Friday, February 29, 2008

two miles an hour...

so everybody sees you. random ludacris reference aside, i feel like i'm going two miles an hour in some regards and 200 mph in others. life is frenetic here. an hour or so a day to unwind at most, it's no wonder that i melt into stupidity and tv as soon as i get home when i don't have something to do at night. it's also no wonder i'm barely productive in the hour and change i stay after work most days. when i've got plans, i get twice the work done in half the time. go figure!

two miles an hour seems to be the pace that i'm working on some other things. it took me a month to prep and paint my table. it took me 4 months to get the chairs i wanted together so i could actually eat on it. after my handmade checkers christmas gift, it took me almost two months to paint the box for it. now it sits waiting for competition. now the great car search begins. it started with much research. first test drive, much disappointment. i won't rule out the possibility of the V6, but i just wasn't $13,000 worth of impressed. as my dad pointed out, i'll likely be driving this one for a while.

back to square one. my "helper" in the form of a student's parent that pretty much runs a group of dealerships around here has been great. i replayed my experience to her, she laughed and said, "we often talk about how people have become tire clickers instead of tire kickers on the lot." in the running now, the V6 nissan xterra, scion xB, vw GTI, mazda 3i, dodge charger, toyota 4runner, honda element. any other ideas?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

jack roosevelt robinson

and your starting shortstop, from UCLA, number 42...JACKIE ROOOOOOOOBINSONNNNNNN!

starring this week in our study of famous americans is the man, the myth, the legend. at first glance, you might think, "why are you learning about a baseball player? so what if it's black history month! he's still only a mere athlete..." and so on. there's a lot more to be drawn from branch rickey's "experiment" than meets the eye.

robinson has a lot in common with a more famous civil rights leader by the name of martin luther king, jr. both are from georgia. both enjoyed, if not excelled in sports at a young age. both were subject to vile hatred by people that they'd never met, even death threats. earlier today though, i myself was questioning his inclusion in our study of famous americans. i screened a supplemental video on youtube, then selectively showed it to the class.

as we paused and discussed during the clip, one of my students was visibly moved by it. afterwards, this shy boy came up to me and explained why. he was able to transport himself into robinson's cleats by virtue of his treatment as a muslim in a christian country. he knew how it felt to be judged by his appearance by people who didn't know him at all. instantly, it made sense. on the higher order, seemingly simple topics such as these can make quite an impact. i'm simultaneously proud and saddened by this bright eight year-old making that connection. on one hand, i know this is a cruel world, and sugarcoating life for children only makes that adjustment harder when they grow up. on the other, what the hell is wrong with our country that he's been robbed of the innocence of his youth by knowing this harsh reality already?

we've come a long way since abe, susan, jackie, and martin, but we still have a long way to go...


gotcha! i'm not pregnant.

random dream last night. i'm having a party. housewarming or something. lots of people from florida came to visit. a lot of people actually. candler. palmer. clowe. a few exes. a few people i haven't talked to in months or longer. one of the not-forgotten friends was in the dream with his wife, who was pregnant when i left florida. now, in the dream, i apparently didn't know that, and they chose the trip for my party to tell me. i was all excited for them, as i was in real life way back when i found out.

so, i email him this morning when i wake up since i thought it was really strange that he was in my dream. how's life? when's she due? are you a papa yet? he writes back. she had our son. yesterday. at 2am. probably when i was having that dream.

is that weird or what?!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

movie time...

some from this weekend. name these fx and other flix...

1. "We don't need reparations! We need restraint!...Restraint"! Some discipline! Don't go out and buy a Range Rover when you livin' with your mama! And pay your mama some rent! And can we please, please, please try and teach our kids something other than the "Chronic" album? And please, Black people, try and be on time for something other than free before eleven at the club!

2. "No sugar? Damn. Y'all ain't never got two things that match. Either y'all got Kool-aid, no sugar. Peanut butter, no jelly. Ham, no burger. Daaamn."

3. "Ladies and gentlemen, you all have one thing in common: you're all being blackmailed. For some considerable time, all of you have been paying what you can afford, and in some cases MORE than you can afford, to someone who threatens to expose you. And NONE of you know WHO's blackmailing you. Do you?"

