The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.

Nashville in the news

I was watching TV this morning while doing, well, nothing really (it is a holiday), and Nashville was lucky enough to gain the following exposure:
1. Ben Folds on the View
2. Leann Womack and
3. The Loveless Cafe Biscuit Lady on Ellen
4. This fabulous news item, which cancels out any ground we may have gained with the others in our fight against the redneck image.

Trial by Fire

As you well know, I have been working a lot at the Juvenile Justice Center in downtown Nashville (it's the little brick building next to the Coliseum that I always thought was Titans offices or such - nope, it's a courthouse!)

Last week I got my first dependency and neglect appointment. D&N cases are custody cases in which there is an allegation of abuse or neglect, or where a parent just wants to turn their child over to the state to deal with (very sad). In these cases, often it is the state bringing the case, through DCS, although the case I'm on was filed by a private attorney.

In every case, a lawyer is appointed for any parent who can't afford one, and a lawyer is appointed to be a Guardian ad litem for the children. GALs basically investigate the case - what the parents say, the kids, other relatives and neighbors, teachers, etc. They do home visits and look over medical and criminal records. In the end, they have the job of telling the judge what they think needs to be done, what is in the child's best interest. This is what I want to start doing.

But first, there is a training period. Friday, I finally received the training videos. These are about 6 hours long, and are accompanied by a 300-page manual. That afternoon, I was appointed to this case. Needless to say, I didn't get to watch the videos before I started.

I am representing the mother. The father filed a petition to have his children removed from her home and put in his custody, accusing her of the basics: drug use, neglect, and exposure to less-than-ideal people. His evidence didn't seem too strong, so we had a preliminary hearing that afternoon. We heard from the father, his mother, and the oldest of the 3 children. Nothing was very conclusive. At 5:30, the judge decided we should quit for the day, and come back today (Wednesday). He had both parents take drug tests before they left.

The father's came back positive for coke. So my client got her kids back. Unfortunately, it looks like there is some evidence of her using, too, and of the home being less than ideal, so the GAL for the case is recommending that there be a trial.

All of this just to say that I had no idea how to do any of this as of 1:00 p.m. Friday. I have learned so much in just a short time. And the other attorneys down there were SO gracious and helpful. They helped me understand what was going on and showed me what to do. When they could have just taken advantage of my ignorance and screwed me over. So just know that we lawyers aren't all bad, I promise. There are some truly amazing men and women making a real difference in these families.

And I will watch the videos soon, I promise.

On a lighter note, everywhere I go smells like honeysuckle right now, and I saw this in the news this morning! (Read the last item - my year will be made if this comes true!)

Loo of the Year Update

I think my favorite London toilet may soon lose its title. Apparently the competition is stepping it up a notch.

Size doesn't matter

I've now been teaching the 2-year-olds at my church on Wednesday nights for a year! It's hard to believe how much they've all grown up since last May. Last night we went outside for a few minutes, and took a bottle of bubbles. Hank kept saying, "Big one! Big one! Do a big one!", but seemed happier when there were lots of little ones to pop, instead of the few large bubbles I could do at a time.

These kids have meant so much to me, and I'm sad that they will promote in a couple of weeks, but I'm looking forward to another great year with the next bunch!

With planning for this England trip in October, Phil's blog the last couple of weeks, and helping my friend Liz get ready for a summer in London, I felt like posting my must-sees of the city:

Notting Hill & Bayswater, Portobello Road Market, Whiteley’s Mall, High Street, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Harrod’s, LUSH, Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road bookstores, Camden Market

Wagamama, Khan’s, Pret a Manger, Café Nero, Lord’s Delicatessen, Muffin Man tea shoppe in Kensington, just off of High Street Kensington, Dionysus

Les Miserables; anything at the Globe Theatre; Anything by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, but especially the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged; Mousetrap - Personally, I thought it was kind of boring (having already read the book), but it’s very famous; Lion King

St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Eye, Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Poet's Corner, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, National Gallery, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Museum, National History and Science Museums, Royal Albert Hall,
Hyde Park, Kensington Palace and Gardens

Off-the-beaten-path recommendations:
Kew Gardens
Benjamin Franklin House – I volunteered part-time here in 2001; it’s the last remaining BF residence in the world, and is where he lived before the American Revolution, trying to reconcile relations b/w England and the colonies; they were renovating it to be a museum, but I don’t know if it’s open yet
Dickens Museum
Carlisle Street, off of Soho Square – where the Manette family lived in Tale of Two Cities, my all-time favorite book!
Carnaby street, Soho
Highgate Cemetary
HMS Belfast
Churchill’s War Rooms
Greenwich – Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian and Thames Boat Tour
10 Downing Street

You can say you knew me when....

So, for the second day in a row, I'm sitting at a table next to Chris Thile. He's writing intently in a notebook, what appear to be lyrics. So if the next Nickel Creek album has a song about the cute girl in the coffee shop, you'll know it was me.

