Wednesday, October 31, 2007

OK, that was an impressive play

Have you ever seen the famous play with four seconds remaining in a 1982 football game between Cal and Stanford where Cal kept throwing laterals until a player scored a touchdown, and then crashed into a Stanford trombone player because the Stanford band had already gone onto the field, thinking the game was over?

History has repeated itself (sans the football player/trombone player collision). This time, Trinity University in Mississippi was on their own 39 yard line and losing the game to Millsaps College with only two seconds left. Trinity needed a touchdown to win. One pass and fifteen laterals later....

Click here to see the outcome.

Good Day to You, Sir

My thoughts exactly... literally

Several days ago, I blogged about two members of the "Jena 6" being rewarded with a trip to, and an appearance on the BET Awards. A radio host and columnist named Mychal Massie had very similar thoughts and even a similar headline: Beat Whitey - Get a Reward! Since I only do this as a labor of love, and Mr. Massie receives an income to do the same thing, I thought you might like to hear his comments on this travesty as well. He goes a little more in depth than I do, and he also gets a lot more nasty about it too, since he is black himself and hates to see what is happening to his heritage. Here is the first paragraph to wet your whistle:
Be a black thug – beat a white student senseless – you and your families get rewarded with an all-expense-paid "getaway for a relaxing weekend" while they watch you hand out awards on BET to a standing ovation. After all, six black thugs damn near killing a "white boy" in an unprovoked, cowardly attack can be tiring and stressful. But be a black student who works hard, gets good grades, speaks proper English, refuses to stoop to the lowest common denominator, and you are accused of "acting white...."

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, October 27, 2007

With a headline like this...

... you just knew I would have to link to it. From the online edition of the San Francisco Chronicle:
American kids, dumber than dirt
Warning: the next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history

I have this ongoing discussion with a longtime reader who also just so happens to be a longtime Oakland high school teacher, a wonderful guy who's seen generations of teens come and generations go and who has a delightful poetic sensibility and quirky outlook on his life and his family and his beloved teaching career...

It's gotten so bad that, as my friend nears retirement, he says he is very seriously considering moving out of the country so as to escape what he sees will be the surefire collapse of functioning American society in the next handful of years due to the absolutely irrefutable destruction, the shocking — and nearly hopeless — dumb-ification of the American brain. It is just that bad....
Be sure to read the rest.

Good Day to You, Sir

These things bug the ever-living $#!% out of me!

Make a mental picture: I am teaching my class (or trying to anyway), and I keep hearing this loud clicking and whirring noise. I look around the room, and I see it:

These itty-bitty skateboards - called Tech Decks - are becoming the bane of my existence in the classroom. Many of the 7th and 8th grade boys I teach are constantly fiddling with these things in the middle of class; doing little finger tricks which make the skateboard do jumps and 180s right onto the hard surface of their desk... all while I am trying to give instruction. I know more than a few fellow teachers check this blog - are any of you having to put up with these annoying little objects in your classroom?

When I see them out, I don't even say a word anymore; I just walk over and take them. This particular Tech Deck that my three year old son is holding for the camera was confiscated, stuffed in my pocket, and then forgotten about by both teacher and student. I found it in my pocket when I got home.

Have I given it back to its owner? I'll give you a hint: he hasn't asked for it, and my son is having a lot of fun playing with it.

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, October 26, 2007

Step away from the Hijab!

Remember this charming image?

That's your fearless Speaker of the House cowtowing to those Islamoloonies in the tolerant and freedom-loving country of Syria by donning the hijab, which is the name of the hair-covering shawl that many Muslim women wear. I blogged my disgust about Nancy Pelosi's subservience to misogyny when the photo appeared back in April of this year. Lookin' good Nanc'!

Now we have another prominent American woman buckling before the religion of misogyny, and this time, she is from the right side of the political aisle. First Lady Laura Bush was in the tolerant and freedom-loving country of Saudi Arabia the other day, and here was her fashionable concealment:

Could you ladies please do us a favor and risk offending your esteemed hosts by not putting on that symbol of female oppression? Seriously! Laura Bush has actually done this before, but the last time it happened, she was in Jerusalem, where freedom still exists (for now). I didn't like it then either, but at the same time, at least she wasn't in one of these liberty-squashing countries like Syria or Saudi Arabia. Donning a hijab in the heart of Wahabbist Islam is different matter altogether.

Yes, I know what your argument is going to be: Pelosi and Bush were just being considerate guests by honoring the customs of the host country. While I agree that adhering to local customs is just fine, there is a limit to my adherence. What if in the time of Nazi Germany, we sent one of our diplomats - one who happened to be Jewish - over there, and he slapped on a yellow Star of David tag that Jews had to wear? No harm right? He is just making sure he is "honoring" their local customs, right?

