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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Snow Day 

The kids were right. There was no school today. I awoke early this morning, looked outside, listened to the sleet hitting the roof, and checked the news. No school. I went back to bed.

The kids couldn't wait until I would take them to Wal Mart to get "snow gear". They enthusiastically scraped my car window and we slipped and slid down the road to get hats and gloves along with some groceries to tide us over. They bundled up and played outside this afternoon as the driving sleet turned into pretty snow.

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This is what it looked like outside my back door a few hours ago. The snow is still falling and they are talking about predictions on 10" of snow by tomorrow. School has already been cancelled again.

I remember these snow days as a kid. What did we do? We played outside as the kids did today. We found pieces of cardboard to slide down the hill by my house. We made snow ice cream with fresh snow and evaporated milk. For some reason it felt like extra fun that we were supposed to be in school, but were instead playing outside. My mom made hot cocoa.

Then of course we complained bitterly when we had to make those days up at the end of the year.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Midweek Meanderings 

BRRR!! The temperature here has dropped drastically from this morning as a big winter storm moves in. There is supposed to be a lot of snow dropped on the ground in the next 24 hours.

The kids are eagerly anticipating the idea of a snow day and no school. Aubree tells me we simply must go find a sled somewhere.

I keep reminding those hoping for a snow day that we can go to school now or make it up after Memorial Day. Off in December or June? I'll take June.

I think we'll go get a tree this weekend and do some Christmas decorating around the house.

We all love the new TV I picked up as a family Christmas present. I ended up getting a Toshiba LCD and the picture is wonderful. To go along with it, I picked up a new HDTV cable box with a DVR (Digital Video Recorder). The kids are in TV heaven. Ok...I am too!

A Brazilian town, trying to spice up life for its citizens decided to hand out free Viagra to its male citizens in what is called the "Happy Penis" program. Happy penises are obviously very important. There has been one unanticipated side effect though. According to the mayor, "Some of the old men aren't seeking out their wives. They've got romances on the side," he said. Oops!

Please email me your address if you wish me to send you a holiday card. C'mon now!

So how is YOUR week going?

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Worpeans 

The airwaves have been filled with stories about the “Kramer” guy and his “n-word” filled rant. He has apologized profusely on every radio and TV show that will have him. An appearance on Oprah has to be forthcoming soon.

Mr. Richards’ use of the “n-word” in his out-of-control rant got me thinking about words and how they can be used as weapons. He was using that word as a very potent weapon at a couple of guys he was angry with. That word is a weapon and so are a great many others. Think about how the word “slut” is used on women who stray from someone’s definition of being proper and how it is used to denigrate a woman’s sexuality. Ponder how being called a “sissy” or its modern equivalent can harm a boy’s self esteem. I once heard a dad at a soccer game threaten to “put a skirt” on his son because he didn’t get to a loose ball in time. Think that kid remembered that for awhile?

It starts early in life, learning these put-downs, words that shut off a conversation, words that sting and cause pain, words that somehow make you come out the “winner” in a verbal exchange. I work with middle school kids who elevate this to a fine art form. Almost every day there is someone crying in my office because of something someone has said.

Whoever said “words can never hurt you” didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. We know that they can. Most of us have hurt other people with our mere words or phrases. Sometimes it is accidental but often it is intentional. I’ve been physically hurt many times, but the pain from those incidents didn’t hold a candle to the hurt that comes from a few well-placed words. Ever had someone say something to you that still haunts you many years later? At the oddest times it just pops back up.

We think we have to “win” arguments or disagreements, and the way you win is to shut the other person down by tossing words you know will hurt them. This is even more potent when thrown by someone you are close to. They know your weakness, your Achilles heel, the words that will sting the most. I doubt those hecklers were seriously harmed by Richards’ rant-o-rama, but it would have hurt a lot more coming from someone close to them.

We too rarely realize the power we have over others and how our words can have such a large impact.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Real or Fake? 

Now it is time for the really pressing question. A real tree or a fake one? I have had both and I’m thinking that this year I’d like to go back to having a real, honest-to-goodness live tree.

I know that the needles have a way of getting into the carpet in such a way that you are still finding them on Valentine’s Day. I know that if you don’t take care of the tree properly it turns into a brittle piece of kindling. I know that you spend a fair amount of money for a nice tree, only to have it hauled from the curb in a few weeks. I know that there are some spectacular fake trees out there. Some are so good you can barely tell the difference. I know that you can box it up, stick it in the attic, and drag it back out again next year without having to buy a tree all over again.

