Friday, July 25, 2008


I am going to be out of town for a week to visit my family in Michigan. As you can see it's the opposite of the desert I call home. A week of swimming, saunas, food, fishing and more is what awaits me and my family.

Hope you have a great week as well...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

50 Book Update (with update)

Recently I joined the 50 book challenge at Shelfari and wanted to give everyone an update on my progress. When I made the original post I had read the following books:

Old Man and the Sea
My Grandfather's Son
Sharks over China
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Screwtape Letters
Catcher in the Rye

Since then I've finished these books:

The Coldest Winter
Mere Christianity
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Black Arrow (Finished 7/25)

And I'm reading the following books (yes books, as in more than one)

The Reagan Dairies
The Picture of Dorian Grey

I am going to take these books on vacation next week:

The Grapes of Wrath
The Dragonriders of Pern Trilogy
The Great Gatsby

I may take the Reagan Dairies and The Picture of Dorian Grey as well. The Black Arrow is a library book so I will leave that here. If you have also taken up the challenge let me know how you're doing.

18 steps

No it's not some newfangled treatment for addictions. It was the number of steps from the storeroom to the floor. I know I counted them this morning as I made trip after trip after trip loading up carts with shoes to send to California. And I went up and down those 18 stairs 50 times if I did it once. And that's 48 times to many if you ask me. The last thing I needed was to see just how out of shape I was and boy did I find out! The good part about this is that the normal two day assignment has turned into a 4 day assignment and we really need the extra money.

And I'm one day closer to August 11...

Monday, July 21, 2008

They want to do what?

Let's see, the economy is not doing well, gas is over $4.00 a gallon and millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet. I know! Let's increase the gas tax by another 10¢ a gallon! Now I realize that I'm not a economic guru, but last I checked, when the economy is struggling the last thing you should do is to further erode the purchasing power of your citizens. I've also discovered another fact that seems to escape the democrats in Congress. When you don't have enough money coming in, you need to cut expenses first. Of course since they're playing with someone else's money it's easy to see why simply increasing taxes is the better option. I think they're betting on Obama becoming president because McCain is not big on tax increases.

This is the best example of how the GOP views this vs. how the democrats do.

"Congress should first reduce spending on pet projects, known as earmarks, argued Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. "I'm not going to let the Senate spend all this money when nobody is looking, especially when we refuse to stop wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on earmarks."

Oberstar, D-Minn., said his committee is working on the next long-term highway bill. He estimated it will take between $450 billion and $500 billion over six years to address safety and congestion issues with highways, bridges and transit systems.

"We'll put all things on the table," Oberstar said, but the gas tax "is the cornerstone. Nothing else will work without the underpinning of the higher user fee gas tax."

Nothing else will work? Senator, with all due respect... Are you high? Try wasting less of my money in other areas and see what happens. All you're going to do is to increase the drag on our economy and lengthen this downturn.

This is why the system was built for gridlock ladies and gentleman...

H/T Bald Headed Geek

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Truth is a moving target, or is it? (updated)

Over at American Power, Dr. Douglass posted an essay discussing giving animals the same status as humans, thereby making all animals equal, which is a direct shot at the Judeo-Christian view in which we are at the top of the heap and the animals to one degree or another are below us. In addition, there is an essay by Dennis Prager that is worth looking at. In this article Dennis discusses the difference between the Judeo-Christian ethics and the secular, postmodern ethics.

The main difference between the two systems are this. People who subscribe to the Judeo-Christian view, have held that certain things are right or wrong, that's why we tend to hold things like the 10 Commandments in such high esteem. Secularists see everything as shades of gray, what is good for you is good for you and all that nonsense.

These two world views are polar opposites of each other and at some point one or the other will be tossed aside. Make no mistake about it, the secularists are hell bent on removing the Judeo-Christian morals from our culture and replacing it with moral relativism. Where instead of concrete ideas of what is right and wrong, you're constantly shifting until it feels right for you. Needless to say this is bad for society, we need set rules of behavior, where people know that there are certain things you just don't do. Of course many of these are moral things like fidelity, modesty, honesty, and not having sex just because, which is why the secularists don't like them.

So is truth really a moving target after all?

Update #1:

I was thinking about this thread when I made this post to start with. It starts out with the usual indignation about the cover on the New Yorker and then when the cartoon of the McCain's comes out (thanks Dr. D) I posted it since at least one person said they'd be just as offended if one were published. Funny thing, since one is a magazine cover and the other 'just' a comic, they're not the same, at least according to people there. That would be moral relativism in action for you.

Friday, July 18, 2008

When Good Things Happen To Good People

I've been mulling this post over in my head for the last few days and since my car won't start right now I might as well get my thoughts down before I forget what it was I was going to share. There are two fellow teachers whose blogs I follow that finally got some good news after months (if not years) of frustration and setbacks.

