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Friday, December 4, 2009

When did I start teaching in China?

Funny, I expect no access to Facebook or MyCrack as school. Facebook is a serious timewaster and MyCrack is filled with bullshit, skanks and annoying people (yes, I still have my account). But blocking Twitter!?! Really? Really!? Really!!
I mostly only created my twitter account so I COULD post to my Facebook from school. Hey, I have things I wanna say during the day. I believe it worked yesterday, but I went to update this morning and ... GONE. Blocked via administrative rules or something. Are you kidding me? How is Twitter something that should be blocked? What next? Blogger?

I guess I should finish this post before they do block it.

President Obama spoke in China recently about how they need to open up the internet and allow free access to more information. There's ALWAYS an inherent danger in allowing access to information, but there's more danger in NOT allowing it - unless you're the one in charge disallowing it so the danger isn't presented to you.
So, I'm slowly feeling like I'm teaching in a little China. FB blocked, MS blocked, Pandora blocked, Twitter blocked. At this point, I expect them to block Faux News, since you'll find more hate and misinformation and danger there than even MyCrack. I'm surprised they aren't blocking google... that would be hilarious.

I'd ask the IT team about it, but frankly, I don't trust there wouldn't be retribution in some form for just ASKING. There's also always the question of "how is this being used for education?" I guess I need to become a follower of some mathematicians to justify the access?

I've only been at a couple school, but I've found the IT teams in high school seem to have a god complex. Block it until it's proven ok... I am Zeus. When I started in the alt-ed program here nearly 3.5 years ago, I wanted a Japanese font installed on my school provided laptop. I wanted it so I could make alternative signs and posts... make a calendar with something different, express numbers a little differently... just have as little fun. I was shot down. "Explain how you can use this for teaching your class" was the essential response. Seriously? Ridiculous! It's a font. It's something outside the box. It ended up being the start of feeling like the I team actually decides how education will work here. I decided to not go over anyone's head, since I don't trust egomaniacs - no telling when they'd just shut down our net access altogether.

Joy. They have returned to making sure those with money have access to what they want. People with smart phones and data plans only need the providers' network and within school, they have access. Because I refuse to pay $30 extra a month for that on my phone, I am denied.

Rant over. I might be silly about this, but I can't be sillier than blocking a micro-blog site.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Extra credit... demands and all.

So, I am a little past my first Geometry class for the day. They have a quiz on some basic constructions. Yesterday I gave them packets for practice. I said "you should make sure you can do all of these and practice them for the quiz tomorrow". Not homework, not a requirement.

Before handing out the quiz, I asked to collect any packets that were completed (in any amount really) and that they can ear some bonus points on the quiz based on how much they completed or tried on the packet. I had at least two in class declare I was being unfair by not telling them it would be for extra credit. Yes... I was chastised for not telling them that the work I strongly suggested they do might count for some bonus points. You know, because some kids today never take responsibility for their own lives - no, we have to do it all for them.

Only a few handed anything in. I was shocked. Those who needed the practice the most didn't bother to practice... and likely it will show on their quiz results. I have a feeling my next block will be much more appreciative of the bonus offer. Hey... someone else getting bonus points will not effect their own grades. But you never know... they can and often do find some reason to complain.

I love my job and I'm loving teaching now in the regular high school, but I'm still baffled by the lack of personal responsibility and accountability.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cash for Chuckelheads

Let me get this straight - and yeah, I'm a little late, as always - people who bought earth and road unfriendly behemouths are getting bailouts??? First irresponsible homebuyers that bought more house than they could afford with stupid moronic adjustable rates were helped in so many ways it hurt - those of us who waited to be responsible before buying a house - in the mind. Sure, there are foreclosures happening anyway, but so what? Not enough. McMansions and un(der)employed homebuyers alike ruined the housing market.

Blah blah... that's an older blog post or two ago.

