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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Self Defense

A big news story broke here the last few days with a twist this morning.
An Iraqi vet found a guy in his garage trying to steal his vehicle. The robber ran off and the veteran followed him for four blocks finally shooting and killing him. Yesterday the veteran was sentenced to two years in prison.
The fur started to fly. Having been besieged by e-mails and phone calls, this morning Governor Richardson has called on the judge to reconsider the sentence or he will commute it.
Now I'm not a real big fan of Judge Pat Murdock. We went to the same junior high and high school, he was a couple of years ahead of me graduating in the same class as Bruce, but we played in the band together for a number of those years.
Many years ago a car dealer in town stopped paying the insurance premiums for it's employees and did some other dubius financial accounting. The owner of the dealership pled guilty to fraud and embezzlement and Pat Murdock gave him a suspended sentence so he could keep the dealership. Governor Gary Johnson then pardoned him and the dealer was the manager of Johnson's reelection campaign. The poor employees who had paid their part of the health insurance permium got stuck paying 100% of their medical bills receiving nothing financially or judiciously. So as you can see I don't think much of Pat Murdock as a judge. He should have thrown the book at the car dealer, or at least made him pay restitution. I can't figure out how the crook is still in business.
Saying that, I agree with Judge Murdock on this one. In fact he was rather lenient at a two year sentence he could have given him up to ten years. As much as some people might admire a veteran running down a burglar and killing him, it's not a good thing for the community to have people running through neighborhoods shooting guns, what if one of the shots he fired and missed had killed someone eating breakfast or sleeping in their beds? It's not a good thing for a man to chase down an unarmed man and kill him regardless of the provocation, and just because a man is a veteran does not give him liscence to break the law once he gets back.
Deadly force is only permissible in self-defense or the defense of someone else. If a police officer had shot and killed this man under the same circumstances he would be facing the same charges.
I'm not sure if Judge Murdock will change the sentence, it would be a blow to the legal system if he does. Governor Richardson will then most likely commute the sentence to probation or even pardon him. That's his constiutional perogative, and he will most likely be praised for doing it and score political brownie points.
The law should not be subject to popular opinion.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Soap Box

I have my students doing a practice essay to get them ready for next week. So while they're diligently writing about the importance of voting I just could not resist writing down my views on Ralph Nader.

First the definitions:

Superego -- giving, loving, sacrificial part of being human
Id -- self-centered, lustful, me me me, part of being human
Ego -- The part of every person that ballances Superego and Id.

Most people find a ballance between the sacrificial and the selfish aspects in their lives -- they have a healthy ego. For some reason when we talk about the most selfish we say they have a big ego, or are egomanics. Actually they have a big Id.

I explained all this to focus on the word Id. It's a greek word meaning self and the greeks had it as the root to another word. This word described someone who was highly intellegent, but was so self-centered that they could not see how their actions damaged the community as a whole. They called these people idiotes. The English word is IDIOT.

Which brings me to Ralph Nader. The poster child for the word IDIOT? He's not illiterate or ignorant or even stupid. No one doubts that he's quite intelligent. He just has a huge Id.
He wrote a book about an unsafe car and got fifteen minutes of fame forty years ago and he can't let it go.
In 2000 he ran for President on the Green Party ticket. Normally this would have made little difference, but that wasn't a normal year. That was a year when the votes he pulled away from Al Gore in critical states helped get George Bush elected. The party and person who are politically opposite of what Nader stands for.
Now why did Nader continue to run in 2000 knowing how close the election was and that if he endorsed Al Gore, a strong environmental advocate, it would tip the ballance to him?
He can't to this day see the damage done to all the things he stands for by Bushco. Or how the rest of us have been damaged by this decision.
His presidential campaign didn't matter in 2004. His candidacy then was a joke, and now it's past being a joke and is just plain pathetic.
He squandered his one opportunity to make a difference in 2000, but his Id got in the way.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Normal Week

