Friday, August 27, 2004

That new school year smell

I've been spending the last week or so getting my classroom ready for the start of school on Sept. 8. Some of you may be asking, why would you spend so much of the precious few days of summer that are left this way? I'll grant you that is a legitimate question. several of my colleagues have posed the same query.

There is just something about this time of year that gets me literally excited. When I walk into my room in late August I love the combined smell of a freshly cleaned room and wood that has been hibernating for two months and that is only now rousing from its summer slumber. Better than that new car smell and without the hefty payments. The anticaption of learning, debating, creating and truth telling. As geeky as it sounds, as I write about this I can fell the excitement of the start of school welling up in my heart.

I can't wait to meet my students. Yes, they will get on my nerves and I will get on theirs. Such is the nature of any relationship. When I'm in my classroom, I turn up the music really loud and just work, plan and think about the year ahead. These kids will be entering my room as genuine tabula rasa, ignorant of history, and most of them not caring. That is my task, to change that. To paint on the canvas of their minds and teach them things. How cool is that!?

These young men and women will know little about the things I will teach them. But when they leave me in June I will have taught them about the impact of religion on the world. I will introduce them to my friends Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire and Hobbes (my personal favorite). They'll get to know Louis XIV, Maria Theresa, Mary Wollstonecraft and Peter the Great. I'll tell them the story of Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin and how Latin America broke free of the bonds of colonialism. They'll hear how the Western world industrialized rapidly for better or worse, and they'll even get Dr. Seuss' take on it (i.e. the Lorax). They'll learn names like Mao, Gandhi, Stalin, Mussolinni, Hitler, Hirohito, Marx, Fourier, oh the list goes on. They'll learn about things like the Armenian Genocide and Japanese atrocities during WWII. In short, I'll tell them the story of the beauty and horror that is humanity in the modern world. How could anyone not get excited about that?

It may sound pathetic, but hey, I gotta be me. I teach. I counsel. I parent. I laugh and weep with these kids. I'm doing ministry. May all glory and honor be God's. Only the mistakes are mine.

Be well all.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

George Bush doesn't give a damn about the environment

Further proof that the current administration has opted to favor consumption over conservation, production over protection of natural resources.


Friday, August 20, 2004

Mamma's Boys to be Death of Italy?

I found this article particularly interesting. It turns out one of the reasons Italy's population is set to decline is because Italy's men have it too good at home. Read and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I hate Disney

I realize I may be speaking heresy to some but I do in fact hate Disney (no offense intended toward former or present employees of said corporate behemoth).

Maybe it is the way they advertise their new movies on Disney DVD ... like they invented it.

Or perhaps how the corporate cutthroats distribute their classics for a limited time and then advertise with great fanfare and pressure that it will be put in the 'vault' after a certain date, hurry now and buy, buy, buy!

Then again it could be that this corporation tried to swallow the truly creative and pioneering Pixar Studios that annoys me?

Or, the way the advertising department attempts to make every parent feel as if their child's childhood won't be complete without the latest from Disney.

Oh, I know, it must be the $3.00 bottle of water they sell at their themeparks.

Or maybe it is that Disney just seems to represent all of the negative things I associate with American mass consumption and comercialization of every avenue of life.

Yes, I do hate Disney Corp., but...

We were recently given free passes to the Magic Kingdom by some friends I helped move (they had A LOT of stuff, almost as much as Scott). I would have much rather preferred the same dollar equivalent in say a Borders gift certificate, but alas, twas not meant to be. Anyhow, my wife wanted to go during the summer and on a weekday as to avoid the crowds, so we went yesterday. I won't bore you with all the details. . . well, not all of them anyway.

I hate Disney, but I have to admit, I had one of the best times of my life yesterday. We had not been to Disneyland since 1997. They have improved a bunch of stuff. But that wasn't the best part. I think what nailed it for me was that I was with my family. My oldest boy had never even been, and the baby, well he won't remember a thing.

Everything was new. I was actually able to see things through my son's eyes and for the first time. It's a Small World was never better. The Jungle Cruise, hilarius, because my oldest had never heard all the same jokes. The Mark Twain Riverboat might as well have been chuggin' up the Mississippi for real. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Pinnochio's Daring Adventure, Splash Mountain, Astro Orbiter (though I got dizzy) and the baby fell asleep in my arms while we all rode Pirates of the Caribbean. All of it was new. And all of it better than I ever remember it as a kid.

