called "algebra" and "calculus" that bear some passing resemblance to what for the last 500 years have been called "algebra" and "calculus" so that they will do for the students what the last 500 years of "algebra" and "calculus" did for their students in the past, then you DAMN WELL BETTER believe that students should learn fractions. The existence of calculators that add rational expressions does not obviate the need for students who want to ACTUALLY LEARN HOW to add rational expressions to know fractions. If you are foolish enough to believe that a student has learned some math by merely copying the answer out of a fancy calculator, then why not just have them copy the answers out of a freakin' BOOK? They're much, much cheaper, even if they're less trendy.

Since Mr. Flener apparently believes algebra is useless and spreadsheets teach compound interest, I have a very nice bridge to sell to him. It only costs a dollar (plus interest, of course) and he won't have to make any payments on it for 100 years! How much you wanna bet he goes for it?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Freudian Slip

We are getting a replacement light fixture for our stairs, since the fixtures that came with the house go through these tiny little bulbs like crazy, and the bulbs are more expensive than a new fixture. For some reason, though, most of the inexpensive light fixtures at Home Depot look like this.

I don't like them. Is it just me, or do they look like breasts?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Carnival Of The Recipes

I finally got around to submitting a recipe to the Carnival, and they put it in, so here's the link to the whole thing. Yay! I kinda sorta have a life now.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Your Dose Of Baby Cuteness

It is a little-known fact that babies must be pruned daily to ensure proper growth. Scientific studies have been done in rats that show that if a mother rat is not allowed to lick a part of her baby rat, then that part atrophies. Obviously, human moms don't lick their babies; they munch on them instead.

Start at the top of the baby. Kiss the baby on the head; this makes them smart. Be sure to also kiss the cheeks on both sides, so that the head maintains the proper aspect ratio and doesn't get too tall from all the kissing on the head.

Munch on the fingers and toes of the baby to ensure proper growth of the legs and arms. At least once a week also munch on the arms and legs to keep them from getting too skinny.

Munch the tummy of the baby to encourage proper digestion. Turn the baby over and munch the baby back ribs for optimum growth of the torso.

If you follow these simple directions, you should have a perfectly-sized plump, happy baby like the one in the picture above.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stress Off The Charts

I've seen this test of your stress level before, and I was actually rather curious (and also a bit scared) to find out what my score was. I was pretty sure it would be over 200, but I was amazed that it was 429, and that's just what's happened in the last year. If I put in two years' worth of events I'm up to 526. I get a message that says "this score indicates a major life crisis and is highly predictive (80%) of serious physical illness within the next 2 years."

Trouble is, if I add a serious physical illness to the laundry list of things that have already gone wrong in the last year or so, my score isn't exactly going to go down.

I wonder what counts as a "serious physical illness." I already have bunions in both my feet, but I can't get surgery right now because I'd have to be off my feet for six weeks. You can't be six weeks out of commission when you have tiny, rambunctious kids. That would be even worse than the intermittent pain from the bunions, so I'll have to postpone surgery for a couple of years until Knuckles and Bagel are old enough. If I have a "serious physical illness" I'm just going to have to die of it, because I don't think I can take on anything else right now.

I'm going to leave the computer now; the pain in my hip is getting to me. My headache is thankfully somewhat better; earlier today it was pounding so bad that even on the max dose of ibuprofen, I was still seeing funny.

Bring Your Keys

I have to start getting in the habit of bringing my house keys with me every time I step outside to the front porch, and I'll need to give a key each to Princess and Sonshine. Bagel's gotten in the habit of locking the front door when people go outside without him. He also locked his brother out of their bedroom, but the bedroom lock can be easily opened with a coin.

I suppose this is an improvement over his previous behavior, which was walking out the door when people go outside without him... or when he feels like running around... or whenever. We had to start locking the deadbolt for that reason. Now he's locking us out instead of us locking him in.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Parental Happy Place #263

I am in my future house, in my bedroom. There is a bed. I don't visualize the rest of it, except that the bed is entirely free of half-folded laundry and there are no Legos on the floor. The reason I don't notice the rest is because I am asleep in the bed.

