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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04


2008-09-21 ... 12:42 p.m.

RUMMAGE SALE

1. According to my Chicago Public Schools calendar, "Hispanic-American Heritage Month" just started. It starts mid-September and ends mid-October, so I guess that's a month but why not a calendar month? Are you trying to confuse us? October is already "Polish-American Heritage Month." Maybe there was a huge fight and they said (in Polish) FUCK NO WE GOT OCTOBER ALREADY and the Hispanic-Americans said HUH WE CAN'T UNDERSTAND YOU. But then some translators arrived and they worked it out, although it seems unfair that the Hispanic-Americans ended up having to straddle a month. To whom do I complain? I enjoy burritos and pierogi equally, I am sure something can be arranged.

2. I watched this documentary called Fistful of Quarters, all about the guy who set the world record for high score on Donkey Kong, and it was nice and short and had a definite "stand up and cheer" quality to the ending. Plus it made me want to play a game with a joystick or (better yet) a trackball. Look for me haunting the bowling alleys and pizza parlors in your neighborhood.

3. Nora has kindergarten "science lab" on Tuesdays. They get to wear large shirts as lab coats and everything. Except my kid happens to have a real lab coat, complete with name embroidered on pocket, from a Halloween stint as a doctor when she was two years old. Of course she insisted on wearing it. Of course I was not able to explain the reasons why she might want to go with the flow and just wear one of her dadís shirts---appearances of pretension, hothousing, one-upmanship being altogether too subtle for a five-year-old's insistence on authenticity. Off she went to science lab, excited as anything, only to come home with a bitterly disappointing tale of how science lab involved putting seeds on paper towels, some wet and some dry, to watch them sprout. "I already KNOW about sprouting seeds," Nora groused. "I want to do SCIENCE." Discussions of how valuable the replication of data is to scientific progress did not persuade her.

4. There is a boy in Nora's class who sounds very exasperating. I hear tales of his misbehavior about once a week, and these tales are unusual in that he does not seem to be engaging in the usual hyperactive hijinks but is more sullen and pissy and vaguely disturbed. For instance, supposedly he went up to the teacher's desk and started pulling out kleenex after kleenex and dropping them on the floor while trying to stare her down. For this he earned all kinds of sanctions and ire (it seems that the kindergarten teacher takes no shit), but isn't that kind of a weird and aggressive thing to do? Like a We Need To Talk About Kevin kind of weird?

5. So let's call him Kevin. Yesterday Nora told me that Kevin was methodically and joylessly poking some of the kids in the back as they all stood in line to go somewhere. Some whined, some tattled, some took it, and Nora, who hadn't yet been poked, got very close to him and said, "You had better not think of doing that to me." I have been trying to think of a threatening Mafia sobriquet for her, since "Smartypants" doesn't really cut it.

6. However, perhaps the creepiest thing about creepy Kevin is his creepy parents! They dress very casually and are always together at both pick-up and drop-off, making LT and I uncharitably wonder if they have jobs or what. They are very chatty and talk about Kevin being "challenging" in laughing, prideful tones, oh the teacher certainly has her hands full with him! Oh, aren't children hilarious! And then they tell stories like the one about the kleenex, and it just sounds creepy and embarrassing and not at all kids-will-be-kids. More like kids-might-need-counseling. I can only wonder if they have drunk the "gifted" kool-aid to such an extent that any behavior, no matter how hideous or antisocial, serves only as more evidence of the sparkly brilliance of their special snowflake. CREEPY.

7. Today I decided that I really hate my laugh. I was laughing at something and for one terrible self-aware moment I clearly heard myself, and I had the high-pitched giggle of an unhinged Muppet. So I played around a while with ways to change it, but I quickly ran out of funny stuff to laugh at so the experiment was abandoned. Right now I am alone in the house (see below) and drinking a lot of tea, having a maniacal typing and reading marathon. Something struck me funny in the middle of this caffeine-a-thon and I found myself laughing by actually saying HA HA HA HA HA. This is not an improvement over the Muppet thing so I give up.

8. Alone-in-the-house-ness is because LT and Nora are at the Bears game. I was ever so slightly miffed at the plan because I want to go to a Bears game, but she has been wanting to go forever and is so excited to be wearing her brand-new Devin Hester jersey. It is very cute, which made me a lot less miffed. Also, I realized that this means at least four or five hours alone where I can watch football and read books and chase my Earl Grey with Miller High Life, looking for that perfect upper/downer central-nervous-system sweet spot.

9. I just finished the amazing Tested: One American School Struggles To Make The Grade. It is a fantastic read, with education theory and facts interwoven with reportage of real classrooms and real kids and real horrifying anecdotes of just how miserable school can be when everything is scripted and measured and scrutinized. There are also some intriguing "aha" moments, such as:

Observers who aren't conspiracy theorists detect a symbiotic relationship among many of the private-sector beneficiaries of the school accountability movement. President Bush's brother Neil owns a company that sells educational software, including sales to school districts that pay for it with federal Title I money. Many believe that the relationship between the president and family friend Harold McGraw III---who ran Bush's transition team and whose company, McGraw-Hill, is one of the biggest curriculum and test providers in the world---has a lot to do with the administration's emphasis on scientifically based reading programs, such as McGraw-Hill's Open Court. [ed. note: painstakingly described in Perlstein's book and which sounds HORRIBLE.] Two chief architects of federal education policy, former Bush adviser Sandy Kress and former deputy education secretary Gene Hickok, now make a living lobbying for for-profit education corporations, including testing and test-prep companies. As several people involved in the crafting of No Child Left Behind told me, lobbyists for testing and school improvement businesses had a far greater role in the law's creation than did associations representing actual educators. And since the law passed, many of the people appointed to evaluate states' applications for reading grants have had their own business interests in the industry.

10. On a nearly empty Red Line train a man kept yelling at us few passengers that he hopes we all get locked up. Over and over again. "I hope all you motherfuckers get locked up. LOCKED! UP!" And so forth. Cruel thought of the day: Let's see here. You are a screaming-in-public African-American man, mentally ill, on drugs, or both, who smells strongly of poop. Want to take bets on who gets "locked up" first?

---mimi smartypants will make bail.



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