Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Teaching is a thankless job

Today I had to attend yet another pointless faculty meeting. We have them about every other week. Today's was particularly stupid as the Principal broke the news to the staff that the school did not meet its test quotas and thus is an "under performing" school. What is funny is that our school is the only school in the district that received this report card, but that the other ones were able to avoid such a label because the state accepted their appeal. It is absurd. The vast majority of parents who's students attend here, could give a crap whether their kids even learn, much less do well in school. Most of these parents view the education system as free day care, yet we are judged solely by test scores. There is no recognition for the fact that the schools test scores improved almost across the board. And I would like to find out which moron it was who decided that the only measure for a schools performance is standardized tests.

The crux of the rest of the meeting was how much more we are going to have to do to reach simply unattainable goals that have been set for this school. Even if our test scores increase by 20% this year, we will still fail.

There are many other reasons, but I am really starting to hate my job again. I could go on and on, but what would be the point. The education system is the epitome of a SNAFU, Situation normal all F#@$% up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall is here!

It is so nice now that the temperatures have finally gone down here in the QC. Since the temperatures have dropped, we have started playing some paintball again. We (myself, Troy and some of our buddies) played two weeks ago and again last Saturday for a few hours in the morning and had a great time.

I am back to school this week after a week vacation. Man, did I need a week off. Teaching middle school has been a challenge to say the least. The maturity level of these kids is difficult to handle after teaching high school for 5 years, however what is just as bad is the commute that I have to endure each day. It is a long drive for not much of a reward. But the week off did a lot to recharge my batteries and I am ready for some more punishment.

Gabe and Rosie have moved in and I am happy that they feel comfortable enough to come live here. Since I had to move in with my in-laws when I was young, I can totally empathize with them and their situation. I know that Lisa is excited to have Baby Mia living with her for a while. There will be some challenges I am sure, but it is nice to have them here.

I got the pleasure to see Laura Ingraham speak last Thursday in Scottsdale. She is a strong woman. It's nice to have someone with such convictions on my side of the political isle. It was kind of cool to have her sign my copy of her new book (which is excellent). Politically it is a scary time for conservatives. I don't see any real conservatives running on the GOP ticket, and it disappointing to see that a fellow Mormon had to redefine himself with regards to abortion and gay marriage. One would think that a Mormon would be the most conservative on the ticket, but I have to remind myself that Dingy Harry (Reid) shares my religious beliefs as well and we could not be more opposite on just about every issue.

I will write a bit more about the War and politics in the future.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

More on immigration

So now that the immigration debate has been finally defeated in the Senate, I am left wondering so many things?

Why did the President turn on his base and try to ram down our throat an immigration reform package that would have been potentially disastrous to the safety and security of the country? Was it for political reasons? Was he trying to bolster putrid approval ratings? It does not make much sense.

The humanitarian in me says we should let all law abiding people come to this country and make their way in life. This country was built on immigrants who wanted to come here to find a better life. Except Native Americans, all of us are here because either we, or someone in our ancestry came to this country seeking a chance at the "American Dream." But so many of our ancestors did not come here and immediately become a drag on the economy by getting into the welfare system. There was not a safety net that there is now.

Why did congress try to enact comprehensive immigration reform in one fell swoop. It seems like the bigger the bill, the harder it is to enforce. Why didn't congress at least try to pass some smaller bills that would have initated real change? What would have been wrong with a bill that would have secured our southern border? Why not some new laws to punish employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants? Or why not just start enforcing current immigration laws?

I was talking to someone a couple of weeks ago and he said something that I found interesting. He said republicans are not going to pass immigration reform because they are in the pockets of big business who "need" illegal immigrants. I then realized that to a degree he might be right. But I also realized that democrats don't want to do anything about illegal immigration because they want the vote of the immigrants who are here legally or who are voting illegally.

So who is caught in the middle? Quite simply it is us. You and me. Most Americans are against illegal immigration and want something done about it. Most of us know that having a porus southern border is a dangerous powder keg. If poor underfunded illegals can so easily get across the border to the US, then what can be said of well funded terrorists intent on getting into this country to do harm to America and it's people?

Illegal immigration is a real problem. But yet again politicians are too busy scheming for their special interest groups and not solving the problem. Great job.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I don't get it. I just don't get it.

Why is the President of the United States so zealously pushing for this ridiculous immigration bill? A vast majority of Americans oppose it. But what really bothers me is that he and the proponents of this amnesty bill are using such rhetoric to demonize people like me who oppose this bill.

We who oppose this bill are not racist. We simply see the problems that this bill causes. The US gave amnesty to a who slew of illegals back in the 1980's. This was supposed to be the last time. But it is happening again. Or at least the libs and the President want to do the same thing.