But I love the smell and feel of a real tree. It just seems more…well…real.

How about you?

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday 

My early morning shopping extravaganza has left me to weakened to contemplate doing a weekend roundup. I do however think I can muster the energy to describe the last couple of days. My thoughts on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the upcoming holiday follows.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. Of course there was a ton of good food, a lot of great company, an laughs to be had by all. My little nephew Daniel, was carted around by Aubree and her cousin until they wore the little guy out. My niece, Kyra, toddled everywhere and had us all jumping to her every command. I enjoyed the time spent with family, retelling some old familiar stories, and reminiscing a little about dad. One of my brothers handed me a small note he found in one of dad's jacket pockets. It was from my sister, written a few years ago, asking if she could borrow $20.00 from dad until the next week. It is hard to believe that they are both not with us.

My brother and I shared a laugh as he carved up the turkey with an electric knife. Way back when electric knives first came out, dad was a proud owner of one. No one could cut that turkey but him, and no one could use his electric knife. Then it was retired back to the cabinet for use the next year.

We decided to draw names among the adults so that we could focus our gift buying on one person. We've done this off an on in the past.

We went to Terri's mom' house afterward and brought her some Thanksgiving dinner. It was fun hanging out with her and Terri's boys and watching the Cowboys dismantle Tampa Bay. I don't guess Tony Romo is old enough to run for president, but I'll bet he'd have some support after yesterday.

Then I came home and made my battle plan. I made notes, circled sale items, and mentally mapped out a strategy. I thought I might just stay up all night, but decided about 1 a.m. to get a couple hours of sleep. I drug myselfbounced out of bed at 4:00, showered quickly and headed down to my local Wal Mart with visions of a big screen TV dancing in my head. Last year they made everyone wait outside until 5:00, and I thought I'd pushmake my way to the desired TV as soon as the crowd hit the door. Thirty minutes should be early enough.

Au contraire. This year Wal Mart just stayed open all night. Some people were THERE all night. Every one of the handful of sale TVs had a weary shopper standing with his hand on it, waiting for 5:00. So much for that plan.

I zipped off to Tulsa and headed to hellBest Buy to enact Plan B. Thirty minutes later I joined a gazillion of my fellow shoppers. I inquire about my desired TV and was pointed at a line. A loooooooooong line. "Go there and get a ticket. Then come back and stand in THIS line to get your TV", the pretty young girl told me. I stood in line for about an hour only to be told at the end that they were now out of the TV I had in mind. Time for Plan C. "Show me a comparable TV at the closest comparable price", I demanded of the young man in the blue shirt. He found one. I thought it was good enough. I bought it. I exited two hours after I came in.

The guy in front of me in line told me that his family had been camping out there in shifts for two days to get that $100 desktop and $250 laptop. He deployed his teenage sons to stand in line while he rested last night.They got what they wanted. Now he was in line with me trying to get a TV deal.

On to the next stores. I picked up goodies for the kids and Terri. Many of the items I had in mind were still in stock at Target and J.C. Penney. All was not lost. Toys? No problem. Electronics? A nightmare. I could've done just as well online....and not at 5:00 a.m.

Now about next year. Anyone have any teenagers to loan me that would be willing to stand in line all night?

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Midweek Meanderings 

You’ve gotta love it when it is midweek and you have the day off.

We went to the store and bought what we needed to make our part of Thanksgiving. My contribution? Cornbread andouille stuffing. Terri is making pumpkin pie and cheesecake. We’ll be taking it all over to my brother’s tomorrow to join the family in celebrating this special day.

With all apologies to Teresa, I was thrilled that the Cowboys beat the Indianapolis Colts last weekend. Now if they can just pull off a victory over Tampa tomorrow, we’ll be good to go!

Our television is slowly fading out on us. It always seems to happen at the worst possible moment, i.e., the end of a scoring drive in a big football game. I’m TV shopping as well as Christmas shopping. Plasma? LCD? Rear projection? Remember when you used to just buy a TV?

Once again I will brave the crowds on Friday, go shopping, and try and get some deals for Christmas. I’m a shopping warrior. I can take it!