You can dismiss this as some little thing about which I shouldn't get bent out of shape. The problem is that as you dismiss little thing after little thing, one day you wake up and realize that they all add up to a big thing. Submission to Islam when you are not a Muslim is not something to treat lightly.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kids these days

A dearth of half-and-half in my refrigerator this morning led to a unfortunate encounter with a member of our youthful entitled generation.

I usually make my own coffee in the morning, but I cannot drink coffee black... yuk! We were out of half-and-half, so I just stopped at a neighborhood donut place that is about a one-minute drive from my house so I could buy a cup of coffee. The place is owned by this incredibly nice Vietnamese family. The donut place (and my house) are just up the street from a middle to upper-middle class high school, and many of those students frequent the donut place before school. When I walked in the place to get my coffee, I noticed a group of boys all sitting at a table. They were straight out of 1976: they were white, pimply, and had long, stringy, unkempt skater hair. They were also being loud and obnoxious. These punks weren't the only ones in the donut shop, as there were also the bevy of regulars reading their newspapers and drinking their coffee; most of them alone, most of them elderly.

I got my coffee and walked over to the table that hosts the cream and stir sticks. I had just finished pouring my cream and putting on the lid when one of the punks got up and began walking toward the cash register; presumably to buy something else. He was walking backwards toward the cash register as he continued to converse with his friends, and that is when he - in jest - blurted out to his compadres, "Ah, fuck you man, I ain't doing that!" He said it loud and proud, as if everyone else in the donut shop would be so impressed with his daring utterance.

Mr. Chanman the parent, and Mr. Chanman the teacher erupted to the surface in one fell swoop! I was on my way to the door by the time Punk-Boy dropped his F-bomb, but I didn't care. I stopped in my tracks, did a 180, and said the following:

"Hey, watch your mouth! This is a public place; have some respect for yourself!"

I didn't yell, I didn't wave my arms around. I said it in a calm but matter-of-fact tone. I fully expected Punk-Boy and his friends to let me have it. Instead, Punk-Boy just stared at me with the strangest look on his face. It could best be described as one part shock, and one part perplexity. His peanut gallery didn't have anything to say either. I turned back around and walked out the door with my coffee.

In this case, I will agree with *CRINGE* Hillary Clinton. It does take a village in circumstances like this. Once upon a time, when young people got out of line, an adult - any adult - would call them on it and tell them to knock it off. Nowadays, adults often sit there, afraid to say anything.

I remember posting an article one time where the author described being on a train near New York City when some rowdy teenagers boarded the train and proceeded to be loud, obnoxious, and profane, yet none of the adults, including the author, said anything to these wayward youth. The author said something that has really stuck with me that I will paraphrase. He said that he and the other adults were acting like passengers on a Polish train circa 1942 while some Nazi soldiers were whooping it up in the same rail car.

Civility is a dying art, and is one that should be studied and encouraged again, even if you have to shock them into compliance like I did today.

Good Day to You, Sir

A spiked blog causes my blog to spike

I am always interested in how many hits my blog gets every day, and what brought those visitors to Buckhorn Road in the first place. This morning, I noticed quite a spike in the number of unique visitors, and the spike lasted all day. I checked the daily activity, and found that many people were coming here via a Google search for some guy named Bobby Caina Calvan.

I followed the link and it turns out I had mentioned Calvan in a post I wrote in March of this year, where I savaged an article he wrote for the Sacramento Bee in which he interviewed illegal aliens and used their quotes to sing the praises of Cesar Chavez, even though Chavez was opposed to illegal immigration - Calvan forgot to mention that little tidbit about the late labor leader, while at the same time, performing literary gymnastics in order to downplay the illegal status of his interviewees.

The reason so many people were going on Google to find out about all things Calvan was because he committed a bit of a faux pas recently. He is currently on assignment in Iraq for McClatchy Newspapers. On his personal blog, Calvan wrote of an encounter with an American soldier guarding a checkpoint, where - on his own blog, mind you - Calvan fully and confidently demonstrated what an arrogant ass he apparently is by describing his browbeating of a G.I. who had (HORROR!) never heard of the Knight-Ridder News Service.

But Calvan wasn't done. On the same blog, he wrote - on his own blog, mind you - about how he basically made up facts he couldn't verify about a firefight in Sadr City between American troops and the terrorists who lurk there. Naturally, Calvan's article stated as fact that the Americans killed innocent civilians even though he could not verify this information.

