Thursday, December 30, 2004

song of the day

r.e.m. - electron blue

you're on your ear, the ocean's near
the light has started to fade.
your high is timed,
you found the climb

it's hard to focus on more than what's
in front of you, electron blue.
adventure rings with a page.
and when,

it dawns on you, it singes blue
your buzz beginning to wane.

adventure has laid its claim on you
it's all you want to do
you, you know where to run
you run electron blue

and who am I?
i'm just a guy.
I've got a story like everyone

but in your eyes,
you look surprised.
and didn't know where to run.

i looked to her
she's found the cure
her future's already begun.

tomorrow is gaining speed on you
it's all you want to do
you, you know where to run
you run electron blue.

you, you know where to run
you run electron blue.

so bide your time
you'll feel the climb
your high it builds like a lightning storm

it sings like pealrs
you know that girl
and no one is any the wiser so

as if on cue
electron blue

tomorrow is gaining speed on you
it's all you want to do
you, you know where to run
you run electron blue

you, you know where to run
you run electron blue

you, you know where to run
you run electron blue.

---
copyright 2004 buck mills stipe [we still love you bill!]
from the r.e.m. album around the sun

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

upgrades

so i let my debian mirror get all screwed up, and so i fixed it last night. in the process i did a mysql upgrade that hosed the database that drives wp. well not really hosed. everything was safe but i needed to arrange the pointers again.

so we're back in business.

i've still got a sinus infection from the trip to san antonio. ian remains constipated (this is not news), and life moves on.

my pa is considerably less sore than it was. i've changed jewelry a couple of times, and am now pretty happy with the surgical steel that i have now. (i have surgical steel embedded in an artificial hole poked in my penis that i do not want to close. i'm happy with this. what the fuck?)

the very last of my schoolbooks, a calculator manual designed for both my graphing calculator and my statistics book, has arrived. i'm looking forward to using it. i bought it because i found during my algebra class last year that using my calculator properly saved my ass, and if i'd had a manual to learn to use the tool to do the problems correctly, i'd have gotten an even better grade than i did.

obviously having a calculator will not help not knowing the underlying mathematical principles, but my problem hasn't ever been the concepts; it's been the fiddly computations. i can manually do 37x48, but i might make a mistake. why bother, when i understand the principles well enough and just suck at the arithmetic?

so for the statistics course i have the calculator manual, the solutions manual, and the book. i'm sorta looking forward to it.

what the fuck?

Saturday, December 25, 2004

xmas at the outlaws

the outlaw parents suck, but the rest of the family is usually pretty cool. there's a new member this year -- male sibling's girlfriend. i even told her about my new adornment.

the kids, for their part, were honestly fantastic. a little cranky at the beginning what with all the new people, and a little cranky at the end, because they were tired. but for the most part, right on the money.

my idea for the year was (politically incorrect) chinese gift exchange. the popular items this year were some lottery tickets, a 256 meg flash drive, some candles, and a gift certificate to a bookstore. i wound up with the 256 meg flash drive. sue got the gift certificate. we bought the blanket (won by the new girlfriend-in-law) and the wooden suit hangars (won by the people who wear suits).

for the most part it was pretty good. we did brine- (salt-water) basted turkey, and that turned out really well although the gravy wound up entirely too salty.

the sibling-out-laws will remain in town for a while, but the hard part is over and i'm glad.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

prenatal baby names

julie: batman
chris: the grunion
getupgrrl: hers is too new to have announced names yet.
cecily settled on nicholas and zachary for the boys that she lost in october.

me and sue: pregnancy #1: baby hank
pregnancy #2, which we knew was twins from the beginning: riff and raff

triumphant return

we're back, and there are many exciting items of note.

the night before we came home, i took sue out to dinner, and it was actually pretty disappointing. on the way over there, we saw a sign for a tattoo parlor.

after dinner, we said what the hell, we'll go. so we went and saw what they had to offer. lots of very beautiful dragon art. A really cool mona lisa with her blouse open, nipples exposed, and her smile slightly more pronounced.

sue and i have been joking for years that if she gets a tattoo, i'll get a prince albert. so. there we were.

and it turns out they were about to close, so we made an appointment for the next afternoon.

and we went. and we got it done.

sue got a fairy on her left upper chest, and I got ... a prince albert [explicit content warning]. the one i got is like the one in the center, only thinner wire.

I was actually very happy with the process. Sterile equipment, gloves, the whole bit.

what i didn't understand is that an object called a "receiving tube" is shoved ... up there ... so that when the needle is jammed in, it stops without going too far. the needle them goes farther up the tube, and out the urethra. the receiving tube is then pulled out and the needle is left threaded through, and is used as a guide for inserting the jewelry.

an observation: you never, ever want to hear your piercer say "oh fuck" while he's got a sharp object in one hand and the single most sensitive part of your body in the other.

what had actually happened was that after he was actually done with the piercing, the needle came out and he hadn't gotten the jewlrey threaded through completely, so he had to ... uhm ... find the right place.

it hurt considerably less than i thought it would, and it bled much less than i thought. even so, sue, getting her tattoo in the next room, heard me and hoped it was the piercer and not me.

the downside is that the thing has come apart and now i'm going to have to have it attended to and the jewlrey changed out much sooner than i thought. as i write this, what i've actually got is a curved wire through the piercing, and a bandaid over the opening so it doesn't fall out. the last thing i want is for it to need to be redone. and i'd feel bad if it gets screwed up before i have a chance to ... play with it in a private setting. (when would i play with it in a public setting?)

sue's tattoo is a winged fairy, purple background, orange body, greenish wings. Really pretty-looking.

beyond all that, the trip home was pretty boring. we decided to use I-35 instead of the usual road home (us 281) because we'd earlier had to have a tire plugged because we'd picked up a nail somewhere lalong the way, and we wanted to be on a real road in case there was a problem with the plug. the kids stayed up the entire way (which is odd because we left at 9pm, got home about 130 am), and ben stayed up another two hours alternately screaming and running around. sue and i let him stay up until he finally fell over and let me take him to bed.

so we're home. we're not returning any time soon. we had too much trouble getting the kids to sleep down there, and are having trouble getting their sleep schedules adjusted again now that we're home. we're going to wait a few years until they're more able to cope with being in a different place.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

hot tubs and other wet things

a trackback on julie: dairy queen is actually a small (and shrinking) chain of restaurants here in texas. the steak fingers are good if you like meat with your grease. but i like you better, hon. stuff's in the mail.

we left the house today at about noon on the way to san antonio to visit my mother. i'd wanted to leave by ten, but the main reason i wanted to leave that early, in truth, was because i knew if we set an early time we'd actually get out about the time we did. if we'd shot for a 1pm leave time it'd actually be 3pm or 4pm by the time we actually pulled out of the driveway.

as is our custom for family outings where i'm a participant, i drove. the trip itself was mostly uneventful. the only serious setback was in the town of hamilton. i tend to think of hamilton about "half way" to san antonio, even though i doubt it's actually half way. i also tend to think of marble falls as "almost there," even though it's still another hour or so to our destination.

anyway, hamilton. during the trip through hico and hamilton, ian had been bawling up a storm and we really didn't understand why. sue had fed him some apple juice and crackers and whatnot, but nothing calmed him. eventually he did quiet down, but apparently when she handed him a piece of pop-tart he shot her this "eat shit!" look that only a two-year-old can muster.

when we stopped in hamilton at dairy queen, sue discovered what she couldn't have seen before. now remember, we drive a mini-van, one of the ones with two rows of back seats. because of the configuration of the van, we can only put two seats in the front, and so one child has to go in the back. that's always ian, even when he rides alone.

the downside to this arrangement is that our view of him is blocked by the seat (in the driver's case) or by samantha (in the passenger's case), and so it can be hard to fully understand what his problem is.

his problem was that he'd gotten car sick and vomited on himself, and we didn't have the wits to realize it. the poor kid must have sat there in his own vomit for upwards of a half hour before we realized what was going on and got him cleaned and changed.

one of the big successes of this trip is the playskool table. it's an outdoor-style picnic table made of plastic, but it's light and small enough for our children (2, 1, and 1) to fit into it. when we go on eating jaunts and other family affairs likely to involve copious amounts of food or copious amounts of time, we drag it along. it fits in the space vacated by the minivan seat we removed, and the kids are comfortable eating at it without much adult supervision. that's good because it frees us up to eat at the adult's table in something resembling peace, instead of having a two-year-old en-lap and plate-a-noshing.

so that seemed to be wet number one.

wet number two surrounds a new device recently installed in my mother's (copious) back yard: a new hot tub. it's got the variable lights, variable jets, programmable temps, the whole bit. the other exciting thing it has is a full-cover gazebo, and it's also well-hidden from the street and eyes of prying neighbors, affording the possibility of frolic-a-natural, something, in my horny-little-bastard heart, consummately to be desired.

