Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A better (by which I mean worse) Bush quote

We fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there, we will fight them across the world and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.

"Iraq is where they're making their stand," all right. But they weren't making their stand in Iraq to plan September 11th. They're sure there now, though. So the President is using the problem the war caused to justify starting the war...I guess because his original reason of WMDs didn't pan out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The part of tonight's speech that had me yelling at the screen

President Bush said this tonight to justify the war in Iraq:

Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and other nations. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents and remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime who want to restore the old order.

I don't question the content of this. But Bush overlooks the point that our decision to invade Iraq acted as flypaper to draw in the terrorist elements from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, etc. Are we to buy that Muslim extremists liked Saddam's secularist state? Even more illogically, are we to believe that Iran and Iraq were terrorist buddies who chipped in on 9/11? PLEASE. If these countries are working together to attack us, they are doing it because of our decision to invade Iraq.

The logic, as I see it: We invaded Iraq, which caused the Arab world to hate us even more intensely than before and eliminated any chance we had of working with Arab partners to elminate terrorism after 9/11 (when even Arab newspapers were decrying the terrorists). Because of this, terrorist organizations are finding it easier than ever to recruit young Arab men. In Iraq, our troops give these terrorists nearby targets. 1,700-plus US lives and countless Iraqi lives later, our President is justifying the war by saying that terrorists are joining with the insurgents!

The problem: President Bush's war made that alliance possible. Therefore, our decision to invade Iraq has created the very situation the President is saying necessitates continuing the war.

In other words: "We made this mess with this invasion. Therefore, the invasion was necessary so that we can clean it up."

Am I missing something? Can someone clarify the logic for me?

I'm pretty good at recognizing satire.

But this administration has bungled Iraq. Bungled badly. And they are inconsistent in their assessments of the strength of the insurgency (you know, those guys who were going to greet us as liberators). Grossly inconsistent. And their rhetoric defending it has been low level, from the flight suit to "Mission Accomplished." Terribly low.

Net result: After reading this post from pankleb, I actually searched for the relevant Rumsfeld interview on-line.

Choose a reaction:
1. TRP should be concerned that he's such an idiot.
2. TRP should be relieved that at least Rumsfeld hasn't sunk that low.
3. TRP should be saddened...gravely saddened...that he actually views these satirical quotes as plausible.
4. All of the above.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Further proof that I am the center of the universe

Went to the Mariners game with about a billion teacher friends yesterday. The Mariners continue to suck. It seems like every time I go to the ballpark, they reward me with some of the most depressing, despiriting, dull, cure-any-insomniac baseball I've ever seen.

You don't believe me? Check out this crap. We made Kirk Saarloos, who had walked 27 and laughably struck out only 14 before seeing us yesterday, look like THIS guy. He struck out seven and walked NONE. Is Kirk Saarloos that good? I don't think he is. I think his brilliance is caused by my sucky favorite team.

Or is it? Could it be that not the players on the field, but I am the cause of the team's performance? Am I just feeling residual Catholic guilt, or is the Mariners' piss-poor play actually all my fault?

Believe it or not, statistics indicate it could be me and not them.

This year, the Mariners have a 19-20 record at home. I have attended 11 of those games, which is over a quarter--any statistician will tell you that this is a significant sample size. The sample of games I have attended is also more or less random--I'm not picking good opponents or pitchers or days of the week. I basically have gone to the games in my 16-game-passage, plus a couple of random others friends have lugged me to.

The M's record in my presence this year? 2-9.

I bugged a few math teachers at the game to see if the M's performance in my presence is more than a standard deviation off of the mean. (Figuring standard deviation? I knew how to do that for the test in 1987, but haven't tried since.) Their conclusion:

Although they didn't actually do the math (and feel free to do it for them, nerdy friends), they concluded that my presence is statistically significant...at least TWO STANDARD DEVIATIONS off the mean. That's right. The numbers don't lie. When I go to Safeco Field this season, it actually causes the Mariners to suck more than usual.

The question I leave to you is WHY. Why have I become a statistically significant factor in the M's play? Is it because I've taken to shouting "Stop Sucking!" as an encouraging cheer? Or is it that M's batters are so distracted by my beautiful male form that they can't get a hit, even against Kirk Freakin' Saarloos?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Myron Cope

If a new guy came along and was anything like him, he'd be thrown out of the profession. I'd probably join in tossing him.

But now that he's been forced out by a throat ailment, I'll miss his broadcasting a bunch. Better him than another milquetoast dude in the booth or a crotchety, angry naysayer.

Alison's organization has persuaded me to expand my state list.

