Saturday, May 21, 2011

When does the snark ever slow down?

Only when we get over whelmed and seem to have 2000 and 12 things to do. We have been slacking with our responsibilities on the Snark site and it has been showing. Between a few sites / blogs and our infamous vehicle dilemmas, we almost missed the 6:00 pm rapture and the news of Da' Donald's untimely withdraw from the presidential race. Undoubtedly the withdraw was caused by Palin's desire to have Bristol Tippacanoe and baby too run for Arizona representative...As soon as the loop hole is closed that allows represenatatives to remain in office after an attempted assination while they FIGHZT for ANY recovery...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Can you hear me?

Every now and then, I get to participate in some good old fashion social intercourse. You know the kind, where all you can do is scream. It is almost painful, but you don't want it to stop. But if it goes on much longer you just know you're going to pay for it later...and aspirin is not going to help with the pain...
Tonight I engaged in just such a conversation. I immediately screamed at the computer when the person sent what I knew was a redundant question. One I had answered most clearly almost a year ago. In very great detail I might add. Surely I left NO doubt as to what it was we had shared--even though we had never met, nor had we experienced the event together at the same time and space.
Over the couse of the year, I followed their discussion on the internet. All the while wondering if this person was actually capable of empathy. I knew we had shared the same city growing up, different high schools, but I was confident we knew the same people--at least I knew the people they knew--it was doubtful they knew the people I knew on the other side of town. We probably even attended the same middle school ( they were junior high schools in the 1970s).
I tried to guess who this person was. They did not sound like anyone who would come from the same environment and end up as a scientist in the engineering field. Then leave that for education? They also would be at the same school I had taught at 8 years prior to their arrival.
Tonight they were on line at one of the forums I snark on. They PM me about a reference I made to a place near DTW. They ask if it is XXX crappy school. I say yes and name a few idiots that work there. They write back and say, OMG, when did you work there?
Silently screaming and pounding the keyboard, I ask them if they remember ANYTHING that is more than 24 hours old. I wonder if they remember their phone number, the names of their kids, their dog, or if they even know they have a dog and that they need to feed the dog.
When the guy asks if you can hear me now, it isn't a matter of having a good connection, it is a matter of comprehension and focus...Can that be any clearer?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A personal driveway moment.

If you listen to NPR with any regularity, you are familar with the "driveway moment."
It is when you park you car, but the story on NPR is too good to leave, so you sit in the car to finish the story. I used to have such moments all the time. Then I seemed to forget where NPR was on the radio dial.
Maybe the memory started to go bad when I came across an NPR table one night in Detroit. WDET was set up for First Friday at the Detroit Institute of Arts. First Fridays started as a way to bring folks back into the museum and soon became an every Friday event at the DIA.
I stopped, chatted and signed up to volunteer for some activities with WDET, the Detroit affilate of NPR run by Wayne State University. I went home and waited for a phone call to tell me about the next great opportunity with WDET.
I waited. And waited some phone call. No contact. At least not to volunteer. WDET did contact me via the United States Postal Service asking for monetary contributions. They sent me a LOT of these, but not ONE request or inquiry about volunteering...
Besides, the news was becoming depressing. I heard stories for which NO ONE else seemed to care about. Important stories that were being ignored by mainstream society. I shared news tidbits that my friend would hear about weeks later. And I was laughed at as a conspiracy nut.
Today I found myself listening to NPR here in North Carolina. For some reason my wife had it on her radio--91.5 here in the Triangle area. Lead story was Microsoft buying Skype for $8 billion, the largest purchase to date by Microsoft.
I turned the radio dial to some country music thinking the SKYPE news was another great story that will be ignored by mainstream society. I think the song was blue eyed devil in jeans...what was it Microsoft had done?

Monday, May 9, 2011

With 23 school days left, thinking about education...

Each day we read that another governor is attempting to dismantle education and or labor unions.

Typically both are targets when talking education. Unions killed the Big 3, ruined smal business and is doing the same to education.