in a 100 degree tub, even with the doors closed (and the heat trapped in the gazebo), you can stay in there and relax for a considerable period of time. open up the doors so some of the heat and humidity escapes from the air, and it becomes even better. repeat for as long as you can stand it.

since this is supposed to be a family trip (although i brought along my laptop so as to not have to use my mother's awful spyware-ridden piece of shit), i managed to convince sue to hit the tub with me, and she was silly enough to forget her suit, which meant jumping in ala-skin. while doing this inevitably invites sexual advances from me (and tonight was no exception -- refer horny bastard above), we did actually manage to relax for the better part of an hour after getting the kids to sleep (which only took the better part of an hour).

however, both ian and ben are asleep with mommy as i write this, meaning there's no way i can sleep in there. i can go into the room sam is in and sleep on the twin. but i'm 6'4" tall and when in the hell am i going to fit into a twin bed? i'm going to have to venture in there for covers, though and curl up on the couch before too long. it's 0300 and the kids will be awake in just a couple of hours.

on tomorrow's agenda, puttering around the house followed by a romantic dinner for two at one of san antonio's oddest restaurants, the magic time machine. we will no doubt indulge in a drink called "the ugly," a blend of fruit juices that comes out looking positively swamp-waterish, with some dry ice tossed in the bottom for added pizzaz. it comes in both a regular and unleaded version. sue will no doubt go for the regular; i will of course select the unleaded. there are times, even with 11 years sober, that i still wish i could have just one with my wife, on our romantic nights out. they are so infrequent.

even so, sue remains as repulsed by my sexual advances as ever. i can't figure out anything that turns her on, and she jokingly calls it the jackpot theory of positive reinforcement. (it only works in humans, and if you take intro to psychology you'll learn about it). still, it's well-nigh on impossible to get anywhere with her 99% of the time, and nice things i do are always interpreted as an attempt to get her horny (or willing) enough to "spread 'em wide and take it deep."

and on those occasions when she is willing (once every week and a half tops), it is indeed just that -- willing, not eager, not participatory. same stuff, every time, and it amounts to ... well ... masterbating into my wife. that's not the kind of healthy, loving sexual relationship i want.

wtf?

Friday, December 17, 2004

search terms

it's always fun to see how people get to my blog, and periodically i post what i find. most come from the infertility blogs where i leave comments, but a few arrive by such google terms as:

dick meow olivia -dark -porn -adult -president -newton

or

wife wants to fuck singles who like causing pregnancies

or

Longest a pregnant rabbit can go

or a link from a blog entry that lists wordpress blogs from new zealand. which is nice except i'm in texas.

the longest a pregnant rabbit can go is actually from an aol search.

still, it's odd.

grades are posted

yippeeee. grades are posted. so.

geology 1 - geol1403 - a
american history 1 - hist1301 - b
texas government - govt2306 - b
intro to psychology - psyc2301 - c
concepts of physical education - phed1164 - c

so that makes a 3.0 for the semester, good enough to get that scholarship i talked about a few posts back, and good enough to get past that stupid scam phys ed course.

next semester: children's lit, statistics, geology 2, and technical writing.

fucking joy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

stupid people

the idiocy of my school's technical crew never ceases to amaze me. today is wednesday, and the semester ends tomorrow. while some of the internet-based courses had finals that were administered on campus monday and yesterday, some of them had finals that were administered on the web site and graded automagically.

some of these finals administered on the web site haven't yet been finalized, and some students no doubt still haven't taken them.

tomorrow is the end of the semester and all finals and all classes end no later than about 11pm tomorrow.

so today the site is completely down. not just minor fubar, with html errors or something. not just problems with email getting hosed or something equally stupid. not even something like a server that answers with a 404 (file not found, the error you get when a page is missing or you mistype a file name).

no.

the site is 100% down. no answer. timeout.

mission-critical systems that go down during critical times.

and they expect me to pay for this shit?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

finals almost final

the stupid physical education final is done. the government final is done. the history final is done. all that's left is the psychology course, and it's the one that bothers me the most. oh well.

looks like i lined up a b in the government course. an a in geology. a b or c in history. who cares in phys ed as long as it's d or better.

just tired.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

free money is good

dear me

congratulations! you have been awarded the dr. charley wootan scholarship for the spring05 semester. this scholarship will be in the amount of $508. the award will first be applied toward any outstanding tuition and fee charges. if your tuition and fees have already been paid, a check will be ordered and sent to the address on file at the registrar's office. please be sure that this address is kept current.

to be eligible for this award you must meet all the criteria listed on the acceptance form that is enclosed. pay particular attention to any renewal criteria, sign the form, and keep the last copy for your records. the first two copies should be returned to your campus financial aid office or to the address listed at the bottom of the form. no award can be applied until the acceptance form has been signed and returned. if you are unable to accept this award, please call my office at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

our best wishes for your continued academic success.

sincerely,
[signed]
rudy v. gonzales
vice chancellor for financial services

Friday, December 10, 2004

the i's of finals are upon us

today: geology lab
saturday: physical education
monday: geology lecture, texas government, american history
thursday: psychology

in geology, i could skip the final and still pass. in the rest i need to take them but it shouldn't be super-difficult. the one that gives me pause is the psychology one, and it's a good thing it's on thursday because that gives me a while to study.

looking forward, though, i'm going to visit my mother in san antonio the saturday after finals. i'm lookin gofrward to the trip. she has a very nice house, and it's quite relaxing. she's done some really cool stuff in the back yard, creating a natural beauty yard that's basically based on native grasses and plants. and she's thrown in some nice touches, like the little iron cutouts of a family of havolinas, and the bird houses from the university of texas and texas a&m.

the birdhouses are made of boots, with a roof on top. the ut one is painted in orange and white with bevo on the side of course; the a&m one is painted in maroon and white, and has the a&m logo, but there's no hole for the bird to go in and out.

i'm sniffly. i attribute the sniffles to semen backup. a girlfriend would do me some good right about now.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

fixed really

the migration is complete. all of allevil's functions have been moved to monster, and monster is now serving all requests. the db that runs the blog is protected on the raid array (which makes me very happy), and everything else is working okay. and i've fixed the rewrite problem.

the only remaining hiccup is an issue with the kids' photo site. it's spitting out some errors about file access, but the photos are coming up so it's less an issue than it might be, and i'll track it down eventually.

sold my ipod to my mother. i'm going to be getting one of the u2 ipods. way cool.

Monday, December 6, 2004

fixed kinda

links and searches and whatnot will work, but trackbacks i left on other blogs, or internal links to older posts, won't, at least until i get mod_rewrite and my .htaccess working correctly. this is most fundamentally non-trivial.

but you can leave a comment about how stupid i am, if you wish.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

another migration

another migration, this time from allevil to monster, for the blog and other services. it's gone okay, except i'm having trouble with links. so you can't leave comments, sort by categories, or whatever, until i get it straight. working on it as i write this. blah, i hate this.

Friday, December 3, 2004

turtles

See the TURTLE of enormous girth!
On his shell he holds the earth,
His thought is slow but always kind;
He holds us all within his mind.

On his back the truth is carried,
And there are love and duty married.
He loves the earth and loves the sea,
And even loves a child like me.

-- the dark tower - book vi: song of susannah
stephen king

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

love to julie

batman has arrived somewhat ahead of schedule. details on what's currently known over at tertia's; please send your good thoughts, prayers, whatever, to julie.

Friday, November 26, 2004

twice now

i've twice formatted and installed w2k on my big machine dualie (so named because it has to processors). as soon as i'd gotten everything happy with the first go-round, the hard drive failed and i had to do it again.

in the meantime, i took the opportunity to install gnu privacy guard, so if you have a pgp or gpg setup and want to send some mail or something, the key is pasted below and i'll link it eventually. this is the key for the blog only; i of course have another key with my real name attached to it, and no, i won't be posting that on my blog for (ah ha!) privacy reasons.

in other news, a friend gave me a dell poweredge 2400 server, and it came with three hard drives. i replaced one and added two others, and now have it running my home directory on a raid5 array (i could do raid10 but didn't want to spend the space); in time i'll move all major mail and web service to that box. it holds the actual data files for both the blog and my family website, and it holds the mail, but it doesn't do the processing. so if you ask for a file from the web server, it has to traverse the network twice: once from monster to allevil (the current web server), and then from allevil through the firewall out to you.

also today, i upgraded monster to have two processors as well. it now has two pentium-3 500 mhz processors in it. it still has i believe 512 meg of ram, which is way way way overkill for what it does. the raid controller has 128 megs of its own.

