Wednesday, August 31, 2005
In the car yesterday:
Patrick to me: "Dad, Aubree and me want to stop at the store."
Aubree to Patrick: "Patrick, you need to use proper English. Its Aubree and I"
Patrick to Aubree: "You say it your way and I'll say it mine."
I'm very seriously thinking about buying a more economical car. The cost of my daily commute is going through the roof. I'm driving a minivan, which is handy sometimes, but I could certainly get by with a smaller car with better gas mileage. I need a new/near new, reliable car that will get me back and forth to work and haul the three of us around.
I wasn't happy with Patrick Monday morning. He said, "Dad, I need you to write a check and put some more money on my lunch account." This would be fine except for the fact that I had written a check the previous Monday for $25.00. He spent that money in one week. A regular lunch costs $1.75 and here he is spending $5.00 a day. He can't seem to tell me what he spent the rest of the money on . Wait, he might have "bought some gatorade and ice cream." Grrr. I'm giving him money one day at a time until I can talk to the school.
For some reason I'm craving hot wings. Yum. Hot wings! I guess I could stop by Hooters. Good customer service there don't ya know.
I played basketball with some of the kids at lunch on Monday. I hit a few shots and had a really good time. The problem? It was 100 degrees outside and I'm wearing a dress shirt. Lets just say that the absorbency of my shirt was tested.
For some reason, John Denver's song "Poems, Prayers and Promises" has been going through my head. It jumps into my mind at odd times of the day. A snippet of the lyrics:
The days they pass so quickly now
Nights are seldom long
And time around me whispers when it’s cold
The changes somehow frighten me
Still I have to smile
It turns me on to think of growing old
For though my life’s been good to me
There’s still so much to do
So many things my mind has never known
I’d like to raise a family
I’d like to sail away
And dance across the mountains on the moon
I have to say it now
It’s been a good life all in all
It’s really fine
To have the chance to hang around
And lie there by the fire
And watch the evening tire
While all my friends and my old lady
Sit and pass the pipe around
And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it’s been since yesterday
What about tomorrow
What about our dreams
And all the memories we share
I once again anyone who can to donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. The devastation and loss is horrific. I cannot even imagine what it will take to feed, cloth, and house the hundreds of thousands of people that have been displaced. When I think of that area, its wonderful people, and its vibrancy, it just breaks my heart. The scope of this thing boggles the mind.
So how is YOUR week going?
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
I call it, "holding court". I set up my little shop and the kids come visit me. I watch the basketball and four-square games and talk to the kids who sit at my table. I'm always the first one at the table and seven lucky students crowd in to sit with me. It might have something to do with the shade (we don't have enough umbrellas to cover all the tables) or it could be my scintillating personality. I'm less formal than I am in the office and I won't give you the "evil eye" you get when you come to my office and you've done something wrong.
An eclectic group of kids gather at my table. During one lunch period my table is always full of special education students, with classifications ranging from emotionally disturbed to mentally retarded. This is actually my favorite group. They just want attention. I high five every one of them. If they don't come up for the high five, I'll say, "what? No love for me today?" Works every time. We talk about movies, video games, and their classes. We just have fun. They are my special kids.
It ranges wildly during the other lunch periods. Often, its the toughest kids in school, the ones I've suspended before. I'm not sure why they hang out with me. I wouldn't have hung out with me at their age. We just shoot the breeze and hang out. Last year I brought a deck of cards out and taught some of them how to play gin rummy. We'll have math contests...I'll think up a problem they have to try and solve in their heads. We'll play the ring tones on my cell phone and they see if they can guess what the song is. I've even done silly trivia contests. "How many selections do you have on the soda machine?" "Who is the oldest teacher in school?""How many kids did I suspend yesterday?" "what's the street address of the school?" I'll ask music and movie trivia. I might even buy a coke for the winner or ask them to come by my office for a piece of candy. I'm thinking about bringing a chessboard out there and teaching some kids how to play.
The reason I bring the pad outside is that I do work, gather information, and solve a lot of problems sitting there at that table. I'm more approachable outside, and a lot of the kids will come over to discuss a problem they a have. I'll hear things like, "Tommy keeps bothering me and calling me names." I'll dutifully write down the information and try to have a discussion with Tommy. Sometimes I can do it right outside and other times I'll do it when lunch duty is over.
They'll complain about being grounded at home. They'll talk about problems they are having in a particular class. Problems with lockers. They want to go out for basketball. They might be moving next week. Someone is making fun of their clothes and they are upset about it. The teacher is being unfair. I listen, offer advice, joke around, and write down things that need to be followed up on later. I follow up on previous conversations...."Hey Julie, is Tommy leaving you alone now?" I try to let them know that I follow up on even the small things. I may not be able to solve the problem but I'll at least acknowledge that you have one.
Its also part of my intelligence network. One of the things that you have to understand about schools is who has the information. The kids know a lot more about what's going down than I do. I like to tap into that. Graffiti on the wall? Someone knows and many times they'll tell me. Smoking weed in the bathroom? Someone spilled the goods last year and the baggy was on my desk an hour later. Someone planning to beat a kid up after school? We're talking about it before the bell rings. I don't make a big show of things. I just nod my head and smile.
So I hold court at my little table and do what I do best....solve other people's problems! I walk back inside with my notes and check them off as I take care of them. Parents think they are the school's customers. We need parents, they're important, and I like it when they are satisfied with what we do. But my customers are those kids. I tell them that its a team effort. We have to work together to solve problems and make life easier for all of us. You break the rules or do something wrong? I'm gonna come down hard on you. Come to me for help? I'll do whatever I can.
I'm not a miracle worker. I can't make someone magically understand algebra, even though we sometimes work problems on my pad. I can't keep their parents from fighting at home at night. I can't make her boyfriend take her back. I can't make the other boys like him. I can't make the cafeteria food taste any better.
Tomorrow? I'll be holding court again.
Monday, August 29, 2005
I have a special affinity for New Orleans and its people. I had lived in Oklahoma for my entire life until I moved to Louisiana in 1998. I was newly remarried and joining my wife to live in the suburb of Slidell, just across the lake from New Orleans. I took the only professional job outside of the education field I have held in my professional life. I worked in managment for Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans, and my office was right on Lake Ponchatrain. I could've thrown a rock into the lake from my office window.
My job took me all around the city and I got to know it fairly well. I worked with therapeutic foster families who took in the children that regular foster families couldn't handle. I was fascinated by the old homes, the architecture, and the neighborhoods. I loved all the different accents. I reveled in the carefree nature of the people and the city. It may be the most FUN place I've ever been. I loved the swamps, the crawfish boils, Bourbon Street, the daquiri stands, the old cemeteries, the restaurants, and the music.
People in the New Orleans area are some of the best I've ever met. The laid back party image is only part of the story. You will find there some of the most generous, passionate, caring people in the world. They don't know any strangers. There is a strong sense of community and neighborhood. I complained about the heat but there are times when I really miss living there and the people I met.
I lived there when Hurricane George hit. We were forced to evacuate our home and we fled to Memphis. As I was listening to the radio in the days before, the announcer kept talking about how this might be "The Big One." Everyone's worst nightmare was a hurricane that came up the Mississippi River and hit New Orleans with full force. This would cause the levies to fail and completely flood the city. George veered away at the last minute and did minimal damage. I had hopes that Katrina would do the same thing. It was not to be this time.
