Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Culture of Death: Reaping What We've Sown

What you are about to read are my beliefs. You don't have to agree and you can argue against them. Just know that my beliefs are based on my experiences and are shaped by how I see the world. I will readily admit that my beliefs about school culture are shaped by my political beliefs (conservative, not necessarily "Republican") and by my religious beliefs (Christian, in particular Roman Catholic). 

If you believe, like I do, that school culture is a microcosm of the culture at large, then you might want to stop and think about the larger culture that surrounds the school.  Acknowledge that your political and religious beliefs will probably influence how you perceive school culture and you'll be armed with a better understanding of how and why you see things as you do.

I firmly believe that we live in a culture that "celebrates" death over life.  Abortion is legal and fought over as if it is a fundamental human right to abort (kill) a human inside a mother's womb.  The very fact that we accept abortion as a society means that human life is devalued.  Period.  The culture of death that we live in also teaches that "doctor-assisted suicide" should be considered as a viable option for those suffering from a long-term illness.  These two issues alone have so perverted our culture that we have come to accept these issues as just part of the world we live in.  In my mind, that's a pretty sad state of affairs.

As a direct result of those two issues, we have seen the glorification of death creep into all aspects of our society.  Gangs have risen from the already depressed and troubled parts of our society.  Why?  Because instead of being loving and compassionate people who want to help others live, we view the poor and outcast as dispensable "beings".  Their suffering and poverty makes us all cringe and then we turn to cold "logical arguments" like:  "They are lazy."  "They don't want a better life."  "They choose to live this way." and the list goes on.  We've allowed ourselves to justify ignoring these humans in dire need.  As a result, they've adjusted and adapted to the lack of empathy and concern and have become self-reliant in their own way. 

When you live in a society that doesn't value life, you will quickly see the decline of "civilized" behavior in areas where hard times have come.

If you ever watch "Gangland" or any of the documentary shows on gangs in America you'll begin to pick up the recurring theme of "no one cares about me except this gang".  You'll hear the gang members talk about the expectation of dying young.  You'll hear them repeat that death is expected.  You'll see and hear them talk about how little they value their lives and the lives of others.

By now, you're probably saying that this doesn't explain the recent school shooting.  I'd argue that it does.  Let's leave the poor and destitute and focus on the middle class for a bit. 

We, the middle class, have enough disposable income that we can go to the movies, rent movies, download music, and buy or rent video games.

The Top 5 video Games of 2012 according to Forbes magazine all revolve around hunting down and killing others.  All five. 
Of the Top 10 Video Games of 2012 according to the Video Game Awards, nine (9) are warfare and killing games. 

Of the Top 10 Movies of 2012 according to US Magazine, four are movies that glorify killing others.

In a spirit of honesty, I'll tell you that I've played some of the video games.  I'll also tell you that I'm capable of separating fantasy from reality and that I'm grounded enough to know when enough is enough.  I was raised in a home that valued life.  Even when I played cowboys and indians or cops and robbers as a child, I knew it was fantasy and, at the end of the game, I went around and offered a hand to help someone up off the ground.  I wasn't raised in a world that saw death as "nothing". 

This culture of death in which we live and in which my children have been raised has come to maturity.  The devaluation of human life is so pervasive and so ingrained that it has become acceptable to watch gruesome killings on television nightly.  The more gory, the better the drama it seems.  We simply shake our heads and offer platitudes when we read that the murder rate in Chicago is now over 470 people.  That's 470 human lives that have been lost to murder in one city.  Detroit isn't much better. 

I know what some of you are thinking:  this last shooting was at a quiet little town that doesn't have a climbing murder rate.  Most of the mass murder events that have happened have taken place in towns that were relatively quiet and had low crime rates. 

I understand the argument.  For me, that makes things all the more serious.  This idea that death is "nothing" and that human life has no value has crept into our quiet little towns and is exploding in front of our very eyes. 

My point is simply this, school shootings and all seemingly random acts of violence will continue until we reverse this culture of death. 

(My next post will be about my perception of issues with the mental health system in the United States.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Ugly Truth About School Culture


So what is The Ugly Truth About School Culture?  In my humble opinion, it’s that school culture is talked about extensively but seldom sees much attention beyond talk.

What is school culture?  School culture is the climate or the feeling the students, parents, teachers, support staff and the community have about the school.  The overall school culture is the general feeling when one combines all of those pieces into a snapshot.  In my mind, the most important part of school culture is the student perception.  The students are the majority in the school and they, along with the teaching and support staff, set the dominant culture.

That’s a wordy way of saying: School culture is best summed up when you ask a kid how they feel about the school they go to.  If they answer in a way that makes you think, “Gee, I wish I’d gone to a school like that!” then it’s a great place.  If that’s not your thought…

Experts on school culture will argue that there are a lot of factors that determine what the culture truly is.  I guess they are right.  I prefer to think that the school is simply a microcosm of the surrounding society.  So, if your child attends a neighborhood school, then the school’s culture will probably mirror the primary culture of the neighborhood.  If it’s a friendly, family-oriented neighborhood then your school will most likely be the same.  If it’s an unsafe and crime-ridden neighborhood then your school will most likely reflect that, too.

