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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Midweek Meanderings 

Just another week in Brian-land!

For the next two days I will be attending a local conference, a meeting of the Oklahoma Middle Level Education Association. I have been to several of these conferences and always enjoyed it.

From there it is on to class this weekend. There is just tons of work I need to get done! Who said getting a doctorate should be this hard anyway?

Want to know why schools have rules about checking in at the office? Today a parent went to class and engaged a teacher in a verbal confrontation in front of a classroom full of students. I was called, put myself physically between her and the class and tried to calm her down, asking her repeatedly to leave the room so we could discuss this away from all the students. She refused and was abusive enough that security had to be called to remove her. For her trouble she is now banned from the building. Sheesh.

If you get a moment, head on over and visit the Battle of the Blogs, where yours truly is a candidate. You can vote for me or my worthy opponent here. It is all in good fun and I’ve enjoyed perusing some of the blogs found there. I also encourage you to go vote for the ever-so-talented Walker right here.

How big of a “24” addict have I become? I’ve bought most of the previous seasons on DVD and watched them all. The kids just groan when they hear the tell-tale music come on.

The Eric Clapton concert is on Monday. We can’t wait to go!

Aubree and I have agreed on a clothing budget to cover spring and summer. She has been shopping online to try and find the best deals on her limited budget. I think this will be better than, “Dad, can I PLEASE have these jeans and that bra?”

So how is YOUR week going?

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Monogamy 

Statistics show that a large number of both men and women engage in infidelity in their marriages, to say nothing of those who stray in committed relationships not involving marriage. This has called many to question whether monogamy is a natural state of affairs, if all of the cheating going on is evidence of arrangements that go against people’s basic instincts. Consider a few of these findings:

90 percent of Americans believe adultery is morally wrong.

But

Recent studies reveal that 45-55% of married women and 50-60% of married men engage in extramarital sex at some time or another during their relationship (Atwood & Schwartz, 2002 - Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy)

What can we draw from this? It seems like a whole lot of us know it is wrong but do it anyway. Almost universally we disapprove of those who stray from their vows or their commitment. But in large numbers both men and women are unfaithful at least once during their marriages.

You could try to draw some inferences here. Most people believe that stealing is wrong, but billions of dollars per year are lost to the national treasury from people cheating on their income taxes. As in infidelity, people will acknowledge the immorality but find ways to justify the behavior. After all, the government does waste a lot of money and spends a lot of it on things some of us might not agree with. Of course, our wife doesn’t put out enough or our husband doesn’t pay enough attention. We human beings can rationalize almost anything.

But what if it is something more than that? What if monogamy is not a natural state as some have argued? Monogamy is rare in the animal kingdom, with only a handful of species that demonstrate this behavior over a long period of time. The difference of course is that we control our own behavior to a higher level than do the other mammals that populate this planet. We have the ability to reason, to ponder the difference between right and wrong, to consider the consequences of our actions beyond the moment. Is the fact that a large number of people also don’t engage in infidelity evidence of this advanced behavior, or is the large number that does evidence of its unnaturalness?

Don’t get me wrong. I think monogamous relationships are at the heart of society, perhaps the best way to achieve happiness during our short time here. The fact that it seems unnatural for so many in no way justifies the pain that treacherous infidelity causes so many people and so many families.

It is also unnatural not to just take everything we want regardless of the consequences. Social constraints and moral precepts prevent us from doing so but the instincts are there. Monogamy is something that lies along a similar vein. It is very highly likely that we will find ourselves attracted to someone else other than our significant other during our life, perhaps dangerously so. This by itself doesn’t make someone a bad or immoral person. But if we can’t control our feelings we can govern our actions, in spite of those instincts that burn inside of us, corroding our better judgment.


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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mardi Gras 

I watched from afar last week as Mardi Gras was celebrated in New Orleans. Aubree had to do a Mardi Gras project at school, and she asked, “Dad, whatever happened to ALL those beads we had? I could sure use them now!” One of the things I miss about living in the New Orleans area is the full throated celebration of Mardi Gras. School is out for several days to allow everyone to participate in the festivities. The month preceding is full of parades and parties. There really is not anything like it anywhere else.

We loved going to the parades. You may have seen the huge parades in New Orleans on television, but there are dozens of smaller ones that are a lot more family-friendly than the big ones. We enjoyed seeing the costumes, hearing the music, and watching the “throws” come flying off the floats. At some of those parades it was guaranteed that we would come home with bags full of beads, cups, and other goodies. For years those things were underfoot, lying in the bottom of the closet in bags, Patrick pulling them out to make whatever project he was working on. Slowly but surely the bags dwindled after we moved, and now I can certify that my house is Mardi Gras memorabilia free.