Before anything is done about the illegals that are here, we must secure our border. It should be the priority Not just because we need to stop huge influx of illegals coming across the southern border, but more importantly for the safety of our country.

I am angry.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Letter of resignation!

To Whom It May Concern:

I hereby submit my letter of recommendation as an NBA fan. The league has consistently shown no concern for the league and the game that I grew up loving. I became a fan as a boy growing up in Southern California. As a child and a teenager, I did not understand the significance of the monumental and transcendent NBA finals between the Lakers and the Celtics in the 1980's. I hated the Celtics and everything they were about. I hated Byrd, McHale, Parrish, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge (even though he was a BYU grad), and anyone else who took the parque floor to oppose my Lakers. I lived and died with them. Regardless, both teams played beautiful but different basketball. The Showtime Lakers ran their opponents into submission, and the Celtics killed their opponents with precision half court basketball.

However I saw the beginning of the end when the Lakers successfully went Back to Back in 1988. Gone was their long time nemesis, the Celtics, in was the upstart Detroit Pistons, the "Bad Boys." The Lakers finished off the Pistons in a tough seven game series, where I watched the league begin to change. The finesse and beauty of the game was being replaced with clutching and grabbing and purely ugly basketball.

When the Pistons beat an injured and depleted Lakers team the next year, the transformation was complete. The new model was not to be just more talented and execute better than ones opponent. The league allowed teams with the likes of Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman to win championships, by essentially bruising their way through the playoffs.

The game became ugly. First the Pistons, then the New York Knicks and then the rest of the east. Basketball became almost completely unwatchable. Each year the playoffs became more and more physical. Many people simply say "That's playoff basketball." Well, I will not watch it anymore, at least not with any concern.

The League has really no one else to blame. It started by not nipping the problem in the bud by forcing officials to start calling games tighter and to stop allowing the teams under talented to really compete. The other major problem was expansion. By growing too fast, the talent became watered down, and teams had to resort to garbage basketball. Also expansion led to the deluge of high school basketball players coming into the NBA early. More teams looking for talent, led to this deluge, which I think is a reason the game has deteriorated. Players are much less fundamentally sound than they once were. This is why the USA is having trouble on the international scene.

There is a complete domino effect here. The more physical play lead to a number of bench clearing incidents that led to the now infamous "do not leave the bench" rule that undid the Knicks, Heat Series in 1997, and now the Phoenix, Spurs series this year. In both cases the league chose not to think, but rather apply the letter of the law, to a stupid rule.

But the league has deteriorated to a compliation of bad rules, even worse officiating and now rewarding teams for thuggish play. I watched Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson to commit flagrant fouls with almost no punishment. Both committed hard, cheap shot fouls in the closing moments of the series. Neither were suspended. Then the league passes on punishing Bruce Bowen for fouling similar flagrant fouls. But two Suns are suspended for taking a few steps in the wrong direction after their MVP and leader is flagrantly body checked into the scorers table?

If the League can call this just, (which they did) their understanding of what is just and fair is so skewed, that I cannot in good conscience watch this League with anything more than annoyed amusement. Stern and Jackson have destroyed this years playoffs. They did not let two teams settle things on the court, but decided that stepping onto the court, retreating and doing nothing is a far worse offense than flagrantly elbowing someone or body slamming someone to the ground.

I will not watch another second of this years playoffs. And unless some changes are made to various rules and a complete change to the way games are called in the playoffs I am done. When marginal players like Bruce Bowen who play dirty (sliding underneath people while in the air, kicking at ankles, and kneeing people in the groin) are allowed to play this way and be called great defenders, I will no longer watch or spend my hard earned money to go to games.

If you think that I am alone in this, NBA, you are dead wrong. Ratings have been dropping for years, and they will continue to do so unless you do something. Cleaning up the game would be a start. But when a commissioner like Stern really thinks that he is doing what is best for the game by suspending players who do nothing, I doubt anything will change soon.


A former NBA fan.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

a tough week...

This week has been a fairly rough one. First, just being away from my new wife is not easy. I miss her. Second, I have some neighbor who thinks that my dogs bark too much. Rather than come to me and knock on my door, he has decided to take this to the town that I live in and I have received a notice that I have to make sure that my dogs are quiet or face further legal problems. What is stupid is that I live on a golf course. I hear dogs barking all of the time. I have played golf on this course and noticed that dogs bark on virtually every hole on the golf course. It is stupid. What is even "stupider" is the ordinance. It is extremely vague. It gives almost no direction on what is excessive. Basically it boils down to an opinion. It is a headache.

On Thursday I learned that my cousin passed away. I feel bad for my aunt and uncle, but this has brought back some not insecurities that I had thought had been put to rest. I was reminded that part of my family, while having access, chose to more or less exclude me from their lives. Why? I have no real idea. It seems that they passed judgment on me early in my life and never allowed themselves to re-evaluate me.