4. "I'm not the guy you kill. I'm the guy you buy! Are you so fucking blind that you don't even see what I am? I sold out Arthur for 80 grand. I'm your easiest problem and you're gonna kill me?"

5. "Oh, it's nobody's fault but my own! I was looking up... it was the nearest thing to heaven! You were there..."

and yes, that is quite a switch between the first three and the last two. using google is cheating. i was going to go in order of theatrical release, but i thought grouping them by ridiculousness and quintessential leading men would be better in light of the conversations i've had about each.

Monday, February 25, 2008

the sound of silence

ever work with someone that can't stop talking? back in the day, there was this ned flanders clone that i worked with. every morning at the job site, he'd be happy as a pig in shit. forgive the language, but let's remember that i'm talking about my redneck roots. anyhow, in this story, i am homer simpson in my distaste for ned's upbeat and often judgmental comments emanating from beneath his pushbroom mustache. there was just something about his holier-than-thou attitude that made his constant chatter the bane of my workday. it finally got to me one day. his insistence on calling me benny-boy or son snapped the camel's back. i went off on him. he wasn't the boss, and he wasn't a good co-worker. he didn't respect me, it showed daily, and i lost it.

i've worked other places since where a co-worker has had the tendency to fill silence with inane chatter. more often than not, i deal with it better now; however, the smothering of mothering has gotten to me from time to time. the difference is that now it's out of kindness and helpfulness and not a need to feel superior to me. still though, i'm starting to tune out those co-workers when i ought not to. i prefer silence often, and i also use my mp3 player to keep my focus. my palmer-induced ADD makes it hard enough to focus without interruptions.

am i developing the male tendency towards selective listening? or am i truly ADD and having trouble coping?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

en vino veritas

apparently, northern virginia and maryland are on approximately the same latitude as napa valley, northern italy, and france. add the corresponding southern latitudes of chile, south africa and australia, and the local vineyards are in quite heady company. source: drunk on life and wine tour guide allen.

i went to a wine-tasting event at boordy vineyards yesterday. fond-of-you fondue in february. next month, stew in our stews and get stewed. april, red, whites, and bluegrass. a lot of their wines were pretty sweet, and their drier reds were a little young. in the interest of selling more wine, they told us that aging one of their bottles for about 5 years would make it pretty tasty. not being a oenophile, i don't have a stockpile of wine that i'd even consider that. if you are a wino, let me know in five years. i'll just stick to their others. i don't like dry wines anyhow.

as was the case in georgetown at mr. smith's, our gregarious performer (allen the tour guide) picked the two of us to make running commentary about. in georgetown, it was pretty funny because we'd only been dating for two months. john at the bar was predicting love and marriage and babies in carriages. whether that happens remains to be seen, but yesterday's commentary was a little more..."colorful". by colorful, i mean blush-inducing. it wasn't all that bad. if it were, i wouldn't be planning on return trips for more tasting and music and food and fun.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


all day thursday, we were praying for the worst weather imaginable so we could have a weather-induced three day weekend. i woke up yesterday morning, with a feeling of dread. no snow on the ground. what looked like wet roads out the bedroom window. turned on the tv. as it scrolled through the districts canceling school, my hope grew. montgomery county maryland--no school. arlington county virginia--no school. alexandria city public schools--no school. loudoun county virginia--no school. fairfax county virginia--no school! yippee!

walked outside. slick, wet, icy, nasty. ugh!

i decided the night before if we had the day off, i was going to go play in the snow while the rest of my sucker friends had to work. her roommates are teachers too, and one of them likes the snow. actually, she grew up in vermont. it's kind of in her blood. she agreed that it was a good idea.

we set out on wet roads, hopeful that the conditions on the website were in fact awesome. i know you rocky mountain or other "real" mountain people scoff at this, but 2-4" of natural snow and some manmade too is worlds better than the slushy, icy mess that beat my butt (literally) on my first excursion.

fluffy, white powdery. no lift lines. i could actually turn 9 times out of 10. when i fell, it was easier to bounce back up. i conquered the green runs, and my fellow shredder convinced me to get on a blue run. mind you, visibility was a little less than ideal though the slopes were pretty great. getting on a steeper run with worse visibility...let's just say ahead of time, i was apprehensive, but i did it.