I'm in a happy place... I'm in a happy place... I'm in a happy place...

We're Number 5!

Utah is #5 on the list of states with the most economic freedom. That puts us in the top 10%! Idaho's right there with us. Besides having lower sales taxes, Idaho doesn't really enforce them. At least, that's what the other vendors in Idaho told me. I wouldn't know anything about not paying my sales taxes.

California is #49. 'Nuff said.

Link via Chequer-Board.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fun Happy Times At The Urgent Care

Yesterday Bagel broke a glass and cut himself on it. It didn't look too bad, but I didn't really get a good look at it because he was squirming. He wouldn't let me put pressure on it to stop the bleeding, so I just slapped a few bandages on the cuts and wrapped the whole thing pretty tightly in Vetrap. I knew I hadn't done a good job, but I also knew there was no way in hell I could do a better job until he calmed down, and by then he'd be covered in blood if I didn't do some sort of job. As it was I had to wrestle him and pretty much sit on every part of him but his arm, and even then he spoiled a bandage by kicking it out from where I had it ready by my side.

This morning, when he was calmer, I went to change his bandages, and discovered that while two of the cuts were closed and healing nicely, one was still bleeding.

FH took him to the Urgent Care as soon as it opened this morning. They said his cut was going to be fine and glued it shut. But they were concerned because he was running a bit of a fever and coughing. I had already given him the albuterol in the nebulizer that the doc had prescribed for mornings like this one where he cried and fussed until he started coughing like to puke. They took four chest x-rays (the first three turned out blurry because he wouldn't hold still) and pronounced his lungs infected, AGAIN, and he was prescribed Zithromax, AGAIN.

Surely if a young child gets so many lung infections, something is wrong besides the infection. I'm going to see if I can take him to a pulmonologist and figure out what the hell is wrong. My kids get weird diseases and I'm sick of taking them to the GP or the pediatrician over and over again, only to be misdiagnosed and/or given antibiotics. I've actually had doctors tell me "I don't know what that rash is, put some cream on it or something." (I could have said that to myself and saved the $60.) I actually spend much less time and money if I just take them straight to a specialist and find out what's really wrong with them and get a truly effective remedy.

Parental Happy Place #262

Someday, I will live in a house where everything less than four feet off the ground does not have bite marks in it.

I'm in a happy place... I'm in a happy place... I'm in a happy place...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Recipe: Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer is one of my favorite Indian dishes. It is an exercise in how many dairy products you can put into one dish-- it has five, which is pretty much everything except butter and sour cream. Plus, it features spinach, which besides being a healthy vegetable is also a difficult one to work into your diet. We all cringed when Popeye snarfed down that can, didn't we, thinking of that bland, squishy stuff going down his gullet? Saag Paneer puts the lie to every stereotype of cooked spinach you've ever had. This version is also very mild, mild enough that my kids will eat it. If you want it hot, you know what to do.

To make this dish you will need a cheese called paneer. If you can't get paneer, you can substitute 1 lb. ricotta that has been baked in an 8x8 dish for 1-2 hrs. until browned on top to give it a similar firmness, then cut into squares. Or, you can make your own paneer; it's easy, but you'll need a thermometer. The paneer recipe here makes double the quantity you'll need for this recipe, so either half the paneer recipe or double the saag paneer recipe and invite over a lot of friends.

Saag Paneer
1 lb. frozen spinach or 1 1/2 - 2 lbs. fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1 onion, grated
6 cloves garlic, grated
1 oz. ginger, grated
2 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 c. plain yogurt
1 c. half-and-half, or 1/2 c. milk plus 1/2 c. cream, or 1 c. cream
about 1/2 lb. paneer

Combine spinach, onion, garlic, ginger, spices, buttermilk, and yogurt in a saucepan. Simmer 20-30 minutes. Add half-and-half and simmer 15-20 minutes more. Add paneer and simmer 5 minutes more. Serve with rice (preferably basmati rice) and/or naan.

