Archive for October, 2007

31
Oct
07

Dear Army,

The world is changing.  We’re different people than we were 50 years ago.  We are a volunteer Army.   That word – volunteer – that’s an important word.  It means I chose to join the Army.  It means that I decided to serve my country when most people don’t.  So stop treating me like shit.  Start treating me like someone who made a commitment and is willing to keep it even though the Congress and the country is playing it fast and loose with my life. 

And stop wasting my time.  Teach me something useful.  Instead of being pissy because my folded tee isn’t the exact size of a dollar, let’s spend a little more time on common Arabic phrases.  Yell at me for not learning those correctly.  Because that will get me killed.  When I do get into a situation where I may be killed, remember that I chose to put myself there and I deserve the best health care you ungrateful assholes can provide.  For free. 

Please stop telling people they’re not supporting me because they disagree with something the President says.  I disagree with almost everything he says, and I feel a lot more supported when I know that everyone at home is trying to get me out of this godforsaken place so that I can get back to doing what I volunteered for – actually defending my country and its people.

28
Oct
07

Tagged

I promised Todd I would get to this when I could, and now is as good a time as any.

Link to your tagger and post these rules.
Write some facts about yourself: some random, some weird, some just plain fun.
Tag 7 cats (or whatever) at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
Let those 7 know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

1. I would support Stephen Colbert for President if I lived in South Carolina (I like that he’s making a mockery out of a system that has been a mockery for years, especially when it comes to corporate sponsorship), but since I don’t, I’m supporting Dennis Kucinich.  I’ve heard a lot of talk about Ron Paul and some of it I agree with, but I think he’s more dangerous than people realize. I also firmly believe that people should vote for the candidates they believe SHOULD win instead of the candidate they believe CAN win.  That only rewards mediocrity.

2.  I am so disgusted by Americans that I have begun the immigration process to Canada.  I know that their system isn’t perfect and there are things I won’t like there, too, but I believe it’s all about picking your poison.  I want health care and affordable education for my kids.  I don’t want my kids to feel bad about being atheists.  I don’t want their cultural icons to be people like Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears.  I definitely don’t want them to live in or near a city where guns are so common that there are over 320 murders (more than some countries) before the year is over.

3. I am a desert addict.  I have a thing for baked goods.  It’s a sickness. I prefer things with chocolate, but I fall victim to anything sweet.  I make my own ice cream, and I have the Ben & Jerry’s cookbook.  I am worried that my children will inherit this, so we counteract with a lot of fruits and veggies.

4. I don’t like to touch meat.  I like it best when I can’t taste that it’s flesh of some sort.  I’m okay with fish.  I hate to cook and do anything that involves working in the kitchen with the exception of baking.

5.  I live largely in my own mind, which gives people the impression that I don’t like them or I don’t care about them.  When I’m thinking about something, I have a hard time focusing on anything else.  I’m abrasive and socially inept.

6. I believe that some climate change is just the way the planet lives, but that we have greatly accelerated it and there are many things we can do to change it.  It makes me really angry when people refuse to change their lifestyle slightly so that we don’t overfill landfills, deplete resources, and destroy ecological systems.

7. I love my job but it makes me crazy that I don’t have much time to write because I am constantly doing things for work.  we do a lot of fundraising because we don’t have any money and we need a new copier, more books, paper, pencils, and other supplies necessary in the running of a school. Computers would be great, too, but we need a library first.

26
Oct
07

Wildfires

I have several thoughts about the wildfires.

1. I heard a story on NPR that hasn’t been repeated anywhere else.  Apparently a town was issued a mandatory evacuation order and some people refused to obey it.  The fires shifted toward the town quickly, and while firefighters were rescuing those who stayed behind.  While that was happening, a lot of homes burned down.  I think those who refused to obey the evacuation order should be held accountable.  They should have to repay the people who had their homes destroyed.

2. People who continually build and rebuild their homes in areas effected year after year by the Santa Ana winds and wildfires should not be allowed to get money from taxpayers or insurance companies to do so.  It’s just stupid.  It’s like building houses in areas that constantly get flooded.  Freak weather patterns are one thing, but if your home (or any of those around it) is destroyed once every ten years or more, you’re an idiot.  Build a house somewhere else.

3.  People who start fires that destroy thousands of acres of land and kill people should be charged with crimes against humanity and murder as well as arson.  It is the worst kind of destruction and deserves no forgiveness.

3,840 US soldiers killed in Iraq.  28,327 US soldiers wounded in this immoral war.

