After the movie, we had dinner at Chili's. I do enjoy their food, but unfortunately we don't have a Chili's where I live, so I only get to go there when I'm out of town. We are really lacking some good chain restaurants in Waterloo. Sure we have several dining choices, but I'd really like to be able to go to Chili's, Outback, Bennigan's, or even T.G.I. Friday's without having to drive an hour or more. Of course this could all be remedied by moving! Well, we'll see about that next spring. I may still apply for a job in test development next spring, or maybe I'll even look for a teaching job elsewhere. Some of it depends on where my girlfriend decides to look for a job when she finished her masters degree in the spring.
November 3, with any luck, we will know who will be occupying the Oval Office on January 20, 2005, and we will all have to get over our differences and learn to get along once again. It won't do any good to keep attacking the winner of this election, whoever that may be, he will be the President, and most likely will be for at least the next four years. I definitely have a preference about who I would like to win, but roughly half of the population will eventually have to accept the fact that their choice for president did not win. The best thing that could happen on Tuesday would be for one of the two candidates, and I don't care who, to win in a landslide. That would show that Americans are united in their choice for a leader. Now I know that won't happen, but it would be nice.
The divisiveness of this election has even worked its way into the school at which I work. We were reminded in a staff bulletin this week that we as school district employees are not to be endorsing or denigrating any political candidate or ballot measure during school hours or while representing the school district. It surprised me that we would have to be reminded of this. I find it hard to believe that a teacher would be doing such a thing during class. Now if it is related to the curriculum, I can see a teacher discussing, and having students discuss, the merits and negatives about both candidates, but otherwise I can't see this happening. A student of mine however, told me Thursday that a teacher of his has been criticizing John Kerry in class. I'm not saying that there aren't any grounds for criticizing him, but it really has no place in a science class. This same teacher has been wearing a Bush/Cheney lanyard for the past few weeks to hold his name badge. Another teacher had a Bush/Cheney campaign sign up in his classroom for a couple weeks until someone took it down overnight. I haven't seen any teachers promoting John Kerry in such ways. I did have a Kerry/Edwards button on my jacket, but when I got to my classroom, that would go straight into the closet.
I haven't made any secret about who I am supporting for president, but I don't make it a part of classroom discussion. Many of my students have asked. And if they ask during class, I don't answer. But never have I attacked George Bush as a candidate for president. I have a rather conservative student who frequently jokes with me about the whole election issue. He will sometimes hold up his planner with the Bush stickers on it just to see if he can get a reaction out of me. He doesn't get much except for my grinning and shaking my head back and forth. Last year, when I had him for a different class, he was flashing some Bush sign at me in class so I had him turn to a certain page of his textbook which happened to have a photo of Bill Clinton. This is all in fun.
We can joke about each others' preferences for president without it ruining our working relationship. This student is one of my better students. He's almost always on task and always gets his work done. This reminds me of a question that I was once asked during an interview for a teaching job. I was asked if I had ever had any students that I didn't like (now I'm not saying that I don't like this student, I do). Of course I've hate students I didn't like. It's human nature to not like everyone! If I had said "no," then they would have known I was lying, so of course I answered "yes." These students are usually the ones who are constantly misbehaving and causing problems in class. The follow-up question was about how I deal with these students. Naturally I treat them professionally, the same, within reason, as everyone else. If they need help, I'll help them. If they do well on their homework, tests, and quizzes, they'll get a good grade. I even try to figure out why they behave the way they do to try to reach out to them and get them to behave better. But I never let my personal feelings about someone affect how I treat them as a student.
Well, I've rambled on enough for now, so I suppose I will end here. I just can't wait until this election is over!
In thinking about the vandalism of these pieces of art, I am also reminded about the senseless theft of computer parts at the school I teach at. In one of the computer labs, some mouse balls have been taken, as well as keys from keyboards! What the hell is someone going to do with those? Also, a student had stolen the stapler from my desk and rolls of tape from my tape dispenser. It's bad enough taking the tape, but he (and I am pretty sure who took those although I have no evidence) also took the part the roll of tape is fit on to. Now the dispensers are practically useless. I don't know if replacement parts are sold for tape dispensers, so I'll probably have to end up getting a new one altogether. At least the tax credit for teacher supplies (up to $250) has been reinstated for this tax year.
This partially confirms what I have felt about myself, if I give this test any credence, that I am somewhat liberal on non-fiscal issues. I thought, however, that I'd be a bit more conservative when it came to fiscal issues. I am slightly less liberal than on non-fiscal issues, but I guess I'm still a liberal.
