Category Archives: Education

Police Military Equipment

swatThere’s been a lot of coverage in the news about police departments getting surplus military equipment from the federal government. Now I understand police work is a tough job and there are bad people out there, but I don’t think it’s fair that only the police get the leftover equipment. The Los Angeles school district not only has an armored vehicle but also grenade launchers.

I want some, too.

The first thing I want is one of those stainless steel milk dispensers used in y military dining facilities that get milk to that just right, perfect, wonderful temperature for cold milk.

Then, bring on the chocolate chip cookies!

Oh, and while you’re at it, add a soft-serve ice cream dispenser.

Next I want one of those cots that we all had to sleep on in every base of every type throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. That way, if anyone decides to visit, and I don’t want them to stay too long, I make up the cot. With such a lumpy, squeaky, miserable place to sleep, unwanted guests would stay one night – if they last that long.

With all the media coverage of the heavily armored vehicles, I’ve tried to think of some type of nifty high-tech surplus conveyance that I’d like. Unfortunately, having served, I know they all guzzle fuel like Uncle Louie at ano-host bar. I think they average about twenty-eight gallons to the mile (not miles to the gallon) and need about a hundred thousand hours of maintenance for every hour you drive. Besides, based on personal experience I know they’re terribly noisy and no matter how big they are on the outside, the inside is cramped, uncomfortable and smell bad.

So, on second thought, I’ll pass.

Send the milk coolers and chocolate chip cookies to the police departments – maybe it’ll put them in a better mood.

The Changing Meaning of Music

THE Grateful Dead www.dead.net

THE Grateful Dead
http://www.dead.net

As a young man, I sang along with Alice Cooper’s, “I’m Eighteen (and I Like it!)” – back when I was only seventeen! Can you believe it?

My how things change. Now, when I sing “When I’m Sixty-four” the phrase “many years from now” is figurative, not literal.

I don’t want to admit that I’ve changed; I want the music to change.

Here (of course) are a few suggestions:

Huey Lewis and the News –”I want a new drug, like I saw on TV.

They said to ask my doctor if, it was right for me.”

The Doors- “Hello, I love you, can you tell me my name?”

Roy Orbison- “There she was, with her walker on my street.”

Gerry and the Pacemakers – enough said.

The Who – “Hope I die before I get old,

STOP! NO! WAIT!!!!”

Letter From an Old Friend

Dear Steve,

I’m sorry you weren’t able to make the forty-fifth class reunion – but considering you haven’t been at any of the previous forty-four, I shouldn’t be surprised.

We had a great time talking about the great times we had in high school back in the sixties; how every year our football team would lose to the Kangaroos of Kefauver High over in Dacron, Ohio and how we could always count on a win against the Westview Scapegoats. Dean DJDIHG, our quarterback, waxed poetic on his memories; although they reflected more how he wished they had been than how they actually were. Our hippie classmates who spent most of the four years under a cloud and in a haze listened attentively. This was mainly because they don’t remember anything from 1965 until at least 1980.

You just never know how people will turn out. None of us ever figured that Bob SMITH would be so successful. But then again, we never figured Alice FRUMPKIN would have aspirations to become an ax murderer. Fortunately, since she wasn’t very good at it, she only got a three year suspended sentence and 150 hours of community service for assault. I still remember how she enjoyed he community service helping out at the blood drives. But I digress…

If you remember, Bob was an all A student because he had a phenomenal memory. However, he had no sense of logic or critical thinking. If the textbook said one must add acid to water and not water to acid, that’s what he put on the test. If you asked him why, he got a deer-in-the-headlight look and was literally paralyzed, until someone distracted him with a shiny object or a piece of food.

Today, Bob is a top federal law enforcement agent! He arrived in one of those surplus Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles that law enforcement agencies now use. It left fourteen inch depression in the road and parking lot as well as collapsing several sewer lines under the street, but he looked awesome. Naturally, he was in full SWAT camouflage complete with bullet proof flak jacket, helmet, and night vision goggles (after all you never know what might happen at a high school reunion!)

I managed to get him off to the side and after slipping him three Shirley Temples I got him to talk. Get this – he’s the head of enforcement for the federal agency that ensures that those tags on mattresses and furniture cushions are not removed under penalty of law. He shared some exciting stories about some of the raids that he’s directed. They smash down doors, fire flash-bang and tear gas grenades into buildings, and go through thousands of rounds of ammunition. However, during his entire time heading the agency, no American has been fatally harmed by a mattress without a label.

It’s enough to make you proud.

Hope to see you at next year’s reunion.

All the best,

Bill

Labor Day / Back to School

Midlands103.com

Midlands103.com

The Labor Day Weekend is behind us, which means that summer is over, except that summer isn’t really over. Sumer will be over at the autumn equinox on 22 September, 2014 at 10:29 PM EDT, which is actually 23 September 2014 02:29 Zulu or Universal Coordinated Time.

Confused yet?

The most significant thing about Labor Day is that it is the day when mothers leap with joy because their kids are returning to school.

