Interesting Choice

Ever since I became a teacher, it has been my ultimate career goal to teach at my high school, my alma mater. Even before I was a teacher, while I was still in high school, I used to sit in class and day dream about how cool it would be to teach there. I would imagine how I would do things, how I would lecture, what the teachers' lounge must be like, and even what summers off might be like. I have always had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I would be a teacher one day. Teaching is not just my career, it is my vocation, my calling.

Currently I am teaching 7th and 8th grade social studies at a school not too far from my old high school. It's great. My students are awesome, my co-workers are (mostly) competent, and many have as much passion for their work as I do, if not more. Daily - well, almost daily - I am rewarded for my hard work with a smile, or even better, a look of new found understanding, from a young, bright eyed student. I love my job. I just didn't realize how much.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered that there was an opening at my old alma mater for a social studies teacher. 'This is it!' I thought, "My chance!" And yet I hesitated. Through the grape vine I even heard my name was being tossed around as a candidate for the position, even before I had approached anyone about it. And still I paused. The thought of leaving my current position, even for my dream job, gave me pause. This was surprising to me.

As it turns out, after much deliberation, and a couple of sleepless nights, I am not going to apply for the job. I am going to stay where I am for a bit. This is for a few reasons. First, I just don't feel ready to move on yet. I am very happy and comfortable where I am, and my gut hasn't steered me wrong yet. Additionally, I am recently married, we are looking to buy a house, and there's just too much else going on right now.

Second, I want to hone my teaching skills and technique before I move to the high school level. This is not to say I wouldn't do well there now. I would. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I am a damn good teacher. But I want to be the best I can be before I move on.

Finally, despite the fact that teaching at my old high school is still a major goal of mine (that has not changed), I like the younger kids. There are so many cool things that are a part of my day that you just don't get to do at the high school level. This is not to say that high school teachers don't get to do cool stuff with their students, just that those cool things are often (I imagine) different. I love the fact that at one minute I'll be having a really great class discussion about an important issue of the day and the students' critical thinking skills will be in over drive, they'll be thinking deep thoughts, probing new ideas, and learning like young adults, and the next minute they'll be playing like children on the playground or in gym class, having fun and enjoying all of the carefree pleasures that being young can provide. I like the fact that you can still surprise them, scare them, motivate them, and make them laugh at silliness. I know all this is possible with high school students, especially freshmen and sophomores, but there's something about that leap to high school that takes a little bit of the kid out of them that I still get to see.

So anyway, even though my goals have not changed, and one day I will teach at my alma mater, I am going to stay put for a while. I am going to enjoy all those parts of my day that make my job so cool. And when I am ready to move on, much like my students, I will. I'm just going to wait until I'm ready.

CBS, The Super Bowl, and MoveOn.org

It just occurred to me that it is Super Bowl Sunday. In a few hours I will be watching the game with some friends and acquaintances, enjoying a frothy beverage, and relaxing. While I am fairly ambivalent to the Super Bowl or professional football, I find the social aspects of watching the game enjoyable. And I like to watch the ads.

For the past few days I've had a graphic linking to MoveOn.org's web site, specifically to that portion that seeks to convince CBS to air the winning anti-Bush ad from a contest held by MoveOn. Apparently, CBS refuses to air the ad, even though MoveOn purchased air time during the Super Bowl. MoveOn is pissed and is claiming, among other things, a violation of free speech.

Now I am not privy to the terms of the contract between CBS and MoveOn, and frankly, I don't believe CBS is violating anyone's free speech rights. I do however think CBS sucks for not airing the ad. By refusing to air the ad, which features children performing various manner of manual labor out of necessity due to the mounting national debt, CBS is basically bending over for its right wing owners and buddies. I do find it somewhat perverse that CBS is willing to air ads for sexual stimulants, beer, and various other products, but is unwilling to show an ad that might actually make viewers think. God forbid they show anything that might momentarily disrupt the decline of Western civilization.