Tonight I'm thinking about the people of New Orleans, the surrounding area, and the other affected areas along the Gulf Coast. I see flooding in New Orleans and I think of those families I knew there and the people I work with. I see scenes of the Mississippi coast and I think about the school I taught at not far from there. I hear about devastation in coastal towns and I think of the basketball games I coached in those gymnasiums. I see flooded streets in the suburbs and I think of the neighborhood we lived in and the people there. I think about people like John Strain, one of the genuine good guys in the blogworld. All of them are in my thoughts tonight.
I'll tell you one thing about the people in that area. They will rebuild. You just watch them. They are proud, resourceful, and determined. It won't be long before you will again be hearing them say, "Laissez les bon temps rouler!" Let the good times roll.
They've been rolling for a long time down there and they will again.
I don't have much money but I did donate what I could to the American Cross Disaster Relief Fund. I urge everyone who can to go there and contribute what you can.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
I graduated from high school in 1979. The last class of the 70's. Saturday Night Fever had come out a couple of years earlier and disco was still strong. There was some classic rock and R&B mixed in. So what were the top tunes that year? Take a look. I'm going by how I felt about the song at the time.
1. My Sharona, The Knack
2. Bad Girls, Donna Summer
3. Le Freak, Chic
4. Da Ya Think I'm Sexy, Rod Stewart
5. Reunited, Peaches and Herb
6. I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
7. Hot Stuff, Donna Summer
8. Y.M.C.A., Village People (its better than "In The Navy")
9. Ring My Bell, Anita Ward
10. Sad Eyes, Robert John
11. Too Much Heaven, Bee Gees
12. MacArthur Park, Donna Summer
13. When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman, Dr. Hook
14. Makin' It, David Naughton
15. Fire, Pointer Sisters
16. Tragedy, Bee Gees
17. A Little More Love, Olivia Newton-John
18. Heart Of Glass, Blondie
19. What A Fool Believes, Doobie Brothers
20. Good Times, Chic
22. Knock On Wood, Amii Stewart
23. Stumblin' In, Suzi Quatro and Chris Norman
24. Lead Me On, Maxine Nightingale
25. Shake Your Body, Jacksons
26. Don't Cry Out Loud, Melissa Manchester
27. The Logical Song, Supertramp
28. My Life, Billy Joel
30. You Can't Change That, Raydio
31. Shake Your Groove Thing, Peaches and Herb
32. I'll Never Love This Way Again, Dionne Warwick
33. Love You Inside Out, Bee Gees
34. I Want You To Want Me, Cheap Trick
35. The Main Event (Fight), Barbra Streisand
36. Mama Can't Buy You Love, Elton John
38. After The Love Has Gone, Earth, Wind and Fire (slow danced to it at the prom)
39. Heaven Knows, Donna Summer and Brooklyn Dreams
40. The Gambler, Kenny Rogers
41. Lotta Love, Nicolette Larson
42. Lady, Little River Band
43. Heaven Must Have Sent You, Bonnie Pointer
44. Hold The Line, Toto
45. He's The Greatest Dancer, Sister Sledge
46. Sharing The Night Together, Dr. Hook
47. She Believes In Me, Kenny Rogers
49. Music Box Dancer, Frank Mills
50. The Devil Went Down To Georgia, Charlie Daniels Band (my kids know all the words to it today.)
51. Gold, John Stewart
52. Goodnight Tonight, Wings
53. We Are Family, Sister Sledge
54. Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy, Bad Company
55. Every 1's A Winner, Hot Chocolate
56. Take Me Home, Cher
57. Boogie Wonderland, Earth, Wind and Fire
58. (Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away, Andy Gibb (another slow dancing song. You remember it Debbie? :))
59. What You Won't Do For Love, Bobby Caldwell
60. New York Groove, Ace Frehley
61. Sultans Of Swing, Dire Straits
62. I Want Your Love, Chic
64. I Love The Night Life, Alicia Bridges
65. Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now, McFadden and Whitehead (our basketball warmup song!)
66. Lonesome Loser, Little River Band
67. Renegade, Styx
68. Love Is The Answer, England Dan and John Ford Coley
69. Got To Be Real, Cheryl Lynn
70. Born To Be Alive, Patrick Hernandez
71. Shine A Little Love, Electric Light Orchestra
72. I Just Fall In Love Again, Anne Murray
73. Shake It, Ian Matthews
74. I Was Made For Lovin' You, Kiss
75. I Just Wanna Stop, Gino Vannelli
76. Disco Nights, G.Q.
77. Ooh Baby Baby, Linda Ronstadt
78. September, Earth, Wind and Fire
79. Time Passages, Al Stewart
80. Rise, Herb Alpert
81. Don't Bring Me Down, Electric Light Orchestra
82. Promises, Eric Clapton
83. Get Used To It, Roger Voudouris
84. How Much I Feel, Ambrosia
85. Suspicions, Eddie Rabbitt
86. You Take My Breath Away, Rex Smith
87. How You Gonna See Me Now, Alice Cooper
88. Double Vision, Foreigner
89. Every Time I Think Of You, Babys
90. I Got My Mind Made Up, Instant Funk
91. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, Michael Jackson
92. Bad Case Of Lovin' You, Robert Palmer
93. Somewhere In The Night, Barry Manilow
94. We've Got Tonite, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band (A supremo back seat song!)
95. Dance The Night Away, Van Halen
96. Dancing Shoes, Nigel Olsson
97. The Boss, Diana Ross
98. Sail On, Commodores (see back seat reference above)
99. I Do Love You, G.Q.
100. Strange Way, Firefall
Thats what this guy was hearing on the radio and at school dances in 1979.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
A few little words can have the opposite effect. They can put a damper on your day, turn you completely off, or make you feel completely depressed. Remember the old saying about sticks and stones? Au contraire. Words can most definitely hurt you. Some of the worst moments of my life just involved a few simple words. They cut like a knife and can strike deeper than you thought possible. Ever heard words that are seared into you like a cattle brand? You can try to ignore them, but they don't ever go completely away. They make their re-appearance at the funniest times and often when you least expect it.
So what words would you want to hear and what words fill you with dread at the possibility? I've got some ideas. Some I've heard, some I'd like to hear, some I've never heard, and some I never want to hear.
Things I Would Like to Hear:
1. "Thank you for helping my child."
2. "You're a really good dad."
3. "Your kids really love you. Its so obvious."
4. "I love bald headed men!"
5. "You're the ultimate professional."
6. "You have a kind heart."
7. "Hey handsome, got a light?"
8. "I'm a publisher. Here's a nice fat advance check for your book."
9. "Hi, I'm Ed McMahon and you just won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes."
10. "I love you just the way you are."
11. "I'm a volunteer housekeeper and will clean your house because I love to clean."
12. "Hi, this is Alyssa Milano. Wanna spend the weekend together?"
13. "You're a genuinely good guy."
14. "Bald headed school administrators who drive mini-vans are sexy. Really!"
15. "You made a difference in my life."
16. "You helped me when I needed it most."
17. "Wow. You finally got your shit together."