Starting to feel human again after a fairly quiet weekend.
Starting to try and find Mom an apartment close by for her to move in either April or May. She's going to fly E and S (he's been out there, but flew back here Sunday) out there so they can drive her with her car and a U-Haul. Things are changing rather fast on this. Her last post on her blog leaves little doubt of her decision.
E, girlfriend and her two-year-old are moving out (hopefully) in a couple of weeks. They're sharing a two bedroom apt with girlfriend's brother and sister which makes the rent manageable. It'll give her child more playground room as it's been too cold here for him to get outside much, dogs and cat might miss the attention he give them, then again maybe not.
I have one more normal week of teaching. Next week starts testing -- testing in mornings, regular classes in afternoon. We're voting on the schedule change today -- they did put the 4X4 schedule on the ballot, I guess I wasn't the only one to complain. No way to know how the vote will turn out. My guess is we'll do a modified schedule change of this years schedule (adding a 30 minute remediation or study hall period) to the school day and then wait to see which way the district will jump the following year. I can live with that, the AB schedule could make me dive off the deep end.
Watched the Oscars last night. Pretty lame, the Stewart guy they had MC'ing has the world's worst delivery on jokes. They all fell flat. When they were showing the clips for Best Picture and they showed the one for No Country For Old Men my eyes popped out. It was a car's view of driving east on Central Avenue towards the old First National Bankbuilding at San Mateo here in Albuquerque. I had to rewind the DVR and show Grinnygranny. "Look Central and San Mateo!" She almost dropped her plastic canvas that she works on while watching TV. The news made quite a to-do about the movie being filmed in New Mexico and getting Best Picture.
It's still kind of new being able to watch a movie and it's not just a picture of a street or mountain or diner or whatever like it is when it's filmed somewhere else, but now that they're filming here it's the recognition factor that catches your attention.
It'll be interesting when the movie Hamlet 2 hits the big screen which they filmed last fall on the campus of my school and how they make it look. The money they poured into the school has sure made a difference this year for the students. New communal furnature, banners in the main building, trophy cases, repainted the walls (school colors are red, white and blue -- they painted the walls grey and blue -- Dallas Cowboys colors) It's really looked nice and that has cut down on the vandalism and graffiti. Starting to get a semblance of school pride. Amazing how little things like this make a difference.

Then last week APS decided to paint the outside of the campus a dark greyish green. It looks awful. Grinnygranny drove by and really fussed (she's a graduate). Bad enough for 30 years it's been concrete grey giving it an institutional prison look (no outside windows to keep vandalism and sand damage down) now it's just plain hideous. I hope the people living across the street complain to the school board and make them paint it something else.
Enough griping. Hope everyone else is having a nice day and week.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Caugh, hack hack, sneeze, blow nose.
Things are getting back to normal. Grinnygranny and I have had the creeping crud lately, and we both stayed home. I'd prefer we do that when we feel good and can enjoy it instead of just trying to get to feeling better.
Went back to school today, but am losing my voice, quite a few teachers and students around here have the same problem.
Finished my grades and they're all recorded. Only twelve weeks left for this year.
I've been asked to join a pathways team for next year with ROTC, English, Science and my Law class. We'd all have the same students and a common prep to try and keep contact with parents and grades up. If it will increase the number of students in that class I'm all for it.
We're voting on the ridiculous A/B block schedule or staying with our current schedule (modified to include remediation) next week. The 4 X 4 that I spoke up for is not on the ballot.
Right now my inclination is that I'd rather dig a ditch than try to teach on the A/B schedule, but my mind might change between now and when school starts again.

A/B block schedule means all students take eight classes per school year but only take four per day. The classes alternate days so that you have A classes and B classes. Some weeks the A schedule will be MWF and B are TT, then the next week they flip. I'd just love waking up every day and wondering which classes I'm teaching that day. Teachers will teach 6 classes, but only have three to teach each day. This raises the number of students a teacher is responsible for per grading period from 160 to as many as 210. But since you're only seeing half of that on any given day it's under the state law and negoitiated agreement. Still every time a teacher makes out grades and grades papers they're doing so for up to 210 students -- stress levels will rise! Students will have to take 8 count them 8 finals every semester.

