Folding, spindeling, and mutilating lauguage for fun since Aug, 2004
Saturday, 16 December 2006

So, I passed everything except the Tai Chi portion of my second degree black belt test.

Apparently, getting your head bounced off the floor a couple of times can cause you to lose focus and have a hard time remembering your moves smoothly.

So.  In two months, I will be able to take that portion of the test again, and I will get my second degree Black belt!  Yeay!

In the mean time, I'm going to go lay down on a heating pad.  My neck is killing me, and my head doesn't feel too good.

Avindair and Geekgoddess, thanks for inviting me to the birthday party.  I had a good time, and thanks for worrying about me, although as you can see, it was unecessary.

Saturday, 16 December 2006 22:59:03 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] |  | #
Friday, 15 December 2006
Also, avoid alliteration altogether.
Friday, 15 December 2006 10:41:24 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

Eden Prairie has now made it so that students have to have 54 credits to graduate.  The number used to be 48.

What does this mean for Adventure Boy (starting High School next year)?

It means that if he wishes to remain in Band, he will incur a greater "music penalty" than students have in previous years.

84% of his classes (as opposed to the 75% previously) will be required coursework.

Band, Orchestra and Choir are "elective" courses.  Beyond that, they are what are called "skinny" courses, meaning that they only meet for 45 minutes, and are paired with a 45 minute study hall.  I just attended a meeting where the High School gifted and talented councilor was very discouraging to the parents of high achieving students about their kids proceeding in music.

Our High School only has four 90 minute class periods per day.  This allows teachers to really dig into a subject, and reduces wasted time for things like classroom changes, getting students to settle down, that wasted last five minutes of classtime when you are winding down the days business, etc.  It is a good scheme, and much more efficient.  One years worth of material is covered in a single semester and in a more intensive fashion.  Students can concentrate study time at home as well, only focusing on four subjects at a time rather than dividing available study time and scheduling between projects and study for six subjects.

But because the music classes are only 45 minutes, they are worth only half as many credits, though they essentially committ all of the student's time for electives.

This means that if Adventure Boy wants to be in band, he will have no other electives in High School.  It will also mean that he has absolutly zero "wiggle room" should he fail a class (not that I'm worried, he's never recieved an "F" yet).  If he stays in Band throughout High School, he will not be able to take any other electives, and he cannot fail a single class or he will not graduate with his class.

Since he has been relegated to the lowest possible math track, and would like to catch up, he will most likely have to spend at least one semester out of Band., so that he can take additional math courses as electives.

Most High Schools when I was growing up had disincentives for studying music as well, but this just made it worse.

I am going to look into other options, like the Community Band, private lessons, and I'm wondering if you have to be in the regular band to try out for Marching band.  I would bet not.  Because it is a priority for us, and because we are willing to spend the money and time, Adventure Boy will have a music education.

Unfortunatly for families with fewer resources, I think this is just one more step in a multi-decade trend of sqeezeing out music education in the schools.  If student utilization of the program drops, then it will be easy to cut.  It's already happened in a number of rural school districts in the state.


Friday, 15 December 2006 09:54:18 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] |  | #
Thursday, 14 December 2006

I just took my puppy out into the backyard for his morning visit to the backyard.  I was wearing shorts, a tee-shirt, and flip-flops.  Pre-dawn in the middle of December.  In Minnesota.  And I was comfortable.

Now, I realize that Rocky claims I can't feel cold.  I realize that climatologists would be very annoyed at me for using anecdotal evidence from a single time in a single place as "proof" of global warming.  I realize it is more complex than that.

But, shouldn't there be snow on the ground?  Or at least, shouldn't the water on the deck be frozen?

Thursday, 14 December 2006 07:07:23 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] | #
Tuesday, 12 December 2006

I've been given permission by the the Germans ...a German ... an American living in Germany to boost Eden Prairie "One of America's ten best places to live" as the eventual new home-town of a young New York couple.

Danny and Nina are going to let people vote on where they will live for the next year.

Due to the efforts of a German blogger, this young couple looks to be sent to Plano, TX.  This is terrible, since Danny says he likes swimming and skiboarding.  He wants snow and water.  That's Minnesota, baby.  Nina wants bike trails, and you just can't beat Minnesota for bike trails.  Nina wants theaters and culture.  You can't hardly spit without hitting a theater or museum in the Twin Cities metro area.

Don't let the bad German man send these nice young people who like snow and lakes and rivers and culture and natural beauty to Texas!

Vote for Eden Prairie! (If everyone who reads this votes for Eden Prairie about 300 times per day, we MIGHT have a chance to show up on the big board.)