It's so much more significant-looking this way. Friends o' mine: please feel free to follow suit. I think we learn something about you this way...WAY more than the silly underline/italicize/boldface meme.

States in which I have lived:

1. California (for two months)
2. Colorado (for 20 years)
3. Louisiana (2 years)
4. Missouri (3 months)
5. Ohio (2.5 years)
6. Pennsylvania (1 year)
7. Washington (9 years)

States in which I have spent significant time (regular vacations, etc...I'll decide "regular" means "more than five times"):

8. Illinois (grandma still lives there...many relatives)
9. Indiana
10. Iowa
11. Kansas (I've driven across these so damned often I have to count them as "regular"...but only since each has been visited as destination at least once for friends or baseball.)
12. Michigan (Mom's side of family)
13. Montana (sister lived in East Glacier Park for several years...you'd have visited regularly too!)
14. Oregon (my baby!)
15. Texas (When I lived in Louisiana, this is where I'd go for fun.)
16. Wyoming

States I have visited:

17. Alaska (vacation when I was six...I still remember how gorgeous it was...Joe, you should take Alison there)
18. Arizona
19. Arkansas
20. Connecticut (performed there with Chamber Singers and stayed the night at a friend's house. We went out for pizza and laughed until our jaws hurt.)
Still 20. DC
21. Delaware
22. Florida (baseball and relatives)
23. Georgia
24. Idaho (baseball!)
25. Maryland
26. Massachusetts (four times, falling just short of the "regular" definition)
27. Minnesota
28. Mississippi
29. Nebraska (across a lot, but not yet as destination...therefore, not "regular")
30. Nevada
31. New Jersey (stayed with my buddy in Weehauken while visiting NYC...also went to a mall there because our tour bus wasn't allowed in NYC for the whole day)
32. New Mexico
33. New York (6 times, but two were airport stops.)
34. North Carolina
35. Oklahoma (you must visit the Murrah Building memorial)
still 35. Puerto Rico (baseball!)
36. South Dakota (I was 3. I remember watching "Match Game '73 in the Hotel. I also remember looking at Mt. Rushmore from my mom's arms.)
37. Utah
38. Vermont (Robert Frost's Grave, but didn't sleep there...still, that's a visit)
39. Virginia (Arlington)
40. Wisconsin

States in which I have slept, but not much else:

41. Kentucky
42. Tennesee

States I have only driven through en route elsewhere:

43. Alabama
44. North Dakota
45. Rhode Island
46, South Carolina (Thought of visiting this year, but decided that I'd honor the NAACP boycott and won't spend money there until the stars-and-bars are off the Capitol grounds...ergo, just drove through.)
47. West Virginia

States I am missing:

ONLY THREE!!!

Hawaii (until the honeymoon!)
Maine
New Hampshire

Now, if my friends and acquaintances don't follow Alison's and my lead, I'll be disappointed...

Did Alison just start a meme? Look what you've wrought, Alison!

Monday, June 20, 2005

State racing...

Alison asks if you get to count a state if you've just been to the airport.

I think the answer is yes and no. On the one hand, you've been there, so sure. On the other hand, I think it is appropriate to have a separate list which leaves off states that you just stepped in, flew through, drove through, or trained through. A state counts if you've been there, but only really counts if you've actually done some activity there, be it business or pleasure. Stopping at Denny's doesn't count. Spending the night does, I think...but if you want to tighten up the rules, you can.

For years, I had several states like that...I'd flown through Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Cincinnati (Kentucky) but hadn't done anything there. But I've visited Phoenix thrice since for both business and pleasure, done a weekend on the Strip in Vegas, and spent the night in Kentucky after a Reds game.

Anyhow, here are states from my 47 that either DON'T count or MIGHT count, depending on your strictness.

ALABAMA: Drove across it on the way to Sandersville, Georgia from Leesville, Louisiana for a teaching conference. Drove back across it as I headed back to Leesville. Didn't sleep or really even stop there. A definite no.

ARKANSAS: Been across it a couple of times, spent the night in West Memphis once...but I think I can count it because I went out of my way to see Bill Clinton's hometown of Hope and Maya Angelou's hometown of Stamps.

KENTUCKY: Spent the night there once. See above. A probable yes, unless you're being strict.

NORTH DAKOTA: Took the train across it on a trip from Elyria, Ohio to Glacier Park, Montana. They switch engines for a half hour in Minot, so I got off the train to stretch my legs. I guess this is a no.

RHODE ISLAND: Took the train across it between Boston and NYC. A definite no.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Drove across it twice. Didn't really stop since I was honoring the NAACP boycott. This one has to be a no.