Of course, nothing is as simple as the cookie cutter answer above.  School cultures are shaped and molded within the building by the administration, the teachers and the support staff.  You can have a really great school culture in the worst inner-city, crime-ridden neighborhood.  They are anomalies when looking at the broader picture but they do exist. 

I’m going to give you a list of questions to ask your children.  You must promise me to abide by the following rules before and while you ask the questions.

1.       DO NOT SPEAK ONCE THE CHILD BEGINS TO SPEAK.  DO NOT INTERRUPT NO MATTER HOW TEMPTED YOU ARE.  HOLD YOUR QUESTIONS/COMMENTS FOR LATER.

2.       LISTEN TO THE WORDS THEY USE WHEN THEY ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.  REALLY LISTEN TO THE LANGUAGE THEY USE.  ARE THERE ANY WORDS THAT SURPRISE YOU?

Ask your children these questions:

1.       What do you like most about your school?

a.       What makes you say this? 

b.      Can you give me some specific examples?

2.       What do you like least about your school?

a.       What makes you say this?

b.      Can you give me some specific examples?

3.       What do you think needs to be changed in your school?

a.       Why do these things need to be changed?

b.      How would you change them?

4.       Do you feel safe at your school?

a.       Why do you (feel safe) (not feel safe) there?

b.      What would make you feel more safe?

After you’ve listened and they’ve answered.  Think about what they’ve said.  Do you have any questions for the school administration about their comments?  Feel free to share your child’s answers in the comments section.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What Can Be Done?


I know it’s been a while since I last posted.  Life caught up with me and my job kicked into overdrive.  I am toying with resurrecting the blog and attempting to actually schedule some writing time and posting time into each week.  I hadn’t planned on posting anything until after January 1 but recent events have changed that plan.  I feel the need to write about this issue.

I’ve been asked by several people, “How do you feel about what happened in Newtown, CT?”  It’s an oddly worded question but I think the intent behind the question is something like, “What can be done to prevent these horrible events from ever happening again?”  My immediate answer is that NOTHING can be done to prevent these events from happening again.  The only thing you can do is evaluate what went wrong and what went right and determine if there is a way to deter, slow down, or stop the event once it begins.  That’s a scary thought, but it’s the truth as I see it.

People have asked me if schools are truly “safe”?  I believe many schools are as safe as they can be.  They have taken appropriate steps to ensure student safety.  Some continue to be lax in their security.  Again, I think the underlying question is, “Are schools doing enough to protect the children and the staff or is there more that can be done?” 

I guess my response to that question is this question:  “How restrictive of an environment do you want your children to learn in?”  And, I would follow up with, “Are you willing to pay the monetary price through increased property taxes and other taxes in order to provide that restrictive environment?”  There’s a cost associated with every benefit. 

School shootings scare the hell out of me.  The most vulnerable of our society are attacked in these situations.  Their lives are forever altered.  Dreams are shattered.  Innocence is ripped from them.  The security blanket of their lives is torn off and fear is allowed to envelop them. 

We send our kids to school to get an education.  We send our kids to school hoping that they will have a good day and that they will see their friends and that they will leave a little bit smarter than when they entered.  That’s what we hope will happen. 

Reality is a bit different. 

I’ll follow this up with a few more posts.  I think I’ll tackle it from different angles and, hopefully, give you something to think about.  Up next, The Ugly Truth About School Culture.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why I Don't Run

I have a lot of friends who enjoy running. They run early in the morning, during the heat of the day, late at night...whenever the mood strikes them. They all report "enjoying" running. Most of them never complain about hurting, shin splints, injuries or anything. They just extol the virtues of running.

I'm glad they enjoy it so much. I enjoy living vicariously through their run reports on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Many times I've imagined myself running right beside them. Cruising along, earbuds embedded, music pushing me...

That's about the extent of my joy of running. 

Reality looks more like this...



The truth is, I HATE running!  I loathe it with every ounce of my loathing ability. Usually, when I hate or loathe something it's just straight up jealousy.  Not so with running.  I hate the pounding of my feet on pavement or treadmill, I hate the sweat pouring down my face, neck, back, legs, and other areas. The very thought of me having to run makes me feel chafed in places. 


This pretty much sums up my feelings about running. 

I thought you might want to know why I don't run.  Here's a list of reasons:

1.  Running causes profuse sweating. Sweating in moderation is fine.  Profuse sweating can cause serious dehydration.  So, out of respect for my body, I choose not to take the risk of sweating to the point of dehydration.

2.  Running outside is a very risky proposition.  Runners must contend with cars, trucks, buses, dogs, snakes and, worst of all, bicyclists!  Bicyclists tend to view runners as lower class beings who can't afford a bicycle. That snobbery breeds contempt and contemp breeds temptation and temptation breeds disaster.  