Tuesday, 12 December 2006 09:01:16 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] | #
Monday, 11 December 2006
So, that would count out anything that results in lying, cheating, fraud, bullying and suicide, right?
Monday, 11 December 2006 14:45:37 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [8] | #
Ha Ha, just kidding. They really are. Almost had you going there, didn't I?
Monday, 11 December 2006 09:07:54 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] |  | #
Sunday, 10 December 2006

Remember the American Revolution?  Remember what we were revolting against?  Allow Thomas Paine to remind you, and realize that the American Revolution needs to be refreshed.  If we do it now, we can do it with our hearts and minds and votes:


"A childish set of thinkers and half-way politicians born in the last century; men who went no farther with any priciple than as it suited their purpose as a party; the nation was always left out of the question; and this has been the character of every party from that day to this.  The nation sees nothing in such works, or such politics worthy its attention.  A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great which moves a nation."

                                                      -- Thomas Paine

                                                           The Rights of Man, part II

Sunday, 10 December 2006 07:32:05 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] |  | #
Saturday, 09 December 2006

Conrad Zero recently posted about an experiance he had being assaulted by excessive perfum in a public place.

I know how he feels.  I experiance this every time I go to see a play at the Guthrie.  What is it about high culture that makes women want to smell like street-walkers?

Of course, it happens a lot in churches, too.

And at the gym.

By the end of the very moving performance of "Egardo Mine", my eyes were watering, my nose was running, and I could barely breath.  I mentioned out loud (during the intermission) that I was having a reaction to someone's perfume.  Rocky was mortified, because I would make someone pissed off.

I didn't mean to piss people off.  I just wanted to make it clear to everyone that I had NOT, in fact, come to a public venue with a case of the Bubonic Plague or SARS, or avian flu or something.  And I was not to blame if my wheezing, sniffling, coughing and dripping noises ruined their enjoyment of the play.

As we left the theater, the usher for our aisle gave me a radiently tender smile, as if to say she appreciated how moved and affected I obviously was by the performance.

Oh yeah, the acting was good and the story was tremendously told...but I've yet to encounter theater powerful enough to give me and athsma attack.


Saturday, 09 December 2006 09:25:41 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] | #
Wednesday, 06 December 2006
Your Vocabulary Score: A
Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

Wednesday, 06 December 2006 15:01:11 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Those poor, misunderstood bastards.
Wednesday, 06 December 2006 09:17:40 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] |  | #
Tuesday, 05 December 2006

There is a monster living in that storm drain.  I don't know what it looks like.  It might be a dragon, or a vampire, or a giant mutant bunny with sharp teeth, a lust to revenge it's kind, and a taste for sweet, tender puppy meat....but oh, yes, it's there.  It's there.

Tuesday, 05 December 2006 11:23:17 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] | #

I was sitting in the hallway outside Grasshopper's orchestra practice.  Two teenaged girls were giggling and gossiping, and planning for next weekend, even though it was Monday night.

I wasn't trying to evesdrop.  I was trying to push through a particularly dense section of part two of Thomas Paine's Rights of Man (I am trying to get to "The Age of Reason"  where I hope to find out if I really am a Deist for really real...but I like to do things in the right order.)

Anyway, their conversation that had been a back-ground cacaphony of white noise suddenly became a chrystal-clear transmission cutting through my concentration:

Girl one: "I don't know what came over him this morning, he was like all over me."

Girl two: "yeah."

Girl one: "Like, 'How are you?' and 'what are you doing later?' and 'I like your shoes.'"

Girl two: "Omigod, so weird."

Girl one: "Yeah.  And I'm like, dude, back off, I mean, two gays do NOT make a straight."


I almost ruptured myself trying not to burst out laughing.

Tuesday, 05 December 2006 09:09:29 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] |  |  | #
Monday, 04 December 2006

Bil*Jac Liver Dog Treats for Dogs are AWESOME!  I think I might just turn myself inside out to earn one of those things.  I hope Mom doesn't ask me to, though.

Popcorn is good too.

Monday, 04 December 2006 23:35:13 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
If they can make more money giving us what we think we want, rather than what we need, they will. Whose fault is that? And if we could stop it, but we like the pay-offs...once again, whose fault is that?
Monday, 04 December 2006 10:10:15 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [3] |  |  |  |  |  | #
Sunday, 03 December 2006

Oliver Willis been a little stale for me.  For a while there I had a hard time getting interested in his commentary...

...but THIS parody of the White House media strategy has me rolling.

welcome back, Ollie.