Not just that, but the people seemed more interesting and entertaining. Disneyland is one of the few places where you can go and meet people from dozens of countries. Before we left I gave my son the lecture about how this might be one of the few times that foreigners will see how American children behave, so it was important to have fun, but also be polite. He was. But the people, and there were many of them despite our efforts to avoid crowds, just seemed to be more interesting to me. Did you know there are rude people from every continent? Plus I heard at least 8 diffrent languages that I could identify and witnessed children throwing tantrums in 3 languages other than english. It was great. I could hear "It's a Small World After All" ringing in my ears.

And at the end of the day, after over 10 hours of being on my feet walking, running, laughing, behaving like an idiot for my kids, we all settled down to watch the fireworks. I don't think I will ever forget the looks on the faces of my children as they watched spellbound. It was, forgive the cliche, magical.

And I was able to put aside all my negativism, cynicism, pessimism, skepticism... all my isms for a day, to suspend my disbelief and be a 34 year old kid. It felt great. I grudingly admit that Disney had something to do with that.

So maybe I don't hate this iconic corporation as much as I thought.

But they have got to drop that DVD thing.

Be well all.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Why I can't vote for George W. Bush

It is that time of year again. Don't fear my Republican friends, there is a little something for you too if you'll just read on.

It's my blog and I'll rant if I want to.

Reasons why I can't vote for George W. Bush (in no particular order of significance)

He took away overtime pay from 8,000,000 American workers.

For being so 'decisive' that he refuses to listen to others.

For squandering the international goodwill that belonged to America after 9/11.

Because he didn't finish the job in Afghanistan.

For apparently forgetting all the Spanish he spoke during campaign 2000.

For never talking about the 10,000 dead Iraqis because of Gulf War II.

For being so disinterested in the world that he doesn't even read the newspaper.

For ignoring reliable science and doing nothing about global warming.

For using 'moral clarity' as a divisive tool.

For taking this great nation into a war built on a premise that was an uninformed decision at best or at worst an outright lie.

For refusing to admit when he is wrong.

For using American power as a blunt instrument, rather than a persuasive tool.

For encouraging the Attorney General to sue the state of California for trying to raise fuel economy standards in the state, because he lacks the will to do so.

For using the congressional elections of 2002 as a tool to get enough votes to pass the use of force resolution in Iraq.

For passing widespread educational reform and then underfunding it.

For just last week saying that if he knew then what he knows now about Iraq he would have made the same decision.

Reasons why I don't want to vote for John Kerry

For his lack of moral clarity.

Because he can't admit that life begins at conception.

For not speaking clearly on positions he holds.

For voting against the 87 billion dollar defense supplemental for political reasons.

For being uninspiring.

I know this isn't supposed to be easy. Or maybe for you it is. I don't know. I do know that I wish Jesus would come back yesterday and make all this unnecessary. Peace to all

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Walls don't paint themselves you know

A year and a half ago we remodeled the living room, dining room and hallway of our home. We went all out. I scraped that cottage cheese stuff off of the ceiling. I ripped up the carpet and hired a very nice and hard working Vietnamese man to refinish the beautiful hardwood floors. We put in new mouldings and painted. I can't tell you the name of the colors I put on the walls, but my wife can, and as good as the walls look, she looks even better and that is enough for me.

Anyhow, we did all this during spring break and were thusly pressed for time. By the end of that week we had everything done except for this one wall in the hallway. Seriously, all the other walls in this particular hallway are completely done, paint and mouldings, except for this one stinking wall. I don't even remember how I decided to leave this wall alone. I think it had something to do with being out of time, energy, money and the will to live after a weeklong remodeling blitzkrieg.

In the last eighteen months I can't count how many times I've walked by that wall and said to myself "Gee, I really should finish that this weekend". Good luck.

Well tonight, for the bizillionth time I looked at that wall, and it looked back. I swear it was mocking me.. . "So, you think you are actually going to finish me off do you? Who are you kidding?".

Really, my house hardly ever talks to me. But I always had the best of intentions of completing the task I started all those months ago but never did. And then in my despair, it gets worse. I realize that this stupid wall is actually a metaphor for my life, especially in the arena of unfinished things. I started recalling all those things I've been meaning to do:

Learn how to play the guitar. . well.

Finish filling out my grad school application.

Write that university paper for the educational journal.

Run for City Council.

Go to Italy.

Wander through the Grand Canyon.

Clean out the trunk of my car.

Learn the lyrics to 'Louie, Louie'.

You get the point. Surely, I can't be I destined to be like some people and be a great starter, but a terrible finisher (Ian, I love you man). Are all these incomplete projects merely a reflection of my true nature? Man, I hope not. Anybody else know what I'm talking about?

It is late. But not too late. I'm going to the garage and find my paint brush.

Be well all.