Friday, March 23, 2007

Five Assorted Things to Ponder

My computer is finally virus free and working at a reasonable speed again, so…

1. I ‘ll be celebrating an important national holiday today, seeing as it’s National Chip and Dip Day. I don’t normally eat either, but it’s important to make my patriotism obvious and support our troops by stepping up to the plate (chip bowl) and batting (or dipping) away. Also, just for fun, I called up my republican house rep. And urged him to support HR1415, the Restoring the Constitution Act, so’s we can be a free country again, too.

2. My post on the Last Sock has generated a lot of nice comments. The latest one, which mentions using one’s Mensa card as a humor enhancer, reminds me of one of my first experiences with Mensa, or, at least, with another Mensan.

I had joined and not gone to any meetings or said anything to anyone about joining. I did put a little decal on my MomVan window, and it looked a lot like a Batman emblem. A pompous ass of a neighbor, who was always trying to convince anyone who’d listen about the absolute correctness of his point of view, asked why I had a batman sticker on my car. I told him it was a Mensa sticker, and he was much struck, telling me he was a Mensan also. He hadn’t been to any meetings either since joining, so he quit being a pompous ass to me, and I cut him some slack on thinking of him as a pompous ass, and we decided to make a group trip to the next monthly meeting, along with our spouses.

My husband gets carsick if he doesn’t drive (or maybe he’s a control freak, but let’s not go there), so on the night of the meeting, he and PA neighbor dude were sitting in the front seat of the neighbor’s car, the wife and I were in the back, and everyone was yakking up a storm except my husband. He was just sitting there, looking a little cranky. He rolled his eyeballs as the volume increased, and then he started making little motorboat noises – BRMMMMM, BRMMM. The noises got louder. He started miming driving the car, brrrrmmmmm-ing away, bouncing in the driver’s seat, leaning forward over the wheel, and so forth. He finally got everyone’s attention, and PA’s wife said, “HEY! Do you need the keys, maybe?” He put a big stupid smile on his face and nodded enthusiastically, and we all laughed for quite a while over the Mensans forgetting he might need the keys to actually get us to the meeting.

We keep in infrequent touch with our former neighbors, but if hubs or I forget to give the other one something obvious that’s necessary to complete (or begin) a task, a short “brrrm” will usually suffice as a reminder.

3. Der Foehn – in Austria, I could swear I heard it referred to as “die” Foehn, but that probably doesn’t matter to anyone other than me and my calcifying brain cells. Anyway, during the transition between Winter and Spring, there was occasionally a time when the air was warm, there was still snow on the ground, and people would be cranky, short-tempered, a little peculiar, surprisingly romantic or fey, and it was jokingly blamed on der Foehn – a warm Spring wind sweeping over the Alps. The hapless humans dwelling in Switzerland and Austria (and maybe elsewhere) were supposedly emotionally disrupted by it, and it caused a general sense of unease and sometimes inexplicable behavior. There may be more to it than that, but I probably wandered off in a Foehn-induced haze somewhere during the casual discussion of it.

Anyway, der Foehn has been sweeping through my house the last couple of weeks while the snow took its time melting. It seems to be gone, mostly, now, and I’m glad of it. It felt a little like I kept waking up slightly new (to myself) each day, and I had to get reacquainted with me – disorienting, but not necessarily horrible. Other family members were equally affected by it, so things were odd around here.

4. Bravo for coffee! For those of us who truly enjoy our brews, SciAm advises the middle-aged and happily caffeinated amongst us that we might not need to switch to prune juice after all.

5. The new principal at our local HS seems to have spent a quarter and bought a clue. After 15 years of tyrannical domination by an unscrupulous and popular football coach, said coach was retired, pretty forcibly. There was a huge, orchestrated outcry by his supporters, he made a splashy move to another district, and that district wound up, within a year, getting him charged with multiple violations of some state school sports code, and he quit there, made more headlines, and is, quite predictably, suing everyone in sight to supplement his already overly-generous pension receipts. In a very dark corner of my heart, I hope he gets crushed by a bus full of Odyssey of the Mind contestants on their way to do voluntary community service by helping out at the Special Olympics.

Anyway, the new principal, not someone I would previously have crossed the street to spit on, is restoring some academic integrity to the high school. The senior slack-off year, full of courses that did not require books and barely required attendance, has been dealt a deathblow – hurrah! Instead, seniors have to take any core classes they may have missed, with added challenging options of dual credit with the local community college, work-study programs, and a number of other things that get a nod of approval from most of us concerned parents.

I am crossing my fingers and hoping for, over the next several months: a) the death of the block schedule and return of an 8 class day, b) increased rigor being brought back to foreign language classes, social studies, and English, c) further AP classes being offered, d) a big shake up in the teaching staff, removing some destructively dead wood and putting remaining teachers where they will do the most good, and e) the return of a GOOD German language sequence.


Wendi Aarons said...

I followed you here from your very funny comment re: the maxipad Brazilian, but please don't think I'm stalking you. I'm not that dedicated. Anyway, love your humor!

Anonymous said...

What's a block schedule? I've got one kid in elementary school and one in day care. I want to know what I'm up against for the future. Here in New Mexico, the future of public schools is pretty bleak.

Amber in Albuquerque

BoS said...

I hope this link comes through, but, if not, a cut and paste would help you go there... Block scheduling is best explained here:

I think this is a terrific website for understanding the nitty gritty of public schools, many of the controversies in schools, and the jargon. Even if you don't live in Illinois, lots of this stuff is useful information.