A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Monday, June 30, 2008

Movie Madness Monday 122: Where's Wally edition

And this is where I'll be, this week. But hopefully without dragging the dog behind the car. Ew.

You know the drill! I hope I'll be surprised by what your favorite quotes are when next I am interneted.

"O God, ease our suffering in this, our moment of great dispair. Yea, admit this kind and decent woman into thy arms of thine heavenly area, up there. And Moab, he lay us upon the band of the Canaanites, and yea, though the Hindus speak of karma, I implore you: give her a break."
"Honey, I'm not an ordained minister; I'm doing my best."

"We're not really violent people. This is our first gun."
"No, it isn't."

"Poor little guy. Must have kept up with you for a mile or so. Tough little mutt. "
"I was afraid you'd get pulled over, Clark. You've been exeeding the speed limit for thousands of miles!"
"Dad wasn't speeding. The cop stopped us because Dad forgot to--"
"He was speeding, Rusty!
"No, he wasn't, Mom! He--"
"Rusty! Listen to your mother. I was speeding. I was driving like a maniac. We can all be grateful for this man for stopping us. You see kids--"
"Here's the leash, sir. I'm going back to get the rest of the carcass off the road."

"Don't you trust me?"
"As long as you don't tie me to the rear bumper."
"That hurt, Ellen."

Happy trails!

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Atheists believing in God-- What will they think of next??

We heard the first part back in February, but now we read that one in five American atheists believes in God. What this really means is that the number of atheists in this country may be actually OVERSTATED. Here's a sample:
Although a majority of Americans say religion is very important to them, nearly three-quarters of them say they believe that many faiths besides their own can lead to salvation, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The report, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, reveals a broad trend toward tolerance and an ability among many Americans to hold beliefs that might contradict the doctrines of their professed faiths....

The nationwide survey, which is based on telephone interviews with more than 35,000 adults from May 8 to Aug. 13, 2007, is the second installment of a broad assessment Pew has undertaken of trends and characteristics of the country’s religious life. The first part of the report, published in February, depicted a fluid and diverse national religious life marked by people moving among denominations and faiths.

According to that report, more than a quarter of adult Americans have left the faith of their childhood to join another religion or no religion. The survey indicated that the group that had the greatest net gain was the unaffiliated, accounting for 16 percent of American adults.

The new report sheds light on the beliefs of the unaffiliated. Like the overwhelming majority of Americans, 70 percent of the unaffiliated said they believed in God, including one of every five people who identified themselves as atheist and more than half of those who identified as agnostic.

“What does atheist mean? It may mean they don’t believe in God, or it could be that they are hostile to organized religion,” Mr. Green said. “A lot of these unaffiliated people, by some measures, are fairly religious, and then there are those who are affiliated with a religion but don’t believe in God and identify instead with history or holidays or communities.”

Ummm, Mr. Green, I believe that, actually, the word "atheist" means one does not believe in any sort of God, by whatever euphemism one might employ. Glad I could help.

Read the whole thing.

If you've taught school, you may shake your head at this confusion, but you can't be surprised.

Labels: , ,

Misplaced priorities about education goes Dutch

Ha. I don't know whether to laugh or to cry:
Dutch parents sneaking their children off on holiday two days before the official close of school were chided at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport Thursday in a sting by "compulsory education officials."

Ten officials from the municipalities of Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer "addressed" 80 families at the airport in the morning, said a statement.

From questioning during the "public friendly action," it transpired that half the parents had failed to obtain school permission to leave early.

After a dressing down, they were allowed to continue on their way, and no fines were issued.

"The goal of the action was awareness and information," said the statement.

It stressed that the law allowed children to skip school only for very important reasons. Of the parents questioned Thursday, half said they were motivated by cheaper air tickets.

THAT must have been an interesting sight for the other travelers in the airport.... Although, it seems like the sting had no real "sting" involved, since all they had to endure was an "address."

Makes me despair, it does.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 23, 2008

Movie Madness Monday 121: prima dogga edition

What with the news from California this week, I thought of this one. So here ya go! What quotes are your favorite from this movie?

"We have you down for a queen."
"What are you suggesting... my dear man?"

"Will you stop it? So, we'll have a half pound of the kidneys, a half pound of the salmon."
"And do me a favor, will you? Just get out of those pepperoni sticks. I just wanna hold it."

"Rhapsody has two mommies!"