18. "I'll bring the extra large condoms."
19. "I'm better for having known you."
20. "This is Superintendent X. I want you to be the principal of our new middle school. Hire your own staff and put together your own program. Here's a nice big budget. Go to it."
21. "You're better than what you think you are."
22. "You haven't been a failure. You've accomplished......."
23. "Dad, I want you to walk me down the aisle." (assume appropriate man here)
24. "I have tickets to Pink Floyd. Wanna go with me?"
25. "I do." (some day I hope. It gives me the nervous shivers just to write it.)
Things I Do Not Want To Hear
1. "You're fired."
2. "I don't love you anymore."
3. "Dad, I'm pregnant. Can I still go out for cheerleading?"
4. "You're too weird for me."
5. "I want a divorce."
6. "You're a loser and a failure."
7. "I'm afraid you're going to have to take a paycut."
8. "Your house is a freakin disaster area."
9. "I hate the gift you bought for me."
10. "I know you better now and I don't like what I see."
11. "Thats MY wife you're flirting with."
12. "This is Joe from ABC Collections Agency."
13. "I know you say you love me now, but you missed your chance. Too bad."
14. "I was unhappy the whole time we were together."
15. "Nice try, but we're just friends. What were you thinking?"
16. "Football season is cancelled. The players are on strike."
17. "Your erectile dysfunction is permanent. Sorry."
18. "That book you wrote? We used it to start the fireplaces in our office."
19. "Your entire blog has been lost. What? You didn't back it up? So sorry."
20. "You're an asshole."
21. "I want to be with you, but your kids? I just can't handle that."
22. "I never want to talk to you again."
23. "Haven't you heard? Disco is making a comeback."
24. "Sorry, I've met someone."
25. "I never really loved you."
The words we use have power and can have an uplifting or a devastating effect. When we combine them with actions we have an impact on someone's life for good or bad. Its something of a responsibility, isn't it? To choose our words carefully and to consider their impact. To be honest and direct with people without being gratuitously cruel. To realize the impact each and every one of us has on other people. To know that even taking it back doesn't take it away. To understand that with what we say we can help make someone's life worth living or make them miserable.
Oh hell, I guess disco wasn't all that bad.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Pisser wants people to start behaving themselves. I wonder if Teresa will behave herself at the Kenny Chesney concert?
What should you NOT say during sex? Stephanie has some ideas. What happens at a “Dvice party?” Lisa has the details.
Michelle thinks married men should always wear rings. Jesi thinks she should be able to wear girl-fit shirts.
Babs shares who she is. Fantastic post…please read it. Caitlyn shares her emotional limbo. This is also a superb post!
T.Marie has been busy analyzing and pondering. Splendid pondered brand loyalty and went off on an interesting tangent.
What can you do to make today special? Ask Vickie. What can you do instead of your work? Ask Amanda.
Sanora lists some of her random thoughts. Chrissy lists some of her favorite songs and some not-so-favorites.
Ever had a stupid argument? Melanie has. Ever played a practical joke on one of your kids? Juno has.
Are men more intelligent than women? Ask Shirazi. Want to know what how a nervous girl acts on her first day of high school? Ask MelodyAnn.
Margaret has a back-to-school rant. Dawn has her trusty internet provider back after a brief fling with a competitor.
Ever wonder where the “f word” comes from? Phoenix knows. If anyone knows what to do when your son plays with his privates, please let Nicole know.
Buffi reminds her kids that she is not a Kleenex. Amerloc reminds teachers of how to be successful in the classroom.
Greek Shadow is having a rough time at work. Sally is glad to be back at work.
Restless Angel wasn’t crazy about “The Forty Year Old Virgin”. Karen is crazy about her dad. After all, he cleaned up for her!
Flax gives us an up-close-and-personal look at a goat. Mestiza gives us a look of her sketches from male models.
Breazy is going camping. Sallie is going to classes and it sounds like she’ll be busy.
Mary Lou might be a psychic. Penny might be a painter, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it!
Stationery Queen won tickets in a radio contest! Lu might win the prize for procrastination!
Ginger has an assignment for you. Get to it! Leslie has stuff to sell on Ebay. Go check it out!
Should doctors tell patients they are obese? Check out what Shelli has to say. Should women (or men for that matter) get eyelash extensions? Check out what Trusty Getto thinks.
Monica and her daughter got to ride on a motorcycle. Janine got her Sears Christmas Wish Book. Already?
Anica found out her color. Stacey found out that okra doesn’t taste bad at all!
Trucker Bob has new digs, some thoughts on retirement, and a joke. Chaotic Serenity has a new post up. I was just about to issue a missing persons alert for her.
Know anything about cars? You might be able to help out Mercy. Know any really good blogs? Suggest one to Scorpy.
Thomai had a serendipitous moment at a stoplight. Beanhead had quite a few moments on her road trip. Can women really pee in a coffee cup?
Azher isn’t excited about moving but he is excited about football season starting! Darrell’s poem indicates some excitement about the color red.
Ellen got some good news. Cindra had conversations with Dell’s customer service.
Mystic enjoys looking into his eyes. New Wave Gurly enjoys “The Truth About Cats and Dogs.”
PLD went to a wedding three weekends in a row. Mike went to the dentist.
Sleeping Mommy describes how she gave up her virginity. Cyn shares the feeling of getting ready to write.
Kerry thinks nude cardio doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Fly Girl doesn’t think going to a strip bar sounds like a bad idea either.
Pat is trying to join PHARTS. Boo is waiting and feels ok about it.
Safiyyah wonders why Muslims try to adopt Arab culture. Christine wonders why her husband acts like a jerk at the movies.
Aka Monty met a fellow blogger. I’m sure Jazzy met some cool people in San Diego.
Jerzee heard from her soldier. Kyra is moving to be with hers.
Grace went to a pub and didn’t drink. Sue went to a concert. I don’t know if she had anything to drink but she did have a good time!
E shares “13 Things” about herself. Bsoholic shares some lessons from “Mr. Handy.”
Edge was playing hooky. Redneck Diva was being diplomatic but didn’t really want to.
Chuck’s grandmother’s friend passed away. DL’s mortgage is hanging out there and I hope she gets it.
A.J. stops reading a book if it doesn’t catch her in the first 50 pages. Prince Charming stops and thinks about what underwear he will wear on a date.
Simply Satisfied hates her birthday. Nameless hates that her questions have no answers.
Diana is still running. Steph’s daughter is running and playing softball.
Janet isn’t sure what to do about writing. Walker is sure that he wants “D” to fight the cancer.
Movies make Lisa cry. The loss of chivalry saddens Chosha.
Stephanie entered her mom and sister to appear on “Extreme Makeover”. Christine entered her blog in a “how quick can you remove the flag?” contest!
Wanda wonders what to do with her blog. Faith wonders if fate is messing with her.
Pauly doesn’t want a card from you if you got it at the car wash. Trick doesn’t want another wasted night.
Laine’s man is a devil. Inky’s man isn’t going to have a mullet like this guy.
Lil Red likes to wear her Hanes Body Shaper. Joe likes to think that cowboys rule!
Kim thinks we should bring back the station wagon! Jack thinks a story about a man being forced to have sex isn’t too odd. It happens to him all the time.