Aubree was such a little girl then and she was a favorite of those who threw things from the floats. Many times she was on my shoulders and we were motioned to come right up to the float where they could hand her a stuffed animal directly rather than risk throwing it to her. There were times when she would come home with a half dozen of them.

Then of course there was the adult party in New Orleans. I’ve always thought that everyone needs to experience that at least once in their life. I’ve never seen so many people packed so tightly as on Mardi Gras night on Bourbon Street. I decided maybe I’d been there too long when the sight of a woman “flashing” barely registered anymore. It is certainly a party to end all parties. Those stories about me and drinking those hurricanes are greatly exaggerated! One of the things I thought about in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was whether it would ever be the same again.

Living here in Oklahoma we could only give a long distance wave to the revelers and think about how much fun it would be to go back some day.

“Laisses les Bontemps Roulet!”

We can still let the good times roll even if we can’t find a good Po Boy to save our lives.


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Friday, February 23, 2007

Birthday Bash 

My blogger roundup time this evening was taken over by another event....a surprise birthday party for my youngest brother. Matt turned 38 years old today and that really doesn't seem possible. I remember my grandfather sneaking me past the nurse's station to visit my mom shortly after he was born.

Matt was laid off from his job some months ago, formed his own business, and has never looked back. He is keeping very busy and seems to be doing well. A harder working guy you will never meet. He seemingly never stops working!

Happy birthday Matt. Look out...the big 40 is coming soon.

As for the rest of you? Have a wonderful weekend my friends.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Midweek Meanderings 

Is it the weekend yet? I thought not.

I have been nominated for the Battle of the Blogs, an honor to be sure. I thank whoever was moved to nominate me. As long as they don’t make me sing I think I’ll be ok.

Phoenix has an interesting movie quiz up. Check it out!

Patrick is finally back in school after missing several days due to illness. It is fairly rare when Patrick gets sick, and you know he is sick when he starts turning down meals. There is a lot of illness going on around here in the schools right now, with at least one local school having to shut down for a couple of days because of all the absences.

The Eric Clapton concert is only a couple of weeks away, not that I’m excited or anything.

Speaking of Clapton, I prefer the unplugged version of “Layla” to the original, a rare thing for me. I almost always prefer original recordings.

I know I’m shooting myself in the foot, but I am NOT the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby. I’m beginning to feel like the only one not staking a claim.

Isn’t it funny how that case turns everything on its head? Now you have all these guys claiming to be the father instead of running the other way and swearing it couldn’t have been them. This is scientific proof that millions of dollars enhances paternal instincts.

My daughter is always joking about how cool it would be to be Bill Gates’ daughter, but she might change her mind if she read this.

I completed a mind numbing online course on ethical research and the protection of human subjects during research. No one will be in any shape to be doing research for awhile after completing that course.

Two of my favorite blogger babes, Jules and Rain have February birthdays. Please stop by and wish them a very happy birthday!

So how is YOUR week going?

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Hail To The Chief 

Today is President’s Day, the result of combining the Washington and Jefferson birthday holidays. This is supposed to be a day to reflect on the presidency and honor past occupants of the highest office in the land. I have long been interested in the American presidency, know a little about most of the presidents, and really enjoy presidential trivia. But this day made me think of something else. What exactly is it that we want in a president? I’m not talking about whether they want to tax capital gains, favor stem cell research, or want prayer in schools. What kind of person should be sitting in that office? This is not an irrelevant question with a national election next year. My thoughts?

I want a president with a sense of humor who doesn’t take himself too seriously. The office is a serious one, but to me a sense of humor is sign of balance. It doesn’t require a Chris Rock, but the ability to make us laugh and smile would be a nice quality to have in a president.

I want a president who is a curious person and always wants to know more. Obviously an effective president would be intelligent, but that is not enough. I want a president who peppers his staff with “why” questions, reads something other than briefing papers, and is genuinely inquisitive as he/she travels around the world.

I want a president who has done something with his/her life other than politics. Perhaps they have been a businessman, professor, practicing attorney, or some other type of profession that requires them to interact with the world outside the confines of a smoke-filled room.

I want a president who understands what leadership is. Leadership is not about following the latest polls and jumping aboard the moving train. Sometimes it is envisioning a better world, helping the rest of us see it, and moving public opinion to get us there.