Not surprisingly, Calvan's blog was deluged with, shall we say, negative comments; so many negative comments that Calvan first pulled the offending posts off the blog, then he shut down the entire blog itself. He has rethought that squishy decision, and his blog is back up with a posted explanation attached to the beginning of the offending post:
(NOTE: This post was previously edited, then removed. By doing so, I was informed, I have violated blog protocol. I have reposted it in its entirety, with the caveat that it was reproduced using a post from another blogger who had preserved my original post.)
He also had a new post where he tried to further explain himself:
The Blogoshpere reacts
Date October 25, 2007

The response to one of my earlier posts, headlined “Simply Simpatico,” caught me off guard — further evidence of my naivete when it comes to the blogging world. My modest blog about my experiences in Iraq — that I assumed would only garner interest among family and friends — caused quite a stir.

By the way, this blog was never sanctioned by my employers, The Sacramento Bee and the McClatchy Co. It was meant to be a private blog that chronicled my experiences in Iraq and a way for me to express my personal thoughts. Again, it was meant for friends and family — to save me the trouble of responding to every e-mail I would get. I should have made this blog private — and judging from the response I’ve gotten, I should consider such a move.

Yes, I’m obviously new to blogging. Sometimes I share too much. The blogosphere has reacted and pointed out my folly. Yes, I can be pushy. Arrogant, too. I can also be wrong.

Consider this my apology.

Overwhelmed by the e-mails, many of them vitriolic, I initially edited the post, then blocked further comments. Finally, I took down the site. Unfortunately, my actions were yet another faux pas, I was told; I should have left up the post and created a new one to share my reactions and issue an apology....
You know, after reading his explanations and his articles, including re-reading the Chavez article I criticized, Bobby Caina Calvan does not strike me as being the sharpest knife in the drawer. I'll be looking for his next article in the Bee... that is, if he still has a job.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mythbusting in Jena, Louisiana

We have heard the sequence of events from the national media. Now let's get the skinny from a news reporter who lives in Jena, who works for a newspaper in Jena, and whose wife teaches at Jena High School. This column appears in the Christian Science Monitor.

The biggest surprise to me was finding out that the so-called "Whites-Only Tree" was anything but.

Good Day to You, Sir

The Carnival of Education

Edition 142.0 is currently underway at the blog History is Elementary. Do take the time to read this post by Old Andrew at Scenes from the Battleground. He does an excellent job at listing and explaining student behaviors that have always been found in schools and probably always will.

Good Day to You, Sir

Are they children of God or mindless animals?

There has been much controversy lately about middle schools in our country handing out birth control to their students, or considering doing it. Darren from RightOnTheLeftCoast (see blogroll) posted about it recently, and there was also a link on Drudge. Personally, I think giving birth control to middle school children - especially sans parental permission - is an absolutely horrible idea. As a teacher of middle schoolers, every day I watch this age-group make the absolute worst decisions one could ever contemplate. By and large, their emotional maturity has yet to even come close to catching up with their physical and cognitive capabilities. That is a dangerous combination of circumstances.

The common argument people make in order to defend the distribution of birth control to teens and preteens is that, "They are going to do it anyway, so we might as well make sure they are doing it safely." Horsesqueeze! How easily people forget that once upon a time, teen pregnancy was not nearly as ubiquitous as it is today. Young people fifty years ago had the same exact urges as the young people of today; human nature is human nature. The difference is that through parental, societal, and yes, religious pressure, the young people of yesteryear were much better able to delay gratification and not catch the diseases and early pregnancies that plague our youth of today. We must look at people - including our young people - as human beings blessed by God with the ability to know right from wrong, and to do the right thing. Animals don't have much, if any, concept of right and wrong. Animals just do whatever comes naturally, whether it is to kill and eat another animal, or copulate whenever the opportunity presents itself. When these do-gooder activists out there insist that teens and pre-teens cannot control their urges, that they are going to do the wrong thing no matter what we as a society say and do, then those activists are saying that our young people are nothing but wild animals with the morals of an alley cat. I think God made us better than that, and I refuse to sell people - and especially our young people - short. Again, I am not saying we don't have animal urges; of course we do! I am simply saying that we have been born with an ability to curb those urges. All it takes is the proper motivation. Unfortunately, the motivators of shame and disgrace have been removed in the last forty or fifty years, thereby making it more socially acceptable for teens and preteens to have sex. Now that is a shame and a disgrace.

This fits right into my position that I blogged about recently when I was talking about how microphones were offered up as the solution for teachers in Europe to be heard above their unruly students. Rather than present the students with the expectation that they will control themselves and not talk over the teacher, the chuckleheaded lefties of this world just dismiss these young people as simple animals who cannot control themselves, so therefore, modern technology must save the day.

Up to this point, this blog post has been all theory and philosophy. Just this week, I have seen the middle school sexual dynamic in action in a way I would rather forget. Yesterday, I confiscated a note from a male 8th grade student who was writing that instead of the in-class assignment he was supposed to be doing. I often privately read the notes I confiscate. I have found them to be an invaluable method of keeping my finger on the pulse of my school and my students. This note yesterday was a humdinger! In it, he was professing his love to his unnamed girlfriend, and he couldn't wait to see her after school at so-and-so's house (the parents must not be home yet at that time), and, oh yes, he was out of condoms, and he would pick up some more on the way to so-and-so's house. FOUL!!!

