Now let's talk about urinal science
Shall we? (note: the standard disclaimers about squeamishness apply)
There are several different designs
for urinals out there. Some of which fall into the "what were you thinking?" category. Our office has ones similar to the Jetbrook 1.0
model (Is that a sly reference to #1?), a prime example of poor urinal design. (Actually, based on a recent field test, I think they are the Kohler K-5024 Darfield
models...and yes, I washed my hands)
The function of a urinal is to catch what's sent in its general direction. So, what is the one thing that is most important to consider when designing a urinal? Bad aim. Really, really
bad aim. The horridly, wretchedly, awfully, "you got it where?" kind of bad aim. And the best way to control the effects of bad aim is to move the "aimer" closer to the target. The big stand-up floor length models are great for this. The Kohler K-5024 Darfield? Not so much. As a result of being further away, you wind up with whiz (dog water, as my daddy calls it) everywhere you don't want it. Like on the wall on either side of the urinal. And on the floor. And on the walls/dividers between the urinals.
The thing is, the floor, while being disgusting, is not a huge problem. It's tile and it gets mopped semi-regularly. Besides which, I'm only touching it with the bottom of my shoes. (note to self: when crossing legs do NOT grab shoes.) The wall on either side of the urinal is tile too, so while it might not get cleaned very often, at least it's not damaging the wall. What's really bad are the side walls. They NEVER get wiped down. EVER. And the side walls are not tile, but metal, painted in a nice icky beige (my coworker says it's taupe, and she's a girl, so I'll defer to her). So, what happens when pee and metal meet?
First you get a nice perma-yellow stain. Check.
Followed by a dulling of the paint underneath. Check.
Finally followed by rust. Check.
In our office, we frequently entertain clients. We always make a special effort to make sure everything is neat and tidy so when our clients walk through they get a good impression. And what's the first thing that they see when they walk in to use the bathroom? Walls that are rusting out because grown men can't figure out how not
to pee on them.
Now, you would think that the side walls would not take too many hits. You would think wrong. Ok, then, you'd think that most of what's on the side walls would be in the general direction of the urinal. You would again think wrong. I noticed one day (as I was standing there) that the damage extended at least 30 degrees BEHIND ME on both sides. We're talking a 240 degree arc here folks. I have many talents and consider myself to be a somewhat creative guy, but I have yet to figure out how to pee behind me (without getting all wet at least).
Say what you will, but you don't have to have a degree in engineering to know how to point that thing. Then again, from the evidence, maybe you do.
Since I've already broached the subject, I might as well continue. If you have a delicate constitution, you may just want to skip this and check back tomorrow.
You know, I really don't ask for much in a restroom...three things really.
1. It should be functional. The flush toilet, when it's working is one of the most unappreciated wonders of the modern world. It's when they stop working that we begin to realize how much we take them for granted. Chamber pots and "thunder mugs" are a thing of the past. So is the midnight trip to the outhouse in the dead of winter. Sure, men still whiz behind the barn, but that's not because they HAVE to anymore... Anyway, as anyone with kids (or a wife with a gerbil sized bladder) will attest, knowing where the closest functioning toilet is at any given moment is a good thing.
2. It should be stocked. Nothing quite duplicates the desperate feeling one gets when it's time to start filling out the reports, i.e. doing the paperwork, and realizing that the spindle is empty, or has only a single sheet of one-ply left on the roll. You do a quick mental inventory of what you have that you could use. Did you remember to put a hanky in your back pocket as you were getting dressed this morning? (That's just for you old folks, of course. The young 'uns are scratching their heads saying "hanky?") What else might be in your pockets? Aha! There are some old credit card receipts in your wallet. Worst case scenario, no wait, let's not discuss worst case...NEXT to worst case scenario is you remove your underwear and use it, but then you're left with the dual problems of how to dispose of THAT (since it won't flush) and having to go commando the rest of the day. Those guys who take the newspaper with them when they go in? They may be on to something.
3. It should be clean. Of course, clean is a relative term. It doesn't really matter if the restroom is functional and stocked if it smells like the back of a slaughterhouse in the middle of July. One step in the door and all of a sudden I realize I CAN wait another four hours until I get home. Toilet surfaces don't have to sparkle like your Aunt Mable's gold tooth, but neither should they be visibly soiled (a la The Streaker
). There's a broad band in between those two extremes that is acceptable. On a side note, what is it about people (guys, I suspect) that they feel they have to pick their nose and smear it on the wall? Boogers are not like diamonds. There is no rating system for carat, cut, clarity, or color. If you weren't prepared to deal with its disposal at that particular moment, you should have left it resting quietly, undisturbed.
Many of you seem to be a little unclear on the concept of modern plumbing. That little sticky-out part on the back of the commode? That's called a handle. It's meant to be a convenience - to "handle" the act of flushing. No more trips to the utility closet with the mop bucket - just push the handle and whoosh! It's just like magic.
As an added benefit when you use the handle to "handle" your business, the REST OF US don't have to share your intimate details. I know sometimes you take pride in your "accomplishments", but take it from me, the next guy isn't going to appreciate your work the way you do. If you experience separation anxiety, may I suggest you do what we Aardvarks do with our children's school projects? Take a picture before you get rid of it, that way you'll at least have some documentation of your hard work.
I don't get it
The latest news of a mother on trial for killing her kids is here
. She took them outside (except for the toddler) and bashed their heads in with a rock. The toddler, miraculously survived. She says "God" told her to do it and is pleading not-guilty by reason of insanity.
Shouldn't the correct plea be GUILTY by reason of insanity?
It's not like the defense is even contesting the fact that she did it. In Texas, being found not-guilty by reason of insanity means that you are held in a mental health facility until you are deemed stable then released back into society. How about instead, we find her guilty and then when she is mentally stable she can begin serving her life sentence in prison?
Takin' care of business
Lot's of work today. I'll post more later if I have time.
Just for the record
In case y'all haven't already figured it out for yourselves...
In the Aardvark household, the family member who routinely pulls my fat out of the fire (and that's a lot of fat to keep from being singed) is Mrs A.
