Category Archives: Uncategorized

End of the GOP?

I really want to believe this is true, but I’m not convinced. I believe that this GOP will do absolutely anything to stay in power. It is the last bastion of the Angry White Male trying to hang on to his privilege. Any party members outside that demographic are only there because they don’t get that white male privilege is real, and party leaders want them so that they are appear to be open to diversity.

There’s a Bigger Prize Than Impeachment


Good News?

All I want is some really good news. Something like, “Trump’s Bone Spurs Malignant: 1 Week to Live” or “AOC Wipes Smirk Off McConnell’s Face Before He Retreats Into Shell.”


My Heart Breaks Again

In reading about the suicides of two survivors from Stoneman Douglas High School and the father of a Newtown victim I am really hurting. And to then hear that a certain right-wing conspiracy pusher has crawled to the surface again to smear the memory of that father enrages me.

Is it okay to feel such anger? Probably not good for my heart or mental health I guess. But damn! The fascist trolls continue to obfuscate the reality of the issues which cloud our national future. We must fight back.


Review: Sorrows Always Swim, by Pushing Chain

A year ago a Kick Starter campaign showed up in my Facebook news feed. It was shared by one of my favorite singer-songwriter-musician-humans, Bill Kirchen. Bill was a member of Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen back in the 70s, and since then has continued to crank out great songs, recordings, and performances. But this Kick Starter was for a duo who call themselves Pushing Chain. Bill would be producing.

Pushing Chain are Boyd Blomberg and Adam Moe, who have played music together since 1997. Blomberg plays guitar and Moe plays fiddle. Both sing and write, although the bulk of songs on this CD are Blomberg’s.

photo from Pushing Chain press materials

Pushing Chain describe their music as Folky-Tonk, and include the following statement in their press materials:

Pushing Chain believes in strong harmonies, kazoos, and sad songs. We believe in performing songs we’ve never played together, and jamming with people we’ve just met. That a guitarist and a fiddler can cover Hendrix if they want to. That music can cause tears and laughter, sometimes in the course of one song, and that there are still important songs to be written. That a good band will make strangers share a table.

Word.

So, based on Bill’s involvement alone, I made a pledge. I didn’t know their music at all.

A number of months back, I received my autographed copy of the CD and have been listening, mostly in the car. This is heavier on the Tonk than the Folky. That’s not a problem at all. Bill Kirchen’s musical DNA is all over this recording. He is credited third among the musicians behind only Blomberg and Moe, and shares producing credit with Mark Hallman. His guitar will be immediately recognizable to his fans. The recording is rounded out with Hallman on piano and organ, David Carroll on bass, Rick Richards on drums, and Redd Volkaert on guitar on the final track, “Rondo Up!”

Like most of the songs here, the lead track, “Lucky You, Lucky Him” is about love. In this case, as is the case with so many country and honky tonk songs, it’s about love lost, and seeing the happiness of the one you lost.

The title track is a highlight. Great lyrics with a hook. Bill Kirchen’s solo is among his best, not too long, mostly on the fat strings, emotive, just right.

Other favorites on the disc are “Breadbox”, “My Baby’s Kisses”, “Truckstop Rose”, and “A Cowboy’s Ride”.

I won’t go on longer than necessary. If you like country, honky tonk, Americana, and the like, I unreservedly recommend this CD.

And if you’re reading this Pushing Chain, please come to western Washington!


Boredom?

I don’t remember ever sitting in a class and thinking, “This is boring.” I certainly wouldn’t have said it out loud. I do remember classmates saying it. Just thinking about why.

Why?


Redundant Much?

Venting time. This morning I got a phone call from the school office. “I need you to go in to TAC and enter your grades! It was supposed to be done two days ago!” Okay. I made a few clicks and it was done. The problem is that I had to do it.

What’s going on is that we have two computer systems for grades, an old one and a new one. Eschool is the old, Schoology is the new. We enter our grades in Schoology, but Eschool is used for grade reporting. Ultimately, I believe Schoology is supposed to be used for both, but in the meantime, teachers must intervene in order to allow the two systems to talk to each other. When it is time for interim progress reports, we have a window of time to make the aforementioned clicks. If you miss the window, people get anxious.

The thing that bugs me the most is that with Schoology, parents have real time, 24/7 access to their child’s grades, assignments, missing work, etc. Can’t figure out why we bother with the progress reports at all. I do understand that not everyone has home Internet access, but that doesn’t mean no Internet access anywhere. Even my poorest kids seem to have better smart phones than I do.


Stress and Sadness

I just learned of the suicide of a second teacher in our district in under three months. I had actually worked with this individual my first two years in the district.

Supposedly, teachers in general have a low rate of suicide. I know this is anecdotal, and not a trend, yet. But the stress of the job is very real. My workplace situation remains much better than at my previous school. Still, there is stress dealing with specific situations.