So, the deal, or so it appears to me as presented on the news nightly. Vehicle owners who have registered vehicles over the last year that get 18 miles per gallon or less are (have been) given rebates for buying new cars with higher MPG ratings. Details.. I don't care about the details. All I know is that the prices of gas came back down and every asshole with a Hummer gleefully pulled it back out. They won't be trading them in becauase they are too stupid and too asshole-y to get rid of their road menace machines, but every other jerk-off who bought a massive vehicle to, you know, get groceries in, threaten other cars' views on the road, or shine their raised headlights brightly in our eyes via the rear view mirror as they cruise up our asses on the interstate doing 80MPH can buy a new car (do over) to not only save them money, but GET THEM MONEY BACK.

I realize this isn't even about getting metter cars on the road. It's about getting car manufacturures back in business. Sucker people into buying new cars and make it look like the bailed out car makers are actually pulling their weight.


Things up front... I am expecting the new homeowner's rebate check in the main within another month or so. It's kinda the same thing, but meant for people who didn't fuck up already and want to do it as right the first time as they can.... oh, and reinvigorate the decaying housing market. Unfortunately, Vermont's market never REALLY crapped out and homeowners tried their damndest to take advantage of buyers - and we found out that you just really cannot trust real estate agents. Did I just say that? Yes I did. Unless you have a contract with an agent for buying your house, they do not have YOU interest at heart, and for a first timer, they borderline criminal (or even violate some ethics codes along the way). Bankers aren't much better. And sellers are lairs.

Ack, WAY off topic.

So yeah, Mr and Mrs "I'm too cool for a fuel efficient car" are getting a break now - a do over. I see many are buying more reasonable vehicles, or is it that the media is only showing those buyers? And what of people who bought the right(er) cars? We bought a Civic. It's not super powerful, but is a good ride. We love it. It's gotten upwards of 38MPG for my interstate commute. We would have gotten a Hybrid Civic, but for the extra 5K they cost and not having moon/sun roofs, it just didn't cut the needs. Current generation hybrids have a good deal more options...a tradein and bonus check from Obama (who I voted for and still really like) would make it a pretty sweat deal... though we paid off the Civic ahead of time, unlike the common debt ridden American.

Welcome to the bail out generation.

Oh, and before and conservative/libertarian jackasses think I'm making good arguments for them... STFU. You're worse for this country than buying out stupid people. Neah!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Almost 6 Weeks Old

The boy is nearly 6 weeks old, so I thought I'd add some thoughts before I forget them.

He doing awesome. He struggled with feeding for a while, frankly being a little too handsy, so we had to consistently swaddle him with his arms at his sides. Thankfully we're able to let him be free most of the time. He goes through fits of being very fussy and crying, but really, it's not too bad. My neice was colicky, so we have it easy in that regard. I find myself laying on the ground staring at him often. He's so cute and the faces he makes while he's sleeping are hilarious. I take pix every day just about, but video is what makes it not look too freaky. It's pretty easy to capture the awkward moments. My phone camera is too damned slow to capture immediate moments, so sometimes when it looks like he's smiling, by the time the camera actually gets the picture, he's moved on to a crooked mouth that makes him look devious at best.
He also seems freakishly strong. He can stand up and hold himself up, even if only for a split second. He rolls over and around. I just hope that means he'll be interested in being active... I'm hoping he'll like running.

The biggest problem? Name. We've still not named him. We cannot agree on a name. It's frustrating and infuriating. I want to name him Strider for a first name, she hates it, but has no counter... just a list. So, we'll argue over it more and eventually figure it out. Thankfully most people have stopped asking. I think they realize that when we pick a name, we'll make it abundtantly clear, likely plastering our facebooks pages with the name, prehaps an ad in the paper, maybe I'll even make a song in the soon-to-be studio downstaris. ;)

We have experienced some surprises, leading to...
Things they apparantly never tell you:
  1. There will be times when you're chaging diapers 2-4 times within 20 minutes - there are days when we easily change 12 times or more. He really doesn't like it when his diaper is wet, even thought it's not wet, since the diapers are amazing at storing things away from the skin. The weight though... I can see that being annoying.
  2. Hiccups... after almost every feeding and subsequent verticalizing/burping, he has hiccups.
  3. Acne!! WTF!?! He's got acne. Poor little guy didn't even get to experience being a pre-teen/tween and he's already got a teen problem?? Damn! I guess it's normal at the 2 and 6 week periods, but this started around 4 weeks... late bloomer or early?
  4. How far can they see? We read books so had an idea, but I think more people need to know... when you're making googly eyes at teh boy from 5 feet away, he likely cannot even see you as a blur.
Feel free to add more in the comments. I'll add more when I remember them or they come about.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Come to Daddy

Yesterday at 1446, my son was born. 7lbs 3oz, 18" and healthy. His mom (my wife) is healthy, he is looking comfy right now and I am happy, tired and hungry.