As always I ask that you show some of that famed comment love to these writers. They rock and so do you!
Enjoy the weekend my friends. Do try to stay out of trouble, and if you just can't please let me know all the details. Fair enough?
Thursday, August 25, 2005
- I once had a classroom next to the back parking lot of the school. I used to eat lunch in my classroom and sometimes would wander out the door to see what was going on outside. One day I walk out and see a big crowd of kids gathered. Remember school? When kids gather in a big crowd like that, its not likely that they are singing "Kumbaya" to each other. I discerned two high school boys in the center of the crowd. One of them was Oliver, a basketball player, about 6'3", 220 lbs., with a body that looked like it was chiseled out of granite. The other boy was Everett, a cowboy type, about 5'4" and maybe 130 lbs. soaking wet on a good day. They were standing a couple of feet apart and obviously jawing at each other. I started to walk down the steps and then Everett starts walking away. I'm thinking to myself, "Whew. At least Everett got smart and walked away from that one. He would've gotten himself hurt badly." Not so fast. Everett walks over to his pickup truck, opens the door, and emerges with TWO baseball bats. He strides back over to Oliver and hands him one of the bats! At this point I'm pushing my way through the crowd, and not so intelligently stepped in between them. I talk to both trying to calm them down and ask for the bats. After some discussion they both agree to hand me the bats at exactly the same time. I count to three and there is a bat in each of my hands. I asked Everett, "why in the hell did you get those bats out and why did you give one to him?" His response? "I wanted to make things even." He was a gutsy little guy....you've gotta give him that.
- I started teaching my class after lunch one day and a girl knocks on my door. She said, "my friend is sick in the bathroom and needs help." We walk the short distance to the girl's bathroom and I told her to go in and make sure her friend was decent. She said she was and I walked in. The smale of rancid wine hit me as soon as I walked in. This high school girl was praying to the porcelain god and there was red puke everywhere. The friend told me that she'd gone home at lunch and drank a bottle of her parent's wine. Evidently, it wasn't sitting well with her. Her friend helps me, we clean up her face, I help her stand up, she puts her arm around my shoulder, and I start walking her up to the office. Several times she says, "I am so fucking drunk." In my best teacher voice I told her to watch what she was saying. She slurred, "ok, I'm so fucking drunk, Mr. S!"
- I saw the "fight crowd" on the middle school playground at lunch one day. There is the huge crowd of kids, I wade through and there are two girls all tangled up fighting. Its the real girl-fight deal. Hair is being pulled and faces are being scratched. I bellowed, "STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!". Out of the corner of my eye I see a pieces of clothing sail into the crowd. The girls stand up and one of them (a 7th grade girl) is totally topless. The clothing I saw earlier was her shirt and bra. She is standing in front of 200 kids baring it all and is so angry that she doesn't even know it. A few seconds later you see the realization hit her and she crosses her arms and starts saying, "Oh my God!" over and over. I took my jacket off and handed it to her. The crowd scatters and her bra and shirt are nowhere to be found. One of the boys probably took them home for a souvenir. That was quite the interesting conference I had with her mother when she arrived in my office and saw her daughter wearing nothing on top except my suit jacket.
- I had a mom come in once early in the year to discuss her son's behavior. Twice during the conversation she mentioned her boyfriend. Hmm. I could've sworn she was married. I still have the student's information up on my computer monitor and I try to cast a quick glance at it. Sure enough, it shows her as married and living in the same house as the father. I guess I wasn't so sly. She saw me look at the computer monitor and turned red. She said, "I guess I shouldn't have said anything about my boyfriend." I turned the subject back to her son and we talked for about fifteen minutes longer. When she stood to leave she said, "you won't tell anyone will you...about my boyfriend that is?" I said, "no ma'am, of course not." I had to deal with her several more times that year and every single time she would ask me if I had told someone.
- I'm pretty sure I blogged about this once before, but I can't resist re-telling it. I was coaching basketball in Mississippi and also driving the bus to and from games. Being the nice guy that I am, I would stop at McDonald's after the games and let the kids get a bite to eat. I would stand at the door of the bus and make sure they didn't brink drinks or food back on the bus. I didn't think about ketchup packets. Argh. One particular night we got back to the school at about 11:00. Naturally, there are a handful of parents who aren't there to pick up their kids. We make phone calls and we wait. When the last kid is picked up I can take my bus back down to the bus barn and pick up my car. I had to clean the bus so it would be ready for the routes the next day. I parked the bus, flip on the lights, and there was ketchup EVERYWHERE. I'm exhausted, have a 30 minute drive home, and have to be at work at 7:00 a.m. the next day. For almost an hour I scrubbed and cleaned the floor and seats on the bus. Pissed off does not even begin to describe it! I knew it was the boys. They were sitting in front of the bus. The next day at practice I didn't say a word. I just started running them all. After ten suicide wind sprints I said calmly, "who squirted ketchup on the bus?" No one answered. I blew the whistle and we ran five more. I asked again. No answer. We ran again. I asked a third time, no one answered for a moment, and then one boy stepped out and said, "I did coach." I stood patiently. No one else stepped out. More running. This time about five boys stepped out. I said, "is this all?" No one said anything and I started to blow the whistle again. A final boy said "stop!" and stepped out. We had our practice and then lined up at the end. I ran them all again, and told the ones that didn't throw ketchup that they needed to show some leadership. Then I ran what became affectionately known as "The Ketchup Boys" some more. I ran them every day after practice for two weeks. We didn't have any more problems with a messy bus after that.
- Early in my career I was teaching a class and writing something on the chalkboard. I dropped the chalk on the floor, bent over to pick it up, and Riiiiiipppp! I completely ripped out the back of my pants and it was loud enough for everyone to hear. An entire room full of high school seniors burst into laughter. I just stood there for what seemed like eternity. I backed my way to the door and caught another teacher in the hallway. My class now covered, I drove home and changed pants. Back to work and on to the next class. This time I was trying to pull down the projector screen. I was having no luck at all. The screen was stuck. I gave up, turned around, and BOOM. The entire screen came loose from its mounting, fell behind me, and ripped a huge gash in my shirt. THAT was a day I should've just stayed in bed.
I really should write that book one of these days!
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
My daughter shaved her legs last weekend. I gave in. I took her and two of her friends to Wal Mart and they headed straight for the cosmetics department. She called me over and showed me "Veet", a razorless way of shaving. I asked her two friends if they shaved their legs and they both said yes. I said out loud, "does a ten year old girl really need to shave her legs?" The ever so helpful Wal Mart employee standing nearby said, "of course she does. A lot of girls do at her age." I was defeated and threw the "Veet" into the cart. She and her friends went to the bathroom and did the deed. She came out, showed me, and said, "Dad, I have sexy legs now." Oh great.
The first day of school was Monday. Naturally, it was pouring down rain when I arrived. We had to herd all the kids into the auditorium until it was time to go to class. Ever seen 270 sixth graders walking around with schedules in hand, looking totally confused? Its quite a sight. The rain stopped shortly after school started. We decided to let the kids go outside during lunch. That didn't last long. The rain started all over again. Argh! There we are with 250 teenagers crammed into a small gymnasium. All things considered, the day actually went pretty well.
