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Why I don't like modern country music [Aug. 19th, 2015|07:18 pm]
While on a long ride back from the other half of the state, Rich and I were searching for a radio station. We ended up pausing quite frequently on country stations for several measures of music before realizing they weren't classic rock stations and moving on. I pointed that out to Rich, that we enjoyed classic rock stations, but not modern country, which is a very similar sound wise. We paused on a country station for a few songs and pondered why that was before getting annoyed and searching for a station we could stand. (We tend to land on modern alternative, pop, classic rock, occasionally jazz if it's late at night, and classical if NPR isn't spending 20 minutes describing each upcoming piece.)

We got to a classic rock station and Don't Fear the Reaper was playing. I pointed out that the guitar riff at the beginning would have fit as a hook on the country station we were just listening too, then the solo in the middle hit. We shut up and listened and it hit us why we could stand classic rock, but modern country drove us up a wall. It's not that the solo in the middle of Don't Fear the Reaper is the greatest example of a solo ever, far from it. It was completely different from the rest of the song around it and almost doesn't fit at all. They decided to to try a new sound and see what happened to their tune, and it rocked. The next tune up was Dream On. Both songs were considered classic rock, and our suspicion was confirmed: Rock in the classic era, and even up to the alternative rock of today, is allowed to sound different.

You can't write a modern country song that doesn't sound like a modern country song. The peak of modern country happened when Garth Brooks came out with Friends in Low places. Don't get me wrong, I loved that song when I heard it first in High-School. Every country musician who has come along since then has taken that sound and copied it with only minor variations. You can't listen to a modern country station without hearing the same sound for all their five in a row sets. People who classify themselves as “Rock Musicians”, regardless of the variety of rock they ascribe to, are allowed to try new things, and it may suck out loud for a song, but it isn't the death knell of their musical career. A country musician who breaks from the mold just doesn't get play on the radio. It's not what country fans want.

You go to a rock concert you get everything from Bare Naked Ladies to Metallica, and maybe a side trip to Gwar if you feel daring. You go to a country concert, the only difference will be is the singer male or female.
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In trying to not be racist, you can be even more racist. [Nov. 27th, 2014|09:46 am]
This phrase has always annoyed me: “I don't see color, I see people.”
When I look at you, there are a few things I notice first, your gender, your race, and any obvious physical traits that deviate significantly from the norm. (Boy was that last phase awkward...)
Things most people would never say:
“Wow! You're a boy? Hey, I don't see gender, I see people.”
“Woah, I'm sorry, I didn't notice you were sitting in a wheelchair and both your legs are missing. I don't see scars, I see people.”
“Wow! I didn't notice that you were 7 foot 5 standing right next to me! Amazing, I don't see height, I see people.”
Denying someone's race, when it's staring you in the face, is denying a significant part of who that person is. I am a fat white female. Anyone who says they didn't notice those things about me as soon as they met me is probably literally blind. (Whoa, I didn't notice you had a seeing eye dog with you. I don't see helper animals, I see people.) Don't patronize members of any race by denying that it plays any part in who they are.

I do see color, and people can be any color.
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Dear parents: This is why we can't have nice things. [Oct. 19th, 2014|09:46 am]
Last night for the first time in years, my husband and I went out to see a live theater production of Dracula. One of my drama kids got the female lead, Mina, and, even though, it was just community theater, I was looking forward to losing myself, as I often due, in the moment, and enjoying the show.
However, every time Dracula showed up on state, the brats (no better word, sorry.) behind me started giggling. Now, to be fair to the brats, Dracula was completely stereoptyped, complete with a red lined cape that he used like bat wings. If I was watching it on T.V., I would have laughed at loud.
This was NOT television. This was live theater, and it was very obvious from the whispered comments behind me that the brats had seen the show more than once, and knew some of the cast members. Not once did the brat's parents lean over and tell the brats to knock it off. Instead, the kids were allowed to steal the show the first act, by taking some very intense emotional lines, well delivered by the way, and ruining their intensity with insane pre-teen giggling.
So I thought, maybe their parents will talk to them at intermission. Maybe the second act, they'll settle down. Nope. Their parents bought out the last of the chocolate at the concession stand, and the giggling continued through the second act.
And I felt helpless. I couldn't turn around and yell at them to knock it off, it was live theater, and that would have been more disturbing. I didn't know the kids, though we had chatted before the show. The kids were nice, but their parents were a little off-put by strangers talking to their family as if we were all humans about to have a shared experience. What should I have done?
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Gun Control [Jul. 29th, 2014|09:47 pm]
I grew up on an air force base, so I grew up used the idea that the people around me were armed. Because of their uniforms, I also had the assurance that they had had at least basic weapons training. I don't have any kind of reassurance like that out here in the civilian world, unless the person in question happens to be in uniform. I don't think all gun owners should be forced to wear a uniform to tell the world, that they have a gun and know how to use it. But, how do I, in the civilian world, distinguish armed and clueless from armed and trained? There is no way, so wouldn't it be better if I could just assume that there was some training involved before anyone was allowed to go out and buy a gun? I can assume 99% of the time that the person behind the wheel of a car has learned to drive the car. I can't assume that about the guy walking down the side of the street with a rifle over his shoulder. He's probably heading to his hunting blind, but I don't know that he's ever shot a gun or knows rule #1 (always assume a gun is loaded.). So, when I offer up my next bolded statement, don't run away screaming “OH NO'S NATIONAL REGISTRY!” Really, all I, as a non-gun owning civilian, want is assurance that when I see someone with a gun, he's most likely got training with that gun.
#1 Offer gun safety training the same way we offer driver's training.