"Look at Scott! He is prancing along with the dog! Man, I tell you something, if you live in my neighborhood and you're dressed like that, you'd better be a hotel doorman."

"Tell me, do you know the difference between a rectal thermometer and a tongue depressor?
"Uh, no."
"Remind me never to come to you for a physical!"

Take it around once!

***Weekly Update: I've always wanted to be


Christopher Guest IS. A. GENIUS!!!!!!!!

This is one of the greatest comedic ensembles ever! EVER!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer's lease hath all too short a date

It's hard to believe how quickly summer break has zipped along-- and we are not even officially IN summer yet. I have been trying to get serious about fitness this summer, now that it has become common knowledge that I am the reason why Pluto was downgraded from full-sized planet status- really, how can Pluto compete with my keister? Answer: It can't. I mean, I am afraid of going waterskiing on the Mississippi for fear that, if I fall in, another levee will be breached and I will be solely responsible for yet another town to have sandbagged for nothing. I am here to tell you that I once met Sir Mix-a-Lot and Freddie Mercury, and yes, those three songs are MY FAULT, and if Nelly had met me first, he would have been rapping about "Boulder Bottoms," not "Apple Bottoms."

And let's face it: teaching is NOT conducive to fitness. The stress makes you exhausted, so you're too tired to work out. You have a hard time sleeping, which numerous studies have implicated in the inability to lose weight. If you forget your lunch, you have to eat starch-crammed cafeteria food. You get ten minutes to eat. And now I have to take cholesterol medicine, and my blood-pressure is creeping up toward normal-- which, for me, is high. And my knees are beginning to hurt. So I need to get going.

So I have decided to get back into biking (new bike!), and the Hubster decided that perhaps a personal trainer might also be a good thing to get me in shape for the biking-- and, doubtless, to spare him from the whining about agonizing muscle pain. We are members at the YMCA, and so I contacted a personal trainer who seemed to be a good fit from her description, avoiding the personal trainer WHO IS THE FATHER OF A STUDENT, because, really, can you work out when you're freaked out about whether a parent is going to be thinking about your cottage-cheese thighs blossoming out of work-out clothes as you strain away at a Nautilus machine the next time parent-teacher conference time comes up?

Nonononononono. Getting my fat arse going is hard enough without adding in layers of psychological trauma, thankyewverrymuch.

So I called this gal. And then I waited. And walked on the treadmill and tried to get myself started anyway.

After several days, I gave up, and called another gal. And I waited. And played tennis with the kids while listening to two half-nekkid foul-mouthed macho men curse at each other on the next court over. IKYN. Including the frequent use of a word, that, if you love Bull Durham like I do, you will recall is one of the few words that will immediately get one tossed from a ballgame if one uses it to refer to an umpire. Explaining that word to my middle child was LOADS of fun.

I thought about calling the Y and simply asking for the number of a personal trainer who actually WANTED a new client, but I had been assured that they were ALL open for new clients. So apparently, there is TIME, and there is "Y TIME." It's like the Caribbean concept of "Mañana."

So just now? Within hours of each other? They BOTH called back. The annoyance is that the one who called first seems to be the least certain already that she can fit her schedule into mine, even though I am OFF FOR THE SUMMER, so what does that mean? Thus, I may end up with the second one.

But all I want is for there to be less of me.

UPDATE: Yes, while out on the golf course I got a phone call from gal number one needing to reschedule. NOT a surprise. So I told her to "never mind" and I'll try gal number two. I have so far spent THREE WEEKS trying to get to see a personal trainer. I could have knitted one by now.

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dreaming of doing nothing

''Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I'd say, in a given week I probably only do about 15 minutes of real, actual, work.''

"The thing is, Bob-- it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care." -- Peter, from Office Space

How many of you out there have ever worked with someone who said, "I know we should do _________, but I really don't want to work that hard" and clenched your teeth so tightly in frustration that you cracked a molar?


And this is certainly not just a problem in education, not by a long shot. There are also two levels to this situation: it's annoying when it's merely one of your coworkers, but it's absolutely maddening when it is someone with oversight capacity over you. If one of your coworkers (or even worse, a critical mass of them) has this attitude, then you know that you are going to get more work dumped on you to make up for your colleagues' lack of output and accountability.

But if it's a supervisor, good gravy! Sadly, my experience in my working life (and yes, in education) has been that we teachers have not really been led so much as herded. Moo.