Education is no longer about knowledge, learning or fun. Education has become an experiment in sociology (NOT socialism) and mass conformity. Society has been told that education HAS to be measured by some set standard. That standards will be the only mean by which we can acurately judge success of students and teachers.

Only today, the failure sems to lie with just one party. Since we cannot fire students and since they are all so competent, itr has to be the FAULT of teachers! We can fire them. They work 180 days and are paid more than the average person makes working year round. It is easy to create resentment and prejudice against a group once you instill the idea that the majority are suffering for the few.

The politicians are all about vouchers and charter schools. Give the public choices; let them seek out better schools that teach what the parents want their children to learn, not the socialist rhetoric being taught in public schools.

But wait--where did the current curriculum come from? Politicians elected by the PUBLIC to serve in state legislature! If they wrote this current TOXIC curriculum, surely they can edit and amend it?

Somehow the politicians have been able to convince the community they have nothing to do with curriculm and that it is BEYOND their control.

When will we wake up and see that the king has no clothes on? That the career politicians have taken this country and its Constitution hostage and we pay a hefty ransom EVERY day we refuse to hold them ALL accountable.

Want to talk salary? Who has life time health insurance, retirement after serving 1 term (80% of salary after serving 2 or more terms) and VOTES their own pay raises? TEACHERS?

Look around America and answer the phone--it has been ringing for a long time...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Detroit is alive and well, if you are a politician.

There are almost a million less people than there was in the 1950s. 200,000 less than 10 yers ago.
Yes the city has some fabulous areas. (How many rock stars, athletes and CEOs live in the city limits?) Even DAve Bing had to MOVE into the city to run for mayor..
But there is nothing (ok, very little) opportunity for the people who live in the city to make a living, shop at a real grocery store, or pick up a few quick items at Wally World. Because there are NO name brand franchise stores in the city. Not really sure why that is.

There was a time when Wally World offered classes at one (maybe more) Detroit high school teaching the skills needed to be a greeter or some other great position at Wally World. Problem is, there are no Wally Worlds in Detroit. So these Wally World students have to get on a D-DOT bus, take it to the city limits and either jump a SEMTA bus to the northern or southern burbs for a Wally World. They CANNOT get a bus to Livonia WAlly World because the good folks of the wonder bread capital USA voted to kick SEMTA out so that "those" people would not ride into LIviona via I-96 to shop at Meijers or Wally World.

ILlich has been allowed to use imminent domain to build his empire on Woodward which includes the FOX Theater, Comerica PArk and Hockey Town. Now he wants to force more landowners to goie up what is theirs and give it to him to relocate the hockey arena near the Illich compound.

So even the hard working folks in Detroit can lose their property to PROGRESS for pennies on the dollar--but hey--it's not like anyone else is wanting to but them, right?

And those who do live in one of the mansions that line certain areas (where are those?) pay a tax rate that amounts to extortion (but everyone pays that high rate, not everyone gets the services) for fire and police coverage. Because a house outside the covenanted mansion row will burn to the ground, or be burgled 5x faster than one on mansion row. But even a mansion has the chance to burn on a bad day.
Folks use the term GENTRIFICATION when talking about Detroit. Maybe that is an appropriate term? I see it as the powerful and influential feeding off the folks who are working themselves to death to pay taxes, get to a decent grocery store, and buy clothes so they MIGHT be able to get a ride, gas up the car and drive into the burbs to try and find employment. When that fails, well it usually ends up on the news as some hyped up lead story of how the citizens of the city have turned to self-indulgent acts to satisfy their cravings..

So is it the worse in the world? Doubtful. Have you seen any city India? Any city in Mexico? Central America? China? Detroit is far from the worse in the world.

What it is one of the worse at is allowing politicans and elected officials, from the school board to city council and all the Kilpatricks that have been and are yet to come, to run roughshod over their right to a humane existance and convincing the citizens they don't need no accountability or responsibility from their officials because "We are all in this together.' only when the city starts to stager, the officials are the first out with their war chests and the citizens are worse for the wear...