Case in point:
I'm planning on going to see my father again this weekend. The last time I made the trip in my car, it was already time for an oil change. In addition to the 1,200 miles I drove on the trip, I've driven it to work for a month and still no oil change. I figure, just maybe, before I put ANOTHER 1,200 miles on it, it'd be a good idea to go ahead and get the oil changed. So I asked Mrs. A if she'd mind swapping cars with me today and taking mine in to get it changed at the place down the street. She reconned that would be possible, so that's what we did.
She called me this morning from the car place to ask me, "Did you know you needed an inspection too?" To which I replied, "I do?"
I guess it's a good thing ONE of us has their act together.
Jordana wrote about kissing the kids
the other day and that reminded me of what goes on at our house.
First off, we still tuck our kids in bed and kiss them good night. I know they're 13 (and a half!) and almost 17, but they get all bent out of shape if we DON'T. Sometimes you just don't mess with tradition. (like I want to?) If for some reason (like one of us is sick) the goodnight kiss is missed, you have to double-up the next night so you don't fall behind.
Secondly, it is not unusual for me to leave for work in the morning and face a line-up of women who demand to be kissed before I leave. So I kiss the YAC, kiss the EAC, and then KISS (if you know what I mean) Mrs. A. That's it right? Only three women in the house. Nope. By the time I'm through kissing the missus (now come on...it doesn't take THAT long), the YAC has moved around to be next in line. And the EAC likewise. Not to let the kids get the upper hand, Mrs. A will also take another turn. Sometimes I have to say, "Stop. I have to go to work" to be able to get out the door. (Not that I'm complaining or anything. It's a good problem to have.)
And then sometimes, just to be ornery (ME? ORNERY?) instead of the traditional peck on the lips, I'll give them a little raspberry (I call it a 'splurtz'. Don't know why...it just seems to fit) peck instead. "Hey," they'll say, "that doesn't count! I want a real moochie." (Don't tell them, but really it's just my way of getting extra smooch now and then.)
I was always an affectionate kid. I think I sat on my mom's lap even when I was in high school. And gave her kisses almost every day. My sisters used to tell me, "I hope you wind up marrying a woman who doesn't mind being mauled with all that huggin' and smoochin'." It took a while to understand each other
, but Mrs. A and I seem to manage just fine.
At least not tonight. Someone
is galavanting off to a women's retreat for an evening of devotion and a day (tomorrow) of shopping. I offered to tag along and be her roommate, since one of the ladies that was going to go wound up not being able to due to the death of her father. Mrs. A said that'd be ok with her, but her OTHER roommate(s?) may not think it was such a good idea. Fine.
She's fixing up a nice meatloaf for us this evening and we're on our own tomorrow. At least I think it's meatloaf...she did mutter something about "finding fresh eels
" the other day. But I'm sure that's not related.
You know how when you have a nightmare you wake up and realize it? Have you ever dreamed that you're asleep having a nightmare?
It's really confusing. I kept waking up last night and couldn't decide whether I was really
awake or was only dreaming I was awake. Looking at the clock didn't help either because I did that in my dream too. Anyway, I think I'm at work today, unless I'm still asleep, that is.
I have always known that my dad was born in Iowa (Carson) and graduated from high school there. He met my mom in California, and that's where all my grandparents and aunts and uncles lived too. For some reason, I never knew how, when or why my dad's family moved from Iowa to California. So I asked him last week.
They left Iowa during the height of The Depression when things got to the point where they could no longer afford to buy feed for their milk cows and other livestock. So their dad decided they were going to go to California to make a new start. They sold everything they couldn't take with them (to this day my dad doesn't know why the boxes of worn out jeans and overalls had to come along, but his mother insisted) and had just enough money to make the drive to California and pay the first month's rent on an old shack.
My dad is the second oldest of four boys, and at the time the two younger boys were still in school. He said that his dad and older brother didn't seem to be looking for work too hard. Maybe they thought the work would come to them. But my dad was worried that if they didn't find work soon they'd be out on the streets and so he got up early every day and went out looking.
He noticed one morning a group of Mexicans in work clothes standing on a street corner. As he watched, a farm truck pulled up and they all started piling in the back. He just piled in too. They all gave him some funny looks like they were thinking, "What are you doing here, gringo?" but he just kept his mouth shut. When they got to the farm, everyone got out of the truck and the foreman started assigning work. When the foreman saw my dad, he said he should just turn around and get back on the truck. My dad said, "No, sir. I need work and I'm willing to do whatever you've got." Turns out they were picking carrots that day. They had to be bundled just so and tied up with a piece of string using a special knot. The foreman told him, "This is piece work. You'll never be fast enough to make it." "Well, sir, I'd like to try." And so the foreman showed him how to bundle the carrots and tie the knot. He worked all day that first day, which surprised the foreman, but didn't make wages (pick a minimum or get zilch). He made wages every day after that, though. And he figured out that if his dad and older brother came out with him and just bundled the carrots and let him tie them, they could pick enough that all three of them could make wages. And that's what they did.
In a short period of time, he got moved to the dairy to milk cows. He milked cows in the morning and evenings. He got a line on a job at a nursery (the plant kind) and so got up and milked cows from 4 to about 8 and then worked in the nursery during the day and went back and milked cows at night. About 15 or 16 hours a day. He took his older brother with him one morning to milk the cows, thinking they could get it done in less time. His brother used his thumb to milk (which I guess is a no-no) and bruised the cows teats. When the boss came by and saw what he'd done, he told my dad his brother wouldn't milk any more of his cows. His boss at the nursery told him he knew where he could buy some land pretty cheap and the next thing you know he was building a house. He moved everybody in and he told his parents they could live there as long as they liked. His brother (s) never even offered to help by paying rent.
Shortly after that, my dad started working for the frozen food plant that processed all the produce. He was the general foreman for plant maintenance and so was in a position to offer jobs to family members as they needed them. He hired his older brother as a mechanic and it wasn't long before they started having run-ins. His brother was a union man and my dad was management. He said his brother turned him in to the union on more than one occasion.
His brother eventually bought his own place and moved. In later years, his parents moved into his brother's house (who by then had moved again). My dad said for all the year's they lived in his house, he never charged them a dime, but as soon as they moved into his older brother's house, they had to start paying his brother rent. Needless to say, he and his older brother have never been what you'd call 'real close'.