TENNESSEE: Drove across it once. Spent the night east of Memphis, from which I called my buddy Brooklyn. Holiday Inn, I think. This is a "yes" with the same shakiness that Kentucky is a "yes."

VERMONT: Went there for about an hour, but visited Robert Frost's grave. Gotta count that.

WEST VIRGINIA: Have driven through Wheeling twice. No way that counts.

So, I've been to 47 states, but if you're strict and require that I either spend the night or do something specific to that state, I have "really" been to 42, and if you're more strict and require one to do more than spend the night in a hotel, I've "really really" been to 40.

Does that help, Alison?

Small victory

I've had a student this year who is a damn smart girl. It's a hunch, but I've wondered if, because of her popularity (cheerleader, etc.) she didn't want to let her peers know how smart she is...or maybe it's just that she's a very quiet, thoughtful kid who doesn't care to share much of anything with anyone. In any event, as she wrote essay after beautiful essay this year, I got the sense that her intelligence was a secret between her and her teachers, covertly revealed in assignments nobody else would ever see. She finished this semester with a very high A, in the top 5 out of my 115 students in that class.

As I looked at her final review of the course, and saw her write about all the learning she'd done this year, I was pleased, but not as pleased as I was by this:

For the first time all year, she had not dotted the "i" in her name with a heart.

Funny, but that detail thrilled me as much as anything in the assignment.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Philadelphia week

I'm always happy to head out to the East Coast because it reminds me how much of a Westerner I am. Colorado born-and-bred, for nine years now a proud resident of the Pacific Northwest...I like it out here. I think I could live in Boston, but beyond that, I can't imagine being happy anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard. Politeness is not valued. Here in Seattle, we wear jeans to the nicest restaurants. I LOVE that. I also find it strange how, out east, there's a new metropolis only two hours away on the freeway. Boston to Providence to Hartford to NYC to Philly to Wilmington to Baltimore to DC...really, really too many big cities in a small area.

Other thoughts, in no particular order:

--I had some negative preconceptions about Philadelphia coming in. I'd heard that the City of Brotherly Love had more rudness than perhas any city. Survey SAYS...buzz. People were quite nice. As I tried to find my way to the hotel in the rental car, I was late moving on a couple of green lights. Nobody honked. In fact, I didn't hear anybody honk all week long except for a couple of cab drivers (and they honk everywhere, so they don't count).

--Philadelphia had the most pitted downtown street, Walnut Street, I'd ever driven on. I complained about it to my students and friends out there. The next day, they paved it. Cool.

--Citizens Bank Park is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.

--There was a bizarre billboard northbound on I-95 as you head into Philly that just said "I HATE STEVEN SINGER" on it. I was sort of hoping that it was just a guy with a big grudge who decided to take it out on Mr. Singer by sharing his displeasure with commuters, but no such luck. It's a reverse psychology ad for Steven Singer Jewelers. Sort of disappointing--I wanted a vendetta.

--Delaware has become the 47th state I have set foot in. When you cross the border from Pennsylvania to Delaware, there are instantly more trees.

--Reasons to have friends #1205: Competition ended early one day, and we had 90 minutes to kill in Wilmington. I don't know ANYTHING about Wilmington...except that I have a freind whose (amicable) ex-girlfriend lives there. I called the friend. He gave me the number of the amicable ex. I called her--I'd never spoken with her before. "Hey, it's TRP, a friend of Rob's. I have two high school kids and we need somewhere to eat for an hour and a half. Any suggestions?" She sent us to Gallucio's. Delicious and very 1970s Wood Panel Atmosphere heavy. Nice people. I owe the amicable ex when she's in town this summer.

--Valley Forge was positively gorgeous. There was a terrible tour guide we ditched. He kept saying "They were starving! They were naked!" Then he'd say "It wasn't that bad. Washington may have exaggerated the situation to his superiors to get more supplies." Then he'd say: "They were starving and naked!"

The weirdest part about Valley Forge were the many, many people who were jogging, walking dogs, power walking, etc., wearing their I-pods and hustling through a workout in the spot where the Continental Army bucked up and prepared for victory. Something felt strange to me about that.

--Tommyspoon visited. We mulled over this question: If forced to make a decision, which of the following would you make a monument for? General McClellan? Or Pauly Shore? You MUST choose. The monument would be near the Washington Monument and face towards the Capitol building.

--The guy next to me on the plane heading home had no sense of personal space. As he read his paper, his arm extended halfway across my seat. He bumped my pencil as I did a crossword. I was annoyed, so I turned my pencil around so that the point was facing out. When he turned the page of his newspaper, he pricked his hand on the point. Snotty, sure, but he had it coming. (But it didn't stop him from taking my space.)

