Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It just gets better and better . . .

With only four months of the Bush Administration remaining, we thought the piggy bank was finally robbed of all of its contents. Apparently we were wrong. There was a bag of money still left. The bag contains $700 billion and George wants to give it the those poor mega-rich folks who weren't able to make enough money during the last eight years.

We wish some of that money could find its way to Camp Nickleby. We would use it to purchase computers that actually work and function using up-to-date technology. We would like to purchase enough tables and chairs for our campers to use in the class room. They get tired sharing chairs or sitting on the floor. We would like to buy some current books and dictionaries for our library. There have been a lot of words coined since or 1957 copyright dictionary was published. We would love to have a functioning heating system for each classroom cabin. It gets cold up here in the mountains! But we are not worthy!

If there is one song that sums up the last eight amazing years we’ve had in the United States, this is it. It’s by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Eliza Gilkyson.


The party’s over, we had us a time
Everybody got loaded, everybody looked fine
We emptied the coffers of water and wine
The party’s over, we had a good time

We danced on the tables midnight ’til dawn
‘Til all the time was up and the good stuff gone

The house is a shambles, broken glass in the streets
Guttering candles, blood on the sheets
We burned all the kindling, passed the bottle around
Watched the last coals dwindling and the ice melting down

We danced on the tables midnight ‘til dawn
‘Til all the time was up and the good stuff gone

The party’s over, we had a blast
Brought in the lawyers to cover our ass
Left a note for the children to clean up the mess
The party’s over it was a big success!

We danced on the tables midnight ‘til dawn
‘Til all the time was up and the good stuff gone

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Oh the sponges, the sponges . . .

I spent the majority of my Sunday grading students’ papers. I took a box of work down to the boat launch at Lake Mukasey. I also took a picnic basket filled with a wonderful wedge of well-aged Stilton, some dry salami, some rye crackers and an unassuming bottle of Chianti. I settled in, preparing to slather pages and pages of 20lb. white paper with red ink. After the sixteenth poorly-written art criticism essay, I put my correcting pen down, whimpered a bit, took a generous swig of Chianti, and thought, “Where exactly did the “Dry Sponge Theory” come from?”

With the presidential smear campaign race in full swing, we have been hearing a lot about America’s favorite whipping boy, PUBLIC EDUCATION! The rhetoric I have heard and read seems to point to one conclusion; that both camps think teaching is an easy job because of unions, that kids aren’t learning because teachers are lazy and only care about their retirement benefits, and every child is a dry sponge, just waiting to soak up a puddle of knowledge each day, if only their damn, union-loving teachers would supply that knowledge! Wow, wish it were that easy!

Even though I’m a tad long in the tooth, I am a bit new to teaching at this grade level. I am constantly amazed, on a daily basis, how much most campers at Camp Nickleby don’t give a rat’s ass about school or learning. School, apparently, is the last place they would like to be spending their little teenage lives. Go figure! Although there are, of course, some bright stars that show a glimmer of hope for the future, most just take up usable volume, waiting for the last bell to ring.

We are into our fourth week of the new school year at the camp. Using my magical powers of seeing into the future, I already know which kids are going to do well, and which kids are probably going to crash and burn. It is just that easy. I get it wrong every now and then, but usually I’m correct 90% of the time.

Searching the Internets, I read that Johnny Seven Houses and the Big O both have their ideas concerning how to ‘fix’ public education. Johnny S. H. wants to send all children to private schools, where of course they won’t have to deal with that icky theory of evolution, and they can hunker down with their abstinence-only sex education studies. The Big O wants to increase the number of charter schools (including Camp Nickleby) where parents can send their children, thinking they will get a better education. A better education? I’m thinkin’, not so much.

My take on the whole thing is that we teachers just do the best we can with the raw materials we have. Most of our time as teachers is taken up by overcoming obstacles such as too many kids in the class room (37 kids in a room that can safely handle 24), obsolete technology (ancient computers which have molassesly-slow processing speeds, prone to crashing every three minutes. How long ago did they make the Apple Lisa, anyway?), and a resource budget that is slightly higher than dumpster-diving.

Here’s your homework!

I came upon these two articles. One is by a teacher who was able to put in writing all of my thoughts that only got to the second-draft stage. The other is by Lake Woebegone raconteur Garrison Keillor. Each one is a spot-on summation of the current, knuckle-dragging attack on public education. Please read.



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crying in my adult fermented beverage

Well, Camp Nickleby received their API scores today. It was a little too late in the day to really digest what the numbers mean. It will take awhile to sort it all out and make a full report to you, our loyal readers. Until it is all sorted out, her is a small gem I uncovered tonight on the Net, while pouring over the State's API report, between sips of Gallo Hearty Burgundy (burp!)

You gotta check this one out. I'm just glad to help.


Thursday, September 4, 2008


Is it over? Is it safe to turn on the television?

During this past week, when all of the campers were safe and sound in their cabins, some members of the staff here at Camp Nickleby gathered in front of the Sanyo big-screen TV in Spellings Hall to watch the Republican National Convention. We suffered through the Democrats last week. We thought we'd double up the pain. What the hell.

Using footage of the terror of the World Trade Center attacks was a real nice touch, wasn't it? Do they have no shame?