Will we teach our kids to LEARN?

I once taught a John Updike short story to an AP class one day. I forget the title, but it was about a priest who is working in a migrant community in the southwest and has the role of a Christ-like figure. In the end the priest is rounded up and killed as a martyr protecting the farmer...yada yada yada...The assignment was to write a character analysis of either the priest or the farmer and support it with quotes from the story that lead the student to that view.

I had never read the story prior to that day. I was a substitute (didn't even have my certification as I was junior year at Eastern Michigan) and the class had 10 senior AP English students. We read the story, actually I read the story in a VERY animated manner. As we began to discuss the book, the students looked a bit lost. It was just a farmer and a priest, a stupid priest at that since he had gotten himself killed..not very exciting characters they said.
I then asked what kind of person was the farmer. The class started talking about how he worked, cared for his community....the usual. We then talked about other "famous" personalities that had similar traits...Then we discussed the priest....we quickly filled the 12 foot long board with 100's of observations related to character and the students started writing their papers conversation filled the room. Most were amazed that such a short story, 6-8 pages, had so much in it. Most wrote papers that were 4-6 pages long--almost as long as the story they said unbelievably. As they were writing, a teacher from down the hall stopped in to see how were were getting along. She looked at the kids, all busy writing, looked at the board with all the prompts, and looked at me and asked--

"Of course you discussed the literary aspects and components of the story as well, right?"

Though I was at the school a few other times that year, I was never asked to sub in another academic class and was given either SpEd classes or CTE type classes.
I did see some of the students from the AP class and they all said they had done very well on their paper, but it was an omission on my part leaving out the literary terms.
I followed the lesson plan--READ, ANALYZE, WRITE/RESPOND, but somewhere in there a discussion of concepts was "assumed," after all it is an AP class...

Throughout my career, I have taken the creative road towards teaching. When a unit was completed, the students could tell you anything about the material--take a test and they failed miserably. Because, as I was told, it wasn't taught in a testable format...(ROFLMAO)
So I guess the point of this rant is that teaching isn't just about certification, hands on experience, or knowledge of a curriculum, teaching is about being able to instill a passion for learning--not necessarily knowledge. Knowledge is the result of learning. If we cannot, do not or will not learn, we have no chance to gain knowledge.

As David Allen Coe sang in his song The Ride--Can you make people feel what you feel inside...
Why are we expected to know how something works before we learn about it? We have forgotten how to teach others how to learn and forced them straight to knowledge.
Isn't that like forcing someone to eat liver everyday, telling them it is good for them and refusing to allow the person to learn what is "good" and discover possible alternatives that have the same out come?

Do we explain to a child how walking works before we try to get them to walk? Would they understand the laws of physics and balance? We just encourage them to walk and later they learn "why" it works.

I believe education has many things assbackwards. We have allowed ourselves to be consumed by the test, and lost sight of individuals and the importance of learning.
Like the proverb about giving a person a fish or teaching them to fish---

we are GIVING our kids knowledge without teaching them how to learn LEARN..

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday nights alright

So the talk today is gasoline prices. The papers and news outlets are saying a 10%-15% drop in prices are on the horizon as the speculators fear some sort of economic disaster should they continue playing petroleum god.
Reminds me of the Eddie Murphy movie Trading Places where the old guys are betting on how individual lives can be changed with the right influence.
Since when has it become fashionable to wager on the future of petroleum, food and now precious metals? Wall Street isn't just buying and selling anymore, they are now investing on a yet to be determined price...
Isn't this a bit like being a dentist and then handing out sugary treats to everyone then waiting for them to come into your office for fillings? Doesn't this smell just a little like a conflict of interest? At the very least it has to be suspicious...