I guess what hacks me off is that this is one of the most powerful broadcasting organizations in the world. They air all manner of shows and advertisements, many of which are of questionable value, both as forms of entertainment or art. They also have one of the largest news organizations in the world, whose job it is to report news in an unbiased fashion. If the owners of CBS are unwilling to air an ad for millions of dollars that is critical of the current administration, what other kinds of bias are they trying to slip past the average unsuspecting American? CBS should just air the ad, along with the ads for Viagra, Bud, and Coors. Let the American football viewer decide what they think. Surely they won't turn off the Super Bowl.

General Thoughts on a Rock

Haven't written for a while. The business of life, work, marriage, and a first batch of home brewed beer have been keeping me busy. It's a new year and all seems to be off to a fine start for the ol' Elf. Things are moving on, as they do, and I haven't had much to say that would be interesting.

Now I don't normally go in for heart string tugging patriotism (and certainly not nationalism) but my friend Brooke forwarded this on to me and it caught my eye. As a teacher I am constantly worried about the current state of America's youth, and the fact that many kids (read teens) are completely out of touch with the world around them. Books and reading are replaced by movies and Nintendo, the use of one's imagination is reaplced with a seven minute attention span, and knowledge of world events is limited to who's dating whom, and when the next NFL game is on. My list goes on, but I'll spare you. What Brooke sent me was a link to a set of pictures of a rock in rural Iowa. The rock, however, is no ordinary rock. It has been skillfully painted, allegedly by a very talented kid, with a message of thanks to the U.S.'s veterans. According to the story I received, the rock used to be a writing surface for painted graffiti, obsenities, and other such artwork as bored young people are prone to create when nothing better suits them. Apparently the rock has not been touched since it was painted as it is now.

If this story is true, then the artist who painted it is to be commended for creating something worthwhile, as well as for having some sense of the world events that are affecting our lives. Whether or not you agree with this young person's point of view, at least he's involved in something a little more creative than learning the secret moves in the next Mortal Kombat game.

If you get a chance, check out this kid's work here.

A New Year

I suppose since it's the last day of 2003, I ought to write something. I've put it here this year, instead of in Elfin Musings & Flights of Fancy, because this is a bit more random. This year has been a banner year, more than most, both for me and the world.

I got married this year. I went to California. I moved into a new apartment. I got a raise. I went to the dentist for
the first time in more than ten years. In fact, I visited the dentist several times as a result, but it wasn't too bad. I continue to love my job. I didn't have any skin cancer. I just brewed my first batch of homebrew (not counting Mr. Beer, which sucks). I have a good life. I have many people who love me and care about me. All in all 2003 was, by this reckoning, a great year. A big year. An important year.

The counting of my many blessings has been something I've doing a lot of lately. I am trying to remember to be thankful as much as possible, because so many people in this world have it so much worse. This thankfulness began when I randomly watched a really nice short documentary on HBO called Born Rich. While the movie was about the wonders and burdens of being young and massively wealthy, and I am certainly not wealthy, it made me consider all that I do have. In a similar vein, a new television show on FOX entitled The Simple Life is about two unbelievably rich young women being inserted into a middle class farming family. We get to see the hilarity ensue as the spoiled, slutty Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie try to deal with the horrible reality of hard work. While I actually have such a negative physical reaction to this show, and as such am only able to sit through 5 minutes or so
of it, this too made me consider both how lucky I am, and how ridiculously out of touch wealthy people can
be. Moreover, it made me upset to think that Americans find this kind of programming entertaining. Of course,
why wouldn't it be a hit? I mean Paris Hilton, who has never actually done anything, is already a
celebrity.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that, as odd as it seems, the more I am reminded of all the stuff I have, the more I am reminded to be thankful for it. I mean, my life is pretty good (knock on wood) and I am just pretty happy about that. So 2003 has been good to me, and I am looking forward to 2004, despite the fact that I'll be turning 30. I hope your 2003 has been at least as good as mine, and if not, I truly hope 2004 makes up for it. Happy New Year.

Puke

Last Wednesday my wife and I enjoyed the annual Christmas at Bucca de Peppo dinner that some of my friends and I share. Bucca de Peppo is a restaurant with a southern Italian cuisine served family style. The food is decent to excellent and the wine can be ordered by the 3 liter bottle. I ate a little too much, drank not an unreasonable amount of wine, and felt okay when went to bed. Then morning came.

