Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blowin' in the Wind

We went to the drive-in movie last night. An enjoyable show (except for ONE "F-Bomb" which could have been omitted--but that's a topic for another time...). As is usual for us, we ate there (jalapeno cheese-burger!) and I put up a camp chair next to our van, tuning in my personal stereo to the movie's frequency. I enjoy hearing the movie through a headset, and this allow more family members to sit in the front seat.
Part way through the movie, the wind blew in an unwelcome guest. Not a bug, not a bird, but something much more unpleasant. The smoke from a guy in a truck one row back. Now I'm not going to begrudge anyone their personal addiction, I even have one or two of my own, but ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?! This is a public area, with people who would like to breathe, not to mention children who would like to live a long, healthy life!

I am not the confrontational type of person who would just yell out, "Hey, put that out! It STINKS and I don't want to breathe your CANCER!" I would like to be that person, but I am realistic and know that may never happen (perhaps that is why I have started this blog.....). But  I do have some ideas on this subject.
1) Smoking kills. In the time it has taken you to read this far in my blog, close to ten people were killed by Tobacco products. In the time you are taking to read this sentence, one more will die. I don't remember the last serial killer, or terrorist that killed that many people. I know assault rifles have not killed that many people. Not even drunk drivers kill that many people. But smoking is still legal.

2) Tobacco companies PAY politicians to further their interests, and as noted by an article I quoted in my Choral Responses blog, this goes all the way to the top, to our smoke-filled President. Hmmmm... and here I thought our nations leaders were supposed to provide a POSITIVE example!
3) As long as Tobacco can pay of the people who MAKE the laws, and as long as those people also smoke, we will NEVER see a time when this evil killer is finally taken out of commission.
4) Some states have made smoking in public buildings against the law. This is good, but only a small step.
5) If we are really going to make progress, we must make smoking illegal ANYWHERE in public. This includes, but is not limited to: parking lots, parks, concerts, fairs, drive-in theaters, grocery stores, etc.

6) Some businesses do not really have scheduled "breaks" but employees are constantly taking their 5, 10 or 15 minute "smoke breaks." How is THAT right? And then, all they do is stand outside the door and blow their noxious fumes in the faces of innocent customers and passers-by.

7) Smokers do not get trouble for littering. If I throw a candy wrapper on the ground, people will look at me sternly and wonder how I was raised, and I a cop sees, I can be fined. But let a smoker throw his butt on the ground, and nobody sees anything. Worse, sometimes, the butt is not put out and sits there polluting the air around it.
8) If I pass gas in a crowd, people will complain, move away, and bluntly ask why I had to do that (no, I don't make that a regular practice), but smokers can light up right in the middle of a crowd, and everybody keeps quiet to respect their "rights." Well, WHAT ABOUT MY RIGHTS!
9) We should ALL have the right to walk from our car to the store without breathing in smoke! We should all have the right to attend a concert without wondering how much shorter our life is now, thanks to the inconsiderate spreading of carcinogens. We should have the right to not deal with that STINK! I live less than a mile from a dairy, and the manure smells BETTER than tobacco smoke!
10) Killing yourself is illegal. Unless you do it slowly enough! But smokers are taking the rest of us WITH them!

When will our society smarten up and make this dirty, nasty, stinking killer against the law? When will we have a politician honest enough to admit the truth? When will the evil murderers who run tobacco companies be held truly accountable for the deaths of the millions of people they have KNOWINGLY, I repeat, KNOWINGLY killed? And even some of the people who have not lost their lives to tobacco have lost the quality of life they would have had without it!
So, although I am not the person who shouts things out to people at the theater, I will symbolically shout out here. "QUIT BLOWING YOUR CANCER AT ME!" And perhaps I will contact some local politicians also, in an effort to get this disease out of our public places (and I don't just mean at least 25 feet from the building, but completely out of public venues). Perhaps, just maybe, we can join the fight and save the lives of a few kids who haven't tried smoking yet. Check it out.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Meeting of the Minds