Okay, so a gun registry scares people. They don't think the government has a right to be all up in their grill with what they own gun wise. I get that. (People are scared of their government, yet we keep electing the same type of person to government. That's a rant for a different day though.) I'm not saying that once someone has taken a gun safety course, they have to be added to a national registry so the government knows who's a licensed gun owner the way you do for a car. I do think that gun shops should be forced to make their patrons show some kind of gun safety course certificate before someone buys a gun. They could offer the course themselves, as a lot of shops do now for concealed carry permits. Now, do they have to send a list of graduates to some government authority? No. Is there going to be some abuse of the system? Yes. People are human. The thing is, if the the gun industry wants to continue operating with minimal government oversight, then they need to start self regulating better. Get with the NRA. Establish minimum standards of safety training. Start offering NRA accredited courses at minimal cost. Give graduates a wallet sized certificate saying they can buy a gun. We do it with concealed carry permits issued by the state. Let's expand that idea to an industry standard. No registry, except with the gun store who are affiliated with the certificate programs. They already have to keep paper records of guns purchases, so piggy back this onto that. It'll take a generation, but if it never starts, it'll never get done.
#2 Make it possible for everyone to assume that 99% of people with guns have training with it.

I have a lot of friends who are gun control advocates, and a lot of friends who see the idea of any kind of gun control as a violation of constitutional law. The problem is, these two groups just can't acknowledge that the other side has any valid points or reasonable concerns at all.
#3 Shut up and listen to each other.
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I wonder how they know? [Apr. 8th, 2014|10:08 am]
I wonder what criteria LJ is using to decide that my blog is #14240? I know I need to post more often, so I'm putting this post in to see if my blog number changes.
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I haven't posted in a while... [Mar. 22nd, 2014|08:20 pm]
I'm too tired. That is all.
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Again? [Aug. 4th, 2013|09:04 am]
Hey! Doesn't school start soon?

Whoa... when did you get here?

I've been here forever, dudette.

Oh, are we doing this thing again?

Just go with it.

Dagnabit. Fine. Yes.

Yes what?

Yes, school starts soon.

Whoops! I forgot I said that already.

Wow. Are you sure we have to do this?

Not anymore, but since we started...

Okay, so, Yes.

Yes what?




Wait, what?

Never mind.

Hey! Catch you later then.

Sure. Sounds great.
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Tagging.. [Jul. 22nd, 2013|09:38 am]
I'm leaving a note here for myself so that I'll remember that when I take up tagging my entries again, I'll need to start with December 2010.

I'm going back through my entries and finding my etiquette, education, and writing posts and tagging them. This means I'm going to have review every post since I started in 2004 (nine years wow!) because I started whining about education almost from Day 1. I'm also locking posts that should have been locked, and unlocking those when I can't figure out why I locked them.

(This post doesn't get a tag, since I'm not tagging random life updates... I should have a random life updated tag...)
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Hey! How you been? [Jul. 1st, 2013|05:13 pm]
Not bad. You?

Getting by.

Sounds like me.

Yeah. Hey Listen.

Yeah? What's up?

Well, just between you and me...


It's not really going that well.

Oh no! What's wrong?

