Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Teachers SUCK

Really? This is what teacher use email for? In the middle of winter break?

"Hello fellow teachers. A few weeks ago, a teacher borrowed a 3 hole punch.
May I please have it returned?"

2008 top ten list - prelude part 2

It helps to have some context when reading top 10 lists, I think. With most critics, you can assume that they saw most movies that year. I saw 27. While that's probably at least three times more than the average person, it still leaves lots of holes. Revealing these movies that didn't make the list allow me to answer, "What about _____?" So here we go.

These are the movies that I saw this year that didn't make the list. I already wrote a bit about these movies at the halfway point: (blogger readers, it's on the myspace blog)

Atonement
Cloverfield
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Iron Man
Indiana Jones
Kung Fu Panda
Incredible Hulk
You Don’t Mess With the Zohan
Wanted


So a quick word about each of these. I try to remain as spoiler free as I can, but something might slip here and there.

Hellboy II
Fittingly enough, I felt the same way about the first one. I enjoyed it while watching it, but didn’t even think about it until now, and I don’t remember a lot about it.

Hancock
Really tough movie to review. To be honest, it was worth watching just to analyze it. It's two different movies in one. I don't even mean that metaphorically. There is a point in the movie where it takes a complete 180. Well, maybe a 135. It's possible that each part could have made an interesting movie on its own. Does it work? Does each movie work on its own? It's a conversation I would like to have with someone who saw it. I feel like I can be swayed toward the "like it" or "hate it" side, but I would like to defend the opposite side as well.

Religulous
Some funny bits, some revealing bits. I guess when investingating religion, I want more of an attack, and I want it to go for the jugular. However, certainly worth watching.


Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Disappointing, and not very funny. I guess I like some Jay and Silent Bob with my Kevin Smith, since his movies without them weren't so great.

Quantum of Solace
I am NOT a Bond authority. I'm not a huge fan. Not that I dislike Bond movies, I just wasn't even too interested in them. So understand that's where I'm coming from. If you are a Bond fan, my review means nothing. Did he say, "Bond. James Bond." at all in this movie? Does Bond even say that in every movie, or have they skipped it in the past. I always pictured Bond as a hero who uses his charisma instead of his fists. So early in the movie when M was making a big deal about "No killing!" I thought this movie would end up being about that shift in this character from the action here to the guy who doesn't need to be one. It wasn't. Maybe the third movie? But my biggest complaint, and I'm not alone on this, was with the action scenes themselves. I feel like someone's great grandpa when I say that they were too hard to follow. I remember a scene in which I couldn't even tell which guy was Bond unless they showed his face, which they rarely did. The guys' physiques were too similar, and the same with their clothes. And enough with the fucking hand-held shaky camera crap. Are we really supposed to feel like we're "in the action?" If I wanted to be in the action, I wouldn't be at the movies - I would be out fighting someone. And I can hold my head on my neck steadier than that. Have closeups. Have quick edits. But buy a damn tripod, for christs sake. Other than that, good movie. Instead of watching again, though, I'll watching this 500 times. You should at least once.




Bolt
I really liked this. I like that animated movies are getting away from simple formulas. It was funny, and looked nice. Cool idea. I saw it in 3D. I still don't see a real reason for having 3D other than that they can.

Role Models
Pretty funny movie. I don't think it has much replay value, but worth throwing on the Netflix list and checking it out when it finally reaches the top of your queue.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Dammit, this movie pissed me off. First of all, WAY TOO LONG! At 2 hours 50 minutes, I can probably suggest about an hour and twenty minutes that could be cut. But I'm continually flabbergasted at every review I read where the person LOVED it and name it the best movie of the year. I seriously want to stand up and say that the Emperor has no clothes. It looks really pretty - it has that movie glow that I think have covered people's eyes. It has a love story that's doomed from the start, and I think people are getting emotional about that. But it isn't natural - totally manipulated. Most importantly, NOTHING HAPPENS in this movie that's worth putting on film. Yes, there's some cool special effects and makeup to turn Brad Pitt old. And the first part of the movie, which is him as a kid who looks like an old man, has something worth pursuing. But then it moves on, and he's just him. And then he gets young, but no one cares. Here are some better titles for this movie. "Brad Pitt Wears Old Man Makeup and Slightly Reacts to Boring Events For Almost Three Hours." or "A Guy is Born Old And Gets Young But Almost Nobody Notices and Those Who Do Don't Seem to Care." There are lots of comparisons to Forrest Gump. Gump worked, Button didn't. I really want to go into more detail, but I know many people haven't seen it yet. So what I really want to do is talk to someone who saw it and liked it for some good healthy debate. I want to deconstruct this movie. Did you see it an like it? I challenge you to a duel. Confabulation at ten paces.

Tomorrow: Number 10.

2008 top ten list - prelude part 1

Tomorrow I’ll start writing about my 10 favorite movies of 2008. I’ve picked the top 10 (assuming I don’t go running off to the movies today and see something great), but I keep flipping it around in my head. Usually I have it pretty much in place by the 1st, with only a minor switch here and there once I start writing about them. I have a lot of movies that I really liked, but the number one movie didn’t stick out. Any of my top four can still take it.

There are two reasons why that could be. The first is that none are amazingly great enough to stick out, and the second is that all are great enough to mesh together. It’s a combination of the two. On one hand, I don’t have any one film that lingers in my head because I loved it so much. (In fact, there’s one that I REALLY, REALLY didn’t get, and I seem to be the only person in the world that didn’t gush over it. And no, I’m not talking about Cloverfield. With Cloverfield, at least I’ve figured out why I didn’t like it, and I’ve written about that in detail, in addition to the fact that it’s Blair Witch meets Godzilla, and I liked neither. No, this is a movie I just saw a few days ago. In my head, I keep playing over and over how MUNDANE it was. At the very least, Roger Ebert didn’t think too much of it either. I’m worried that it’s going to get tons of Oscar life. But I’ll write about that movie later. Long parenthetical statement.) On the other hand, when I look at the movies I’ve picked for the top ten, I feel good about all of them. Many of them have great moments and performances that stick with me, just not any complete movies that I’m gushing over.

I took a look back at my previous four years of listing the top movies. For my number ones, I totally stand by three of them – Once (2007), Sin City (2005), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). I will watch any of those three any day, over and over. But my 2006 pick? Not as much. I really liked Thank You For Smoking, but it doesn’t fit with those other three. I don’t own it. I haven’t watched it since I first saw it. I have no desire to watch it. But I don’t see a movie on my 2006 list anywhere that I really LOVED. But my 2005 list is filled with tons of great movies beyond the number one. I think this year’s list is going to be more like 2005’s list overall, but I’m sure I will second guess my top choice when looking back, much like the 2006 list. (By the way, for those curious about previous lists – myspacers can read the 2007 list, 2004-2006 are on livejournal. )

And an update for those who read my halfway point breakdown in the middle of summer, only the number one movie made it to the year end list.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Larry King's secret identity

I know some of you like movies. Hey - I like movies, too. And this her, kids, is prime movie watching season. I've already enjoyed several movies in December, and I hope to catch three or four more before the year runs out. For those of you who ready my halfway list back in the summer, I'm pretty confident that this one will be almost totally fresh. Only one or two movies from that list will survive - that's how much I've liked what I've seen. If anyone wants to join me for any films, let me know. I'm even planning another jaunt into San Francisco to see a movie that seems to only be showing at the Metreon so far. Good times.

If you do head to the movies soon, I encourage you to watch out for something very special before the movies. I don't know which theaters show this, but CineArts does for sure. There's a quick commercial for "Beyond the Secret." At the very end, they show a picture of its host, Larry King. In that picture, Larry King is... Mr. Burns. When you see it, be sure to rub your hands together and say "Excellent."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bailout

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fun!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

“Has anyone in this family ever even seen a chicken?”