In the interest of full disclosure, remember that I am a male with a middle aged shape, greying and slightly balding, a bit wrinkled, who is fond of grilling, and who has a fascination with tools.

In other words – totally, completely, and utterly clueless about women.

Who are these women who sent their kids to the bus stop at 3:00 AM this morning? They are the very same women who a few short years ago were focused on their biological clocks. I’m not talking about a casual interest, I mean totally focused. Back then their biological clocks were ticking so loudly that they drowned out the crowd at an LSU football game. Over top of the cheers and the band all you could hear was, “tick. Tick. TICK. TICK! TICK! TICK!!!! It’s time to have babies!”

Yes, I’m talking about the same women who cooed over anything in a diaper that dripped from both ends. These are the same women who purchased baby clothes prior to pregnancy and held onto them to be used as hand-me-downs. Between babies they were out scouting for bargains for the proposed next baby.

Why?

These acquisitions announced their public commitment to having progeny (unless they were lawyers, in which case it was their commitment to having “issues” – the legal jargon for children.) They made it clear – very clear – that they wanted babies.

But then something changed. Maybe it’s like getting a cute little kitten while conveniently forgetting that someday it will be a finicky adult cat. Maybe the spring came off their biological clock. In any case, after getting exactly what they always wanted, their dream changed.

“I can’t wait for summer to end so that I can get rid of the kids at least five days out of seven. If I’m lucky, maybe I can get them into after school and weekend activities, too.”

If you’re not confused by now, it’s okay. I’m confused enough for both of us.

We guys dream differently. We may dream of a sports car, an obscenely large television, or the world’s finest hand-made golf clubs; if a guy gets his dream he NEVER wants to send it away (unless it’s to get a faster sports car, a larger screen TV or an even better set of clubs.)

But then, as I said earlier, I’m a male and therefore clueless.

 

 

What We Used to Know

bon amiKids today learn very differently from the way they used to learn.

Bon Ami – a cleaning powder that’s been around for a long time has used the logo of a chick with the caption, “Hasn’t scratched yet.” Kids today have no correlation to that motto.

While they have the Internet, standards of learning and smartphones, maybe grandma and grandpa’s education had its own benefits.

Sex education wasn’t taught in school – there was no need. Kids grew up seeing horses, cows and dogs having sex and giving birth. Barn cats, who kept the mice under control had a short life span, but lots of kittens to replace them. Seeing newborn kittens or puppies before their eyes were open was routine, but always exciting.

Similarly, death was a normal part of life. Not all kittens and puppies survived and the older animals eventually died. Grandpa expected to die in his own bed, surrounded by family, then placed in a coffin which was kept in the family parlor for the requisite 3 days. He may have even been buried right there on the family farm.

With no supermarkets, there was no illusion that meat magically grew in plastic wrapped Styrofoam trays. It was understood that the first step in preparing a chicken dish was to kill a chicken. Similarly, if the pig or cow lovingly raised for the state fair received a blue ribbon, it was quickly followed by becoming an entrée.

Knowledge isn’t wisdom and wisdom isn’t knowledge, but there is some sort of association. Maybe learning things that are more down to earth helps to eventually develop wisdom.

If that’s so, today’s kids haven’t scratched yet.

Back to School

Katie

My daughter and I just got back from the store after buying all those things (or at least almost all) that she needs for school.

I’ve gotten used to most of the changes:

The fact that stationery supplies for an 8th grader cost as much as a college credit hour cost me in the 1960s

Getting the list of supplies electronically before school even starts

Daughters need to be wearing the right outfit in order to shop – even for school supplies

What I haven’t gotten used to is that my youngest is headed into 8th grade; her slightly older brother will be driving to school; and that her older-older brother has orders to New England.

These are just kids – MY KIDS, for crying out loud. They’re not supposed to be so grown.

 

Maybe You Can Never Go Back – But You Can Visit

Harry Dinkle  The World's Greatest Band Director Tom Batiuk

Harry Dinkle
The World’s Greatest Band Director
Tom Batiuk

 

 

I recently returned from a trip to Toledo, OH, which is where I grew up. Last Saturday night there was a ceremony to induct people into my high school’s Music Hall of Fame. Yes, we have a Music Hall of Fame.

Back in the day, we had an absolutely awesome marching band and the glee club did top notch musicals along with the orchestra. Being a Catholic school, the uniforms, the instruments and all the accoutrement were supplied through fund raisers managed by the band parents. At least once a year we put on our uniforms without picking up instruments and sold band candy outside local stores, factories, or whatever. The uniforms had an overlay for marching, but could also be worn with white shirt and necktie as a concert band uniform. Large instruments, such as bassoons and sousaphones, were courtesy of the band parents’ efforts.

The music department was so good that when the school got a new principal, he decided that he was going to “put the music department in its place.”

If that place was oblivion, he succeeded 45 years ago.

The banquet hall was packed; I’m guessing there were 500 or so from all over the US. The current school president told the assembled multitude that he was committed to “getting our music department back.”

I hope so. Music is not only an art, but also a powerful tool for brain development.

I’m going to check back and see if it really happens.