I awoke at five in the morning with borborygmus as loud as an elephant fart. Then came flatulence as loud as elephant farts. I was also hotter than hell. I got up and went to the restroom. I will spare you the sloppy details, but let me just say that any reasonable person would have assumed that, having evacuated in the manner that was my misfortune, all of the contents of their intestines had been emptied. Such was my proud assumption. Attributing my adventure to the rich dinner I had eaten, I went back to bed.

Then things got bad. That all too familiar and dreaded feeling began within me. The stomach cramps that had been wrenching my guts turned and began to replicate nausea. I felt that tug at the bottom of my throat signalling the reversal of gears in my gastro-intestinal system. I was going to puke.

I jumped out of bed and padded barefooted down the hall and hurled. Linguini with clam sauce, clams from the sauce, garlic bread, chunks of garlic themselves, and remnants of lettuce flew forth, causing water to splash from the toilet bowl and cling to the wall and TP roll. My eyes welled up with tears uncontrollably from the exertion. I heaved and heaved until the waves stopped. Yep, I thought. Time to call in.

And call in I did. Good thing too. Although I only threw up once more that morning, I spent the rest of day in bed, too weak with fever and stomach cramps to do anything else. My only comfort was sleep, which only came in half-hour chunks, interrupted as they were by stomach cramps and trips to the bathroom
to spray forth yellow froth. I took these waking moments to also carefully sip water - not too much now - and pray for unconsciousness.

Finally, around four in the afternoon, I was brave enough to take a couple of Advil. Oh sweet, sweet, wonderful ibuprofen. That helped and after another hour of sleep, I was able to move downstairs to the couch to watch a movie. I was even able to get down some tea and chicken soup. The next morning I decided I would go to work, since it was the last day before vacation, and I wanted to say Merry Christmas to my students. Plus, I like to save as many sick days as possible, mostly due to some draconian work ethic instilled in me by my dear father.

Any way, it has been years and years since I have been sick like that. At worst I usually get one or two colds a year, maybe a cough along with them. I brag about my immune system of steel. Being sick with the full spectrum of vomiting, fever, the works reminded me how much it sucks. I feel bad for people who get the flu every year. It really sucks. So if you are sick this year, I hope you feel better soon, I hope you have many medications to help you see it through, and I hope you have a job that allows you the luxury of taking a sick day.

Comments

So today I got an email from my wife which read, "So much for writing every day. I looked on your blog again today, maybe to see if you responded to my comments last night since I can not post them on your site – but no luck for me! Write on it dammit!" A little back story here. After I put this little blog up, my lovely wife says to me, "Your blog sucks. You can't comment on it." This was her main criticism then: that she can't comment on my blog.

Well here's the thing. My wife, who apparently has nothing else to at work other than read my boring-ass web log,
can comment on it anytime she wants. I live with her. Anyone else I know can comment on it when they see
me, or they can email me about it. Hell, anyone resourceful enough to look at the bottom of any of these pages can email me and comment on my blog if they really wanted to. So, yes, people can comment on my web log. They just won't get their comments up on my web site unless I specifically write about them, as in this case.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I don't want people to post comments on my web site. Even if I had opted to install a blog package, I would disable the comments feature. This isn't a fucking forum here. It's a web log. My web log. If someone has an opinion on my writing, that's great. They can go get their own web log and write their comments there.

Don't get me wrong. I really am pleased to know someone is reading my web pages and has thoughts about them, or maybe even they want to discuss them. That's the point of this whole web site. But I'm not looking for a conversation with the world. Just the people I can meet face to face, over a beer. Everyone else should take their thoughts, and go discuss them over beer with their friends. I actually think that would be better. Hell, that would be great. Imagine it: people going out and having intellectual conversations over alcoholic beverages about my web site. Now that's what this is all about.

This blog is here for me to rant, rave, write, and comment on anything and everything I see fit. If by some chance I spark some interest or desire for debate, that's awesome. Go have one. Face to face. Not over email or on your own web page. Get up and go pollute your body and feed your brain and get in some social interaction with a flesh and blood person. I'll just sit here and be glad there's someone out there with some original ideas and a desire to share them in their own little corner of the world. Speaking of which, I'm going to go take my wife out for a beer...