and survived. yes, i fell more often, but all i had to do was try to discern the baby blue figure carving just barely in view to make sure i was headed the right direction. progress! let's see if i can get one more full day in before the close of the season. it was a helluva lot better than working yesterday, that's for sure!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

tee hee!

today, one of my students was sneaking out of the bathroom. when i asked him to flush and put the seat down, he got this deer in the headlights look. not unlike a kid that's done something wrong. not terribly wrong, like caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

"i didn't go to the bathroom."
"well, then what were you doing in the bathroom?"
"um, it's kind of embarrassing..."

we quietly walk back into the bathroom, i half-close the door, and motion for him to whisper it in my ear.

quiet as a mouse came the explanation, "i had to fart."

old man winter...

he's an orn'ry fella. i wish he'd make up his mind. i was excited to see the lunar eclipse tonight, but old man winter decided to snow all over my plans. monday i was short-sleeved. today, somewhere between flurries and actual snowfall. overcast skies as it were so there will be no gazing at the heavens this evening.

i've got chili in the crock pot and an 80s movie from netflix. hoping for the nastiness to dump some real weather on us on friday. just one snow day, dammit! that's all i ask...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

you better recognize...

i awoke to a spring-like day. i should've been in flip flops. short sleeves. weather hit the high at about 9 in the a.m. what a day to go adventuring in the city!

for the first time, i disembarked at metro center. quite a different feel than the neighborhoods i normally frequent. a lot more urban. late morning sun glinting off the canyon of buildings around us. four blocks later, we find our destination. the national portrait gallery and the american museum of art. (yes, the very same museum where a portrait of stephen colbert hangs outside the second floor men's room.) as with all smithsonian museums, it was free. surprisingly, it wasn't as crowded as expected for a holiday weekend. i guess not as many people get/take presidents' day off as i thought.

the museum is awesome. the american presidents exhibit was really informative. the stories behind the portraits filled me in on the presidencies of men i barely recognize as presidents. my two favorites were jfk and nixon. jfk because it was pretty abstract, kind of warhol-esque, and really portrayed the era. nixon because his was done by norman rockwell. the caption was the best part of that.

that was great and all, but the exhibit we set out to see was called Recognize: Hip-Hop and Contemporary Portraiture. i found out about it through a weekly email i get from the washington post about cool, off-the-beaten path things to do. there's been some misses in its recommendations, but all in all, it succeeds on informing me about a lot of the things i go to in the district. there were elements of the so-called four parts of hip hop culture: MCing, DJing, break dancing, and graffiti. the graffiti on display was from local artists. the portraits were amazing paintings or photographs of underground, trailblazing, and big name artists alike. there was an amazing mixed media three-dimensional work from shinique smith with a spoken word performance by a prolific poet named nikki giovanni.

it was awesome to see the diversity of the exhibit goers, young and old in every color of the rainbow and walk of life. it was especially great to see what i would consider non-traditional museum goers checking it out, then wandering around the rest of the museum since they were there anyhow. just another day in the district...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

politics + youtube

i heard about these videos a few weeks ago. they're pretty interesting. i can't take credit for finding them though. give that credit to an old gainesville friend living in finland. i too can't wait to see if one for clinton comes out. what say you about them?

third time's a charm

yesterday was my third outing on a mountain with my feet strapped to a plank of wood. well, at least something that resembles a plank of wood but is probably carbon fiber, fiberglass, or other equally high tech strong stuff. i took the first timers class...even though that was a lie. i felt out of place with the true beginners in my class. funny how much changes in just two short trips. i'd like to think that at least i had a little bit better balance on my first trek before new year's, but something tells me my judgment is clouded. i did pick up a few good tips in the class on how to maneuver on the ground after falling or before getting up. something she shared with her roommate upon returning. it helped a lot!

confidence is coming. i'll still confine myself to the greens next time i go to keep myself from getting hurt. i made a few runs where i was able to carve and discern the difference between a good spot to try turning. coincidentally, those spots were the ones that hurt a lot less to fall on. stopping and slowing myself down is getting easier, which is a huge improvement from the first time out! then, i was a rocket sled on rails. if i could stay upright, i was going to go go go. i like the boots i bought, even more so after smelling the rental building after returning my board. manky, dank, locker room humid. i honestly don't know how the kids working were able to stand it.