Every couple months, someone from the cast of Arrested Development lets it slip that the movie is inevitable! Yeah, still waiting... Still, every couple months I also catch a clip of it here and there and I'm reminded why there must be a movie. I found an article that has some mashed up clips from the show, and I had forgotten all about this chicken stuff. Mostly I just want it here on my blog so I can find it quickly in the future.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The end

¡ǝʎq ˙puǝ sʇı ʇɐ sı
ɥʇuoɯ ʎɐp-ɐ-nʞıɐɥ ǝsnɐɔǝq
uʍop ǝpısdn pǝddıןɟ s,ʇı

Lost voice

Tried to save my voice,
Then I played me some Rock Band.
Now it's gone again.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Popcorn

Microwave popcorn
Now it's all stuck in my teeth.
Pass the dental floss.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

Though out of context,
Lance summed up Thanksgiving best.
"Now it's big turkey."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gears of War

Gears of War Act IV
It kicked my ass and was tough
Playing casual.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sleep

Waking when there's light
Mornings are much easier.
Irrelevant line.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blanky

Superman blanket
Is so warm and so comfy.
From a long gone friend.

Splitting up

The passing of Prop 8 is being felt across the country.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081124/pl_politico/26523

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Clearing out

Filling storage space
is easy for me because
I'm good at Tetris.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Winter cleaning

Cleaning up my home,
And for the last time, I hope.
Slowly moving out?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mortgage Blues

I'm jumping through hoops
For another place to live.
Stop changing the rules.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

School uniforms - long post

A few years ago, we started the process of adding school uniforms at El Dorado. It comes down to a parent vote, and they voted against uniforms. The conversation started again this week. Personally, I'm against it. Yes, I see some of the benefits. But overall, it just doesn't vibe with me. At the faculty meeting yesterday, the staff seems to be very much in favor of uniforms. Again, it's the parents who vote, not the staff or students. But I want to show the staff that there really are two sides to the debate, so I composed the following. I'm not done with it - I'm still planning to add more. But what are your thoughts? In general, I'm looking to see what else to add. But I also welcome the opposition.



1. The Constitution. Yes, it applies to middle school kids. These kids have the right to express themselves. For some of these kids, this is their method of expression. Should they be exploring other methods to express themselves? YES. But should we limit this form? NO.

2. Our current dress code already forbids items of clothing that are deemed offensive. If you are offended by any items of clothing, you should be taking action as described by the dress code procedures. If you feel these procedures aren’t working, perhaps THAT is the discussion we need to have.

3. Parents can opt out of the uniform. The same parents who will opt out of their child wearing a uniform are the same ones who already opt their child out of doing homework, wearing clothes that fit the dress code, and behaving in class. The law states that we cannot discriminate in any way towards those who wear uniforms and those who opt out. We cannot reward those who wear uniforms. We cannot punish those who do not.

4. If I were a student, I would see this as a punishment. Do we need to punish all of our kids? Let’s be honest. MOST of our kids are great kids. Why will we require all of those kids to wear a uniform as well as the rest?

5. Uniforms aren’t a magic pill. They aren’t going to solve all of your problems. If your classroom isn’t managed well, that’s probably the adult standing in front of the room, not the clothes on the kids’ backs. How about we enforce the rules we have now? How about we develop CONSEQUENCES for the kids who are behaving poorly?

6. How does this address academics? In the 10+ years I have been at El Dorado, we have never seriously discussed academics. Yes, we mention test scores and that we need to improve them. Yes, we have put some programs in place to lift the bottom, such as interventions and Language! But do uniforms address academics? I don’t believe that uniforms at school will increase the brain matter of students. I don’t believe it will increase homework time at home. I don’t believe it will increase study habits.

7. A discussion of uniforms is a distraction. A discussion of uniforms isn’t just a quick talk then final decision by leadership or administration. It’s a commitment to developing a whole new plan and direction for school behavior. It’s a long conversation with parents. Couldn’t we better use that time talking about how to be a California Distinguished School? Developing a community? Talking about how parents can be more involved in their children’s education?

8. It’s a lazy solution. Enforcement of current dress code is difficult. Developing and following through with consequences is difficult. However, they develop our students in positive ways. Uniforms hide problems, both with the students and with the school.

9. Our community doesn’t have uniforms. It isn’t the norm in this area – we aren’t used to it. If I were to walk on to a public school campus where the kids have uniforms, I would wonder what was wrong with the school, and possibly wouldn’t want to be a part of that community. I would know that freedom of expression is stifled and frowned upon on at least one level.

10. Uniforms lower expectations. We are telling kids that they can’t be trusted to make decisions. They can’t express themselves properly. It’s telling kids that they are so dumb that we, almost literally, have to dress them in the morning! Why aren’t we RAISING our expectations?

11. What kinds of schools wear uniforms? Private schools and school that are in trouble. Clearly, we aren’t a private school. Do we really have such a low opinion of our school? The move to uniforms is a HUGE step, and one that should be taken when the adults are losing their school. Have we lost? And why do we keep copying the lower level of schools? This is just another example of El Dorado turning to lower performing schools. How about we start emulating the schools that are doing BETTER than us? Clearly they aren’t doing better because of uniforms.
And there’s more to this discussion. Are the school that are higher doing better because of parent income? I can’t believe that. And since we continue to teach and have high expectations for all kids, you don’t believe it either. Is it parent involvement? Maybe so. But school uniforms won’t make parents more involved. So how about we try to find ways to get them so? Is it higher expectations for their students at those schools? Maybe so. But school uniforms, as I mentioned earlier, lowers expectations. How about some rewards for positive academic performance? How about consequences for poor behavior and especially poor academic performance?

12. People are different. Why is that such a bad thing? I don’t want to sound like a hippie or anything here, but how about we embrace what’s different about each other?

13. Our PE department has uniforms. Our students are already in uniforms for one period per day. So how’s that working? I know we have a good PE program, but it’s the teachers and curriculum, not the PE uniforms.

14. It was mentioned at the faculty meeting that the community would know which kids are El Dorado kids. Wait – do we necessarily want that? Is that the billboard we want out in public? Yes, they will also see the good kids. But which will they remember? The kids in the El Dorado uniforms loitering, running across the street, and whatever else.

15. I do want to see the research surrounding uniforms. I don’t want to hear people repeating what they have heard. In addition, I want credible sources. Since 73% of all statistics are made up, I want to know where the research comes from.

It's still a work in progress. If you see anything, including typos that you would change, feel free to comment. Your challenges can also help me to revise my own argument, so I welcome them.

W

Two months from today
Our long national nightmare
Will come to an end.

Any comments?

This could have been another blog post from me, so I might as well copy/paste this here. It was in this post about Prop8, in which a local blogger posted the names of those who donated Yes on 8. And other comments were posted talking about what a horrible person the blogger was for having a bias. Oh no! So here's my response to their comments:

"Looks like this is a blog, not a news source. Even so, news sources can have biases as well. Should they? It depends. News or editorial? The First Amendment's intention was to protect news sources when they had opinions.

Yes, it's a free country. Just like those people were free to donate money. And just like Soccer Mom is free to post these names. And the original source is free to print them, as well. And you are free to comment on this blog. And all people are free to marry the person they... oh wait a minute.

These people gave away some money so that a proposition that they supported would pass. Under the law, those donations are public, and they knew that going in. Clearly, they gained a lot from prop 8 being passed. Now if someone can actually tell me what they actually did gain, that's the real trick.

So yeah. Those of you who want the No donations posted, get on your blog and post them. The thing is, those people have nothing to hide. They donated money to support rights. The yes people donated money to take rights away. Congratulations to them on their victory. They took rights away from people. Great job."

Test answers!

I should start grading the Constitution Tests really soon. For those of you hoping for more dumb answers, pay attention. I am hoping to post nothing. I hope that every year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Multitasking.

Apparently I can now order Domino's Pizza through my TiVo. Good times.

Fail.

Constitution Test.
Why don't you know anything?
Did you study? No.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Begich wins

A series of tubes
is clearly the internet.
Bye bye, Uncle Ted.

Monday, November 17, 2008

lazy stress

There's not enough time
in each day to do it all
because I waste time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prop 8 Protest in Walnut Creek

Some pics from the Prop 8 Protest in Walnut Creek on Saturday.


