Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The world begins to change

Three years doesn’t seem like a long time. It is barely long enough for a toddler to begin walking and talking. Just a little over half way through elementary school. It is just quick enough to get through middle school and not remember the agony. Three years will make you a junior in high school if you are on track and passed all your classes. Three years is just a measly 2.5% of the American box turtle’s expected lifespan.
Three also has some significance in the numerology world for being lucky. The holy trinity is three, the wise men were a trio, and Jonah spent three days in the belly of the whale. Then there are the rare references to the dark side of the three.
The three-day Christ was on the cross is probably the first evil 3 to come to mind. Then there is the 3 on a match curse. As I spent these three years in exile in North Carolina, I never knew how these three years were silently wreaking havoc in my life.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Contribution by Saul Martin

When I look back on my childhood, I never would have thought that my family would end up the way that it has. I didn't have the best childhood, there was a lot of fighting, but I really did think my parents were different and would stay together. While my friends' parents were going through divorce, I felt bad for them but I didn't really understand how it felt. Well, now I do. After 28 years of marriage, my parents have gotten a divorce. I am starting to wonder if any marriages last? I have been married for six years and I can see how it happens. Marriage isn't easy, but I still can't imagine not being with my husband. My mom has had the hardest time. I don't think she ever thought they would actually get a divorce either. She just moved into her own small two bedroom house by herself. She said she has never felt lonelier. I go over there every Tuesday and Thursday for dinner but I know that is not enough. I got her ADT Security Blair to help her feel like she wasn't alone. I think it has really helped her feel safer.

Like the ancient Phoenix

I suppose I should start by apologizing for my piss poor snark the other day. I was not only in a psycho-funk from a warring cold, but I was indeed pissed.
I have this issue with frustration. Once I have entered the frustration zone, it is extremely difficult for me to focus and I tend to become circular.
But alas, I also tend to digress.
Just about a year ago, Mary and I registered our domain name and hooked up with an internet host—In Motion. We were looking at going full time on the road in our recently acquired Coachmen Catalina 5th wheel. So we created a domain name BLUE ROAD BLOGGER with our host. Along with our initial site hosting, we have 5 or 6 other domains we can register with In Motion and for the cost of registration; we can have several web sites on out initial plan.
We later registered GET YOUR SNARK ON in anticipation of re-dressing the politically correct mentality.
Though it had been awhile since I was snarkin at the system, I thought I could just snark at the obvious and provide a platform for others to snark along. Kind of like a wanna be closet snarking society if you will. But as I should have known, one , at least I cannot snark quietly.
Then several months ago it started. I friended some anti-GMO groups, a few Agent Orange groups and then I went looking for trouble. I found my old favorite magazines on Facebook---RETHINKING SCHOOLS out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; THE PROGRESSIVE magazine out of Madison, Wisconsin (see the trend?), and eventually I was back in Madison 1996, at least mentally I was. Walking down State Street, sitting st Canterbury Coffee / Bookstore and writing.
Then I find a FREE subscription to YES! Magazine. I had so forgotten about this publication. When I was living in Madison I had subscriptions to YES!, THE NATION, THE PROGRESSIVE, ADBUSTERS, RETHINKING SCHOOLS, and 2-3 other social commentary publications. I even drove to Milwaukee to work on RETHINKING SCHOOLS. There I met some devoted educators and great teachers fighting for their students on the front lines in Milwaukee Public Schools. In Madison I learned about Leonard Peliter and the Second Taking of Wounded Knee. I discovered Peter Kropotkin, Colin Ward, Black 47 and why society as a whole was drowning.
I was advocating the resistance to the IMF, the Summit of G8 (Now G20), and GMOs in 1996. I was suddenly a prophet and preaching about all that was wrong with society. I saw it as my duty to warn the others of the impending apocalypse. I was the black sheep no one wanted to acknowledge.
Eventually I settled down and let the frustration fall into a well-deserved sleep. I thought I wanted to be normal, and if that meant being comfortably numb, then I would be just that. So it has been for the last 10 years.
SO please be patient as I seek to regain my voice and my clarity. I have been practicing on a web site, CITY-DATA where I have been promoting the evils of GMOs and facing off with two total capitalistic idiots who I believe work for mansanto as they have made several appeals to the moderators to close the thread they deem to be baseless. It has been a great venue for me to present an argument without the frustration taking control.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

OUTRAGE----Y not?

