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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

What I Did Last Weekend

I do not like onion rings.
Eating them can clip my wings.
At first I really love their taste,
Then I eat too much with haste.

But two hours hence,
My gut is dense
Because I tried
Food that’s fried
That took me on a two day ride.

My lazy stomach is so slow
I could not make it downward flow
For two days I could not squelch
A never ending need to belch.

This gave me a brand new hunch.
I will not eat a greasy lunch,
Nor snarf French fries by the bunch,
Nor on Doritos shall I munch.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Oh, The Pain of the Vain

I looked at a high school yearbook with a couple of students. I was surprised to see that about half of the yearbook is taken up with “senior ads”. I have never seen this phenomenon before. I don’t know if this fad has overtaken the nation or, hopefully, this perversion of vanity is found only here, in the land of fruit and nuts.

Here’s the deal: Graduating seniors’ parents pay for full page ads in the yearbook. The ads usually start with a statement like,”I’ll miss all my friends at Noname HS”. The purpose of that statement appears to be a reminder that the spoiled little darling actually did have friends. Following that, the ads usually include a pretty large glamour photo, with all the zits and braces carefully scanned out. Then comes the best part, a couple of paragraphs about how great this kid was in high school. I don’t think I could design a better exercise in parent-supported teenage narcissism if I tried. The patents love this so much, one of my student’s parents stopped in to show me the ad for her daughter, who is currently getting a D in Math, and makes the average catatonic sociopath look like Dale Carnegie. Discussion of Math grades was not included in the ad. Elliot McMonkey McBean from the Sneetch’s Beaches could’ve developed this marketing scheme.

I think kids in America would do a lot better if their parents didn’t act like they believe every turd their kid makes is solid gold.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I was a token slacker male

We went to two parties last weekend, a small Friday night drink-together with the neighbors and a High School Graduation part on Saturday. Both affairs had a similar theme, I was the token male on Friday, and one of the only men in a crowd on Saturday.

Our neighbors with whom we hang out include a sixty-ish widow Kindergarten teacher and her eighty-something mom, our very strange single female next door neighbor, and the neighbors on the other side of her house, a lesbian couple. A few of their friends, all women, showed up. A good time was had by all. Our single neighbor makes a summer drink called Mojitos, really a deadly tumbler-sized gimlet. She made fancy littlke tea sandwiches as well. It was great. Several of our neighbors and their friends work at a local radiology group, and the local weekly newspaper. They share the usual warped humor of clinical and news people. Next time the doctor orders imaging I want a PET scan. Helical CAT scans are for wimps and pretenders, I have decided. Way too 20th century for me.

The parents of the young graduate are also lesbians, as well as are most of their friends. They had great food, but no tamales (one of them is Mexican). I was secretly hoping there was a Mexican tradition of tamales for graduation. No dice. Guess I’ll just have to wait until Christmas. One of the Hostess’s kids brought their adorable Pug dog. That was the high point of the party for me. I just wasn’t feeling very social on Saturday.

I have been practicing recorder a lot, I know all the “basic” notes, but I need to practice for celerity and musicality. The lesson books I amusing, “Sweet Pipes” use mostly renaissance pieces that I enjoy playing. I need to make sure to spend enough time and attention on clarinet playing, too.

Weekday bike rides along the American River have become a habit, although parts of the trail are flooded out as the record snowfalls in the Sierras are rapidly melting. Our weather has just finally gotten warm with highs in the low nineties this week. That’s still pleasantly warm given our low humidity and cool nights.

Employment scene update – Looks like I need to sharpen my slacker skills soon, summer looks likely to be idle. Nothing happening on the HS tutoring front, as expected, and no action with the Community College. That means I lose my thin veil of respectability. It’s really high time to come up with a “Plan B”. This all would be a lot easier if I was excited about some kind of work in particular. I realize that with my degrees, prospects for teaching math are pretty limited.

On a more appealing subject than work, we are now of age to look into taking a vacation with Elderhostel. Sing if you’re glad to be grey.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Coyote is my Spirit Guide

While riding my bicycle along the American River Parkway, I spotted a coyote loping at about my pace on a bridal trail running parallel to the bike trail. He gave me a couple of looks, and kept loping on. Coyote helped me think a little more clearly than normal (big prize, I know).

While I fret about my casual relationship to the world of work, Coyote does fine without the benefit of domestication his distant cousins enjoy.

In a way work is a lot like domestication from the dog’s point of view. We become so accustomed to depending on Master for our fulfillment, it’s easy to overlook our ability to live a full life without Master’s constant prodding and rewards. When I look at what I do in a day, I am far happier about what I am doing than I was when working full time in an office, although I do miss the speedier internet connection (see Earn big $$ by Surfing the Net)

Maybe I really need to remember the lesson of Mr Wizard the Lizard from the old Tutor the Turtle cartoons, “be what you is, and not what you is not, folks what do this have the happiest lot.”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Thomas Jefferson vs George Bush

I have been plagued by the uncomfortable feeling that the activities of our Government in Iraq, under the leadership of George WII, has an uncanny resemblance to the actions of the British under king George III which led to the American Revolution. Fortunately, Jefferson did a great job of summarizing the case against British occupation in the Declaration of Independence.
The plain type is the Declaration of Independence. I have added my comments in bold italics.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is up to you to judge the case; Do Jefferson’s standards justify an Iraqi battle for independence?

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen ColoniesIn CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III (replace with George WII)] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

“This is worth repeating: it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

Possibly disappearance of $$ from Iraqi oil qualifies for this one. No to mention imprisonment without charges.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

Recall the over 12 month delay of the originally promised date of elections.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

No comment, but I love “manly firmness” (kinda homoerotic?)