My dad has always been a responsible one, even as a kid. His mom was blinded in a car accident when they were little and so in addition to the farm chores, most of the housekeeping duties fell on the kids too. One of his jobs was to do the laundry. He was expected to iron everything. One day, he decided it was stupid to iron the shirt tails and so he didn't. The busybody neighbor lady saw what he was doing and made a bee-line over to their house to tell his mother. His mother told him to iron the shirt tails and he refused telling her it didn't make sense when all you did was tuck 'em in. When his dad got home, he got a lickin' for talking back to his mother, but he never did have to iron the shirt tails after that.
Nothing to say
Today is one of those days when the well is dry. I've just been sitting and staring at the monitor - terminal ennui, if you will. Not much to talk about that isn't already being hacked to bits (bytes?) elsewhere. Maybe something will inspire me later.
UPDATE: Mrs. A has voluteered to arrange a schedule of blog topics by day for me. Serves me right for marrying such an organized woman.
I don't know what to make of it
I mentioned the other day that I went with my dad to see the mortician. Mr. G is a nice enough fellow, in his early eighties himself, and a friend of the family (At least technically, since he's a friend of my step-brother, but it's hard to think of my step-brother as "family" in any meaningful sense as we were both in our thirties when our parents married. I mean, I've only seen
the guy a couple of dozen times.) to boot. Mr. G was a Marine in WWII stationed in the Pacific, and my dad was Army and also in the Pacific and so they had to swap a few stories. I always like being the fly on the wall when the war stories come out. Mostly because my dad talks about it so rarely anymore. Anyway, we probably spent the better part of an hour talking with Mr. G and when the paperwork was signed he excused himself to go next door and make a copy to send with us. When he returned, he gave us both an inexpensive version of a Swiss Army knife with his company's name and number on it.
Now, I don't know about you, but the last thing I'm looking for when I visit a mortician is a tchotchke. I'm not offended by it, just puzzled because I can see where other folks might be. What would make a mortician think that handing out trinkets to his customers would be a good idea? Does he just pass them out to people who make pre-arrangements? That would make sense since when I look at it, I will be reminded of a time when my dad and I were together. But then I think, why did he give them to us? Seems to me that if you're looking to generate goodwill (and ultimately business) you would want to put them in the hands of folks who weren't already your customers. And then there's something about that whole 'generating business' aspect that is just kind of creepy in a general sort of way when you start talking about funeral homes and morticians.
Anyway, like I said, I'm not offended by it, but then again I'm probably not as sensitive as some folks either. At the time he gave the knifes to us, I was just struck by how odd it seemed. What do you think?
Reason # 31 why my advertising career never took off
You know the Marine commercials where a guy climbs a mountain or fights a monster and at the end he stands up straight and morphs into a Marine in dress uniform? And the very last thing you see before they cut away to the verbage is his ceremonial sword snapping up to his shoulder? It seems to me the next thing you should see is his right arm falling off like the black knight from the Holy Grail.
I know, I know. I'm a sick, sick man.
Is it just me
Or does Madeleine Albright
remind you of the Munster's Grandpa
Care to play?
Every time I visit my dad, I feel like I'm playing a slow-motion game called refrigerator roulette. Unlike most games, this one is played out in small increments over days, weeks, months and sometimes years.
My dad does all of the cooking these days, and somehow, he never has quite got the hang of cooking for two. There are six of us kids and he was a cook in the army, so maybe the patterns of preparing food for a crowd are just ingrained too deeply to change. For whatever reason, he always winds up fixing too much food, so there are always left-overs that get stashed in the fridge. And stashed is the right word.
There have been times when there were so many containers in the fridge you couldn't get to the milk without shuffling for two or three minutes (who says jigsaw puzzles aren't educational?). A bit of this, a drab of that and no dates on anything. When he says, "Hey, I made some stroganoff the other day and there's some left over. You want that for lunch?" you'd better start asking questions--like define "the other day" (when you don't get out much, all the days tend to run together).
I can't begin to tell you the number of things that I've pulled out and realized they were a little too fuzzy for my tastes. Sometimes the freezer isn't much better because leftovers may not go directly there until they've spent a little time in refrigerator purgatory. And since my dad went through The Depression, one of the worst sins you can commit at his house is to throw away food.
To top it off, my dad isn't what you'd call the best dish washer in the world. For one thing, he doesn't see as well as he used to, so that kind of hinders the visual inspection part of hand washing. And everything at his house is hand washed. Sometimes the water is even clean/fresh.
When I get there, I make sure I help to set the table the first day so I can check the plates and glasses before hand. Then I make sure to volunteer to wash up afterwards. Every meal.
This last week, we made burritos for lunch one day. I fixed everything fresh and then my dad reminded me that there was a little bit of the meat/bean goop (mmm...bean goop) in the freezer from when I was there three weeks ago. Three weeks in the freezer. Hey, that ought to be ok, right? Right?
I pulled it out and opened it up, and couldn't quite tell if that gray spot was just a little freezer burn or what. Hmmm. What to do? Can't throw it out. Can't stick it back (since it was specifically mentioned). Can't combine it with the fresh stuff (no reason everyone should die, eh?). So, I did what any good son would do. I served everyone else the fresh stuff and I ate the old stuff.
It is a little unsettling to spend the afternoon hyper-attuned to your inner rumblings.
Oohh. What was that? Was that a gas pain? I'm feeling a little uncomfortable. Am I getting queasy or did I just over-eat? Maybe some of these jelly beans will help...
At least the plate I served it on was clean.
And she'll have fun, fun, fun
But I better not catch her...
The Eldest Aardvark Child is now officially a licensed driver. She finally finished up all of her course work and so Mrs. A took her in to complete the paperwork Friday afternoon (no driving test in Texas if you successfully complete driver's ed). There was some hold up (naturally) as the DPS office had lost her paperwork, but eventually a solution was found (I wasn't there, but I think it's one of those "the less asked, the better" situations) and a license issued. Now all we have to do is notify our insurance agent to find out what the financial damage is going to be.
SOMEone is going to have to get a job to pay for her insurance.
Public Service Announcement
In case any of you were alarmed last week when you noticed a severe drop-off in traffic to your sites, there is no reason to panic. Remain calm and continue to post in an orderly fashion. Your hit counter is not malfunctioning. Corrective measures are not required.