The 4 X 4 block schedule has students taking 8 classes, but only 4 each semester. Each semester counts as a full school year of instruction. Teachers do increase from the same 160 load to 210, but they are split up into different semesters so you only make out grades at any one time from 90 to 105 students. Students are only juggling 4 classes at a time and taking only 4 finals each semester.
To me the 4 X 4 is a no brainer as we are being forced to go onto something like this due to requirements to remediate students that fail their standardized tests (NCLB).
Maybe it's because I've already taught on the 4X4, adjusted to it and could easily go back, but the A/B is just plain stupid. Why should we be increasing a students classload by 30% each semester, when the same could be accomplished by a semester decrease of 20%. That a 50% difference in stress level for teachers and students.
Now you know why I hate going to IC meetings. Nobody else there is even remotely reasonable, won't listen to reason, see reason, understand reason if it bit them in the butt, or act on sound reasoning.
Does this make me unreasonable?

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm Home

Spent a few days in soggy East Texas. Mom's surgery went well, I got miles of walking in trying to find my way around Baylor Medical, all in all I'd prefer chasing a little white ball. After she was released we had dinner at Joe's Crabshack where I could enjoy their Coconut Shrimp. I texted Grinnygranny and Auntypesty and they fussed a little about not being able to join us. Penni and family came over Saturday and she's looking good.
I hate the narrow seating on Southwest's flights. The only good part is the flight is only an hour and a half long of feeling like a sardine. I was not happy with Alamo Car rental and the way they tacked on extra charges when you dropped the car off. The only time I've rented a car so I really don't know how the game is played.
When we got home the Daytona 500 was taping on the DVR so we could watch the whole race. I slept through the first 300 miles, but it doesn't seem anything happens anymore in Nascar until the last 50 miles of bumper cars.
Grinnygranny and Auntypesty had to drool over the Mustang on the new Nightrider series. Good thing Grinnygranny has one or we would be out buying one today. Golly Gee the badguys are from a mercenary group called Blackriver, sound like another mercenary group in the news lately?

Cattle Call

We sit in seats for hours then stand in line like cattle
Waiting for the flight to arrive and begin the usual prattle
Of boarding the jetliner or plane
It's all the same regardless of the carriers name.

We fight for an aisle or window hoping to avoit the middle seat
And turn the nob for air because of the excessive body heat
Hoping and praying for a sleeping or silent neighbor
Instead we get a great big crashing talkative boor

The attendants do their usual routine above the baby's screams
The noise and hustle to get in the air preclude any sweet dreams
The person on the aisle has to use his laptop with elbows wide
The sap in the middle seat gets thoroughly beat in the side

Window seat needs to go potty when off goes the seat belt sign
The other two unfold and clear a path cursing the seating design
They have to resume their seats -- no standing in the aisle
Then wait to let the potty person return with the nervous smile

People try to doze or read or see the clouds and land down below
The sensation is of being really still while the land is moving quite slow
Some look at the wings holding them aloft and watch their twists and turns
Then focus on the engines whose fast moving coils the propellant fuel burns

Then comes the seat belt sign again and the announcement of the descent
A woman sprays her front polluting the whole cabin with her scent
The craft dips down in front and pressure hits your ears and face
Maybe turulence upsets the smooth and gentle pristine flight's grace

The runway looms ahead and with jolt and thud the wheels touch the ground
You feel the engines reverse and slow the missle down, then it turns around
At last the flight is done now just to get out while still safe and sound
Finally all have left the hollow tube which is getting ready for another round.

P.M. Prescott 02/18/08

Monday, February 11, 2008


Mom was scheduled to have surgery Thursday and I got all my ducks in a row to take emergency leave so I could go out there. She called Friday and said the doctor couldn't fit her in until Monday so today I cancelled my leave for this week and set it up for next week. She called this afternoon and the doctor has it back on for Thursday. Grrrr
I won't have to take her to get blood work on Wednesday as she's done that today, so I only need to be out there Thursday, Friday and come back on Saturday. One less day of sick leave used, but I hate having cancelled a sub and then having to turn around and request another one for basically the same days. APS doesn't have lots of subs and I could wind up without one. The upside is that I'll be back home for President's day and will be able to get out on the golf course (knock on wood that the weather will be good)
I purposely waited to make travel arraingements until it was definitive, which was a good thing.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Right now Mom's surgery is scheduled for the 18th which is President's day. I'll only have to use two days of sick leave instead of three that we were planning. In the meantime she is in a great deal of pain, but still able to take care of herself. She just can't drive while on that much pain medication.
Today is the last day of the Albuquerque Museum's exhibit on Egypt. We had planned on going to see it during Christmas break, but never got around to it, so we're planning on going today. Auntypesty is on call for work so we may go early today or later. Weather wise it's finally warming up.
Still no final count on the Caucus. A bunch of people are wondering why all the other 20+ states had their counts done by Wed. and we have just started the provisional ballot count. -- maybe, just maybe it's the provisional ballots, which other states don't have (as far as I know) that is the problem.
If you scroll down to the bottom of this blog you will see the delegate count to date.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Crazy night