Oddly, I didn't blog about the pregnancy. We kept it "secret" for about 3 months, so I kinda just got used to not talking about it here. I wish I did... updates of the progress, but he won't mind. It was pretty normal until the end when he went breech and there was a very low amount of amniotic fluid. End result was a two week early urgent (but not emergent) Cesarean Section
We're all still spending time in the hospital... mom will be here until Saturday supposedly.

All this and we closed on a house last Friday and I'll be doing the bulk of the moving this weekend. Yeah, didn't really get around to blogging about that either... I'm a bad blogosphere inhabitant... but as you might guess, things have been busy and I've been guarded about some of the info - the house purchase process was not a simple one, with lots of disappointment and trouble and oddities.

It also means I'm out of school two weeks earlier than expected, which is nice, but not really, as I want to make sure my students are good to go for the semester's end. It also means my pole vaulters might be on their own for the rest of the season... though since I sprained my ankle last week... I've been out of pole vault commission anyway.

So, for some this is the pregnancy announcement and the birth announcement all in one. Joy.
Things are good. Time to be afraid I suppose... but I think I'm ready for it all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gay Mariage Redux

It baaaaaack. The fight over "gay marriage", that is.

If you follow my blog or any of my public personality postings, you likely already know where I stand - or can guess. It's not even an issue. A gay couple should have the right to marry.

I wrote an essay years ago - I think 1997 or 1998, I can't find it right now, not even on - about this issue. My stance was pretty much the same back then.

In Vermont, yesterday there were hearings in Montpelier listening to apparently over a thousand people (well, in attendance, not all spoke) opposed to and in support of legalizing gay marriage (in Vermont).

From the news I heard near sobbing from gay people and having to fight for the same right others just have. I hear dumbass ignorant bigots lay out arguments about "it being against god's will". And this time around, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington pleading to keep those dirty nasty ungodly beings from joining in any such marital fashion. (he didn't say that, I'm paraphrasing his dopey ignorance and bigotry). Many other clergy have stood strong in support of gay marriage already. I couldn't tell if they spoke out yesterday. But what's it really matter? The claim of "against it"-clergy is that it's not what "god intended". Do they also invalidate my marriage? I'm a friggin atheist. I think they are loopy in the first place. I was married in a civil ceremony, not even the mention of a deity or a savior (though I'm sure mom was praying :) ) in the ceremony. Do I not have a marriage? It was utterly and completely outside the church.
They keep spouting a fear that clergy will be forced to marry gays. Grow up and pay some attention. No reasonable person would say that. It's a legal thing, not a religious thing, in my view. The clergy aren't required to even marry their own parishioners if they feel they don't support the marriage in question are they? Right. I think I heard a collective "oh yeah". So how are they suddenly going to be forced to marry a bunch of sodomizing sinners? Hm...

As I would expect... they are full of crap just trying to scare the ignorant masses.
As well with the argument of "jettisoning" the "traditional meaning of marriage that has been culturally accepted for 6 millenia"... yeah, I saw that in the paper. In other words, we have bible literalists telling the rest of us how we are supposed to live and that we must follow their bible's laws. Assholes. This is the U.S. of A., you have a right to freedom of religion and I have a right to freedom from religion. That means keep your crazy out of the public square and I won't tell you how to believe your fairy tales stories. That includes you not being allowed to say that gays can't get married because you are uncomfortable with it, or insecure with your marriage to the point that your tiny mind would actually believe that two men or two women getting married would somehow magically lessen your marriage. Face it, you haven't a leg to stand on with that argument. You're a liar and a fraud.

