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Monday, November 25, 2019

Christmas HalfTime

Image result for halloween christmas

I have always known in my heart that the Christmas season does not start in July (as Walm-Mart thinks) nor does it start after Thanksgiving (as many of my family think).  No.  It starts the day after Halloween.

Image result for mascot footballThose who think we need to start selling Christmas Trees and Santa ornaments when it is 102 degrees outside need no conversation.  They are sick and need help.

For those who think you have to wait till after Thanksgiving "because you can't skip a holiday" please give a moment to my argument.  It just might convince you.

So this Sunday I sat on my couch and watched the Atlanta Falcons continue their self-destructive season.  But I am a loyal, life-long fan so I watched every minute.  At halftime, I did what every arm chair quarterback does.  I got up, said hello to some of my family who were elsewhere in the house, made myself something to eat, maybe ask my family and friends what they thought went well thee first half, and got back in time to watch a little bit of the halftime show.  Sound familiar?  If you are a football fan you should be nodding your head.

Image result for NFL halftime

So, let's transition.  What do I (and most Americans) do on Thanksgiving?  Well, we get up and go see family members, talk about what went well last year, make some food, and catch a few parades on t.v.  That's right, we do halftime activities.

The Christmas season starts the day after Halloween.  The first two weeks of November are the first quarter.  Set up your lights, start talking about parties.  You know, set the pace of the game.  Get control of the game clock.

Last two weeks of November is quarter two.  You had best be considering how to budget your time outs (who will you travel to see), some instant replay (of last year), playing good defense (not over committing in December), and establishing confidence in the run game (never too early to start shopping).

Thanksgiving.  Halftime.  Relax.  Well.... until the start of the third quarter...
Image result for coach halftime speech

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Local Tuesday, Scandinavian Wednesday, or Thrift Store Thursday  all represent the start of the third quarter.  Sadly, most people are like my beloved Falcons.  They don't really play the first half and come out way behind.  Don't do this.  The third quarter should involve some coaching assist and tweaking of your game-plan, not an overhaul.

By December 14th the person who doesn't start till after Thanksgiving is in a panic.  Unprepared, behind, and pinned in their own end zone.  It is sad to watch.  But someone who plays all four quarters with a confident plan... can focus on putting in the newer talent, resting your star players, and managing the clock while already enjoying your victory.  That is right... you can look toward charities and acts of good will.

Image result for merry christmas and happy thanksgiving

So there you have it.  Enjoy your Christmas Halftime this year.  Eat some Turkey, talk to family, and highlight all the good pre-Christmas work you've already done in the first half.  Or leave the table half-full to go stand in line at midnight because you didn't play the first half.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Texans trying to declare their own Thanksgiving

Image result for texasSo my son and daughter-in-law moved to Dallas, Texas.  I am very proud of them and their decisions as they begin life together.  However, I am always inanely suspicious of Texas.

Recently, they tried to remove Hillary Clinton from their history curriculum as the first woman to lose a presidential election.

She wasn't actually.  That honor goes to Victoria Woodhull in 1872 promoting women's suffrage, spiritualism, and everyone's favorite... free love.  Truly, she was ahead of her time.  Literally, since she also didn't meet the minimum age for a presidential candidate.  But we digress.

Texans also have thoughts of removing Helen Keller.
Image result for texas stonehengePerhaps there is a joke in there but I don't see it.

These removals may make sense to some, but more disconcerting is what Texans have claimed to have!   They claim to have more tigers in Texas than exist in the wild.  They have a large cross obelisk surrounded by 13 images of Jesus and a cross in bronze.

Image result for texas leaning tower They claim to have an Eiffel tower, a Leaning Tower of Texas, an alien grave site,  a forbidden garden, Stonehenge, and a toilet seat museum.  OK, the last one is actually really awesome.  But you get my point.  Texans often claim to own things that just belong elsewhere.

