The other Memorial Day

Today would’ve been my dad’s 87th birthday. Hard to believe it’s been more than eight years since he passed away. He’s still with us in spirit.

Herb (yep, that’s his name) served in the military during the Korean War… and pretty much hated every minute of it. The “command and control” structure fit him like a hairshirt. (Gee, wonder where I get my rebel streak from…) Besides, his biggest battles were yet to come. Watching your wife succumb to leukemia. Moving your four kids to Arkansas. Struggling to get by. Fighting depression.

Not all heroes wear suits. Or fatigues. Sometimes they wear horn-rimmed glasses and polyester pants and thrift shop shirts. And they love their kids, and raise them the best that they can.

Happy Birthday, Pops.

23rd verse, same as the first

Another week, another school shooting. Yesterday it was Noblesville, Indiana, where a middle-schooler asked to leave the classroom and came back armed with two handguns and started shooting. Let’s read that sentence again, shall we? A middle-schoolerarmed with two handguns.

It’s the 23rd shooting on school grounds (including colleges/universities) in the 21st week of 2018.

26 children and 5 adults have died as a result, with dozens more injured, and hundreds more psychologically scarred. 31 lives lost in buildings set up for education, while during this same time period 13 members of the military have died in active combat zones. So in 2018, schools have been more dangerous than combat zones.

Don’t give me your “arm the teachers” argument. They have enough on their plates as it is.

Don’t give me your “cars kill more people than guns so we should ban cars” argument. Because we both know that getting a car involves:

  • Minimum age requirements
  • Mandatory training hours, written exam and road test prior to receiving a license
  • License subject to renewal on a regular basis
  • Mandatory registration
  • Mandatory insurance

Whereas getting a gun requires:

  • forking over some cash at a gun show.

If you want to institute the same requirements for gun ownership and operation as for car ownership and operation, I’m fully on board. And then we can discuss safety enhancements for the guns themselves, similar to the way the auto industry has added seat belts, anti-lock brakes, air bags and dozens of other features.  Heck, my daughter’s phone has a fingerprint lock… yet we can’t put that same technology in guns?

It may seem hopeless, especially when the NRA has hundreds of politicians in their deep back pockets. But don’t give up, because progress is being made, slowly, but surely. This series of tweets from the founder of Moms Demand Action proves that.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need more action.

 

 

Good grief, Charlie Brown knows how to rock!

I’m a huge Rush fan (read: nerd) and because I’m in charge of employee communications at work, I manage to slip a Rush reference into all-company emails every once in a while (read: nearly every week).

So all of my co-workers are aware of my undying devotion to Canada’s premier power rock trio (suck it, Triumph!). One colleague sent me a link to an article posted yesterday on the Onion AV club. A dude named Garren Lazar has been setting Peanuts footage to rock songs for a while, and he recently posted a clip that syncs up the Peanuts gang with the entire twenty-plus-minute “2112” song suite.

Naturally, I love it. Having Linus as the protagonist is pure genius… the same goes for Pigpen playing the drums like Neil Peart. Check out this three-minute excerpt:

The entire clip is here if you have 21 minutes and 12 seconds to spare. (Yes, 21:12! We see what you did there Garren!)

Have a Rushtastic weekend!

Sweet summer freedom

Today’s the last day of exams for my “rising senior, rising sophomore and rising 8th grader”… which means they won’t be rising at the crack of dawn for a few months. I’m sure they’ll celebrate in typical movie scene/music montage fashion this afternoon.

Well, they’re not the only ones who are celebrating. Daddy is delighted too! Summer vacation also means freedom for me:

  • Freedom from having to wake up 20 minutes early to squeeze in a quick workout (kettlebell swings in the basement – sun’s not out, guns not out)
  • Freedom from trying to wake three teenagers at 6 a.m. (there’s not enough blasting powder in the entire world)
  • Freedom from the headaches caused by the four kids/two bathrooms challenge (it requires a greater degree of planning and precision timing than the D-Day invasion)
  • Freedom from making Peter’s chicken and brown rice lunch (and freedom from our dog staring at me with those puppy dog eyes while I cut up the chicken).
  • Freedom from 26 “hurry up or you’ll miss the bus” warnings per morning (plus or minus 10).
  • Freedom from driving my daughter to school when she ignores the 26 warnings and misses the bus. Which means I have to miss my relaxing reading-filled bus ride to work, and instead I have to park 15 minutes away from my office. (Actually I could park closer but I’m too cheap to pay.)

I know it’ll end all too quickly, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

 

 

 

Yanny or Laurel? Who cares! Let’s drink!

The whole “Yanny or Laurel” audio clip was a viral sensation last week. (I know, I’m behind the times… I’m used to it.)

This New York Times slider will let you hear both.

But if you were born prior to the internet age, you’ve seen contentious debates like this before.

It divided the country. Even bowling teams nearly came to blows over it.

And then there was the great “Chocolate in my peanut butter/peanut butter on my chocolate” feud:

(I wonder if the kids were listening to Yanny/Laurel on their Walkmans.)

We’ll figure it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay classy!

It’s Graduation Day for our oldest child.

Seems like just yesterday he was a toddler, and we were signing him up for preschool at the church down the street.

He’ll be leaving the nest in a couple of months, but he won’t be venturing too far from home. He’s attending the University of Cincinnati (dreaded basketball rival of my alma mater… kids are such rebels) to study engineering. I’ve talked to several folks who have either been through the program themselves or have kids who’ve gone through it, and it gets rave reviews. And as my friend Art (who was my college roommate) says, “college can be as far away as you want it to be” – meaning just because you’re going to a school that’s 10 miles from your house doesn’t mean you have to come home every weekend… or any weekend for that matter.