machine names can sometimes tell you something about people, so here are the machine names in my home:

dualie - the dual processor machine. it's got a gig of ram to boot.
monster - the file server that holds my home directory, all my mail, etc. this has a raid 5 array protecting the most important data in my home.
wndrgrl - the oldest of my machines, wndrgrl (wonder girl) is a pentium-class machine that actually has an amd processor in it. it serves as my firewall; it's too slow for much else. i use smoothwall as my firewall service.
dd - the previous desktop machine, dd (digital disaster) is an athlon 650 (pentium-3 class, thereabouts), and it's got a bunch of ide hard drives on it. it does file service for the non-critical files. stuff i'd hate to lose but wouldn't be the end of the universe if they disappeared, or things that are easier to use if they're on hard drive storage but also are backed up to cd or dvd, like an installable version of ms office, my mp3 and audiobook collections, etc.
allevil - the name of allevil was inspired by a friend who wanted a machine of that name but never set it up; it runs linux, and because the administrator account on linux is called "root," that makes me (ta dah!) the root of allevil.
tiny - tiny is a machine with a via processor as its cpu. it's designed to be a word processing sort of machine; small footprint, no expandability, but useful for light tasks, and cheap. when i actually have a monitor on it, my wife sometimes uses it to let ian play on. usually it sits idle, though. it's actually pretty noisy.
bagman - bagman is a dell laptop, and because it lives in a bag most of the time, it's called ... bagman. i don't actually take it anywhere much anymore because it's so painful to use it at school on the network, as i've described before, and without the network it's almost useless anyway.

so those are my boxen. all of them, when they're up, run d.net's rc5-72 client. i'm not interested in the ogr stuff, so i don't bother. apparently though most people are doing the ogr stuff, because as of yesterday i was ranked 2180 out of all 58775 participants since the project started, of whom only 10551 were active yesterday. if you want to see all the stats, feel free.

so back i go to my little hole, hoping my kids don't wake up screaming.

one final note about the gnupg key: it displays on the web page as all lowercase. this is because of the css formatting i've got installed that displays -everything- as all lowercase. but if you copy the block and paste it into something like notepad, it should come out as mixed case. if you try that with the rest of this entry it'll all come out lower because i typed it all lower. however, the key should be mixed-cased. if it's not both upper and lower case when you paste it into your text editor, it won't work correctly.

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Version: GnuPG v1.2.1 (MingW32) - WinPT 0.7.96rc1

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Sunday, November 21, 2004

here we go again

yet another week, except this week it's short because of turkey day.

turkey day.

an american holiday supposedly about pilgrims and gratitude and shit. okay, whatever. really, it's just about money.

in other news: i'm actually quite pleased with my mail server setup around here. i've got some tweaking to do but for the post part it's pretty awesome. i can set up whatever kind of mail processing i want, and nobody will bitch about how much processor time it takes up. (my previous hosting service made me stop using spamassassin on their machine, and do it instead on mine, meaning i had to download the spam anyway, which was what i was trying to avoid.)

i haven't done anything useful in terms of log analysis, but this entry has spurred me to actually investigate. i'm looking at awstats so we'll see what kind of output it produces.

i did manage to get my email working in a web interface to the imap server, but in my heart i still like mutt best. if only nfs for windows didn't suck so hard.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

change in signage

some signs have started appearing at my school:

the donut sale has been cancelled because it interferes with cafeteria food sales.

i didn't know that we exist to serve the cafeteria, not the other way around.

Monday, November 15, 2004

site transition

if you can read this, the site transition has gone smoothly.

i've moved the database off the old hosting provider and started hosting at home. as the dns change propogates, more people will start coming here. the old site will be left up for a few days but i won't be doing concurrent upgrades, so if you see posts appear and disappear for a day or two, that's to be expected.

it went smoother than i'd expected. the coolest part about all this is that now i'm fully in control of my hosting, i can do what i want easily and without a bunch of hassle about moving files from one place to another over relatively small pipes. i can put as much stuff as i want on my site and only be responsible to myself for how much space i burn up doing it. i was getting pretty close to my 1 gig limit at csoft. that's actually pretty generous, but since i host files for my geology class, it's always growing because i add lectures three days a week.

so just a couple more domains to transition away from there. katie is supposed to get her stuff moved eventually, but there should be no hurries because the account doesn't expire until february.

i can not tell you how happy having control of my own hosting makes me. now when mail goes down it's my fault. i can screw with it to my hearts' content and have nobody to blame but myself. and no more rude answers to tech support questions. there are apparently two guys who do support at csoft, and one is polite and helpful, and the other is a real shit.

anyway, onward through the fog.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

i hate being sick

i've had a cold for the past several days and today i felt so bad i didn't go to school. in a way i regret that because i don't like missing class. even so, i got some good sleep in; sue was kind enough.

over the next few days i'm going to try to transition this site from my hosting provider to my home. we'll see how that goes. i'm hoping i can do it without much of a hitch.

Monday, November 8, 2004

tired

just tired. sore throat. the geology field trip was fun but too short; will discuss more of that later this week if i have time. but ... back to another week of school and work. it's burn-out time, and i'm getting burned out.

added a new link today: sad and beautiful world.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

sorry, michelle

michelle seems to have banned me from accessing her blog. i've tried to be respectful at the very least with respect to the comments i've posted there, and i feel free to express myself on my own blog, but apparently that's not sufficient.

on the other hand, ip banning is actually a pretty silly thing to do; it would be better to simply either develop a thick skin or delete comments, because simply disconnecting and reconnecting will drop the ban, and on dynamic ip blocks will eventually ban people you might want to actually see your site.

even so, when i emailed her about getting a 404 and she didn't respond, and now (from school rather than home) seeing her explanation, it makes sense, but remains disappointing because i actually liked her blog a great deal.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

notes from a texas poll

number of voters in the precinct: about 1700
number of early voters: about 700
number of election day voters: about 500
approximate turnout of this precinct: about 70%

the winner in this precinct: bush, 2:1 margin. no surprise there.

voters started lining up at the poll at 06:10, and the polls did not open until 07:00. by o7:00 the line stretched down the block and around the corner.

the polls were open for 12 hours.

in our precinct we used electronic scanners that read paper ballots. there were two major issues with the system: first, voters sometimes didn't understand how to mark the ballots, and the machine is rather sensitive about spitting them out. but this can be handled and most voters who had trouble with it got it on the second try. second, because we were paired with another precinct we had more than one ballot machine in the room. this led to some confusion as voters put their ballot into the wrong machine. the machines would spit them out and we'd direct the voter, and life went on.

observations about the day:

the help america vote act creates this system of "provisional ballots," and the way it works makes it harder to get a potentially questionable ballot counted than the old "affidavit of challenged voter" list.

because of how it works, it's tremendously more important that a voter know where they need to go. but many voters dont.

however, there is no clear, easy, fast and reliable way for poll workers -- the people in touch with the voters on election day -- to pull voters' registration information. a telephone system exists, but it's unreliable at best and a nightmare at worst.

on the whole it went well. i will write more tomorrow about it.

Monday, November 1, 2004

confidence

as i sit here, i believe very strongly that this election has already been rigged. i have two predictions:

first, that we already know who the final winner will be.

second, that the person who will actually become president on january 20 is dennis hastert. i believe this because i'm convinced that one party or the other will keep the election results so tied up in litigation that the inauguration will come and go without a winner actually being chosen.

in 1988, when george bush sr. defeated michael dukakis, i was willing to live with bush as president because i was at least reasonably confident that the process by which he was elected was honest; just as people accepted gerald ford as president in 1974, even though he'd been elected neither president nor vice president, because the process by which he'd become president was seen as honest.

i don't have the same confidence this time. i believe very firmly that this election is rigged, that bush will win, and in time, it will come out that the reason he won was because of fraud and manipulation.

at least turnout looks to be good. in the precinct i'm working, tarrant county's 1167, over 40% of the registered voters in the precinct already turned out to vote early.

--- --- ---

with respect to a comment left my michelle on the last post: therein lies our disagreement. while i can't say i necessarily disagree with her sentiment with respect to choosing life, i can say that i fundamentally believe that this is a decision cecily and her husband were entitled to make, and that their choice should not be legislated for them. i support them in their choice not because i believe it was the right choice, but because it was their choice to make.

as for michelle's assertion that cecily's health was of primary concern to them as they made this decision, i take charlie's assertion with a grain of salt: none of us know what the discussion was in the privacy of that hospital room, nor in the privacy of their hearts. i do know that they wanted those children, and they would not have given them up if they felt there was another realistic way out. the flipside of the decision, though, is that if they made the wrong one, and cecily had died as a result, even if their remaining son had lived, how would that have been in the child's interest?

president bush would take away the right to choose. i believe firmly in choosing life, but i also believe that my belief shouldn't be legislated onto others, any more than i think all people should be required to wear jeans or live without underwear (even though i do both). the government doesn't belong in my bedroom, my doctor's office, or my marriage.