Naan is a flatbread that is properly cooked by slapping it on the inside of a Tandoori oven, which is very, very hot. If you don't happen to have a Tandoori oven sitting around your kitchen, you can use a cookie sheet in your regular oven. Preheat the cookie sheet along with your oven to its highest temperature setting, and slap the naan on it. I have to make extra of these because my kids will eat an entire one each.

Naan (makes 6)
4 c. flour
1/2 c. milk, warmed
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/4 c. plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. cumin
melted butter

Dissolve yeast in milk. Combine milk mixture with all other ingredients. Let rise until double; knock down. Put cookie sheet in oven and preheat to highest temperature oven can reach (mine goes to 550 degrees).
Divide dough into 6 balls. Roll each ball into a flat shape somewhere between the size of a burrito-size tortilla and a soft-taco-size tortilla. Place on hot cookie sheet in oven and bake 3-4 minutes. Brush with melted butter.

Adventures in Cheesemaking

Since I'm out of a job until the fall, I signed up for the USDA's WIC program, which provides vouchers for certain high-protein foods (such as milk) for women, infants, and children under 5. Bagel has proven to be one of the many people in our family who are having trouble tolerating cow's milk, so they gave him vouchers for evaporated goat's milk. In theory, they could have gotten an exception for him and given him soy milk (which is less than half the cost per gallon of the evaporated goat's milk), but that would mean doing a lot of tedious paperwork, and as we all know, government bureaucracies would never be able to fulfill their missions if they had to fill out lots of tedious paperwork. So they gave him the goat's milk instead. We tried it... once. The stuff is so nasty and salty that there's no way in hell you could persuade a toddler, let alone an adult, to drink it. (I am, however, going to try to persuade Steve of The Sneeze to drink it as part of his "Steve, Don't Eat It" series.)

So here we are, the proud owners of a whole mess of cans of totally undrinkable evaporated goat's milk. I went to the manufacturer's website to see if they had some suggestions on how to use it, and they did! Did you know you can make Creamy Marshmallow Fudge with evaporated goat's milk? It sounds almost as appetizing as the cakes FH's mom makes with Ensure. You know, the ones she frosts with shortening.

The one suggestion they had which sounded even remotely tasty was to make goat's milk cheese. Unfortunately, their recipe used a starter from New England Cheesemaking Supply. I priced it, and it'll cost money to get the starter, which kinda defeats the purpose of making cheese from free goat's milk. But then I found this website which has recipes for cheese using buttermilk and yogurt as starters. I thought I'd try making some cheese.

I started off making Paneer out of some of the extra cow's milk we get from WIC, because if I can make Paneer, then I can make Saag Paneer, which is the third-tastiest Indian food in the world (after Naan and Lamb Coconut Korma). I made Saag Paneer before with Ricotta substituted for the Paneer, and it was really good, and surprisingly all my children and my husband ate it. When you find a dish that they will all eat, especially if it is a vegetarian dish, you add it to the meal rotation pronto. So I was pleased when the Paneer came out well. I finished it last night; it's a fast cheese to make.

After I finished the paneer, I started in on the Feta. Right now I'm just waiting for the curd to set. It's been sitting overnight but I still don't have a "clean break" so I thought I'd wait several more hours to see if it "gels". If not, I'll have to start over with another five cans of evaporated goat's milk. But it's not like there's a shortage of it.

This is the part I hate

As we all remember from science class, hair grows in a cycle. First it grows, then it "rests" while it stays the same length, then it falls out, and if you're not balding, a new hair grows from the follicle. When you're pregnant, hormonal conditions in your body promote the "growth" part of the cycle and prevent hairs from falling out. But when your body returns to a normal hormonal state, all the hair that was supposed to have fallen out during your pregnancy suddenly drops and you shed like a dog.