If one employee abuses the sick leave policy, then everyone and I mean everyone has to fill out three forms and bring in doctor's notes even though the health insurance plan we get through work encourages doctors to merely dispense prescriptions over the phone because they see an average of 35 patients a day. And if a teacher punished an entire class for something that one student did, how well would that be received?

It's trendy to talk about principals as instructional leaders, but when they have no actual experience in instruction that lasted longer than five minutes or was from twenty years ago, then there's not much hope of that, is there? And really, to be fair, those that DO want to accomplish something are hamstrung-- when do they have time to be instructional leaders with all the reams of paperwork they are required to juggle and the endless meetings they have to attend and the data they have to gather-- all at the direction of someone else who has no actual experience in instruction that lasted longer than five minutes or was from twenty years ago?

Meanwhile, I have heard many of these same slacker coworkers dream of moving up to administration so that they "won't have to work that hard." They especially look forward to never grading papers again and never again having to use calculus in order to figure out when they will be able to go to the can without risking a bladder infection. Fair enough-- that WOULD be nice. They want to become department chairs so that they can arrange their own schedules so that they have time for their hobbies or can concentrate on their stipendiary duties, and that's the real attraction. One of the worst offenders with whom I have ever taught, of whom I believe it can be safely said never taught one iota of actual information to the students in this person's charge (and who told the students that high tide and low tide are the result of earthquakes on the ocean floor or some other such rot) was just given a job as an assistant superintendent-- and better yet, this person will be in charge of human resources at a nearby school district. Wow, that bodes well for the future of education!

In the business world, the dream is to move out of a cubicle to an office with an actual door. So that one can then close that door and stare at your desk for endless minutes in peace and comfort. I would like to even have a cubicle sometimes... that's sad.

And I? I and a few of my friends are delusional in our own way, because we can't imagine not trying to do an good job and trying to be responsible. Yes, I AM hopelessly idealistic and out of step with the mainstream. And to psychoanalyze myself, it is because part of my self-identity is defined as being a teacher. The people of whom I speak probably do not think of themselves that way. When they think of who they are, other words come to mind: "fisherman," "dirt-bike racer," "baseball coach," "carpenter," or whatever. And absolutely, this causes more work for myself. I am considered a chump because my attitude results in more tasks being dumped on me with the expectation that they will -- actually-- be-- accomplished.

Like Donna Summer said, "She works hard for the money."

Labels: ,

Movie Madness Monday 120: Dream of doing nothing edition

So if you read the above post, you know what the movie is. What were your favorite quotes from this classic?

Here are some of mine to get the juices flowing:

"How dare you judge me? I mean what are you? You think you're some kind of, like, angel here? No, you're just this penny-stealing... wanna-be criminal... man."

"Well, at least your name isn't Michael Bolton."
"You know, there's nothing wrong with that name."
"There was nothing wrong with it... until I was about 12 years old and that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys."
" Hmm... well, why don't you just go by 'Mike' instead of 'Michael?'"
"No way! Why should I change? He's the one who sucks!"

"I wanna take you out to dinner, and then I wanna go back to my apartment and watch 'Kung Fu'. Do you ever watch 'Kung Fu'?"

"Peter, you're in deep shit. You were supposed to come in on Saturday. What were you doing?"
"Michael, I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be."

Labels: ,

Monday, June 09, 2008

Movie Madness Monday 119: fedora edition

I seem to be losing my playmates, but I'm going to give this one more try. In honor of a recent excursion to the movies, I offer you this gem. Winner of 4 Oscars, this showed us that George +Steven=summertime fun!

So put your quotes from this film in the comment section.

"Didn't any of you guys ever go to Sunday school?"

"You can't do this to me! I'm an AMERICAN!!!!!"

"He said you were a bum."
"Oh, he's being generous."
"The most gifted bum he ever trained. You know, he loved you like a son. It took a hell of a lot for you to alienate him."
"Not much-- just you."

"Oh my friends! I am so pleased you are not dead!"

"Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?"
"Asps. Very dangerous. You go first."

WEEKLY UPDATE: Watch our for poison darts, gigantic round boulders, and melting Nazis in


Three words: Harrison Ford! Yum! I was so glad to see that the latest film brought back Karen Allen, too!

Thanks for playing!

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Of Autism and Worship

Should a church get a restraining order to ban the attendance of a family if they have an autistic child who appears uncontrollable?