A lot of the stores are guarding the details of those sales like a nuclear secret. You can’t know what the deal is until tomorrow. Sneak previews? Argh!

I hope everyone spends time tomorrow with those they love and is able to give thanks for the blessings you have.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Giving Thanks 

This is of course the time of year when many of us reflect on what we have to be thankful for and what blessings have been bestowed upon us. As I look back on the past year and look forward to the future, I hardly know where to begin. I am so blessed to have the life I have and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Its not a perfect life....I wouldn't know what to do with a perfect life, but I do have so much that I can give thanks for.

I am thankful for my children and the love and joy they continue to bring to me every day of my life. Every time Aubree hops into my lap, Patrick tells a silly joke or offers one of his frequent hugs, I should look skyward and give thanks for this opportunity I have to be a father to such wonderful kids.

I am thankful for Terri and the love and support she has given me. She is a very special woman. In some ways I'm still getting to know her and in others I've known her forever. She loves me without reservation, and that alone makes me so very thankful.

I am thankful for life and health. As I sailed past the probable halfway point of life I didn't even notice it.

I am thankful for my family. It hasn't been the easiest of years for us with the death of my father, but we've pulled together and gotten through the hard times. I have the world's greatest brothers, sisters-in-law, mom, nieces and nephews, and all the rest.

I am thankful for my only surviving grandparent, who in the twilight of her life, still likes to tell me stories of my childhood and tales about my grandfather.

I am thankful that I live in a free country that offers me the opportunity to express my views and opinions without fear of government retaliation. As the recent arrest of an Egyptian blogger illustrates, this is not something to be taken for granted.

I am thankful for a just and merciful God.

I am thankful for the humility and difficult lessons I've learned.

I am thankful for my own spirit, which took a real beating the last couple of years and came roaring out the other side.

I am thankful for the opportunity to pursue my doctorate and the talented and supportive classmates that are part of my cohort.

I am thankful for my co-workers who come to work each day and do a mostly thankless job trying to educate some of the most vulnerable children. They deal with so much and come back to fight again day after day.

I am thankful for my boss who is both a friend, a thoughtful critiquer of my progress, and someone with whom I can bounce ideas around.

I am thankful for my students. The ones who greet my with a hug each day. The ones who high five me in the hallways. The ones who are too angry to do either but allow me to work with them each day. The boy who asks me for advice. The girl who needs my help finding a winter coat. They are my charges and my challenge.

I am thankful for my friends online and off. So many have meant so much to me and some have been priceless. The ones I write and call. The ones who I don't talk to so much anymore but still care about. You know you are. You know I love ya. I am thankful for you.

I am thankful for my dad and the 45 years of his life that he spent educating, mentoring, and nurturing me. I miss you dad.

I am thankful for another year to try to get this thing we call life right. It is this struggle that makes a person.

P.S. My friend Phoenix writes about her very special niece and a family going through difficult times. Please stop by and help if you can.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Soundtrack 

I heard a local radio DJ recently use the phrase, “soundtrack of my life”. He was talking about the music that has been there at different points in your life, how it impacted you, and the place it takes you back to when you hear it today. For many of us music has played an important role in our lives and certain songs touch us in different ways. These aren’t necessarily the best songs, mind you, but the ones that signify who you are or who symbolize different times in your life. My soundtrack? Let’s take a look:

Amazing Grace, by Elvis Presley – When I was a boy the only music my mother listened to was Elvis. We had a little turntable in the kitchen and she would play her Elvis discs over and over again. One of her favorites was a gospel collection and the song I remember most was “Amazing Grace”. Sure, I’d heard it at church a thousand times, but somehow it was different when Elvis sung it. It makes me think of being a boy, my mother singing this song softly while she fried bacon in the cast iron skillet.

It Had To Be You, by Frank Sinatra – If Elvis reminds me of my mom and childhood, Sinatra reminds me of my dad. I remember his editorializing to me about how all that stuff I wanted to listen to didn’t hold a candle to Frank. I rolled my eyes when his back was turned, but he wasn’t all that far off. This song reminds me so much of dad that I included it in the slideshow at his funeral.

Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, by Elton John – This song came out when I was in junior high school and it was on of the first albums I ever owned. When I hear it today, I’m a teenaged boy in my room, shooting shots at my nerf hoop on the wall, Hardy Boy books on the shelf, and a books by “Pistol Pete” Maravich and Red Auerbach on my bedside table. There might have even been a Playboy under my mattress. Few have ever written lyrics like Bernie Taupin. From the opening stanza:

“I can't light no more of your darkness
All my pictures seem to fade to black and white
I'm growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life.”