Sunday, 03 December 2006 08:03:10 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Saturday, 02 December 2006

Dr. Meyrs over at Pharyngula has a story about a kid who says he was expelled from the Portland Institute of Art for not believing in Leprechauns.  Specifically, he says he was expelled because a student who believes in Leprechauns (they live on another energy level) complained about him arguing with her about her beliefs, and because he is an atheist.


The school says that there have been several other complaints about him engaging in rude and belligerent behavior, and this incident was merely the last straw.


Maybe the kid is right, and they are going after him to persecute him for his atheism.  Maybe the school is right, and he was being an egregious twit and this was just the last straw in a pattern of socially inept behavior.  Based on the impression that this is a single case with a single kid, and not an institutional pattern, I don't think him being an atheist was the cause of his expulsion.


I think this because bureaucrats tend to be lazy and not like paper work, and REALLY don't like lawsuits.  So you usually have to be all sorts of bothersome before they will fire you or kick you out of school for your beliefs.  It isn't completely unheard of to find bureaucrats that are industrious ideologues out to make life difficult for innocent students with unpopular opinions…but egregious twits with an ax to grind  and poor socialization are a lot more common.


I call them "nametag people".


You now what I mean…


"Hi, I'm Sally and I'm an atheist."

"Hi, I'm Joe, and I'm a Christian."

(or sometimes the very special "Hi, I'm Joe, I'm a Christian, and you're going to hell")

"Hi, I'm Bob, and I picket Planned Parenthood in my spare time."

"I'm Beatrice, and I believe in Leprechauns"


They give their name and whatever cause or ideology they've replaced their personality with, and then wait for you to say something about it.


Sometimes they wait with a smirk, sometimes they wait with a look like a cat that's waiting to pounce the next time the mouse twitches, sometimes with the expression young boys wear after they've thrust a huge stick into a giant ant-hill, anticipating the disruption they've caused; but they wait.  Every conversation, every new person they meet, every new situation is an opportunity to do battle for the most important thing in the world:  what they think about X, Y, or Z.


You can talk to them for hours and learn nothing new about them.


These are the creationist kids who stall and stymie the biology unit on evolution, arguing every point with whatever lame-ass sophomoric platitude they can come up with and accusing the teacher of "anti-Christian bias" if he dismisses it as not worth taking up class time addressing.  They can make it all but impossible to cover the material, and nobody learns anything new, excepting tactics for how to be an egregious twit.


There's the guy who holds everybody up at the grocery store arguing with the check-out clerk about how they shouldn't stock a particularly non-eco-friendly product.


The teetotaler who brings the whole mood of the room down at a party by holding forth on the evils of drink rather than just not having a glass himself.


They think of themselves as crusaders, and if people get bummed out by them and ask them to leave, they feel persecuted, and they feel they are being persecuted for their ideas when it could be more that they are being rejected for their methods of interaction.


Now, if you want to proselytize atheism, by all means, do it.  If there is a classroom discussion, by all means, participate.  Or do like PZ Meyrs does, and start a blog where people interested in what you think can come and find out.  Hey, in your own space, where people have a choice, you can be as smug and condescending and dismissive of their thoughts as you want to be.  They can stop reading, or they can choose to think about what you have to say.  In that situation, it's your space, and it's their choice.


But in the elevator, in classroom discussions, in the coffee shop, in your best friend's house…for Pete's sake, act like a human being.  You may think you are acting like a human being, but repeated reports of harassing behavior and complaints about your approach might indicate to you that there is a problem, and you should look into figuring out what it is and fixing it.  It doesn't mean you have to change your beliefs, it doesn't mean you have to change your personality or your approach to life.  But you might have to change the manner in which you express those things.  It's called being human and getting along with other humans.  Don't worry, it's perfectly normal, and it isn't "selling out".  It's gaining success for yourself and your ideas.


Join conversations and state your beliefs, but use your social skills and remember that if you hold an unpopular opinion, you are an ambassador for that opinion.  This doesn't mean hiding your light under a bushel, but it DOES mean being civil, and knowing when to back off and let people think about what you said rather than just continuing to hammer away at them and drive them deeper into a defensive posture to feel attacked and disrespected.


Then again, the girl probably needs to grow a thicker skin as well.  If you are going to make public declairations about believeing in leprechauns, you should expect people to be a little incredulous.  Lots of people believe a lot of unbelieveable things, but that's pretty rare and odd, and people are just resistant to rare and odd ideas  To be offended and make official complaints about a human constant like that is unproductive and unhealthy.

Saturday, 02 December 2006 07:34:06 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #
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