Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nana Gets Some Heat

I have written about my experiences substituting in my local schools. I never include personally identifiable information. This past week I have received several anonymous comments from "parents." One of these parents complained to the superintendent and to the local police about my post last Wednesday. In an email to the superintendent, copied to me, the parent complained that I used profanity and wrote about personal issues about the students.

I thought that one of the perks of being retired was that I could speak my mind.  I don't represent the school district.  When you work for a public agency, and I know that many of my readers do, it is difficult to be viewed as a private citizen.  For the past twenty years I resisted writing letters to the editor of our local paper.  I didn't speak out on immigration reform, or abortion, or even publicly voice my support for candidates.  I know I had the right to exercise my first amendment rights, but in a small town it was easier to stay silent.  I sometimes felt like the lone ranger.  I am a liberal and that's almost a dirty word in the conservative region where I live.

Today I received yet another email from anonymous complaining that her child was reading my blog. It was the WTF: Wednesday post about the dollar bill. You can read it here. That was the post that got all the nasty comments from a student stalker. Read about that here.

Here's the latest email:

I understand you are one of my daughter's sub teachers. As a teacher myself, I am mortified that I came into my room, where our computer is, to find my daughter reading your blog. I don't know who you think you are, but as a "role model", retired or not, this is completely inapproiate for ANY child to see, let alone thinking it's ok, and funny to act like this. Shame on you!! I will be calling the school concerning your blog.

The superintendent is going to get tired of receiving complaints.

In the blogosphere I have found other like minded writers.  I've also found readers who don't share my views, but are accepting of differences and open to rational discussion.

The superintendent is going to get tired of receiving complaints.

So to those anonymous readers out there...get a grip!  I am not encouraging your children to read my blog.  To find my blog, you only have to google me.  It's probably the first link that shows up. 

Yes, I occasionally use profanity on my blog. What I write and say in my personal life has no relationship to my occasional work in local school districts. To find my blog on the Internet you have to actually search for it. Children who are using the Internet unsupervised are not my responsibility...based on the language I've heard them use in school, they have heard these words before, but the bottom line is that I don't seek underage readers. They would not be interested in the topic of the life of a recently retired person!

Like most writers, I write about my life experiences.  I never considered identifying the students who shared, without being asked, their experience with self-mutilation. I never intended to reveal personally identifiable information about any of them, and I have not done so. Public employees are entitled to a personal life and my blog reflects my personal life, the events and experiences that I find interesting. I do not give up the right to express a personal opinion on a public forum just because I occasionally work for a public agency.

Should teachers only be writing happy stories of children collecting canned goods for the poor or creating amazing science projects? Yeah, that stuff happens, but it ain't all sweetness and light. Remember my post about the student who was stalking my blog? Read it here and that post has the most profanity that has ever been in my blog and it's the student's comments!

Well dear readers...tell me where I should go from here? 

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Price We Pay

In the year since we last celebrated Memorial Day eight more soldiers from Oregon have lost their lives in the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Oregon has lost a total of 128 soldiers in this "war on terror." 

At the start of the conflict in Iraq Oregon's former governor, Ted Kulongoski, pledged to attend the funerals of Oregon soldiers who died in the war effort.  When I was a school administrator I remember receiving notifications from the governor's office to fly our school's flag at half staff when Oregon lost another soldier, and I remember reading in the newspaper that Governor Kulongoski was attending another funeral.  Some months it seemed that our flag was always flying at half staff.  I don't think our current governor attends the funerals, but he does maintain a website that shows the faces of Oregon's fallen soldiers.  You can view it here.  So many young faces.  So many fathers who will never see their children grow up.  So many young lives lost to war.

This Memorial Day take a moment to mourn those we have lost.