During my prep period, I called this boy's mother, and started off the conversation by saying, "This is a very uncomfortable phone call to make, but I would feel even more uncomfortable if I didn't make it...." And then I told her about the note and what it said. The mom asked me if the note mentioned the girlfriend's name. I told her it didn't, but after I read the note verbatim, the mom was able to figure out that it was the girlfriend the boy has had since last school year. The mom was horrified and told me that she was going to, "ride his butt when he gets home!"

Today during our department meeting, I mentioned this situation to my fellow social studies teachers. They knew the boy, and one of them had the girlfriend in his class last year. This teacher told me that a couple of times, he confiscated drawings she was making at her desk which showed a female form with a baby in her belly, and written above the drawing would be something like, "(Boyfriend) almost got me this month." This is when they were both 7th graders folks!

After hearing about middle schools handing out birth control, and after hearing about my story of the boyfriend/girlfriend at my middle school, I want you to ask yourself something: Did it make you feel any better that the 8th grade boyfriend was going to pick up condoms on the way to have sex with his 8th grade girlfriend? Or did you think that these two should live in a world where having sex at the age of 13 should simply not be an option whether they are using birth control or not? That world once existed, and I wish to God that it still did.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, October 22, 2007

We gon' done elected one a dem Injuns

So much for the conventional wisdom. The people of Louisiana have overwhelmingly elected Piyush "Bobby" Jindal as their new Republican governor.

Yes, those swamp-running backwater yokel locals, those racist intolerant scum who everyone thought were a bunch of noose-hanging numbskulls who have been painted with the Jena brush have managed to somehow elect a man who is not white and whose parents are from a south Asian country. I trust you can detect my sarcasm.

And they elected him in what was just about as much of a landslide election as one can find. Jindal received 54% of the vote. His next closest competitor received 18%, and there were 11 candidates in all. Jindal needed a majority vote to avoid a runoff election. It seems the only people who were surprised at Jindal's success were the northeastern media who couldn't conceive of Jindal winning the thing outright. Sure, they had to concede that he would do well in the election, but they believed that he would probably not receive a majority of the vote, let alone a 54-18 win over the runner-up.

Bobby Jindal's story is truly an amazing one. His parents were immigrants from India who had come to Louisiana to attend graduate school. He graduated from Brown and Oxford, then was a member of the Louisiana governor's cabinet when he was just 24 years old. He converted from Hinduism to Catholicism when he was a teenager, and is a political and social conservative.

Now he is the governor of Louisiana, and at the ripe old age of 36, has to be seen as a rising star in Republican politics. But let's see him learn to walk before he begins to run. Getting elected is only the first step. Now let's see how he leads.

I am very excited for Bobby Jindal, and in the wake of the black eye that Louisiana received as a result of the whole "Jena 6" affair, I'm glad to see the citizens of that state give an electoral middle finger to the sanctimonious race-baiters out there.

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Prison Predictions

My wife - who in case you didn't know, is also a teacher - attended a professional development seminar on teaching reading this weekend. She learned a startling fact that we had never heard before; so startling, that I Googled it just to see if it checked out. Apparently, states estimate how many prisons they need to build by analyzing the results of first through third grade reading scores.

The ability to read is that strong of an indicator of future success. All one has to do is find out the incredible amount of illiteracy among our prison population, and it becomes clear that what the states are doing might seem cynical, but it also appears to be accurate.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thou hast offended me with thy eloquence

You know what really drives me crazy? When a student takes me to task for using "big words."

Today, I had just set up the overhead and put a transparency up for the students to begin copying. A new student in the back asked me if she could sit up front while copying. I asked her, "Is someone's head in the way, or do you need to see an optometrist?" She smiled and said, "I need to see an optometrist."

Enter the mental meanderings of... oh, let's just call him Knucklehead. Here is the conversation:

Knucklehead: What's an optometrist?
Mr. Chanman: An eye doctor.
K: Then why didn't you just say 'eye doctor'?
C: Because I say 'optometrist'.
K: Instead of using big words, why don't you just say 'eye doctor'?
C: I prefer 'optometrist'.
K: Well, you say 'optometrist', I'm gonna say 'eye doctor'.
C: Thank you, I will. I am a teacher, so I'm allowed to teach you new words. Now you're going to go home this afternoon having learned what an optometrist is. As a teacher, that makes me feel like I accomplished something today.

I mean, Knucklehead truly sounded exasperated and offended that I said optometrist rather than eye doctor. How DARE I teach him something new! I didn't mind engaging him in a little repartee, because I had a few moments to spare while students were still transitioning to the notes on the overhead.