One of my many duties is to be the "saggy pants fixer". You know what I'm talking about. A boy with a 30 inch waist wears jeans with a 40 inch waist. I could put my entire DVD collection in some of those pants. Shorts really aren't supposed to be touching your socks, so I took a young man to my office. We buy cable ties at Home Depot just for occasions like this. I even let him pick which color he wanted. Hey, it was the first day of school you know! I loop the ties through his belt loops, cinch it up, and voila! To think that I went to college for this!
My friend Shelli is walking to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. If the generous spirit strikes you, click here to donate to this worthy cause.
I bought Aubree two pairs of shoes earlier this summer. I bought her two more before school started. Monday night my cousin came over, picked up Aubree, and took her shopping. When they returned she had three more pairs of shoes. I'm beginning to think I'm raising a miniature Imelda Marcos.
I love it when Sally calls me "young man"! :) Thats not something I get to hear often!
My school is starting an hour later than it did last year, and of course getting out an hour later. I do like being able to sleep in just a little longer. What I don't like is commuting through rush hour traffic! I used to drive in early enough and leave early enough to miss most of the traffic. Now I don't.
Today at work a young lady was caught with picture of her own cleavage. She was passing it around and showing it to her friends. On the back of the picture? Written in large neat handwriting..."Big Tits". Yep, school is back in session.
From Bertrand Russell:
Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of [humankind].
Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of [people].
I have wished to know why the stars shine.
Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens,
But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart
Of children in famine, of victims tortured
And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.
This has been my life; I found it worth living.
Love, knowledge, and compassion. I'll second that. All in favor?
So how is YOUR week going?
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
I put some thought into this and surveyed my house. Where do I find name brand essentials? Where do I find the generics? What products do I switch between brands with based on price or where I happen to be shopping?
Name Brand Essentials - I always get these. If in dire straits I might search for an available substitute, but I'm loyal to these products. I'm faithful and true. Not even a comely smile from an attractive salesgirl can change my mind. Not even if she offers to...well, lets don't take this too far. You get the idea!
- Soda- Dr. Pepper. Someone once tried to convince me that "Dr. Thunder" was the same thing, only cheaper. HA! If I'm buying lemon-lime or orange soda I'll go with the generic. But only real honest-to-goodness D.P. will do.
- Soup - Campbells. I must admit that I've stepped out a few times and tried some cheap soups but I was always left unsatisfied. I've repented, came back, and asked for forgiveness.
- Cologne- Drakkar. People try to tempt me with cologne sets for Christmas. They try to turn my head. Its not going to happen. Drakkar? I'm yours forever baby.
- Toothpaste- Crest Whitening Cinnamon Rush. I've tried the others. I've sowed my wild oats. Now I've settled down with my favorite.
- Ketchup- Heinz. I've tried to break away but I just can't. It stays.
- Vinyl cleaner- Armor All. What can I say? It had me at hello.
- Deodorant- Right Guard Sport. Its my reputation we're talking about here. Do you think I'd trust my hygiene to some newcomer?
- Bar soap- Irish Spring. Its all I use. Maybe thats why I whistle so much.
- Shampoo- Suave. Its cheap and comes in different scents.
- Chips - I'm partial to Ruffles, Doritos, and Lays. I once took a risk and bought a bag of no-name chips and they were stale and greasy. No more. I stick to the ones I know will come through for me.
- Salsa- My preference is to buy it from the Mexican restaurant down the street. Its fresh and delicious. But I will occasionally buy Pace or On the Border. A guy likes a little variety.
- Laundry detergent - Purex sits on my laundry shelf right now. But if another brand seems like a good deal I'll buy it. It doesn't take much to turn my head here.
- Dress shirts - Crazy Horse or Van Heusen. There are better shirts but they are out of my price range. There are cheaper ones that look like a wrinkled napkin after a few washes. I find the happy medium.
- Rum - I"m a Bacardi man but Captain Morgan or another brand can sometimes cause me to waver. Bacardi is my steady but I can't help stepping out sometimes.
- Milk - Borden or Hiland. I can't make up my mind. I run back and forth between the two. They both put up with me. It must be my charm.
- Sugar- Maybe I'm sadly mistaken but I think sugar is sugar is sugar. What does higher quality sugar do? Taste sweeter? I'll pick up the cheapest one I see everytime. The same goes for brown sugar.
- Canned corn - You take the corn off the husk. You throw it in a can with some water and five syllable chemicals. Seal the can and sell it to me. I don't care what your name is. I just want corn.
- Chocolate syrup - Well hi there Brand X syrup. Let me just grab you and....oh wait a minute. I'm sorry. There's a cheaper one right next to you. Its mine. Sorry.
- Dish soap -the brand I bought last month? I hardly knew ye.
- Glass cleaner - they all look blue to me. Its all the same when the lights are out.
- Coffee filters - I'm so easy when it comes to this. How hard can it be to let water flow through and keep the coffee grounds out?
Monday, August 22, 2005
In my best Hank Williams Jr. voice…….Are you ready for some history?
His name is synonymous with traitor. He was a general who switched sides in the middle of the war. For over two hundred years he has been regarded as a modern day Judas who sold out his country in a fit of personal pique and greed. His name was Benedict Arnold.
Arnold may have been the most gifted American general in the Revolutionary War. He was smart, handsome, had tremendous leadership skills, and was an excellent tactician. Many thought him second only to George Washington and some thought he was a better leader than even the commander-in-chief himself. Many of his early experiences in the war were characterized by daring, intelligence, and bravery. So what could make a man like that betray those he fought beside? To answer that question I think it is necessary to understand the man and the circumstances of the war. I’ll give it a shot.
Before the war, Arnold was an educated, successful businessman. He traveled to South America, the Caribbean, Canada, and England. On a trip to Canada he met his wife Margaret. He had three children and seemed settled into a fairly affluent life as a colonial trader.
Then the world changed underneath his feet. Amid growing opposition and rebellion to British rule, a contingent of British soldiers left Boston and were met by armed “minutemen” in Lexington, Massachusetts. “The Shot Heard Round the World” was fired on April 19, 1775 and the growing rebellion turned into a war. Arnold immediately volunteered to lead a group of volunteers to attack British soldiers garrisoned in Boston. He proposed the capture of British forts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point (Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys beat him there and he joined them) and was given the rank of colonel in the militia.
His wife died several months later on June 19, 1775. His world was completely different. He was engaging in battle against the same British military that once protected his lucrative shipping business. His wife was gone. He was sleeping in a tent instead of his comfortable home.
The American colonies were split between the Patriots who wanted to defeat the British Army and win independence and the Tories (or Loyalists) who wanted to remain part of the British empire. Many Tories opposed the excesses of King George III and Parliament but still considered themselves subjects of the King. Arnold chose sides quickly. He was a Patriot and a rising star in the army.
Arnold gained fame by laying siege to Quebec and was promoted to brigadier general by the Continental Congress. But he had begun to make enemies among some of the other generals and the Congress. If you read the history, it seems like many of the generals spent almost as much time conspiring against each other as they did the British. Rumors flew and charges were made. Arnold was passed over for promotion to major general for other officers who lacked his accomplishments. Although Washington had confidence in him, he was very bitter. He continued to lead his contingent of the northern army and was largely responsible for a string of American victories including Saratoga and Lake Champlain. These victories enticed the French to enter into an alliance with the Americans and this alliance would prove to be one the keys to victory. Arnold was severely wounded in battle.