California Teacher Guy: He just found a job at a school in Northern California. He's been bouncing around schools as a special education teacher for the past few years. Last year he taught at the Jewel of the Desert School and was a victim of cutbacks in the district. In addition, his blog is a must read for me and you could certainly do worse than to add him for your blog rolls.

Over at I am a teacher, Mr. G. finally found a classroom to call his own in Eastern Washington. He's been looking for steady work for way to long and at one point was ready to throw in the towel. In addition he is a huge Wizard of Oz fan and has a separate blog just for that book. His blog is also one I read on a regular basis, especially now that it's good news instead of more disappointment.

It was nice to see two of the good guys get a well deserved break. When you get a chance head over there and congratulate them.

Now I just need to get my car started and probably replace my battery. The desert heat is just murder on car batteries, and it has been about 3 years since the last time the battery bit the dust. Good thing my wife took the van this morning.

Update... The car has a new battery and is now running fine. The people at Wal-Mart even waived the $9.00 core charge. Needless to say I was very thankful.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Lie Clock

Got this in my email and thought it was worth passing along.

The Lie Clock

A man died and went to heaven. As he stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him.

He asked, 'What are all those clocks?'
St. Peter answered, 'Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock.Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move.'

'Oh,' said the man, 'whose clock is that?'

'That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie.'

'Incredible,' said the man. 'And whose clock is that one?'

St. Peter responded, 'That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire life.'

'Where's Senator Obama's clock?' asked the man.

'Obama's clock is in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan.'

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It's all my fault!

Over at Betsy's Page, she mentioned that in California the governator wants 8th graders to master algebra. Now while this is a noble sentiment, the reality is far different. I hit the comment link to see what the discussion was like and I ran into this gem by "Walt Vega"

"At what age do kids learn Algebra in Japan, China, Germany, France, Spain, Australia? American kids are stupid, thanks to American Teachers. Great job"

Now, I don't know about you, but that looked like an outright attack on all teachers, and I took a certain amount of umbrage at that statement, and responded thusly...

"Walt, with all due respect. Kiss my ass. You obviously have never been in a classroom as a teacher and have no clue what you're talking about. You know how many parents supply phone numbers that don't work? How many don't care? How many would rather buy booze and drugs instead of shoes and pencils for their kids? And yet it's my fault as a teacher? Hear that ringing? It's reality calling, you might want to answer."

Now, I admit I should not have told him to KMA but I was pretty pissed that he would blame all teachers for the problems that public education face in 2008. Plus I figured that Walt was a post and run troll who likes to flame and run. Well, Walt to his credit responded to my first comment...

As much as you would enjoy me kissing your ass I wouldn't dream of depriving your mom from using her mouth there and elsewhere on your body.
Personalizing it by attacking me is a sure sign you're a loser. You can't keep it substantive. Try to address the original issue. Show us what a smarty you are.
The better teachers know the horrendous state of "teaching" in the USA. It's inarguable.
Equally inarguable is the inverse relationship nationally between "teacher" salaries and student performance. It's grotesque. It's shameful.
Blame? Go ahead. Makes you look all the more foolish. It's people like you and the NEA/UFT that vote in the democrats who promulgate laws and programs to coddle teenage criminality, to promote illegal aliens sucking dry resources from schools and towns, and that lower standards of every conceivable kind.
Keep it up, genius."

Now, aside from the incestuous implications that I won't go into, it's clear that Walt has no clue about my personal feelings about teacher's unions or the reality that teachers face in the classroom everyday. This time I didn't reply right away until my temper had cooled down a bit...

"A. I hate the NEA with a passion. They have done more to hurt education that all the loser parents put together. I love the idea of voucher programs, school choice and charter schools. If it will truly help the kids learn, I'm all for it. As for illegals? Put the marines on the border.

B. You missed my point. So I'll lay it out again just for you. If you want kids to succeed, then you need parents who care. To often, the parents don't care and that attitude rubs off on the kids. When the parents care about their kid's education then the foundation for success gets laid.

C. I don't lower standards, sorry you have the wrong teacher.

D. Maybe you should get the facts straight before you attack me. You made it personal when you blamed all teachers without exception. If you're so smart you go teach and get back to me.

Jorg, you really do need those pedagogy classes. There is a huge amount of knowledge that you need just in the science of teaching. Lesson planning, classroom management, record keeping etc., are all vital to becoming a good teacher. Many states have an ARL (alternative route to license) so that people with a BS+ can start teaching right away and go to school to get the teaching part."

Now, I was pretty sure that I had made a point about crappy parents getting some of the blame, but I guess I was not obvious enough for Walt...

" You never made a point. There was nothing to miss.

A good carpenter never blames his tools. Deflecting your failure as a teacher to the parent must feel comforting, but it's bullshit and shows what a numskull you are. What's your next excuse; no parking?

If you want to get paid as a teacher, you should only receive a check if you've done your job. Whining not included. You don't teach. You collect (my) government money for arriving at your job site.

The immigrants were not famous for "caring" about education for the their children. School robbed them of income they needed just to survive.