So are you feeling the outrage? Everyday we are witness to some corporation taking something from our community. We stand by as some politician taking a little more in our wages and attacking unions as the all-evil, soul stealing boogey-man. And all along they tell us it is getting better, it is for our own good, and the best one of all time-----I am from the government and I am here to help….ROFLMFAO…seriously?
Now before all the political entities get in a bunch, this is NOT an us against them rant. It will not be democraps vs. republickins death match. Neither side is innocent in this fiasco.
Both, in fact dare I say ALL politics travels on money; really big money and a lot of it. Just watch the news and see all the corporations being served at the trough of earmarks. Whenever there is a disruption in the system, a protest or strike, the politicians are ready to send in the clowns—aka muscle; enforcement; law. If the clowns are to small, the military is always an option.
Multinationalistic businesses current own us. They have a license that has NO expiration date, because we love the ride. We are firmly entrenched in the front seat and holding on tight. Every year they add new and improved features that compel us to stay the course.
We are willing to pay big for the pleasure of having folks we elected to do what we want them to do for us—TELL us what they will do to us. And we accept this? Like Frankenstein, we have built a monster that no longer serves its master. Like I Robot, we have permitted the creation to rule the creator. And we want to believe it is all for our own good, because we are incapable of deciding for ourselves?

Do they really have to ask WHY?

SO the 1% and their wanna bees are asking why the rest of us are PISSED OFF?

After 10 years of "wanting to BELIEVE" in the america Mitt Romney espouses, I am ready to BE OUTRAGED again!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Giving her son purpose

My biggest successes are also home to my biggest disappointments. Mary and I had been busting our tails off trying to make a go in the real estate business for almost a year. After spending thousands of dollars and have zero income, I went looking for a teaching position. I started mailing out my updated résumés in June of 2004. Within a few weeks I had two promising offers. One was at a juvenile detention facility and another at an alternative high school with a retired Air Force officer as principal. The detention facility was my comfort zone. I knew these kids and many were probably the students I had at the psychiatric facility I taught at from 1997—2002. The alternative high school was targeting dropouts or the students who were expelled from their home school for drugs, weapons and assaults. The retired military guy wasn’t my idea of understanding either. So I went with the only choice that seemed to have the greatest potential and challenge—I accepted the alternative high school position.
The school was using an on-line curriculum with the PLATO and A+ programs. The school had 2 labs ready for the first day of school in October. We held 2 sessions—one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Each lab had 35 students. We had 140 students the first week we were open and the waiting list started to grow. Within the next 6 months we had 2 more labs each with 40 students and the waiting list was still growing. There were two certified teachers in each lab and I was the lone special education teacher. I had access to a special education supervisor whose office was in Ohio, but otherwise I was the go to person for all students with an IEP. I established contact with the county ISD office and met with the county ISD special education staff. Eventually I would orchestrate and maintain a special education program consisting of more than 50 students on two different schedules.