Arnold is regarded as perhaps the best battlefield commander the American Patriots had at their disposal. He was charismatic, fearless, and daring. He led his troops from the front and many of them regarded him with awe. In one battle he had two horses shot out from underneath him and kept fighting. The same qualities that led him to success on the battlefield caused others to resent him.
Arnold was placed in command of the city of Philadelphia, and it was there that he met his second wife, Peggy Shippen. She was known for her beauty, her society connections, and her strong Tory sympathies. Many of her friends were also Tories. A great number of Americans had no desire for full independence from the British and many of Philadelphia’s Tories became Arnold’s friends. He was also court martialed on trivial charges and was acquitted. Once again he felt like his contributions were not appreciated. George Washington sent him a letter saying, “Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.” Arnold wasn’t buying it.
The war was not going well either. Cornwallis’ British army was storming through the American south, harassed by local militias, but seeming like a juggernaut. The promised help of the French had not arrived. Washington’s army had spent the bitter winter at Valley Forge and Arnold was there to see how desperate the situation was. Soldiers were deserting to the British or simply going home. The Continental Congress was beset by arguing and political games. Soldiers lacked shoes and food and many had not been paid in over a year. Ammunition was in short supply. Store owners would no longer accept Continental currency. Foreign suppliers were demanding gold that the American army did not have. Many thought the cause was hopeless.
Arnold had been cultivated by British commanders and Tories. Maj. John Andre had regular contact with him. He was assured that American grievances would be addressed and that a peace agreement keeping the American colonies under British control would be just and fair. He was also told that he would play an important role in negotiating an end to the war. Arnold was a gifted and talented man with an enormous ego and the British army seemed to understand that he wanted to be important. They offered him that. He decided to jump at the opportunity.
Arnold asked for and was given command of West Point on the Hudson. He took control of this vital base on the Hudson River with the intention of allowing the British to capture it. He took detailed plans of the fort and gave them to Maj. Andre. Unfortunately for Arnold, Andre was captured by the American army and the plans in Arnold’s handwriting were captured. He fled to the British lines. He was given the rank of brigadier general in the British Army and placed in command of other deserters and Tories. He was never entirely trusted by the British and was mostly sent on plundering expeditions to gather supplies. He was sent to burn the Connecticut town of New London, in the same area he was born in.
After the end of the war Arnold went to London, returned to spend a few years in Canada, and settled in London for the rest of his life. He is said to have died a remorseful and embittered man in 1801. I wonder what his thoughts were in those days? How many times did he lay awake at night, stare at the ceiling, and think to himself, "what have I done?" He must've read the newspapers and seen that his old friend and protector, George Washington, had become the first American president. He could've been there at his side, helping him build a new nation. Instead he was mainly an object of curiousity in London. When the curiousity wore off he was mostly ignored. He was rejected when he tried to re-join the British Army to fight against the French. They wanted no part of him. Who can really ever trust a traitor?
He didn't do it for love or money (even though he was given cash and land). He did it because of his ego and because he didn't feel respected for what he contributed to the cause. He saw lesser men being given what should've been his. It burned in him slowly but surely. Combine that with the fact that it seemed likely that the American Patriots would lose anyway. Stir in a beautiful wife who had strong British sympathies. Add a sprinkle of unbridled ambition. Toss in a gift for rationalization. What do you have? A recipe for betrayal.
He couldn't sublimate himself to the cause because the cause isn't what burned in his soul. How many people do you know who have joined a worthy cause and then made it all about themselves? For them its all about adulation, pats on the back, and recognition for THEIR contributions. The cause takes a back seat.
For thousands of Benedict Arnold's fellow soldiers the cause was more important than themselves. They endured years away from their families, lack of support from many of their countrymen, and feuding politicians. They often went days without eating, marched without shoes, and slept on the cold, hard ground. They were fighting the most professional, experienced, and well-trained army in the world. They were fighting for a country that didn't even exist yet. They were fighting to defend their family and neighbors. Against all odds they prevailed. Arnold may have fought beside them but I don't think he ever fought with them. Their cause was not his. Their dreams were not the ones in his head.
What if he hadn’t done it? After the war he probably could’ve parlayed his war exploits and other gifts into a position of prominence in the early days of the American experiment. He would've been a wealthy man and an influential one. We'd be reading about him in the history books as one of America's greatest heros. Instead he died a man reviled by his countrymen and his name forever linked to betrayal.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
I was flattered to be nominated in three categories, especially when I look at some of my worthy competition. Not only are they gifted writers, I consider many of them to be my friends. I'm thrilled to even have my name next to theirs for an honor like this.
It did get me to thinking. What makes one blog stand out from the others? What draws me back to blogs I read day after day? With so many good ones even in this one-state competition, how do you decide who to vote for? Its like choosing the MVP of an all star game.
I can only speak for myself, but I'll tell you what I look for in a blog. These are the things that addict me and draw me back over and over:
- Original writing - The blogworld has showcased a huge number of talented writers whose words would never have seen the light of day only a few years ago. I can read the New York Times or CNN on my own. I want the writer to express their point of view in their own words.
- Passionate writing - I like blogs where it is obvious that the writer is invested in what they write about. Politics? Sex? Dating? Music? Religion? Movies? Sports? Culture? Children? My interests are varied, I read blogs of all types, and the ones that really grab me show their passion for the subject. There is a music blog that I read regularly, and the writer's passion for music is just palpable. I love that.
- Authenticity - I want to get a sense of the real person behind the words. Some people reveal more detail about their lives than others and that is understandable in this day and time. What I like is to feel like I know what kind of person is doing the writing. I don't want to know their phone number (well, in most cases anyway!) but I do want to know enough to help me understand the writing and put it in context. I'm attracted to people who aren't afraid to show who they are and I'm attracted to blogs for the same reason.
- Wit and Humor - There are blogs out there that never fail to put a smile on my face. Maybe they write about a serious subject but they don't take themselves that seriously.
Those of you who nominated me? The check's in the mail! :)
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Early in my career I found this kind of thing intimidating. Meeting the parents and students. I felt like I had to make a good first impression. It had to be just right. I prepared a presentation to put on the overhead projector once. As my room filled up with parents and kids I nervously started my presentation. Five minutes into my little talk the light on the projector burned out. Damn. I stumbled my way through, but I was just sure that they left thinking I was a bumbling idiot. I was younger than all of the parents then. I wasn’t that much older than many of the kids. It was just an ordeal to get through.
Many years later I was doing a similar presentation to a group of parents in another school far, far away. It was a Power Point presentation and naturally the digital projector picked that moment to go dark on me. I just started singing “Dark Side of the Moon”, flipped the lights on, and kept going. What a difference experience and confidence makes.