I am sad for those who took their lives, but we don’t know for sure what motivated them to do so.


Race

I’m white.

This does not include “Low Confidence Regions.”

Don’t get much whiter. That “Europe West” includes a lot of German.

I’m not a white-supremacist however. I consider myself a no-supremacist. Everyone should be treated as equals. No, I’m not saying I always live up to that principle. My life has been a long evolution to this point, and I hope to continue to evolve to the day I die.

As a teacher I am acutely aware of race. I cannot consciously treat any student differently due to race, gender, gender/sexual identity, religion, political views, or any other diverse quality. But that hasn’t stopped people from thinking that I have done so, and that really hurts.

Every year there are students whose behavior is challenging. Many are white like me. Some aren’t. I always have a lot of students who cause me no trouble whatsoever. Many are white like me. Some aren’t.

When I’m dealing with disruptive behavior in class, it always feels different if the student is African-American. I can feel my anxiety level rising, my chest tightening, or queasiness. It’s because I’ve had trouble once before. While there was no direct accusation, the insinuation that I was treating a student differently because of who he was, was very real. The fact was, the student and his white buddies were very disruptive and disrespectful, and I treated them no differently.

More than a decade ago, our district was sued by some African-American families. The accusation was systemic racism. As a result of the settlement, all staff had annual diversity training, and the district hired a person to head up an office to work on equity.

I hadn’t known of the lawsuit until after it was settled. But some time later I learned that I had had at least one student from a family involved in the suit. I had gone to one of his pee wee football games. He was in my class the year I had Olympic Gold Medalist “Sugar” Ray Seales visit my class. I think I still have a picture of the student holding the gold medal somewhere.

I was not one of the teachers who had to testify in the lawsuit. Nobody ever talked to me or interviewed me about it. I had a good relationship with the family. I have good relationships with most families. But I still feel anxious when dealing with negative behavior of students who are African-American.


Why I Hate Football

Football is perhaps the most American of sports. It’s true that baseball is known as The American Pasttime, but it is played at a very high level in parts of Asia and Latin America. Many other countries have competitive Olympic basketball teams and have citizens playing in the NBA. And while football IS played in other countries, its popularity and level of play in the United States is approached perhaps only across our northern border by the Canadian Football League.

Like many, I grew up watching football. My dad attended West Point, and the Army-Navy game was an annual event in our house. My brother attended Texas A&M, another school with a strong history and tradition in football. I remember listening to University of Washington games on the radio with my dad while we worked in the yard. That was in the days of Sonny Sixkiller. Pre-Seahawks I became a fan of the Miami Dolphins in the Griese-Csonka era. In the early days of the Seahawks I was a fan. I had to put up with my college roommate from Wyoming who was a Broncos fan. He referred to our team as the Sea-squawks.

In 1983, the Seahawks made it into the playoffs for the first time. Curt Warner was one of the best running backs in the NFL, Dave Krieg took over at QB from Jim Zorn, and Kenny Easley was feared by opposing receivers. I had a date with the TV on Sundays.

But somewhere along the way disillusionment began to set in. I don’t think I can pinpoint any one thing that soured me on football. It’s most likely an accumulation of things to the point I finally said “enough.”

It probably started in 1987 with Brian Bosworth and the NFL strike. Bosworth didn’t want to play for the Seahawks, but eventually signed a record-setting rookie contract. The behavior of some of the striking players was pretty awful, including a couple who brought shotguns to the picket line. I do understand the underlying issues which forced the strike, but behavior is important.

But the final nail in the coffin for me is CTE. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The brain trauma which led Junior Seau to take his own life a number of years ago. And there have been other victims. Not just the players, but their families.

I was never a fan of Seau or his team, but I found the story of his death heartbreaking. Suicide is never easy for the survivors, but for some reason this just seemed worse to me. A highly paid athlete whose death was caused by the sport he loved, but not while actually playing.

Sorry football fans, but I truly hate football.


Accidents Will Happen. But Not So Much If People Follow the Rules.

An intersection near our house has experienced a number of severe accidents. Two within a ten day period a year ago.

March 10, 2017 accident

Both occurred during rush hour. The city has since put up a sign prohibiting anything but a right turn between 3 and 6 p.m.

March 1, 2017 accident

Unfortunately it is pretty much completely disregarded. A stream of cars is passing by our house right now, and I guarantee very few will be turning right when they get to the stop sign.

We moved into our house in August 2001. It didn’t take long before I decided that same intersection was dicey at best. Since then I’ve never done anything but make right turns there, no matter the time of day.

What’s with people?

I have not been aware of accidents in the past year. But there hadn’t been many in the previous 15 years or so either. It’s not safe. Period.