And now I have learned they think they own Thanksgiving.,

According to the Texas Almanac, Texans believe they invented Thanksgiving.
Image result for texas first thanksgiving
We invented Thanksgiving!

the belief is that on April 30, 1598 (23 years earlier?) Spanish Explorer Juan de Onate commemorated a day of Thanksgiving in El Paso.

Apparently, he led thousands on a 50 day march across the Chihuahuan Desert before reaching the Rio Grande.  There two horses drank so much water their stomachs burst.  Two other horses were so thirsty they drowned themselves in the river.  Others settled for a much more low key celebration around a bonfire with some food (horse?) and drink.

I see several problems with this claim.  First, there is no Turkey.  Ok.... the Pilgrims didn't have any either but let's not get caught up in details.  No pilgrim hats.  That takes away the craft activities for thousands of elementary school kids across the country.  And somehow, I don't think politicians such as Hillary Clinton would approve of replacing pilgrim hats with exploding horse games.

But in that regard, I suppose in Texas, a state where there is an annual festival to watch and hopefully be consumed by bats,  it doesn't matter what Hillary thinks.

Monday, November 18, 2019

PB&J as currency

Image result for peanut butter jelly
I'm sure you have heard the news.  The University of Alaska at Anchorage has decided students may pay unpaid parking tickets with peanut butter and jelly.

The university recognizes everyone from time to time finds themselves in a jam, parking where they shouldn't to preserve precious time.  In such sticky situations, you had better make the bread to pay the fine.  Ok... ok... I'll stop.

One of my favorite childhood stories comes from a friend whose brother committed the grievous sin of putting jelly on one slice of bread.  Then, throwing caution and culinary regulation to the wind, he proceeded to smear peanut butter on top of the slice already containing jelly!  My friend was traumatized by the whole event as he stood there gaping at an overloaded slice of whitebread next to an empty slice of the same bread. 

Perhaps this is why afood.com actually has a recipe for PB&J!
PB&J Recipe

I am unsure if the university is offering students sandwich making courses.  It is, however, a good question.  We can't assume.

The university accepts the 16oz jars in lieu of payment and then donate the donations to the local food pantry.  Apparently, it has just come to light that college students spend their money on other things like tuition, books, beer, concerts, and beer.  This leaves little room for ancillary items like food or gas money.

It has yet to be determined if Ramen Noodle lobbyist will become active in Anchorage in an attempt to protect their stockholder's investment in the college student niche.  When I didn't call the CEO of Ramen, He had no comment.

But in all seriousness, kudos to UAA.  I for one received several parking tickets over the course of my three degrees.  I would have loved the opportunity to confess my parking error by helping out someone else in need.  It would be my hope that such programs gain popularity.

The University has as of yet, failed to invent a parking meter that takes peanut butter directly.  If they did, I would be so jelly.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Manners make the man

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It was recently Constitution Day. As a teacher, it is one of those holidays we don't send kids home to play video games and eat pizza. Those holidays always confuse me. I'm pretty sure Martin Luther Jr. would be horrified that kids celebrate civil rights by NOT being together in academia. Constitution day is different. We are together and it is my honor (not school mandate) to draw students back to the forefathers.

This year.... based on what I have seen with students returning from COVID the greatest need is MANNERS!  I can not tell you how significant is the decline in manners. Whether it be "yes sir," picking up after themselves, or non verbal body posture. Students who I had two years ago and were respectful, young scholars now slouch in their chair with hoodie over their head. They are quick to hot temper, slow to work, fast to grumble and show disrespect, and are a little bit gross - especially on sloppy joe day.

So this year, we worked on etiquette - drawing from our first president.

Here are a few of my faves.

Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, 
to those that are Present. 

When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, 
not usualy Discovered. 

 Shew Nothing to your Freind that may affright him. 

In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, 
nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet. 

 If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; 
and Speak not in your Yawning, 
but put Your handkercheif or Hand before your face and turn aside. 

Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, 
Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.
Image result for george washington
Thus are some of George Washington’s rules of civility. 