Bond review in Haiku

Hyper editing.
Can we get an action shot
for two full seconds?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lame

You're grammar is bad
With to many bad mistakes.
Their is a problem.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Always Sunny

The bright yellow shirt
That I have never put on.
I got it for free.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

comic

reflections

Two mirrors broken
Both in the exact same way.
Fourteen years bad luck?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let's start the week with Wednesday

Such a short work week,
but I'm a greedy bastard.
Not enough days off.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Education

Learning is easy.
What fact did I learn today?
Poo is worth ten points.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Post election breakdown

Been almost a week
since I stood in line to vote
for like three minutes.

One thing I like about where I live is that I never have to wait in line to vote. I see these lines that people need to stand in for hours, yet I know that my polling place is usually pretty empty. This year was the longest I had to wait. But I waited after I received my ballot for a little place to actually mark the ballot. That was it. I guess if I lived anywhere else I would vote absentee. But how do you get the little sticker?

I think the decision that will change me the most is the school board outcome. As of December, the board majority will begin to hold the Superintendant accountable for his actions. I will be surprised if he doesn't resign by the end of the school year. However, word of that win brough worse news from the state budget, so I don't expect to receive any time of change in salary or health care. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

For president, I would just like to say to my students a few years ago - "I told you." We were looking at newspaper for some reason, and there was a picture of Obama doing something. I told them that he was going to be the next president. I remember it because I told them that he was black, but in the black and white photo he actually looked quite pale. So yeah, I'm a prophet. And no, I didn't say that about every person I saw in the newspaper.

I'm going to try to hold onto this Hope thing as long as I can. Can Obama actually change things? I don't have a great deal of confidence in an all democratic majority, and I choose to remain skeptical. But I'm willing to see what's he's got. If nothing else, he will likely get to choose at least one Supreme Court Justice who will legislate from the bench be more liberal ("Legislate from the bench" - what a fucking retarded phrase).

So what about Prop 8? So here's how the story will go. The lawsuits have already started up again. No surprise. They will continue on up to the Supreme Court in a few years. The Supreme Court will have to decide whether a ban on gay marriage in Consitutional or not. Looking at the version of the Constitution I know, it will prove not to be Constitutional. That's why George W. wanted an Amendment to ban gay marriage, because he knew that any law would be so.

How do I KNOW it will happen this way? Because I know my freakin' history. The tyranny of the majority has spoken, and now someone else has to get it right.

But with all that, I think this picture sums it up better than anything else.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Searching

Maybe I'll be there
if I can make it on time.
Stop changing the rules.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

interesting...

blasted kids!

The people next door,
They have been getting louder.
Don't knock on my door.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Getting old

Friday night party?
I can't stay awake that long.
Bed within an hour.

Here is the secret message! Let me know that you found it! Secret! Secret!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

ouch

I can barely talk,
All week with my throat on fire.
Need four day weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Equality Haiku

A black president.
In the race to get more rights,
Chickens before gays.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Waiting... waiting...

Such a relief that they announced the presidency right at 8:00. Now the rest of the votes... Contra Costa County election results are taking waaaaay too long to update. At 8:42, they announced the absentee votes. That was almost an hour ago. I'm going to nominate an invention for the best invention of the past four years: Browser tabs. Sure, it's not the winner, but it certainly should be nominated. I've been back and forth between a few different tabs waiting for more results to come in for a while now. Driving me a bit insane. Come on, county. I'm getting tired of seeing 8:42:30. Let's update this stuff so that I can go to bed.

Who did I vote for?
It wasn't a third party.
I vote for winners.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Few ideas (haiku included)

1. I went to hold a sign on the corner of Treat and Oak Grove this evening. Actually, I leaned it against myself, as I'm too lazy to hold it up for any length of time. We had lots of honkers driving by. Later in the evening, the Yes on 8 people moved in closer. For awhile, it was actually a cool sight seeing Yes and No signs all mixed together on one corner. It was a great image for the First Amendment. In other countries, and perhaps in other states, that would have broken out into a fight or worse. I was hoping that they might join hands and start singing "Yes and No together..." But they didn't.

One guy did come out of his nearby apartment to see what was going on, so I talked to him about a few issues, not just Prop 8. He seemed to barely be aware that there was an election tomorrow. It wasn't actually that bad, but he said that he hadn't taken the time to read about any Props at all. I did send him to talk to the Yes on 8 people, though, too. At the time I did it out of fairness. But after the part I will talk about next, I'm sure that anyone with a brain will be less likely to vote Yes after talking to a supporter.

So the most surreal part of the night was when we were heading back to the car. These Yessers starting telling us that we were on the wrong side. Then one guy started rapping. I can't explain it beyond that, because there's no way I can do that moment justice. Perhaps Lance can explain it further. Let me just say that the moment showed that there really is no argument for Prop 8. None. They were holding the Prop 8 = Free Speech signs, but couldn't explain it.

2. So why was I, a straight guy, out holding a sign for No on 8? In my mind it's because I'm about rights. I have lots of themes in my writing. When it comes to fiction, I'm usually about the character. When it comes to politics, I'm usually about the Constitution and individual rights. That's one of the things that made blog-a-day month so difficult. I don't want to keep repeating the same themes.

But you know? There's a better, more personal, greedy reason why. You might have read this before: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Martin_Niem%C3%B6ller If you don't want to click it, it's the short quote that talks about "When they came for..., I remained silent." Click and read if you don't know it.

So what am I worried about? Well, nothing really. But this evening, this image started to circulate the internet.


Yeah. That mentality is actually somewhere out there. (Where specifically? A quick internet search shows Soldatna to be in Alaska. That's some crazy, misinformed, ignorant shit. And people believe that.

3.
Standing in the rain,
Do I think that it mattered?
Relativity.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Car in the shop blues

No car for four days.
Have to walk or ride the bus,
Maybe beg for rides.

I give an AWARD!

You have to watch this first:




I support this "lady"'s right to do exactly what she did. I support my right to call her the Douchiest Bitch of 2008.

Here's your award, Shirley!


Edit: New Youtube link and changed spelling of her name

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Robocalls!

Saw the following on Yahoo's front page today. It talks about trying to trick people into not voting. But personally, I don't see the problem. See for yourself:




What's the problem? David Bowie isn't even a U.S. citizen and shouldn't be allowed to vote.


Secret message!!

House searching

Checked out some houses,
Saw lots of shitty places.
Have to keep looking.

I did see one or two decent places today, though. There's just one that I would be interested in making an offer on. Might be another one or two that could be worth looking at again, but they'll need some work. Everything else was a disaster.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I declare victory!

With that last post, I have completed blog-a-day month for the second year in a row. And as Lance proved last year, the person who wins is the person who declares victory first. I declare myself to be the winner in 2008. Join us tomorrow when Haiku-a-day month begins, and have a happy Halloween.

Fixing the hole where the brain gets in

Here are some of my suggestions for revamping education.

1. Eliminate all grades. Even down to first grade - gone. There would be some age appropriate general information classes that would cover some topics other than English and math. But English and math are entirely individualized education. It's not even about having classes put together. You have one skill at a time. You work on it until you master it. Much of the work would be individualized or in very small groups. Small like three or four at the most. That way you can have kids with several different skill sets in one room with one teacher. A lot of the work would be done with interactive materials, especially computers. Many of the basic foundations of learning don't need to be done creatively, to be honest. The kids don't need dynamic lesson plans at that age. They need regular individual attention. Under this idea, brighter kids could finish everything much faster than others. They might master everything in fewer years. So they move on to the next level sooner.

2. At the end of mastery of certain skill sets, which basically would mimic the general expectations we now have of elementary and middle school, you take your tests and decide what you want to do with yourself. Similar idea to other nations. You then go to a career path based high school,whether its college prep, trade school, sports or arts academy, whatever. No more of this "you can all go to college" crap. Let's stop lying to our kids. They aren't all going, and many that do won't survive.

3. Remove most of the barriers for teachers. The credential program is a waste of time and money. Using the changes I described above, classroom management is no longer necessary. If someone isn't on task, you remove them from the room so that they don't slow anyone down. Everyone is on his or her own, so if they miss stuff, it's their problem. Yes, even five and six year olds. Start teaching responsibility then. For training, use a partner or mentor teacher program for the first six months or year or so. Remember there's no such thing as quarters and semesters, so that's irrelevant.

