Thursday, August 31, 2006
On second thought, maybe the scary old guy is going to keep me awake. You gotta wonder about Munch's mental health when he painted "The Scream."
I think my dad painted something like this, only maybe less psychotic.
Chris killed herself in the woods, and the coach pulled her out of the race, so today and for the next several days she will be angry because she's never Not finished a race.
Incidentally, that pic of Dion was actually a big hello from him to Vic.
And the rest is full of the usual suspects--the media was there; there's a secret picture of him denying me the exclusive interview I offered. His loss at an opportunity for a Pulitzer.
The youth minister showed up, and proceeded to mooch gatorade (OK, I offered).
Check out the sexy legs contest, and then some wise guy took a picture of me bending over. At least it was from the front.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
So sue me. I have nothing more entertaining to do at the moment. Well, there's laundry, of course. And my desk looks like a bookcase fell on it, but I did say "more entertaining."
As a consolation prize for coming, here's that famouse Snicker "Voting Booth ad". It gives equal time to bashing both Gore and Bush.
In fact, it really makes Bush look totally stupid. I guess that's fair for bringing Gore-lovers here.
I also have a real novel that I haven't quite finished, and one that I have abandoned (but picked up again recently)that I was writing for Jonathan.
I did finally finish my writing textbook, and it's uploaded at lulu but I haven't opened it for the public yet. OK, I'm retarded.
In spite of all this, it seems that this blog is what gets my attention, some days better than others. It goes back to my roots as a young writer, keeping notebook after notebook of personal essays hidden away in drawers in my bedroom. I think sometime around age 13 I realized it was a diary, even though I could never bring my self to use the "Dear Diary" opening. It seemed to me, even as a child, so cliche and teeny bopperish. LOL, I was a literary snob before I achieved my present state of cynicism and ennui. Go figure.
Well, the blog's metamorphosis into this public forum started at one of the sites I've listed to the right of this entry. Ink 'n Doodles, founded by Rob Suarez (another link), is a nice little safe community for artistic expression. I started posting a personal essay there on Fridays, and it blossomed into a daily reflection here. So, in spite of promises to him that I wouldn't take those ruminations elsewhere, here I am posting them here, and not there! Sorry!!!
As life happens, one thing leads to another, and now I am writing a weekly column called Monday Musings, which is posted Mondays at around lunch time at an apostolate that I serve in various capacities. You can see the link for Rosary Army on the right as well.
That little challenge at Ink 'n Doodles grew into something a bit more tangible for me than just "being a writer." It sure is encouraging to see a by-line as validation every now and then.
Anyway, today's biographical moment is brought to you as a way to comply with a request from Rob. He asked that I post a link here whenever I post something elsewhere.
I won't backtrack, cuz then you'll all hate me, but most recently I published today's Monday Musings entry. I guess I will make my writing manual available to you next. Hope you enjoy it.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
Rockdale County Public Schools' decision to lower the standards for achieving the honor roll borders on the insane. Every school in the county made AYP this year, and instead of capitalizing on that accomplishment and recognizing the merits of hard work and commitment to excellence, we learn that students will not have to work hard in order to achieve the honor roll. Instead, let's just make it easier to get it.
Am I missing something here? All the self-esteem in the world isn't going to help a kid with a mediocre grasp of academics. While I admit that earning one A and the rest B's on a report card isn't exactly mediocre, it isn't exactly stellar, either. It is what it is, a respectable report card. Instead of encouraging students to work a little harder to achieve the honor roll, RCPS would have them think it's good enough.
We are creating a culture of "good enough" and minimum performances, instead of demanding that our children excel. As parents, accepting this attitude from our schools makes us accessories in the dumbing down of our children.
Telling B students that they are honors material, while boosting their self-image, is a disservice to them in the long term. If you want to see what a self-esteem curriculum does to college freshmen, check out the graduation rates at our public colleges. Only 54 percent graduate within 6 years, according to the Winter '05 State of the System Report by the Board of Regents (http://www.usg.edu/pubs/sys_supp/2005/winter05.pdf). Our students are not prepared to handle the rigors of college curriculums. Their inflated grades don't need the additional damage caused by inflated egos.