the lifts are full of interesting characters. some talkative, some downright mean. the guys in my class, pretty funny. some kids, not so funny. yelling at people skiing or riding in the terrain park like they own the damn place. they were going up the lift for the green, pimple-faced little chumps. there was a mountain patrol guy riding up with us one time, talking about this and that. not unlike climbers talking about where they've climbed, golfers where they've golfed, surfers where they've surfed, drinkers where they booze.

we met jedd & wyn up there. wyn's a skier. jedd went for his first time. a lot overdressed and overheated in the upper 30s, i can't blame him for wanting to stay warm. they were intent on night skiing. after she'd ridden every run in about an hour and a half and helping me after my lesson, we were done. jedd wanted one more run on the bunny slope. she and i went with, discovering on the lift that the run was essentially a sheet of ice. i managed to stay in control, stop without falling and steer like i wanted to. way to end the day on a good note!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

with a little love and luck

valentine's day vexes men. plain and simple. my thinking, what makes this day different than others? i know that st. valentine was a priest who secretly married young couples way back in the day. i know there was a pretty famous massacre in gangland chicago in the more recent past. i bet more guys know details about the latter than the former, but all are utterly confused about what to do for this holiday. i know that people watching is ever more interesting today. go to the grocery store and play the Which Girls Have Dates? game. i bet you have no trouble discerning the two. yet another difference in the sexes!

unless it's been discussed prior to today, i'd venture to guess that most guys are perplexed about what is appropriate for their girlfriends or dates. there's that fine line to walk between not stepping up to the plate and going overboard by letting on that you care too much. dinner? candy? flowers? lingerie? what's too much? what's too little? lucky me, i know the answer!

don't get me wrong, i'm still the same jaded valentine's day hater of hallmark. what was once a perhaps religious holiday has been corrupted by american commercialism. isn't today just another day to show that you care about or love someone? flowers, making dinner. no different than several other nights each month. i can just get cards for this particular date.

thanks, hallmark, for helping me say what she already knows!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

iced out

weather turned foul. welcome to the dmv in the winter. snow? nah! freezing rain? oh yeah!!!

after scraping a quarter-inch or so of ice off my windshield (that'd accumulated in less than 2 hours), i pulled out of the parking lot on wet roads. no ice on the roads on my way to the polls before they closed. uh oh. my on ramp to 395 was closed. ice on the overpass. stuck in bumper to bumper, trying to get my bearings. (sidenote: roadmap needed badly!). popped a u-turn and got on the interstate a different way.

behind a short bus, wondering why it's pulling off to the shoulder so soon after getting on. i try to pass, and i realize why. it wasn't pulling over, it was drifting on the sheet of ice on the bridge i didn't realize i was on. my rear wheels spun quickly and i started drifting (thankfully) away from the bus. flashers on, i stayed in second for a mile or two and got more comfortable that the roads were only wet, though the bridges had black ice. as was the case in florida, i'm not concerned about my driving. it's the other wackos that concern me. (yes, I know by that wording, i admit to being a wacko myself!)

traffic report took 5 minutes to inform us unlucky commuters of the tie-ups and snarls. many highways were literally parking lots. engines off, lights off, people out of their cars, however briefly. it took me an hour to get home.

getting out of my truck at the polls, damned if i didn't almost break my neck on some black ice! i'm staying in tonight...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the asylum

the inmates are running the asylum. far from being comical like the movie, it's quite sad. how far is it going to go before we teachers cede control of our schools to the parents, and we all find new jobs?

Monday, February 11, 2008


friday night, she and i went to the national geographic society's gathering of the banff mountain film festival. it was five nights of mountain-themed films. environment. climbing. alpine expeditions. base jumping. skiing. in short, amazing. i am going to highly recommend to anyone that has the tour stop by to check it out. here's the trailer.

realizing my addiction for outdoor adventure is growing and broadening, i started making my new wish list this weekend while i was scrambling down to the water's edge to climb at great falls this weekend. the short list: snowboard, bindings, goggles, insulated waterproof britches, helmet, dynamic rope, more quickdraws, new tent, car-camping stove, backpacking stove, daypack, trailrunning shoes, camelbak, extended backpacking trip pack, mountain bike, digital SLR...

not so short after all. dang, i need to make some coin!

i love a parade

reason number 482 i love this new city. people young and old turn out for cultural events. all races and creeds. i heard at least four different languages today, not counting english. i'm only counting chinese once, though i'm sure several dialects fell on my ears as well. beautiful kids being kids, throwing snap pops, playing tag...

gung hay fat choy, or xin nian yu kuai. peace, love, and prosperity in the new year.