So, the sheep do as they are told. The faithful (I don't know any atheists/agnostics who are against gay marriage - not to say they don't exist, I've just not met any... who weren't against marriage as a rule - and let this be clear, I know more faithful who are pro-gay-marriage than not) cling to their bibles and lash out at people who are different. Worse yet, they argue things like "we can't let a minority make these changes". Again, who the hell are they? I suppose they are against blacks still too... they are still a minority. How about this, from polls I've seen, bible literalists are a minority. That means you freaks who believe Noah's Ark was a real thing are a minority. Those who believe the world is only 6000 years old... minority. How about we start limiting your rights? Oh yeah, "this is a Christian nation"... so as long as you declare that "jesus christ is your savior" then you are above the law or expectation of equality for all. Shut up! You are poison. You might likely be raising children who are poisoned and will poison the world they way you do. Because this isn't just about gay marriage or gay rights, it's about being a bigot and declaring that your way is the only way. It's about you not realizing that your way might be the right way... for you and yours, but that you have no right to rules others' lives when those others' actions do in fact not impact your life in any way. Gay marriage has no impact on you. It just doesn't. Stop lieing. Stop pretending. Stop. If your marriage is weak enough that another's marriage will ruin its meaning, then you need to end it. You are not ready anyway. My marriage will be stronger knowing that the institute of marriage I have will be shared with a larger group of people who believe as I do... that marriage is about sharing your life, love, and everything in between with another person, with rights, responsibilities, privileges, hopes, desires, families, jobs... everything you have. How can you hold the one single difference between the you and "them" as the litmus for something like marriage? When it comes to human rights, a simple majority rule has no place in deciding who gets to use those rights.

I've insulted a lot of people here, it's nothing uncommon. Feel free to hate me, that would be justified. But hating those I am sticking up for in this is not justified. Supporting gay marriage is supporting marriage and family.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Uni Presies and a Lower Drinking Age

The question I just heard on the TV.. "why are college presidents pushing for lowered drinking ages?"

My simple answer... they don't want to be held responsible for the most entitled, bratty and ill-raised children in a very long time going to higher education and getting screwed up and giving the schools a bad name... or a good name on the "party school" lists.

These presidents don't care about the communities their schools are in.

But they sure do look cool to kids who wanna get their drink on legally - perhaps those presidents preside over schools that are cooler to those needy brats. Boom. Higher enrollments.

And if your argument FOR it is that "if they can die for our country, they should be able to drink"... well, I think 18 is too young to decide your future in a war. It's a false patriotism and encouraging kids to join the military under the guise of "dieing for your country" is sick and twisted and what I'd expect from terrorists and Israeli or North Korean soldiers - and the poor, who also unfortunately probably suffer fro higher percentages of alcohol related deaths, violence and crime.

But I'm straightedge, so who really cares what I think? And I know I didn't have a drop as a student, yet I wasn't a perfect student either. But I also never threw up in a public restroom, trashed a neighbor's yard, walked into some random persons home uninvited - at 3am, and I didn't sexually assault anyone.

To top it off, I read last week how many states/communities are thinking of changing their alcohol sales laws. Sure, the laws are religiously dogmatic relics, but just because the economy is in the crapper... oh wait. See, that's the point. The guise is that it's to generate more income via taxe. I don't buy it one bit. Well, that's not true, I'm sure some view it that way, especially those in Utah thinking about it - Mormon attitudes aside. No, I think it's about making sure people have easy access to one of the essier ways to drown your sorrows without legalizing other drugs. Yeah folks, I think people want us drunk. Progressives with the same ideals would rather we get high instead. either way, they hope we stop thinking for a while and go with the flow.

Everything is big picture - small picture stuff is a cloak.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


So, as always I'm johnny come lately when it comes to posting about recent event. Too busy to put thought to finger to keyboard, but this news item annoyed me and brought up feelings that have annoyed me for quite some time.
Last week US Airways pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger successfully brought his plane down on the Hudson river after the engines we supposedly destroyed by birds. All over the news we heard about "Sully" the hero and his amazing feat. Ok, you've likely heard it all by now, seen the pictures, joined the facebook groups and said your meaningless prayers - maybe even sent around a chain letter about it.

