"Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to seek out this truth and to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping." --Virginia Woolf A Room of One's Own

Another reason to distrust the president

When I read this, I at first got hung up on the headline's use of the word "staged," not seeing in the way it clearly was meant to be read. Is anything about this man, his administration and his politics real? Here's the lead and a link to the story as run in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

By DEB RIECHMANN
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

WASHINGTON -- It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution.

The full story: Bush teleconference with soldiers staged

A freakin' Hummer limo!

Today my son Tobias is going to a classmate's birthday party after school. As happens all too often, well, not that often, but often enough, they are going to Chuck E. Cheese and I get to go! Woo-hoo! The extraordinary bit is the classmate's parents are having all the kids from his first grade class, all those who signed permission slips anyway, shuttled to Chuck E. Cheese's in a Hummer limo. Yes, a Hummer limo. I've seen it around town. It's huge, as only a Hummer limo can be. It seats 20, and that's adults. I'm not sure I could even take a free ride in a Hummer or a Hummer limo. But I'm not going to spoil it for Tobias. Besides, it's not so bad as it could be. In lieu of gifts, the birthday girl and her family requested donations for the Kidney Cancer Association in honor of a stricken uncle. As a parent, I like that. We do it with animal groups, usually the local Humane Society. Cutting out present shopping makes it easy on parents. It also gets kids, even six and seven-year olds, thinking about someone beside themselves, never an easy task, at least not in our house.

Gromit's gone

I have to wonder if the title of this entry will draw any attention. On the day that Nick Park's first feature with Wallace and Gromit debuts, at least in Spokane, I've just returned from having our dog Gromit put down. She was a little over 13, which is pretty good for a greyhound. She raced under the name of Cool Water Bliss, but we never tracked down her record. We do know, however, that she was fast, partly because of the way she ran when around other dogs and greyhounds, and partly because she was on the track until she was nearly five-years old, which is mandatory retirement age.

We got her off a track in Caliente, Mexico when we were living in Las Vegas. We adopted her through Greyhound Pets of America, an overall good group though some of the folks at the local chapter needed to get a life beyond the dogs. I think it was the late summer or early spring of 1997 that we first got her, a high strung dog who didn't know how to walk on a leash. She would pull and yank, knowing only full speed or sleep, which is typical of a greyhound when they first come off the track. We had a lot of good years with her, taking her hiking, even scrambling up some Icicle Creek trail in BLM's Red Rock Conservation Area just outside Las Vegas. I can remember the first time she sat down in a creek to cool down, just plopping her butt in the water and settling in for a cool rest.

I remember taking her to ocean beaches near Santa Barbara and the northern Oregon Coast. There seems to be little more a greyhound loves than to run. And when Gromit ran with other dogs, she ran right on their shoulders, barking and snarling in their ear, letting them know who was boss and who was gonna run the fastest. But it all caught up with her these last few months. She could barely walk, stopped eating for the most part, and just lay in one place, unexcited by the prospect of a walk or some people-food addition to her bowl. I had a good cry after leaving the Humane Society shelter. I wanted to stay with her until she was put down, but they don't allow that. I couldn't even than the woman who took her from me; the tears were too much. Sometimes I wonder why I love our animals more than a lot of people in the world and my life. I guess because she took and gave love without any questions, without any concerns. If only I could be that kind of animal.

So what happens now? Well, there are still four cats, a rabbit and a sheltie in the house, never mind the fish. There's no shortage of animals. And tonight I'm taking Tobias to the Wallace and Gromit film, more a coincidence or tragic irony than any planned way to say good-bye.