Since in normal times I have a lot of hair to begin with, during pregnancy I have so much hair that I have to buy bigger twisties just to hold my ponytail. I currently own the World's Biggest Hair Clip and it still falls off my head because it's so full of my hair that it can't attach to my head. And I'm starting to shed, so badly that I have to clean out my hairbrush at least once a day (twice if I get to brush my hair in the evening). Everywhere I go, there's one of my hairs.

On top of that, you know how everyone has their "gross" triggers? Some people get grossed out by fingernail clippings or mud? Well, mine is hair. I absolutely can't stand it and think something is filthy if there's hair on it. And right now there's hair on everything. My pillow looks like a toupee. I have to keep my hair tied back at all times, especially when I'm cooking, and even then it's not 100% effective at keeping the hair out of the food.

Last time this happened (with Bagel's pregnancy), I lost so much hair afterward that I started getting really alarmed and thinking I was starting to go bald. Fortunately it grew back, so that now I have two lengths of hair: one from pre-Bagel, and one from post-Bagel. I hope I don't lose so much hair that I start to think I'm going bald again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Stuff To Read

Read Glenn Reynolds' latest, on the role of incentives in parenting.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sure, You Could

From time to time I get people coming into my booth, looking at my crocheted stuff, and saying "I could make that!" Well, sure you could. Anyone can do what I do. Here's all you'd have to do to make, say, one of my sage green dishcloths.

  1. Find the pattern. It's not hard to find; it's on the internet.
  2. Find the yarn. While worsted weight cotton yarn is available pretty much everywhere, it is not usually available in a wide selection of non-ugly colors. I'll even give you a tip: most of the colors I use are NOT available at Wal-Mart or Michaels. That's one of the reasons I've found a wholesale source for the yarn. That's also one of the reasons people buy my dishcloths, because they come in much nicer colors than the ones Aunt Hattie gave them for Christmas. And good luck finding the organic cotton.
  3. Spend the next 25 years mastering the art of crochet. Any monkey with a hook can make a dishcloth, but to make it nice and even and have the skill it takes to work with multiple strands and hide the yarn ends in such a way that they don't work themselves out while the dishcloth is in use takes talent.
  4. Make a dishcloth. It takes me about 20 minutes. How long will it take you? Especially when you factor in all the time it'll take you to find the pattern and the yarn?
Voila! Anyone can do what I do. But by the time you do, it'll be worth $4 to you.

I Was Just Thinking This...

... but as usual, Dale Franks says it better:
Think about it:

1. You want the government to prevent terrorist attacks.
2. You don't want the government to target specific groups.
3. You don't want the government to engage in widespread surveillance.

Well, I've got bad news for you. Pick two of the above. All three of those goals cannot be achieved, and demanding that the world operate in a different fashion than it does is just childish and petulant.

Read the whole thing for loads of Franks' snarky goodness.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Gardeners' Market Report

Saturday was opening day at the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market. Sales went really well, almost as well from this one morning as from the entire Baby Animal Days (did I mention that Baby Animal Days sucked?) The new location in Pioneer Park (just across the street from Merlin Olsen Park) is a great improvement over the old location in Garff Wayside Gardens. The Wayside Garden is a cute little park tucked into downtown, an oasis in the middle of bustle where you can sit and contemplate the roses. But it's not big enough to accommodate the Gardeners' Market powerhouse, so I'm glad they've moved it. There's talk about moving it next year to the new courthouse grounds on Main St. and 2nd North. That would be even better, as that is the crossroads for the two main highways going through Logan (89-91 northbound to Bear Lake and Idaho and southbound to Salt Lake City, and SR 30 east from Tremonton).

I had been starting to wonder if my merchandise was really any good, but I felt totally vindicated on that score by my performance at the Gardeners' Market. Even people who didn't buy praised the quality of my workmanship. I sold about a dozen of the tie-dyed T-shirts that I'd put on clearance at half off. I'm starting to wonder if the T-shirts might actually be more profitable at that lower price point.