Now that I'm back from vacation, your traffic levels will soon return to normal.
That is all.
Well, I came in to the office this afternoon to see what kind of damage would be waiting for me on Monday morning. My access card still worked on the gate and the front door, so I guess I'm still employed. Surprisingly, there were only four voice-mails (none of which required a follow-up) and 40 or so emails (of which five will need my attention tomorrow). Looks like things won't be too bad ... but you never know what other little "treasure" might be waiting for me to be told about in person.
(She looked at me funny! Nuh uh. Uh huh... Ah, the joys of supervising.)
Don't know how much blogging there will be tomorrow, but I'm not prepared to call it a total loss yet.
I did use the rest of my time this afternoon to catch up with what all of y'all did last week. Good thing I'm a fast reader, since SOME of you are quite prolific. No, I'm not naming names. YOU know who you are.
I'll see you later.
On a more serious note
My dad’s test results showed that whatever is wrong with him (strong odds of a cancerous mass), it has remained localized and not spread to other parts of his body. The bad news is that the mass is growing rapidly and if unchecked will begin causing serious symptoms in another month (or less). My dad will not agree to radiation and cannot have surgery to remove the mass without it. His high blood pressure and his age (almost 86) and general health are also factors in the decision not to pursue surgery.
We took care of quite a bit of business for him while we were there, including getting the durable power of attorney notarized and visiting a mortician to make funeral arrangements. I plan on returning in about two weeks to check up on him. I fear he is beginning to fade pretty fast.
Strangest thing seen on vacation:
Six AM-ish Saturday morning found us on the turnpike between Oklahoma City and Tulsa (or the way our former Czechoslovakian preacher said it, Toolsa). We’re tootling along in the right-hand lane and I notice a car in the left-hand lane is quickly catching us (go figure). As it gets closer, I notice it’s a late-model BMW Z3 convertible. Nice car. Maybe it just wasn’t light enough to see clearly, but if I didn’t know she was long dead, I would swear it was Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies driving.
Funniest thing heard on vacation:
It’s late Tuesday afternoon by the time everyone is piled into the car for the return trip home. The kids immediately break out their GameBoys (we don’t allow them at Grandpa and Grandma’s house, that’s not what we’re there for). There were several things Mrs. A and I pointed out to them while we were driving: new calves for the cows, a herd of goats, a persistent rainbow, and a spectacular crimson sunset among them. I could see in the rearview mirror that neither head in the back seat so much as looked up when we spoke. We got as far as Toolsa before we stopped for the night (if we’re going to stay in a hotel anyway, might as well be part way home, eh?). Dinner conversation eventually worked its way around to the GameBoy freaks. The EAC says,
Dad, there was only about an hour of daylight left. It was crunch-time.
Perfectly understandable, don’t you think?
See you later
As I mentioned earlier, I'll not have much of a presence next week due to vacation and sleeping late and eating big and all that junk. ::sigh:: I guess I'll suffer through some how.
I wonder who's going to win Terry's
contest? I have a sneaking suspicion that Not LittleA feller is going to wind up getting me disqualified. Maybe Nate
was right. Maybe it is
a plot to do me in by the Vociferous Rabid Weasel Choir. (Actually, he said the VRWC, but I think he was talking about singing weasels...I think)
Anyway, y'all have a great week.
Somebody has been posting comments over at Possumblog
as Not LittleA
and people think it's me! Just because Terry is running a contest and I happen to be one of the contestants (and contrary to the rumors, I don't even OWN a Speedo
), and this Not LittleA fellow seems to think I'm the bestest, most smartest, funniest, cleverest person in the contest, why should I be blamed?
Look, just because he has obviously
good taste, doesn't mean that he is me. I mean, after all, just 'cause this Not LittleA guy happens to be perceptive and right-thinking doesn't mean that you should automatically assume the worst about me, right? So what if he happens to have the same IP address as me? That could be a coincidence, right? Why, for me to post gushing comments about me on another site using a clever
pseudonym, I'd have to be a egocentric, narcissistic, puffed-up...
What are you looking at me like that for?
Next week is spring break for the kiddos. The whole Aardvark clan is going to be getting up really early in the morning (some of you may still be up) and piling in the car and heading to Missouri to spend a few more days with my dad. He has a doctor's appointment on Monday and we'll find out what his options are. The tests he had a couple of weeks ago all came back looking good, so hopefully this whole thing will turn out to be not nearly as serious as we once thought.
Anyway, posting for the early part of next week will be non-existent and for the latter part of the week, sporadic if at all. Hey. I'm on vacation, for crying out loud.
We don't need no stinkin' badges!
Somebody I know (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) is having a little anxiety
about not following the "rules." She's like that. I keep telling her that she gets to make up her own rules. Maybe she'll believe it if you
Oh, yeah, and since she reads slower than some of us, she's asked that we stop typing so fast. Help a girl out, would ya?
Hot lunch date
Punctuate that anyway you like.
Mrs. A just called and she's on her way here to pick me up for an impromptu lunch date. Sweet! I'll let you know if anything blogworthy happens. ;-)
UPDATE: We went to Tai-Pan. I had the MSG plate. Yum, yum! Egg rolls are a food group, right?
"Others will be impressed with your generosity." was what my fortune cookie said. ::blush:: What can I say, I'm a giver.
(Sounds to me like someone's fishing for a big tip.)
I voted 15 times on Tuesday
Well, not really. That would be illegal.
The statewide turnout for Tuesday's primary was about 12.5%. Tarrant county had no real barn-burner local races and turnout here was a paltry 6.5%. That's where the 15 came from. 1/15 of the eligible voters participated. What's really sad is that the State House seat for my district had 595 people vote - from 64 precincts. Less than 10 votes per precinct. Won't stop the non-voters from complaining loudly, though.
I knew turnout was going to be real light when Mrs. A told me that at 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, her vote was number 26. And there were three
precincts voting at our polling place. Three precincts - 26 votes. That's pathetic.
(I'm sure the final count was higher, but probably not too much since 595/64 = 9.3 votes per precinct and 26/3 = 8.67 votes per precinct.)