The one place that I keep thinking about moving to, which would be very different to where I live right now, is Las Vegas! I've written about this a couple of months ago, but I almost took a teaching job there for last school year, but I decided, for reasons that I'd rather not go into right now, that it would be best to stay around here. I have a few problems with moving there however. One is that I would be a long distance from my friends and family. I can deal with being far away from my family. I don't need to see them that often, but I would really miss hanging out with my friends, although I don't get to do that much now anyway. Also, I would probably end up teaching at an inner-city high school for the first few years I would be there. I don't know how successful I would be doing that. I would be worried that I would not be successful, although I probably would be if I worked hard enough at it. One last problem, which wouldn't be impossible to overcome, is that it would just be a real pain moving such a long distance.
If you've been reading my blog in the past couple of months, you may know that I have been contemplating leaving teaching to work in the exciting world of test development. However, I have been feeling a lot more positive about teaching lately and think that it is something that I would like to continue doing for a while. If I do continue to teach, I would rather not spend the rest of my career teaching where I am now. I wouldn't mind sticking around a few more years, but I can't see staying here until I retire. One reason to make a change sooner, rather than later, is that after this school year I will be at the maximum years of experience that the school district in Las Vegas would accept for placing me on their salary schedule. I don't know. I probably won't move. I am just not that much of a risk taker. Although, signing up for on a dating website and going out on a date with someone I met online was a bit of a risk that has turned out alright. I guess this is something that I will have to seriously think about.
On another topic, I just finished watching today's episode of Jeopardy! (I tape it so I can see it when I get home from work) and for the first time in quite a while, Final Jeopardy was interesting in that either of the two challengers could have beaten Ken Jennings. Neither one did however, and he will return tomorrow having won a total of $2,065,301.
Anyway, I tried to post this last night, but Blogger didn't seem to be working. I found this test on Matt's blog (thanks for linking to me, by the way) which is intended to determine who I should support for president. Here are my results:
1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%) Click here for info
2. Cobb, David - Green Party (87%) Click here for info
3. Nader, Ralph - Independent (87%) Click here for info
4. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (82%) Click here for info
5. Brown, Walt - Socialist Party (75%) Click here for info
6. Badnarik, Michael - Libertarian (32%) Click here for info
7. Bush, President George W. - Republican (12%) Click here for info
8. Peroutka, Michael - Constitution Party (10%) Click here for info
I was a little surprised that the Green Party candidate and Ralph Nader came up first on my list, but my choice for president came up right behind. Maybe I should have listened to Homercles and voted for Nader. :-)
Oh Homercles, I wouldn't mind seeing it again, so if you want to see it next weekend when we get together for dinner, that would be cool.
On a completely unrelated note, at least 18 people have stumbled on my blog in search for the Hardee's mechanical bull commercial. Also, someone found my blog looking for Panera seafood bisque.
Their second problem is with people who show up at the wrong precinct to vote, although in the correct county. They want them to be able to vote using a provisional ballot. I don't see how this can work. Not all ballots in the same county, even in the same city, are not necessarily the same. Sure, for national offices they are the same, but for state and local offices, there may be some difference. The boundaries for state representative districts don't follow county lines. If I were to vote across town, I would be in the wrong representative district, and I therefore would be voting for someone who I didn't have a right to vote for. The voter registration card indicates where one is to vote. How about instead of giving a prospective voter a provisional ballot, the poll workers could give the voter instructions on how to get to his or her correct precinct. Apparently some people are just too dumb to figure out how to vote. Remember Florida in 2000?
I also got to open my presents from my parents last night. Among the gifts I received was the Star Destroyer Hallmark ornament and Jon Stewart's book America (The Book). I have been told that I need to read it quickly since my mom wants to borrow it when I finish and she has told my sister that she can borrow it too. It's nice of her to lend out my stuff like that.
Anyway, as I stated earlier, I went to see John Kerry last night. After seeing him speak in person, I am even more confident in my vote for him. I really, truly think that he will be better for the United States than George Bush. I'd like to write more on this right now, but I have to get to work.
To Homercles: We should figure out when we are going to dinner. Does next Saturday, October 30, work for you?
A Lakewood Republican stealing campaign signs late one night got nabbed when he ran across a low- hanging driveway chain, fell face first onto a pilfered sign and the concrete and knocked himself unconscious.
If you plan on stealing election signs, you better watch out! They can fight back. And in other news, from the Indianapolis Star:
A Marion County judge on Monday sentenced an Indianapolis woman to 18 months in prison for helping her 5-year-old son smoke crack cocaine.
Andrea Wilkey, 40, held the lighter on Aug. 6 while her son inhaled from a homemade pipe, police say. Her son tested positive for cocaine the next day.
Oh my god! How could someone be so irresponsible! I don't get it! At the end of the article is a statement that she hopes to someday regain custody of her son, who is now in foster care. Heaven help the child if that ever happens. I think I now have a better understanding of the expression "Are you smoking crack?" that people may ask others when they do something stupid. Being on crack cocaine apparently severely impedes one's ability to make any judgments.