Friday, October 29, 2004

being forced to choose

cecily makes a point that i made privately to michelle: cecily was forced to choose between her life and that of her unborn remaining child. You can read about it on her blog; I won't recount the sad tale.

as cecily pointed out, think about this if you haven't already voted:

do you want to live in a country where women are forced into a situation where they must choose between continuing a pregnancy that will kill them, and delivering an obviously not-fully-cooked bun into a situation where it can't breathe, and will die within minutes of "birth" -- a horrible suffocating death? i'd really like to know how that's consistent with anybody's "pro-life" position. even michelle's private response, which i will obviously not reprint, didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

shrub, during the debates, pointedly did not answer the question about whether or not he would appoint a judge who would eliminate a woman's right to have an elective abortion. that really means that he thinks he can't come out and say what he thinks and still win; so he simply avoids the issue. he's said he'd appoint justices like scalia and thomas, both known abortion opponents.

kerry has pointedly said he will not appoint judges who would overturn this right.

i remain personally pro-life: in any situation where i'm asked for guidence by a woman about whether or not she should terminate a pregnancy for reasons other than her health, i will counsel her toward continuing the pregnancy.

yet i remain politically pro-choice: it is not my place to legislate my beliefs onto others.

bush has nominated pricilla owen, a former texas supreme court justice, to a place on a federal appeals court. texas has a parental notification law, and the law includes an option for judicial bypass of the notification requirement. according to the statute, a minor must convince a judge that it is not in her interest that her parents be notified. the classic example is that of parental incest and sexual assault; the other example is where parents have shown a disposition to behave in ways that would be detrimental to their childs' welfare, like parents that have thrown older sisters out of the house and onto the street when they've gotten pregnant.

owen, as a justice on the texas supreme court, wrote an opinion that essentially guts the judicial bypass option. the opinion says that, to be granted a judicial bypass, the petitioner must show that having an abortion is in her best interest, which is a far different standard than what is written into the law. the text of the statue says that a petitioner should be granted a bypass if she can show that notification of her parents is not in her interest, a far different requirement than what owen has promulgated.

this is the kind of judge bush will appoint.

is that what you want? really?

texas is a state where it's illegal to sell sex toys. it's also illegal to buy a car on sunday, to buy baby bottle nipples on sunday, and increasingly, to be intelligent. a law passed in 2003 requires that facilities that perform abortions after 16 weeks must be hospitals, or have hospital-like rooms to perform said procedures.

number of facilities in texas that are both compliant with the law and offer the procedure: 0. zero. zip. zilch. nada. not a single one. Even though it's officially "legal" to do so, you can not have an abortion in Texas if you're in the second trimester, even if you will die without it.

if cecily had lived in texas, she'd have had to be evacuated out of the state to get a medical procedure necessary to save her life.

now, i wouldn't say for an instant that kerry is right about everything and bush is wrong about everything. but even where kerry is wrong, i believe firmly that he is interested in what i think, how well i do in my life, and what goes on in our country. he's interested in learning new things, has a world-view that encompasses the idea that he might be wrong, and that there are shades of gray in the world.

bush doesn't think that way. his interests lie in his pocketbook. despite republican protestations that they've lowered taxes for everyone in the nation, the truth is that my tax burden has gone up during the bush administration, as a percentage of my income. way up. and the services i receive for those tax dollars have been cut drastically. while my federal tax burden actually has gone down, to balance those cuts, the federal government has scaled back assistance to states and state-supported services. to keep those services running in states that require balanced budges (read all 50 of them), states are either having to cut services, cut eligibility (like throwing hundreds of thousands of poor kids off state health plans), or raise taxes.

in texas there hasn't been a "state" tax increase, but in texas our government is so decentralized and the taxing entities so numerous that if you don't watch what happens, you'll be taxed without even realizing it.

so, when you're at the polling booth on tuesday, think about this: is this really the world you want to live in?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

no words

what do you say when the world ends?

nothing but love.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

referrals

it's sometimes interesting to see who's coming here and why.

ovidril and ovulation. obviously someone doing fertility stuff. welcome to our world.

people seem to come here when i slap julie with a trackback. cool to know those work. but nobody writes back, except cecily who is, as i wrote last post, unable to join us this evening.

homeschool vs public school: i know, i'm suffering from the same quandry. i really don't feel confident to home school, i can't afford private school, but i really hate public school.

"negatives of homeschooling" and "positives on homeschooling": yeah. that too.

preeclampsya: sucks, doesn't it?

crowley isd having problems with discipline: oh dear. i live in the crowley isd. this is something i want to hear about.

tertia babies: she's here.

someone got here from indigo girl's pad, but i can't for the life of me figure out where.

13yo bound free naked: what the fuck?

with love

for cecily, with love. as much as charlie, except with pants. read if you wish; pray if you do; help if you can.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

infertility considerations ...

... a couple years past ...

as most of you know, i speak with only limited authority on infertility subjects, but something jody said (responding to julie's fantastic post) seriously caught my attention.

my own re's office publishes statistics for all their multiple births, on the web page back to 2001 (though apparently they haven't updated the 2004 cycles yet; some of those babies will have been born by now no doubt). they list trip and quad homs (high order multiples), and since the quads are all 0 i'd presume that they haven't gotten any octs either.

when we went through all our infertility stuff, the general agreement between us and the facility staff was that the potential benefit of implanting more than two embryos wasn't worth the risks of a potential hom pregnancy. very occasionally, if all three embryos looked "really bad" at best, they'd do three; otherwise the clinic's limit is two. their success rate appears to be good enough that they can justify it, and heaven knows they've got a by-the-numbers system down. great service, responsive doctors and staff, knowlegeable professionals, i'd recommend them to anyone anywhere needing art, but there's also a certain cattle-chute feel to the place. it's strange.

jody's suggestion is that there's ptsd in the infertile population, unreported and unstudied; it's known that there's lots of ptsd in the hom parent population. i'm curious to know how that stacks up against parents of not-spaced-singles or twins, like ours. ian is just a year and four months older than the twins, so all three of our kids are well within two years of one another.

what kind of stress does that situation put on a family? my wife and i haven't been to dinner together without our children in ... uh ... so long we don't know how long it's been. we haven't been to dinner out of the house even with our children in ... uh ... and there's all the other usual nonsense going on -- school, work, car, money money money. if that's not its own kind of combat, i guess i dunno what is. i don't have trips in my family, but i'm as close as you can get with infertility.

i wonder this, and i wonder why nobody's studied it, and why nobody seems to give a shit with, shall we say, low-number high orders or not-spaced ("catholic twin") children, compared to, say, quits or octs, which get the media coverage.

julie's right. it's all bullshit. you fight all this time and your friends disappear on you. and jody's right -- they disappear and you feel like you're in a fucking warzone.

our babies came with manuals -- the hospital gave us some. and we get great help from our professional helpers -- the doctor, the dentist, the speech therapists for ian, the whole bit. but the family and friends are too wrapped up in their own lives. even the nearby grandma will only take one at a time. what the fuck do we do with the other two, if we want to go out to dinner or -- like it would ever happen anyway -- have sex?

if i had it to do over again, i wouldn't do multiples. not ever. i wouldn't even do two as close as ian is to the twins. we felt like we had to, both because of her age (39 at the time of the second delivery -- advanced maternal age is a risk factor for a number of problems, including ivf failure), and because we didn't know how long the insurance would continue to cover ivf (and sure as shit, the year after we did it, they dropped the coverage).

don't get me wrong, i love my kids and will certainly keep em. but it's no wonder parents of homs are shell shocked. there's no support system in place to help them care for their families, their relationships with their spouses, and most of all, themselves.

will it take another dozen andrea yates cases to get the medical profession to look into this? the yates case is extreme, obviously. but melt-downs in families like ours happen all the time; even to me, in august 03, when i spent a week in the hospital needing a fucking siesta.

Friday, October 22, 2004

bush's attitude

sherry f. colb, writing for cnn, wrote a column about the differences between john kerry and shrub (as we in texas know him) over abortion, constrasting their town meeting responses to a voter's question.

i'll leave abortion for another post. but colb points out something that i've seen pointed out elsewhere, and that i've seen in the way shrub has behaved both as president, and before as governor of texas.

shrub doesn't think outside of his ideological box. at all. he's not capable of it.

his answer to the abortion thing during the town hall debate is a perfect example: you do or you don't support abortion. there's no room in his little box for people who find it morally repugnant but medically necessary and a legally desirable option under certain circumstances (like i do).

the famous "you are with us or you are against us" line from the post-september 11 speech is another example of that thinking. Except that in this case it makes a fantastic soundbite. yet there is little dissention within the ranks of his administration; he has surrounded himself with people who share his world-view.