Friday, February 8, 2008

new year's story

i shared this wikipedia entry ( with my kids today. in the interest of learning new things, and furthering my contemplations this week...

The cat and the rat were the worst swimmers in the animal kingdom. Although bad swimmers, they were both intelligent. They decided that the best and fastest way to cross the river was to hop on the back of the ox. The ox, being a naïve and good-natured animal, agreed to carry them across. However, overcome with a fierce competitiveness, the rat decided that in order to win, it must do something and promptly pushed the cat into the river. Because of this, the cat has never forgiven the rat, and hates the water as well. After the ox had crossed the river, the rat jumped ahead and reached the shore first, and it claimed first place in the competition.

Following closely behind was the strong ox, and it was named the 2nd animal in the zodiac. After the ox, came the tiger, panting, while explaining to the Emperor just how difficult it was to cross the river with the heavy currents pushing it downstream all the time. But with powerful strength, it made to shore and was named the 3rd animal in the cycle.

Suddenly, from a distance came a thumping sound, and the rabbit arrived. It explained how it crossed the river: by jumping from one stone to another in a nimble fashion. Halfway through, it almost lost the race but the rabbit was lucky enough to grab hold of a floating log that later washed him to shore. For that, it became the 4th animal in the zodiac cycle. Coming in 5th place was the dragon, flying and belching fire into the air. Of course, the Emperor was deeply curious as to why a strong and flying creature such as the dragon should fail to reach first. The mighty dragon explained that he had to stop and make rain to help all the people and creatures of the earth, and therefore he was held back a little. Then, on his way to the finish line, he saw a little helpless rabbit clinging on to a log so he did a good deed and gave a puff of breath to the poor creature so that it could land on the shore. The Emperor was very pleased with the actions of the dragon, and he was added into the zodiac cycle. As soon as he had done so, a galloping sound was heard, and the horse appeared. Hidden on the horse's hoof is the snake, whose sudden appearance gave the horse a fright, thus making it fall back and gave the snake 6th spot while the horse took the 7th.

Not long after that, a little distance away, the ram, monkey and rooster came to the shore. These three creatures helped each other to get to where they are. The rooster spotted a raft, and took the other two animals with it. Together, the ram and the monkey cleared the weeds, tugged and pulled and finally got the raft to the shore. Because of their combined efforts, the Emperor was very pleased and promptly named the ram as the 8th creature, the monkey as the 9th, and the rooster the 10th.

The 11th animal is the dog. His explanation for being late—although he was supposed to be the best swimmer amongst the rest—was that he needed a good bath after a long spell, and the fresh water from the river was too big a temptation. For that, he almost didn't make it to finish line. Just as the Emperor was about to call it a day, an oink and squeal was heard from a little pig. The pig got hungry during the race, promptly stopped for a feast and then fell asleep. After the nap, the pig continued the race and was named the 12th and last animal of the zodiac cycle. The cat finished too late (thirteenth) to win any place in the calendar, and vowed to be the enemy of the rat forevermore.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


gung hay fat choy! (that's happy new year!) it is the year of the rat. more on that later. i found this article months ago, before i moved, and bookmarked it. i abridged and hacked it. check it.

10 Things to Know Before You Change Your Life
By Susan Crandell

Reinventing Your Life: Trust Yourself
1. Size doesn't matter.
I call this the rearview-mirror effect. You know that little sign that reads: "Objects may be closer than they appear"? Well, reinvention is bigger -- by magnitudes -- than it may appear. That's because what matters is not how momentous the change seems to the outside world, but how it feels to you.

2. Learn the power of letting go.
The dynamic move is precisely what makes so many of us shy away from changing our lives. We focus on the foothold we've got rather than the handhold up there waiting for us. We concentrate on the things we're going to have to give up, rather than imagining the satisfactions and pleasures that could lie ahead. Amazing things happen when we open ourselves up to an unknown future.

3. Drop the game face.
Once you let that game face slip and admit the fears and frustrations that are endemic to a life do-over, you will discover a miraculous thing: You are not alone. It's then you'll share both agonies and remedies.