Grinnygranny got home last night and the three of us went out to vote. E left Sunday for Tucson to be with his son, who turned 5 yesterday. Hard to imagine the grandson being that old!
It only took about twenty minutes to vote, but the rest of the voting places were crazy.
In 2006, a high turnout year there were 104,000 votes cast in the entire state, Dem and Repub. This was a caucus and only Dems were voting so it was figured only 30 to 40,000 would vote in the entire state. Rio Rancho is heavily Republican so they only had one voting place -- at the high school.
Numerous voting places ran out of ballots and the line was so long to vote in Rio Rancho it took up to four hours. At the 10pm news they were still voting.
When we woke up this morning Hillary was leading by 120 votes with 153,000+ counted, four counties not tabulated yet and 17,000 provisional ballots which could take three to four weeks to count, as they have to be verified.
We have 38 total delegates to the convention with 10 of them being at large, and the breakdown with the voting this close means the remaining 28 will be split down the middle or the winner getting one or two more than the other, when that's determined.
Ya think people are interested in this election?

Right now it looks like I'll head out for Texas Tues. night, take Mom for Pre-op work up on Wed. surgery on Thrus., and bring her home on Fri. and head home Sat.
Bruce took her yesterday for the MRI and the surgery won't be set until this Friday. We all really hope this settles her back problems down and she won't need any more surgeries.

Ran across this at New Mexico FBIHOP this is the way the state's delegates break down so far.

Three congressional districts get 6 delegates each
6 at-large chosen from statewide vote
3 State leaders (Richardson, Bingaman, and Udall)
12 Super delegates

Right now it looks like districts 1 & 3 are evenly split, and Clinton had the majority in district 2.
That's 3 + 2 + 3 for Obama or 8 district delegates.
3 + 4 + 3 for Clinton or 10 district delegates.
Statewide vote could go either way, but the margin won't be enough to do anything other than split.

Obama would be 8 + 3 = 11
Clinton 10 + 3 = 13

State Leaders and Super delegates are anyone's guess.

It will cost the state millions of dollars to count the provisional ballots to determine if one or two of the At-Large delegates go the other way. Seems like a real waste of money.

Still nearly 200,000 Democratic voters from this state -- that's amazing.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Giant Upset

Giants played a heck of a game.

Mom called earlier and she needs me to go out and help until she gets over this back problem. I'm going to look at taking emergeny leave. Fortunately I didn't need to take any of that kind of leave in August. Not sure how much I can get.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Shock and Shame in Alabama

Just read Scott Horton's piece on the arrest of a 63 year old retired social studies teacher, and member of Alabama's state legislature. The ap story on it is here.
To say the least this hits a little close to home.

What was this woman's crime, other than being an elected Democrat, which seems to be the real crime here.

“We charge that Representative Schmitz’s only substantial ‘work’ was to work her official position in the Legislature to land a job through the postsecondary system,” U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said in a statement.
Schmitz was employed from January 2006 until October 2006 by the CITY Skills Training Consortium, an arm of Alabama’s troubled two-year college system. The federally funded program operated at 10 sites statewide to help at-risk youth referred by juvenile courts develop academic, behavioral and social skills. The indictment claims Schmitz made as much as $53,403 annually as a program coordinator despite rarely showing up and doing virtually nothing for the money.

As Scott Horton replies:

Let’s just pause and look at what’s going on here. A massive federal case has been launched, at a likely taxpayer cost in excess of $2 million, against a social studies teacher, who it is alleged (on the basis of sharply disputed evidence) was not putting in as many hours as she should have in teaching her classes. This has to count as one of the more absurd (if not malicious) cases I’ve seen in recent years. And remember, this is a Justice Department that can’t spare an FBI agent to look into, or a prosecutor to handle, a gang rape case involving Jamie Leigh Jones, or any of the dozens of other cases involving rape, assault and homicide in Iraq. They’re not “priorities.” On the other hand, bringing charges against Democratic office holders has been a very high priority from the day Bush took office, and it continues to be so today.

