Friday, February 19, 2010

The Josh Stevens Foundation

It has been a very long time since since I have written here, but today I attended a presentation that was quite unexpected.  As an educator, four times a year we experience (are subjected to) staff development days, and today, I was quite unprepared for what happened.  A representative of the Josh Stevens Foundation came to speak with us.  Now, please understand, what I was prepared for was a guru, peddling their can't miss system for bettering student performance or some nonsense like that.  What I witnessed couldn't have been further from that.  This representative was actually the father of the foundation's namesake, a young man who was killed in a freak accident right before his 13th birthday.  As the father recounted the details, I couldn't have been more moved.  In the middle of my colleagues, hard as I tried not to, I cried.  And cried.  And then, just for good measure, cried a bit more.

It is basically a foundation that rewards students for random acts of kindness.  That's it.  Businesses donate the rewards which are usually in the form of gift certificates.  Staff members get shirts that advertise slogans for kindness, and are encouraged to try to sell shirts beyond those numbers, ostensibly, to help the organization purchase more shirts, publicize more, etc.

While I cannot vouch for this organization having just seen this presentation this morning, this father couldn't have been more sincere.  If there is some nefarious plot, I didn't see it.  I was quite taken by the message, simple and succinct; be kind.  In the end, really, what more is there?  So if you are a parent, give your kids a huge hug, tell them that you love them, and find some way to spoil them rotten today.  If you have a friend or loved one near, do the same.  The future is uncertain, but the kindness we show today may make all the difference in the life of someone you know and love.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

so begins my move into the world of mobile blogging...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Immediately Watch: Burn Notice

I love 24. I'm not here to dog on it. But hear me out for a minute. You've seen, what, 5 or 6 seasons of it now, right? And you've heard every Jack Bauer joke (which are just derivitives of Chuck Norris jokes). AND you are watching this season, with satisfaction, but that unshakable feeling of having seen it before.
Sound like you? If not, navigate away. If it is, start watching Burn Notice now.
My brother in law turned me on to this show, and I was very skeptical. A cable series? Was I going to become one of those people? Yes, yes I was.
I don't really want to do an entire technical synopsis, so if you want the nitty gritty, check here. Michael Westen is a spy who uses his expertice to make money on odd jobs while trying to find out who burned him. He also serves as the shows narrator, explaining all the cool spy stuff he's doing. You should also know that Bruce Campbell (of Evil Dead and Army of Darkness fame) is his beer drinking best friend, and their chemistry is perfect.
The locale is fresh, the premise is fun and never too heavy, the plots are clever if not ingenious, and much like my previous post, this show is fun. I'm not telling you to drop 24 by any means, we're all happy Jack is back, but find a place to squeeze in Burn Notice. You'll thank me.

Immediately Listen To: Aquabats

If you want to listen to garbage, try Nickelback. If you want to listen weepy, emotional teenage wannabe rants, try your hand at any number of soundalike Emo bands. If you want pure, unadulterated joy, for the love of all that is good and holy, please listen to The Aquabats.

Now, I know I'm not introducing you to the hippest indie group, they've been making the rounds since I was in high school and shortly thereafter. But if you have never listened to them, they do one thing better than just about anyone; they have fun. They are fun. So much so, that they are actually involved in the Nick Jr. show "Yo Gabba Gabba".

I just got done listening to the amazing song "I fell asleep on my arm", which takes a wicked shot at pseudo-violent-hocked-up-on-energy-drink bands like the also-rans in Limp Bizkit. I was literally laughing out loud in my van as the singer screamed about how his arm was so numb. In a world with so much fake earnestness and overly-emotive whininess, I'd much rather have a good time. Aquabats are amazing. Listen now, or perish

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Batman got Bat-robbed...

Just a quick vent that the true best movie of the year, The Dark Knight, will not win the Oscar. The Academy lost all credibility in nominating, yet again, a pretentious, unpopular slate of art house clap trap. But don't worry, in reminding us that they are so much better than us, Hollywood will continue to stroke its own ego, assuring us that it knows best, while The Dark Knight, the highest grossing film of the year, cannot be the best movie, because it was filled with action, and was popular.