Okay, as I mentioned before, I am a teacher. I teach every students from almost every age. Today and tomorrow are our Middle School's Parent-Teacher Conferences, or as I have come to think of them, the useless exercise in futility. It's no secret that these conferences are meant to help the students who are struggling in their classes, and reassure the parents of students who are doing fine. Unfortunately this isn't usually the case.
Today, I actually saw a parent that I needed to see. If Darwinism was right, this kid would either have never been born, or would have been eaten by a giant sloth at birth. His intelligence is not in question. It just simply isn't there. When asked today for their homework assignment, he glanced up with barely a bulb burning and asked, "what assignment?" I know that's not totally unusual, but seriously, this kid scares us sometimes with things he says or asks.
What was surprising was that I could actually tell his father that he doesn't pay attention in class. You see, most of the time, the only parents we see are the parents of good students (and not even ALL of them!). I teach two classes at this school, with only about 25 or 26 students between them. And no, I don't like small class sizes, so don't even think that. This means that while the teachers who have six middle school classes to deal with are seeing the dozens of parent that come to visit, I get to drift in a haze for an hour and a half hoping the clock will speed up so I can get to the important things I need to do.
Now someone might say, "But Parent-Teacher conferences are important!" Well, they can be. But for me they are just another sign of one of the things that is wrong with education. So I'm going to hop up onto this soap-box and give you a little bit of advice.
1) Care about your kids' education. Not in the carrying-signs-and-voting-for-education-reform-candidates kind of way. Get involved! Be a presence at school board meetings. Volunteer your time if you can. Actually meet the teachers in you kid's life.
2) Don't sit back and leave it all up to the school. You will make the biggest impact on your child's life, for good or ill, so  be involved with what they do. Ask them how their day went, ask them if they have homework. Make them do it. Ask them if they turned it into the teacher. Show an interest in what they do. If you aren't interested, why should they be?
3) Attend Parent-Teacher conferences. But don't just go and walk around in a stupor. Ask the teachers pointed questions and listen to how they respond. If they are gushing enthusiasm like oil from a BP well, then you know things are okay. If they look away and pause while trying to come up with a polite way of telling you your child is only slightly brighter than a ficus tree, then delve a little deeper. You may just find that you can do something to assist in remedying the situation.
4) Talk to other parents who are doing these same things, and even look to helping other parents become actively-minded. As a teacher, if I feel the parents have already given up on their child, I see very little hope.  I will do my best to "save" your child, but I cannot do it alone. Believe me when I say that your child's welfare is in the thick of everything I do. But if you don't meet me part way, I will NEVER make enough of a difference to matter in the end (yes there are rare cases where a teacher can change a child's life, BUT THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR JOB!!!!!).
So now I get to go back to my school tomorrow and sit alone at a table for two hours, hoping some parents will come by to keep me awake if nothing else. Perhaps one or two will make my day a little brighter with an understanding, if slightly sheepish smile. Perhaps one will actually go home and start helping where they didn't before. But I will be there. Waiting. Will I see you there?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

First Things First...

Okay, this is not going to be your typical cutesy-pie, sunshine and lollypops blog.
I'm not about to sugar-coat anything, and like my title implies, I will make no apologies for anything I say here.
First off, let me just lay down the law here. You are more than welcome to your opinion. You are even welcome to share it. But I will NOT argue with anyone. If I like your comment, I will post it. If I don't like it, nobody will ever see it.
Please don't think that doesn't mean you can't disagree with me. Especially if I think your point is valid, or even if it's just funny, I will allow it.
Now, you should also know I have strong feelings about the following:

1) Anything tobacco related. These companies and their management are EVIL.
2) Marriage and Family - I don't hate, I'm not a bigot, but same-sex marriage is wrong.
3) Education - I am a teacher, and am sick and tired of politicians--who can't even put their own words together--telling us how we are messing it up, when the real problem lies in the lack of example in their leadership, and in the failing family that politically-correct morons are destroying.
4) Religion - I am perfectly fine with whatever religion you profess, but please quit using religion as an excuse to bash others. I believe you have the right to your own doctrines, please allow me the same right. Religious bigotry SHOULD have died out decades ago, but too many closed-minded idiots won't get past their own pack of lies long enough to let it happen.

This isn't to say I don't feel strongly about other things, but I think these are some of the more prevalent idiocies going on right now. In the future, I will expound further on each topic, plus add some as I go.

Finally, I will use no profanity on my blog, and will not tolerate any in comments. If you want to swear, go back to the trailer park. If you live in a trailer park, stop swearing; it makes you sound less intelligent.
I know all of this sounds a bit blunt. Okay. If you don't like it, you are also free to leave. And no need for apologies. Thank you! Come Again!