I was on a lower rung of the ladder of my life then. When I hear this song I’m back there.

King Tut, by Steve Martin – Yes, it is an idiotic song with no musical value whatsoever. Yes, I also laughed my ass off every one of the many times I heard it. Steve Martin always made me laugh. What can I say?

Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now by McFadden and Whitehead – This was the basketball warm-up song to end all basketball warm-up songs. How many times did I do a layup drill while listening to this? How many pre-game introductions were done with this blaring in the background? I’m young, sweat is oozing from every pore, and I’ve got my groove.

Stairway To Heaven, by Led Zeppelin - Probably no song makes me think of those high school years than this one. Cruising town with my friends, looking for girls, the stereo cranked up loud, Robert Plant belting out the lyrics to this classic. My favorite part comes right toward the end:

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.

No, I didn’t understand the lyrics then either.

More Than A Feeling, by Boston – See above remarks about that cruising town, high school feeling. When I installed my 8-track player in my truck this was the first tape I bought. When it wore out I bought it again. I’m turning the corner on Main Street and singing as loudly as I can, “I see my Mary Ann walkin away..aaaahhhaaaaaaaaa”!!

Aubrey, by Bread – We made out to this song in the back of my parent’s van. We said that if we ever had a daughter we’d give her this name. We did and we did.

And Aubrey was her name
A not so very ordinary girl or name.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow, by Ray Charles - I knew the song from “The Wizard of Oz”, but I never felt it until I heard Ray sing it. Lets face it…..I’ve always been something of a hoper, a fantacist, and a dreamer, and this song more than any other symbolizes that for me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true


It really is out there over the rainbow. It can also be with us here and now.

Blowin In The Wind, by Bob Dylan – To you it’s a hippie protest song. To me it’s symbolizes a search for truth, for the right answers, to know what is in front of us. Many times as a teacher I would half-jokingly reply to a question by saying, “The answer my friend is blowin in the wind. Can you find it?”

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, n how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, n how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind,
The answer is blowin in the wind.

My students had to get used to my quoting song lyrics to them.

Lets Make A Night, by Bryan Adams – This makes me think of a long ago, brief but torrid love affair. This was our song. That was our night.

I Know You’re Out There Somewhere, by The Moody Blues – It was the siren song for a long distance romance. I’ve avoided listening to it for years now.

In The End, by Linkin Park – If the previous song was the alpha, this song was the omega. At my most forlorn the lyrics seemed to speak for me.

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter


But you know what? It does matter in the end, and no matter how far you fall, there is a path back up the hill.

Let It Grow, by Eric Clapton – This perhaps best symbolizes where I am today. The seed was planted long ago and now we are finally letting it grow. That makes me very happy.

I’m standin at the crossroads
Tryin to read the signs
To tell me which way I should
Go to find the answer
And all the time I know
Let your love and let it grow.


What am I doing now? Baby, I’m just letting it grow.

So what would be on your soundtrack?

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Weekend Roundup 11/17-11/18 

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Can you believe it? I don't have classes until the new year, so I actually get a few weekends that don't just fly by.

A quick story...Aubree was trying to convince Terri that she used to be shy. It is rather hard to believe now. I took Patrick to the doctor for a checkup and Aubree tagged along. Aubree hasn't been to the doctor for over a year now. The doctor walked in and Aubree greeted him by saying, "you know, that medicine you gave me last time was super nasty!" He chuckled and replied, "I do my best." The two of them bantered back and forth the entire checkup. Shy...yeah..uh huh!

I enjoyed perusing these posts among many others:

Irina is living in a paradox. Teresa is living in a Thanksgiving hostess mode.

Rain introduces us to a friend. Lime introduces us to some Bolivian culture.

Jules had two good things happen to her. Breazy has a doctor’s visit, and I hope she feels better soon!

Barn Goddess tells the tale of a rude parent. Apple tells the tale of some remarkably well behaved kids.

Sarah is sleeping with an ex. Leslie will be sleeping with her husband on their sixth anniversary.

Sass reveals some tidbits about herself. T. Marie reveals her love of football and wonders if guys find it sexy.