Holidays and Saddam Hussein

My wife and I had a friend over for dinner last and he says to us, over his plate of homemade Sky Line Chili (which, by the way, is awesome), "So have you guys heard we caught Saddam?"

I though he was joking, but after a round of 'You must be kiddings,' he convince me and I turned on the dreaded CNN Headline news. They may be the most watched new organization, but I'll tell you, they're also the biggest bunch of mush-brained idiots too. In any case, there he was on television, for all the world to see, getting checked for head lice by some Army medical technician. Sure enough the great bad guy has been caught. And apparently he's free of lice. Now what?

I watched a little longer as the crack CNN reporters got the word on the street from Joe American. "Well, I'm just glad it's over," was the word from one shivering New Yorker. "Hopefully the Iraqi people will finally believe we are there to help," was another concerned opinion. Of course, CNN didn't take long to show a sound bite from the Fuher stating his little take on things, and how the Iraqi people could finally feel safe from Saddam's brutality. Now all they have to worry about is some terrorist or guerilla firing an RPG into their bedroom while they are asleep. That's security.

I guess my point is this. Nothing is over. We still have American soldiers occupying a foreign nation-state. Those soldiers are still in harm's way over...what exactly. By invading Iraq we have completely destabablized the region. Even if Mr. Bush and his goons wanted to pull out, we can't now, because Iraq really would become a hot bed of terrorism. As it is every guy with a cause and a rocket launcher can cross the border and set up shop in the vast deserts of Iraq. We're too busy trying to keep our soldiers from getting killed in ambushes and trying to protect the oil to guard the huge borders of that country. This is a quagmire. This is, as they say, a cluster fuck. And capturing Saddam, though a boon to morale and Mr. Bush's approval rating, isn't going to change that.

Now I realize these things take time, but we need to get a reasonably stable government in place over there, and we need to get the hell out. Capturing Saddam may have helped buy Mr. Bush more time, but just how long does he think the American people are going to tolerate seeing their sons and daughters coming home in body bags with no clear exit strategy in place, and with no clear reason for being there? Many Americans may be gullible and lazy, but there are enough of us out here who are paying attention to notice the sudden shift in sales tactics from "We are looking for WMD's" to "We toppled a ruthless dictator for the good of the Iraqi people and the good of the world." Well, whatever the spin, none of this is worth our young soldiers' lives, and none of this is worth another Vietnam.

So while we are all enjoying our American Christmas of turkey and unbridled consumerism, let's just remember that there are people, American soldiers, dying halfway across the world because some lunatic tried to kill our
President's dad. Yes our troops have won a great victory. And yes, Saddam Hussein was no doubt a ruthles and evil son of a bitch. We won, we got him. Now let's make his capture really mean something and bring our boys home soon.

Blogging

Okay, so here's the deal. Skippy has been trying to help me set up some blogging software for the past couple of days. Everything I seem to try is just not quite what I want. I looked at B2 Evolution and installed that. That was great in many ways and I liked it, except getting it to look like I wanted to was a bitch. I hate CSS's. Word Press seems promising, but the same issue - CSS's. I looked at Blosxom which was SUPER easy, but there issues with me editing a cgi script for Linux on Win2k (different line breaks), so that proved to be a pain in the ass as well.

So now here we are. The Elf's Pseudo Blog. I figure I'll just create this here blog page. When it gets too long, I'll just "archive" the page by month, and start over. The disadvantages are obvious, especially when it comes to a permanent link right from the get go, no search capability, etc. Yet it is easy, quick to update, and I can handle archiving pages once a month and adding a link to them into an SSI somewhere. Anyone who really wants to find a file that they book marked before I archived it can, they'll just have to look for it. Hopefully they'll remember the date of the entry. And I mean come on, who is actually going to want to read one of my blog posts a month after I write it anyway, except for me?

I figure this solution will work out well, at least until I get a proper blog package installed and up and running and, most importantly, looking the way I want it to.

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