Anyhow. TWO MORE DAYS OF SCHOOL. Then another month and I'm a married man! (Sorry, ladies.) You'll hear a little more from me over the summer.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I'm back in town.

Like an idiot, I announced my week-long absence on the wedding blog rather than on this one. But yeah, I've been out for a week in Philly. And I have stuff to say.

But I'm still on Eastern time. So it won't be now. It might be a few more days...I'm behind and have to grade the last of the year's papers.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

10,000th Hit

We've motored on. Just before 5:00 today, my bride-to-be checked this page from work, looking for new comments. She wins the prize for 10,000th hit! I can't tell you what the prize is, but here's a hint: You won't ever get one.

Public Service Announcement

To the persistent number of you who continue to land on this blog by searching on "Sue Bird" Bare Feet (and who are surely the most disappointed surfers on the net when you get here):

There's a lovely picture of Sue, my pretend girlfriend, on page 28 of the June 6, 2005 edition of Sports Illustrated (which features Danica Patrick on the cover). Sue is wearing a lovely sundress and necklace. And she is unshod.

If you see this in the next two days, you can buy it on newsstands. If you see this in the next couple of months, you can steal it from your dentist's office. After that, you'll have to head to the library.

I do not share your fetish...feet land somewhere between smile and spleen on my list of Favorite Parts of a Woman's Body...but I've always felt sorry for those of you who searched here.

This is the last I will speak on this subject. I hope.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Wacky class story.

In the education biz, we call it constructivism. The idea is that I don't tell kids answers...I guide them to figure it out themselves. This means, from time to time, that I don't jump in and say "Hey, that's a silly idea," and it takes us to some bizarre places. Like the following place:

Kids are working on a fairly tough assignment. They are to research a disease in an assigned region of the world, develop a solution to their epidemic, and then give a presentation to the World Health Organization asking for money to bankroll their solution. Recently, my lil' cherubs were in the library working very hard and earnestly on this assignment when I had the following exchange. The kid was working on a mosquito-borne disease in South America.

ME: Okay. What's your plan?
STUDENT: We've decided to spray all of Brazil for mosquitoes.
ME: All of it? Or just some parts?
STUDENT: All of it. We're playing it safe. But we need to know how much pesticide to spray.

[At this point, I am stifling the points about environmental impacts and health side effects that the Brazilians might not care for. She'll get there herself. I know she will. I KNOW she will.]

ME: How are you going to figure out how much pesticide you need?
STUDENT: I've found this website.

[On the screen: a pesticide company website. You put in how much area you want to cover, and it tells you how much pesticide you need...and the cost.]

ME: [still stifling my anti-constructivist urges] Okay.
STUDENT: But we have a problem.
ME: What's that?
STUDENT: We don't know how many square feet Brazil is. This needs to know how many square feet we're spraying, and we only know the square miles. It's 3,286,470 square miles.
ME: [exploding in an effort to maintain constructivism] Okay. How can we figure that out?
STUDENT: Multiply by 5280.
ME: Okay. Get the calculator. How many square feet in Brazil? [I briefly mull over how I never thought my career would lead me to ask that question]
STUDENT: [points to calculator, which now reads 17352561600]
ME: Right. 17 billion, three hundred fifty-two million, five hundred sixty one thousand, six hundred square feet.
STUDENT: Okay.
ME: [waits a time for constructivism to work]
STUDENT: [silence]
ME: [stops waiting] All right. Put it in the website...let's see how much pesticide you need.
STUDENT: Okay...[enters the number, reads the result]...It says we need infinity gallons of pesticide.
ME: Okay. Infinity gallons. What does that tell you?

[ME and STUDENT stare at each other. It's a standoff. Enter STUDENT'S PARTNER.]

STUDENT'S PARTNER: Wait! That's not right.
ME: Yes. Why isn't it right?
STUDENT'S PARTNER: We need to spray Peru, too!




Update: My bride-to-be has pointed out that I can't get the correct number of square feet from square miles by multiplying by 5280. Unless I'm mistaken, I'd have to multiply by 5280 TWICE. So, if you're curious, Brazil is 91,621,525,248,000 square feet. Ninety-two trillion, six hundred twenty-one billion, five hundred twenty-five million, two hundred forty-eight thousand square feet. So MUCH more than infinity gallons of pesticide.

Anyone want to add Peru to that?

Monday, June 06, 2005

I don't have anything to say.

And yet, here I am, blogging. Not that that has ever stopped anyone from blogging.

How are y'all doing?