Mercy says timing is everything..and its true. Used To Be Me says her child just had a birthday!

Caren received a wedding proposal…and said yes! Joan received a hassle from HaloScan when she tried to use Blogger Beta.

Ellen’s family suffered a loss. Susan’s family is glad that Kayla is home from the hospital.

Restless Angel bought herself a present. We should all be buying Patrick’s book when it comes out.

Roselle shares a lot of information about herself. Trick shares a funny joke.

Jerry has five years of sobriety. Phoenix has several days of frustration at work.

Thomai had flashes of her son’s life. Tara has a consumer complaint letter that gets results every time.

Michael reports on some moments on Route 66. Aka Monty reports on why she’s been gone.

Vickie has returned from her absence and I’m glad to see it. New Wave Gurly has a birthday coming up!

Walker shares a sad story of greed and cold heartedness. Amanda shares her thoughts about living alone again.

Lisa will be working with a therapist. Jack will be looking for the blogosphere’s greatest posts.
Andie is enjoying being on vacation. I enjoyed looking at Karen’s photos.

Deni’s niece came out of surgery and is doing well. She has been through a lot and I pray for her rapid recovery. I hope you do as well.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Midweek Meanderings 

Brrrrrrrrr! The wind was howling today and it was cold!

The wind howled so much it blew over the mostly dead tree in the neighbor's yard. Unfortunately, the tree hit my kitchen window and broke it. Aubree got home from school to find a broken window, a cold house, and glass all over the kitchen. After she talked to Terri and then to me, I told her to sit tight and I would be home soon. By the time I arrived the neighbor was on a ladder on the side of my house, installing a new pane of glass in the window. That made me happy, because I was not looking forward to the idea of fixing that window.

I've really gotta watch who I live next door to. Some years ago in a different house, a neighbor's very large tree fell over and landed on my house, punching a hole in the roof.

Yesterday it was gin and weed at school. Today it was just weed. Two seventh grade girls higher than most kites I've seen. Geez.

We also had a fight. It started out one-on-one, but one boy's friends jumped in hitting the other boy as well. Suspensions and a ticket from the police followed. When asked why he started hitting in the back the boy his friend was fighting the student replied, "I had to represent." Represent? Yeah, represent....as in represent whose side you're on, who you're hanging with. You learn something new everyday.

Is Thanksgiving really only a week away? I must did out my cornbread andouille stuffing recipe. I know I have it here somewhere. Really!

Patrick keeps telling me he wants a PlayStation 3 for Christmas. I think that is going to be a bit out of my price range!

As mentioned in the previous post, please send me your address if interested in exchanging Christmas cards. I've already received a nice response as usual, and would love to send you a card if you will allow me to!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Holiday Cheer 

Yes, it is that time of the year. If I don't think about the holidays I'll have to think about the students we caught yesterday with a bottle of gin and a bag of weed. I choose to focus on the upcoming holidays, being the Christmas sap that I am.

For the third year I would like to exchange holiday greeting cards with as many of you who would like to participate. I've really enjoyed the exchange the last couple of years. It is one thing to read someone's blog, yet there is something different about receiving something personal and handwritten.

For those of you who I exchanged cards with last year..... I have moved and last year's address won't work. I've also lost some of the addresses in the changeover to my new computer. So, if you would like to participate, please email me your address and I would be happy to send you a card. I promise, as always, not to share your address with anyone else.

For the first of many times in the coming months....Happy Holidays!

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Memory Lane 

My mom brought over a stack of childhood mementos….a newspaper picture, a letter from my sixth grade pen pal in Alaska, a second grade spelling test, and this handwritten speech I gave as the salutatorian of my sixth grade class.

When I look at my scrawly handwriting (some things never change!), I remember sitting in my room writing those words. I took this very seriously and wanted to give a perfect speech. I stood in my living room while my parents listened to me practice it over and over again. I gave it in the bathroom after I finished brushing my teeth. I irritated my little brothers by making them listen to it upstairs.

Greetings,

We welcome teachers, parents, and honored guests. Thank you for attending the graduation program of the sixth grade class, Washington Annex School.