3.  Running outside causes skin cancer.  You're running outside exposing your skin to harmful U.V. Rays. I know you slather on the SPF-5,000 but your sweat washes it all away and leaves your body exposed to all those evil rays!  Plus, when you sweat off the SPF-5000, you are polluting the local water systems.

4.  Running contributes to GLOBAL WARMING!  Shame on you!  It's a fact that when you run, you produce heat.  Your body temperature rises, you sweat to cool down, you expel heat and carbon dioxide and YOU have just shaved off 30 microseconds off the planet's life!  

5.  Running is sinful.  Most "serious" runners wear those little running shorts and skimpy shirts or sports bras. That's distracting to those of us driving by in our air-conditioned SUVs. We're driving along, enjoying the cool, then we see you. There you are all hot and sweaty and running along with things going up and down in perfect rhythm with your running stride.  We become distracted and, before we know it, you've caused us to have immoral thoughts AND maybe even a wreck!  (Same reasoning applies in the gym when you run on the treadmill.)

As much as I'm against running, I will admit there are a few times when it is necessary:

1.  If you are being chased by or even see a clown!  Do I really have to explain this one?

2.  If you see a snake.  (Helpful hint:  it's best if you can first trip or throw someone between you and the snake before you start running. It distracts the snake and it might think you are offering it a sacrifice.  WARNING:  Throwing your spouse or any loved one between you and the snake can have serious consequences if the snake does not accept your offering.  Yes, I'm speaking from personal experience.)

3.  If you encounter face eating or any other type of zombies.  (Try the sacrifice play outlined above. It may buy you a few minutes.)

4.  If you are caught outside in a hail storm.  (If I have to explain this one, you deserve to be beaten by hail.)

5.  If you smell bacon frying.  This is simple, folks.  If someone is frying bacon, then you better run to get to it because others will be headed toward it, too!  Typically, when there's bacon being fried there are a host of equally delicious foods being served.  

In all cases outlined above, you should only run until you find shelter or a mode of motorized transportation.  

I hope you've all learned some valuable tips. Soon, I'll be explaining why playing golf is unhealthy and why fried bacon should be adopted as our national food.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Jack My iPad And Suffer The Consequences

It appears that The Girl Child jacked my iPad and took some pics. Perhaps you'd like to see them...



Evidently, she found the app that distorts your pictures. 




Three nostrils are better than one. 



Here's a really popular look for back to school. 



And, here's a photo that would make any parent swell with pride.



Last, but not least, here's a real stunner. 

This is what The Girl Child usually looks like...



Now, do you understand why I'm crazy?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Things That Cause Me to Stop and Think...


In my travels I see a lot of unique and interesting things.  Sometimes, those things make me stop and think for a minute.  Then, because I'm slightly ADD, I move on to some other thought.

A recent journey brought these ruminations.... It was a trip through Chop Suey land.  Everywhere I went, I saw Chop Suey restaurants.  Here's a glimpse into my mind..

Welcome to Yet Bun Chop Suey!  I'm not sure what is served here, besides Chop Suey, but I'm not adventurous enough to go in and find out.  I did look them up on the interwebs and found out they have a nice rating on UrbanSpoon: Yet Bun Chop Suey.  However, I think I'll pass on trying the place for a while. 


Next up...


Yep, this is the world famous Dr. King Chop Suey!  Long known as a champion of civil rights he was less well known for his Chop Suey cooking skills. This fine building stands as a testament to those cooking skills. 

Urban Spoon gives it a very high rating based on four reviews :  Dr. King Chop Suey.  I'm not sure I can trust four reviews. I think I'll wait on trying this one, too.

Next, let's take a look at


Fear the DRAGON!  Dragon Chop Suey!  This fine dining establishment does have a website:  http://dragonchopsuey.com/.  I'm not able to find an Urban Spoon link but I'm encouraged by the fact that they have a website!  

Just as I was getting discouraged with looking for Chop Suey restaurants, I saw this!



I see this A LOT in my travels. How does a shoe just end up in the road?  I've rationalized a shoe falling out of the bed of a pickup but can there really be that many pickup trucks with shoes jumping around in the back?

Did someone just dump that shoe on the road as they hooked a left?  Was someone walking along and their shoe came off and they didn't realize it?  How could you NOT know you'd lost your shoe?  Was someone hit by a car and the entire scene was cleaned up except for this shoe?  What a sad memorial if that's the case!

Finally, this picture is provided for you to feel my pain.



And, that's the end of this post. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Isaac and His Cone of Uncertainty

Isaac, in his swirly craziness, has been given a "Cone of Uncertainty."  Much like Moses being given "The Staff of River Partings," the "Cone of Uncertainty" wields great power.  It makes us believe we have learned great things until we realize it has told us nothing.
Behold, yea, verily I say unto you that Isaac cometh and he bringeth with him a large cone of uncertainty!  All shall bow down and tremble at the sight of the mighty cone of uncertainty...unless you're kinda feeling blaise about the whole thing and then you can just look on in wide-eyed boredom.  (1NWS:2-3)

So, I'm watching some of the coverage about Isaac.  It's shaping up to become a full blown hurricane and that's nothing to make fun of.  So, I won't.