4. If we want the kids to perform, show the teachers that we want them to perform as well. PAY them like they matter.

5. No grades. That's because there are no classes. You either have mastered the skill or you haven't. If you haven't, keep going.

6. Make standards and benchmarks rigid for learning to read and basic mathematics. Allow more flexibility later.

7. Children who continue to be a discipline problem don't get an education. I mentioned above that if they are off task, get rid of them and they will just go slower. if a child hits thirteen and still can't get his or her shit together due to behavior issues, you're done. You are done with public education for minors forever. Parents then have the option of continuing to educate the child at their own expense, getting them a job, or sending them to the military. Off to fight at age 13? Yes.


8. No one is allowed to make any rules regarding education (including determining the standards, testing, pay, time, schedules) unless they have been the teacher of record in a classroom for a minimum of seven years. That doesn't mean administration. That doesn't mean worked in the office. That doesn't mean assistants. Teachers. Seven, though preferably ten years. Everyone else, you don't know what you're talking about yet.

9. Parents are responsible for their children's education. They should be involved in some way in the mastery of every skill.

10. Parents do not know what is best for their child. Parents are often wrong when it comes to their child. The teacher knows what is best for the child when it comes to their education. Shut the fuck up and do what the teacher tells you to do.

I think that's a good start. There need to be more changes too, such as the return of corporal punishment. What would you like to add?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hitting the Road?

I'm getting the desire to drive again. I really had the bug when school ended last year, and as many of you know, I started driving. And I ended up in Minneapolis. I did a pretty sweet job of driving the driving urge right out of me. The problem was that I fulfilled my desire right around the time I arrived in St. Louis. That's a long ways away to be stuck in a Motel 6.

But on that particular trip, it wasn't just the driving urge. I also had some head clearing to do. I had the whole Concord High yearbook crap to purge as well as the EDMS school year. A couple other things as well. Those things finished getting out of my head on the way back from St. Louis. So much of life is seeing the same view over and over again, from getting out of bed, the viewpoint at work, the seat on my couch. It takes a change of viewpoint to clean out your head sometimes.

So I'm kinda there again. I have that desire to just go somewhere. I want to plug in my mp3 player and catch up on podcasts while I watch a different part of the world go by. I don't need a major mental purge like I had a few months ago. We have some vacation time coming up. There's a long weekend next weekend, then Thanksgiving soon after. And Winter Break after that. Assuming I haven't bought a house and I can spend a little money, I need to go somewhere for a night or two. I'm just not sure where I can head for just a couple days that will be different enough, yet still affordable. Suggestions are welcomed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My love/hate relationship with baseball

Another World Series has come and gone. I think I watched about a dozen pitches, if that many. Why? i guess I didn't really care about either team. Baseball is probably the only sport where I'm a homer. I'm probably an A's fan and a Padres fan, as I was in San Diego during their last World Series trip and had the chance to go to many games. My buddy Terry and I even drove out to Phoenix to check out a Spring Training game against the A's. I guess that would be my first of several baseball road trips.

But the thing is that I'm not really a big baseball fan. Let me amend that. I'm not a fan of following baseball. I don't check stats and standings through the season. 162 games is just ridiculous. I don't like watching baseball on TV. I actually prefer listening to it on the radio, but I never do. But I love going to games. I think it's because I'm more a fan of the history and idea of baseball.

I've set a goal to see every MLB team play a home game. I worded it hat way very carefully to avoid saying visit every MLB park. The Yankees are an example, in that I saw them at Yankee Stadium, but that won't be their home next season. So they I couldn't count them. This way I can. And it isn't the Yankees that I make that rule for. It's more about team like the Twins. I saw them in the Metrodome, but they're moving out of there in a couple years. I also spent a day in Minneapolis. I pretty much don't need to go back. So unless the new ball park is crazy amazing unique, do I really want to go there? No, I'm good.

You might think it's strange that I'm not such a big fan of baseball but I have this goal. And I kinda agree. So where does it come from? I think it started on my first major road trip. I reached Cleveland on the way out to the east coast. My plan was to check out the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame that night, since it was its free night and it was open late. It turned out that everyone wanted to go that night since it was the free night and open late. So while it was open late, it had already closed to additional people. So I was stuck in Cleveland. What is there to do in Cleveland? Go to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. That's about it. But there's also the Cleveland Indians. So I decided to go to a game. That was back in 1999 when they sold out every game. I had to stand around waiting for scalpers who were riding around on their bicycles to finally decide to sell a single ticket for under $50. I made it in before the game started with a $20.00 ticket, top row. VERY top row. (And I went to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame the next morning, which was incredible, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton that afternoon. Excellent day.)

Since then, I've found going to ball parks to be an excellent activity in many of these cities. Ever been to Detroit? There's about as much to do there as there is in Minneapolis and Cleveland. But it's a major city, so I went there to see what I was missing. Well, White Castle and the Detroit Lions. And that's a great park. It's lots of fun to plan the road trips using the MLB schedule as a starting point. Here's a list of the teams I've seen in alpha order:

1. Atlanta Braves
2. Baltimore Orioles
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Cincinnati Red
5. Cleveland Indians
6. Detroit Tigers
7. Houston Astros
8. Kansas City Royals
9. LA Angels of Anaheim
10. LA Dodgers
11. Milwaukee Brewers
12. Minnesota Twins
13. New York Yankees
14. Oakland A’s
15. Philadelphia Phillies
16. Pittsburgh Pirates
17. San Diego Padres
18. San Francisco Giants
19. St. Louis Cardinals

And the ones I haven't been to see:

1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Colorado Rockies
5. Florida Marlins
6. New York Mets
7. Seattle Mariners
8. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
9. Texas Rangers
10. Toronto Blue Jays
11. Washington Nationals

And since I know that I'll reach the goal before I die, I'm going to live a long, long life. Who wants to go to Tampa? Though I'm looking forward to Boston. I tried, but they were sold out and the scalper tickets were ridiculous. I have a plan to see a Red Sox game, but it will be a few years.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New stuff?

I like stuff. That's just the way I am. And when it comes to stuff, I also like new stuff. New stuff is shinier and newer than just regular old stuff. I also like movies and TV. So allow me to talk about new TV shows and new movies. With the new TV season, I only tried to watch one new show, Fringe. I wasn't into it. The first episode went on too long for me. So I'm not watching any new shows. While that should be disappointing, I think it's actually a good thing. There are some other shows that I know are good that I want to catch up on using the magic of Netflix. I really need to keep watching Battlestar Galactica. So no new TV shows? That's aight. But new movies - there aren't any coming up that I'm excited for. It seems like we have a bunch of years in a row with some fun movies to look forward to. The new Star Wars movies were coming out. Even if they didn't totally live up to the expectations, i still enjoyed them and enjoyed the anticipation. For three years the Lord of the Rings movies were coming out, and to me they far exceeded my expectations. Pixar always had something cool in the works,and the teast of good superhero movies were becoming real. Even Kill Bill II was worth the wait, and I looked forward to seeing it. But right now? There's nothing long term. There are movies that I'll want to see the few days before they come out. For example, we have three Harry Potter movies left to watch. Marvel will have more franchises. I'm sure Batman will be back again, and there are always tons of Superman rumors. But as I check out the list of movies coming out over the next few months and into next year, there's nothing that I'm ready to buy my ticket for. i guess I'll have to get out and see the real world. Who wants that shit?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Voting fever -catch it!

I've started to take some time this evening to do my civic duty and research the California ballot measures. For those of you who want to do the same but don't want to spend time searching through dozens of websites and literature, I found an excellent starting point called ballotpedia. Yes, it's a wiki, so all the warnings that go with wikipedia go along with it. However it seems to nicely summarize both sides of each measure as well as give plenty of links in case you need more. From what I can tell so far, for most voters, this is the best resource ever. And I mean every syllable of that hyperbole. The reason why we are a republic and not a true democracy is that our founding fathers rightfully realizes that individuals don't have the time, capabilities, or desire to research every issue. That's why the Federal government does not have any system of public referendum. This internet thing gives us something like ballotpedia, which is a much better resource than the mailed voter's guide. I still have plenty of decisions to make this weekend. But for now, here's the Handy Harris voters guide:

Prop 4 - No.
Prop 8 - No.
For the other props, I'm leaning toward NO on just about all of them. I'll have to read something amazing about them to vote YES.