The sound you make when a coworker develops a Dr. Laura fetish and plays old broadcasts on the web. ALL. FLAMING. DAY
I've asked her to turn it down at least a half dozen times. And she does. Until she has to turn the sound all the way down to answer her phone, after which, the sound goes back to the old 'too loud' volume. She travels a lot, but this week she's been in the office every day.
Oh, "I've got a new attitude" all right.
LittleA - Education Tsar (continued)
The way I see it, most of the problems we talk about with public education aren't problems in their own right, but merely symptoms of a single underlying problem - a root cause, if you prefer.
Education is no longer an opportunity to be taken advantage of, but a right that must be given.
There's a big difference between the two. When education was an opportunity, the outcome was primarily controlled by the person with the opportunity, i.e. the student. In order to get an education, you were expected to do certain things, like attend class, do homework, pay attention and follow the rules (obey authority). If you did those things, you could have some reasonable expectation of success, at least to the level you were capable of achieving. There were no guaranteed outcomes; pass or fail was primarily in the hands of the student. If you didn't do what was expected, you were allowed to receive the consequences of your failure. That's not the way it is today. When education is a right, it is something that must be given by the state REGARDLESS of the wishes of the recipient.
The trend towards viewing education as a right has been around for quite a while, but I don't think it really took hold until sometime in the 1970's. Student grades began to be less and less about the students and more and more about the teachers and administrations. The shift was subtle, yet pervasive. Coincidentally, or not, the 70's are when the teacher's unions began rapidly expanding and flexing their powers. It's also the time when the family structure was changing. Divorce became more and more common and single parent families were not unusual. In addition, the 70s saw the rise of two-income families. Mom was less and less likely to be at home when the kids got out of school and dealing with sick (or unruly) kids became a scheduling hassle with parents.
When Johnny started receiving failing grades, it was no longer because Johnny messed up, it was the SCHOOL'S fault for failing to provide poor Johnny with the tools he needed (like more teachers or special programs). No matter that Johnny had the same opportunity as everyone else, and no matter that Johnny didn't WANT to succeed, the school was still obligated not only to provide Johnny with an education, but to make sure he succeeded. After all, it was his right
. And that's where the problems begin.
The first thing to go was any authority the school had to control Johnny's behavior. Since many parents worked, they began to be more upset with the schools for calling them in to help than they were with Johnny for misbehaving. They couldn't be taking time off. The school must handle it on their own - without actually touching Johnny of course. Time to start adding more counselors and administrators. And since Johnny MUST get an education, kicking his sorry keister to the curb became less and less of an option. In short order, Johnny realized he was no longer accountable for his actions. If he goofed up, it was the teacher's fault or the principal's fault or someone else's fault, never his. And of course, Johnny, being such a GOOD boy, never took advantage of this.
The next thing to go were standards. Johnny can no longer fail, so instead of holding Johnny to a standard, we begin holding the standards to Johnny. Maybe there are other reasons why Johnny isn't succeeding? So we start tinkering with curriculum and diagnosing Johnny with ADHD and the like. (I KNOW there are kids who have legitimate problems, but how did all those generations of kids manage to learn before Ritalin?) Anything but admit that Johnny is a ne'r-do-well. And since we can no longer hold Johnny accountable for his performance, we begin to prop up his feelings. Everybody's a winner. Johnny just has low self-esteem. If Johnny insists on under-performing, then Johnny gets promoted anyway. What matters is not that Johnny learns, but that Johnny gets a piece of paper after 12 years saying he succeeded.
And we wonder why public schools churn through teachers? Most teachers I know will tell you their #1 frustration is their inability to control what goes on in the classroom. They are not allowed to discipline students (sending them to the office has become more a REWARD than a punishment), not allowed to fail students, not allowed to teach to the top students level, only to Johnny's level, and not allowed to deviate from the mandated curriculums. I love to teach, but you couldn't pay me enough to deal with the kids and administrators today. My exposure to 7th graders in the mid 90's through a Junior Achievement program was all I needed to see. The inmates run the asylum.
So how do we fix it?
I don't think you can get there from here.
But if I were KING, I'd
Acknowledge that you can't teach kids who don't WANT to be taught.
Mandate that public education must be offered to all children.
Mandate that all children are required to attend school through the 8th grade.
Mandate that after the 6th grade, there should be a trade school option for those uninterested in continuing a traditional education.
Mandate that parents will be held responsible for the education of any children under the age of 14 who are not in school. After 14, let 'em get a job if they don't want to go to school.
Mandate that children who are disruptive will not be allowed to attend public school. They must either find a private school or become home schooled.
I'm sure there are a lot of holes in that, as these things always sound good in theory but are lacking in practice. But my basic thought is to get rid of the kids who are clogging up the system because they have NO DESIRE to learn. No Child Left Behind, my eye. That's exactly the problem. We SHOULD leave some of these kids behind. That sounds harsh, but they are sitting in my kid's classrooms right now acting up and dumbing-down and as a result are making it difficult for the rest of the kids who actually WANT to be there to learn anything. I guarantee, you make education a privilege
instead of a right and some of these same kids will be begging to get back in.
LittleA - Education Tsar
I still haven't figured out how our public education system got so messed up. Today's problems have been a long time coming, and unfortunately, I hold little hope of them ever being resolved. I fear they will only get worse. Let me give you an example of what's wrong with the system. Fair warning - I found my inner snark today.
McKinney is a moderately well-to-do community in Collin County. (close to Dallas) Here
is what the school Superintendent has to say about their dress code
"We don't want to waste time checking midriffs and shorts when we should be teaching. But there have to be some limits," Dr. David Anthony said. "I don't believe in a homogenized society, and I believe you shouldn't have rules you can't enforce."
Ok, where to start. Let's start with the biggest issue first. Who is in charge of the McKinney school district? The Superintendent, right? "I believe you shouldn't have rules you can't enforce." Am I imagining things, or did he just admit to being incompetent? It's not that the dress code CAN'T be enforced, but HIS teachers and administrators are UNWILLING to enforce it. Hmmm. Now why might that be? Well, what happens to a child who is out of dress code? For simple violations, they might have to turn a T-shirt inside out or wear another shirt over the one they have on. That doesn't seem to be too difficult. For more flagrant violations, the kids are SENT HOME. Now, what happens when a child is sent home? If it happens before 10 AM, the school doesn't get PAID for that child for that day. That's why our school district sends these kids to a holding area and sends them home AFTER 10 AM. Seems to me that teaching isn't the highest priority here. And you know what? Since the Superintendent doesn't think they should have rules they can't enforce, let's let the kids bring their guns and knives and cigarettes and pot and speed and heroin to school too since there seems to be a little problem enforcing THOSE rules as well. Oh yeah, and sex in the bathroom stalls or on the bus or in the back of the classroom? No problem. Enjoy.