"Why do you hate us?"

In today's Tennessean, there is a great opinion article by syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts. Pitts writes for the Miami Herald, which you can access online, but it's a registration-required site.

I would encourage those of you in Tennessee to pick it up and read it. He wrote it in response to an email he got "from...a lawyer in a red state". The lawyer expressed concern over laws passed restricting rights based on sexuality, calling it the beginning of a "Gay Holocaust". Mr. Pitts was very clear to say that he thinks that the Holocaust was a very serious, very specific event, and that "there is a reason the word takes a capital 'h'". But he goes on to draw some interesting comparisons:

1. Both the Holocaust and our current need to crimialize everything homosexual comes from "a mindset that says a given people are so loathsome, so offensive to our sensibilities, that we are obliged to place them outside the circle of normal human compassion." Basing someone's rights on their sexuality sends the message that the wrong sexuality makes you inhuman. "We don't have to hear their cries, don't have to respect their humanity, don't have to revere their tears, because they are less than we - and at the same time, are responsible for everything that scares or threatens us."

2. "The Holocaust was, after all, only hatred carried out to its logical extreme, the predictable outcome of an environment where we countenance taking rights from 'them', heaping scorn on 'them', making scapegoats of 'them'." Isn't this they way we treat "the terrorists" as well? Look at what we've done to the detainees in Guantanomo Bay and Abu Ghraib. I'm not saying the right-wing fundamentalists are about to start rounding up the homosexual community into workcamps, but at the same time, it's clear that we as Christians and Americans have a higher tolerance for such things than we might be willing to admit.

3. "It prompted a group of gay Alabamans to rise before a legislative committee and ask a pregnant question. Why do you hate us? And it strikes me that the same thing could have been asked by an Armenian in 1915, by a Bosnian Muslim in 1992, by a Rwandan in 1994, and, yes, by a Jew in 1936."

There are so many parallels between what is going on in greater Christianity in America today and what the Pharisees were doing when Jesus was here. The narrow focus on enforcing compliance with a set of rules, blinding us and them to the hurting all around us. How many gay people have been permanently driven from God by the actions of His children?

Everytime we seek to exclude someone from our world, based on their behavior, we are to some degree telling them they aren't as good as we are, whether we're talking about legal rights, church services and events, or even just our social circle. How can someone come to know God, and be healed, if their very brokenness is what we're using to keep them out in the first place?

I have more thoughts floating around in my head, but am having a hard time expressing them. I'm sure I'll come back to this issue again; I always do.

23 Ways to Hit the Snooze on my Biological Clock

Today is my cousin Charlie's 10th birthday! I can hardly believe he's that old! He's incredibly mature and intelligent for his age, and loves the outdoors - sports, animals, and all the rest.

Anyway, last night was his birthday party. His mom invited his whole second-grade class over to the farm, where they had set up the new trampoline (a joint birthday gift to all 3 boys), their karaoke machine, a pinata, and the go-carts. Yes, plural. And where there are multiple go-carts, there are go-cart races.

So wouldn't you know that all 20 of Charlie's classmates would come, plus his two brothers and Jack's friend Nicolas.

Do you know how noisy 20 eight-year-olds can be? Especially when they don't fully grasp the concept of a microphone, and repeatedly scream into it in an effort to drown each other out?

I was pretty much shell-shocked by the time the evening ended. Fun as it was, I was ready for it to be over long before it was.

I used to work at a day care, and we always said childcare was the best form of contraception. Now I remember why.

Working From Home

Things I love about working for Me:
1. Not having to get up at 6:00 every morning.
2. Wearing my pajamas late into the morning (when I don't have to be in court!)
3. Watching "Ellen".
4. Being able to cook lunch at home, which is cheaper and much healthier.
5. I can sit in my armchair in my living room and work on the computer or make phone calls.
6. Looking at my pretty blue walls all day, instead of some boring beige office wall.
7. The flexibility to do lunch with a friend, or to go to Walmart at 2 in the afternoon, or to take a nap and then work into the evening.
8. Taking my time composing my blog posts.

Things I don't like so much:
1. Too much time alone.
2. No one to look over my shoulder and make sure I'm not screwing things up.
3. That I work for myself because no one would hire me.
4. That my home number is now also my work number.
5. No income! (yet)
6. Annoying commercials that come on during "Ellen", advertising educational opportunities such as ITT Tech or Univ. of Phoenix, for people like me who can't find a job. They only depress me further.
7. No cleaning crew comes in at night when I'm done.


My neurotic fish: I have a blue Betta named Jaws. I've had him for about 4 months now, and he still won't eat in front of me. I sprinkle in his food, and if I don't walk away, he just stares at me. Until I'm out of his sight, he won't eat a thing. This is actually one of the warning signs of anorexia. If he weren't a fish, I might be worried.


The two families on Family Feud right now are the Dang family and the Hoke family.

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