McCain/Palin - No. If I believed that my endorsements influenced anybody, I would encourage a Yes for Obama/Biden. But vote for anyone that isn't McCain/Dipshit

April Treece - No.
Jeff Adams - No.
Gary Eberhart - Yes.
Sherry Whitmarsh - Yes.

And for those last two, you can check their website to see that my "endorsement" is actually a real endorsement. Exciting stuff.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

UnComfortAble

When I need a good laugh, there are a few websites I can go to that I know will be hilarious. One of these is Ray Comfort's blog. For those of you who don't know who he is, he is actually one of the most horrible people on the planet. He is a Christian writer who likes to prove the existence of God and fight evolution with things like bananas. And he is dumber than a banana. A recent blog post had the following paragraph. It's in response to a movement in Britain where signs state that there probably isn't a God. In it, he proves that not only is he an idiot but his wife is even dumber.

This can do nothing but remind people about God, and promote the gospel as it gives Christians another reason to share their faith. I do a similar thing when I want my wife to drive carefully. I know that if I say, "Drive carefully," it will be like water off a duck’s back. So I instead say, "Drive dangerously." That makes her think more about driving carefully. It’s human nature to do that.

Moral of the story? It's human nature to be an idiot. And I don't know if I can really argue with Mr. Comfort. For further evidence of idiots, watch Kirk Cameron in the video linked above. And just in case you, even for a split second, get caught up in Comfort's banana argument, remember that the banana was domesticated.

Could it be... Satan?

According to THIS story, man first made fire almost 800,000 years ago. Clearly, this story is the work of Satan. Since the world is barely 6000 years old, there's no way that this story could be true. In class last week, we talked about how Benjamin Franklin was 81-years-old at the time of the Constitution convention. I told them how his age was relatively older than it would be now, since life expectancy has gone up. But a student said that she thought people used to live to be 200 years old. Clearly when I corrected her, I was doing the work of Satan. While I was prepping for tomorrow, I turned on The 40-Year-Old Virgin in the background. Just a few minutes ago, they played a commercial for some Christian Music. Whose idea was the selection of this particular time slot for that commercial? Clearly, once again, Satan. The end times must be near. Just like they have been for the past 2000 years.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Blog Post

It's official. I've got nothing. I've had the laptop on my laptop for a couple hours how with the blogger page open. I've caught up on a little TiVo while waiting for inspiration. I've surfed the web a bit. Sure, I've found tons of things that I could blog about. Big epic blogs. I could even continue going through the list of issues that I started last week. I can blog about some local politics. I have a blog about music that I want to write. But I don't want to sit here and type for so long. I know that whatever I pick to blog about, I'll either type forever or not do it the justice it deserves. So this blog is about nothing. Take nothing from it. Do not comment. On myspace, give it no kudos. In fact, if you read it, go build yourself a time machine and go back to moments before you started reading this blog and tell yourself not to bother. Please disperse. Nothing to see here. And yet, I still rule.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rivalry!

So there's this blog that I want to write. It has to do with going to Concord High's homecoming. I would like to write about how split my mind and heart was, as Concord High played against Clayton Valley. You see, I went to Clayton Valley. Class of '92. I want to write about how my loyalty to my alma mater made me want to root for the Ugly Eagles. The memories that it brought back of football games when I attended. I spent those games in my marching band uniform waiting for halftime to perform the halftime show. And then in the second half the rally band members came back out to make more noise. And I want to write about how I have this sense of loyalty to Concord now, too. I worked there for four years. The vast majority of my former students went to and graduated from Concord. So which side would I root for? Clayton Valley or Concord? That's the blog I want to write. But as it turns out, I don't care. I probably watched four plays total. Mostly I had fun talking to former students, from freshmen through seniors, and a few in college as well. But the rivalry? Two shits.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Adventures of Kindergartner Stool

The first quarter of the school year ends tomorrow. So far it has been moving pretty quickly. Of 197 students, about 120 have A's and 20 have F's. That's a significant improvement over last year, I must say. Those with F's have tried really, really hard to get those F's. I explained in class today that most of my students seem to be at least smarter than the stool in my classroom. Also, I expressed my belief that a kindergarten student would get higher grades on the notebooks than some of my students. That's because I'm basically giving a lot of points for taking the work we do in class and pasting it into the notebook. A kindergarten student can paste things. Many 8th graders cannot. So for the second quarter, I'm going to start putting a new student into my gradebook. It's name is Kindergartner Stool. I will assign quiz grades a score that I believe someone can receive by randomly filling out the quiz. For the notebooks, I'll give it the grade that someone would receive for doing the work in class and pasting it into the notebook. For participation, I will take points away every time the stool interrupts me in class. I think that Kindergartner Stool will score higher than at least 10 students.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm a republican! And I'm against prop 8!

All right, so first I thought this ad was interesting. Is it possible that the Yes and No camps for prop 8 aren't partisan? Interesting:



So then I wanted to take a quick look at the website for Republicans Against 8. Seeing the faces, I didn't recognize most of them. A quick hover reveals the names.

On the far right, second from the bottom, is this guy:



A hover shows his name to be - Scott Harris! You can click on his picture to read what he has to say - and it's exactly what I believe. Which is,something that shouldnt' be a surprise to my readers, that this is a RIGHTS issue. You don't take away rights!

I wonder if these people who have the Yes on 8 signs in their yards and on their cars (and possibly on their magic underwear, ifyaknowwhatimean) actually think that this is so different from the issues faced in the 60s. Their supposedly non-religious arguments mirror those against interracial marriage.
(And for those who aren't regular readers, no, I'm NOT a Republican)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Potty talk

Taking a break from the issues today to talk about... bathrooms. More specifically, my bathroom. Since I'm going to be renting out my condo, my bathroom had some little problems that needed to be fixed. The linoleum floor needed to be replaced and the sink faucets needed to be replaced. I decided that if those things were going to be replaced, then I might as well put in a new vanity. And then a new toilet would be good. And of course, fresh paint to go with all of them. I stopped at the bathtub. I kept that. And instead of just putting down a nice simple floor, I decided that I would learn to tile. And most importantly, I wanted to do the whole thing by myself. I watched some HGTV, read some books, browsed the internet, and talk to some people with experience. But I did it all myself. And now it's almost done. I just need a couple dabs of caulk and to polace to new toilet. I was going to do that tonight, but I'm dead tired. So tomorrow night, it's all done. Exhausting process, but I feel like i've accomplished something. It's a good feeling. Now it's time to find a house so that I can get out of here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Issues - Part III

Not a lot of time, so just two today.

9. Should we end (or reduce the use of) the death penalty?


From what I've read, the death penalty isn't a deterrent. And it just doesn't seem like our government should be killing people. And then there's the racial inequality involved. And if they are wrong, you can't go back. So I guess if it were totally and completely up to me, with no other ramifications, I guess I would end it. Maybe. I wouldn't vote for a candidate based on this opinion. I'm not going to miss anyone who receives the death penalty.

10. Should there be a higher minimum wage?


No. Minimum wage is a short term solution to a long term problem. Raising minimum wage raises the price of everything else, making people working for minimum wage again receiving a lower wage than necessary. Seems like a bad cycle. And working in education, I have to emphasize the point that the people who need minimum wage beyond their teen years are the ones who don't have an education. Don't plan to live off of a minimum wage job and you shouldn't need to.

To be continued...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Issues- Part II

Continuing from yesterday...

5. Does the US need a system of universal health care?

The question is whether health care is a right or not. If it is, then yes. If not, then no. I think it's partially yes. I definitely favor universal health care for kids. Specifically, conception through three months after graduating high school. I see it as something totally different, though. It should be part of the educational system. It's focus should be on prevention and health education. Seems to me that if you can make it through the important developmental years with health care, it's going to solve a lot of problems down the road. Two rules - you drop out of school, it's done. Second rule - you get pregnant, your health care ends so that the child's begins. While the child is in your womb, you will be covered only in ways that help the child.