I will, however, make fun of the National Weather Service, The Hurricane Prediction Center and a lot of meteorologists throughout the U.S.

Let's examine "The Cone of Uncertainty"(cue scary-clown music)
The Cone of Uncertainty is also used extensively as a graphic in hurricane forecasting, where its most iconic usage is more formally known as the NHC Track Forecast Cone,[1] and more colloquially known as the Error Cone, Cone of Probability, or the Cone of Death. (Note that the usage in hurricane forecasting is essentially the opposite of the usage in software development. In software development, the uncertainty surrounds the current state of the project, and in the future the uncertainty decreases, whereas in hurricane forecasting the current location of the storm is certain, and the future path of the storm becomes increasingly uncertain.)[2] Over the past decade, storms have traveled within their projected areas two-thirds of the time,[3] and the cones themselves have shrunk due to improvements in methodology. The NHC first began in-house five-day projections in 2001, and began issuing such to the public in 2003. It is currently working in-house on seven-day forecasts, but the resultant Cone of Uncertainty is so large that the possible benefits for disaster management are problematic. [4]  (from our friends at WikipediaCone of Uncertainty.  Emphasis and highlights are mine. Please support them if you can!)

Notice the more colloquial terms:  Error Cone, Cone of Probability, Cone of Death. (Discuss!)

In effect, what the "Cone of Uncertainty" is telling us is:  We have absolutely no idea what is happening once this bad mamma-jamma hits land and begins to tear itself apart...so, we've put together this useless cone so we can go back and say, "See, we told you it might do this!"

This is "The Cone of Silence" from Get Smart!  To think people made fun of this device!  It puts the "Cone of Uncertainty" to shame!
Other cones scoff and make fun of the "Cone of Uncertainty!"  They rebuke it as a false prophet of destruction, doom and death!  And, they are right to do so!

"THE GREATEST CONE EVER MADE...THE SUGAR CONE!"  All other cones bow before its greatness.  They are weak and paltry compared to its grandeur!  All Hail The Sugar Cone!  Long Live the Sugar Cone!
Okay, so I got a bit carried away there, but...really...the sugar cone is the GREATEST CONE OF THEM ALL!!!  (just saying)

What if the rest of the organized world developed shapes to help convey to people that they have no idea what they are doing?  Here are some possibilities:

"The Circled Dash of Ambiguity" is the official sign of DMVs across the nation.  It tells us, rather plainly, that we will wait in line for a long, long time and, when we are "helped," we will be missing some piece of necessary paperwork.
"The Triangle of Terror" provides guidance for all those who don't know where to begin.  Or...what to begin.
"The Food Pyramid of Confusion." Sadly, I didn't have to make this one up.  This, my friends, is the result of your tax dollars at work.  I've studied this for all of like 10 seconds and then my ADD took over and I kept fixating on the pretty colors and the ginormous stick man climbing the Mountain of Food Things!  Then, I made up a story about him conquering the rulers of each food tribe and reaching the pinnacle of the pyramid only to find that there's no room to stand up there.  And, is anyone else dismayed that hard liquor and candy are missing from the "Food"  Pyramid?

Friday, August 24, 2012

UPDATED: I Think I've Fallen Under Her Spell

Meet the new girl of my dreams...

Allow me to introduce you to Kitty Boo Boo.  Say hi to the nice people Kitty Boo Boo!  "Meeeeoooowwwrrrrrr!"  (That's Kitty Boo Boo talk for "Hey, ya'll!")
     I have to admit that, at first, I was a bit put off by her.  I had lumped her in with those clowns.  Time has passed and I've been able to separate her from those evil panda-magic-stealing-minions-of-the-devil.  Now, I see her for the beauty she really is!

     Oh, Kitty Boo Boo, I need you so!  I want to buy you and bring you home.  I want to give you a place of honor on my back deck.  (I would bring you in the house and carry you from room to room but The Spouse has told me that Kitty Boo Boo would have to be "an outside cat." She's insanely jealous and goes psycho when any other woman even looks my way...except for the hookers in North St. Louis, MO and East St. Louis, IL...but that's another story for another day.)  Maybe, when I finally get to bring you home, you'll be able to work your magic on her and you'll get to come in!
    
     I have no idea how much she is.  I plan on making a trip back to the store where she currently lives and finding out. Once I do, I'll put her in layaway so no one else can claim her and then I'll pay her way to freedom! 

     I can't wait to hold her and bring her to her new home!  She's going to love it here!  She can join Lilo and George in their crazy antics on the deck!  She'll stand guard over us and make sure no deck climbing hooligans come in during the night.  She'll weave her magic all over the house and protect us from clowns and scary little people.  (That's another phobia of mine.  I'm NOT a hater!  I just get a bit freaked out by little people.)