Or are you referring to Negro kids (more specifically, their parent(s))?"

Now at this point it was fairly obvious to me that Walt's views are set in stone and that all teachers are racist pigs feeding at the public trough. He straight out says that teachers have no excuses at all for not properly teaching their students. Now I was not about to let the whole racist charge go without an answer so I responded with this...

"Exactly how much time have you spent as a teacher again? Tell you what Walt, since you're obviously so much more qualified to teach than either Betsy or myself, why don't you come to our schools and show us how it should be done.

And the school I last taught at was 55% hispanic, and I've seen this parental problem across racial lines, so your tactic of calling me a racist won't wash either.

I don't blame all parents for the trouble our schools face, I do blame the ones who couldn't care less about their kid's education and why that's my fault I still don't understand.

I do know this, that the more involved the parents are, the better the odds that the students will be successful and the inverse is also true.

If you wish to continue to blame teacher's for all the ills in public education go right ahead, it shows your lack of knowledge and your continual personal attacks show your lack of class."

Now I am going to let Walt know that I've posted this here so this conversation can continue if he wishes. I don't want to drag down Betsy's blog with this debate.

Death of a forum and more

One of my favorite web sites, Substitute Teachers United ceased operations this week. The founder simply ran out of energy and money to keep the site up. It's a pity this happened and I wish the founder well in her future projects, even if she does support Obama! I also finished another book in the 50 book challenge, "The Coldest Winter" and I added the link to my list to the right under the 'educational' section, so that way you can see how close I get to 50 books by the end of the year. I did change the order a bit, because I started reading "The Picture of Dorian Gray" along with "The Reagan Dairies" and "The Count of Monte Cristo".

Now playing: Rhapsody In Blue - Disney
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, July 12, 2008

RIP Tony Snow

What a shocking way to start the morning. I flip on my computer to see if the thunderstorms last night started any fires locally and the headline on my home page says it all. Tony Snow was a class act and he was by far my favorite on air talent at Fox News before he became press secretary for President Bush. When his cancer returned I was hopeful that he would beat it, unlike many on the left who though that is was cosmic karma coming back to haunt Tony, which is typical of liberals these days.

You can read more about him here, here, and here.

Tony, you were a class act and will be missed. 53 is way to young.

Friday, July 11, 2008


No, I'm not going to wax poetic about the DVDs again, but I had an interesting experience when I showed them to the music classes I was subbing for today. Friday through next Wednesday I'm subbing for a music teacher in an elementary school. Now normally I don't to elementary schools but I need the money and the cool thing about subbing for the specialists is that you don't see the same rug rats all day. Anyways I pop in the DVD and the 5th graders are less than impressed with the opening video Starship Groove.

I went on with the lesson and showed them different videos from both the DVDs but it was not until they saw Drum Machine that they got interested.

Now all the other classes loved, loved them. They not only enjoyed the videos, they really enjoyed the music as well. The two big hits were Pogo Sticks and Future Retro. The really cool thing is that they saw stuff I missed even though I've watched the DVDs numerous times.

Sometimes you learn as much from the students as they learn from you. Besides I'd rather watch those DVDs than Disney Sing a long videos any day of the week!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

50 Book Challenge

I'm borrowing this from shelfari, you know that bookshelf thingy on the right side of my blog? Here is the challenge for all of you. I want you to read 50 books in 12 months. I saw it today and decided to join. Here are the books I've read so far.

Old Man and the Sea
My Grandfather's Son
Sharks over China
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Screwtape Letters
Catcher in the Rye

I'm still reading the ones I mentioned below. If you are a shelfari member and want to participate you can do so here. The widget is free and easy to use as well.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

CS Lewis and more

While on vacation last week I was able to get some reading done as well as visit, drink a beer or two, etc...

Aside from Old Man and The Sea and Dr. Jeckyll & Mr Hyde, my father in law let me borrow two books from CS Lewis, and no it wasn't any of the Narnia books! (Been there, read them!) Instead he let me borrow Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters. They are both wonderful reads and The Screwtape letters has stayed with me because it was so powerful.

Mere Christianity was a series of radio addresses that Lewis gave during WWII explaining Christianity and why it was the true road to eternal life. It explains much about Christianity in plain (Queens) English stripping away much of the doctrinal divides and other nonsense. I'm about 95% finished with the book and wish I had read it before the Screwtape Letters

The Screwtape letters is a series of letters written from one demon (Screwtape) to his 'nephew' regarding his nephew's attempt at turning a young man over to their side. It gives a chilling look at how the other side operates in their ongoing quest to capture souls for the Devil and there were (way too) many times I saw I had fallen into the trap that Screwtape was discussing with his young charge.

If your only experience with CS Lewis happens to involve Aslan the lion, then I recommend you pick up these two books. They are well worth the effort. Once I finish off Mere Christianity and The Coldest Winter, I'll start The Count of Monte Cristo and maybe The Great Gatsby.