Oregon's Casualties in Iraq

Tobler Brandon S. Portland Ore. U.S. Mar 22, 2003

Contreras Aaron J. Sherwood Ore. U.S. Mar 30, 2003

Stever Robert A. Pendleton Ore. U.S. Apr 8, 2003

Bradach-Nall Travis J. Portland Ore. U.S. Jul 2, 2003

Kesterson Erik C. Independence Ore. U.S. Nov 15, 2003

Blickenstaff Joseph M. Corvallis Ore. U.S. Dec 8, 2003

Wesley Christopher J. Rivera Portland Ore. U.S. Dec 8, 2003

Nakis Nathan W. Corvallis Ore. U.S. Dec 16, 2003

Moothart Travis A. Brownsville Ore. U.S. Jan 27, 2004

Ramirez William C. Portland Ore. U.S. Feb 11, 2004

Rogers Philip G. Gresham Ore. U.S. Apr 4, 2004

Van Leuven Gary F. Klamath Falls Ore. U.S. Apr 17, 2004

Whitham Chase R. Eugene Ore. U.S. May 8, 2004

Roberts Bob W. Newport Ore. U.S. May 17, 2004

McCrae Erik S. Portland Ore. U.S. Jun 4, 2004

Eyerly Justin L. Salem Ore. U.S. Jun 4, 2004

Linden Justin W. Portland Ore. U.S. Jun 4, 2004

McKinley Eric S. Corvallis Ore. U.S. Jun 13, 2004

Huston James B. Umatilla Ore. U.S. Jul 2, 2004

Kelly Bryan P. Klamath Ore. U.S. Jul 16, 2004

Leisten Ken W. Cornelius Ore. U.S. Jul 28, 2004

Weisenburg David J. Portland Ore. U.S. Sep 13, 2004

Isenberg Benjamin W. Sheridan Ore. U.S. Sep 13, 2004

Johnson David W. Portland Ore. U.S. Sep 25, 2004

Mitts David A. Hammond Ore. U.S. Dec 4, 2004

Moore James L. Roseburg Ore. U.S. Jan 26, 2005

Warren Mark C. La Grande Ore. U.S. Jan 31, 2005

Plumondore Adam J. Gresham Ore. U.S. Feb 16, 2005

Davis Kevin D. Lebanon Ore. U.S. Apr 8, 2005

Thornton Steven W. Eugene Ore. U.S. Apr 18, 2005

Wessel Kevin S.K. Newport Ore. U.S. Apr 19, 2005

Kent Aaron A. Portland Ore. U.S. Apr 23, 2005

Rockholt Ricky W. Winston Ore. U.S. Apr 28, 2005

Simpson Jacob M. Ashland Ore. U.S. May 16, 2005

Troyer Tyler J. Tangent Ore. U.S. Nov 19, 2005

Zyla Michael S. Elgin Ore. U.S. Dec 13, 2005

Walker Ryan D. Stayton Ore. U.S. Jan 5, 2006

Nettles Marcques J. Beaverton Ore. U.S. Apr 2, 2006

Loveless Jeremy M. Estacada Ore. U.S. May 29, 2006

Jones Robert L. Milwaukie Ore. U.S. Jun 17, 2006

Tucker Thomas L. Madras Ore. U.S. Jun 16, 2006

Pate Christopher T. Portland Ore. U.S. Jul 21, 2006

Lee Marc A. Hood River Ore. U.S. Aug 2, 2006

Newman Randy L. Bend Ore. U.S. Aug 20, 2006

Henkes Richard J. Portland Ore. U.S. Sep 3, 2006

Haag Chase A. Portland Ore. U.S. Oct 1, 2006

Bright Dean R. Roseburg Ore. U.S. Oct 4, 2006

Jones Derek W. Salem Ore. U.S. Oct 8, 2006

Gibson Brennan C. Tualatin Ore. U.S. Dec 10, 2006

Hill Ryan J. Keizer Ore. U.S. Jan 20, 2007

Fennerty Sean P. Corvallis Ore. U.S. Jan 20, 2007

Browning Brian A. Astoria Ore. U.S. Feb 6, 2007

Windsor Nathanial D. Scappoose Ore. U.S. Mar 13, 2007

Lightner Nicholas J. Newport Ore. U.S. Mar 21, 2007

Walton Brett A. Hillsboro Ore. U.S. Apr 9, 2007

Vaughan Michael L. Otis Ore. U.S. Apr 23, 2007

Peterson Dale G. Redmond Ore. U.S. Apr 23, 2007

Rodriguez Dominic N. Klamath Falls Ore. U.S. Jun 22, 2007

Kenny Joseph P. Veneta Ore. U.S. Jun 23, 2007

Schill Juan M. Garcia Grants Pass Ore. U.S. Jul 2, 2007

Stacy Steven A. Coos Bay Ore. U.S. Jul 5, 2007

Wiens Kory D. Independence Ore. U.S. Jul 6, 2007

Leckel Daniel A. Medford Ore. U.S. Jul 25, 2007

Elizalde Adrian M. North Bend Ore. U.S. Aug 23, 2007

Jensen Drew N. Clackamas Ore. U.S. Sep 7, 2007

McMahon Graham M. Corvallis Ore. U.S. Sep 19, 2007

McBride Zachary W. Bend Ore. U.S. Jan 9, 2008

Young Joshua A. R. Riddle Ore. U.S. Jan 28, 2008

Miller Mikeal W. Albany Ore. U.S. Jan 27, 2008

Ellis Jessica A. Bend Ore. U.S. May 11, 2008

Eggleston Cody J. Eugene Ore. U.S. Oct 24, 2008

Johnson Robert L. Central Point Ore. U.S. Dec 20, 2008