     Until we meet again my sweet, adorable, crazy, silly Kitty Boo Boo...

     If you would like to contribute to the Bring Kitty Boo Boo home fund, please contact me via email at therecoveringprincipal@gmail.com

UPDATED:  I took my mother, sister and daughter to meet her in person today.  She was still in her corner, perched regally...poised to bring her magic to my home.
     My mother gasped when she first saw her. I was so happy. Then, she said, "What is wrong with you?!!  Have you lost all of your senses?  That's hideous!  And, it's so much bigger than I thought it was!"
     Luckily for her, I shushed her and explained that Kitty Boo Boo had magical powers and we didn't want to offend her. Can you believe that my mother looked at me like I was the crazy one!
     My sister muttered, "My God, you're just stupid.". Then she said something else that sounded like muttered cussing and walked off. Jealousy is so ugly!
     My sweet Baby Girl shrieked a bit. I thought it was from excitement.  Evidently not.  She wouldn't come near Kitty Boo Boo and kept saying she was afraid it would come to life at night and kill people while they slept. These kids and their silly imaginations!
     As I stood there petting her head and caressing her ears, I picked up the tag and discovered that she's from Brazil and she is hand carved.  I also discovered that she is $170. So, Kitty Boo Boo sleeps in the antique store again tonight.
     If you would like to help free Kitty Boo Boo from her bondage, contact me here: therecoveringprincipal@gmail.com. No gift is too large or to small to help this poor thing find a good home!  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oh, The Places You'll Go

As you know, I left the crazy, mixed-up, mad-capped world of junior high administration to try my hand at selling stuff to schools. 

As with all outside sales jobs, there's a territory to cover.  My territory is quite large.  I go about an hour and a half south of my home, almost 7 hours north of my home and about 3 hours east of my home.  All my travel is provided by The Beast.  She and I have been together now for seven glorious years and I'm hoping we have another 100,000 miles or more together.

I travel to some interesting places.  The word "interesting" is a relative term.  I get to see some beautiful scenery.  I get to see some incredible sights (Go here to read about one.)  I also get to see some ugliness.
Yes, that's a tire standing upright in a hole.  That "hole" is actually a manhole for sewer access.  That tire is the only thing between drivers and wiping out.
I know what you're thinking after seeing that picture.   Why doesn't my city do this?  Imagine the cost savings!

Hold on there Captain Underpants.  Before you go getting all head up about this idea, let's consider the thought that maybe that tire in the road isn't your standard multi-ply radial that will allow you to run over it and just keep on going.  Maybe that's a single-ply tire with no reinforcement and that bad boy will cave in and there you'll be either stuck in that hole or traveling a few feet past it without your entire front-end.  Now, it's not such a good idea...is it!

I did a little inquiry about this.  It turns out that a friend of mine is an attorney who lives near this area.  He told me that people have stolen the manhole covers and sold them for scrap metal.  The tires are the city's solution to this problem.  There isn't enough money in the city coffers to buy replacement manhole covers. 

I wonder what the quality of life is like here.  I wonder how much hope these folks have.  I wonder how good of an education their kids get.

A shot of some of the area as I enter this town.
Surely there's more to this place than this bit of mayhem.
Urban blight, anyone?  Seriously, I'm not even sure I'm in the same country.
What about a community garden or something like that?  Don't they have that?
Here's your garden variety squalor.  I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be a garden. 
Where do these people live?  Why, look below and you'll see.
Here's one of the nicer homes I drove by.  Seriously.
What, besides stealing manhole covers, do these people do for fun or entertainment?  Surely their lives can't be that bad...
I assume this is The Club...where folks go to hang out, party and, possibly, get killed.
The front of The Club. Either I'm parked on an incline or that joint was built crooked!
Just in case you missed it, here's a closer shot of The Club.

 There you have it.  A look at one of the less glamourous places I call on each week as I peddle my wares. 

After I got home from this place, I stopped in the driveway of my home and took a moment to thank God for all the blessings I have.  I also asked Him to help those people who live in that town to find a way out of their situation.  Join me if you are so inclined. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

TRP: 3 Creepy Clowns: 0!

It all happened this past Saturday.  I awoke early in the morning, made my coffee and curled up on the back deck under a blanket with my iPad.  I was in heaven.  It's August and it was cool enough that I needed a blanket just to sit on the back deck and drink my coffee. 

If you don't live here, you may not understand.  Our weather in July, August and September tends to range from oppresively hot and humid to oppressively hot and humid.  This morning was a sign from The Almighty that today was going to be a good one.

The plan for the day looked like this:

10:00a.m. - Drop The Heathen off with Mawmaw and Pawpaw at the local conservation office to watch the hummingbirds be banded. That's a whole other post.  It's not like they make them perform in a band for everyone's entertainment or anything. 