Fish or cut bait

It's finally come time to choose who to vote for on Tuesday.
This does seem to be the deciding day. I really wanted to vote for Richardson, but he faded to quickly, I admire his stance right now on letting his followers decide on their own who to vote for instead of endorsing one of the other candidates.
I really wish Edwards had been the nominee in 2004 instead of Kerry. He would have stood a much better chance of winning, then, but now he's just remembered as being on the losing ticket.
I've tried to keep an open mind concerning Hillary and Barak. I'm on record as having my doubts concerning Hillary, and that post just a little over a year ago had a well known magazine asking to post a condensed version of it in their Letters section, which I reluctantly agreed to allow them to print. (My book was just coming into print, and if the religious bookstores connected me with that magazine it would have been trouble -- the bookstores aren't interested in my book as there's not enough profit margin for them)
I agreed with Ariana Huffington that Hillary's votes on getting us into Iraq didn't make her the best candidate, and I have fervently hoped a better alternative would catch the attention of Democrats, but it hasn't happened.
I liked Barak being intelligent enough to know going into Iraq was a mistake, but it's easy to make statements like that when you're not in the frying pan of the Senate at the time. The "I told you so," position sounds better when your own neck is on the line. There is much I admire in him, and I was leaning towards him until the last two debates and the State of the Union address. I have no problem with the two of them squabbling about who sold out to big money? that's politics as usual. It's the "poor picked on me" response he's given since then. Playing the victim card. When you get into the boxing ring of Presidential politics you shouldn't be surprised if you get a bloody nose. That little repartee with Hillary, and potential First Laddie, Bill, making some disparaging remarks are love taps compared to what the Republicans have lined up in their bag of dirty tricks. When he turned away from Hillary Monday night that settled the matter in my mind. He won't stand up to the heat as front runner. Not to say he won't make a good candidate or might be a good President, but not right now.

My breadown why I'm voting for Hillary -- reluctantly up to now, but from this point on with full support.

  • She's felt the blast of the Republican open hearth furnace for nearly twenty years and is still standing. Gore melted, Kerry melted, could anyone else face the viscious attacks to come and still have a chance to win? I don't think so.
  • She's a shrewd politician. All of her votes in the Senate have been calculated for this election. She knew she only had one window of opportunity to grab the brass ring, and she's poised to take it.
  • Everyone agrees Bush is leaving one hell of a mess. Constitutionally, economically, militarily, diplomatically. Who better to work with Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House) in getting the work done. She won't be going into Washington and spendiing the first two years learning the ropes. She can hit the ground running, and that will be exactly what is needed.
  • She is electable. If it comes down to namebrand in the minds of voters Clinton trumps McCain or Romney.

Do I agree with her on every issue -- no, that's why I liked Kucinich first, then Richarson, then Edwards, but they're no longer options.

What would make, to me, a winning ticket.

Clinton/Obama -- the dream ticket. Reagan picked Bush even after DaddyBush called his Trickle down theory "Voodoo Economics" so it can be done. I think all Democrats would like to see, when the nomination is decided, the two kiss and make-up. Hillary will most likely offer, but it's to be seen if Barak is capable of playing second fiddle. In this scenario the real dream ticket would also see Bill Richarson as Secretary of State, and John Edwards as Attorney General. If you're going to clean up the diplomatic and judicial messes we're in right now those are the guys to do it.

Clinton/Richardson -- second choice. Not a bad ticket, but not as unifying. It could alienate black voters, but bring in more Hispanic voters.

I've read lots of bloggers fussing about the role of Bill Clinton, that he'll be the one really President, blah blah blah. Sorry I'm married and that makes me about as expert on women as any man can possibly be, and I know what Hillary will do when she's elected President. She'll hand Bill a list of Honey-do jobs.

Honey see about cleaning up the lawn of the White house, those roses in the rose garden need more fertilizer.

Honey run down to Bed Bath and Beyond and get new linens for the Lincoln Bedroom.

Honey go make a bunch of speeches supporting my policies and keep bringing in the big bucks.

Honey why don't you start a fundraiser for my Presidential library?