Validation

I'm feeling particularly validated and valued this week, at least in my work. My home life as well, though not so much with the extended family. But enough of that. Why am I feeling validated? Well, the first thing is I've been listed as a "Celebrating Our Contributions" "star" on the college's intranet homepage. My pic and an article I wrote about a year ago are there for all to see, if you have a user id and password, which you don't, so no link. The second thing is I have been asked (actually, with two others, but I was accepted to do it) to serve as SFCC's liaison to the Community College Humanities Association. It's not that much of a big deal, though I am always feeling honored when asked to represent the institution. The third is I was asked to serve on the 4C's Resolution Committee by the incoming chair. Jay Wooten sent an email which, to me, came from out of the blue. Perhaps I'm just sucker enough to accept such invitations, but I'm flattered nonetheless when that sort of stuff happens. It all makes my chosen path even more worthwhile than it is without accolades.

Student expectations

As a teacher, I've long held, and it's been pretty much borne out in practice as well, that it doesn't matter how much time students are given to get an assignment done. Those who are going to get it done on time, will get it done on time if they are given one, two or three weeks. Those who are going to be late are going to be late if they are given four, five or six weeks. I'm sure this can tell us quite a bit, such that lots of work gets done as the deadline approaches, and that sort of thing, but that's not what I was thinking about as I started this entry.

What I was thinking about is how my FYC students had their first draft due by the fourth class meeting.

Bring 'em home, uh, now?

Today, like thousands around the country, I attended a "Bring Them Home Now" rally, mine in downtown Spokane. I'd say there were about 1,000 people who met in front of the federal courthouse and marched to Riverfront Park for speeches and all that goes with an anti-war rally. We were led by the Big Ass Drum Corp (or a name close to that) which was comprised of some overweight women, most of whom I took to be lesbians, though that doesn't matter at all. Bringing up the rear was a collection of rather rag-tag folks playing wind and brass instruments, not that that matters much either. The crowd itself was a mix, from young anarchists who I suspect don't know their politcal asses from a hole in the ground to some folks who likely were around during Vietnam and Gulf I protests and before. One marcher wore a Korean War Vet hat. Me, I was in junior high school during the height of the anti-Vietnam protests, but never participated, though I marched in some Gulf War I protests in Seattle.

All of this is preface to my thoughts on the sentiments expressed during the speeches. I came away disappointed because all of the speakers painted the war in very stark, black and white terms. I'll be among the last to defend the president over this war and its conduct, but I don't find myself able to embrace the "bring them home now" program. Yes, we should never have invaded Iraq in the first place, but I'm not so torn about our invasion of Afghanistan to rout the Taliban, though the way we've cozied up to Pakistan and their Taliban advisors leaves much to be desired. I'd prefer we'd have kept our focus on the Taliban, Osama and his cronies in Afghanistan, though I also know that American foreign policy, driven by capitalist desires, is a good part of the Taliban's animosity toward America.

First Day!

Well, today is the first class day of Fall Quarter 2005. I am more or less ready to go, but as always, have a good bit of work to get done, some for the classroom, some for professional development credits (my reading list in particular), and who knows what all else. Still, it's nice to get back in the classroom even though that does mean going back to work. Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

If gas prices haven't killed you yet, they just might!

Spare a Hummer anyone?

Summer Reading List

Or, what I did on my summer vacation.

I've never been the most prolific reader in the world, as much as I love reading. I tend to plod through most longer works that aren't school/work related, which I then tend to power-read. However, as classes start in a week, my recreational reading is about to come to a significant slowdown. Here's my reading list from the summer, as best as I can recall it, which I have to do to put in for professional development (how cool is that, having a job and getting a raise because I read novels, histories, and nearly whatever is feel like reading as it's all just about work related). So, here we go, in order of when I remember:

Lazy Writer

As of late, I have been a very lazy writer, and not much better of a reader. It's not that I've been doing nothing. I've been riding my bicycle a lot, usually a minimum of five days and a hundred miles a week. I've also been kayaking a number of times on various lakes in the region. I've also been on the road a bit, spending time this summer in Telluride, on the Oregon coast around Neskowin, and up at Priest Lake, in North Idaho. But I just haven't been writing. And there have been things I've wanted to write about, but just haven't made time to do it. Oh yeah, I've also been working on landscaping part of the backyard, but that's going pretty slow too.

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