I saw the parking lot filling up with cars. Familiar faces began streaming into the building. A kid that I suspended several times last year walked up to me with his mother. He told me, “I’m going to do much better this year. You’ll see.” Hope so. The mentally retarded girl who sat with me at lunch almost every day outside saw me, ran down the hall, leapt into the air, and gave me a double high five. Her mom said, “she talks about you all the time.” I saw a kid standing in the line to pick up a 7th grade schedule. He playfully hid his face from me. I patted him on the back and told him, “I’m just glad to see you in THIS line and not the 6th grade line!” His mom laughed and said, “no kidding!” The grandmother that was so angry with me last year when I suspended her grandson told me, “You’re going to be the principal here some day. I’ve been around a long time and I know it when I see it.”
I chatted and joked with the kids. I answered parent’s questions about the schedule. I listened to concerns and complaints. I wandered the halls. I talked with the teachers. I helped out when the lines got too long. I passed out candy to the little brothers and sisters. I talked football with the dads. It was semi-chaotic. It was noisy and crowded. It was a blast.
Take me to a party and I'll be the guy sitting at the table quietly observing everyone else. Maybe I'll find an interesting person or two to talk with. But in social situations I'm usually somewhat reticent. I'm not the shy boy of my youth, but I'm not the life of the party either. I'm on the edge of the conversations, not at the center of them. I don't "work the room". On a larger scale that is essentially what I was doing the other night.....working the room. Why there and not at the party? I'm in my element.
There is something magical about the start of a new school year. Fresh starts and new chances are the order of the day. Everyone starts off even. Past sins are forgiven. Disagreements are set aside. Of course there will be new problems, new issues, and new disagreements. But for today, it is a new beginning.
I’m with the kids. It’s a wonderful mosaic. It’s a beautiful chaos. I’m with my people. I’m where I belong. Is there anything sweeter than feeling like you’re where you belong? Last year I didn’t have this emotional connection to this school. This year I do. I FEEL it when I walk in the door. I'm in my element again.
Monday morning will be here soon. My walkie talkie is charged and my name tag is ready. Over 700 kids will stream in those doors. Some will be 6th graders who aren’t sure what to expect. They’ll be nervous and unsure. Some are returning to the school and think they know it all. They’re ready to see their friends again. One of my goals is to be able to know ALL of their names. Last year I probably knew a little less than half. Maybe its not possible, but it will be fun trying!
Pardon me if I seem like a geek or I seem sappy. I love this job. I love those kids. I love what I do. Its my profession, and other than my kids it’s the one thing in this life I’m most proud of. When I’ve been at my lowest and felt like a failure, this is something I can grab on to and say, “I’ve proven myself. I’m good at this. I’ve made a difference.” I don’t know what I’d do without it.
This is what I am and this is what I do. It’s a large part of my identity. I revel in it. It inspires me and motivates me. It helps make me whole.
I’m in my element.
Friday, August 19, 2005
I’ve taken my stroll around blogland and came up with these gems. So many blogs, so much time. I know you’ll enjoy them as much as I did!
Walker went a little “batty”. Breazy went to Knoxville and didn’t care much for it.
Edge reveals his love. So does Simply Satisfied, the object of his affection.
Phoenix ponders the meaning of love. Restless Angel ponders her childhood and attitudes about marriage and divorce.
Women gave Prince Charming a bad day. Safiyyah gave some Jewish friends a chance to comment on the Gaza pullout.
Greek Shadow has his school year off and rolling. Lu’s romance isn’t just rolling. Its sizzling.
Annie shares some of her favorite tunes. Karen shares some phallic inspiration. (“Yay For Friday!”)
Sally isn’t dead yet. Monica isn’t either, but she spent some time hooked up to an IV.
Zaza can’t help herself. She buys vintage Christmas decorations. Kyra can’t help herself either. She’s excited about moving but sad to leave her pups.
Phyllis’ town is being invaded by tourists. Splendid invaded her brother’s house.
Meg dreams of being a dancing queen. Redneck Diva dreamed she was Harry Potter.
Susan loves the rain. Caren loved her bike ride.
Nicole’s washing machine doesn’t have much spin left. Stationery Queen wonders how much writing ability Sean Penn has.
Designer labels for kids? See what Sanora has to say. Estrogen overload? It sounds like that’s what happened at Margaret’s house.
Grace gives us a thumbs up. Sallie gives us a story about men not getting it.
Want to know more about Amanda? Read it right here. Want to hear about Buffi’s perfect moment? Here it is.
Penny went to a funeral. Mary Lou went to a barn dance.
Mystic’s man is possessed. Rachel is somber and thinking about the frailty of life.
T. Marie didn’t get a ticket but she doesn’t like being called “polite”. Chrissy didn’t get bored when I tagged her to do this meme.
Teresa is ready for the fall. Ginger is ready for school to start and celebrates it poetically.
Thomai wonders about priorities. Do people really spend 30k a year on their pets? Vickie wonders about perspectives. Great post there.
Kathy and Steven are entering the “home stretch”. Collide is having an ordinary day.
Lisa (the blogger formerly known as Sara!) is looking for hangover cures. Hair of the dog anyone? Joan was looking for a way out after working in the Cuban lunch place.
Leslie is moving to Texas. DL would like to be moving as soon as she finds a house.
Chosha has a young Japanese boarder. Beanhead has met her match and he’s four years old!
Thumper entices her kitty into the bathtub. (Aug. 19). E introduces us to her kitty.
Cindra was disappointed that the Pope disapproves of “Harry Potter”. Joe wasn’t disappointed in his flying girl.
Peri has been blogging for a year! Trucker Bob will soon be blogging with a new page look.
Trusty Getto reviews the week. Darla reviews the reasons why women are crabby.
Janet shares 13 things about herself. SuZan shares her distaste for clutter.
Tanya wishes she knew her sisters better. Inky isn’t really interested in getting to know this guy any better.
Claire loves her some football. Pauly might try to interest her in thumb wrestling.
Bec shows how tired she is. Nameless went to sleep with electrodes attached.
Chuck makes a pledge to brush his teeth more. Well Fed Phoenix kept her pledge to her sister. Superwoman!
Harry was trying to get laid at a Communist youth festival. Jazzy was trying to hide from her blog.
Kathy’s summer went by fast. Scorpy’s weekend will go faster if you stop by and give her some movie suggestions.
Kristine shares some pictures from Amsterdam. Janet shares one of a teacher’s secrets…the Dollar Store!
Anne tells little lies. Veda makes poetry with lyrics.
Muse ponders the power of love. New Wave Gurly ponders distances and obstacles.
Okie Doke wonders why we import ice. Steel Cowboy wonders about miracles.
Sleeping Mommy is happy to be home. Shelli is happy to make strangers her friends.
Skunkfeathers asks if you want his pet rock. Did you want to ask what Steph learned on her vacation? You don’t have to….read it here.
Annabel Lee shares some quotes. Fly Girl shares a day like this.
Cori introduces her family. John may have to be introduced to some family at the reunion.
Anica had a Ferris Bueller moment. Jennifer is having a Shakespeare moment.
Kim discusses big butts. A.J. discusses advertising slogans.
Flax couldn’t sleep so she made a post. Someone couldn’t hang on to a cake and Molly has the picture to prove it.
Janine got a permanent job. Faith got a little itchy.
LilRed doesn’t like the idea of a pit bull ban. I wonder how she’d feel about Son Son’s new snake?