Just another day in the trenches.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Beat a kid while he is unconscious, get rewarded

They may not have attempted to murder him, but six members of the Jena, Louisiana high school football team did beat and kick one Justin Barker as he lay unconscious on the ground.

What did two members of the "Jena Six" receive for their efforts besides 20,000 people marching through their town calling for their release for this violent crime? How about a trip to a Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards show?

This is truly reprehensible. I'm sure by now that you have noticed the number six that these two knuckleheads are making with their hands. They look really sorry for what they did; I'm sure they are crying on the inside.

Only in America.

Good Day to You, Sir

Final proof that we can't do anything right in Iraq

At least according to the oh-so-unbiased news media (can you just hear the sarcasm dripping from my tongue?).

In a story from McClatchy News Service, it has become apparent that the United States has gone from causing too many deaths in Iraq, to now causing not enough. With a title that elicits a shake of the head and cluck of the tongue, the McClatchy reporters tell us that as violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinch.
A drop in violence around Iraq has cut burials in the huge Wadi al Salam cemetery here by at least one-third in the past six months, and that's cut the pay of thousands of workers who make their living digging graves, washing corpses or selling burial shrouds...
OK everybody, all together now: Awwwwwwwwwww.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Short but sweet weekend

The fam and I got back from my parents' on Sunday afternoon. My parents live in a small town in northeastern California in the middle of volcano/lava country. In fact they region in which they live is called the Intermountain region, because they are located about equidistant between Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen; both volcanoes in the Cascade Range.

I have been to this area so many times over the last two decades, that I believe I have taken a picture of just about everything I can think of. That's not really true - I just need to get more and more out of my comfort zone in order to find new photo opportunities. Until my kids are able to hike with me, I will just have to be patient. In the meantime, here are a couple shots I was able to snap:

Autumn is - hands down - my favorite time of year, especially in the north state. As long as an early fall storm doesn't strip the leaves off the trees, you are treated to the most brilliant and vivid colors as the trees turn. Few trees are more beautiful in the fall than Aspen trees. You can obviously see why.

There is a little - dare I call it a town? - community called Ingot that lies about halfway between the towns of Redding and Burney on Highway 299. Across the creek from the highway are the ruins of an old gold mine. I tried to find out how old the mine is, but I couldn't find anything. My best guess is early 20th century - say, sometime between 1890 and 1920. I have driven by these ruins for years, but Sunday morning was the first time I ever had the gumption to actually stop the car and take a picture.

Normal: Some deer grazing along a mountain highway.

Abnormal: A fork-and-horn with a death wish, grazing along a mountain highway during deer season.

Finally, we would have been remiss in our duties as parents if we didn't cart our John Deere-obsessed son over to the big John Deere dealership in Fall River Mills/MacArthur. The funny thing is that his obsession has rubbed off on his little sister:

Whenever we are in the car, and she sees tractors or construction vehicles doing their thing, she lets out a bloodcurdling shriek of delight. Atta girl!

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Off to God's Country

Tomorrow, the fam and I will be leaving for my parents' place to spend the weekend in the great white north of our late, great state - well, I think we will have to settle for great rainy north, judging by the weather reports.

The best part is that I took off the second half of my school day. A sub will take over for me at lunch time, and my wife and kids will pick me up in the parking lot. This works out nicely, because the period that has been graying my hair this year (literally), is right after lunch. Yesterday, one of our campus supervisors had to sit in my classroom for about the first 10 or 15 minutes of class before they calmed down.

If I take any worthy photos up north, you can be sure they will find their way here! Until then, I will post again in a few days.

Good Day to You, Sir

Another Medal of Honor recipient

For the third time since our War on Islamic Terrorism began six years ago, an American service member has been awarded the Medal of Honor. Unfortunately, this is also the third time that it has been awarded posthumously.

The latest recipient is Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2005.

Lt. Murphy was given the Medal of Honor for leaving his covered position even after he had been wounded so he could reach a radio to call in support for his pinned down SEAL team. The radio was out in the open, and Lt. Murphy was shot in the back by the Taliban as he made the radio call. This caused him to drop the transmitter, but he continued to make the radio call. When the firefight was over, Lt. Murphy and all but one of his team were dead, along with about 35 Taliban . The surviving member of Lt. Murphy's team, Marcus Luttrell, has written a book about this experience, called Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing, and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. I plan on reading this book the first chance I get. And to think I saw it on display when I was browsing through a Barnes and Noble last week.

I am so sorry that this fine man died, however, it does my heart good to know that there are still men of courage and honor who still exist in this country. There are others out there like Lt. Michael Murphy, and it is they who will continue to ensure the survival of our nation.

God Bless them all.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mission Complete!