But, is he really a hero?

Over at Merriam-Webster you will see a number of definitions for hero. I think the only two that people might be attributing to "Sully" are:

  • c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
  • d: one that shows great courage
Let's break down each one a little bit with respect to what very little I know about "Sully".

c) acheivements and noble qualities:
He's definitely acheived something more Americans have not. He is a professional pilot. I always wanted to be an astronaut. I knew I'd need to be a pilot first (at least back then that was the expectation). However, the reality that I'd have to either join the military or have a significant amount of money to do that set in quickly. Yeah, for the vastly most part folks, you have to be wealthy or come from money to become a pilot. I don't know that enlisted "men" can be pilots, I should ask my dad - who was a jet mechanic for a while early in his Air Force career.
Noble. Is he more noble than most? What makes him such? I know that there have been a significant amount of nice things said about him by his friends, family and neighbors, but what are they going to say about a man who the media is calling a hero? Catch-22 if you ask me.
Were his actions noble? Well, it was his job to make sure his passengers didn't die. That's not noble, that's called employment.

So, to sum up the first part... he couldn't have even been a part of this "heroism" if not for it being his job and what his career was about - flying planes.

d) one that shows great courage:
This one confuses me. It's really a chicken and egg problem. Of course it takes courage to not choke when a plane is facing the possibility of crashing and killing everyone inside. But then again, isn't that what a pilot is trained for - not crashing a plane? Is it courage that has him at the helm in the first place? Well, like I said, I'd have just as much liked to be in that position.
For the most part, his job is pretty damn safe though. Modern planes practically don't even need pilots. The truth is, once you're up, unless there are odd circumstances, a plane is a very safe place. I believe Mythbusters proved that a novice could be talked through a relatively safe landing.
Therefore, what was there really to be afraid of that he hadn't already been trained for?

Part d summary... woop de doo. Again, his training to not screw shit up kept him calm enough to not screw shit up.

Now, to the question, is he a hero?
I enthusiastically say, no, he is not. What he is, though, is a competent man who did his job and did it well. He was put into a situation where the trouble was sudden and unexpected. But he did his job. He saved the lives of the passengers and realistically, the lives of others who might have died had he not been around or easily accessible to the river instead of say a road or park.

There we have it. The media is wrong. You might be wrong. The man isn't a hero. The man did his job. In fact, if he had crashed the plane and everyone buy him died, he'd likely have lost his job for not doing his job correctly. There would have been an investigation into it where someone would have tried to find a way to blame him for it. That's how things in the US work. Hero worship is about making certain type of people heroes but in strange twists of fate, those same people can be looked at as monsters or cowards or just plain old regular people.

I do not attempt to detract from his professionalism. He doesn't seem to be taking the "hero" speak to heart too much, he's been caught off guard as much as anyone.

I'm not done.

We're still in a war. In fact, we're still in a war that involves no one that invaded our own land. We invaded other countries. Bush lied, thousands died, right? Well, why are we constantly expected to call our military personnel "heroes"? Really, explain this one to me. Because they die for our freedom? Well, sure thing, if our freedom is in danger from the forces being fought - which it isn't, our freedoms are only compromised right now because of a lying fear/war monger who just left the Whitehouse.
So, we are barraged by media and religious nuts and right wingers and "patriots" constantly calling our soldiers heroes. Don't get me wrong, I respect the military. I was an Air Force brat for 14 years - my dad was a 20 year career Air Force man, I was plenty proud of him. He never killed anyone, but if he joined the military to kill people, he wouldn't be a hero to me, just a mad man.
And then there's the current situation.
Take this example. I have a student who wants to join the Marines when he graduates. Forget that if he can't work harder to get passing grades he might not even get in - or he shouldn't get in, morons with guns are plenty dangerous. His plan? Front line. He wants to kill people. So, let me get this straight. A kid plans in advance to join up with the military with the full intention of being sent over to a war-zone (that is not, in my liberal opinion, a legit war) and being on the front lines to shoot people, and we're in the end supposed to treat him as a hero? Fighting for our freedom?
Obviously there are military men and women who are fighting because they are told to. They enlisted before the war or enlisted not expecting to be sent off to fight and now they are doing the executive branch's wishes - my understanding is they don't particularly have a choice once that order is set. There are plenty who are over there helping to rebuild what others destroyed and looking to create positive relationships with civilians who are just caught up in it all unwillingly. Are they heroes? Hard to say. But with respect to the killing itself, the only heroes are those who refuse to fight an illegal war just because the president told them to. And if your solider son ever comments on "killing those 'rag-heads'". Rest assured... he is far from being a hero.
This will make me insanely unpopular, I'm sure, but as I pointed out above, if it's your job, you're not a hero.