"I don't believe in a homogenized society" Wow. That's brilliant. And that's cogent to the dress code, exactly how? Making Johnny take out his eyebrow piercing and pull up his pants or making Janie keep her "I love Bubba" thigh tattoo covered is homogenizing? What about the dress code for staff? Now there's a homogenized group if I ever saw one. Why don't we lighten up on the teacher's dress code too, since homogenization is such a bad thing?
"But there have to be some limits" Really? Why? I mean, you know kids, they always are going to push the limits anyway, and then you're not going to enforce those limits either, so you'll be right back where you are now, only with lower standards. And we wonder why kids don't respect authority.
"We don't want to waste time checking midriffs and shorts when we should be teaching" Oh yeah. It's all about the teaching. You know what, let's stop taking attendance too. What a waste of time when we should be teaching.
Now, believe it or not (or as 7-11 used to say, "Believe it or Slurp it!"), it gets worse. Here are a few selected quotes from parents and students in the McKinney district.
"Lighten up on a few things and maybe" other clothes won't be a problem, said Marilynn Beesley, mother of a ninth-grader at McKinney High. She said her daughter may occasionally show a quarter-inch of midriff . "She is stylish, but she doesn't seem interested in showing her belly or getting her navel pierced," she said. "So far anyway. I know that could change."
See limits above. And three guesses as to who calls the shots in the Beesley family.
"It's really hot in Texas, and you want to wear a tank top," Rachael said. "But it's questionable what you can wear." Rachael's father, Toby Grist, said he doesn't want a dress code that keeps his daughter from being herself. "I raise my kids to be individuals, but to the extent that it doesn't hurt anyone and isn't obscene." Some dress codes, he said, "take away from individualism."
You know they have this new thing now called AIR CONDITIONING and rumor has it, they're even going to start bringing it to TEXAS soon. And who knew that by making my kids follow the dress code I was really bringing them up to be mindless drones? Wow. I bet that will really damage their self esteem.
Kellee Widener, an 11th-grader at McKinney's ACT Academy, sometimes questions the revealing clothes of her classmates but said their fashion choices aren't as disruptive as schools say. "If you're there to learn, you'll learn. If you're distracted, you're already distracted," Kellee said. "Clothes don't have anything to do with it."
She's right, you know. Why don't we just send 'em naked?
Oops, I'm out of time. I'll have to give you MY solutions to all of our education woes tomorrow.
Civic duty? Check.
I was the second person at the polling place this morning. When I walked in, there was already a guy filling in the arrows over at one of the voting booths. Two SLOLs (sweet little old ladies) took care of the paperwork with only moderate difficulty. See, in the primary, they're supposed to stamp your voter registration card with the party affiliation for that polling site, Republican in my case. The Democrats have completely separate sites. Well, all was well and good as the SLOL picked up the rubber stamp and inspected it to make sure it was the real deal. Only one small problem. She thought it said "REP", but what it really said was "REJ". I'm thinking that's a different connotation altogether. Problem realized and correct rubber stamp located and applied. Great, now I have a voter registration card that says I'm a rejected Republican. I'm hoping that doesn't cause problems in future elections, but I guess we'll just have to see. The other SLOL finds the right ballot for my precinct and also has a little rubber stamp issue trying to apply the County Election Clerk's name to the ballot. (aka Foreigner - Double Vision)
Finally, I'm off to the booth. Ninety percent of the people running were unopposed in the primary. Interestingly enough, there were two choices for President: GWB or Undecided. Maybe it's just me, but I'm thinking if you're coming to vote in the Republican primary, maybe, just maybe, you might want to have made up your mind before now. I mean, if I pick "Undecided" just who do I THINK will make it one the ballot instead? Shrug.
Filled in all my arrows and turn around and what'd'ya know? The other guy is STILL filling in his arrows. (He must be Undecided) SWEET! I let the machine eat my ballot and the little electronic readout on the front shows "0001". FIRST!
Sorry folks, polls closed. We got the only vote we needed.
Well, at least that's what the voices in my head said.
I know you won't believe this
But I performed not one, but TWO mechanical/home repair type tasks this weekend. Then I had to lie down for a while.
Item #1 was handled right after dinner on Friday night. The EAC's light, which is part of the ceiling fan, wouldn't stay on. The fan worked fine, but the light would wink on and off intermittently. "That's probably the pull-switch acting up" says I, much to the amazement of passers-by. So, with the wall switch off, but the breaker still on, I disconnected the old pull-switch, making sure that wire A was as far away from wire B as possible. Now, I know I SHOULD have turned the breaker off just to be safe, but c'mon, what could possible happen. To me. It's not like I have a whole history of ineptitude or any...thing... Oh, wait... I do.
Anyway, I managed to take the old switch out without electrocuting myself, (I TOLD you the wall switch was off) and so a quick trip to the hardware store down the street and $5.00 later
(Yeah, I know that's too much to pay, but it was worth it not to have to deal with all the traffic to get to Home Depot, not to mention the extra time I'd have spent wandering the aisles with that panicked 'I don't belong here' look. At least the hardware store employs enough folks to almost always have someone give you immediate attention if you need it, and if anybody needs it, brother, it's me.)
it was back home again to do the installation. Mrs. A INSISTED that I turn the breaker off before I touched anything. I couldn't quite catch it, but I think she was muttering something like, "You ain't leaving me with these danged kids, Mister!" under her breath. Some people have no faith. So I fiddled around with the breaker box (like THAT'S safe!) and managed to find the right one on only the second try, seeing as how only half of them are labeled (plus one now). New switch went in and guess what? The light works! SWEET! I even got my hands a little dirty in the process!