Friday, May 6, 2011

TGIF what more is there

So like it's Friday in America. The beginning of the weekend for many folks in the country. If it takes 5 days each week (20 total for the month) to pay the bills (and barely for most people) and we only get 2 days a week (8 for the month) to rest and play, just how valuable is play? 26% of our time each month is devoted to relaxation.
I know most people forget the original meaning of May day although I hear people proclaim HAPPY MAY DAY as if it's a rite of passage. MAybe we need more lessons in real history and not the rah-rah USA montra being heard in every school building in America.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

SO much to snark

I missed my snark yesterday. I had a great one to share. I watched the Oprah show on Wednesday and she was hosting the 50th anniversiary of the Freedom Riders--all 178 survivors. I was amazed at how causually folks were able to "forgive" the past and those involved in the discrimination throughout the south. I kept thinking that people cna change, they are allowed to mature. After all, I am not the same person I was 25 years ago. Even 10 years ago I had different ideas than I have today.
I was already to snark on the hypocrites who hid behide the sheets using fear to prevent their world from changing and losing their position of authority. But that would have been too easy. Trying to hold the lynchers and mobs to a higher standard cries for snark. But I believe the focus needs to be on those who stood shoulder to shoulder and said "We will not be pushed around." Those folks who stepped into the shark infested waters and insisted on swimming.
What fun would it be to snark the metally deficient? After all they knew not what they done...They were folloeing in their daddy's and grand-daddy's fime tradition of superiority. One that required at least 10 peers to go out and perform "intervention" on a group of muck-rakers.
Soinstead I rested. Pondering what has happened to the America I grew up watching on the television screen in the 1960s. A time when people were proud of their neighbors, proud of their leaders and proud of their families. One would be hard pressed to find any person with a feeling of belonging to any group. Most of us participate simply for what benefits we can derive from those we flatter.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Watched the clip of Jon Stewart talking about Bin LAden' death. He said some folks would have "perspective." Some pithy words of wisdom of how anyone's death is not to be celebrated. That every person is valied and we, as civilized people cannot allow ourselves to rejoice in any form or death.
I, like Jon, paused for a split second, and resoundly said--YES WE CAN REJOICE in the death of one person. Especially if that one death brings hope to the world.
Bin Laden was an evil person. I for one refuse to accept the idea tha evil people are ALLOWED to walk amongst us. Because evil exists, does not mean society has to fit it into their schedule. We do not have to give it a chance. We do not have to try and modify it. We do not have to try and love it into submission.
We can however eradicate it at our earliest convenience. The longer evil is permitted to walk the Earth, the more innocent people are going to die. How can we mourn the deaths of innocents, while claiming to rehabilitate the evil? Does this not stink of conflict? We must love the evil in hopes of converting it while innocent are allowed to die beacause evil has yet to accept responsibility and accountability?
If evil were eliminated from society, how many innocents would die?

We rejoice over the resurrection on Easter morning, yet we refuse to celebrate the death. If there was no death, there is no redemption. Yet society steadfastly claims that the death is an abhoration in their eyes, in so far as to continue blaming the people of that time for the death. YET was it not HIS plan? Did he not orchestrate the whole event? WHY>?

Was it nor for our benefit>?

Sometimes DEATH must be a celebration.

Osama Bin Laden's surely is reason to celebrate.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wow, all the stuff!

Guest post written by my buddy Aldo Mays

I really had no idea all the things that went into opening your own business before I opened one of my own. For example, I had no idea how much effort went into creating a business website until I contacted with a designer… Thank goodness she knew what she was doing! Additionally, I had no idea who to call about our credit card merchant services or about credit card processing, so that took some research as well. All of the tax implications and bookkeeping regulations that come with being a business owner are really complicated, so I hired a part-time accountant to help me manage all the numerical details. I feel like I'm finally wrapp! ing my head around how difficult it is to manage a business, when all along I thought I would spend most of my time thinking of product innovations and customer service! That stuff is definitely important, but nowhere near as crucial as the day-to-day services and vendor relationships that really impacts how the business is run. I'm so glad I have so much help!