You can see this in how the Iraq war has been managed: Even if the supposed no casualties comment never happened, his world-view remains that everything is going peachey keen, that there are no mistakes, and even if you agree the sacrifice is worth it, it should tell you something that mothers back home are taking up collections for body armor for their kids serving.

body armor. military operation. seems like you wouldn't do the latter without the former, eh? I suppose in a universe where the conquered are going to throw flowers at you, great. But when was the last time flowers got thrown at anybody in that part of the world? Even dead people don't get that.

What all this means is that shrub is someone who tunes out what he doesn't want to hear, or worse, his handlers don't let people near him who won't tell him what he wants to hear. this leads to a view of the universe that simply isn't in touch with reality. even if shrub himself is mentally stable and sane (and anyone who claims to hear from god i worry about), selective hearing is not acceptable in a leader with the power to condemn thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of people to death.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

opposition to the war

i wrote the following back before the invasion of iraq, and so as you read it, keep in mind the context of the day. also keep in mind that the context of the conversation was a jewish mailing list, and part of the topic revolved around opposition of the war on purely religious grounds.


1) There has been no publicly available data that suggests that such a war is necessary -now,- except President Bush's (and Tony Blair's) pronouncements on the issue. No photographs. No documents. No interview transcripts. Nothing. Watergate, Vietnam, Iran-Contra and Kenneth Starr all show us what happens when we trust and do not critically evaluate for ourselves, when we fail to exercise control over our government. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, true ... but it does make a bad case for going to war.

The blank check resolution authorizing war with Iraq, which is not a declaration of war, is very troubling. It's basically a blank check without much in the way of Congressional oversight, and because the majorities in Congress are so narrow, a veto override is very unlikely if Congress tries to use the power of the purse to quit paying for a war. That means, basically, funding for the war will go on at least in some form for as long as the President wants it. Gulf of Tonkin was a disaster (and it turns out based entirely on fabrication or misunderstanding anyway); what's different now?

[It's interesting to point out that J. Edgar Hoover, of all people was horrified by President Nixon's ideas for warrantless and oversightless use of the FBI. Maybe we should harness the rotational energy of Hoover's grave to generate electricity, thus reducing our need for oil ... ]

2) Any attempt to promote "regime change" must consider American relationships with Iraq's Arab (and non-Arab) neighbors, inasmuch as those countries will be affected by the actions of the United States. Some of these regimes have only a questionable grip on power, and can directly affect Jewish interests.

Example: Syria doesn't have the most stable government; Bashar Assad was elected with 97.29% approval in a one-man election in 2000 [CNN], and his grip on power remains tenuous at best, apparently. What would an American invasion do to an unstable Syria? What happens if, during our war with Iraq, there's unrest and revolution in Syria? What kind of government will we wind up with there if Assad is ousted/assassinated/etc, and how will that affect our relationship with other nations in the region, and what will that new country do with respect to Israel?

3) Money. War costs money. Where is this going to come from? While I've observed already that money spent on a war would be unlikely to find its way into educational, social service, or infrastructure priorities that need attention here at home, that doesn't mean that money spent on war isn't wasted. Taxpayers will have to foot the bill somewhere, and given our President's proclivities for cutting taxes in ways that primarily benefit the wealthy, the cost of that waste will most likely fall disproportionately on those who can least afford it (as usual). While it's true that the federal government can create money out of thin air (and does regularly), eventually the money has to come from somewhere unless we want 70's-style inflation (again). And it ain't gonna be President Bush's pocketbook. (Leona Helmsley comes to mind. "Only little people pay taxes.")

4) Oil. It has been observed that a primary (if unspoken) outcome of a war in Iraq will be to open Iraq's oil fields to American commercial development, which will only increase American dependence on foreign oil. And while I observed that one of President Bush's pet projects is to open Alaskan fields to drilling, I'll also point out that this isn't an either-or proposition for him. If he can do both, he will. This is not in America's interest, and it's not especially in Iraq's interest either, because American development of Iraqi oil reserves will not primarily enrich Iraq -- it will enrich American oil companies (and we all should know by now that trickle down economics does not).

5) Civil liberties for everyone, especially people (citizen and non-) of Arabian or Islamic descent, appearance, or belief. While I observed that erosions of civil liberties will continue with or without war, they and hate crimes will only increase as American soldiers come home in little metal boxes. If, that is, we don't simply decide to put them all into [internment/resettlement/relocation/detainment/deportation camps/units/areas/prisons] like we did during World War II.

It could never happen, you say. It did once. And humans have a short collective memory.

6) I've observed that only a huge change in US policy toward Israel and the Middle East will reduce anti-US and anti-Israeli sentiment in the world. Coupled with the instability issues noted above, any effort to change Iraq must not only clearly articulate the particulars of motivation (see point 1), but such articulation must be coupled with a clear communication of a change in attitude about the rest of that part of the world. That is, will the United States continue to support Israel seemingly at every turn, to the endless expense of its Arab enemies? Or another way, will the United States continue to prop up repressive regimes if the money flows our way, and when it does not, what happens? If we choose change, how will that change work?

This isn't a question that's best answered from our Jewish point of view. Rather, it needs to be considered and answered in light of the people we need to persuade. There's a reason that support for an American invasion of Iraq is poor in countries surrounding Iraq. A key part of our PR strategy, at least to help insure stability in the region while we're there and after we leave, must be to find out why they hate the United States, and address their concerns. (While I know a number of Jews who might simply favor a low-yield nuclear weapon, and while I agree that such a solution has a certain amount of flair, that doesn't really solve the problem.)

Failure to do so will only bring on more disrespect of the United States, more terrorism in the United States, Europe, and Israel, as well as against "targets of interest" such as embassies, industrial facilities, and tourist attractions, and lessen America's influence on things that really make a difference, like human rights, democracy, and tolerance.

7) Arguments based on religion tend to fall on deaf ears in society, unless the religion in question is the one practiced by the majority. That means, in the United States, if Jesus (or John, Paul, George, and Ringo) didn't say it, it doesn't matter.

By way of illustration, my favorite quote, from a Christian about prayers at high school football games (a huge issue in Texas): "If they want to pray to their dead gods, let them do it at home." Try telling this person that Jews don't believe in Jesus and see what happens. I have been physically assaulted for making that mistake, and it is a mistake I do not repeat.

This means that, while it's not wrong to base our arguments in our religion, it doesn't help us to couch our arguments in our religious terms, because Joe Average will tend to dismiss it as not Christian and so not relevant.

We must therefore find a way to re-frame our moral arguments to be both at once consistent with our views and something that Mr. Average will listen to and think about.

I'm not suggesting, by the way, that Mr. Average's disregard of our religion is right, moral, appropriate, or something we should approve of. But in a situation where we must choose between educating Mr. Average about Judaism and how we're not people with horns and huge noses who are a couple inches short in the crotch, and educating Mr. Average about why war with Iraq is bad, we need to choose one and leave the other for later.

i am a liberal

as i sit here and think on matters political, i'll post something here that was written by warren norwood, an author and friend of mine. i've edited slightly. reprinted by permission. over the next few days i may (hope to) write about some stuff that's been on my mind in the political universe over the past couple months.


An Explanation

I am sure that some of you, if not all of you, wonder how your son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father, aunt or uncle, co-worker, or friend could be a political liberal in the midst of this new swell of conservatism in the United States. The answers to that are all too simple.

I am a liberal because the system originated by liberals called Social Security has made my grandparents' retirement more possible and comfortable than it would otherwise have been.

I am a liberal because the system originated by liberals called Medicare paid for my grandmother to have two knees and a hip replaced at a cost that otherwise could not have been borne by all of her children and grandchildren together.

I am a liberal because Medicare paid for my grandfather's operation to remove a cancerous kidney at a cost that would otherwise certainly have forced them to liquidate their assets.

I am a liberal because of that system originated by liberals called WIC a close relative gets food stamps for cheese and milk and other necessities when she needs to feed her children.

I am a liberal because of that system originated by liberals called unemployment insurance permits people I care about to get some help making ends meet when they lose their job through no fault of their own while they look for another one.

I am a liberal because that system demanded by liberals called company-paid employee medical insurance helps pay doctor bills for me and my wife and our children and most of my other close relatives.

I am a liberal because the idea of autonomy of the individual is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because the idea of political liberty is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because government by the consent of the governed is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because the Bill of Rights is a set of liberal ideas which protect us all. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to worship, freedom of the press, due process of law, freedom from torture, the right to face our accusers, the writ of habeas corpus, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure are all liberal ideas. Most people in the world do not have those rights.

I am a liberal because those liberal ideas in our Constitution give us control of our representatives from the school board to the Senate and President of the United States, give us the liberal idea of checks and balances, and the liberal idea of no taxation without representation.

I am a liberal because the idea of free and equal access to public education is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because the idea of free markets is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because the idea of a five day work week is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because the idea of a strong, well funded and disciplined military under civilian control is a liberal idea, as is the notion of veterans' benefits and military retirement.