Then I read my step-daughter's blog. What a punch in the nose. All I have done since I married their mother is to try to be understanding of their situation. I know that it cannot be easy for them since their mother is no longer near them. We tried to invite them to our home for thanksgiving, and then I find out that on their way home they spent much of the trip trashing me. Talk about a kick in the teeth. I don't think that I have been hurt this bad in a very long time.

Personally I don't care what they think of me. I know what kind of a person that I am and if they cannot see that then it is there loss. What hurts is what this might do to my relationship with L. She is in the middle. She loves me and loves her kids. I am not here to drive a wedge between them. I know that I am not their father, but I want to be something more to them than what they had with their father. I am not sure that they will let me.

I guess I am just venting. There is not much I can do.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I'm a grandpa

I certainly did not think that I would be a Grandpa at 39. But then again I never thought I would have had the year that I had. Here are the proud parents and their beautiful baby. I am so happy for them. Their baby is beautiful and healthy.

It is a surreal thing to be a grandpa. It is the signal to me that I am not a kid anymore (as if turning forty this year was not enough).

This is such wonderful news. It's news that our family needed after the seemingly endless string of bad news. Hopefully the cloud that seems to have gathered over my head are finally dispersing and some sunshine is starting to shine through.

Regardless of my trials, I still am very blessed.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Frustration and Joy

It is difficult to put into words my frustrations. I feel so misunderstood. All of my young life I felt like an outcast, like someone who did not belong. I felt that people often misunderstood me or misjudged me. I have come to several conclusions as I have gotten older.

First, I stopped worrying about what others thought about me. The reason is not because I no longer cared what they thought but finally came to the conclusion that I am a good person that has much to offer the world. I care for others. I try to help other people as often as I can.

Second, I have the type of personality that is going to rub some people the wrong way. I have a strong outgoing personality. I like to laugh and to make others laugh as well.

I don't know why I am writing this. I guess a number of insecurities have resurfaced. I have felt always like I was on the outside looking in with regards to my family. I am not sure my parents understand me very well. I can understand why they might find me an enigma. Being adopted I share no genetic similarities with my parents. I have come to the conclusion that some of our personality traits are almost hard wired into our genetic code. Having two children of my own, I often see them acting much the same way that I used to act when I was a child.

I am nothing like my parents. They are quiet and passive. I am outgoing and strong willed. So I guess that I can understand their frustration. I am just venting.

Its been a tough couple of days. Being newly married is a tough adjustment in and of itself. I was not single that long, and so being with someone is not an issue. I was married for 13 years. They were not perfect years, but they were good. But mainly I knew her. I knew her looks, what made her happy, what got her upset. I knew her sounds; when she was unhappy or happy. I knew when she was in pain (whether it was physical or emotional). In a nutshell, I knew her well. Now I have to start all over again.

I am not worried about this challenge. I feel very fortunate to have found such a wonderful companion to spend my life with. We have much in common. It takes time to get to know someone new.

But now we are apart. It is difficult. I need her. But her son needs her more right now. It is still very difficult though.

And today I found out more very sad news. My mother called me today and informed me that my cousin passed away. He was only a few years older than me and it is very sad. Unfortunately he battled drug and alcohol addiction for much of his adult life. I was not close to him, but that is not my fault. For some reason my aunt, uncle and their children chose not have a relationship with me. I am not sure why and now that I am almost 40 I don't care. Regardless, I cannot imagine what my aunt and uncle are going through. They have brought five children into this world, but have lost three already. Having experienced loss in my life, I still cannot imagine what it must be like for them.

The good news is that I am about to become a grandpa. My new stepson and his wonderful fiance are about to have a child. I did not think that this would happen for a number of years but I welcome this new title and challenge.

Despite the challenges, life is wonderful.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dark Clouds

So I had hoped that this new year would be better. It has not started out that way. Just before Christmas, we found out that my step son was nearly killed in an auto accident. Fortunately he only lost his left leg. No brain injury, no paralysis. No, I am not trying to minimize what happened. I am being honest. This has changed our lives again. Both my wife and I have had to make tremendous sacrifices to help him in his recovery, but he will recover and will be able to live a normal healthy life. He should and is counting his blessings.

As I say I want a break, I am reminded that things could be worse. I have my health. My wife and kids are also healthy. We have a wonderful house to live in. I have a job that pays my bills (barely). I have friends and family who love me. I have my faith which guides me on a daily basis.

I need to be more thankful for what I have. I need to be more patient. I need to remember why I am here.

No, there is no anti-Israel Bias at the NY Times.

Recently the New York Times published an Op-Ed of a Palestinian who describes the deplorable conditions that he says exist in Israeli prison...