Saturday, March 31, 2007

The future is plastics...

Nothing is quite so frustrating as a newly constructed engine shuddering and laboring under the supervision of an insistent starter without firing. There comes the natural muttering and cussing -- my father's choice, "You little dickens," and "You sorry sucker," rolls off his tongue, cause daddy never worked blue. I, on the other hand, exhausted an unabridged Webster's of its colloquialisms into my shirt pocket, mostly out of his earshot.

A lively discussion ensued regarding the short block's indifference to top dead center on the compression stroke or exhaust, or the lack thereof. After losing the argument for no better reason than, "it ain't workin'," I lay on a creeper and slid under the car to divine the difference of the identical circumstances that were apparently ruining us. As I poked around uncertain of my quarry I was saved from above. "Hey, where does this go?" He held a final, unconnected module in his hands and I almost immediately found its home on the crankshaft with my wandering fingers. Two men who'd carefully aligned perfect timing chuckled in the final connection and a purring engine, having, only hours before, eschewed the reassembly checklist as unnecessary.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

In Review: Vacation Week 1

I've reclaimed the belief that there are few things in life that can't be remedied by three days spent in the afternoon sun. Along with two days in a car, one elbow deep in a car's engine, and one spent building a pole barn lean-to, those three days have comprised the first week of my vacation (and tonight there was fishin'). And it's been a blast, although one that currently defies further explanation. I'll have to elaborate when I'm not drop-dead exhausted.

Oh, and it seems I turned 30 about an hour ago (at least by the calendar, I'm sure the folks well again remind me at what precise time I arrived when we're having breakfast). More on that later as well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

To Regain a Positive Vibe

The World Series is now available. I've eschewed commentary on each page so far, but it's coming.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fasten Your Seatbelts

We're deforming our children. What was once a rather well-rounded if clumsy process of molding has deteriorated into bumble-headed myopia.

Some might rightfully question my authority to dispense opinion on this particular topic. I've not taken on the responsibility of raising a child, I've merely dabbled with the idea of a career in education, and I'd hazard to posit that my own schooling would be considered atypical by most. But I assert a right to incredulity in the light of our current state of education.

I'll allow Sarah to kick us off with an exposition on the lack of enforcement which has left us with so many tubs of goo. What else can we expect in a world wherein so many grandparents are the disciplinarians in our kids' lives. Please pardon me as I stand on my head to see if that can ever, possibly look right.

In other news, I stumbled across an article and blog post on Saturday. They both kicked off with a wonderfully perceptive story:
“In America, you test your students a lot, don’t you?” She replied, “Well, indeed, the United States has a national policy that requires testing of all students in certain grades.” The Indian educator said, “Here, when we want the elephant to grow, we feed the elephant. We don’t weigh the elephant.”

We'll return to the effort involved in getting a reluctant elephant on a scale in a moment. For the time being I'd like to draw attention to the end of the article, in particular:

Dweck described how seriously students took this neurological learning: "When they studied, they thought about those neurons forming new connections. When they worked hard in school, they actually visualized how their brain was growing."

And here's where we get down to it. Understanding leads not only to an improved perception of reality that more readily allows our more dynamic selves to take form, but indirectly fosters curiosity in order to continue the experiment and watch our brains grow. And ultimately understanding fosters an awareness of our ignorance, and true curiosity kicks in. In that, a child begins to grow.

As for the poundage of the precocious pachyderms (and they generally are, precocious that is, just take a minute to talk to them and see). I struck up a conversation with Allison on the subject and received quite a shock. In her position as an adjunct teacher at a local elementary school she's given time off so that her students can take the mandated state aptitude tests. Her vacation amounts to 5 weeks -- 1 week for practice, 3 for testing, and 1 for makeups. As a person whom envisaged the two days a year they took for testing as a child whenever I heard, "no child left behind," and remembered the interruption it caused, I can't discuss this topic more for lack of suppressive control of my gag reflex.

I'd be remiss to exclude this conclusion, and in so doing, forget the other end of the spectrum. Coming to us today, courtesy of, "Talk of the Nation," is the story of a high school student with a 4.5 GPA to her name suing a teacher for an "F" she received for a late assignment. It seems she was on a student council field-trip on the due date and feels, litigiously, that she should be excused the deadline as she turned in her work the following day.

Among other claims in the suit are provisions claiming "emotional stress, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of scholarship potential." There goes that reflex again.

Incongruously we've beaten some of our children into caricatures of complete people while we've allowed other to wallow in the soupy puddles of their inadequacy. Still others suffer, as they always have, pressed through the colander of adolescence and circumstance, a topic for another day, but crowded by the additional walking wounded we now foist upon them day after day.

P.S. upon futher reading, the phrase, "an arbitrary and capricious act." was used in conjunction with the lawsuit. Blaaarrrghech!!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Contagion

Well ain't this stuff addictive? It seems I've gone and expanded my online presence. It's just a skeleton right now, but here's an example of what I'm going for. I figure that I can foist my obsession on the uncaring world and maybe, just maybe, someone might get a kick out of it.

So, enjoy.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My Lord

I've been spelling this incorrectly for such a long time.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

3/6/2007

retinue (n): Etymology: Middle English retenue, from Anglo-French, from feminine of retenu, past participle of retenir to retain Date: 14th century:
a group of retainers or attendants.

ossification (n): Date: 1697
1a: the natural process of bone formation
b: the hardening (as of muscular tissue) into a bony substance
2: a mass or particle of ossified tissue
3: a tendency toward or state of being molded into a rigid, conventional, sterile, or unimaginative condition

denude (vt): Inflected Form(s): de·nud·ed; de·nud·ing
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin denudare, from de- + nudus bare — more at naked
Date: 15th century
1: to deprive of something important
2a: to strip of all covering or surface layers
b: to lay bare by erosion
c: to strip (land) of forests

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Pimentos

Allison asked the question. My favorite source responded.

Friday, March 2, 2007

RIP

It's gone. My much loved vehicle is a pile of useless, mashed components that thankfully managed to avoid placing itself entirely in my lap in its last moments. It performed its final and highly prized task, keeping my tuckus unharmed. And now it's gone. And I'm liberated.

In a day when I should be frantic -- I work 31 miles away from my home, outside of walking distance by a fair sight -- I find myself pleasantly at ease. I'll carpool to work for a while, Dan's great about it. I'll walk or bus it other places. I've got some money in the bank. My folks are looking to get a new car and I like what they currently have. I'm certain that things are going to work out, and that's unusual for me as of late.

I've had things to do. There were (and are) definite steps to be taken. I think that that's what I've been missing. Amidst the calamity of my work and the shiftless nature of the remainder of my recent life, it took the destruction of something I loved to give me a little direction. Now to carry that on.