May I take this opportunity to give my thanks to the teachers who have made this a great school year. Thank you, Miss Newton, Mrs. Rice, Mrs. Block, and Miss Snyder. WE also appreciate the efforts of Mrs. Foshee and the cooks who prepared many delicious meals and Mr. Avery who cleaned up after us this year. Our class gives our best regards to Mr. Price, our principal, for his guidance and directions this school year. Let us not forget Mutley, who never missed a day of school. Miss Newton has said he was our brightest student. This has been an exciting school year. Under the leadership of the faculty we have achieved much.

In science we learned many interesting things. Led by Mrs. Block, we studied energy, outer space, contagious diseases, and the human body. One especially interesting experiment was the breeding of bacteria. We learned that bacteria is everywhere, and therefore the importance of keeping our environment as clean as possible.

Ms. Newton has taught us a lot of grammar this year, and she wishes we would use it. We realize the importance of a good background in grammar, language, and spelling to prepare us for junior high, and Ms. Newton has give us an informative background.

Of course, one of the things we have really enjoyed is sports. We started the sports season in volleyball, and Mrs. Rice coached us to a great victory over Washington. Our school had a basketball team this year and we appreciated support from fellow students, fans, and cheerleaders, but most of all appreciate Mr. Price, who rose at the crack of dawn to get to the 7:30 a.m. practices and gave so freely of his time. We placed fourth in the junior Olympics this year, beating every school our size. None of us will ever forget how excited Mrs. Rice was when Scott won the high jump and John the broad jump.

Even though we are only in the 6th grade, we realize the world is large and complex. We read the newspapers, watch the 6:00 news, and read of world happenings in Time and Newsweek. We have seen the good things of life such as space flights, but at the same time we have seen there is trouble in the world such as the war in Vietnam.

Therefore, we realize the importance of the training we received this year, and that we will need it in junior high school and living in the world around us.

I hope you will enjoy our program as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.

Brian
May 18, 1973

In case you were wondering, Mutley was my friend Steve’s dog. He followed Steve to school every day, waited on the steps for school to be out, and followed him back home. We fed him every day and snuck him into the coat closet on those particularly cold winter days. Once the principal came in while Mutley was in the closet and the dog made a little sound. Several of us all started coughing at once to cover it up. He probably knew all about it, but we weren’t taking any chances.

The war in Vietnam? I can recall discussing this on the playground with my buddies. We were sure we were all going to have to go to Vietnam. We talked about how might all try to go together and be in the same unit. History shows that this year was the beginning of the end of American involvement in Vietnam, but of course we didn’t know that. We knew that we were growing up, getting out of elementary school, and that puberty was upon us at long last. We couldn’t have imagined the adventures we would face or where life would lead us. At least two of those classmates that I know of are currently in prison. One is a highly regarded medical doctor.

It is hard to imagine that I was Aubree’s age when I wrote these words and lived that year.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Class Night 

I just got home from class and obviously won't be doing a weekend roundup as is customary on my school nights.

I did want to stop in and wish everyone a wonderful weekend and offer an extra special thanks to our veterans out there who have served this country and made us all proud.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Future 

While I was reading election postmortems I came across an exit poll question which I found fascinating. More people were pessimistic about the future than were optimistic. They believed that the past was brighter than the future. I was puzzled by this, although in some ways I understand. But one of our human imperatives is to make this a better world for our children and grandchildren, isn’t it?

This made me think about a man I met in Mississippi. This older black gentleman came to school to talk about his grandson. He arms were covered in scars and he walked with a pronounced limp. He couldn’t read or write, making “his mark” on documents when required. He had spent his entire adult life as a sharecropper, picking cotton by hand. He said, “I worked in those fields for fifty years so that my kids and grandkids could have it better than I did.” He was still working for that in the twilight of his life, making regular appearances at school to make sure his grandson was doing the right things. He turned to the boy at some point in the conversation and said, “I worked in those fields for all those years so that you could have a chance. Your homework is nothing compared to that.” He was doing what we are all supposed to do collectively…..building a future for those that follow.

So why are people so pessimistic? Is it the rampant materialism in our culture? A sense of spiritual void? Violence and terrorism that never seems to stop? Corruption in our public officials? A sense that our communities really aren’t communities any longer? The feeling that the progress we’ve made for thousands of years is grinding to a stop? A sense that the values of hard work, taking care of your neighbor, and sacrificing now for a future ahead is morphing into an “its all about me”?

I am by nature an optimist, and I have to believe that the future is brighter. Certainly technology will extend lives and make living easier. Diseases that kill us now will be dealt with in a few trips to the doctor. Our kids and grandkids will certainly be more materially wealthy than we are. A world of knowledge exists at their fingertips that was unimaginable only a generation ago.