I want a president who has shown an interest in and an ability to understand the larger world we live in. A president’s most important unfettered duty lies in foreign policy and defense, and I would like to see a president who has visited other countries, read extensively about them, and been able to apply that knowledge.

I want a president who understands technology and is comfortable with it. No, we don’t need to elect Bill Gates or Steve Jobs as president, but with technology playing such an increasingly important role in the economy of the nation it would be very nice to have a president who understands the broad implications of this technological revolution. While we are at it, wouldn’t it be cool to have a president who blogged, perhaps once a week? A president who has some of the qualities listed above should have no problems writing a post now and then. No, I don’t want some junior aide in the basement to write the post. I want the president to write it.

I want a president who has principles but is not dogmatic. This would be a president who had strong beliefs but enough of an open mind to gather information and admit that he was wrong. All presidents will make mistakes. Getting them to admit those mistakes and correct them is like pulling teeth without Novocain. Don’t they understand that we realize that they are human and will screw up like the rest of us? It is when they refuse to admit it and move on that we get annoyed. Principle and beliefs are in. Stubbornness is out.

I want a president who has a demonstrated ability to attract and retain a strong staff. Most people do not realize how important a president’s staff really is. I also want to see a demonstrated ability to surround himself/herself with a staff that is not a bunch of sycophants and yes-men. I want a president who has enough confidence to have people on the staff who will say, “Mr. President, you are dead wrong on this one.” It is too easy for a president to get in a cocoon, surrounded by adoring staffers who do nothing but echo his words back to him.

I want a president with an empathy and understanding of the lives we everyday citizens face. I want him/her to understand American life beyond the fundraisers and the foie gras and brie parties. I want a president who sets aside time to visit with ordinary people, not just the tycoons, celebrities, and movers and shakers.

I’m sure I want a lot more than I what I just listed, but this is a nice start.

Happy President’s Day!


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Sunday, February 18, 2007

This Is Your Life 

We celebrated my niece’s 16th birthday tonight with a “This is Your Life” themed birthday party. We all sat around and told stories about her, embarrassing moments, touching moments, and those inevitable funny times that all of us have. I find it as hard to believe she is sixteen as I do that Patrick will be fifteen years old in a couple of months. I told the story of how I dressed up as Santa Claus when she was three years old, her discovering it was me and being so angry she wouldn’t talk to me for a year.

Ever wonder what would happen if you had your own “This Is Your Life” party? Your most embarrassing times? The most poignant and tragic ones? Little tidbits of frivolity? My niece is only a teenager. Think what the rest of us could come up with.

I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I guess you could start with those embarrassing moments…..getting locked in the bus barn when I was in high school. My pants ripping out in the rear when I bent over during my first year of teaching. Falling flat on my face while running down the basketball court. Asking a girl to dance and realizing that I called her a name other than her own.

Then there are those joyous moments….graduations, weddings, hitting the winning free throws, getting promoted in my job, being accepted into graduate school, having children and honoring their accomplishments and milestones, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc. Of course there are the inevitable sad and tragic ones…deaths in the family, gut-wrenching divorce, bitter disappointments, break ups, not getting the job I applied for.

As someone who is well past the projected halfway point of life, I have come to realize that this is what life entails. You will laugh, cry, be joyous and sad, deal with triumph and adversity, solve problems and realize that some problems just won’t be solved, have conflicts with others and resolve those conflicts. There is no easy path, no sure-fire answers, no way to avoid any of it.

Through all of this we try to make sense of this life, determine our purpose here, and engage in the quest for meaning. My niece is doing it as she comes of age. I came of age long ago and am still doing it.

Just for a moment I imagine the cacophony of faces that would be present at a true rendition of my “This Is Your Life” party. My teachers from school who sometimes didn’t know quite what to make of me. My parents and siblings who watched me grow from a little boy into manhood (boy do they have some stories to tell!). My friends growing up who shared with me those same growing pains. My grandparents who offered the kind of love that only grandparents can. My first girlfriend who could describe a shy, skinny boy buying her cokes at lunch. The girlfriends over the years, god bless’em. The women I was married to, god bless’em even more.. My kids, who have seen me at my very best and very worst and live to tell the tale. Terri, who can make unique comparisons to who I was and who I have become. My co-workers with whom I have shared my joys and triumphs as well as some difficult and trying times. It would include some of the readers of this blog who have become friends, gotten to know me, and many of them have stories to tell.

It would be quite a party indeed. After all, this is my life!