The second part of the decision, removing conduct as a component of eligibility, further disappoints me. What message is that sending to our youth? The authors of this policy take their cues from professional athletes: if you've got talent you don't need to be held accountable for your behavior.
For a school system suffering from poor PR, you'd think these folks would be creating and implementing policies that address real needs in our community. Johnny might not be able to read, but when his poor behavior lands him in juvenile hall, he'll have his framed honor roll certificate to cheer him up.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Why isn't Stephen Hawking weighing in?
It seems that some scientists are in a hurry to get rid of Pluto as a planet. I guess that's a plus for Disney.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Well, today, the last student giving oral presentations goes. At least I'm feeling confident that it's not going to bore me to death. Some were really painful, and the rest were merely adequate. But this chick does a presentation on how to make a lemon coconut cake.
After going through all the instructions, she reaches behind the desk and pulls out a finished cake. Sweet! She even brought milk and juice for an impromptu snack. Needless to say, I gave her an "A." (OK, she earned it, but the "visual aid" was a bonus).
We clean up, and proceed with the day's lesson--some torture on adjectives (comparative and superlative). Here is where I confess that I am a literature teacher, not a grammarian. If my participles were dangling I'd blush, because the only thing that comes to mind is a naughty comment.
Anyway, here we are struggling through the lesson, with me staying barely one step ahead of the class, when one of the guys in the back row starts making really weird sounds. I'm talking strange noises here. Strange enough to have people looking AT ME like I'm supposed to do something. The guy is having trouble clearing his throat, so I suggest that he go get a drink of water.
When he returns, he starts making even weirder sounds. I don't know how to describe it--it's like he's pushing air through his throat, only it sounds really painful. I look up at him again, and he has stuck his finger all the way into his ear and is wiggling it like crazy, like he's trying to scratch at it or something.
IT WAS A SCENE STRAIGHT OUT OF HITCH!!! He was living the gigantic allergic reaction that Hitch had to shellfish. Oh my goodness, I was about to die laughing when it occurs to me that maybe I should be doing something other than laughing. So, I ask the poor kid if he's allergic to coconut, and he doesn't know, but it is now painfully clear to everyone else in the room that he is.
I suggested that he go get some more water and work on flushing his system. In retrospect, maybe I should have just sent him home. Anyway, we all settle back down to continue the torture, when my department chair decides that today is a good day to observe me, so she wanders in and takes a seat NEXT TO THE KID!!!
He starts hissing like a Cobra again, and we're all used to it by now, so we ignore it. But of course, there's no way humanly possible that she's going to ignore it, so I tell the kid to go get some more water, and I explain to her briefly what happened.
So then I ask her if I'm supposed to write an incident report, and she gets this blank look like maybe she hadn't thought about it before, and so she says "No."
I don't know if I was expecting a yes, or what, because then I ask her what happens if he drops dead. I get the same pained look, only this time she says, "Well, maybe then you should do an incident report."
Well, I survive that exchange and go back to my office to post this entry. It occurs to me that it would be really funny if I find a picture of Will Smith from that scene in Hitch, so I do a lame Google search. The thing is, that I have to turn off my pop-up blocker in order to run a report that I need for one of my classes, and I had forgotten to put it back on. Bad mistake.
FYI: don't search for the combination celebrity + pictures if you don't have a pop-up blocker. I instantly got assailed by PORN. Nice. On the college server. The damn thing even reset my start page as some atrocious thing. I'm still panicked.
Do you know how quickly I can delete cookies, history, run a disk clean up and reset the start page? Yeah, turbo speed.
Tune in tomorrow to see if i still have a job.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
A little tribute to Vic, via the weirdest angle, comes from a little scene in The Lake House. Sandra Bullock's character is having lunch with her mother, and she notices that her mom is reading some old book (perhaps Pride and Prejudice? I think the reason I see that book everywhere is that somehow, as an English major, I have managed never to have read it. Go figure). Anyway, the mother explains that she reads books that her dead husband enjoyed, and somehow it brings her closer to him. OK, I thought it was sweet and sentimental in the movie, but you know, one of those scenes that initially contributes nothing to the story, and then looms in your own mind much later.