Spend the rest of the day in a state of adult, childless bliss!

We dropped The Heathen off and headed downtown to our favorite little coffee shop.  We hadn't spent time just wandering around downtown in a long, long time.  We grabbed our caramel macchiatos and headed to the farmer's market. 

After a quick walk through the farmer's market we wandered in and out of some of the "antique" stores. 

Here's a look at what we saw...

Here's a picture of a rather friendly looking clown who has captured a cute panda bear.  Notice the cleverly disguised sorcery markings on his hat.  It screams "Fun and Fanciful!"  Poor panda, he has no idea he's been capture by a minion of Satan.

This picture clearly identifies the evil and clever scary-as-hell clown leader.  He's exuberant over the fact that they've captured a panda and will now be able to steal its magic for their evil purposes.  Everyone who understands the inner workings of "the other world" knows that pandas possess great magic.  A clown with panda magic is a very, very dangerous clown!

This creepy clown henchman probably has seven sharp knives inside that "squeeze box."  After the other two creepy-as-hell clowns capture you using panda magic, this one carves you up.

There's a good reason these were hanging in the very back of the store obscured from view by a lot of other stuff.  I happened to have been born with a clown sixth sense and I can detect a clown within a 200 yard radius.  It's just a feeling I get and I don't ignore it!  Kinda like Spiderman and his tingly feeling. 

My clown sense could better be described as a "Sweet baby Jesus there's a clown nearby!" shock to the gut!

While these clown paintings may not be evil, there's always the chance that whoever painted them was a clown and wove their evil into the painting.  You can NEVER be too cautious with clowns and my "Sweet baby Jesus there's a clown nearby!" senses were on full alert!

Some tribal people, who tend to understand magic or "juju" better than the rest of us, believe that taking a picture of someone can capture their soul. 

Ha!  Gotcha creepy panda killing clowns!  Your souls are MINE and I'm sending them straight to the interwebs and the original pictures to the trash can on my computer!  I'll split your evil souls in two!  (insert maniacal laughter here because bwahahahahahahahahahaha just doesn't give the same feeling as the maniacal laughter you can interject from your own memories.)

IN MY NEXT POST, WE'LL BE LOOKING AT THE INNER WORKINGS OF THE EVIL MIND THAT WOULD CREATE THIS...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Meet Two of the More Dysfunctional Members of My Family

So, this morning, I got up around 4:45a.m. because the cats decided it was time for one of us to get out of bed and to get their tuna.  Because The Spouse is better at just laying there and pretending that she's asleep than I am, I got my fat rear-end out of bed and headed to the tuna cabinet.


  
George Washington, Esq. 
(And, don't judge us on the bedding.  The Heathen sleep on 1,000,000 threadcount sheets made from virgin silkworms that have been hand fed organic silkwork food while we sleep on straw.)

Lilo Q. Kittycat, Weirdo. 
(This one tries to pull off the sweet and innocent look, but she's really bizarre.)
These two little cats wreak more havoc in our home than both heathens and all of their friends combined. 

It all begins around 4:00a.m. each and every morning.  One or both of these two cute-faced demons begins to prowl around on the bed.  It's all subtle at first.  A simple paw on your leg or arm. Soft purring and a puff of kittycat breath in your face. 

If that fails to get the desired response, they resort to Level 2 Catastrophic Mayhem.  They move to the dresser and begin knocking things over and off.  They go to the night stand and pretend to sharpen non-existent claws.  There's meowing and really, really loud purring. 

When it becomes apparent to them that this will not get the desired result, they move to Level 3 Total Assault and Conquer mode.  This involves one or both of them springboarding off of the dresser and onto the bed.  If I or The Spouse just happen to be in the path of the designated landing area, all the better for them.

So, I slog out of bed and get them a tablespoon of tuna.  You would think they would be grateful.  They aren't.  As a matter of fact, there's a bit of snootiness in their attitudes when I tell them that's all they are getting.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

13 Things This Former Principal Will Tell You

So, I got the most recent issue of Reader's Digest a week or so ago. I love that little magazine. One of my favorite sections is the "13 Things Your ________ Won't Tell You!" You know what I'm talking about...
 "13 Things Your Monkey Trainer Won't Tell You!" 
1.  Monkeys don't naturally throw their feces, we teach them that.  It's kind of a tradition among us and we think it's hilarious (the tradition is teaching them to throw their feces, not that we throw feces; just clarifying).
2.  Monkeys are actually carnivores and will eat your face in a heartbeat.
3.  Monkeys are not people too.  They're monkeys!  Duh!

This month they have "13 Things Your Principal Won't Tell You!" so I've decided to come clean and tell you straight up...

13 Things I Wanted To Tell You But Couldn't Because I Would Probably Have Been Fired!

1.  After meeting you, I now understand why your child acts the way he/she does. All that yelling and cursing really doesn't help you make your point.  It only reinforces what I've suspected all along. This kid is a product of his/her environment.  And it's no wonder he's flunking his Biology course. What you just told me to do is biologically impossible. When you left, I opened my window and let all of your craziness out of my office. Seriously, I did!