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Friday, February 16, 2007

Weekend Roundup 2/16-2/17 

TGIF eveyone! I am happy to see the weekend here and hopefully the weather will warm up as promised.

I hope you enjoy these reads as much as I did.

Sea Rabbit just wants to be a social drinker. Ellen just wants to laugh.

Lime shares a funny Valentine. Colleen shares a memory of flowers.

Rain writes about children of alcoholics. Joan writes about love and the waterbed.

Apple celebrates Valentine’s Day. Irina celebrates getting rid of her cold.

Leslie got rear-ended. Melessa got the first draft of her thesis done.

Satellite Sky wants national health care. Jerry wanted to beat the snow by going to a party.

Tara is a warrior. Restless Angel is feeling 85% human.

Thomai says that what you are is not necessarily what you do. Barn Goddess says that weather this cold is just wrong.

Lil Bit strikes a Valentine’s pose. Breazy’s house is making striking progress toward completion.

Mama K Bear celebrates Valentine’s Day and her anniversary. BNY celebrated the Valentine’s holiday at a party.

T. Marie received a lovely email from her daughter. Jules received an amazing request from her ex.

Sudie Girl writes about King Tut. Vickie writes a lovely Valentine to her husband.

Andie celebrates her husband’s birthday. Patrick celebrates his first book signing.

Chaotic Serenity spent some time for Vickie. Words On Water spends some time writing about parenting.

Tammy has to make a decision about her job. Aka Monty has had a rough week.

Walker had to deal with tech support. Chosha has a secret.

Karen says Happy Valentine’s Day without words. Leen says in the breakup of most marriages both have some blame to bear.

Laine celebrates her blogiversary. New Wave Gurly celebrates a decadent treat.

Michael writes about the propriety of telling someone they are going to hell. Dwayne writes some random thoughts.

Joe didn’t have the best Valentine’s Day. Used To Be Me didn’t have much use for a whining attorney.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kid Stuff 

In the last 24 hours of child raising....

I think Aubree is all set to go to the dance tomorrow night. The dress seems to fit right after all. I took her today to buy shoes, managing to suppress my frustration as she seemingly had to look at and try on every pair of shoes in the store. She wanted high heels but didn’t like the fact that they hurt her feet and were hard to walk in. She settled for some low heels that match her dress. That works for me.

She didn’t take me up on my offer to chaperone the dance, even when I told her I could get out there and bust a few moves. I can’t imagine why she felt that way!

I had to stay home from work today with a sick Patrick. It is rare that Patrick is sick, having only missed a few days of school in his entire life. He said he didn’t feel well this morning but decided to go to school. A short time later I was on the phone with the school nurse and on the way to pick him up. He was running a fever, and the nurse told me that she had sent home over a dozen kids over the past couple of days with similar symptoms.

He told me on the way home, “Dad, I’m sorry you had to miss work, but you need to relax. All you do is go to work and to school. You need a break Dad.” So I spent the day with him at home and caught up on some rest and reading. It was nice.

He really wants to get better because Terri’s son is coming to visit tomorrow and Patrick LOVES to play with him. He has brought up the visit every night this week. “Is he still coming? Have you talked to him?” It is so cute.

Is it the weekend yet? :)

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Midweek Meanderings 

Wow. This is my first evening since last Thursday that I didn’t have something going on. All weekend in class and professional development the past two nights makes for a fairly worn-out Brian. However, I will survive!

The latest in the Aubree dress saga? She called me at work in tears this afternoon. “DADDY, the dress came in the mail and it doesn’t fit right! It is too tight up top and too loose around my rear. What are we going to do?” I guess this is what we get for doing mail order. We guys may not always realize that dresses don’t always fit just because they are the right size. It scrunches up over here, hangs loose over there. Argh!

She was a little happier when I came in the door carrying a giant stuffed frog. She needs another stuffed animal like Bill Gates needs more money…but still. She is also getting her nails done tonight. That should help too.

Not wanting to leave Patrick out I picked him up one of those action figures he loves so much.

I sent flowers to Terri at work. I hope she enjoyed them and I think she did!

Someone at work got a melon boquet today. I don’t know how the melons tasted but it was gorgeous.

Speaking of Terri, I feel so good to be with someone I love very much on Valentine’s Day. Ladies and gentlemen, my girlfriend is da bomb! She would have to be to put up with me.

I know that some are really down on the whole Valentine’s Day thing, and I can certainly understand that. I can say that there have been some Valentine’s Days when I have felt the same way, and don’t even get me started on the commercialization of it all.