Have you ever had one of those projects dancing around in your head for years, but you just never seemed to get it done? For once, I have beaten the procrastination demon and accomplished something that I have wanted to do for years, and that is to display my Army medals, patches, pins, and ribbons in a shadow box. I am very proud of the more than a decade that I spent in our Armed Services, and it always pained me to think of all of this stuff collecting dust in a footlocker up in the loft of our garage. I finally decided to do something about it, and this is the end result. I don't have the strength tonight to try to decipher all the different items. If you have any military experience, I'm sure you will recognize plenty. In fact, for you current or ex-military types out there, I can turn this into a sort of game: based on what you see, what did Chanman do with his time in the service and where did he serve? Remember, if you click on the photo, you can really zoom in!

The one edit I had to make for this photo was to paint over my last name on the tag in the extreme upper left. I prefer to just be Chanman on this blog; don't want my students Googling me and finding my mental meanderings online.

I will be donating this display to my church for the month of November, as they are putting together a Veterans Day display in our gathering hall, and have been asking for military memorabilia from our members who have served.

Good Day to You, Sir, and Hooah!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Good news in the world of track and field

Since I depressed myself by writing about the Marion Jones debacle, I thought I would balance things out by mentioning these two items:

Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, who has been around the long distance track circuit for years, set a world record in the Marathon the other day in Berlin. He ran a time of 2 hours 4 minutes and 26 seconds. Do the math, and that works out to a pace of about 4:47 per mile. Let's put that into perspective shall we? My personal record in a one mile race is 4:27, which I did at the ripe young age of 19 when I was in college. This guy ran a 4:47 mile, twenty-six times in a row, and to top it all off, he accomplished it at the ripe old-ish age of 34. Being 35, this makes me feel pretty good that people my age are still able to perform world class feats like this. I also always tell myself that Carl Lewis won his fourth Olympic gold medal in the Long Jump when he was 35 years old. It's funny about professional sports - in any other endeavor, being in your mid-thirties would make you still a young buck. In pro sports (except for baseball), it makes you a veteran who is about to be put out to pasture.

Good Day to You, Sir

Marion Jones' Shame

I have been a fan of track and field since the late 1980s. I ran it in high school and college, and have followed the sport since that time. I have attended - as a spectator - the 1991 NCAA Championships and the 2000 Olympic Trials, which were held right here in Sacramento. One of the highlights of those trials was watching Marion Jones qualify in three individual events: the 100m, 200m, and the Long Jump. A few months later in Sydney, Australia, Jones medaled in those three events, plus two more medals in the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays, for a total of five Olympic medals. Four years later, in Athens, Jones added two bronze medals to her collection for a total of seven Olympic medals.

That's all gone now. Marion Jones has admitted to steroid use in connection with the BALCO lab in the Bay Area, to which Barry Bonds has also been associated. It's a darn shame what some people are willing to give up in order to win glory and some round metal discs. Of course we all know that's not all. Although Marion Jones was commanding around $80,000 a race over in Europe, where she made her real money was with commercial endorsements. With the stain of drug use now all over her, those endorsements will be no more as well.

This is the second time I have watched a superstar fall in track due to drug use. When I was a junior in high school, I was so excited to watch the showdown between Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson in the 100m at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. What a letdown it was for me a couple days later when Johnson tested positive for steroids and had his gold medal and world record stripped away from him. Now the same thing will happen to Marion Jones. She has no world records to lose, but those seven medals she won are now revoked.

The toughest part for me in watching the downfall of Marion Jones is that I knew her when. In June of 1990, just a few days before I graduated from high school, my mother and I drove down to the L.A. area to watch the California State High School Track and Field Championships. Winning the girls 100m and 200m at that meet was a mere freshman from Rio Mesa High in Oxnard. That girl was Marion Jones. I remember watching her run at the time and thinking to myself that this girl is going to be a superstar. Ten years later, imagine how excited I was to see my prediction come true. You can then imagine how much it pains me to see Marion Jones crash and burn.

The Proverb has always said that the wages of sin is death. In this case, the death would be Marion Jones' career. Hell of a shame.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, October 06, 2007

San Francisco at its worst

Listen to me very carefully. I am going to provide a link to the latest photo essay by Zombie, Bay Area muckraker extraordinaire. But before I provide the link, you must be forewarned.

Zombie is there at all the major left-wing events around San Francisco, taking photos of the things you rarely, if ever, see the mainstream media show. Zombie has certainly done that here. The other day, San Francisco held its annual Folsom Street Fair. My wife, who graduated from San Francisco State, received the shock of her life when some friends took her to this fair while she was in college. After viewing Zombie's photos, I can totally understand why. Whether the participants are gay or straight, I don't care. What disgusts me is the public display of nudity, hedonism, oral sex, and the crowds of onlookers egging all this on, along with the SFPD officers standing around letting it all happen.