Addition by subtraction

After yet another amazingly tasty dinner from my baby, I had the sense of I Must Have Chocolate. Now. Seriously haven't had that in a while, so I decided to cave in and drive to Baskin-Robbins. I asked my baby if she wanted anything, and she requested a scoop of Rocky Road...my preferred flavor.

Two scoops of ice cream cost $3.50. A quart costs $3.99. No-brainer...I bought the quart. And I rewarded myself by getting an extra scoop of ice cream. I was intrigued by BumbleBuzz ice cream, defined by the fine folks at Baskin-Robbins as "Honey ice cream with chocolate coated honey comb pieces and a dark fudge ribbon." A minor risk, but I thought I'd give it a shot. Two conclusions:

1. Believe it or not, it didn't occur to me until I was in the car that I'd actually spent more money this way.

2. BumbleBuzz. DAMN good. Worth a trip. And you know you've earned the ice cream.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Love Connection & Newlywed Game

When I watch these on GSN, I spend all of my time hoping these couples didn't spawn.

The Human Drama of (Non-) Athletic Competition

Did any of you do spelling bees in the just-pre-pubescent period? I did. And this brilliant, brilliant post by my buddy Jim (in which I learn he made it to the National bee as a kid) has me thinking about it. I can tell you about all four years of my career. And I will, like it or not.

In fifth grade, I won the local bee. It sure seemed like there were hundreds of kids there. My great-grandmother, may she rest in peace, worked with me on the words. She was a task-master who took absolutely no shit. I was quite cocky going into that bee. My dad took me aside and said "You're a good speller, but remember there will be a whole lot of kids there, and all of them are good spellers." I sort of ignored him. But I won the damn thing, spelling "luculent" for the victory. I made it to the next level, but bowed out on the word "prase."

Sixth grade was rough. Elly arrived from Romania. Her parents drove her hard in that immigrant way. At the first bee, we knocked out everybody, and slugged it out one by one for several rounds. There was a lot at stake...only the top kid from each school went on to the next level, so in spite of vanquishing the rest of the field, only one of us would go on. In a move that would be called ironic by people who don't understand irony, I misspelled "imperturbable." Elly won. My year was done. I cried. Elly went on to the next bee, where, on order of her parents, she misspelled the first word she came to so that she could "concentrate on her studies." She was a fifth grader! Not that I'm still bitter. She went on to be valedictorian and double-register at MIT and Harvard. When I saw her at our ten-year reunion (she skipped a grade to be up in my class), she was very much at peace, had a sweet husband, and announced she was "only a photographer." My response: "Was the word 'only' really necessary in that sentence?"

Seventh grade. I'm in junior high, and I get on a roll. I skip the little elementary school bee Elly knocked me out in, sail through the district bee, and barely hang on to make the top 25 in the county. I'm going to STATE! The Colorado/Wyoming State Bee (which makes Colorado and Wyoming half a state each)! I didn't make the oral round there, and some girls from a Catholic School (and their bitch parent chaperone) moved our coats, etc. to take our great seats when we went to the bathroom. Mom got her back...wrote the Mother Superior. We got a letter of apology back. Not from the Mother Superior, not from the bitch chaperone. From the kids. Who were on stage in the final round, and didn't even know what was happening.

By eighth grade, I was less interested in spelling, as my heterosexuality was beginning to manifest itself more clearly. I went out in the district bee on an easy word..."beguile."

Surely some of my readers have spelling stories! Share them! But read Jim's story first!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Most Beautiful People

Johnny Damon made People's 2004 list of 50 most beautiful people. I'm watching the Red Sox play right now. If he's on the list, my baby and I should be on the list. All of you should be on the list. Quasimodo should be on the list. (Okay, maybe not him.) But Johnny Damon is not a good-looking man.

I was good friends in junior high with Carl Quintanilla, who made People's list a few years back (at the time, he was the guy who told you how the market was doing on CNBC's Power Lunch; now he's a correspondent for NBC Nightly News. So yes, I've spent the night with one of People's most beautiful people. It seems that Carl is better looking than Johnny Damon, and by a magnitude. Although when I see Carl in my head, he's still 13 years old. Kind of weird.

Dude. I can't believe I'm writing this. I must REALLY not want to grade.

Tonight, Swankette and I are going to prom. I've been roped into chaperoning, so I thought I'd bring along a date. I sure hope Swankette puts out. Full report tomorrow. (Not on the putting out. This isn't that kind of blog.)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Comments on papers

When the topic of the paper involves Nazis, Rwanda, as well as other semi-related topics, every now and then, I get to write something like this: "Nice job with genocide."