6. Should marijuana be legalized?

For those over 18, yes. I have not heard a good reason why it shouldn't be. Legalize it, tax it. Seems to me that a lot of problems are solved right there. And for those people who face problems because of abusing it? They're on their own.

7. Should we repeal [or substantially change] the Patriot Act?

r heaYou do NOT touch my rights. Terrorism is not the problem that the administration would like you to think it is. Should we be taking steps to stop terrorism? Yes. Should we touch any rights in order to do so? No. Does that mean that maybe a terrorist attack happens and people die? Yes. It does. People might die. People are going to die anyway. Rights can live forever. Screw you if you think your life is worth more than anyone's rights, you selfish prick.

8. Does the US have a right to stop countries we do not trust from getting weapons?

Just like the Iran question, we lost that right when we prematurely, incorrectly, and irresponsibly invaded Iraq. This is what the UN was made for. The current rules of the UN, with a single veto Security Council, doesn't work. Fix it. Because clearly, the US government is currently too incompetant to make this kind of decision (could be a problem that disappears sometime around Januray 20th of next year, though).

To be continued...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Issues - PART I

In my class, we're looking at 24 political issues. I pulled these from a website called politicalquiz.net. It's an another online quiz to see whether you more closely align yourself with Democrats or Republicans. If you would like to take the quiz yourself before you continue reading, go ahead. I'll still be here when you return. I figure it's a good thing for the students to find out, but it also gives us a chance to go through these issues. And now, more importantly for you the reader, it gives me a good list of topics to blog about for a few days. If you need blog topics yourself, feel free to copy. So I'm going to go through these and give my particular slanted point of view on all of these. It should show you exactly why I will never be elected president.

1. Are our gun control laws too strict?

Just like Christians going straight to their fairy tale book, I go straight to the Constitution. Second Amendment. As a history teacher, it's easy to point out the whole militia part of it and dismiss gun rights all together for those who aren't part of the militia. It's lots more fun to say that we're going to ship all the gun owners to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Constitution is a living document, so this Amendment has changed with time. This is something that I've changed my mind on over the years. While I still don't see a point in me owning a gun, I have no reason to take away anyone else's right to have one. I do support waiting periods and background checks. I don't think that average people especially need a gun more powerful than a handgun or rifle, but I don't know if they government is any more qualified than I am to make that judgement call. But I wouldn't want to add more restrictions to gun laws. I would want to see a stronger enforcement of existing laws and harsher sentences for those that abuse the laws. I won't join the NRA, but I won't say anything harsh about the organization in general. So are they too strict? No.

2. Should gay marriage be legalized?

Prop 8 here. No surprises, since I've talked about this one. It's a freedom issue. You DON'T take rights away from people. However, the entire idea of marriage is lame anyway. Governments shouldn't recognize marriage, gay or not. I'm not even a fan of civil unions as far as the government is concerned. Legally, marriage should mean nothing. If you choose to live together, you sign a legal document beforehand, just like a prenup but without the nup. Tax households instead of people. This eliminates divorce. If you want to be married, great. But why do you want the government to have anything to do with it?

3. Should we consider invading Iran?

We lost any such right, whether they need to be invaded or not, with our blunder in Iraq. Also, any threat from Iran is due to the elimination of Iran's enemy, Iraq. Good job, W. You fuck knob.

4. Should intelligent design be taught in public schools alongside evolution?

No. Why? Because people not all people are retarded. Science belongs in science class, fairy tales belong in church. Even beyond that, which intelligent design theory are you going to teach? The Christian one? Hindu? Norse? This is something that I would like to blog about more often, but Lance does a better job of saying what I want to say in his.

To Be Continued...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Next summer

I just figured out, in the last few days, what's been bugging me for the past year or so. Sure, eighth graders. That's a given. But something else just hasn't felt quite right. And then I finally decided that I needed to make sure that I sign up for a summer vacation for next year. And there it is. As soon as I clicked the "send" button on the final page, I felt better. I thought I would feel worry about where the money is coming from, but not at all. Everything's good. I need to travel, and now I have an awesome vacation to look forward to.
I'm off to Scandinavia. You can see the details of the tour here: http://tours.ricksteves.com/tours09/product.cfm/rurl/code/SCA09/203
Why Scandinavia? I really want to go back to Europe. I've loved all of the Rick Steves tours. This was one of the choices. Sure, there are three or four other awesome tours that I would also really like. But something about this one drew me in a couple years ago. I decided at that time to go with the Eastern European trip. And that was the right decision. That trip was beyond amazing. But since this Scandanivia trip had been the runner up then, it wins this time. Now I know that I won't have an empty summer next year, it all feels right. So Norway, Sweden, Denmark. My life is better than yours.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Giant Ego

I've decided that I need to develop an even bigger ego. Some of you might already be wondering how that can be possible. We're taking this blog back to Scrubs once again. There was an episode where Dr. Cox was trying to teach Turk that a big ego is a good thing. And I've decided that I agree, so I need to push my confidence and arrogance far beyond what I already display. Now for everyone that I know read my blog - I already know that I'm better than all of you at everything, with the exception of being good at the negative things. For example, many of you are proficient at sucking. I cannot match that skill, and I choose not to. There are also many lesser things that some might not consider negative. I might begin to emulate sports figures who display massive confidence while showing a lack of intelligence. The lack of intelligence is deceptive. If you are confident, the rules of grammar fo the word "myself" no longer matter. In the previous sentence, I typed "fo" instead of "of." I don't need to change it because in that instance, it was right. Why? Because I rule. So from this point on, be careful if we're in the same room. There might not be room for you, me, and my ego.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just a quickie today

This has been a rather busy day, with trying to deal with PowerPoint 2007 not wanting to create slide transitions, putting together a log of hours for my class units, dealing with the insurance crap from the lame ass lady who backed into my car, doing laundry when I still don't have a laundry room, making an appointment to sign papers to buy a house so that I can have a laundry room, keeping tabs on the debate, and a few other things. So I'm resorting to an oldie, but goodie.

Here we are, day 15 of blog-a-day month.




Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Harris discusses nipples and erections

Three nights in a row of TV commentary. That's good times. I'mtrying to do some other work,but i usually prefer sound to silence. So I have an episode of Scrubs on right now, since it's on 500 times a night. On this particular episode, there's a patient who took a Viagra type medication. And his particular situation has lasted longer than four hours. As the commercials mention, when the erection lasts longer than four hours, you should notify your doctor. (Also remember that the ad stating that were played over and over again during the Superbowl where Janet Jackson showed her hardly covered nipple, but yet "four hour erection" was less noticable that a flash of what may or may not have been a nipple. I'm still convinced that the outrage wasn't from conservatives or uptight but from the nippleless. Yes, those people with no nipples who were upset that it was finally revealed to the world on national TV that most people have nipples. Yep.) So, of course, during this episode of Scrubs, which commercial did they show? Yep, the same one that they're using for that particular plot line. I'm pretty sure it's coincidental, but if it weren't would that be bad advertising or brilliant? Be sure to tune in tomorrow when I discuss vaginas and buttholes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What is bitch and moan?

First a disclaimer for this and all future blogs. My spacebar doesn't work correctly.

I really wanted to rant on here tonight. While preparing my dinner, which is now slowly cooking in the oven, I was thinking about a great blog about the meaning of respect and tying it in with how your crappy religion is wrong. It was a great thing, with themes, plotlines, and character development. But I have something much more important that needs some griping. Jeopardy.

The first problem is the KGO 7 channel that shows it starts the show before the start time of 7 o'clock. I usually set the cable box timer to switch to Jeopardy at 7, but it has already started. I miss about two or three questions. Not acceptable.

The second problem is that with the new season, they got rid of a sound effect. It's the beeping while they show the numbers on the board immediately before Trebek reads the categories. It's the sound that plays while he's telling us how many Daily Doubles are in that round. And that sound is gone. Luckily, as I mentioned in the first complaint, I usually miss it for the first round. But I'm there for Double Jeopardy. Lame.