He’s a great kid. He’s smart, kind and a hard worker. He’ll do just fine.

 

 

A royal pain

As I type this, a B-list actress from the U.S. has just gotten hitched to a British prince… Harry or William, I can never remember which is which. Here’s how many damns I give about the whole spectacle:

Now that the wedding is over, can we please call it a day on the whole monarchy business? You can keep the palaces open as Harry Potter-style theme parks, and keep the silly hats, but treating people like royalty (literally) just because they come from a certain gene pool seems antiquated at best.

You get a sash, and you get a sash, and you get a sash… but not you Kate. 

They only serve ceremonial roles anyway… they’re basically the UK equivalent of Wal-Mart greeters, only with a LOT better pay scale.

Welcome to England!

This is the only Queen that matters.

This is the only Prince we should adore.

Game (of Thrones) over. Exit stage left.

 

 

Save the planet. It’s the only one we have so far.

I’m on the ‘Green Team’ at work – we try to encourage our colleagues to reduce waste and increase recycling throughout our building. Recently, a group of Green Team members visited a local recycling center.

Hard hats, ear protection and safety goggles… we’re ready for the catwalk!

As a tree-hugger, it’s heartening to see the amount of materials they receive each day… and it’s also a bit daunting. First the recycling items are dumped onto the “tipping floor”:

Then bulldozers and the world’s largest “claw game” move it onto conveyor belts.

From there, it gets sifted and sorted into the various types of recycling materials (cardboard, glass, paper, plastic) with human intervention to pull out non-recyclables.

While it’s great that this much stuff is being recycled, it’d be even better if we created less waste in the first place. After all, recycling is the final and least desirable of the ‘reduce/reuse/recycle’ trilogy. The low-hanging fruit is plastic water bottles – switch to reusable bottles. Then, put a stop to the junk mail you receive by unsubscribing, and sign up for e-delivery of other mail items. Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging. Buy fresh instead of packaged. You know the drill.

 

OK, I’ll get off my (eco-friendly) soapbox now. Nobody wants to listen to a reject anyway.

 

All That Jazz(ercise)

On Saturday, I attended a Jazzercise class for the first (and perhaps only) time in my life. My wife has been an instructor for nearly two decades, and on Saturday they had a “bring your sweetie” strength training class. So basically it was me and all the other spouses/significant others of the instructors and a few class regulars.

                                                               Team shirt.

My wife has been asking me to attend a class for many years — the answer was always a resounding “no way!”

But some of the other spouses/boyfriends have attended classes occasionally — I call them “curve-wreckers” — and I hear all about it for months. Because it was Mother’s Day Eve, I finally waved the white leg warmers of surrender.

Not me. Not Jazzercise either.

Also, I was promised there would be beer afterward.

Here’s what I learned from my adventure:

1. I am the most uncoordinated human being on the planet.

2. “Jazzercise” may sound like something your grandma does at the senior center, but it will kick your butt. And your pecs. And your abs. And every other muscle area in your body. It’s like P90X, set to music.

3. They really need to update their name… because I didn’t hear a single jazz tune. It was more like a “hot hits” radio station.

4. Beer tastes better after a workout. If I keep going back, maybe I can have both kinds of “six-packs.”

5. Happy wife, happy life!

 

 

 

E.T., don’t phone home

My son’s Algebra teacher is also my new hero. Here’s a note she sent out to parents of her students:

Parents –
I have “preached” from the beginning of the school year, in August, that cell phones are not to be out during class unless I have given permission.  Most students are having no problem with this as I allow them to take the phone out to take a picture of a homework screen on the Daily PowerPoint or to use an app for making note of the homework assignment.  Most students can put their phones away after completing the task.
Apparently my long-term sub was a bit more lenient about cell phone use and some students seem to feel his policies still stand.
Noticing this after my return on Monday, I let students know that my policy still stands.  But, I had to confiscate phones from students today.  My policy is stated in the Policies, Procedures and Rules document all students received from me in August.  It is also posted on Schoology.  It refers you to the Student Handbook for the school’s policy on cell phones.  The pertinent section is on page 12.  The Student Handbook is on the school website – www.walnuthillseagles.com.
I’ve heard all the excuses: it’s my mom letting me know that she’s picking me up after school; it’s my grandma telling me she’ll be coming to get me at a certain time for a dentist appt; it’s my friend letting me know what we’re doing this weekend, and on and on it goes. I even had a student tell me (as their phone was actually ringing), that they needed to take the call.  Did I mind?!
If as a parent, you feel it is more important that your child is always checking their cell phone for a message, please let me know.  I will not repeat instruction, during class or at a Help Time, for students who choose to use their instruction time for cell phone time.  I feel they can last 50 minutes in a class, then check for messages on their way to their next class.  We often finish with a few minutes left in the bell and I haven’t minded that they pull their phones out then.
Emergencies should always come through an office.  I cannot release a student without office notification anyway, so letting them know about something through a cell phone message isn’t the proper or most expedient way to retrieve your student from school.
I hope you can support me in this.  My assumption is that your child is at Walnut for an education.  If that’s not important to you or your child, then I need to know this.
Thanks so much,
Mrs. Burris
 I love it! Her class is the high school equivalent of Luke’s Diner on Gilmore Girls: 

I love the closing lines the most: I hope you can support me in this.  My assumption is that your child is at Walnut for an education.  If that’s not important to you or your child, then I need to know this.