My friend in Mississippi was doing his part to build the future. What are we doing? Are those voters pessimists or simply realists?

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Midweek Meanderings 

Is it really only two weeks until Thanksgiving? It doesn't seem possible.

My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Jules and her son. Not only are they dealing with his medical condition, but legal issues as well.

I was under the weather today and actually called in sick. I felt like someone crawled up my nose and set off a grenade!

While with Aubree in the grocery store a few days ago, she kept telling me, "Dad, that woman is TOTALLY checking you out!" Uh huh. "No really dad. She was looking you up and down and then came back by here again." I started to say, "she was just suprised to see the real slim shady", but Aubree cut me off in mid-sentence saying, "don't even go there dad!"

Patrick is still wearing his costume around the house along with the candy bucket over his head.

Speaking of candy, we could still open up a small store here with all the candy floating around.

I'm writing and re-writing my school's "Site Improvement Plan." I have benchmarks, goals, and strategies swimming around in my head.

My midterm exam consisted of taking both sides in this case and providing regulatory and case citations to back up my arguments: Johnny is enrolled in school. He was making A's but now makes C's. His parents send an evaluation from a doctor stating that he has A.D.D. The school "looks into it" but does nothing. Johnny's parents pull him out, place him in private school, and ask the district to pay for it. There were some legal errors by the school, but A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. are not covered by I.D.E.A. and students afflicted with it are not eligible for special education for this alone. It was kinda interesting arguing both sides.

I'm soooo glad the election is over. Now if they will just get out there and clean up all those yard signs!

I'm worried about Vickie who has not posted for awhile. I hope she's ok.

I have class this weekend, and then a break until January. I'm soooo ready!

So how is YOUR week going?

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Poly Ticks 

I feel really popular these days. I’ve had my governor, senator, and the first lady of the United States leave messages on my answering machine. I’m sure they were calling me to discuss the issues of the day, and when I didn’t answer, had to just leave me a message. I’m sorry Laura….I know we could have had an excellent discussion on the importance of school libraries. In my mailbox yesterday was a color flyer from a Democratic candidate, comparing his Republican opponent to Hillary Clinton. You’ve gotta love Oklahoma politics.

No one has complained more than I have about all the obnoxious radio ads, the ridiculous television commercials, and the annoying phone messages than I have. To listen to me you might think I didn’t care about politics. Au contraire. I was a political science major in college and have spent my lifetime interested in public policy and politics. What I don’t have is a lot of patience for posturing and the “gotcha politics” and “identity politics” that have dominated for many years now.

There is something else that bothers me about politics. I’m sometimes asked whether I’m “liberal” or “conservative”. I’ve long believed that these terms were overused and misunderstood. I don’t really think you can summarize a person’s beliefs, which are a combination of your background, where you grew up, acquired knowledge, and your values, in one little term. Let me give a few examples:

If it was up to me, child molesters, murderers, rapists, and armed robbers would sit in prison until they are too old to go to the bathroom without assistance. I guess that makes me a conservative. But wait…I also think that locking up people for possession of marijuana and spending $30,000 a year to keep them there is insane. Does that make me a liberal?

I would’ve thrown the switch on Ted Bundy and Timothy McVeigh myself and would do so to Bin Laden if they ever catch him. I must be a conservative. But I generally think that the death penalty is inconsistently and often unfairly applied. There I go being liberal again.

I think that a nation that can’t protect and control its own borders lacks one of the basic functions of being a nation. Yeah, I’m conservative here. But I also think that is wholly unrealistic and ridiculous to think that twelve million illegal immigrants can simply be rounded up and sent home. Just call me a liberal.

I think that taxes in many cases are excessive and burdensome on the average person. I most often think this when I receive my paycheck and 1/3 of it is gone before I ever see it. When I’m filling up my gas tank and realize how much of each gallon is taxed my inner conservative child just comes out. I also think that people who don’t want to fund education for children and healthcare for the sick through their taxes are shortsighted and foolish. You caught me being liberal again.

You get the picture.

Tribal politics and name calling turns me off. I’m most attracted to political figures who are interested in discussing real ideas about real issues. I just don’t see much of that in these times. This doesn’t mean I won’t vote. I think it is everyone’s duty as a citizen to make informed choices and participate in our democracy.