And finally, the newest orchestration of the Final Jeopardy is too much. It smacks of effort. Scale back and let me think about the question. When I get it right and the contestants all get it wrong, my night is complete. I don't want to be distracted by the new crappy arrangement. Not that it will stop me. I will still win because I rule.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Amazing Race

I guess I've lost interest in the Amazing Race over the past few years. It used to be one of the reality shows I watched, mostly because I like to travel so much. I used to think that if there were one reality show that I would actually go on, it would be that one. And I think I would do really well. I generally have a good sense of direction and the decent ability to adapt in foreign countries. Though I do have to say that the only two continents I have been to are North America and Europe, so physically blending in hasn't been too difficult.

The problem I would have is that it's a two person game. I think that might frustrate me too much. I tend to be a "if you want something done do it yourself" kind of person. I don't really like leaving things in other people's hands that I think have to be done a certain way. In preparation for the spring break DC trip, the only thing I let anyone else do is arrange the car pools. I do that since it's a lot of calling, which I don't like to do. Also, it has always been the car pools home from the airport. If that got messed up, someone would end up getting stuck at the airport, and I have to believe that no adults would leave them alone. But the error wouldn't delay the trip. This year we will be carpooling both ways to the airport, so I'm going to have to have someone take care of that. But I'll definitely have them take care of it early, and then very carefully go over their work.

That was more of an aside than I intended. The Amazing Race requires that the two people work together at times (which I could handle) and then trusting the other person to do something (which I couldn't). I would also spend all of the time checking the other person's work. If they read the clue, I would want to read it over again. I wouldn't be able to do it without someone I could trust like that. Too tough for me, especially since as I was watching and as I typed this, the people who were eliminated lost because they didn't follow directions properly. I almost want to show that clip in class to show kids, "See? This is what happens when you don't read the directions!" But I won't.

But I will show you a clip. This is one of the most racist sounding (but actually isn't) clips from the Amazing Race. It's from the family season. And they had one black family.



(Though if you do want some recent real racist clips, there are dozens available from the Palin rally today. Sick stuff.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm WRONG!

I'm not wrong about anything in particular at this moment. And while I don't like to be wrong, and sure, like anyone else don't like to admit it, I can when I am. As an example, just yesterday I returned tests. I corrected three or four errors that I had made in correcting them.

I stopped by Longs tonight for a couple quick purchases, and I paid with my debit card. That means I swipe it and follow the commands on the screen. After going through the pin number, declining cash-back, promising to kneel before Zod, and whatever else it wanted me to do, I was told to "Wait for the cashier." At that point, the cashier, a teenage boy, is looking around the store instead of at the register. I wait. I look at him, and back and forth to the message that still states, "Wait for the cashier." I continue to wait with a short cough. He looks at me. He looks down to pad where I entered my information. He looks to his register. Quickly, he reaches up and pushes a button with one hand, and with the other starts reaching toward my pad, telling me that "You have to push the button." At the instant he had pushed his button, mine had changed, asking for confirmation.

So he spaced out for about five seconds. So what? Why does he have to do this little display to make it look like we were waiting for ME? How about a quick "Sorry." I would even accept a phrase that I hate, "My bad." (That reminds me that my hatred for that phrase needs to be a blog for another day.) Or even still, don't say anything. Just push your little button and then wait for me. Nobody cares - I just wanted to get on with my little transaction and be on with it.

The thing is, I don't care if he needed to admit that his little space out was wrong. It's that suddenly he tried to deflect it to me. What is this guy going to do when something does go really wrong? Looks like this is a kid that learned well from the Bush administration.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Best lines...

One of my favorite lines from a student this week was, "Is anyone here absent?" He did try to talk his way out of that statement soon after.

One of my favorite lines from a news story this week wasn't from a debate, but from sports/music story. That has to be a good combo, right? Two good things, for sure. But one of those things is hockey (not that I have anything against hockey - I'll root for the Sharks, I guess - but I didn't miss it at all when it was on strike, and wouldn't if it totally disappeared). And the second of those things is Def Leppard. Def Leppard is possibly one of the stinkiest, steamy turds that people will try to tell you smells like roses. People have tried really hard to convince me that Def Leppard does, in fact, rock. Don't pour that sugar on me. They don't. They, like love, bite. So in the story, Def Leppard's lead singer, who I believe is named Crappy McShitcrap, messed up and put the Stanley Cup upside down. My favorite line was in that story. "If only someone on stage had helped him. Why couldn't the drummer have lent a ... bit of moral support?" Because he only has.... Yeah. Funny, says me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Challenging myself

I promised those who would start blog-a-day month that it would be a tough endeavor. A couple weeks in, topics become very difficult to come by. I argue that you can write about pretty much anything. So I'm now going to look around the room, find something, and write about it. Be back in 10 seconds...

My remote control.

Well crap. That wasn't the most exciting choice ever, but here goes. My remote control is actually the sweetest remote control ever. I won't, however, reveal how much I spent on it, since it's more than anyone ever should. But I plan to have this remote for many years to come. This is one of those super all-in-one remotes. I plug it into my computer, which then sends all the controls to the remote. I need that thing because I have my big ass TV, surround sound, and then a half a dozen different setups, including one for cable, one for TiVo, one for DVD, and one for each game system. Each one needs the TV to have a different setting and the surround sound to have a different setting, and then to control the device. It's quite a bit to remember, but now I just have to click a button while it's still facing the TV. Pretty sweet. OK, I'm playing again. Look around the room...

Can of paint

For those who don't know, I'm remodeling my bathroom. Do I know how to do such a thing? No. But that hasn't stopped me. Any day now, I'll finish. But it's been torn up for about two months now. That doesn't really mean that it has taken me that long. It's just that I need a tile cutter to finish, so I haven't done anything since school started. I think I've found one to borrow, so I'll finish it as soon as I get that into my hands. It has been an extremely interesting, educational, and humbling experience. And of course, one little or medium thing has gone wrong as just about every step. Nothing super major, though. The closest was when the outside valve to my water broke with the water turned off to my whole place, requiring a call to the homeowners association to get that fixed. As soon as I get this thing finished, which I actually hope to do in the next week, I'm going to start the house search. That should be lots of fun.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You say you want a blog about Revolution?

Let's take a moment to add to yesterday's post of brilliant El Dorado student answers

QUESTION: What did Columbus do and why did he do it?
ANSWER: Columbus wrote the Declaration of Independence

QUESTION: Who was the main author of the Declaration of Independence?
ANSWER: King George III

QUESTION:What was the first permanent British Settlement?
ANSWER: France

In spite of these answers, I think this year I took a big step in getting closer to teaching the prelude to the United States (discovery, colonies, Revolution) much better than I have in the last five years. Before then, we weren't sticklers for the standards. By that, I mean that we didn't have a real reason to get all the way through it. We would try to end the year with the Civil War, and if we were lucky, get beyond that. The standards for eighth grade don't really have a unit for the Revolution. We're supposed to teach it, as I called it before, as a prelude. It's more of an introduction until we get to the parts that we're supposed to. So I really need to condense it into about six weeks, all while getting the students used to my class, procedures, grading, and all that fun beginning of the year stuff. But how can you possibly learn anything about America without having a basic understanding of the Declaration of Independence? "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." That's probaby the most important sentence written, like, ever. The reason it's hard to teach it is because we already know it. Kids today understand that they have freedom. They know that basic idea of having rights. So the hard part isn't telling them, "Hey! You have rights!" It's getting them to understand that before this, people DIDN'T and what that meant. There are lots of facts about the colonies and the Revolution that I pretty much ignore at this point. The actual WAR for Independence? It's a side note. It's the radical idea of rights that was most important, and what leads us into the Constitution. We're in heavy Preamble mode this week. Probably the second most important sentence ever written. (The third? First Amendment. The fourth. This sentence is the fourth most important sentence EVER written.) But don't take my word for why the Preamble is important. I'll let this guy explain it to you. Why? Because there's nothing quite as fascinating as a bad Canadian actor reciting the Preamble.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

*sigh*




Good times here:

Kids...