I am a liberal because the idea of public maintenance of roads is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because almost all the progressive ideas of the last four centuries have been liberal ideas resisted by the conservitaves of their times. Those liberal ideas make this a better place to live for me, my family, my community, my country, and my world.

Repudiate liberalism if you must. Just check off the liberal ideas above you're ready to do without.

Monday, October 18, 2004

news

there hasn't been much that's been good. i should have been writing and getting some of this off my chest, but shit happens.

the pickup fried. blown head gasket. we're now running up the mileage on the minivan. joy.

i had to take my older son to the doctor today. seems he got some kinda something on his penis, of all things, possibly a bug bite. it swelled up to the size of a golf ball. some benadryl fixed it, it looks like, but it was scary and painful apparently. ian was most uncomfortable.

sue claims she doesn't want me to quit school but i know what always happens when i don't go full time; i wind up pissing the opportunity away. it's happened so many times i could cry. i'd really like to graduate with a bachelor's degree before i turn 40. really. meantime she quotes doctor fucking phil at me, like that self-righteous son of a bitch is going to solve everything for us.

but my grades, for the most part, are pretty good. i'm doing surprisingly well in geology, and i'm passing all the rest. except i have no clue about the stupid physical education course; we've had a bunch of assignments, but the idiot instructor hasn't posted any grades. we're half way through the semester already, asshole. how about some fucking feedback!

i got that letter accepting me into uta but the dickheads there are so totally unable to help me understand what they require that i've decided to skip schools. if i'm going to pay something on the order of $30k for a degree, i'd like a little customer service and someone who answers my emails when i ask questions like, "what requirements will be left when i transfer in with these credits?" the admissions department, the counseling department, and the political science department all blew me off. completely unacceptable.

unt, on the other hand, makes it so blindingly simple that they even put a pdf document on their website telling me exactly what courses to take, in my current school's course numbering system, so i don't have to even think or wonder, i simply have to accomplish. unt is farther away, but it turns out it's a better program anyway.

i'm migrating away from my hosting service and back to doing my own hosting, over the next few weeks. if i can figure out how to preserve my database. i've always preferred to do my own hosting. i originally went with csoft because i had a cable modem and couldn't run my own server; now that i've got dsl, i'm going to static ip addresses and will be putting my own server back up. so it'll be running web service, mysql for the blog, mail, all that jazz, for myself here at the house. that way when it crashes it's my fault and i don't have to get pissy with anyone but me.

don't forget to vote. like it'll make a difference. my guess is that it's already been rigged.

Friday, October 1, 2004

yippee!!! a letter

the university of texas at arlington
office of the dean
college of liberal arts

september 27, 2004

me
my house
my city state zip

dear my name:

welcome to the university of texas at arlington college of liberal arts. i'm confident you will find your experience here to be a positive and rewarding one.

the college of liberal arts at uta is characterized by a diversity of intellectual styles and interest. our thirteen departments and programs cluster into social science, humanities, and fine arts. faculty in the college are caring, dedicated teachers who produce quality research. this balance of teaching and research results in excellent instruction. graduates of liberal arts disciplines are well prepared for a wide range of employment opportunities in public and private sector organizations, as well as for continuing study at the graduate level.

the college also provides a number of special programs and opportunities for students. lecture series and seminars, conferences, gallery showings and theatrical productions to round out the educational experience at uta and enhance the learning community you are about to enter.

congratulations on your decision to attend uta.

sincerely,
[digitized signature]
beth s. wright
interim dean of liberal arts

Thursday, September 23, 2004

here i am again

my posting has slowed down considerably over the past few weeks, obviously, because I feel pretty tied up with school and stuff. even if i'm not spending as much time as i feel like i should on it.

i think i did pretty well on my exams this week in texas government and geology. that leaves psychology, another geology exam, and american history next week.

money has been the other big focus, of course. the short version is that there simply isn't enough to go around, and nobody seems to give a crap enough to help. i'm in school full time and working; sue is working; and bad shit keeps happening. this week it's my pickup. the check engine light has been coming on over the past few weeks and adding oil has helped it. yesterday i started to smell burning antifreeze and the alternator wasn't charging hard enough.

looks like a blown head gasket. just what we need. yet another thousand dollar expense.

and of course my sex life is non-existant. i wonder sometimes what i've done to turn her off, and she says nothing. how the hell would i know. for my part i like ... well ... we won't go there. we'll just say that she always wants to be left alone. watching dr phil is more important. even at 3am.

between the money, the slowness of school, and the lack of a sex life (and my inability to enjoy my time with my kids), i wonder what the hell all of this is for.

my dad has promised to send me through a paralegal class. like everything he promises, i will believe it when i see it. it's a thousand dollars so i figure the chances of a check materializing are small at best.

so here i am, still depressed and spinning my wheels and every time i try to do the right thing (get a shrink, get married, get a car, get a house, get a job, go to school full time, fuck my wife, etc) the universe just shits on me. i'm getting pretty damned tired of it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

wow

another week has gone by.

during that week a whole lot of nothing has happened. apparently students are wanting my geology website where i'm putting up recordings of the lectures for my own use at school.

i got a non-responsive response to my open records request about computer usage at school, and have asked for further clarification about it, and am waiting on that.

i'm still not taking my laptop up there my i may go ahead and break "the rules" because the machines in the tutoring lab are infested with spyware (claria) and i won't have my review of the school's website, or my investigation of other schools interrupted by pop-up advertising from bullshit schools. i tried to install ad-aware on one of the boxes today, but the box is so fucked up that ad-aware hard-locked.

so that's where we are with that.

i'm really liking the geology class, though.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

tutoring and other school stuff

finally did some real tutoring. taught some people to multiply by nine on their fingers. your tax dollars at work.

it turns out there's this special edition of my physical education book this sememster that's only sold on one campus (the southeast, i go to the south), and none of the other campus bookstores seems to know it exists, and even on the southeast campus it's not in the section for distance learning courses, it's in the regular section. the other campuses are selling the wrong book for my section.

so i spent $40 we don't have to buy this stupid book. again. other students are even more screwed because they bought the wrong book, opened the shrink wrap, and now can't return it because they've broken the wrap. i'm sure the scenes will be fun.

i'm still waiting on acknowledgement of my open records request on the laptops.

Saturday, September 4, 2004

the day's comments

today we took the boys to ride the train (our daughter being with grandma for the day). typically, benjamin didn't care one way or the other, and ian spent the entire trip scared out of his little wits. poor kid. but he's speaking to us again now. won't shut up, in fact.

in the car on the way over there, sue confessed that she spent part of the night last night reading my email because the dsl line was down and there was nothing else to browse for.

since i no longer use my home email address to correspond with my myriad of girlfriends (since that got me burned once in the past), it didn't really phase me too much. i wasn't real keen on her knowing that i'd been to a homeschool thing near our house, but that was mostly because didn't want to hear the ridicule of the idea, not because it's like some huge secret or something.

she categorically rejects the idea of home schooling for reasons that have as much to do with her belief that we're incapable of it as any belief in the superiority of public education.

still, she agreed to read a pros/cons list that i'd written for someone on the list and see what she thinks.

i suppose what's most irritating about it is that she basically refuses to even consider the possibility, and is unable to articulate any rational argument in favor of her position. her argument is stuff like "kids have to learn drudgery." what the fuck does that mean? That means that we have to teach them that learning is an experience only done in a place that's filled with negative influences that can be physically dangerous (especially if they're percieved as non-conforming)?

so anyway, i printed out my essay (previously posted) and we'll see what she has to say about it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

two days in

two days into school, here's what i can tell you:

i may very well like the student assistant job, except for its drudgery. i'm doing computer lab support and am doing some tutoring. considering how hard i worked for the b i got in algebra, tutoring in algebra is a laugh for me.

i'm going to be up to my ass in allegators with all this work. the reading is going to be a complete and utter bear. there's so much of it.

my school has a fucked-up policy on student laptops. students essentially can not bring laptops to school. their use isn't permitted whether or not they're connected to the network, and the wireless network was closed several months ago because (holy shit!) people were using it. but i've never actually seen this policy in writing, only been informed of it by my work-study supervisor, and so i've written another open records request for an actual copy of the policy.

joy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

wp plugin stuff

trying out some wp plugins. this one may be semi-interesting and in time i can learn to do the image manipulation to change the icons around.

this one is pissing me off pretty bad: it gorks the wordpress login functionality for some reason.

email madness

my hosting provider has disabled the sending of mail from php scripts except under very limited circumstances that don't mesh well with wordpress. this means that wordpress will no longer be able to send me an email when you post something. as a consequence, today i'll be implementing a plug-in that closes off posting to old entries after a few days. three to five feels about right.

comment boxes

an update: i've restored the original configuration. sorry to all you ie users: ie has a bug in it where it doesn't properly restore css configurations to default in certain situations, resulting in incorrect display of my textbox. this is a combination bug in ie and wordpress, and the wp folks haven't worked around it yet. blame redmond.

the comment box is semi-fixed. it still doesn't work quite right in internet explorer, but at least it doesn't hide the last bit of the line of your comment. also, the fix fucks up the display of comment lines in both ie and firebird, and i'm most unhappy with it. this is caused by an internet explorer bug that will likely never be fixed.

i dunno what i'm going to do with all this. it's a -huge- hassle. maybe i'll go back to the way it was and simply remind internet explorer users that there are better alternatives.