Tillery Joshua M. Beaverton Ore. U.S. Jan 26, 2009

Oregon's Casualties in Afghanistan

Jeffries Joseph Allen Beaverton Ore. U.S. May 29, 2004

Lucas Jeffrey Alan Corbett Ore. U.S. Jun 28, 2005

Baum Tane Travis Pendleton Ore. U.S. Sep 25, 2005

Stump Adrian Bovee Pendleton Ore. U.S. Sep 25, 2005

Blake Joseph Robert Portland Ore. U.S. Aug 17, 2006

Paul Robert Joseph The Dalles Ore. U.S. Sep 8, 2006

Lindsey Nathaniel Bradley Troutdale Ore. U.S. Sep 10, 2006

Nguyen Long Ngoc Portland Ore. U.S. Feb 10, 2007

Bertrand Bryan Pahl Coos Bay Ore. U.S. Jan 9, 2002

Henderson Christopher D. Hillsboro Ore. U.S. Jun 17, 2007

Brennan Joshua C. Ontario Ore. U.S. Oct 26, 2007

Ngo Tan Q. Beaverton Ore. U.S. Aug 27, 2008

Wiley James L. North Bend Ore. U.S. Sep 18, 2008

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WTF Wednesday: Bullying Isn't The Only Thing Hurting Middle Schoolers

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

This week I'm substituting in 6th grade at the middle school.  Middle school can be an especially challenging age group.  My group this morning was chatty and active.  They burst into the classroom talking nonstop and barely took a breath all period.  They were eager to share all kinds of things, and very little of it had anything to do with what we were studying.  I struggled to keep them on-task and was on the move all period to make sure that everyone was working. 

At one point I noticed a student with a three inch scab on his arm.  "What did you do to your arm?" I asked him.

"It's an eraser burn."  He nonchalantly replied.  He seemed to assume that I would know what that was.  I didn't.

"What's an eraser burn?" I asked him and when he told me I thought...

What the f**k????

"Lots of kids have them."  He called over two other boys and told them to show me their burns.


Eraser burns are a form of self-mutilation.  Kids rub an eraser over and over on their skin until it burns.  Apparently lots of kids do this and some of them are doing it at school.  I found several videos of students giving themselves eraser burns posted on YouTube.

All the years I've worked in education and I've been oblivious to this dangerous practice.  What the hell are these kids thinking? 

If you have teenagers in your life and you see them with burns and scabs, it's time to start asking questions.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nana Channels Julia Child or Maybe It's Chef Boyardee

I have written here previously about my culinary legacy. My mother was English and in the English culinary tradition I grew up eating family favorites such as beans on toast, toad in the hole, and watery over-cooked vegetables. 

My palate was trained on the popular foods of the 50's and 60's. Highly processed foods were the norm...cheese whiz, Velveeta, and anything made by Hostess!  The TV dinner was invented in the 50's and it was an exciting meal when we actually got to eat one.  My parents liked an English breakfast complete with bacon and eggs fried in the grease.  My dad liked a side of fried bread too.   My brother and I liked cereal and fought over which of us would get the free prize.

I was labeled a picky eater at a young age.  I prefer to think of myself as discriminating, but  I admit that I am not an adventurous eater.  I bought a clove of garlic for the first time in my 50's.  What?  Garlic salt isn't the same thing?  Last week I cooked lentils for the first time.  The week before I cooked barley.  The beef and barley soup was a hit, the lentils and chicken sausage not so much. 