What do you think?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Doing the right thing

I'm hoping you all have heard this story already.
With two runners on base and a strike against her, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked her best swing and did something she had never done, in high school or college. Her first home run cleared the center-field fence.

But it appeared to be the shortest of dreams come true when she missed first base, started back to tag it and collapsed with a knee injury.

She crawled back to first but could do no more. The first-base coach said she would be called out if her teammates tried to help her. Or, the umpire said, a pinch runner could be called in, and the homer would count as a single.

Then, members of the Central Washington University softball team stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases Saturday so the three-run homer would count — an act that contributed to their own elimination from the playoffs.

Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman, the career home run leader in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, asked the umpire if she and her teammates could help Tucholsky.

The umpire said there was no rule against it.

So Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace put their arms under Tucholsky's legs, and she put her arms over their shoulders. The three headed around the base paths, stopping to let Tucholsky touch each base with her good leg.

"The only thing I remember is that Mallory asked me which leg was the one that hurt," Tucholsky said. "I told her it was my right leg and she said, 'OK, we're going to drop you down gently and you need to touch it with your left leg,' and I said 'OK, thank you very much.'"

"She said, 'You deserve it, you hit it over the fence,' and we all kind of just laughed."

"We started laughing when we touched second base," Holtman said. "I said, 'I wonder what this must look like to other people.'"

"We didn't know that she was a senior or that this was her first home run," Wallace said Wednesday. "That makes the story more touching than it was. We just wanted to help her."

Holtman said she and Wallace weren't thinking about the playoff spot, and didn't consider the gesture something others wouldn't do.

As for Tucholsky, the 5-foot-2 right fielder was focused on her pain.

"I really didn't say too much. I was trying to breathe," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.

"I didn't realize what was going on until I had time to sit down and let the pain relax a little bit," she said. "Then I realized the extent of what I actually did."

"I hope I would do the same for her in the same situation," Tucholsky added.

As the trio reached home plate, Tucholsky said, the entire Western Oregon team was in tears.

Central Washington coach Gary Frederick, a 14-year coaching veteran, called the act of sportsmanship "unbelievable."

For Western Oregon coach Pam Knox, the gesture resolved the dilemma Tucholsky's injury presented.

"She was going to kill me if we sub and take (the home run) away. But at the same time I was concerned for her. I didn't know what to do," Knox said.

Tucholsky's injury is a possible torn ligament that will sideline her for the rest of the season, and she plans to graduate in the spring with a degree in business. Her home run sent Western Oregon to a 4-2 victory, ending Central Washington's chances of winning the conference and advancing to the playoffs.

"In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much," Holtman said. "It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run."

The first baseman and the shortstop of the opposing team carried the hitter around the last three bases, stopping to allow her to touch each base with her good foot. They did this, even though the home run scored three runs, counting Tucholsky, which provided the margin of victory.

I have played softball for-- oh, about two millenia, since I was six. (I currently play on a co-ed team with one guy who screams at everyone but himself for errors-- for instance, when he overthrows me at my base, he claims it is because he couldn't see my glove, meaning that I didn't paint it dayglo orange rather than that he threw wildly, but I digress.) When I play, I want to win, but fairly.

One of the women who carried Tucholsky is an accomplished home run hitter, and knew that hitting it over the fence happens rarely-- even more so when you're barely five feet tall. This was about more than one game.

These two young women demonstrated what is good about sports. Of course, they are taking hits on mainline sports blogs, which are hooting that this is why women's sports will never be taken seriously: because of these ladies' sportsmanship, their team lost. Let the sneering begin! I for one will cheer the example they set. In a time when we hear too much about cheating in sport, this is one story that shows there is another way.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Movie Madness Monday 118: gopher edition

Welcome to Movie Madness Monday, the movie quote trivia game. For this week, we revisit a classic.

(I have fought with blogger all day today to get this thing on.) This gives you a hint about what I'd like to do all summer-- even thought I won't get to. Put your quotes in the comments section!

"A flute without holes, is not a flute. A doughnut without a hole, is a Danish."

"He called me a baboon-- he thinks I'm his wife."

"Just be the ball, be the ball, be the ball. You're not being the ball, Danny."
"It's hard when you're talking like that."

"Bless this ship, and all who sail on her! I christen thee 'The Flying WASP'."

"I smell varmint poontang. And the only good varmint poontang is dead varmint poontang, I think."

Hit it (hee!)



Labels: ,

free statistics