So I find myself straightening up some of the secret spots where Vic has hidden things (there's a threat looming in the air that a massive clean up may be under way with no warning) and I found one of her favorite books, Ella Enchanted. It's yet another version of the Cinderella fairy tale. For years I've seen her read and reread the book, but I've never been interested in reading it. When the movie came out last year, we bought it, and she became immediately disenchanted with it (heh-heh, I'm so punny).
Evidently in that most heinous of Hollywood acts, they changed the story to suit their marketing needs. Oh well. I liked the movie, so instead of packing the book away in a box, I sat down to read it. It is delightful! I loved this version of the fairy tale much more than the original story. Perhaps that's not saying a lot, because I adore the movie with Drew Barrymore, Ever After, and also liked Gregory Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. I guess what I really enjoy is the variation on a theme.
I can see why Vicky likes the story. It's not as sophisticated as Ever After, or as clever as Ugly Stepsister, but I can see why she finds the story so appealing. It's a simple case of love triumphing over adversity. You can't beat a happy ending. Perhaps she's felt a bit like Ella. Maybe she has a fairy godmother that I've somehow missed. Hmmm. At any rate, it's a sweet book, and one I'd recommend for little girls, and big girls.
Friday, August 18, 2006
So, in spite of not updating, quite a bit is going on around here. Several posts ago I complained, among other things, that our neighborhood roads looked like a jigsaw puzzle because last spring the county sealed cracks, but never got around to putting down new blacktop.
I'm pleased to announce that evidently, the gestational period for roads in our fair burg is about 7 months. We have newly surfaced roads in the development. That's real good.
And, to my great mirth, Cole is, in fact, dead. Before PETA and the rest of you offended by my callous disregard for this little animal, it's actually more directed at his owner and his weird ways. Just in case, I'll put up my lightening rod.
Meanwhile, John had the plastic stuff taken out of his nose. No more mockery of his sneezing with his mouth open.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Few students make an impact on their teachers. Our fragile little egos think that we are the ones that are changing their lives. Anybody in this field knows, whether publicly or privately, that every once in a while we learn quite a bit from some students.
Those lessons can be humbling, too. In my case, I had the insanity of accepting a teaching positon in a subject for which my knowledge was negligible. Heck, what am I saying? I knew NOTHING about yearbook. It was the greatest fake of all time. Had it not been for Hatzel, and his sidekick Helix, who knows what would have happened? Certainly, instead of a lovely book, I would have put out a coloring book and been ridden out of town on a rail.
Possibly tarred and feathered.
I'd rather not contemplate the circumstances surrounding my lynching by 5,000 students.
Anyway, Hatzel saved my life, saved my sanity, saved my job. All that for the price of feeding him every once in a while. Oh, and a ride home in the Vomit-Mobile.
Well, my precious Hatzel has grown up and become a real-life journalist. How about that? It turns out he really knew what he was talking about between mouthfuls of carne asada and queso frito.
I threatened to put up a picture of him as a geeky high schooler. I could let him believe that I respect him too much to do that. After all, anybody doing a search on him would turn up this blog. I'll let him believe it, too. That is, until I really do find his senior picture...I know it's around here in a box somewhere.
Meanwhile, here's a link to one of his spots.
Monday, August 14, 2006
The concert featuring Righteous B was last night. It was interesting. I mean that in a good way. The kids had a good time. We got the priest to do the Fabo, and he was bouncing a bit. Funny. Very funny.
Then, this morning I dropped Vicky off at college, and went back later in the day to drop off her stuff and help move into the dorm. I took her and a friend to lunch, and then it was goodbye. You can read my thoughts about it here.
This montage captures some of those moments between yesterday and today.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
My day started helping The Infirm One change the dressing on his nose. Gross.
Tucked him in for a little nap. Mostly so I could get some stuff done.
This is the neighbor with the crop circles (from yesterday's post). Here is one of his random weed patches. Very weird. It's just a rectangle of unmown grass.
One of the random lights I hit on the way to work. Check out the stupid signs. My dad the compliance officer would have a field day issuing citations in Atlanta. Notice that all the Cynthia McKinney signs are missing. I bet she got miffed and had them all removed.
I got a text message during class to give Vicky a call when I had a chance. So I did, at a red light. She was reporting that she made the Saber Team for the band. Very cool. She's amazing at throwing things in the air. If only she'd learn to put things away.