Question: What did Columbus do and why did he do it (as discussed in class)?

Actual student in the El Dorado class of 2009 answer: Columbus made a land bridge to cross to get to asia to trade.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"We don't have to accept this!"

I just saw an ad for Yes on Prop 8. It's the only one I've seen, I think. They show Gavin Newsom with his "Whether they like it or not!" quote. One of the things that the hate mongers narrators mention is that if 8 doesn't pass, churches could lose their tax exempt status. So wait - they WANT me to vote no? Even if I was opposed to gay marriage, I would still see this as a positive. Churches should not have tax exemptions. I think this is an out of date idea whose time has come. Of course, there's no way in this Christain dominated country that it will change. The commercial states that "We don't have to accept this!" And I agree. Church tax exemptions are wrong.

A few months ago, I said that I hoped this would come to a vote since I think that the climate in California has changed enough. I still believe that it has changed, and I there's still an advantage in that people are less willing to change the law. But I just haven't seen a lot of No on 8 propaganda. I have gotten a phoner from the Yes people, and one of my former subs sent out the Yes emailer to everyone since he was, I guess, concerned that gay marriage will ruin his LDS marriage of 50+ years. But I haven't heard at all yet from the No people or seen any commercials. In something like this, I think most people have made up their minds anyway at this point. It's not like too many people are going to read Prop 8 and then say, "Hmmmm.. I need to go read about this "marriage" thing before making an informed choice.

But what worries me is the "Bradley Effect," but with gay marriage instead of black people. For those who haven't heard of the Bradley Effect, it comes from the 1982 California Governor race. All the polls showed Tom Bradley, a black man, leading the race until the end. Even exit polls showed the same thing. But Bradley lost. It is credited to people not wanting to say that they weren't voting for the black guy. That's one big reason why I think Obama needs a cushion in the polls before you can start thinking about him winning. But does liberal California put enough pressure on its people to say in public that they're voting "no" but then they'll turn around and do the opposite in the polling booth? I couldn't imagine it happening in Mississippi, for example. But California, maybe?

And before any Christians try to respond by talking about the sanctity of marriage and how God doesn't accept gay marriage, just remember this: Your religion isn't real.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I am a PC...

...and I don't wear headbands. But seriously, though, I use a PC, and I have no interest whatsoever in a Mac.

I do have to admit that it's been many years since I've used a Mac, and even then they weren't the most up-to-date. It used to be that you needed a Mac if you were doing any sort of art thing, whether it was music or drawing/painting/photo stuff. But now, with USB, your MIDI devices work just as well with a PC and with Adobe's Creative Suite being released for both platforms (and nearly identically), those reasons are out.

I hear about the crashing. Since Windows 2000, crashing hasn't been a problem. Oh, I would never say that it never crashes. But it isn't worth the discussion when comparing the two. Back at SDSU when I was using a Mac while working in the dorms, those these crashed CONSTANTLY.

When I "taught" computers for a year, we were in an iMac lab. That lab SUCKED. They did crash regularly. And it was incredibly difficult to get the computers working together, much less working alone. For awhile, all we wanted was for the computers to run Word. Nope. Too difficult. Now you Mac folks (of which - I don't even think I know any - are you a Mac?) might argue that the OS has gotten better. I keep hearing about all these roman numeraled-cat named OS's for the Mac that are supposed to be stable. The thing is, as I mentioned earlier, so is Windows.

I'm actually not a huge fan of Vista. I have it on my laptop but I'm not going to bother on my desktop. It's not that Vista isn't great, it's just that its improvements don't excite or interes me that much. The Windows Switcher LOOKS cool but is completely worthless. But that doesn't change the fact that my laptop usually runs nicely.

But if I do have problems with my computers, and this includes my school computers, there is a big reason why I am a PC. Here's the reason: I can fix them. Macs are meant for people that don't know computers at all. They want something they can plug in and start playing. When it breaks, send it away to get it fixed. I don't like that. I want to pull it apart and put in the parts I want. That's something that frustrates me a bit about my laptop, since I can't really do it in the same way as I can with my desktop, which I built myself. With a Mac? When it's broken, you're stuck.

As nerdy as this post makes me, I always feel like my nerd credentials are in jeopardy because I don't really know too much at all about Linux. Shouldn't I be using an alternate OS, or at least know how to?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Late night incoherant rambling

I title this post "late night" even though it's before midnight. Crazy, crazy. I don't regularly go to bed too much before midnight, either, but it always feels so late. It's tough being a night person in a world that values getting up early. I blame Benjamin Franklin and his early to bed early to rise crap. We need two kinds of schools. The kind that we currently has that starts early and is done by or around 3, for those who want to do after school activities. And then we need the other kind for people like me who don't really wake until afternoon gets going. And the other teacher who ready this blog might not be night people, but you know the kids who are. They function better in the afternoon. They are more alert. And I can tell you from experience that it's not always that they're just staying up late. Some of us just don't fall asleep until well after midnight. I can wake up at six every morning for months in a row. Last year I did just that. I disciplined myself to get my butt out of bed on the weekends. I always read about the consistency being the key. It didn't do much. Sleep was still hard to come by. So that's just one of the school changes I make when I have the power to totally wipe out the entire educational system and start from scratch. And that shouldn't just be some silly blog - we need to do just that.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Why I'm right and you're wrong - reason #742.

I figure that while I sit here in the bar waiting for teachers to show up (since teachers are the biggest drinkers - you already knew that, though), I might as well fulfill some blogging duties.

I want to clarify a couple things about me politically while still leaving things vague (mostly so that I still have things to complain about). I don't think this first statement is a shocker if you have read anything of mine: I'm not a Republican. I'll let you collect your jaws from the ground. But I'm also not a Democrat. I pretty much subscribe to the theory that it's corporatations and the military-industrial complex that are running the country. I am, however, currently registered as a Democrat so that I could vote in the primary. I have been registered as a Republican before just so that I could vote in that primary, too.

A lot of where I'm coming from in my comments about this election aren't because I'm a Democrat. It's that I dislike the Republicans much more than the Democrats. There are three reasons to be a Republican. 1 - you're rich. This is the best reason to be a Republican. And by rich, I'm going to define that not with a dollar amount but owning more than one house or having the means to do so. In that case, you should be a Republican if you are more concerned with your money than anything else. If your fiscal concerns outweigh your social concerns AND you are rich, you should be a Republican. 2 - you think you're going to be rich. Guess what? Lots of people think that. Lame. 3 - you hate people. For any reason, whether it is gender, race, orientation, poverty level. With my logic here, I should be a Republican since I dislike the Republicans.

But seriously, though, if you agree with me and yet you think the Democrats are going to save the day, you can't be too bright. Obama isn't going to change very much. There's only one or two decisions he can make that really matter and that's in appointing a Supreme Court justice or two. Beyond that? Not so much. But that doesn't mean I don't support him or will or won't vote for him. But that's a different blog, different day...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This was my dinner.


Jealous?

The VP debates. Who cares?

I was prepared to do a "follow the debate" type blog tonight, but I didn't get home until 6:30. I did catch a bit at the bowling alley and on the radio on the way home, so I've seen most of it. I seriously need to keep myself from jamming a pencil deeply into my ear.

Palin seemed to be holding her own for the first hour, but the debate might have been too long for her. Biden's brief choke up clearly threw off Palin. She wasn't quite sure what to do with it. Her next couple sentences were thrown off. And since all of her answers are one long sentence, that means her next few responses. It took her off script for a bit, though she did jump back a little at the end. She is probably going to look ok simply because of low expectations.

But while I thought she stumbled at that point, it won't matter. Remember back to the VP debate of 1988. In that was the "You're no Jack Kennedy" line delivered to Dan Quayle. Didn't matter that Quayle looked like an idiot - Bush the elder still won pretty easily. The VP debates really don't matter. I don't think the VP decision in general matters too much either. The only thing that might make this different is the historical potential for a female VP. The deciding factor is going to be Obama v McCain. So nice diversion, but the real debates will be back next week. I did enjoy her "[John McCain's] the man we need to leave" gaff. Good times.