It wasn’t long before my difficulties started. I had a small lab where the students with IEPs could come for individualized assistance. Most were using the A+ program that was easily modified for lower grade level work to accommodate students varying performance levels. Which just wasn’t sitting right with the general education teachers. Why should those students have easier work? It wasn’t air they were given high school credit for lower grade level work. I quickly became familiar with the supervisor in Ohio and had her phone number on speed-dial.
Next was the problem with there being so many students with IEPs coming to my room. It wasn’t fair they were not required to stay in the room like all he other students. Then there was a problem with IEP students having access to workbooks for credit. Being in jail and allowed to return to school when other students had to reenroll after an extended absence. All this IEP nonsense was just patronizing the students and encouraged them to shirk responsibility. As for as the general education teachers were concerned, I was the one encouraging these special education students to milk the system. I need to get over my fear and face these students and set them straight! It wasn’t long before Ohio had her own office next to mine to more efficiently deal with the general education teachers’ misunderstandings. Eventually the public protests died down, but the resentment and animosity never faded.
Initially when a student had an emotional problem or was frustrated, the principal would call myself and our family advocate in to meet with the student. Together the four of us would work on a solution or a goal. As the school grew, this task was left to myself and the family advocate to deal with these situations. This also caused problems with the staff. Again they saw this “service” as coddling and allowing students to manipulate the system. The general education staff had established its own line of communications with central office in Ohio. I did not know it then, but the school and the management company was now divided. On one side there was central office management and the general education teachers tallying my deficits, and the principal, supervisor and ISD tallying my successes. Within 6 months I had lost my greatest ally. Central office fired the principal. It was now them 1; me 0. And I was still on the offensive.
I met Marcus sometime in January 2006. I had heard he was a real terror. Angry at the world, angry at his mother whom he was now living with, and angry with having to be in school. There were rumors he had assaulted the principal at his previous school with a knife. Stolen several cars and even operated a successful drug business. I tried not to put too much stock in such rumors as I avoided reading IEPs of new students until I had met with them. Marcus had the general education teachers sweating. If the reports were true, they wanted him out of school; at the very least he should be in my room where he wouldn’t be a threat to them or they added after a long pause, the other students.
Marcus came into school and by all appearances and actions seemed determined to live up to his reputation. To describe him as angry was like saying a blue whale is big. It was obvious he hated everything and everyone. My advice to the lab teachers was patience and not to push Marcus until we had established a rapport with him, immediately was dismissed as indulgence.
Several weeks later Marcus storms into my lab/office. He was demanding where his other credits were. His lab teacher told him all he had was 6 credits towards graduation and he needed 19 credits to receive a diploma. Marcus was ready for a fight. Somehow he had managed not to slap the lab teacher, but he was ready to rip my head off if he didn’t like what he heard. I cannot tell you what I was thinking at that moment, but I want to say that I understood where Marcus was coming from. Either he knew he had other credits or believed he should have more credits on his transcripts. Either way I accepted the fact he believed he was right. And who was I to argue? I hadn’t even seen his transcripts.
“Let me see if I can find out for you.” I told him.
“HOW YOU GOING TO DO THAT!!” Marcus had thrown down the gauntlet.
“Why don’t you pull up a chair over here,” I said slowly, “and I will call your high school and ask.”
All eyes in the lab were on me. All you could hear was the whirling of the computers’ hard drives. It was quieter than a deprivation chamber. Marcus just stood there, staring at me like I was rotten meat.
“Sit down and tell me what school you went to last.”
He said I wasn’t going t call them because it was way down in Mississippi. I was just trying to clam him down enough to call security in to haul him out of the school. I told him to give me the name and city so I could pull it up on the Internet and get the telephone number.
An hour later, I hung up the phone, had a complete copy of his transcripts Faxed to the front office and a total of 14 credits. As Marcus just sat there next to me I could see the little frighten boy he was. I knew he was embarrassed, not that he showed it, but I could tell. He was speechless. In all his anger, he could not find anything to say. I was just a little uneasy and had no idea where this would go.
Marcus came back to school the next day and I never gave it a second thought. Marcus never had another day of trouble and as far as I know was a model student.
In June 2006, I talked with Marcus’ mother at graduation. I had spoke with her quite a bit since Marcus had been at the school, but she had something to say at graduation. She told me Marcus had come home that day he ripped into me. She said Marcus told her every graphic detail, complete with the expletives and implied threats. She said she wasn’t surprised at all that Marcus would react so violently towards authority. What she told me next almost brought me to my knees.

“Marcus told me that when he finished what he had to say, screaming in your face and making threats, he said ‘Momma, when I was done, Mr. Johnson just stood there. He didn’t yell back. He didn’t tell me to leave. He just looked at me and said he would help. He talked to me like a man momma.’ And he has never been the same since. Thank you Mr. Johnson for giving me back my son.”