Monthly Archives: October 2009

A rant (probably only slightly paranoid)

My son is a first grader. He’s very bright. Independent observers have confirmed this and, anyway, I can’t take credit for it because I did my best to teach him how to rot his brain with cartoons and comic books. He had a great year in kindergarten, but toward the end of the year started to get in trouble, mostly because he’s smart and charming and had a group of littre smart and charming friends who all decided they would see what they could get away with. It got handled very well by his teacher and his principal.

His kindergarten teacher was wonderful. She was whip-smart and had this really effective mix of warmth and firmness.

Enter first grade. Full stop. He basically has not been able to do anything right the entire year. My wife and I have tried to be really supportive of the school, and his teacher has tried to work on being more positive with him, but it’s getting a little ridiculous.

Case in point: He has math work he does at home and in class. Maybe this is the way they’re teaching it now, but with almost every math problem they have to draw a little picture. 5 apples + 3 apples = 8 apples (someone should probably check my math there just to be sure). They’re supposed to draw and color the apples as well as write out the “number sentence” (an aside: why are we not teaching kids the actual math terms and using fuzzy stuff like this?) Well, Drew looks at this and immediately says 5 + 3 = 8, and writes out the number sentence. He grasps the concept. Why does he need to take an extra five minutes and draw the apples? It just frustrates him.

So, the next night, the homework comes home for corrections which are all, basically, DRAW THE PICTURE. This is stupid. He does not need to draw the picture. He needs to move on to other things so he does not get bored.

I know elementary school math programs now are all about this kind of stuff, making it more “arty,” and supposedly “fun.” But for kids who get it, its just frustrating, and reinforces the whole, “Can’t do anything right.” thing. My daughter’s fifth grade math text was all about little pictures and tricks and listing and she could do all of that but didn’t have a grasp of the fundementals, so we switched to Saxon, a math program with no frills, all fundamentals.

At the beginning of this year we wanted to be so supportive of our son’s teacher that we unwittingly sent him the message that we were not on his side, we were on hers. Well, fuck that! I’m on his side, and he needs to know that. And if my kids teacher starts to think I’m a little bit of an asshole because I’m going to the mat on this stuff, well, fine. Kids need what they need and he needs something different. I’m not asking the school to provide that something different, just to get out of my way.

And don’t even get me started on the yard duties who let the boys be teased and tormented by the girls but don’t hesitate to bust a boy who steps out of line, because anyone who’s ever worked around kids knows that totally happens.

Anyway, i’ve been thinking a lot about this kid lately after the months of sturm and drang regarding the other. It’s the opposite problem, really, but just as important mostly because he is really smart and if he gets frustrated and decides to devote his powers to evil in revenge for his unhappy primary school experience we are all screwed.


Posted by on October 21, 2009 in life


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The Night of Writing Dangerously

Ok, so I’m doing this. A six-hour write-a-thon in San Francisco sponsored by NaNoWriMo to raise money for the young writer’s program. I feel really straongly about this cause because I was one of those kids who could have used a little help to believe this was possible and give me the actual tools to do it.

So, please, please, please, please sponsor me. And you are encouraged to come to the event in costume. The theme is Noir. I promise to go in costume and have embarrassing pictures taken. And yes, all right, posted.

Here’s the link to my fundraising sight. All donations are tax deductible.

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Posted by on October 16, 2009 in culture, life, writing


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Things I am kind of over at this point

q-lolcats-galloping-galloway-private-polling-trashcatBecause everyone cares, right?

Vampires — oh, god vampires. Please … no more, no more. I don’t want any more books about them, I don’t want to see any movie trailers starring them, I don’t want to see them hanging around at the corner of my street waiting for the twi-hards getting off the bus from the middle school. I just can’t take anymore. Really. At this point, I am not even up for a Buffy reunion. I know!

Glee. It was a short courtship, and an early break up. It’s entertaining, and I like the music parts, but I am always annoyed when even escapist shows don’t even bother to handwave things to the point of deniable plausibility. Terri as the school nurse? Seriously. I’m not expecting realism, but NO WAY someone would be hired as a school nurse without a credential. Health aide? yeah. But not a school nurse with a faky lab coat and everything. Plus, it’s the same old thing, the same old message, that nothing is valid as an endeavor until the cute jocks get involved. Maybe I’m projecting a little. Oh, and Matthew Morrison is reeeeaaaallly annoying. It may be his hair.

But Jane Lynch is awesome, so I’m not quite ready to break up with it just yet.

Face book games. I don’t have the time, what with the writing and the studying, and the cleaning, and the cat training, and the secret plans for world domination (but wait — I’ve said too much). And most of them don’t work very well. I got tired of building a kick-ass roller coaster kingdom, then logging in again to see that none of my progress was still there and having to start over again. The only reason I have not deleted myself from these games is that if I do my wife and her friends will beat me soundly about the head and shoulders because they will lose their friends points. But don’t send me gifts or invite me anymore, because it’s not you, it’s me.

and since this has been two whiny posts in a row, I will end with some things I should be over, but am not yet:


I know, I know.

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Posted by on October 9, 2009 in Uncategorized


things that have disturbed me lately

The vhs copy of Passion of the Christ on the shelf of kids videos in the waiting room in the psychiatrists office.

My cousin telling me, “Hey, my kids have seen that!”

The CPS worker totally ignoring my subsequent report.

The fact that I feel like I am trying to get the swine flu, but somewhere along my body is refusing to commit to it, and I’m just left with this annoying chest rasp/cough/headache combo that doesn’t even get me any sympathy and doesn’t even give me a workable excuse to take a nap.

Tom DeLay on Dancing with the Stars. The horror, the horror.

The “I want to sex you up,” dance number on Glee.

The fact that I have two dance-related traumas on this list now.

Festival Season in Northern California (actually, it’s ALWAYS festival Season in Northern California).

Tiberius trying to catch up with Caligula in the girth department.

The Predicate Adjective/Predicate Noun worksheet in my daughter’s Language Arts packet. It’s fifth grade, people! I don’t even need to know that crap. And I had to teach it to myself to teach it to 7th graders lo those many years ago.

Having to teach myself, once again, the difference between a predicate adjective/predicate noun.

Having already forgotten the difference between a predicate adjective/predicate noun.

Kanye West making me feel sorry for the Taylor-Swift-Bot.

That is all for now, but we’re headed to another festival, which is always a source of new material.


Posted by on October 3, 2009 in life