But we all love someone, romantically or not. I don’t think it is such a bad thing to set aside a day to remind us of that love and how important it is in our lives.

Of course, working in schools this is a day for endless office deliveries and kids wanting to carry their balloons around with them all day. It is also a day for ornery boys to pop those balloons.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

So how is YOUR week going?

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Dress Down 

I ran late getting home tonight after a late afternoon/evening professional development session. Nothing like having a long session after a long day at work. Someone once said, “if I die, I hope I do it at a professional development session. The transition to death would be subtle.” That is somewhat how I felt tonight, but I digress.

Aubree is going to her middle school dance next weekend. Apparently, to go to a middle school dance a girl must have a dress these days. Aubree picked out a dress and excitedly shared her preference with a friend. Before we went shopping the friend did. Guess what dress she bought? Aubree was decidedly not happy.

Now I admit that I don’t fully understand about women and clothing. I remember being slightly befuddled that Laura Bush had to go change into a different dress when another White House guest showed up wearing the dress she was wearing. We guys don’t worry about things like that. If someone showed up wearing the same suit as I was wearing, I would congratulate him on his very good taste.

Aubree’s friend suggested they could both go to the dance wearing the same dress, but my daughter was having none of that idea. She ultimately decided to let it go and pick out another dress. We ordered it online and it should be here in a few days. Crisis averted.

The show can go on.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cruisin' 

I was lucky that our instructor let us out of class early yesterday. I was able to attend Aubree’s final basketball game and watch her team win the 6th grade city championship. I didn’t do very well at stifling a laugh when she got tangled up with a girl twice her size, the other girl went tumbling to the ground, and Aubree was walking away with one of those “who me?” looks. After the game I dropped her at a friend’s house to spend the night and headed home.

As I drove down the streets it struck me that there were very few cars out on the main streets of town. It is Saturday night and there are not teenagers “cruising town” as we did on these same streets so many times in my youth. How many times did I cruise up and down these same streets, waving to people I knew, craning my neck at the carload of girls who drove by the other way?

In my teen years it seemed as if everyone “cruised”. We started as soon as darkness set in and didn’t stop until the wee morning hours. Up this street, down that one, turn around in the parking lot, and repeat. Some were driving flashy Camaros or Trans Ams, and the less fortunate such as myself were driving whatever bucket of bolts we could. The local police benevolently tolerated this practice, stopping those who drove erratically and leaving most of us alone.

Sometimes we would secure a prime spot in a parking lot at the intersection and sit on the hood of a car or tailgate on a truck and watch everyone go by. Often in vain we would try to persuade that carload of pretty girls to pull their car in next to ours and talk to us. Occasionally we were successful in getting them to get in the car with us and cruise around some more. Ever packed eight people into a Camaro? We crammed into the car, cranked up the Led Zeppelin, and drove. We weren’t complaining.

One person who did complain was my dad who saw no purpose whatsoever in wasting gas by driving around all night. “Brian, what do you guys DO all night? Just drive around burning up gas?” I tried to convince him of the social necessity, but he just wasn’t seeing it. Unbeknownst to me he once recorded the mileage on my truck before I left and then checked it again the next morning. “You drove almost 100 miles and never left town. That’s ridiculous!” Dad, you just had to be there.

“The cruise” was the gathering place for teenagers from miles around. My town is not very large, but there are number of even smaller ones nearby and their teenagers were out in full force on those weekend nights. Over time you knew most of the people, at least by sight. We continued this practice for awhile after we graduated, but soon enough the streets were filled with the next generation of cruisers and we no longer fit in. We always thought it was ridiculous to see someone in their mid 20’s (and a few even older) cruising around. I wasn’t going to be one of those. I got married, got serious about my college classes, and moved on with life. Just for a moment last night though I felt the silly urge to crank up the music, roll the windows down on a cold night, and cruise down to the “turn around” point.

Thankfully, the urge passed quickly. It was very cold last night.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Time for Renewal 

I’m home from class after a very long day! The class is “Communication for Educational Renewal”, a class focused on building learning communities and research-based practices. One of the things I enjoyed was the use of communication threads in the class. You wrote about something online and others commented. Hmmmm…where have I seen this before? Posting and comments. I’m home!