I think I need to go read that brochure again. What does my former Republican mayor have in common with Hillary Clinton anyway? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Weekend Roundup 11/3-11/4 

It is Friday and not a day too soon!

As many of you know, Jules’ son is in the hospital after being involved in a serious accident. She is asking for people to send a card and will give you the proper address if you email her through her site. I urge everyone to stop by and offer your prayers and wishes, and send this young man a card. Lets flood his hospital room with them!

Jack has unused gift cards from last year’s holidays. Barn Goddess has a nice smelling house.

Mary Lou had a frozen Halloween. Hillbilly Mom had a bathroom issue.

Breazy loves Halloween and the beautiful colors of fall. P.M. Prescott definitely doesn’t love daylight savings time.

Sudie Girl discusses letters to God. Roselle discusses meeting up again with Adam.

Rain has some things to be thankful for. Irina has found some interesting new blogs.

Lime looks like Wyatt Earp…I don’t think so! Carol looked at the television and saw her husband’s ex boss running for office.

Sometimes Leen hates her job. Aka Monty hated it when her car broke down.

T. Marie writes about internet addiction. Thomai writes about connecting with our ancestors.

Susan says you are never to old to trick-or-treat. Pat says it is time to think about writing her novel.

Sarah discusses her gym. Apple discusses what “baby day camps” were.

Teresa wants to marry a wide receiver. Dawn wanted to make some vegetable barely soup.

Lil Bit returned to the blogworld by hosting a costume party! Leslie’s kids were so cute in their own costumes!

Margaret couldn’t resist a bag of Tim’s chips. Snav couldn’t resist doing a little Halloween partying.

Phoenix took some beautiful pictures. Trick’s pic isn’t quite so beautiful…her guy hit her car!

Redneck Diva shares her Halloween travails. Trucker Bob shares his thoughts on quality vs quantity of life.

Steph is getting ready to move. New Wave Gurly is a rather generous instructor, making candy apples for her class.

Walker talks about prejudice. Lisa talks about creating her own drugs.

No class this weekend. Yay! I do have a take-home midterm exam to work on. I’ve gotta play lawyer…on both sides. It should be interesting.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Midweek Meanderings 

It is a cold Wednesday tonight with temperatures supposedly dipping below freezing before morning.

Halloween went great for the kids. They followed the usual pattern. Patrick, after being a Halloween fanatic for the last month, trick or treated for an hour and called it a night. Aubree, her friend, and Terri's son lasted awhile longer. Of course they all ended up with a humongous pile of candy that would make a dentist cringe.

I had a meeting today with the Air National Guard people about a science program our students are participating in. It turns out the colonel and I went to junior college together 27 years ago. Her colleagues sat there while she and I reminisced about old times and all the people we knew in common.

She told me that one of our classmates worked at the base. When she told me his name I burst out laughing. He was 6'8" and a very ornery guy. One night on a dare he did a "panty raid" on the girls' dormitory, running through their halls wearing nothing but a jock strap and panty hose over his head. In spite of being perhaps the tallest guy on campus, he couldn't figure out how he got caught!

This same guy was a basketball teammate of mine. We had a very hot tempered coach who would fly off the handle at very small provocations. One of the things he hated was for us to miss layups. One day before practice in the locker room a certain guy (ok, it was me) told his teammates how funny it would be if we ALL missed our layups in the warmup drill. The guy mentioned above was the first in line. He missed the entire basket on his layup attempt. The coach went nuts, grabbed his shirt, screamed in his face, and made him run laps for an hour straight. Of course, after all that the rest of us didn't dare miss.

Then there was the food fight, but we won't go into that one.

Did I ever mention that I have a practical joke streak?

Its so cold today that I swear I saw a politican with his hands in his own pockets.

The political ads are getting more frequent and annoying. I'll be glad when election day gets here. Next week..thank God!

Some of the really nasty ads make me want to vote against the guy (or gal) who is attacking, even if I planned to vote for him before.

I called a parent today and made the mistake of asking, "how are you today?" Well, she proceeded to tell me. Fifteen minues later she was still telling me.

Jules' (can't get link to work, Julie on my blogroll)son was involved in a serious accident that required surgery and his friend died in the accident. Please stop by and offer her your prayers and best wishes for his recovery.

So how is YOUR week going?

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