A friendly game of Hand and Foot. Girls against the boys. The girls are the best team. Everybody knows that.
Our friend Jeff stopped by with fresh-baked apple pie from the queen of apple pie. He was commisserating with The Infirm One, right up until he got unnecessary details about the gunk oozing out of the nose.
Things looking terribly bad for the girls team. We are still the best, but....
The bonus picture: HOMAGE. This is my homage to blogger because I got all the pictures posted in one shot. Miraculous.
Friday, August 11, 2006
I'll spare you the big picture, but bloody nose boy is feeling great, demanding Mt. Dew, and annoyed the hell out of the nurses in recovery until they released him.
No more packing in the nose, now it's just a gauze to catch the continuous bloody dribble. Gross.
Gross. Gross. Gross.
And he's stoned. That's damn funny.
So here's the pre-op picture, channeling C. Everet Koop himself:
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Then, last spring, the neighborhood was disrupted by county paving trucks. Our roads were in disrepair, and although the rerouting and roadblocks were an inconvenience, we were happy to be getting resurfaced roads.
They didn't resurface anything! Instead, they patched and sealed cracks. Now our roads look like a giant jigsaw puzzle. It offends me daily.
Then, a few years ago we had a neighbor that grew corn in his front yard. He had a corner lot, so one could argue that he was growing corn in the side yard. Whatever, anybody driving past his house would see the corn. It was a bizarre situation, so we started calling the old guy Farmer Dude because he had a tractor and wore overalls. He even had a straw hat. When he put the house up for sale we were sure it would never sell. Frankly, it didn'thave much curb appeal, what with the dead corn and all.
After about a year, a younger couple bought the house. The first thing they did was raze the cornfield. Then, this guy started exhibiting weird lawn behaviors. He planted banana trees. In Georgia. Then he planted new grass, but never cut it. Finally, he cut it with one of those antique push-movers that don't have a motor. We quickly dubbed him Farmer Dude II (Farmer Dude, Too--I crack myself up, thankyouverymuch).
This guy has to be our most eccentric neighbor to date. He mows the lawn in little sections of geometric designs and right angles, with clumps of weeds left to grow wildly, and then he'll come back on a different day and mow them down, only to leave some other patch in its natural state. It's a mystery.
Finally, John the Conversationalist approached Farmer Dude II and discovered that the guy works in a box all day, with no windows or sunlight, so when he gets home in the afternoons he does yardwork to reconnect to the world. OK, I can buy that.
It still doesn't explain the crop circles.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Made me think. Maybe I'll find it offensive later, but at 6 am in a conservative mood, wearing pantyhose for work, in a heatwave, it sounds good.
Monday, August 07, 2006
And that's where feet come in. Feet are gross (tm). Some feet are very well taken care of, and others are just plain disgusting.
Let me share with you what precipitated today's bizarre rant. I saw a woman that was dressed up. She looked really nice. Then I looked down. She was wearing pretty leather flipflops, with pedicured toes. So far, so good.
However, the nails on her toes were so long, they curved over the edge of the sandals. GROSS! Who does that?
Of course, I spent the rest of my time observing.
- some people have very flat feet. It looks like their feet splatter across the sandals.
- some people should never expose their toes.
- other people have very lovely feet that look like those perfect feet in ads.
- some people have plain feet that are neither impressive nor offensive. I aspire to this category, as I think being nondescript in this aspect of my life may be the way to go.
- people in heavy sandals have "gripper" toes that seem to lurch out like they are grabbing at the air. That's pretty funny to see.
- and finally, some people have pretty dirty feet. I wonder if we should go back to the biblical practice of washing feet? For some, perhaps not a bad idea.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Notebooks, graphing calculators, mechanical pencils, and the assorted package of new underwear litter bedroom floors, because, well, they indiscriminately litter their bedrooms with their stuff. But anyway, there is a charge in the air (and on my credit card) from all the excitement. Whatever happened to getting a couple of packs of notebook paper, a 3-ring binder, and some yellow pencils? These kids have gone high-tech.
Let's not even go into the cost of Vicky's dorm room, which, to be fair, she's pretty much paid for herself. She can't contain herself either, and the big move is this coming weekend.