Another example that's always gotten at me. Firefighters. Two types that I know of. Career firefighters and volunteer firefighters. You already know my reasoning for saying that those who earn their living by fighting fires are not heroes. If they didn't save someone would others say "you're so not a hero". Maybe, but more than likely, there would be a job security issue.
However... a volunteer is a hero. My bro joked that the volunteers are just fire-bugs.
I'm not sure I can laugh about that, as I'm sure there are lots of fire-bugs fighting fires, some of whom set their own fires, but I doubt highly that is even remotely the standard. But a man or woman willing to plunge into a burning building to rescue others, putting themselves in obvious danger, by the shear nature of some set of altruism, they are heroes.

I could go on, but I won't, not on that line of thought.

Who are heroes?
I've hear people call teachers heroes because they (we) can save the world by training the right people for the future. Well, I care about what I do. I went into teaching to make a difference, but if I do anything remotely "heroic", assume it's because I thought it was the right thing to do in the line of my duty as a teacher. Perhaps some day I'll step outside my comfort zone as a teacher and do something well over and above. I'm not sure what that would be for me to consider it "hero"-worthy, but that will be then. For now, I do what I am supposed to do and really hope it's the right thing.

Snitches. OK, this is where the kiddies and punks will get all defensive and say trash like "snitches wear stitches" and other shit like that. With respect to reporting some illegal acts - like acts of violence or other crimes that effect the greater community, or just some poor soul, it is black and white. You're either a hero or a coward. If you know and do nothing about it, you are a coward. It's easy, and I hold no ill will toward you, unless you are only being a coward because you know that someone else has something on you, etc.. But those who step out of safety and speak up are protecting the greater good. In business and government they are called whistle-blowers. They are people who very well may be scumbags themselves, but are doing the right thing in situations where something better or right should come of their actions.
When you see someone committing an illegal act on another - not of their will, even though I think it is a moral imperative to do something about it, I still think it's heroic.

Anyone who speaks up against their own better good for that of others is being heroic.

What do you consider heroic? Do you think I'm wrong? Are you offended by my thoughts (imagine that)? Feel free to comment. I have to admit that I do not hold these thoughts as absolutes and I could easily find some holes in them just as quickly as others. There's always exceptions to the rules, but my main point is that too many people use the word "hero" far to easily and quickly. It's a big word - too big to be thrown around like penny candies.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Crazy Time for 2009

So, first, Happy New Year. I'm sure anyone who would be reading MY blog would agree, this year most certainly can't be worse than last year (hello Mr. Obama!!! :) ).

I've been itching to make this more public but I think less people view my blog than view my facebook page, so I can get away with posting this here before the wife says it's ok... muahahahaaaa.

We are expecting our first child on June 3rd. Truthfully, I suspect it'll be closer to the 10th or so. Our 10 year anniversary is June 12th, so he will be the most awesome anniversary gift from us. (hehehe some of my religious nutter readers might have held their breath for a brief second thinking I'd say "gift from *od"... suckers! Keep it real.

I cannot wait to be daddy. Stranger times ahead.

This is also the year I truly expect to buy our first home. The time is right. The housing market finally headed down because of all the fools who bought too much and got in trouble. Those of us who waited might ACTUALLY have a chance for a piece of the pie - and to show how it's supposed to be done... responsibly.

On the slightly scarier side... my job will more than likely change. Not gonna go into details here yet, nothing is perfectly clear yet for anyone involved even, I just know that things are going to change, and I'm just trying to be ready.