Before I provide you with the link to Zombie's report, please consider yourself warned that what you will see if you click on the link (and go through Zombie's warnings as well) is a horrific and graphic presentation of the worst kind of public decadence that the City by the Bay has to offer. What you do behind closed doors is one thing; but for stuff like this to be done where unwitting bystanders - including children - can be exposed to it is absolutely reprehensible, and the city of San Francisco ought to be ashamed of itself for allowing this annual travesty to happen. Of course, if you have the stomach to view Zombie's photos, you will see that shame isn't exactly in large supply at this event.

OK, last warning: Zombie's photos of this year's San Francisco Folsom Street Fair are extremely graphic, disturbing, and, I believe, sad. It's a shame that people are willing to degrade themselves like this in public, and it's a shame that the local government allows it to happen and further tarnish the image of what could be a great city.

Here is the link.

Do not go to the link if you are at work. Zombie's photo essay is totally inappropriate to view anywhere but in your own home.

Good Day to You, Sir

More realism at the movies

Last week, I posted a YouTube clip of Tom Cruise demonstrating an awesome and accurate display of shooting from the movie Collateral. That set me to thinking of what other movie scenes are out there that have left me similarly breathless, but that you might not have necessarily seen. For instance, the D-Day scene from Saving Private Ryan is way up there on my list, but I think most people have seen it. The botched bank robbery firefight from the movie Heat isn't nearly as well known. But for my money, I cannot think of a more true-to-life depiction of shots being exchanged between criminal and cop. Accurate details to look for: shooting through the windshield from inside the car (none of this business of hanging your body halfway out the window), the speed and accuracy by which Val Kilmer reloads his weapon, the fire and maneuver strategy of the criminals, the lack of musical score playing during the scene, the sociopathy displayed by the criminals as they use innocent bystanders for cover, and care not a whit if bystanders get in the line of fire. If you have never seen this firefight, you are in for a treat. Be warned however that there is violence and bloodshed depicted.

Good Day to You, Sir

A welcome milestone in the family

It seems every little kid has an addiction to something. My 18 month-old daughter loves her blankie. She sits on the couch with her blankie wrapped around her as she rubs it and sucks on the two middle fingers of her right hand. We can live with that.

For our three year-old son, his addiction was his pacifier (his beloved "passy"). Pretty much from the day of his birth, he had a passy either in his mouth, or one close by. He and his passy were inseparable. That was fine when he was younger, but as he hit three years of age, and still relied on that thing as much as ever, my wife and I started to get a little wary. We limited use of the passy to bedtime only, but our son would sneak time with it as much as he could. When we would walk up to take it away, he would often say, "Just one more suck!" Notice I am talking about all this in the past-tense, because on Friday, my wife and I finally took care of the issue once and for all. Rather than recounting the entire story, will just copy and paste the email my wife sent out to family and friends. She wrote a detailed account of this momentous occasion, and attached a bunch of pictures of the blessed event, including the one I posted above. I have edited to email to exclude personal information, such as real names, that I would rather not have on the Internet. For the purposes of privacy, I will change my son's name to "B", for Build a Bear! Enjoy:
Subject: Meet Holiday

Happy Friday to all of you!

I hope this finds you well. B reached a major milestone today that
I thought all of you would appreciate knowing about, since at one point
or another I have complained to you about B's comfort item, the
only thing he has ever really bonded to.... His beloved passy. The
child is almost three and a half and there hasn't been a day of his life
that he hasn't had a passy in his mouth while going to sleep. B's
passies have been up and down the state of California, to other states
including Texas, Nevada, and Arizona. We haven't gone far without a
passy. These passies have driven me crazy since the day B was born
because, being that I was a perfect mother until that day, NO CHILD OF

B has only ever been allowed to sleep with his passy. He is not
one of those kids you would see at the grocery store with one (or like
the five year old I saw riding her bike with one today at the park!!).
He has always maintained control of his passy while he is sleeping.
When he was in his crib, we had 6-8 of them in there so he could feel
around in the dark and fine one as necessary. When he got his big boy
bed about a year ago, he just kept one in his mouth all night (we still
can't figure out how!). But recently (my theory is that with preschool
and Sunday School, etc. the kid is bushed beyond belief!), he has been
losing them in the middle of the night which has required one of his
sleepy parents to rip his bed apart and crawl around on the floor
looking for the passy in the wee hours of the night.

ENOUGH. I had an idea a couple of months ago. We would take B to
Build A Bear in the mall and let him pick the animal of his choice. We
would put the pacifiers inside the animal while it was being stuffed.
We talked about this a little bit and B's response has always been,
"just not yet. Maybe in a little while. Maybe closer to Christmas."
This week, his mother and father decided it was going to be a bit sooner
than B had planned. This afternoon, our family of four ventured to
Build A Bear.