Aka Monty gave a happy birthday shout-out. Old Horsetail Snake gives some wisdom…everyone complains about the weather.
It was that time of the month for Gladys. For Tisha? It was time to file divorce papers and get rid of the Doctor.
Lisa makes some confessions. Andie confesses that squeaking makes her think of sex.
Christine’s husband never met a mirror he didn’t like. Justin didn’t meet them but he did hear from two of his favorite bands.
Babs points out that many of our interactions are trivial. Stacey’s passion for Krispy Kremes is anything but trivial.
Ilona discusses her view of blogrolling. Sue discusses an old memory.
Laine’s heart is bursting. Boo just feels guilty.
Stop by and pay these people a friendly visit. Let them know what you think!
Have a wonderful weekend my friends.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
I recently watched a documentary on John Lennon. I was stunned by the realization that we are approaching the 25th anniversary of his death. Has he really been gone for a quarter of a century?
Where were you when his life was snuffed out by a crazed gunman? I was a sophomore at Oklahoma State University. Still unmarried, I was living in a co-ed dormitory, the only one on campus. Someone went running down the hall, banging on all the doors and yelling, "he's dead, he's dead. John Lennon is dead!" All of us rushed out of our rooms and ran downstairs to the commons area. There were probably a couple hundred of us gathered around the lone television in the room watching in disbelief as the reports came in. We were all hugging and crying. Word spread of a candlelight vigil on campus and most of us piled out the doors and went to the lawn in front of the library. I don't know how many people were there but it seemed like thousands. Candles were lit and people sang John Lennon songs for hours. I don't know how many times we sang "Imagine". I went back to my dormitory and upstairs to my room. As I walked down the hallway I could hear Lennon songs coming from several different rooms. As I looked out the window of my corner room I saw candles lighting the windows in the dormitory across the street.
I remember some of his stunts. The naked picture with Yoko. The press conference from his bed. When he talked to reporters with the sheets covering his face. You want to talk about someone who marched to his own drummer? John Lennon did things his way. Sometimes it seemed silly and ridiculous. Sometimes it seemed profound. It was just Lennon. Always controversial and always different.
You always got the feeling that music came easy to him. Give him a guitar and his fertile imagination would create a song on the spot. It seemed like he saw the world in music. Churning out hit songs was the easy part for him. Give him an idea for lyrics, he'd create a guitar riff, and fill in the blanks. It was like magic.
For the longest time I resented Yoko Ono. How can you dislike so intently someone you've never met? Who the hell was she to pull him apart from the Beatles? Who was she to break up the greatest songwriting duo in history? Why couldn't they continue? What could they have done in that decade they were apart before he died? How much great music never existed because of her? He belonged to us!
Its so easy to judge as a fan who just wants more music. Lennon said of Yoko, "She's part of me now. She's like my arms and my legs. Where I go, she goes." Mystifying as it may have seemed to the rest of us, John Lennon LOVED that woman in a way that is impossible for an outsider to understand. We saw him as a Beatle, but he was just a man who loved a woman. She was more important than the music, more important than the many millions of dollars he lost, and more important than the adulation of his fans. There is something powerful in that.
As for his music? I'm an unabashed fan of most of the Beatles catalog. Lennon wrote a large number of those songs and collaborated on most of the rest. I always thought that McCartney was a more natural and gifted performer but that Lennon made up for it with his intensity. McCartney was singing songs but it always felt like Lennon was feeling them. His solo career was a mixed bag. He experimented and went in different directions and I just couldn't get into some of those albums. While I don't resent Yoko any more, I'm still no fan of her singing. His seminal solo was of course, "Imagine", a perfect Lennon song. My personal favorite was "Watching The Wheels", where he seemed to address all of us who didn't understand what he was doing.
People say I'm crazy
doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k., well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game
He was happy in his new life even if the rest of us didn't understand. This was his version of Sinatra's "My Way". I think one of the attractions of Lennon was his odd combination of genius and vulnerability. A superstar who seemed to be trying to figure out life like the rest of us. A living demonstration that fame and money can't make you happy. When he found that happiness and seemed to finally find peace, he was shot dead on the street.
Elton John's tribute song("Empty Garden") says it well:
And what’s it for
This little empty garden by the brownstone door
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And we are so amazed we’re crippled and we’re dazed
A gardener like that one no one can replace
R.I.P. John. You were always more than just "the smart one".
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I shouldn’t have procrastinated buying those school supplies. The shelves were half-empty, the selection was bad, and the lines were long! We had the usual
For all you Blogger users out there who also have Word installed on your computers, this is way cool. It’s a plugin for Word that allows you to open, edit, and save blogger posts right in Word. I’ve used it a few times and really like it!
Yesterday was the first day back for teachers in my school. We had
Trying to find another interesting blog to read? Check out Lu. Not only is she witty and talented writer, she lets you peek at intimate IMs and emails between her and her luvvah! Its enough to satisfy anyone’s voyeurish desires.
I pulled back into the school parking lot yesterday after lunch. One of our students from last year and his mother were walking across the parking lot. My window was down and I guess I was playing my music a little loud in the car. The kid said, “Hey Mr. S. Were you just rocking out to Aerosmith?” I smiled and said, “yep, I sure was!” He laughed and said, “awesome!” A 7th grader that knows Aerosmith? There’s hope for this generation yet.
Have I ever mentioned that I have a severe crush on Alyssa Milano? The kids were watching "Charmed" and there she was again! Alyssa, don't you know we older guys have errrr....experience?
I may have mentioned that Patrick took up knitting when the kids visited England this summer. He gathered his needles and yarn yesterday morning to take to my parent’s house while I went to work. He said, “I’m going to make a scarf for a friend.” I asked Aubree, “don’t you want to learn to knit too?” She said, “Dad, I’m not a grandma. Knitting is for old grandmas.” We drove a few more blocks and came across an older gentleman taking his rather large dog for a morning walk. The dog was pulling him all over the place. She said, “when I’m like that, then I’ll knit!”
My mom had to take my dad to the doctor yesterday and left the kids in the care of my fourteen year old niece. Apparently, they took this opportunity to get into a big ole mudfight. My mom's solution? Squirt off with the hose and everyone into the pool, clothes and all. When I arrived to pick them up they were swimming in the clothes I dropped them off in. Kids, ya gotta love'em.
In the "what will they think of next" category you have this:
A new company plans to unveil new high-tech tombstones with embedded flat screen monitors that would allow visitors to play memorial videos of the deceased, according to a report.
Our school has so much movement. We're thinking now that about 1/2 of the students in our building will be kids who were not there last year. Take last year's test scores and make plans based on that. Get a ton of new kids. Start from scratch. Our mobile society makes the current testing fetish even more difficult. Our school may or may not "show improvement". What does it mean when the turnover of students is so high? It really comes down to who stayed and who moved in.
We were driving down the road a couple of days ago listening to Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My". Both of the kids were singing along (I train them well you know!). When the song was over Aubree asked, "Dad, who is Johnny and why is he so rotten?" Good question.
Aubree and I went to her school tonight for "Meet The Teacher" night. The good news is that she got the teacher she wanted. She was thrilled. The bad news? Her best friend isn't in the class and a girl she didn't get along with last year is.
So how is YOUR week going?