One of the responsibilities of middle school is the beloved shift of cafeteria duty.  Where the Rules of Civility are as rare as a teenager listening to an eight-track player.

If that image makes you laugh, be sure to follow Washington's 24th rule!
Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Publick Spectacle.

There is a lot in a school lunch to encourage devolvement into entropy and chaos. It is twenty minutes. That includes walking from a classroom, standing in line for their starch laden delicacies,  and finding a seat.

In truth, students have under ten minutes to actually eat.it is also the only time in the day they can talk freely to their peers.   So it is no surprise that they eat dribbling food, spilling sauces, and breaking every etiquette rule ever taught. That is, assuming someone actually did teach them. For some I wonder.

Let us recall Washington's 98th:
 Drink not nor talk with your mouth full 
neither Gaze about you while you are a Drinking.

It saddens me that we don’t teach manners. Like wood shop, I believe it is an essential part of an education. Young men and women should learn how to conduct themselves in public.  The social sphere is where they will locate jobs but also where they will find places to invest their charitable and volunteer hours.

Nothing saddens me more than how students throw their trash away. Not all, but many toss (gently maybe, but still a toss) their styrofoam trays (aren’t we suppose to be saving the planet?) into the trash.

107: If others talk at Table be attentive but talk not with Meat in your Mouth.

This inevitably means our elderly janitor pushing the van receives a barrage of mash potatoes sludge, spaghetti sauce, or maybe the worst day chili remnants upon his shirt and pants.

The time it takes to walk an extra two steps (or in some cases get out of your seat and stand) to deposit the tray in a kind fashion is less than ten seconds. It is also the difference between granting value to a human being.  Mr. Jackson’s generation gave our students integrated schools, educational opportunity, and technological innovation. But even if they had not, there is a dignity we all should know and express to those who serve us.

Whether it be a veteran, a waiter, a store clerk, a doctor, or a man who cleans your lunchroom.
For George's rules end nobly:

Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire 
Called Conscience.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A horse is a horse...

Image result for Mr Ed

I have a lot of memories of my father. He passed away in 1996. For years I missed his advice and wisdom. As I aged, I also began to miss him getting to see special moments such as the birth of his grandchildren, their high school graduation, or the like.

One memory that I cherish is watching Mr. Ed with him on Nick at Nite.  He loved that stubborn talking horse.  Ed was always getting in trouble and running away. Wilbur, his owner was always going after him because he loved Ed (sometimes to the chagrin of his Wilbur's very attractive wife!).
Image result for mr ed wilbur's wife

That show had a major impact on me. I almost pursued architecture because of it. One thing I took away from it and my dad’s other favorites (Andy Griffith, The Nelson’s, Gunsmoke, Rin Tin Tin, or the Beverly Hillbillies) was that life is best when it has a simple pace.
Image result for rin tin tin

I was at a wedding this weekend. Actually, I was officiating the wedding. One of the bridesmaids spoke during the service. Her comments praised the beauty of a simple life.

The couple love each other. They witnessed it in front of close friends and family. They showed it in their laughter, joy, and kindness.  They reflected it as their first act as a married couple was a little private communion service.  A simple life together is what they desire.  I went to officiate. But I walked away from the beautiful farm and a beautiful ceremony mindful of the joy of a simple life.

Image result for Mr EdA horse is a horse of course, of course. 
And no one can talk to a horse of course. 
That is of course, unless the horse, is the famous mister Ed.
People yackity yack a streak, and waste their time of day.
But Mr. Ed will never speak, 
unless he has something to say.

Thank you dad for teaching me to enjoy life.
Thank you to the Cox family for reminding me.
Thank you to my bride whom I enjoy being with every day.
And thank you Nick at Nite, wherever you are in cable land.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Queen goes Green Screen

Queen goes Green Screen


So recently the Queen of England chose to wear a bright green outfit for her birthday.  In my opinion, this may be the best thing England's royalty have done since the King's touch. 