Incidentally, someone found my blog while doing a search for "hardee's commercial mechanical bull." My blog entry from Thursday came up second on the list when I checked it out. From checking out the other listings, some people are apparently outraged by this commercial.
Q: Who is the woman who plays on the Hardee's commercial riding the mechanical bull?
A: The actress in that commercial --- which, if Courier office opinion is any guide, women tend to hate and men tend to love --- is Cameron Richardson, according to a staff member at the Hardee's PR department.
In case you haven't seen the commercial, it features a rather attractive woman riding a mechanical bull while holding a Hardee's Western Bacon Thickburger. I have to say that I would definitely agree with the paper's office opinion poll. The commercial, while it has a burger in it, does not focus too much on it, but this seems to fit in with Hardee's latest advertising campaign which tends to target men. It must be working. I had one of these burgers last week, and I probably will have one again. I just can't eat them too often as each one has 876 calories. Add a small order of french fries (which was "medium" when I worked there years ago) to that and the meal has a whopping 1270 calories! That's over half of the calories that I allow myself to eat in a single day.
Back in April, Sinclair Broadcast Group ordered its ABC affiliates not to air the episode of Nightline during which Ted Koppel read the names of American soldiers killed while serving in Iraq. They claimed that this was a political statement disguised as news. I really don't see how this film that they are now planning to air is a newsworthy event, as their vice president Mark Hyman claims, and not just a political statement disguised as news.
Another compliment I received today was from the teacher in charge of the ELL (English Language Learners) program at school. She told me that two people, one student and one associate who translates, told her that I do an excellent job explaining what I teach. She was told that of the math teachers that these two have worked with, each of them feel that I am the best at doing this at my school. Part of this is probably because I actually have a degree in the subject in which I teach. We have math teachers at my school who have degrees in other areas instead, but having completed a program in mathematics gives one a deeper understanding of the subject. With that understanding, it's a lot easier to explain why things are the way they are and to show how they are connected to other topics in math. After receiving this compliment, it makes it harder to decide if I am going to continue teaching when the year ends.
UPDATE (8:25 am, 10/9/04): factcheck.com is no longer forwarding to georgesoros.com.
A U.S. Senate candidate who said recently that homosexuals should not be teaching in South Carolina's public schools has added another group to his list of poor role models for children -- pregnant women with live-in boyfriends.
So it's not okay for pregnant women with live-in boyfriends to teach in South Carolina public schools but it's perfectly fine for their live-in boyfriends to teach there? So it's just immoral for these non-married women to be pregnant, but it's fine if they are not? I suppose the distinction is made because a pregnant woman stands out more than people from the other groups I mentioned. Jim DeMint, the senatorial candidate who made this comment, has a problem with the moral decisions of pregnant women with live-in boyfriends. I guess they are not good role models, but how is a student going to distinguish these pregnant teachers from pregnant teachers who are married? I doubt that most pregnant teachers would make it a point to inform their students that they are unmarried and live with their boyfriends.
As to openly gay teachers, I don't understand why that is a problem either. I doubt that these teachers, while open about their sexuality, are going to discuss this aspect of their lives with their students either. I steer clear of that subject, and I'm not a homosexual. Why would they discuss it? I had one high school teacher who I know to be a homosexual. I didn't know she was at the time, but I don't think it was a secret to anyone. It just wasn't something that was a topic for conversation in class. It certainly didn't hurt my moral development any, oh wait, maybe it did as my girlfriend, who is not pregnant, is going to move in with me next week.
We, as teachers, are being held accountable for our students' progress, and we should be, to some extent. But, as Homercles asserts, if we are to be held accountable for how well our students do on these tests, they should actually be based on what the state expects us to teach. The problem with that however is that the state does not tell us what specifically is to be taught. Iowa doe not have any specific standards of this type. All under the label of "local control," each school district is left to write its own standards. This seems quite inefficient to me. If we had standards of what specific topics were to be taught, then the state could have a test created to assess these standards, which are after all, what we should be teaching!
Last year, I was part of a group of math teachers in my school district to develop the curriculum for pre-algebra in the school district. One of the tasks we had to undertake was to read through each level of math ITED test, and some of the ITBS levels, and determining which of our school district's standards each item assessed. Some of them didn't assess any of our standards. Quite frankly, the information these items covered don't seem too important. However, since we have to have all students perform at the 40th percentile or better on these tests, we had to add some additional topics to our classes leading up to the tests. Some of these topics make absolutely no sense to be taught in the classes in which they are now taught.
Now on to the topic of having all students scoring at the 40th percentile or better, which is of course IMPOSSIBLE, as a student scoring at the 40th percentile scores better than 40% of the students taking the test. As Homercles points out, 100% of the students taking the test can't do better than 40% of them. I believe however that what actually has to be done is to have all students score at the level which was the 40th percentile when the test was normed in a certain year -- I don't remember which year -- within a certain time period. Now this would be possible, until the test it normed again, but it seems like a goal that is not very realistic.