I'm sure that ratings mean nothing to those who will attend L.A.'s once a year self-congratulatory yet, ultimately empty and vapid proceedings, but let me ask these questions. What other director exacted such fine performances from EVERY member of their cast, from the biggest names to the smallest supporting roles? Bale, legitimately, could have been nominated for even his performance. What movie will people remember from 2008? Forrest Gump II, I mean Benjamin Button? No.

And don't tell me that comic books can't be considered a powerful medium. Pick up copies of either "The Dark Knight Returns", "Watchmen", or "The Crow" and come and talk to me. If you can't find artistic merit in these, then you have some serious issues.

Oscars mean little. With this snub, they mean even less.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Part Of A Solution

The other day I was sitting around a table with a group of fellow educators and friends. We were discussing the 6% pay cut proposed by Governor Gibbons. While we each decided that it was going to close to impossible to take that, we all seemed very, very amenable as part of the solution to the budget crisis to accept a pay freeze in salary steps. This is what it's all about, right? Negotiating and give and take. I would be very surprised if other educators didn'nt feel the same way.

I just hope that this is a small example that we, as educators, are not a bunch of snarling, drooling nogoodniks, unwilling to make any type of concessions. Both sides need to come together to make this work.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My second open letter to Jim Gibbons

This is my second open letter to Jim Gibbons. Select the wording that best fits your feelings, and send it in.

Hey there, it’s me again. The last time we talked, you were embroiled in (a messy divorce / your fifth mistress / the impending repeal of COLAs given to state employees and educators / all of the above). I have to say, in the months since your leadership has been ( marginal at best / treading water / sinking faster than Box Office Grosses for “The Spirit”).

I’m writing to talk to you about this idea of cutting pay for state employees and educators by 6%. I’m sure that in your ( average / small / infinitesimally minute ) intellect, this is a good idea. After all, the private sector is feeling the pain, why shouldn’t those ( lazy / stupid / lazy and stupid ) teachers and public servants take a haircut? By the way, before I forget, thanks for the 120 million that is already projected to be cut from the district budget. We’ll get back to that later.

Well, here’s the thing Jimbo. Maybe you didn’t get the memo, but education doesn’t work exactly like the private sector. I’m no economist, but I’ll attempt to ( explain / use small, easily understood words / draw simplistic pictures ) for you, to help you contemplate exactly why your idea is (not good / terrible). As I understand it, because of the slowing economy, there is less work, and therefore, layoffs and pay cuts. I have friends who have experienced both, and let me tell you, I consider myself no better than them. In education, however, there is no slowing. In fact, with NCLB, more students than ever before, and increasing pressure to perform (all of this, in an environment with 120 million dollars less to work with, thank you very much) next year is going to be really hopping with work. More work for less pay? That doesn’t make sense.

Here’s my alternate proposal. Let’s make education work like business! We’ll take the pay cut, but let’s turn away 6% of the students next year! I mean, the economy is bad, let’s just tell those parents “Sorry, it’s tough for everyone right now.” We can even get some of those kids, quite a few of which will be at-risk, no doubt, some weapons training, and we can speed them along on a life of knocking over 7-11’s. If we do that, we won’t even have to decrease pay for police. Heck in a hand basket, they will be plenty busy, believe you me. By the way, if anyone needs to renew their registration, we can just turn 6% of people away from the DMV. Or respond to 6% fewer calls for police. Sorry, I don’t know everyone who is on the state payroll, but you get the idea.

In closing Jimmy, you are (a jackass / a huge jackass / the hugest jackass). Let’s stop looking to put the brunt of the State’s problems (due in no small part to shortsighted leadership) on one segment of the population, and discuss some real solutions.

Say hi to (the misses / the mistresses), and we’ll talk to you as soon as your leadership brings us to our inevitable next crisis.

(Your name here)