We had looked online and B decided he wanted a monkey. We walked
in and found the monkey right away. He had also pre-named the monkey.
His name would be Holiday**, named after B's favorite 80's song
(thanks for the 80s exposure, Daddy!). I had explained to B earlier in the day that we were going to put the passies into the animal
and they would be stitched up. The best thing about having his passies
in an animal was that they could go anywhere with us! I also explained
that lately his body was saying "no more passies" because his mouth was
spitting the passy out at night and it was hard for us to find it. He

So today was Passy Celebration Day in honor of B. We went to
Chevy's for dinner (his choice was Chevy's on the River, but it's just
too busy on Fridays). They honored him with a sombrero and a special
tour of El Machino, the tortilla maker. It was really fun.

I have to say the kid was really strong. I put him down just a bit ago
and it did take him longer than usual, but he is in there as I type, out
like a light, snuggling with Holiday. At one point, after brushing his
teeth, he asked me to get his passy. I said he already had his
passies, that they were inside Holiday. B then asked me to cut
Holiday open. I said that was impossible. He smiled and said, "I
know." Hopefully he will sleep straight through and we will too.

Another milestone. These kids grow up so fast!
Thank you for indulging me.
Mrs. Chanman
**The song Holiday is not the one from Madonna, like you were probably thinking. It's actually a much more obscure song from 1987 by an Australian group called The Other Ones.

My boy is growing up.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Carnival of Education

Go forth and enjoy the different education blog posts. My post about my most recent parental encounter is included.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Movie recommendation

I made it to a movie theater tonight after dinner and watched the new political thriller The Kingdom, starring Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, and Jason Bateman (Yes, Jason Bateman! He did a great job!)

I won't give away the whole plot, but the story involves FBI agent Foxx and his team who go to Saudi Arabia to investigate a terrorist attack that killed dozens of Americans living there. The movie was raw, riveting, and realistic; portraying both the culture of Saudi Arabia and the violence of that world with equal prowess.


One of my favorite scenes from the movie involved a theme which usually makes my teeth itch. There is this phenomenon in Hollywood where, in a fight scene between a waif-ish woman and a big beefy guy, the woman will pull out her kung-fu and flexible flying kick and lay waste to the hapless bully. A now defunct movie reviewer named Radio Free Rocky D called this phenomenon Skinny Girls Who Kick Ass. What made The Kingdom so great was that they took a scene involving Jennifer Garner's character taking on a larger male Saudi opponent, and this time, the movie-makers got it right. Oh, she still wins the fight, but not easily. The bad guy is punching the hell out of her and throwing her across the room. Garner however doesn't pull out the ridiculous kicking moves. Instead, she is writhing out of his grasp, biting him, and when the opportunity arises, she begins stabbing him repeatedly with a knife. The other thing the movie got right is that during this fight, when the bad guy is stabbed, he doesn't go down with the first plunge of the blade; no, he keeps fighting like hell. In a real fight for your life, the adrenaline is pumping so hard, you don't really feel knife blows unless the blade gets somewhere real vital.


The realism can be explained by the fact that Michael Mann was one of the producers. To appreciate Mann's penchant for realism, all you have to do is watch that amazing footage that I recently posted of Tom Cruise's character dispatching those two hoods in Collateral, which Mann also produced. Or the botched bank robbery firefight from Heat. Michael Mann produced and directed that one as well. I ought to post that scene.

The other good thing about The Kingdom is that, in a break from Hollywood's War on Terrorism trend, the Americans in this movie are the good guys. Imagine that. I highly recommend The Kingdom, if nothing else but for the last 20 minutes of the movie. At one point during that stretch, I put my fingers to my neck and checked my pulse. It was throbbing with a quickness.

Go see The Kingdom.

Now, one thing I cannot recommend is going to a movie theater ever again. There was a couple near the front of the theater who brought their (approximately) 18 month old son with them to the movie. Here was a movie with loud explosions, firefights, graphic - and I do mean graphic - violence, yelling, car chases, cursing... and here was this idiot couple bringing their innocent little son to be exposed to all this, while at the same time exposing me and my fellow movie goers to the little boy's crying and chirping. Hey, I have two kids age three and under myself, but one thing I would never do would be to subject them to an adult movie like that, and subject the audience to my loud children. Some people have no brains or no shame.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

When Multiple Intelligence projects go wrong

Two middle school teachers assigned their students to come up with an advertisement that extols the virtues of slavery and their plantation.

Bad idea!

I have previously expressed my distaste for the overuse of projects in school as an attempt to satisfy the... ahem... slavish devotion that many educators have to this particular fad called multiple intelligences.

Good Day to You, Sir