I am still going to try to get in at some other markets. I did not get in at the Downtown Salt Lake City Farmer's Market, although I can still get a permit to sell outside the market. I'm going to apply for the Park City Farmer's Market, which I hope will be profitable enough to cover the additional cost of the liability insurance they require. It would probably not be a bad idea to get the liability insurance anyway; it's not that expensive, and it would cover my losses if my booth does actually blow away like it threatened to at Baby Animal Days this year and Summerfest last year. Unfortunately, I am past the application deadline for some of these markets, which I didn't find out about until the Downtown Alliance conveniently sent me a list of them.

As an aside, I heard a rumor that Summerfest is still looking for vendors, even though I know the deadline has already passed. They sent me a vendor application, but I threw it away. I'd do Summerfest again if they did one of two things: (1) moved it back to downtown Logan, (2) lowered the booth fee. Last year I ended up in the black at Summerfest, but not so much in the black that it was worth spending my entire weekend selling stuff. It certainly wasn't worth a $150 booth fee, and I told them so in my after-event survey. I think it's worth about a $75 booth fee for as long as it's held at the fairgrounds. There are still people in Logan who don't know that Summerfest had moved to the fairgrounds; they just figured it had been cancelled all these years.

On The Nightstand

This edition of On The Nightstand is brought to you by the Tooele Public Library, which makes the Logan Library look like the Library of Congress.

I have just finished reading The Sultan's Seal by Jenny White, which reminded me why I don't usually read modern novels. No modern novel, you see, is complete without a lesbian love scene, not even a mystery novel. Thankfully this one didn't get terribly explicit (I'm looking at you, Norman Mailer). Setting aside the theme of lesbian love, the plot was sufficiently convoluted for my taste. I hate novels where the plot is pretty much transparent, which is why I don't generally read fantasy novels of the dragons-and-elves type (although I will read my brother-in-law's, because he isn't afraid to kill off characters halfway through the book that in weaker books would survive to the end and get the princess).

Next up is Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy In America. This is a re-read for me; I first read it waaaaaay back in college, when I used to ride my dinosaur to Sociology class. It is a real classic and a joy to read. Tocqueville has a way of writing that's just like that "clarity" of taste you get from eating well-made food.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Good News From FH

There are two pieces of good news on the FH front. The first is that FH finally made Employee Of The Month last month. They gave him a $250 gift card to Best Buy and he wants to get a new monitor, which we need almost as badly as a new motherboard for the server.

The second piece of good news is that FH finally decided to go see a doctor about his lungs. I'm pretty sure he's got asthma, but he's been in a state of complete denial for the last 15 years or so that there is even a problem. He has gone around pretending that coughing till you puke every time you enter a smoker's house (whether they're smoking or not) is completely and utterly normal. Even when he had a job that required him to be near cigarette smoke, even when he has a church calling (Elder's quorum presidency) that requires him to visit smokers, even when he noticed that the other people around him were not coughing till they puked, he still denied there was a problem.

You can credit Bagel with FH's sudden breakthrough. Bagel started doing exactly what FH has been doing for years, coughing till he puked whenever he was exposed to cold air or exerted himself. I took Bagel to the doctor and got a prescription for Albuterol in a nebulizer. Then I let FH use it once when he was coughing last week, and I think that was the final piece of reality FH needed to break his denial. It opened up his lungs and he stopped coughing, and I think that he was reminded of what lungs are supposed to breathe like.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why Bother?

I'm applying to sell at a venue called "The People's Market." The application includes a whole checklist of special considerations, check all that apply, to include "government assistance comprises all or part of my income," "I am age 17 or under," "the product I sell represents my cultural identity" and "I deserve other special consideration". The very next line says "It is the policy of this organization to provide equal opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual preference, age, or disability." Why ask, then, if you're not giving special consideration?