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

See note above about delayed elections, look at the civilian body count.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

Whassup with Sadaam’s trial?, How about military tribunals for Iraqi citizens.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

How many Government employees and contractors are in the green zone?

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

Yep.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

The US forces don’t answer to any Iraqis, last I heard.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

Laws written durings Bremmer’s tenure permanently immunize contract employees from prosecution.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

See Abu Graihb and Guantanimo. After blogging this, you’ll probably see me there.

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

See the Coalition Preliminary Authority (CPA).

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

So, what’s happening in Fallujah? Too bad for Iraqis that when this disappears from the U S puppet press, the dead don’t come back to life.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

Wow, I can’t believe how well this fits.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Middle East politics is too dense for me to figure this out. Therefore, I give George WII a Mulligan on this one.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Amen.

The remaining text describes the Conclusion that the Colonies have no moral choice but to declare independence.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

My Verdict: Guilty as Charged.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I Blog, Therefore I Am

With band season winding down, I have decided its time to start some woodshedding. I went to a music store and bought a clarinet method book. That’s how you improve. Unfortunately, I also picked up a cheap alto recorder. The descant recorder I already have is so shrill it hurts to listen to the upper register. Unfortunately, the alto recorder has different tuning than the soprano, so I need to learn to adjust fingerings for that. Further, I haven’t yet learned all the accidental fingerings for the recorder. So, goal number two for summer is to learn all the fingerings for both recorders, and try to get good enough to join the recorder society, if that makes sense. I enjoy the raw and primitive experience of recorders versus my clarinet. Although, I am not sure if this recorder business is a subconscious search for an excuse for not working too hard on clarinet methods. All so much more fun than trying to get more employed. The same can be said for ingrown toenails.

On that note, I left a message with the community college dean who seems interested in my teaching. These wheels of progress move slowly, if they are moving at all. I figure if the dean wasn’t interested, she’d politely ask me to get lost. She has an assistant who certainly could do that for her. I Haven’t gotten that message yet. However, it’s really time to think about a plan B. Once school lets out, I will have more time to fret about all his. I am still enjoying teaching the kids, and some of them have improved to the point where they no longer need my help. Some others have continued to languish in poor grades. Kids who are a little slow and do poorly don’t bug me. It’s the kids who really should do better, mostly underachievers, burnouts, and social butterflies out of control. I can get them to do math seriously for most of a 90 minute session, but I can’t make them pay attention in class and buckle down at home. The parents look at me like I’m nuts when I talk about controlling distractions such as TV. I guess that’s OK, as long as they pay the bills.

The house exterior work is done! Siding repaired, completely repainted in tan with frost white trim, fence gate repaired, and new gutters in place and tested with today’s rain. Now neighbors are stopping by to say how good the house looks. Weeks ago, ours was "that house" depressing everyone else’s property values. Next steps: figure out how to get the back sprinklers to work, and start aggressively trimming our Costa Rican themed back yard until it resembles a garden more than a rainforest. That will be a gradual effort for this summer. However, I get a kick out of our rosebushes that have grown over the telephone lines. They are blooming all the way to the top.

I have been thinking about Thomas Jefferson lately. If he was an Iraqi, what’d he be up to these days. Probably not a lot different from those days. This may be the subject of a more detailed rant in the near future. I still hold his truths self evident (the truths in his writing, not in how he lived).

That’s the truth, and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Concert Tonight, Jesus is our Assistant Director

Today’s big excitement is tonight’s 7:30 band concert at Presentation Catholic Church. See http://www.sacramentoconcertband.com/ for details. I have retained my position as stage manager, and will have from 5:30 to 6:30 to set up. I am hoping Father Mike will be able to enlist some eighth grade students to remove the alter and lay out the chairs before I get there. Otherwise, I will have to actually do my job. I always have to guard the tabernacle, because someone always tries to move it, and that’s against church rules. My least favorite thing about playing at Presentation is the acoustics. It’s like an echo chamber. My favorite thing is the giant crucifix that rises high behind where we set up the band. It is a modern design featuring Jesus with arms extended but no actual wooden cross. It looks like Jesus has arrived in an apparition to give his blessing to the Sacramento Concert Band. How many groups get that kind of sponsorship? Come to the concert and meet probably about half of Hanginsac's regular readers!

Today’s newspaper greeted me this morning with a huge story. My life may never be the same. . . Dateline Comics Page. . . Luanne has become close friends With Toni Daytona, her brother Greg’s unattainable object of longing over the last two or three years. What will develop next? This is the biggest news since last year when Luanne’s very pretty heartthrob Aaron had a secret announcement. I was sucked in; I thought he was surely coming out of the closet. No dice; Aaron’s family was making a move to Hawaii. I don’t know why I let the comics toy with my emotions like this.

Did I mention that I need to get a life?

On that subject, I still haven’t heard back from the college dean from whom I am seeking legitimate employment. I figure I will call her tomorrow, since that will be one week past the date she said she expected to call. I will try to keep my high-pitched choruses of “oh, please, please, please” to an absolute minimum. If this fails, I may need to seek a real job, like with an office and all that soul-sucking jazz. Oh Jesus, leader of bands, please save me.

The house painting is finished, I am trying to arrange a date for the gutter contractor to do his thing. I tested the sprinklers yesterday, Good news; all the frone sprinklers work, bad news; we need to get someone to replace the timer for our back garden. Another more handy person for whose call I must wait. I feel like a hostage of the guys who got As in shop class.


That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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