2.  Screaming at me and calling me an idiot does not help your case with me. Seriously, didn't you ever hear about catching more flies with honey than vinegar?  I don't know why anyone would want to do that but the point is still valid. As a matter of fact, when you yell and hoot and holler, I pay more attention to your teeth and mouth than I do to the words coming out of them.  Some of you have some jacked up dental needs.  

3.  Please, for the love of all that's holy, check yourself for body odor before you come see me.  I have to sit in my tiny office with some folks that I am convinced had poop-throwing monkeys in their homes. It's horribly distracting and it's hard for me to concentrate on your concern.

4.  Telling me you are going to sue me only makes me chuckle inside.  That's the lamest thing you can say to me. It's also a conversation ender. If I'm threatened with legal action, I have no choice but to stop talking to you and give you the phone number for the school district's attorney. 

5.  Telling me your kid is a genius three times in a meeting is not like a magic incantation.  It just doesn't work. You may have convinced yourself of that fact, but his I.Q. test scores don't bear it out (insert music from shower scene in Psycho here).  I don't know how to break it to you, but your kid is average. Yep, just average. And you know what?  That's okay!  

6.  Telling me that your kid doesn't lie to you is a huge red flag for me.  Every kid lies to their parents about something. The fact that you believe everything your kid tells you makes you less credible in my mind.  It also tells me you may have delusional thought patterns. 

7.  If I ever say to you, "Well, would you like to file a formal complaint at the board of education office?" it's my covert way of encouraging you to do so and letting you know that I'm thinking you could help me get rid of a particular teacher that's been a pain in my backside. 

8.   Yes, I know that particular teacher is an offspring of Satan. However, being the child of the devil, he/she is particularly sneaky and tricky and has a natural ability to avoid getting caught doing what we all know he/she is doing.  It drives me crazy knowing that he/she is getting away with it. Seriously!  And, I'm doing my best to get rid of him/her.  You can help me do that by giving me solid examples of whatever you are upset about. 

9.  Cussing me or my staff will result in you being asked to leave and it will taint you forever. Seriously, if you cuss me or my teacher, I will put an ick on you that will last for years. Plus, I may call in the poo-flinging monkeys.  I'll definitely be less willing to meet with you or work with you again. 

10.  Going to the superintendent before working with me is a bad strategy.  If you by-pass me, you've eliminated a layer and lost an opportunity to resolve the issue by working with me. A good superintendent will send you back to me and ask that you give me the opportunity to work with you and the teacher. There's very little that we can't resolve together and this builds goodwill between us all. Going over my head gives me a negative impression of you. 

11.  If you have a meeting scheduled with me or a teacher, have the decency to call and let us know you will be late or that you can't make it. Believe it or not, your child is not the only one in the building and we have a lot of other things to do.  If you don't show up and waste our time, it leaves us with a bad impression of you and we will schedule the next appointment assuming that you won't show up. 

12.  If you are going to check your child out of school early, you'll probably have to come in and sign them out.  Calling from your car and telling us to send him/her out won't cut it with most of us.  We have to make sure that your child isn't being taken under false pretenses.  Don't be mad and don't cuss us out.  That only makes us more stubborn.  I want you to face me or my secretary after you've spoken that way. 

13.  PICK YOUR KID UP FROM AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES WHEN THEY ARE SCHEDULED TO BE OVER!  We actually have lives separate from the school.  My wife and children love me and want to see me sometimes.  I used to arrive around 6:30a.m. and, if there was a game or activity after school, I wouldn't get to leave until after 9:00p.m.  If you are late picking your child up, I have to stay and wait for you.  It's the right thing to do.  I don't want anything happening to your child.  However, I will probably ban your child from the next event.  It stinks that your kid suffers because you aren't on time to pick him/her up. 

Okay, I lied...here's a fourteenth one...
14.  I honestly and sincerely did care about your kid.  I disciplined them when they needed it and I tried to help them understand why they received the punishment they did.  I celebrated with them when they succeeded and I was honestly proud of them.  Every time I had to send a kid to the juvenile detention center, I broke down inside.  Sometimes, I went into my office, shut the door and I cried.  Every time I see a former student in the news or in the arrest reports my heart breaks.  I feel like I've lost a battle.  I wonder what I could have done differently.  I pray for them and I ask God to help him/her see that there's a better life out there. 

So, there you have it.  It ain't much, but it's what I've got to offer you right now.  Until we meet again...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Two Distinctly Unrelated Conversations I'd Like to Share With You

The following are snippets of real conversations that have occurred recently.