If I were just feeding myself, I would survive on grilled meat, pork and beans, and potato chips.  Well, that and snack food like microwave popcorn and M&M's.  Wash it down with a diet coke and life is pretty near perfect.

Earlier this month I visited my granddaughters in Austin.  One thing we do when I visit is cook together.  That is something of a challenge for me given my culinary background.  Early one morning Megan was eating her breakfast (healthy cereal with no sugar or free prize) and watching me make her lunch. 

"I really like when you make my lunch for me, Nana." she said. 

"Why is that?" I asked her. 

"Because you make triangles" she told me. 

It's reassuring to know that I don't need to have great cooking skills to please a five year old.  I just have to take the time to cut her sandwich into quarters.

After school that day I taught my two granddaughters a secret family recipe and let them make it themselves.  Into their cups of milk they measured two spoons of Hershey's syrup and then gently stirred. 

"Oh, look Nana!  It's turning CHOCOLATE!!!"  Megan shrieked.

They had never made chocolate milk and it was as if Nana had performed a miracle.  I guess I do have a few culinary skills to pass on to the next generation after all.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End is Near

Today is supposed to be the end of the world, at 6:00 pm eastern time. Apparently the first thing to go is the Internet, as I tried to get in to blogger to post my pre-rapture plans I kept getting the message that “Internet Explorer cannot display the web page.” We still have cable TV service so I’m relying on CNN for news of the second coming. Jesus is running a little late because it is now 6:10 eastern and there has been no breaking news of the faithful being sucked skyward.

I spent my last day on earth cleaning out the cupboards in my utility room. If Jesus shows up, even a little late, I’m sure he will be impressed with my newly cleaned and organized cupboards. I have several boxes of crap  Goodwill-worthy items to donate. I also have two plastic storage boxes of miscellaneous cables and plugs from electronics that I am afraid to discard. As soon as I toss an XYZ connector device the spouse will be asking “Where did you put the plug to my XYZ?”

It is difficult to decide what is important to keep and what can be discarded. I kept the set of Christmas dishes, but moved them into a box to store in the garage. I kept both my remote controlled helicopters…duh! There was an entire shelf of vases saved from floral arrangements. I don’t think I am busting any perceptions if I say that I am no Martha Stewart. I don’t spend my afternoons in my cutting garden preparing fresh arrangements for my dinner parties. Why do I keep all these vases? I put all but two large and two small in the Goodwill box. Sorry Jesus, no fresh flowers for your second coming.

I'm still working on the pantry cupboard.  There's a part of me that likes a fully stocked pantry...and there's another part of me that recognizes that we frequently don't get around to eating items from the pantry before they are years out of date.  Is it safe to eat Hamburger Helper from 2003?  I guess that's a dumb question.  It probably wasn't smart to eat Hamburger Helper in 2003, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I have made a vow to not buy cleaning products until all the half empty bottles and cans are all gone.  That may be a long time since cleaning has never been one of my favorite things to do.

It is now several hours after the apocalypse was prophesied to begin.  I guess it's time to order my "I survived the apocalypse of 2011" T-shirt.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WTF Wednesday: Failing on Sesame Street

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

Which one of these animals doesn't belong?





Last week I was in Austin, Texas visiting my grandchildren, Megan and Hunter.  During the day while Megan was in kindergarten, Hunter and I read books, took walks to the park, and occasionally watched TV. You can learn quite a lot watching Sesame Street. The pictures above are similar to the ones shown on the program. Let’s see how well you can do on this learning experience…

Which one doesn’t belong? If, like me, you answered C, you would be wrong. Thank goodness I didn’t answer out loud and humiliate myself in front of Hunter. I’m thinking, well, the tiger, the dog and the donkey all have four legs and they’re mammals…so it must be C, the dolphin.

WRONG! Sesame Street says the answer is A, the tiger.

The tiger???


Then the voice of Sesame Street goes on to say “Tiger starts with T. Dog, dolphin and donkey all start with D. So, tiger doesn’t belong."

The day was off to a bad start when I couldn’t answer Sesame Street questions correctly. I guess I can forget about being smarter than a 5th grader…I’m still working at the pre-K level.

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