Nothing major, just a bunch of little things, you know?

Like what?

Well, we got down to $.42 in the bank account last paycheck.


And when we go to the farmer's market, we have to busk to afford anything.

Things are a little tight, huh?

Yeah, you could say that.

Aren't you going to the U.P. soon?

Yeah that'll be fun. How's the book coming?

Almost done!


No. But, we're on the 3rd draft. No major changes to make.

That's sweet.

We think it'll be publishable on the 5th draft.

Well! Things are looking up for you then!

Yeah, sorry they're not so good at your end.

Well, I can't really complain too much.

Like they sat, "At least you got a roof over your head."

Yeah, I really am lucky in a lot of ways.

Well, glad I could cheer you up.

Yeah. See ya?

See ya.
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On the list of things I'm not allowed to admit... [Jun. 24th, 2013|09:45 pm]

Dear Parents,
Every time you send me an e-mail or call the school asking if there's any extra credit your child can do, I die a little.
You see, it's not that I don't understand; you want your child to be successful, and you feel it's your duty to help them be successful. In fact, it is your duty to do so, that's not what causes the little death for me.
But, I have so many problems with the idea of "extra-credit" that it is really going to be difficult for me to organize them coherently. I am going to try though, so bare with me:

First, why are you asking me, instead of your student? In fact, your student probably did ask me, and I told them the same thing I'm going to tell you at first. There are tons of extra learning opportunities within my daily assignments, and your child should take advantage of them. You see, your child was hoping that you would intimidate me into giving them some extra piece of easy busy work. The worse part about that is, you will succeed. Rather than arguing my personal educational philosophy with you, once you become insistent, I will dig up an extra piece of busy work, and assign it a random number of points, if only to get you to stop calling my boss and telling her how horrible I am for not giving extra credit assignments.

Which brings me to my second issue with extra credit. I don't like fostering the point addiction you and your students have. It's not your fault. You've been trained by our education system to equate points with success. What I do with that random number of extra credit points is put them in a nebulous "citizenship" grade. In my years of teaching, I've lowered what that grade is worth from 15% to 5% of the overall grade. It's never counted for much, but for some reason, seeing those points on my online gradebook makes you happy, and causes you and your student to crave more.

But that's not all. I consider "extra credit" to mean that the student has learned above and beyond what we're learning in class. The thing is, you as a parent have already taken this class, and most likely, the classes beyond the one your student is in. If I allow the "extra credit" assignment to go home, most of the work that comes back will be yours, well-intentioned-parent. Instead of actually looking up how to solve the problems I would be tempted to send home for themselves, they'll turn to you, and whether or not you mean to, you'll do the assignment for your child, all to help them succeed. But, have you really helped them succeed?

Ideally, in my class, the grade your child has reflects what they have learned. If your child is to the point where you feel they need extra credit, you are probably asking the wrong question. The question you should be asking is, what can my child do to learn what he hasn't yet? I stay at school daily at least an hour after the final bell. I use that time for grading and planning the next day, but I willingly forgo that and stay later, much to my husband's dismay, in order to tutor those kids who come in to take advantage of the time I'm there.

I understand that your child is not a good test taker, but ultimately, paper pencil tests are the most efficient way I have to assess the most students against the learning goals I'm teaching towards. What you have to understand as a parent is that, since your child is not a good test taker, I am going to have to find other ways to assess their knowledge. So, I invite my students to come in after school if they have failed a test to retry the test, with me reading a second version of the test too them, and we work through the problems together. If the student was having a hard time reading, this will address that weakness. If the student just has a hard time concentrating for more than 5 minutes at a time, we'll take several days to retry the test. If your student doesn't meet the goals we've been targeting in class though, I am going to tutor them, and send them home with problems to try on their own. These are not extra credit, nor even required, but attempting them means they might be more successful when they retry the test a third time.

The thing is, your student most likely won't try those problems, unless I assign them a certain number of points. And, most likely, they'll get you to do those problems if they are worth points So, even while I'm working with your child, I'm inwardly wondering whether this time it will be worth it. I'm an optimist at school, so, I'll do it anyhow, hoping that this time will be the one time a student does what I've asked. But the pessimist I am at home knows better.

So, please, stop killing me one phone call or e-mail at a time. You don't really want extra-credit for your student, you just want me give your kid a passing grade without them having learned the standards I'm trying to teach them.
Thank you,
Your Child's Teacher
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