Monday, August 23, 2004

cec's stuff

i decided some time ago that, because i can't do threaded replies on wordpress that i wouldn't reply to posts here; instead, i'll do a new post. this is important in situations where i might want to reply to a particular comment, like cecily's from this one.

> I love the new look, btw, but this comments
> block isn’t lit up all the way, and I can’t see
> thelast three words of any line–hence the typos…

Fuzzballz. I suspect this is one of those non-standard behaviors induced by microsoft's embrace-and-extend practices. obviously, since firefox renders correctly and ie does not, and most open-source stuff is not deliberately written to break ie (because open-source stuff tends to be written to standards that microsoft chooses to ignore).

i'll be in touch with the author of the theme to see what can be done.

> And don’t give up on meetings–have
> you thought about maybe trying some
> meetings outside of your intergroup? Maybe?

in practice this is less practical than going to meetings at all, which is well neigh impossible with three tiny kids like i have, plus full-time school. the area my intergroup serves is vast; 17 counties with automatic extension policies. i'd either have to drive to waco (80+ miles) or dallas (about the same in terms of time investment as waco). switching intergroup service areas simply isn't practical.

i haven't given up but i'm less enthused about going than i was. i don't get a lot out of them anymore, and i don't have a lot of time to spend at them anymore either. i've wound up getting myself a head shrinker but the insurance has made the setup virtually useless. at $30 per visit, i'm going only once every two weeks and i doubt i can keep that up for more than another visit or two. the money simply isn't there.

i've also always had sponsor trouble. the one who helped me the most, back in the day, when i did my very first fourth step, burned me really bad not once but twice, when she dropped me claiming her doctor had ordered her to drop everybody she sponsored because of her blood pressure. (what tha?) since then, i haven't had a steady sponsor: they move, i move, or (as has happened a couple of times) they get drunk.

the longer i stay sober the harder it becomes, as well. i've always had trust issues with men and have never found a male sponsor i'm really comfortable with. all of my best work has been done with women (for some reason, really short, really fat women). i know all the standard reasons why i should have a male sponsor, but the truth is that i don't do as well with them, and have a harder time being honest with them. and all of the women sponsors i've had have been able to deal with, well, the cruder edges of maleness that i display on occasion, understanding that it's part of the game, i suppose.

so that leaves me stuck, in large measure.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

more points

i added two more paragraphs to my homeschool pros/cons letter.

PS Con: Grades are usually used by children as a social status indicator, not as the guide to learning and achievement they are supposedly intended for. They sort themselves into “smart kids,� “average kids,� and “dumb kids.� Even if your child is very intelligent, if, for whatever reason, your child has poor grades (see boredom above), the situation can make her feel like she’s stupid or a failure, even when she’s not. In a home school situation, you will have the opportunity to help your child understands what the numbers mean in a meaningful way.

HS Pro: Family time. Home schooling forces you to spend time as a family, something that many people feel is sorely missing from today’s working family life.

homeschool considerations

i wrote what amounts to an essay pro/con on homeschooling. i did it primarily because i wanted to clarify in my own mind some things i've been thinking on the subject, and so herewith i record them for public consumption. in the unlikely event someone comments, well, so much the better.

the background: i was prompted to write this by a post to a mailing list i'm on, and so it's phrased as a response to her. you've been warned.

-----

Your email prompted me to sit down and write in detail some stuff that I’ve been rolling around in my mind over the past few months about home schooling. Much of this may not be useful to you, and that’s okay. You only prompted me to write it, but I’ve really written it for myself and my wife. [By the way: I write like a lawyer. It’s a common complaint and I can’t do anything about it now.]

Our background: My wife was raised Catholic; I myself am Jewish, and we have chosen to raise our children as Jewish. They are 2, and twins age 1. (They are boy, Ian, a girl, Samantha, and a boy, Benjamin.) I’ll spare you our school life stories, but suffice it to say that I’m considering home schooling for our children based in part on my desires for their education, and on my experiences in my own education.

The folks in on HS Friends have suggested that I focus on the positives of home schooling, and while that suggestion makes sense, I find that it’s important to also look at the positives and negatives of public schooling, as well as potential negatives of home schooling. For me, any other approach means that I can’t make a fully-informed decision.

One of the most important things I’ve realized is that, while whatever choices I make will have a profound effect on my kids, obviously, they are reversible. If it turns out that home schooling isn’t right for my family, we can always go back to public school. And if it turns out that public school is a miserable experience, I can always withdraw my kids and bring them home.

So, here’s my list of considerations, many of which overlap for obvious reasons. Where these will fall in your scale of importance will vary, and where they fall in my scale depends on exactly when you ask me.

Public school pros:

- There is a large population of students in most public schools in our area. This means that your child will have a large group of kids from whom to choose friends, and will have plenty of social opportunities.
- Public schools have a large selection of extracurricular activities that home schools frequently lack, like bands and organized team sports.
- Commercial support systems, like after-school daycare, are geared to the schedules of public and private schools, not to home schoolers. This means that if your children are too young to be left alone, you will have an easier time finding daycare if they are in public or private school.

Public school cons (there are many):
- Public schools are very good at catering to the needs of about the middle 70-80% of students. If, however, your child is either extremely intelligent (top 10-20%) or has some sort of learning disability (bottom 10-20%), the public school system will have a hard time teaching your child and keeping him interested in what’s going on. If your child loses interest, your child could become a victim of depression from boredom, or depression from difficulty in learning. Both of these can result in poor grades (even if your child is really smart!), which can in turn lead to more depression and failure.
- Public school curricula use a state-formulated one-size-fits-all approach. If your child finds herself excelling in reading and having a hard time in math, the public school system may be unable to readily compensate while keeping the rest of your student’s studies at level. Also, if you find that you want your children taught (or not taught) about such subjects as creationism and birth control, you may find you’ll be unhappy with the public school approach, meaning you’ll have to figure out how to teach your child what you want them to learn without making their lives more miserable.
- Public schools are driven by standardized test scores, and have been for many years. These scores appear to be a stick used to beat school administrators, which is in turn used to beat teachers, who in turn endlessly drill students to the objectives of the exam. This means that students spend an inordinately large amount of time drilling for the test rather than learning new material. While it’s true that you shouldn’t get a high school diploma if you can’t pass these tests, it’s also true that the tests look for baseline minimum, not the level we want our kids to learn at.
- You won’t have control over the social interactions your child is exposed to. If your school is filled with little kids you wouldn’t permit in your neighborhood if you had a choice, that’s too bad. And telling your child to stay away from those kids only goes so far. You will have to un-teach the back alley education your child receives from these peers.
- You are largely constrained by your public school’s schedule for your family schedule. For example, if you want to attend a family wedding in February, you must hope that the wedding is scheduled in such a way as to accommodate school, and that you can get travel arrangements that fit as well. Otherwise, you could be harassed by truancy officers and your child could be disciplined for “unexcused� absences. In addition, your child will miss that school time and possibly fall behind.
- If you are of a religious persuasion (read non-Christian) that requires its adherents to dress in an unusual manner (like head scarves for Muslims or skull caps for Jews), your child could be subject to harassment by students for dressing oddly, and by the administration for contravention of school rules (such as the “no hats� rule). Even if you’re not of a religious persuasion subject to this kind of harassment, your child may witness (or even participate in) such situations despite your own convictions of equality and justice.
- Every public school has its cadre of bullies. Your child may become one of their victims, and the administration may not care. (Lawsuits over equal educational opportunity have been spawned by bullying and administrations not taking action about it.)
- Whether you have a boy or a girl, your child may be sexually harassed by other students (or, much more rarely, by an instructor). Again, administrations may or may not notice or care.
- If you find yourself unhappy with the curriculum your child is learning from, your only option will be to try to supplement with your own teaching. That’s all well and good, but you must then figure out how to get your child to be interested in it. If you force your child into additional learning she doesn’t want to be a part of (after being dragged through school all day long), you may engender resentment and dislike of learning.

Pros of home schooling:

Many of these reverse the cons of public schooling. Generally, the pros boil down to control over curriculum, schedule, and environment.