Item #2 was to open up the vacuum cleaner to figure out why it didn't suck. (Insert Bill & Ted or Beavis & Butthead joke here) It just hasn't been picking up like it should. Found one problem right away. The beater-brush was wrapped up tight with long, fine, red hair. (The YAC sheds like a cat) Fixed that, then figured I might better dig a little deeper. Five screws later and I had the top cover off and had the intake path cleared out of what little junk there was. Nothing there that should degrade performance. Decided that's about as far as I should go, since the motor was a) well covered b) difficult to get to and c) I wouldn't have a clue anyway. So, I put it back together, and took it apart to realign pieces, and put it back together, and took it apart, and put it back together, ::sigh::, and took it apart, and FINALLY put it back together. The test run did show some improvement in performance (mostly related to the beater-brush), but it still doesn't suck like it should. Not only did I get my hands REAL dirty, but I also had a pounding headache by the time I was done. That's where the part about lying down comes in.
Anyway, that's about as handy as I get. Fortunately for me, Mrs. A has grown kinda fond of me, so she keeps me around and feeds me regularly anyway.
William tells all
At the Friday night meal, the Youngest Aardvark Child (YAC) asked a question.
What is quicksilver, anyway?
Now, you must understand, this question stands alone. It's not related to anything else that had been discussed up to that point. Just kind of popped up out of the blue. Naturally, being the helpful father I am, I gave her a clear and concise answer almost immediately.
That's what the Lone Ranger told his horse when he was in a hurry.
Hey, I said clear and concise. Nobody said anything about accurate. So, I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself with that witty answer when the YAC says
Uhhh...I don't get it.
"You know," I say, "The Lone Ranger?" and I break into a 'Dump da-da dump' rendition of the Lone Ranger theme.
Isn't that the William Tell Overture?
Ask anybody from my generation or the generation (or two?) before mine to identify this music and the first response would be "That's the song from The Lone Ranger!" (and of course most also know it's the William Tell). Then there's THIS generation who thinks the Lone Ranger was a character on Walker, Texas Ranger.
By the way, she DID get a legitimate answer to her question.
Now pass me the Geritol, would ya? And where did my cane get to?
(...and where are my pants!?!)
I can see for smiles and smiles
Got the old pearly whites cleaned this morning. No problems even though it was the dental hygenist that I don't particulary care for. She's actually a very good hygenist, she just doesn't have much of a 'chair-side' manner. I had one pocket of plaque on the back-side of my back molar (would that be a molar butt? Ewwww.) that was giving her some difficulty. Evidently, I have a small depression there that collects stuff. She worked at it for a while and then said, "Well, it looks like I'm going to have to get out the Cavinator."
Which starts me to thinking, "No!!!!! Not the Cavinator!!!! I wonder what a Cavinator is, anyway?"
So, I asked. Turns out it's not something from a Sci-fi flick or even someone related to the Governor of Golly-vornya. It's a tool with a hook that vibrates. The hook lets them get into depressions like the one I have and the vibration helps shake the plaque loose. Huh. Who knew? Learn something new every day.
Whew! That was close
Just got through posting yesterday when ... bzzzzrrrrrttttt.
The power went off. And stayed off for about 2 hours. Of course, about the time that you're ready to give up and start sending folks home (and going home yourself!!!!), it comes back on.
A coworker commented that you can tell the difference between the people who have offices and company cars and those who don't by the way they respond to the power outage.
Office and company cars - "Dang it! I have things to do. Hmmm...better make sure my staff stays busy."
The rest of us - "SNOW DAY!!!! WOOT! WOOT!"
May I have a blogroll please?
New additions to the old blogroll thanks to the post I did a while back asking for suggestions.
First up is John Rabe of Rabe Ramblings
. How can you not like a guy who has a blog subtitle of "Even I barely care..."?
Next are the Priscilla and Aquilla of the blogging world, Discoshaman and TulipGirl. Ok, better make that Aquilla and Priscilla lest people think I'm redefining terms. Discoshaman runs Le Sabot Post-Moderne
, which is a fancified way of saying, "Post-modernists run away! Before I mock you again!" TulipGirl is married to Discoshaman and she puts her two cents in (or should that be kopeks?) over at Tulipgirl
. She says it's hard to find good Tex-Mex in the Ukraine. I wonder how they're fixed for Ranch Style
Then there's Lexxiblog
, which is written by Athena. She lives in Southern California (but we don't hold that against her), and serves up a nice mix of politics and life (don't let those exxtra exxes throw you off).
And lastly, I give you, the Midwest Conservative Journal
. I need to find out what Christopher S. Johnson eats for breakfast and get me some. Whatever it is, it's extra snarky and leaves no bitter aftertaste. It's rare that I read his blog without laughing out loud.
Go on by and check 'em out.
Being the cynic that I am
I figure if a consititutional amendment were passed defining marriage as between a man and a woman, that still wouldn't put the issue to rest. Instead, the battle would only shift to redefining the terms "man" and "woman".
Call me crazy.
Sign of the Apocalypse # 4,371
The billboards are up.
Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Not even for a Scooby Snack.
(danged meddling kids...)
So John Kerry is going to be the Democratic contender? That's nice.
For lots of folks the biggest issue in November will be the war on terror. And while that's a big one for me, it's not THE biggest. The number one reason I will be voting for George W. Bush this fall? Supreme Court vacancies.
I believe the America that my grandkids (may they be a long time coming) inhabit will be determined more by the makeup of the SCOTUS than by any other factor, terrorism included. And while I hold no great hope that our society's current downward moral spiral can be reversed (or even halted, for that matter), I can
hope that a more conservative SCOTUS won't be greasing the rails.
That's MR. Led to you
One of the attorneys where I work is in her late twenties. My boss, who just turned forty, was talking to her yesterday and mentioned something along the lines of, "That reminds me of that Led Zeppelin song." To which the young attorney replied, "I'm not familiar with him
(Of course the answer I would have given is that he is Lynyrd Skynyrd's brother)
The first time I realized I was no longer mainstream when it came to music was about 1986 (so I was what? all of 24?). I tend to sing a lot at work. One coworker commented, "Sitting next to LittleA is like living in a musical." Like there's anything WRONG with that. The problem is, I'm TERRIBLE with lyrics, usually only remembering snippets. It's rare that I know more than just a couple of lines. Another coworker calls this "chronic lyricosis". Sounds right to me. Anyway, I am very much a word association guy so when people talk it sets off all this music in my head. (At least my voices are put to music!)