It is time to get a little rest and then gear up for class all day tomorrow. Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cell Mates 


The principal’s voice came over the school loudspeaker. “We are instituting a lock down. Please check outside doors and make sure your classrooms are secure.” An escaped criminal? A bank robbery nearby? Nope. What prompted this lockdown? A student had told other students that he had called high school aged, gang-affiliated friends to come beat them up. The phone was then passed to others and was nowhere to be found. Did he really make the call? He denied it in the harsh lights of the office, but his antagonists were adamant that he had. The lockdown lasted for about an hour. This was about a week ago.

The New York City school system instituted a tough ban on students bringing cell phones to school for reasons such as this.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have staunchly refused to drop the ban. They insist cell phones are a distraction and are used to cheat, take inappropriate photos in bathrooms and organize gang rendezvous. They are also a top stolen item.

Every word of that is true. I have seen cell phones used in all the inappropriate ways mentioned and some you haven’t thought of. The lockdown incident mentioned above is not an idle musing of overactive teenaged imaginations. A couple of years ago we had to summon the police to run off a group of 18 year olds trying to assault a middle school student who “dissed” one of their brothers. The brother simply ducked into a bathroom and made the call on his cell phone.

Camera phones used to take pictures under a girl’s skirt? Yes. A girl using a camera phone to take pictures of her breasts and then use a school computer and printer to make copies to distribute? Uh huh. Drug deals arranged? You bet. A 6th grade girl making a lunchtime rendezvous with her high school boyfriend? Sadly, yes. Text messaging answers to tests? Of course. Arranging to skip class together through text messages? Absolutely. I’ve personally seen every one of these situations.

Advocates of allowing students to carry cell phones to school do make some good points. They point to 9-11, Columbine, and other catastrophes where student cell phones enabled kids to contact their parents or authorities. Some students ride subways or city buses to school or participate in after school activities, and it is useful for parents to be able to reach them. They regard it is a safety issue.

Our policy is my district tries to thread the needle. Students are allowed to bring the phones to school but may not use them during the school day for any reason. The penalty can range from having the phone confiscated and requiring a parent to pick it up to a suspension from school for repeated violations. If kids follow the policy it makes sense. They have the phone for before and after school communication with their parents but it doesn’t disrupt classrooms or create hazardous situations. The above tragedies notwithstanding, a vast majority of cell phone usage in school is inappropriate, distracting, or downright dangerous.

I have actually had parents assert their right to call their child during the school day. “What if I need to reach them?”, the refrain goes. Well…call the office and we’ll get them a message or bring them to the phone if it is an emergency. Do they not understand that 600 kids answering cell phone calls during the day might be a wee bit distracting from what we are trying to accomplish, not to mention the other calls many of the kids are making? A few weeks ago a student’s cell phone went off in class, jangling loud rap music during the middle of a reading test. The student and phone ended up in my office. While I was talking to the student the phone rang, and I of course answered it. The young voice on the other end said, “Joe?” I replied, “he’s busy talking to me in the principal’s office. He’ll have to get back to you.” A few minutes later the phone rang again. Different person, same response. The third time it rang it was his mother, calling him in the middle of the day to “check in”. “Can I talk to Joe?”, she asked after I explained what was going on. “Sure thing”, I replied. “I’ll have him call you back from my office phone. It is against the rules for him to use his cell phone in school.” “I’m sorry, but I just needed to talk to him for a minute.” When I looked on his phone I saw eleven calls incoming during the day and six outgoing. Sheesh!

I have resisted buying Aubree a cell phone because I don’t think she really needs one and fear that it would be nothing but trouble. I don’t want her texting her friends during the day or at home. If she wants to talk to them she can see them in the cafeteria or call them in the evening. If she wants to call me she can go to the office and ask. If I want to call her, I will go through the school office. If she is at a friend’s house she can use their phone to call me and I can do the same if I need to contact her. Some day maybe, but not now.

We did in past years somehow manage to survive school without one.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Midweek Meanderings 

It is midweek and all is well. Time does fly when you’re having fun.

We had a substitute teacher in our building today. I talked to her a couple of times in the hall about a couple of issues. Later in the day she sent a note to the office about a student she was having trouble with. I looked at the signature and immediately recognized the name. We had gone to school together, graduating in the same year. Neither of us had recognized the other. She said, “I just remember you as having that floppy, curly hair.” Yeah, I know.

Some boys got in trouble in the classroom for horseplay and were sent to my office. I gave them a choice of detention after school with me or Saturday School. They chose to stay after school. I took them to the gym and exercised them for about thirty minutes under the theory that if they had the energy to horseplay in class they certainly had energy to do some exercise. Then I sat them down in the gym and talked about what was going on in class and how their behavior kept them from achieving their goals. It seemed to make an impression. We’ll see!