Was it just me, or did anyone get the feeling Tuesday night that Laura Bush was blinking, "HELP ME, PLEASE GOD, HELP ME" in Morse Code during her inspiring speech? Or was that just the Gewürztraminer talking?

And did you know that John McCain was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam 'conflict'?

The speech of über-weasel Joe Lieberman was definitely a high point of the convention, ending with the from-below shot looking up at him with a super large American flag waving in the background. I got so excited I soiled myself!

I was somehow able to get through W's video presentation. On January 24, 2001, I purchased a Bush-Off manufactured by Ronco. It has been a real brain saver. It attaches to any television or radio and mutes the device when it detects our President speaking. Apparently it works by detecting smarminess, bull#%&t and unbelievable arrogance. Thank you Ronco!

And did you know that John McCain was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam 'conflict'?

The RNC was truly an example of diversity on parade. I enjoyed watching the news media play Find the Person of Color. Sometimes several minutes went by before they were successful in their quest. I think they found a total of seventeen during tonight's broadcast.

Apparently from time-to-time during the week's proceedings, zookeepers from the Minnesota Zoo threw large chunks of raw meat on the floor of the convention center. Whenever this occurred, chants of 'USA, USA' and 'Country First, Country First' could be heard, drowning out many speeches, including Mr. McCain's. The blood lust was palpable.

As I was watching the goings-on during the last four days, I kept asking myself, "Do they really believe their own bull@%#t, or do they know it's total bull@%#t, but they just want to see how incredibly f#$%ing gullible the American public is. My guess is, the American public is VERY f#$%ing GULLIBLE!

And did you know that John McCain was a prisoner of war during the Viet Nam 'conflict'?

Tonight, we decided to have some fun and gave the convention a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 treatment. To add to our enjoyment of the spectacle, we watched Cindy McCain's propaganda speech with the sound off. With the quasi Farrah Fawcett hairdo, she looked and gestured just like a Sunday morning TV evangelist. Kinda creeeeeeeeeepy!!!

And did you know that John McCain was a prisoner of war during the Viet Nam 'conflict'?

Our future president kept asking the crowd at the RNC if they were having trouble finding work, putting food on the table (or on their family), and making their mortgage payments. WTF? Who the hell did he think he was talking to, po' folk?

Of course we waited and waited. And then it finally happened. McCain meandered his way to the issue of public education. Mr. McCain described education as the CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE of the century! WTF? Of course, he repeated the obligatory wingnut meme trashing public education and failing schools (read f@$# the pond-scum teachers' unions and their communist, liberal, homosexual, pro-choice agendas). He wants 'competition' and 'school choice' to attract good teachers. Who the hell wants to go in this profession nowadays? A little masochism is OK, but geez, there's a limit to how much nonsensical crap a person can put up with! Can't wait to see the whole mess implode soon.

Our steadfast vigilance was rewarded at the end of Mr. McCain's speech. We were all totally blown away when OJT Sarah Palin reached into her Louis Vuitton handbag, apparently handed down to her by Cindy McCain, pulled out a live, dapple-colored rat, and tossed it to McCain. And unbelievable as it seems, he proceeded to tear the head off of the poor little creature with his bare teeth, then spat it back to VPILF Palin, where she caught it with her new handbag! We looked at each other with disbelief! What the @#%k was that? We waited anxiously for the political pundits to put a positive spin on it. And they did! On FOX news, Sean Hannity was beside himself with glee. So excited was he that he almost choked on a piece of raw sirloin. He said, "This is proof again that John McCain was a real maverick and is what the greatest country God has given the world needs right now." Tony Blankley, of the Washington Times and resident right-wing tool on KCRW's Left, Right and Center, said it was a bold move on McCain's part. "Not many presidential hopefuls would have the chutzpah to try something this visceral only two months before the presidential election, but it does add greatly to his image as a maverick," opined Mr. Blankley. Even Chris Mathews of MSNBC said it really proved that, "A maverick like McCain had what it takes to tackle, head-on, the issues important to the Republican party; turning Iran into a parking lot, punching more holes in the earth's crust to increase Big Oil's profit margin, scraping public schools from the American landscape, and marching towards the End Times."

And did you know that John McCain was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam 'conflict'?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ooops, one got passed the goalie!

Oh, who are we kidding? There was no goalie. Hell, the goalie never even made it to the game.

The selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican choice for vice president may just well be the gift that keeps on giving. With the announcement of her 17-year-old daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy, she kinda throws a wrench in that whole ‘party of family values’ crap, doesn’t she? It is hilariously fun to watch the wingnuts try to put a positive spin on the whole thing.

While perusing the tubes of the Internets, I came across this gem in a comments section on a related story:

"Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body, but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body" I Corinthians 6:18 (I checked my King James version; it’s correct)

Her daughtereth commitedeth fornication. She goeth to hell, together with her mothereth , fathereth, and McCain.

Why McCain? He can catch bin Laden while he is there.

Thank YHWH for the funny people.!

Oddly enough, Miss Palin (mother-to-be) is somehow connected with Camp Nick! She attended Pastor John’s Christian Camp this past summer. Some kids described her as cherubic. Although she eschewed the firearms training (she, unlike her mother, does not find any joy in killing cute little forest critters) she was the head youth counselor for Pastor John’s abstinence-only sex education program for his campers. The slogan of the club was “Keeping Them Crossed for Chris!” Dripping with irony, no?