In the Middle Ages, the king and queens of England and France believed that they were appointed by God to rule.   In order to prove their regency was from God, the divine monarch would do what any sensible person would do, go touch sick people. 

You would think this would be a Godsend (pun intended) to the people.

Ma: "My tuberculosis is acting up."
Pa: "We could go to the doctor and have him put leeches on you.  They will suck your blood out till you faint."
Ma: " You just want me to stop nagging you... cough cough... Nah... I'm gonna go down to the palace and touch the king.  He's a looker."

Unfortunately, many of the nobility were not lookers.  And thus, it became tradition to also offer a memorial coin.  The coin could be kept as a memento, or more likely, be spent on real medical treatment.
 The "Touch Piece" of Henry VI (1422-1461)

There were of course, people who were suspicious as to whether the king (or queen) could heal someone.  Voltaire is famously highlighted in criticizing the practice.  Apparently Louis XIV's mistress died of scrofula "despite being very well touched by the king."  But overall, centuries passed where most people thought one great way to deal with major illness was to have the king touch you.

I know what you are thinking.... this blog is PG.... yes.... so.... Apparently, the last documented touching by a king of England was by George I.  The French kept touching people a little longer until Charles X touched 120 people in 1825 and it was decided that was to be the last publicly sanctioned touching.  Ok... PG...

We would all agree that the last two hundred years the regency has not been the same.  The royal family has become quite boring.  That is, until now.  The queen's green suit has once again placed her in contact with the people.  This time, through the many great memes circulating.

 You want your queen to be batman? Done.

The Riddler? Done.

Burger Queen? Done.

 Or maybe just in a Dr. Who outfit? Done and Done.

Batman's Queen
Nice work Queen! 

Queen goes Green Screen

Monday, November 4, 2019

Do we need another member?

I am a volunteer at my local fire hall and being such am on a committee.  Our committee met this past week and among other business we discussed an inactive member.  The inactive member had previously said she would not likely continue on the committee.

Thus, there was a vote to remove her from the committee.  One of our officers then asked the question, "Do we need to replace her?"

It was a great question.  There is nothing magic about the current committee make-up.  It could be a committee of five or seven or whatever.  The areas we serve - fire, medical, rope rescue, and community service - were already represented.  And further, members in the fire hall are already stretched thin and often over committed.  Such it is with men and women who have a heart to serve others I suppose.

Well, as I woke this morning and was drinking my pre-work coffee, I began thinking.

Our local paper ran an article this past weekend about the alarming rate teachers are leaving our county school system.  In my school, we have turnover.  There are lots of reasons offered, lots of scapegoats, and lots of fingers to point.

Reading the following: Compulsory Education  I found

In 1852, Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to pass a contemporary universal public education law. In particular, the Massachusetts General Court required every town to create and operate a grammar school. Fines were imposed on parents who did not send their children to school, and the government took the power to take children away from their parents and apprentice them to others if government officials decided that the parents were "unfit to have the children educated properly".

Now the Amish do not have to educate past the 8th grade according to federal law, and apparently were some of the first children left behind in the famous "No Child Left Behind" campaign.  
But for the rest, America has slowly made education longer (requiring first middle and then high school) and more required.   All in all, high school as compulsory is a historical fad.  It has only been a mandate in America for a hundred years or so.  

And perhaps.... perhaps... it shouldn't be.  If a student can't make high school either academically or through appropriate social interaction then maybe he or she would be best served elsewhere.  Maybe offer a GED voucher so that child once a bit more mature, separate from the current home life, and ready could obtain a GED?  Or maybe offer appropriately devised work programs?  

But what we should not do is just assume that mandatory high school education is a universal norm or even if it is a universal necessity.  I know there is much to debate here with issues of poverty, opportunity, gang violence, and the like.  I also know that in my city the high schools in those areas of poverty and violence are not necessarily any safer or any greater benefit to the student than possible alternatives.