Another thing that my school district does with this test, which is something for which it was not intended, is to use it as a graduation requirement. Students have to score at a certain level on the math and reading portions of the test in order to graduate. I was told by one of my colleagues last year that we have not had anyone not graduate because of not scoring well enough on these tests, so I guess we must be doing something right. ;-)
The flag of Des Moines (shown below), on the other hand, placed much better, coming in at number 14. In my opinion it is a much better design.
Under the Bush policy, no federal funds can be used to destroy human embryos. Advocates of more open research, including the Kerry campaign, argue that scientists should be able to use stem cells from fertility clinic embryos that are no longer wanted by parents, as long as parents give their consent. Otherwise, the embryos would be discarded anyway.
My point here, is not whether or not federal-funded embryonic stem cell research should be done, but that not being completely open about ones policies when accusing someone else of misleading, is misleading itself.
It's a rather silly thing to debate about anyway. Everyone know that Jesus would vote for Kerry. :-)
CARRBORO -- After watching the presidential debate Thursday night, two UNC students ended up slapping each other while fighting over who Jesus would vote for in the election.
According to a police report, the concept of "turning the other cheek" came up, and James Robert Austin, 19, of 1305 Granville Towers West in Chapel Hill, slapped Robert Brooks Rollins, 22, of 104 Brewer Lane in Carrboro, on the cheek at Rollins' house.
After that, Rollins slapped Austin, and Austin landed on the concrete patio, possibly striking his head, according to the report. Rollins called for an ambulance, which took Austin to UNC Hospitals to be examined.
Neither Rollins nor Austin wanted to pursue the matter further, the report said.
Going to the casino, I am hopeful for a big win, but I also am mindful that as long as I don't lose too much money, I did well. After all, they don't build casinos on winners. So, I set a budget for myself as to how much I was willing to lose, in this case it was fifty dollars. Things didn't start out too well, with my quickly losing ten dollars in a nickel slot machine. I then walked around a while, breaking my twenties into smaller bills -- so I wouldn't be tempted to spend them so fast -- then I found some two-cent slot machines. I realize of course that I am not going to win a boatload of money playing those, but the money does last longer, and it keeps me from losing it so fast. Well, after about an hour and a half at the casino, I was down thirty dollars.
I then tried to find Bill, but I didn't see him anywhere. It was then I decided to try roulette. There was a table where no one was playing. I figured that would be good, since I have never played any of the table games before. I got ten dollars in chips, and after some suggestions from the dealer (Is she called a dealer though since she doesn't deal cards? Well, the suggestions came from the person spinning the wheel.) I was betting on one-third of the numbers, which pays off two to one, just one dollar at a time. I was also putting a dollar chip on 20 since that is my birthday. Well, the one time I didn't bet on 20, it was the winning number. I played that number from then on, and it won twice. I ended up leaving the table with forty dollars, breaking even. I would have been even for the day, if I had not joined Bill at another roulette table a little later, where I lost five dollars. Overall it was a good time gambling as I only lost five dollars. Jason, Bill's friend, ended up $110 ahead!
When we got back to Cedar Rapids, we met our good friend Homercles for dinner at the Cedar River Brewing Company. It was a good dinner, but they were out of the entree that both Bill and I wanted, and they were out of the pasta that came with my girlfriend's dish. They were also out of tartar sauce, which Jason wanted for his fish, but overall dinner was quite good. I know I've said this before, but spending time with my friends in Cedar Rapids really, really, makes me want to move back there, or possibly the Iowa City area, where I could spend more time with my friends without making a whole day out of it. Hopefully when the school year is out I will be able to get a job with one of the two firms in Iowa City that I am looking into. And hopefully, my girlfriend can find a job in the area too.
The Press Citizen is not the only one appalled by William Shatner's hoax. Writer/director Nicholas Meyer, a University of Iowa graduate and writer and director of multiple Star Trek movie including the best of all of the films, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, weighed in on the issue yesterday. He thought it was a dirty trick. While Shatner and the production company gave Riverside quite a bit of money to soften the blow, Meyer made a good point in saying, "I read they got some money so it's all right. Isn't that what you do to a hooker?"
There was a letter to the paper yesterday from someone who lives in Riverside pleased, that while there is no movie being filmed, the town got quite a bit of publicity. And after all, it was all fun, but it was a very dirty trick on otherwise trusting individuals. Now it's hard to be too upset at Shatner when I sit back and enjoy watching people be made fools of on the Spike TV "reality" show Joe Schmo, but it's different when I am the one who is being made the fool. Hopefully William Shatner meant what he said this week when he told the people of Riverside that he would be back. If he actually does return, perhaps during the town's Trek Fest festival, it might be worth it.