Sensing a big change, the siblings have been doing a lot of "together stuff." Jonathan was even allowed a "V" concession today, but he chose not to go with the Deb and Flo show and catch a movie.
Meanwhile, the heat is still oppresive around here. Cross country practice has been moved indoors. How does one practice running 5k indoors? I had the same question. It turns out that it is one quarter mile from the front of the school to the back if you go along one of the corridors. Yep. They run inside. It's pretty crazy.
Everything else falling into the routine. I need to go sign another syllabus.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
So it's 9:30 and all I've done this morning is throw in a hunk of roast into the crock pot. I have to teach my afternoon class, which means I'm outta here in a couple of hours, but I've wasted the last hour playing around on an internet face recognition thingie that Vicky discovered. You upload your face, and it matches your features.
I look like Nicole Kidman. OK, right. I also look like Margaret Atwood. She's a writer, so somehow that pleases me, except that maybe it wasn't all that flattering after all. But, there's no denying the messy, frizzy hair.
And then...it said I look like Peter Sellers and Elvis Costello. I WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER OFF DOING LAUNDRY! At least I would have had clean clothes, instead of a complex.
Not to be denied the mockery element, I ran a picture of John. He came out looking like Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter) and Dean Martin. DEAN MARTIN! I tried again. Peter Ustinov. Yeah. That was better. If he thought Nicole Kidman was in left field, then I wasn't stopping until I found something as awful as Peter Sellers. To my joy, Alfred Hitchcock also came up for him. There. I'm done. I'm a happy camper now.
Give it a try here. It's free.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
In a different reaction to death, we also lost our beloved Fr. Charles, who died Tueday morning. He was approaching 90, and so very very anxious to go to heaven that mixed with sadness at losing his presence here on earth, is the joy that he is very happy now. God rest his soul.
And of course...
Who can deny the elation at Castro's apparent demise? The bastard's days are numbered, finally. It's surreal to be watching it from afar, in our second exile, away from Miami. I hope the people keep it peaceful. I fear that there might be a Romanian-style uprising in Cuba which would be tragedy upon tragedy.
Meanwhile, of course, the speculation continues. Is he dead? Is this a cover up? Is it a test run?
I think, in the end, regardless of the man's condition, that this has the potential to set into motion what the people in that island prison must ultimately do, and that is demand change. That's the tricky part. There are scores of exiled Cubans ready to support the movement. How will that be taken by the Cubans in Cuba?
I anticipate that there will be a need for a great deal of healing for both sides. After all, for the exiles, they left a Cuba that no longer exists. In a way, it's like the old Americans remembering their "Father Knows Best" period in the 50's, and their nostalgia for a by-gone era. Those days are gone, for Cuba as well as the United States. What's left is a country mired in the middle of the 20th century, while the rest of the world is racing in the 21st century.
There will be much more than rebuilding the beautiful cities that are in disrepair. Constructing a building, fixing wiring, applying spackle and paint are the easy cosmetic solutions. What has to be rebuilt with great care and compassion is the psyche of the Cuban people.
What kind of damage has been done to a society that was once used to an open market? What of commerce? It's essentially a welfare state, where hook ups and connections have replaced fair trade. Survival has certainly created some odd bedfellows, and a value system that may no longer complement a democracy. For most, communism (okay, let's call it what it really is: TOTALITARIANISM) is all they've known.
What kind of damage has been done to the integral unit of society, the family? For almost 50 years, it has been the mission of that despot and his regime to break up families, to cut ties that are greater and more wholesome than the repressive government. When you have no means of income, and no means of support, only then will you submit to the Caesarian God he has created for himself. Thankfully, Rome fell, too.
Finally, what damage has been done to the spiritual lives of a people? How has an atheist state molded the morals and values of a once predominantly Catholic nation, that understood God's people, and our place in the universe? How has a lack of real brotherhood broken the human spirit? How has a lack of hope fomented despair?
These things are the real challenges faced by the next generation of Cubans. If it has taken 50 years to bring a society to its knees, how much time will it take to nurture it back to health?
Pray for strength. Pray for cooperation. Pray for vision, and compassion, and stamina. Pray for peace.