This is crunch time in the schools of the land. Standardized high stakes tests are only eight weeks away. We are cranking up and doing everything we can to get kids ready for the test. Like it or not, our kids need to do well on that test. I gave the 7th graders a pep talk this morning about how much we believed in them and the history they could make by doing well on the test.

If you haven’t already, please stop by and read Vickie’s letter to her mom. It is a beautiful tribute, and I hope her mom will improve and be able to come back home.

Aubree is set to attend the only middle school dance of the year next weekend. This would be her first dance, and she is way excited. Of course, this means she wants new clothes to wear. I told her that she needed to start practicing saying, “I just don’t have a THING to wear!” Nothing in her vast stock of clothing will do for the occasion in her mind.

The Eric Clapton concert is only a month away!

I’m still fighting some small battles after my installation of Vista. The basic problem is this: Vista thinks it owns my computer. I think I do. This causes us to butt heads. So far I think I’m coming out ahead, but Vista is a valiant opponent.

I know many were titillated by the story of astronaut Lisa Nowak who apparently tried to kidnap or possibly murder the “other woman” in a love triangle gone terribly astray. I find it so terribly tragic that this talented woman has apparently ruined a career that she spent her whole life building. What could have been in the depths of her soul to prompt her to behave so bizarrely? We all know the anguish that love and relationships can cause, but what could have motivated her to throw it all away in this manner?

Please continue to keep little Raven in your thoughts and prayers as she recovers from the latest round of radiation and chemotherapy.

So how is YOUR week going?

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Scenic Vista 

I just had to do it. I went to Circuit City on a lunch break from my training session on Friday to shop for birthday gifts for Aubree. I had no problem at all finding a couple of those games she wanted so badly. That left me some time to browse, and being the shopper and lover of electronics stores that I am, I took full advantage of the opportunity.

I had been looking for a faster, more reliable printer because of all the papers I am being required to write for my classes. Is that the HP Deskjet 6310 “All in One” I see there on sale? Yes indeed! Add it to the cart. Memory on sale too at half price? Well, the computer has been a little sluggish when I do my multi-tasking. Then I saw it. I had promised to resist, but it seemed to call out my name….”you know you want me!”

I bought the Home Premium edition of Windows Vista and brought it home to install. Last time I waited a couple of years before I installed XP, making sure all the bugs were worked out. For some reason I thought it would be cool to be on the cutting edge this time, and hey….With the new memory I just purchased, and a whopping hard drive, I should be able to handle this with no problem.

I came home and actually followed directions for once. I backed up all my important files to a portable hard drive before I started, and that turned out to be one of the smarter things I’ve done in awhile. After a couple of hours of whirring, flashing, and re-starting, I had the new operating system all installed on my computer. So cool! Internet connection? Check, and it seemed much faster. Programs all there? Yes, except for the Javascript thingie and my MusicMatch Jukebox that Vista doesn’t seem to like.

I now had translucent windows that whisked out of sight so smartly. I played around with that for awhile. It advertised improved hard drive searching. When I typed in Eric Clapton, it popped up in emails I’ve sent and received, Word documents, and a couple of other places. The videos I played seemed crisp and clear.

I clicked on into to the “My Documents” folder. Web pages, Word documents, and all my pictures were there. Then I clicked on my music folder and up popped a screen…”You do not have permission to access this folder”. Huh? It is my folder and I’ll access it if I want. I do some quick research and disabled the annoying user permissions on folders. I still got the same message. Then I searched for my songs….and they were ALL gone, every single one of them.

No problem. I backed them up, right? I hooked up the portable hard drive and fired up its software. Guess what? It didn’t like the software and the music files are compressed. After a couple of hours researching and Googling I finally figured it out and voila….my 1700 songs are back on my computer. Whew! I’ve been collecting those little babies for many years.

A couple of days later I finally have my computer operating the way I want it to again and not the way Bill Gates thinks it should operate.

I’ll let you know how it goes. When is the next OS going to be released anyway?

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Happy Birthday Aubree! 

Dear Aubree:

You are twelve years old today, a year removed from being an honest-to-goodness teenager. We’ve opened the presents, cut the cake, ate the ice cream, and sang the requisite song. I think back over the past year, how you are growing up right before my eyes.