4. Put your money where it counts.
Don't be shy about investing in your happiness. It's a legacy to make an ancestor proud. (Okay, so it turns the move left me with a much smaller balance on my bank statement, but I'm much happier.)

5. Don't worry what people think -- really!
Whose life is it, anyway?

6. Practice, practice, practice.
Do something a little hard, somewhat scary, and when you succeed you'll be better equipped to attempt the next intimidating thing. After all, you don't start kayaking in white water.

7. God isn't in the details.
Most great ventures arise in uncertainty. The hallmark of an adventure is not knowing the outcome, trusting in the flow of events. Reaching for a goal without knowing your exact path, being open to the possibilities and buoyed by the belief that you have what it takes to get there.

i'll write more about the year of the rat and how its predictions might turn out for me this chinese zodiac year. after i go to the parade on sunday and take some pictures.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

immigrant song

my midweek mental musings...

living in florida my whole life made me almost blind to the immigrant experience. it was all around me, and perhaps i subconsciously blocked it out. i didn't know of the struggles that they had trying to assimilate. college was no better. i was surrounded by primarily privileged white students, especially in the college of ed. norman hall was a world like no other (perhaps nursing?)--filled with females mostly differentiated by the greek letters on their t-shirts or the color of their hair.

in and around the district, immigration is a hot button issue of late. several counties have closed day laborer centers where people could pick up day laborers in the morning, pay them under the table, and drop them off at night. some counties have mandated that citizenship checks be performed at traffic stops. there's a big uproar from advocacy groups and xenophobes alike. my neighborhood is largely hispanic. most people are very friendly to strangers, a quick smile and a nod hello. i really dig it.

this week, the struggles and worries of undocumented immigrants were brought home in my eyes. we're going on a field trip to the white house in 2 months. for background security, the secret service requested all kinds of information. it never occurred to me that some of this information might cause consternation among some parents. they worry that it will be cross-referenced with INS or homeland security, and their family will be torn apart for a school field trip. it's a touchy subject, as the school actually has no right to ask about citizenship status these days. we don't ask, they don't tell. these parents are among my most caring. they want a better life for their children and see school as the route to that life. they struggle with communicating with the school, culturally shocked into the american belief that education is a team effort. often, their culture dictates that teachers are almost revered. it's very hard to communicate our different expectations and the equal footing that we share in educating their child. whether or not they speak english is a moot point sometimes, as learning english isn't the same as speaking english. once you take away the context of face-to-face interactions, even a simple phone call about homework becomes an exercise in linguistics to make the conversation as comprehensible as possible. it's tricky and exhausting and ultimately satisfying when that rapport is built and the divide is reduced. short of learning a new language a year, i doubt i'll ever excel at it. just enough to be competent and show that i care is all some of these parents need.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

david vs. goliath

hi, my name is david. i'm fighting a battle with a goliath of corporate america. unfortunately, my sling and rocks will not take down this giant. it will not even make a dent in their defenses.

i just watched "who killed the electric car?". if you haven't heard of it, it's a documentary on the birth and inexplicable death of the EV1, general motors' foray into the now-dead electric car market. it attempts to explain why all the major car manufacturers invested a hell of a lot of money in developing the new technologies to meet a california zero emissions mandate only to abandon that effort secretly and rapidly less than 10 years later. it implicates big oil, the big three, and the federal government as co-conspirators against the california air regulatory board that initially set the zero emissions standard. gm came up with an amazing small car with a devoted set of loyal lessees. those davids couldn't do a thing to save their beloved little car. great documentary. if you're a granola munching tree hugger like me, i highly recommend this film. i am smart enough to realize that as a documentary, there is an agenda behind it, and there are multiple viewpoints. i'd be interested to hear them, but they'd be hard-pressed to break my first impressions.

how appropriate that i watched this today, and my horns are locked in battle with sprint over my now-canceled contract and their contention that i owe them a $200 early termination fee for poor service after 4+ years as a sprint customer. i'm going to use any government means i can short of taking them to court, but as of right now, i'm conceding defeat in the first battle. their rebuttal of sending my account to a collections agency has me reeling. any advice on how to reload my sling for this ensuing war?