Anyway, back to the point (like that ever matters), in 1986 one of the young ladies in the office said something that started me to singing Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are". She looked at me and asked, "Have you been listening to your K-Tel records again?"
What's worse is that you youngsters out there will read this and ask, "What's K-Tel? I don't get it."
Contrary to anything you might hear from a certain female blogger in the coming days, I AM NOT!
I saw that one coming
We had visitors in Sunday School last Sunday. A class member ran into these folks at a restaurant on Saturday and invited them to church on Sunday. They were total strangers prior to that. Sometimes that's how things work, you know?
Nice couple. Mid 40's - technically too old for our class, but then again, at least half of us are technically too old for our class. From Vancouver B.C. of all places. Seemed to fit right in.
The lesson was the second of a two-parter on money, using selected Proverbs. We sluggards considered the ant, discussed the folly of co-signing notes, and agreed that generosity was better all around than stinginess. (Which reminds me of the BEST prayer I've ever heard before taking up the offering - "Lord, help us not to be stingy. Amen." Short, sweet and to the point, although it did freak out the pianist as she normally has more time to prepare for the offertory than that.)
When class was dismissed, this couple approached me and commented on the timeliness of that day's study and that they wanted to talk to me further about it and would I have a business card so they could call me on Monday and arrange a time? Call me cynical, but little alarm bells started ringing.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Only if you're thinking Multi-Level Marketing Opportunity.
But... What if they really did
want to continue the discussion or have a theological issue to hash out? The ol' ego says,
Well, WHO ELSE would they talk to? I mean they've had to come all the way from CANADA to find answers to their questions. Naturally YOU'LL be the one to set them on the path to enlightenment.
Hmmm. Probably not, but I'd hate to put them off on the off-chance that they are legitimately seeking answers. So I gave them my phone number(s) and told them I was available.
They called yesterday morning and I met them for lunch at the Riscky's (mmmm...barbeque) in the Stockyards. Sure enough, they used Sunday's talk of practicing sound finances as a lever to introduce me to their fast growing business, which coincidentally enough was about financial protection (among other things). Before they started the pitch they telegraphed it by their gushing comments on visiting Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral and how the phrase "If you can believe it, you can achieve it" was in big letters on the side of the building that housed the gift shop. (There are so
many things wrong with that last sentence...)
You'd be proud of me (well at least SOME of you would be proud of me) because I listened to their whole spiel with feigned interest, making plenty of eye contact and supportive noises. Pretending to go along with them is the only way to really get rid of these types without starting an argument. (remember, I'm a conflict avoider) And it also shortens the spiel by at least half. Hmmm. I must have retained some of my acting chops from my Hello Dolly gig. I have to admit, I make a pretty good mark (being an adult Sunday School teacher), having already overcome all (well, most anyway) of my fears of speaking in front of people, so even though they didn't really want my spiritual guidance, I can salve my ego with THAT. I left murmuring non-committal noises, pretending interest in the marketing brochures they gave me.
To their credit, they didn't push the hard-sell and were pleasant company. On the negative side, they did use the spiritual angle as a marketing tool, being less than honest about their desire to meet with me in the first place.
Hope they're not too disappointed when the seat they're saving for me at the recruiting meeting (not what THEY called it, but that's what it is) tonight goes unfilled. This is one opportunity of a lifetime that I'm going to have to pass up.
Just for fun
I had a referral today from this site:
Which turns out to be a mirror image (egami rorrim) of the Google search engine.
Who knew that you could find Terry
by searching for "golbmussoP"?
For the record
Since it seems these days that you can't say anything without someone else saying
Well, yes, but you didn't say anything when THIS happened, or when THAT happened, so why are you speaking up now?
I wish to publicly state that I, LittleA, am against everything everyone has ever done, or will do.
Seriously, though, criticizing people for what they HAVEN'T said is not really a valid argument as much as it is an obfuscation. If I say that Rep. Corrine Brown's comments to Roger Noriega were out of line, pointing out that I haven't commented on what Trent Lott said matters how exactly? It doesn't invalidate
my opinion on Rep. Brown's comments but merely attempts to change the subject to whether or not I'm even ALLOWED to have an opinion.
If you're feeling especially lucky, try this line of reasoning on the police officer the next time you're pulled over for speeding: "There were other people speeding and you didn't pull THEM over." Good luck with that.
Remember, your AAA card can
be used as a Bail Bond Certificate.
Come Saturday morning
I was hooked up to the blood sucking, centrifuging, platelet extracting device by about 8:15. It was one of the old machines this time and for the first time in three tries I was able to give a full donation.
Huzzah! Huzzah! (Huzzah?)
There was another guy who was in the chair next to me that started about 15 minutes after I did. He was interesting to observe since he didn't fit the normal pattern of platelet donors. Most people who give platelets seem to be more of the laid-back, easy-going types. I mean, when you find out you're going to be hooked up to the machine for at least 90 minutes, the impatient folks kind of weed themselves out. But this guy gave off a hostility vibe from the very beginning. I don't know what he was angry about, but something was bugging him. They had a two-arm setup run for him (I do a one-arm, so at least I can scratch my nose if I need to - and I ALWAYS need to for some reason) which means that he was getting a needle in both arms. Once they go in, you can't bend your elbow or even move your arm without doing some major damage, so you have to ask the technician to do things like change the channel on the TV or fix the headphones that slipped off your head or arrange the blanket or (worst of all) help you blow your nose. Maybe that was a source of his irritation, but I don't think so. He kind of snipped at the techs a couple of times when they didn't do things fast enough for him. When it was time to take the feed line out of his left arm, he started asking, "When are going to take THIS one out?" about the return line in his right arm. The techs were more patient than I would have been, telling him it would only be a few more minutes. In my head (where I say all my snarky things when I'm in public), my response was, "They can take it out right now, bub, if you don't need that quart of plasma that's still in the machine back." I managed to keep my mouth shut.
I finished just before he did and naturally, a trip down the hall to the little boy's room is the first item on the agenda. I passed him in the hall on the way back, and he was still giving off the angry vibe, like the whole thing was a big inconvenience. It takes all kinds, I guess.