Today you are a pre-adolescent, sharp witted and sometimes sharp tongued, bright and inquisitive, sometimes emotional and at other times analytical. Sometimes I don’t know quite what to make up of you, this child I’ve raised since the early months of her life. As a parent we sometimes lack perspective, all of the years blurring together to bring us to this point, but I really marvel at who you’ve become at such a young age.

Life has been no bed of roses for you. You’ve dealt with abandonment issues that no child should have to deal with. But you have always been something of a rarity, a kid who is able to express her feelings in the most heartfelt and articulate way. I’ve tried to help you understand everything that has happened, but I can’t really claim a lot of credit. You’ve talked and wrestled with pain, I’ve listened, and you have emerged from it all a strong and vibrant young woman. You’re gonna be just fine kid.

You’re a daddy’s girl, partially I hope because you have a daddy worth of it, and partially from necessity. We’ve grown closer together over the past few years and that is priceless to me. I love the little banter we have, the playful joking and teasing in a language all our own. I laughed as I was driving away after dropping you off at school. I was telling you about a situation in which I thought you should’ve acted differently. You said, “Hey dad? Remember when you told me that there would be times as a teenager when I thought parents didn’t know anything? This is one of those times.” After we drove another block you piped back up and said, “but I guess you do have a point.”

As you navigate the adolescent minefield of the next few years I’ll be by your side, and yes, offering up my guidance, opinions, and discipline when required. I will push you when you need it and rein you back in when you go too far. I’ll try to be there for you in any way I can. If time flies by as quickly as the previous years, I’ll be watching you walk across the stage to graduate from high school in no time. I’ll be proud and will probably shed a tear or two. That is how I am, but you already knew that.

Our years together are necessarily short. Soon enough you will grow up and go out to make your way in this world. I hope you’ll remember it all fondly: eating crawfish until your little hands wrinkled, Mardi Gras parades, climbing rocks together in South Dakota’s badlands, camping in the mountains, the bedtime stories, the singing duets (we really do a mean version of “Summer Nights”, don’t we?), the laughter, playing with your brother, hanging out at your uncle’s houses, the trip overseas to England, playing games, doing homework together, cooking with Terri, sliding around in the snow….all of it. As you continue to build the tapestry of your life I hope the difficult times become less sharp and painful. They will you know.

You know how you write “Daddy’s girl” on your notebooks? If I was into writing things like that on my notebooks I’d be writing……

“Aubree’s Daddy”

And I’d be proud of it.

Happy birthday sweetheart!

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Weekend Roundup 2-2/2-3 

Yay! The weeked is here.

Tomorrow is Aubree's birthday, which in her mind should be a national holiday. Twelve years old....only a year removed from being a teenager. Time really does fly. She has a couple of friends over and they are laughing and giggling in her room as I write this. They went down the street to the Dollar Store earlier, and what did they come back with? Binkies Yes, baby binkies. What do three twelve year old girls want with binkies?

On to the birthday festivities, but first let us take a look around the blogworld:

Jerry reports on his visit to my house! Irina reports on her experience shooting a gun.

Barn Goddess writes about a moment with a friend. Teresa writes about going to a Super Bowl rally.

Roselle likes a man with large hands. Joan does not like ribs that taste like lumber.

Steph has some things she could say but probably won’t. Lil Bit has some things to say about the “new Blogger.”

Colleen asks why you blog and explains why she does. Patrick asks whatever happened to science fiction.

Sleeping Mommy celebrates a wedding anniversary. Leslie celebrates her birthday!

Breazy is getting ready to move. Vickie is feeling tired.

Apple has a hall of fame for her state. Lil Red just wants her state to be free of ice and snow.

Jules has a Saturday off! Thomai has a trollish commenter.

Sally talks to a relative with old prejudices. Cheryl has a relative with Alzheimer’s disease.

Restless Angel got a promotion. Ellen got some free drugs.

Okie Lawyer discusses debtors and the state of Texas. Rave discusses the idea of random drug tests for students.

Lime has tie-dyed hands. Mary Lou has a sick computer.

Susan shows us some bees. Sass shows us….Koda!

Rain is thinking about having a pirate party. New Wave Gurly is thinking about traveling.

Joe has been very busy. John has been dealing with a lot of rain.

Laine writes about where her life is now. Tara writes about trying to stay warm.

Phoenix shares an update on Raven. Walker shares a story about his parents and their secret stashes. Too funny!

Leen writes about the conflict between head and heart. Aka Monty writes about not making it to the baby shower.


Happy birthday to my little girl. Yes, she is still little to me!

Have a wonderful weekend my friends.

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