- You can cater your home schooling environment to your child. Does your child like history? Why not use historical novels as reading texts? Why not learn mathematics in the context of history, or study the history of mathematics? If your child is slower at math and faster at reading, you can progress at your child’s pace in both subjects, even if it means that she reads at 6th grade and does math at 4th grade. A public school can not offer this individual attention.
- The curricula you select will fit your needs, and those of your child. Do you want to use a religious instruction set? That’s available. Would you prefer something secular? That’s available as well. What about a combination of learning styles? With home schooling, exactly what you do is up to you.
- Your child will not be required to take standardized tests. This means that a big stress in kids’ lives is eliminated. You can focus on quality of learning, rather than on filling in the little bubbles.
- You have more control over your child’s social interactions. Simply by virtue of choosing to take her (or not take her) to a given place, you can restrict your child’s interactions with undesirable influences. While it’s important to help your child understand what’s really out there in the world, you can also control your child’s exposure to the less savory parts of the universe so that you can guide her through the experience.
- You can wear what you want, from jeans and a t-shirt with a political statement to a burkah to complete nudism if that’s what you prefer.
- Your child’s learning experience won’t be distracted by bullies and meaningless social nonsense.
- Sexual harassment at home is generally not a problem. And you can guide your child through the sexual maturation process in a protected, supportive environment to help her make it through a difficult, sometimes scary time in life.
- If you find yourself unhappy with the curriculum your child is learning from, the authority to change it is yours. If you think a different learning approach is appropriate (like switching from classical to Montessori) you are free to try it.
- You choose the schedule. If it works for your family to start school at 1:00 p.m., that’s up to you. If you want to take two hours off in the middle of the day for a social activity, that’s perfectly reasonable. Studies have shown that teens do better if they’re permitted to sleep later in the day; if your child is this way, you can let her sleep until 10 or 11 am and nobody will mind. Even if your school time runs until 7 or 8 pm, that’s perfectly acceptable. No public school would be caught dead operating at 8 pm.

Cons of home schooling:
- Home schooling can be difficult if both parents work. While not impossible, it can lead to challenges in childcare if both parents must be at work at the same time. This is especially difficult if you both must be away during the day; it may be hard to find childcare for a school-aged child during school hours.
- Discipline is required to make sure that you actually spend time doing learning. You are the teacher, so you are responsible for making sure that your child actually progresses in an appropriate manner.
- You may be subject to harassment by family, friends, neighbors, or legal authority who disagree with your decision to home school your children. While the law on home schooling in Texas is clear, many people (including Child Protective Services case workers) frequently don’t know it.

I’d be pleased to hear what other items you think about in any category.

Friday, August 20, 2004

the layout

okay, new layout i picked up and hacked up from the bomb site. this one is obviously the mars one. i really like it. i had to dick with the index.php and wp-layout.css pages as usual because i customized them, but it's still a happy layout.

if you still see the blue and yellow, hit reload.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

religious stupidity

a certain church has always seemed, to me, to contain more than its fair share of stupidity. here's proof.

what's wrong with this?

doctrinal statements have always been the province of churches. churches have the right to set standards for practicing their rituals and for specifying the way in which those rituals must be observed by their adherants.

but a basic tenent of every religion i'm familiar with is that the sanctity of life is inviolate.

consider: judiasm forbids the mutilation of the dead, but organ donation is acceptable -- even encouraged -- as promoting life.

at least in judiasm, for example, halachic law is clear: if engaging in a religious practice would make you sick, you are exempt from the practice. fasting on yom kippur is traditional and required, but not if you're a diabetic, because not eating for 24 hours can kill a diabetic.

in a religion that professes to support life, one wonders why it would require its adherants to practice rituals that would kill them.

yet when church leaders are unwilling to make exceptions to their doctrines that would preserve the lives of their worshippers, one must wonder just what these people really care about: do they care about the spiritual well-being of their flock, or do they just care about their little narrow-minded interpretation of the rules?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

homeschooling responses

in the 24 hours or so since i posted that letter to the homeschooling mailing list i joined, i've gotten several interesting responses.

one extremely interesting one pointed me to a secular (non-religious) homeschool cirriculum.

it turns out there's a social gathering not too far from where I live tomorrow (well, today) so I'll be heading over there to see what's up and what I can learn.

a number of the folks on the list suggested i not look at the negatives of public school (there are many, of course), but that i look at the positives of homeschooling. or, perhaps more appropriately, that i draw up some sort of list of educational goals for my children, and that i then develop a plan to meet those goals, whether it involves homeschooling or not. a pros/cons of homeschooling vs. public school list might be helpful, and it's likely that you'll see it here in time as my interest and attention permit the development of such a list.

of course there is always sue and what she wants. i think some of it depends on how ian develops. but given his current personality, i can't honestly see him doing well in a public school environment.

homeschool stuff

this is a post i wrote to a homeschool mailing list. my comments later. i wouldn't mind hearing yours, btw. of course i know nobody reads this crap so it doesn't really matter. also, this post occasions a new category.

-----

[This is long and long-winded. If you want to attack it in sections, or ignore it completely, I'll not be offended. Thanks for your energy!]

So here I am. I'll let you take a guess at my name (since it's on the top of my email). I, my wife, and our three children live at the very southern tip of Fort Worth, in the Crowley ISD. We're close enough to Burleson to be really frightened of it. :)

We have a 2 year old son, and a pair of 1 year old twins, a boy and a girl.

The primary reason I've come is for information-gathering, from real live people near where I live, as opposed to folks in Washington State or New York.

Some background on the source of my interest: My wife was a military brat who spent her life in public school. While I love her to death, the level of her education shows.

By contrast, I went to a (tiny) private school in Fort Worth. Actually tiny doesn't describe it; I went there for grades 2 through 8, and the core group of kids in my class was six kids. Between 7 and 8 many of them left the school, so that in 8th grade there were two students, me and one other boy; there was nobody in 7th grade that year, one girl in 6th grade, and about six boys in 5th grade.

But in a social circle so small, and coming to school in the middle of the year, I was immediately the odd kid out and stayed that way all through school. And because the social circle was so small I didn't bother making friends or trying to learn how.

I then transferred into a public high school in Fort Worth, and spent four and a half years of complete and utter friendless misery being the funny-looking, not-Christian computer nerd who was editor of the useless student newspaper. My high school was a scary place where I was physically assaulted on a number of occasions, got no protection either from my parents or the administration, and I obviously want none of any of that for my kids.

And while my kids are young, this is something I think it's worth thinking about, so that our family can make an informed choice for our kids, rather than a rush decision or simply accepting the default public education because it's what everybody else in the neighborhood does.

I know that the Crowley ISD is relatively good, and we'll be in the area of the new school scheduled to open, I believe for 05-06. And while my wife, a former high school teacher herself, is of the qualified opinion that public school is the way to go, I can't say I'd want my kids going to school with the little thugs who live in our neighborhood. Obviously not blessed with the common sense God gave a slug, I won't be letting our kids play with them in the afternoon; I can't rightly see being comfortable sending my kids to school with them in the morning.

I'm also concerned based on my own school experiences and comparing the meanness of school children against the personalities of my kids, especially my oldest. He's very emotionally sensitive and easily frustrated and discouraged. I have to be careful to not laugh at him when he does something childly funny; he takes it as a hurtful insult, even at this age. I can't say I'm comfortable with the idea of subjecting him to the cruel teasings of public school kids that I know will come even in the best of schools. And because our religious pursuasion is decidedly non-Christian, I'm concerned about that as well; when I was in public school I was physically assaulted on several occasions over my religion and I don't think that's an appropriate thing to put my kids through.

Perhaps as important, my older son is somewhat developmentally delayed. While we don't believe there's anything going on that is of long term significance, it's possible that all three of our kids will wind up in the same grade together, and that leads me to question in my mind the wisdom of sending them to public school together, because of the obvious age difference between them (a year and a few months).

All of that assumes that the public education my children would get is actually acceptable, a question I'm entirely unconvinced about. Recent public debates about various portions of public school cirricula in Texas have distressed me considerably.

The other issue is family-based: My wife, formerly of the Joshua public school system herself, will need convincing and she is unsure that we'll be able to actually accomplish the learning discipline necessary to homeschool. I am a full time college student myself, and she works full time and we don't have the income it takes to do stay-at-home-anybody, much as I think that's a Good Thing.

I also find myself interested in evaluating what I can find in terms of secular-based cirricula. As I've indicated, a Chrisitan religious instruction set will not be appropriate for my family. I'd like to take a look at several alternatives in some detail, yet I'm not sure what options are out there, how I might see something beyond what's published on a web page about them. And I also would like some guidence from yall more experienced folks here about what questions to ask and/or consider when making these choices.

Those are the things on my mind. I'm interested in hearing your take on it all.

Thanks most kindly.