With an attitude like that, this market has got to attract people in one of my key target demographics.

Having a Depressing Day

I didn't get in at the Salt Lake City Farmer's Market, and I'm on hold at EPS (again) trying to find out why they are charging me random amounts of money for my merchant services. They have yet to ever send me a statement. Hopefully this time I'll get to talk to someone who actually works for EPS, instead of someone who works for a company to which EPS has outsourced answering their customer service calls and has been instructed to tell everyone they can't help them and they should call someone else, anyone else, as long as it's not EPS.

With the rejection letter, the Downtown Alliance enclosed a helpful list of other venues. Some of them look like they'd be worth checking out. I've heard that you can also apply to sell outside of the market; it's less prestigious and you're not guaranteed a spot, but you pay one fee and you can sell all year at various locations in SLC. The only problem is, I looked at the guidelines, and they say you can only sell crafts that have a "message" on them or inherent in them. There's no writing on any of my stuff, and it doesn't carry a nonverbal message as far as I can tell (except maybe "wash your dishes"), so I don't think I would qualify.

It just seems lately like everything takes five times more work. Honestly, I might be better off with a job at Wal-Mart; that only takes four times as much work as what I was doing before to make the same amount of money.

Monday, May 08, 2006

We're Number 433!

My old high school ranks in the top 1000 high schools in the nation!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

He's Charmingly Naive

I love FH, I really do, but he's charmingly naive. He left a stack of papers on the floor in the study, where the kids promptly knocked it over and scattered them all over. Last night he picked them all up and carefully put them back in the correct order... only this time he left them about a foot off the floor. Note: five feet to the right, there's an empty shelf high enough that the kids can't reach.

Hope springs eternal, doesn't it?

Need More Sleep, Fewer Dreams

Last night I dreamed that I was trying to organize President Harry Potter's security detail using the directory structure of ZenCart, but Dr. Gaius Baltar (from the Battlestar Galactica series) was criticizing my work, saying that he didn't like Potter's leadership style where he refused to delegate anything and did it all himself. I pointed out to Dr. Baltar that every time Potter did delegate something, Baltar would criticize it for not being right, as witnessed by the hand-drawn sign saying "Traige" (sic) that the kids had misspelled in crayon for the third time in a row now. The sign was supposed to say "triage" and Harry and I both knew how to spell it properly, but the kids kept messing it up.

Do you think maybe I've got myself into a few too many things?

I want sleep. I haven't slept for more than three hours at a stretch for two months. Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Monday, May 01, 2006

My Two Cents On Immigration

I don't often post on current issues. Partly this is because I don't feel terribly strongly that there is a right and a wrong side to many issues. But it disturbs me when I hear people say that we have to keep the status quo on immigration because without the illegal immigrants, various industries (food, garment, etc.) would not be able to produce their goods cheaply enough.

I seem to recall the antebellum South saying the same thing about slave labor. Enter the cotton gin.

It says a lot about people, that they would claim to support hardworking immigrants who would immigrate legally if they could only figure out how, and also support a system whereby they are continually oppressed and condemned to a quasi-American sub-life.

Personally, I think the entire system needs to be totally redesigned from bottom to top, in such a way that people can do their own immigration paperwork without having to hire a lawyer. I also think that, sadly, what we'll get is an ineffective patchwork quilt of half measures, fig leaves that only conceal what they ought to support.

If I were empress (vote for me for empress!) I would have an application of no more than five pages for Guest Worker status, and Guest Worker status would be a sort of lease with an option to buy at the end of three to five years. If you decide to stay and become a citizen, your Guest Worker years would count toward your naturalization, and if you decide to leave, you can't come back for a year. You fill out your paperwork, get a background check, and you're in. You don't get any welfare, though, unless you're a citizen. Something like that. I obviously don't have all the details worked out; this is because it's not my job to do so, it's my job to keep Sonshine and Bagel from knocking over all the garbage cans in the house.