23
Oct
07

Betting on Students

Betting on attendance is one way of motivating our students, but betting on individual students also works well, depending on the student.  Basically what happens is this: one staff member (I’ll use myself as an example) decides that this is the week we’re going to “turn” Stacy*.  That means that I’ve decided to focus my attention on Stacy and get her to come to school daily (and on time), to pay attention in class and do all of her work (without getting kicked out), and begin to have a positive attitude about school.  So, sometime during the day on Friday, I tell Stacy about the bet.  This gives her the weekend to prepare herself, and to realize that I care enough about her to bet that she can do well.  Hopefully, she won’t want to let me down.  I also let the rest of the staff know about the bet.  They will spend the week loooking out for positive things that Stacy is doing and complimenting her on them.  They also agree to largely ignore what she’s doing wrong (uniform violations, talking in class, chewing gum, etc…) as along as it doesn’t endanger herself, other students or staff, or school property.

When she comes in on Monday (hopefully, on time), I remind her of the bet.  If she’s not on time I gently chastize her for being late and remind her that I’m counting on her this week.  If she does well in my class (does her work, stays relatively quiet, and doesn’t respond to me with an attitude), I give her a “shout out” in the afternoon meeting.  Uusally I say something like,”I want to recognize Stacy for not getting kicked out of any classes today.”  As the week goes on, I’m able to give better “shout outs” like, “I want to recognize Stacy for participating in class today.” All the other students clap (as they do when anyone is recognized) because they know that Stacy has been giving the staff a hard time.  This accomplishes two things.  Stacy is receiving positive reinforcement for the things she’s doing right rather than negative reinforcement for what she’s doing wrong.  This also shows other students that they are capable of changing their behavior and that they will be recognized for doing so.  We avoid giving negative reinforcement in front of the group (we usually pull a student aside and speak to them individually), but always give positive reinforcement in public.  On Friday, I buy her lunch as long as she has met some of the goals I set for her.  I continue the positive reinforcement until she doesn’t need it anymore and work with other students on improving their behavior.

*Names have been changed to protect the students

20
Oct
07

Betting on Attendance

It may sound a little unorthodox, but we spend a lot of time betting on our kids (or betting with them, as the case may arise).  Of course, money is never involved.  We use betting as a tool to show students that we care enough to stake something on them, and we make sure they know what we’re betting and why.  Most times they rise to the occasion, if only because the like the staff member who is betting on them and they don’t want to see them lose.

Our running bet is on attendance.  We have the school broken up into two teams.  The team leaders have a running bet on which team will have the highest attendance.  In the Monday morning meeting we give the kids an attendance goal: We need 85% attendance for every homeroom every day to beat the other team.  During our homeroom meeting (after lunch) we tell the students what the percentage was for their class (mine is always the lowest because I have several pregnant girls, two gang-bangers, and a few other students who have the worst attendance on the planet).  Then in the afternoon meeting we tell the students what their percentage was for the team.  The team who wins makes sure the other team hears them cheer.  Then the losing team leader say, “Did you hear that?  Do you want that to happen again tomorrow?  Do you want to LOSE?”  Of course, they all say no, them we do a class year cheer, remind them to get with their friends who weren’t in school today and convince them somehow to get their butts to class, and let them go home.  The cycle repeats daily until Friday morning, when we tell them who won.  We reward the winning team with a movie, a morning basketball tournament, or something else the students come up with (within reason).

20
Oct
07

A Nightmare

As if we didn’t know this already.  Well, okay, many Americans don’t and have to be told over and over again for them to grasp even a little the magnitude of the colossal failure that is the Iraq war, but seriously, how do people not realize that this is a nightmare?  How do they not realize that our men and women are dying for nothing but a money making scheme on the part of the Bush Adminsitration that has cost us our hard-won reputation as a world leader?

Just a quick reminder for those who have forgotten: 3,830 US soldiers killed in Iraq.  28,276 US soldiers wounded in Iraq.

17
Oct
07

Isn’t this Scalping?

I was under the impression that when you buy tickets to an event for one price and resell them for a much higher price, that is called scalping. Scalping is illegal, is it not?  So when large companies called ticket brokers do it, such as in the case of Hannah Montana concerts, they should be prosecuted for scalping.  I don’t know why these companies, and other companies doing things just as illegal constantly get a free pass in America.  For some reason, if it’s an entity instead of a individual, whatever they do is fair game.  How is that fair?  How does that protect Americans?  And why are we all just standing by and watching this happen over and over again without saying a word?




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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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