Conversation #1:
The Setting:  Holiday World and Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, IN.  The Spouse and I are walking through the park on our way to get some water.  She is holding a big bag of blue cotton candy. 
Blue Cotton Candy.  Nectar of the Gods. Precursor to diabetes!
Question:  Why is Cotton Candy NOT on the Food Pyramid?!
The Spouse:  I have to take my medicine.
Me:  Okay.  Let's go to one of their drink places and get you some water.
The Spouse:  I'm supposed to eat some food with the medicine.  Do you think eating cotton candy would count as food?
Me:  (after pausing for a moment) Who am I to judge?  I once had a few gin and tonics and called it "lunch."  If I can call gin and tonic "lunch," you can call cotton candy "food."
The Spouse:  This is why I love you.

Conversation #2:
The Setting:  In the car on the way to eat out with the grandparents.

The Girl Child:  Can I ride in the front seat?
Me:  If you can convince your Momma to let you.
TGC:  Can you lock just this door? (Front passenger)
Me:  No.
TGC:  I'm going to buckle up and make her get in the back.
(Walks out into the garage. Stops, looks at TGC, shakes her head and opens the door.)
The Spouse:   Get out, kid.  Get in the back.
TGC:  Forget it old lady.  Hop in the back and let's go.
The Spouse:  (Looking at me for support) Really?  You think this is funny?
Me:  I didn't say a thing! 
TGC:  (thumb of right hand stuck out and motioning to the back seat)  Get in the back lady!  We gotta go!  I gotta get my tacos on!
Me:  Yeah!  Get in the back Rosa!  You're holding up the bus!
The Spouse:  You all think this is funny, now...
TGC:  Good one Dad!  I just got me some history and humor all at the same time!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Who, Exactly, Is Raising This Baby?

While The Spouse and I were traveling around in Peoria, IL. We were stopped at a light waiting to turn. I looked over to my right and this is what I saw:
Yes, you read that correctly.

I'm not saying that I haven't had moments when I was driving that I didn't have the same thought. I guess I just never thought to write it on my back windshield in yellow shoe polish. Silly me...

This raises all kinds of questions in my mind. You know, ridiculous questions like:
"Do you speak like this in front of your children?"
"Do you speak like this in front of your mother?"
"Were you raised by a mother or a biker gang?"

I must say that I'm rather pleased to see that there are no misused apostrophes or misspelled words. It's kinda refreshing.

I wonder what happened to make this person put that on their back windshield. Did someone ride their bumper to the point of road rage? Did someone rear-end them at some point? Are they just rude, crude and socially unacceptable people?

I'm amazed that this is considered acceptable. Drivers around me were taking pictures, too. That tells me it's not "normal", but still, no one seemed outraged or stunned by it. Even The Spouse and I laughed about it...a little.

I'm not a prude and I'm not into censorship. That being said, I am in to socially acceptable standards. I'm a bit worried that this has become socially acceptable. I don't want my kids seeing this and thinking that it's okay. It's not.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do You or I Really Matter?

The Beautiful Spouse and I traveled through Peoria, IL recently.  I like Peoria.  I do some business there and I have always found the trip there to be nice.  I especially love the point on I-74 West where you round the curve, top a hill and you are looking at the Peoria skyline (such as it is).


I have a favorite hotel when I stay there.  It's called The Mark Twain Hotel and it is wonderful.  The rooms are old with just a touch of modern and industrial.  The service is wonderful, the rates are good and it places you smack in the middle of the downtown area. 

The hotel boasts a fabulous restaurant called Two25.  The pizza is absolutely incredible.  It's a paper thin crisp crust and all of the ingredients are fresh and delicious. 

I had a bit of businesss to do while there but we also found time for some shopping and I took my Hunny Bunny on a little tour of the schools I do business with.  We found a great little outdoor shopping area called The Shoppes at Grand Prairie.  It's quaint without being too cutesy.  The Spouse enjoyed the shops (or shoppes) and we both think someone should develop something like this in our town. 

I think the most suprising thing about this little shopping area was the Peoria Holocaust Memorial that is smack in the middle of it.  
The Memorial Marker that explains the project. It's very moving to think that the 6 million Jews and 5 million other "enemies" of Hitler are memorialized here. The Spouse and I both got a bit teary-eyed.
There are five of these triangular shaped glass cases that represent the 5 million "enemies" who were not Jewish but were murdered because of Hitler's hatred.
There are two rows of these glass cases.  Each case is in the form of the Star of David.  They contain 6,000,000 buttons.  Each button represents one Jew who died because of Hitler's evil.
Each button is different from the other, just as each of us is different from the other. 
Take a look at those pictures again.  Take a close look at the buttons.  Those are individual lives destroyed by the evil intentions and actions of one man.  One man did this to 11,000,000 people.  One man did this and much more to an entire civilized world.

The next time you begin to doubt whether you matter or whether you can make a difference in anything, go back and look at this. 

One man did this. 

You, as one person, are capable of doing so much good.  What if five of us banded together for a cause that we felt united in?  If one man can do this much evil, how much good could one man do?  Two? Three? 

You matter.  What you do has repercussions.  For good or for evil. 

What will you do?