Monday, February 4, 2008

florida sightings

this town is full of floridians. after plates from the dmv (that's the district, maryland, and virginia), i think i see florida plates most of all. odd, yes, but others have mentioned as much to me too. if i'm wearing orange and blue, i often get stopped and asked about the 'ville. i was wearing a gainesville shirt at the gym on friday. a mom commented on it, and one of her kids had on a uf shirt. gators aside, i do see an awful lot of garnet & gold (emphasis on awful!) that's not associated with d.c.'s beloved redskins. when rawls, bubba, liz & i went to the capitol last weekend, one of the tour guides was wearing a florida state beanie. we got to talking, found out that he went to northeast h.s. and knew casey way back when. small world!

sad to say, my florida plate is gone. i didn't mind losing the rear plate nearly as much as the front one. i'd had the florida flag on the front of my truck pretty much since i got it in '99. i still have trouble recognizing my truck because that plate isn't there.

today, on my way to work, i passed a red civic with a florida tag and a uf alumni frame. out of curiosity, i looked to see if i knew the driver. i didn't. as soon as i passed her, she immediately changed lanes. while leapfrogging me, she turned and gave me a thumbs-up with a smile, as if to say, "go gators!" she must've been a recent grad because the only evidence of my 'villainy is the satchel's bumper sticker on my rear window.

gator nation is everywhere...

people watching redux

leaving georgetown on friday night, i was transported back to college and what a normal night was downtown or on the strip in the 'ville.

one, near the end of m street where it merges into pennsylvania. two guys had been kicked out of a bar, or they'd left a bar, and they were not happy with each other. one guy, screaming obscenities at the other, "i'll f'ing kill you. i. will. end. your. life." and other such threats. his girlfriend (presumably) pushing him away, "seriously? listen to yourself. seriously?" her eyes saying something far different. more along the lines of, "i'm really getting tired of this nonsense. every night he drinks, same old..." other guy involved being restrained by his friends, pinned against a storefront, goading mr. death threat, "come on then. bring it!" this guy could barely stand up on his own. two frat boys mad about politics, a spilled $9 drink, or scuffed pumas. strolling past through the gathered throng of onlookers, most mocking them and watching with amusement.

two, crossed the street, sitting on a windowsill, a couple playing tonsil hockey steps from the four seasons. they needed a room. it was a little too cold for that nonsense.

three, drunken couple on the metro. she, glazed eyes and a vacant stare. she looked like she was going to chum. he, passed out against the window. five bucks said they missed their metro stop. i sure hope they hadn't just met. they got off, then got back on. wrong stop. she fell on the floor trying to sit back down. he had quite a time helping her totter back onto her four inch stilettos.

i miss college shenanigans people watching. (not really.)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

that's assault, brotha!

no, not me. at least not today. one of the subs at our school was bitten this morning by one of the special ed kids. this little guy is a biter. he's bitten several staff members this year. today, he drew blood--through a sweatshirt. was he sent home? no. does he know it's wrong? they say he does. he's in a self-contained classroom with few kids and many adults. he's getting as much help as is possible.

i've been assaulted twice in five years. in both cases, the assailants in question need more help than is available in a regular classroom. due to the glory of mainstreaming and my "luck"(?) as a male in the school, they were my charges. first case, i'd figured out that the easiest way to calm him when he melted down was to wrap him up. he got a hand loose and frogged me right in the forearm. i had a knot for two days. i think he was sent home that day, but not suspended. in third grade, he was baker acted twice for being a danger to himself and others. he's been in a mental institution for a few years now. most recent one had an alphabet soup of diagnoses. his meltdown quickly deteriorated into shoe throwing, hitting himself, screaming, and scratching me after i removed him from the room. same week, he stomped on another staff member's foot and had a nuclear meltdown damn near every day. sent home? not a chance.

if i had to venture a guess, these are things that my mother never had to deal with as a young teacher starting out, nor were they tolerated by the administration. the defective policy of mainstreaming in all cases hadn't been dreamed up by policy wonks with no basis in the realities of the classroom. in a real classroom, the teacher spends more time and energy on the needs of those few than the rest of the class. sure, some of the neglected will learn in spite of the teacher. the middle majority suffers, while the teacher frets day and night about how to deal with that child and get back to teaching the rest of the class.

workplace safety is something that i never thought i'd have to worry about. i work with kids for God's sake! how far does it have to go before it starts getting better?