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Musings and Meanderings

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Kindergarten till the end of the month

Finally got word today that the District has hired a new teacher for the class I am subbing for. However she does not start till the 1st so I am set till the end of the month. That's the good news. Bad news is that with my particular start date, processing time and pay days on the 31st and 15th, I don't get paid till the 15th of next month. Hit me harder, go ahead.

Anyway I've been having to wing the class planning thing since Friday, taking what the last teacher left (can you believe she only left one week of lesson plans?) and improvising it from there. Think however what good experience this is if and when I actually go to "school" for my credential. Lesson planning? Done that. Resource research? Done that. And all on a wing and a prayer.

The teacher I am subbing for had a very good schedule pre set that all anyone had to do was follow. Meet the kids at 7:50 where the nice old ladies who work for Chartwells give them a little breakfast and growl a little. We then walk single file (yea right) to the room where they eat, then they write the word of the day in their journal, and make a picture of it. If they finish early they can read a library book or look at the Zoobooks that Alex volunteered. At 8:40 they do some learning songs. Then on to letters and the ELA program for reading. "Lunch" comes early - 10:20 to 10:50, break one of two for the teacher.

After Lunch they have a quiet time with head down and lights out and we do the whole potty routine. Quite a routine I tell ya. Then we do Math for a half hour and Science for a half hour. Then they get unstructured play time till 12:45. From there they go to special ops, Music, Art or Gym depending on the day. Another break for the teach. Finally the last half hour is pack and go. We are responsible for handing the kids off to the bus or their parents or suitable replacement.

One thing that really bugs me is how many of the kid's coats reek of cigarettes. Even some of their folders do. Just how much smoke are those kids inhaling if their folder reeks of cigarettes. I try not to make value judgements but you begin to hear about families from the teachers that have been there a while. Churning out kids, yet being the same families that never overlook the kid's homework or offer discipline. Sad comment on our society. But the class only had three or four real problem kids, the rest are just great. Welcome to South Troy.....

Anyway total immersion is certainly one way to get a feel for education. Would I want to teach Kindergarten all my life. Not in a million years. But it's giving me unexpected and valuable experience in class management.
posted by Mike 5:11 PM

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Makes you really think doesn't it.

How come every time the Bushies get into political hot water a new mysterious terror threat pops up that never materializes?

I give you Ten examples. Thanks to CJWrites for the link and Keith Olberman for unknowingly letting me plagerize his column found here: The Nexus of Politics and Terror.

Number One:

May 18th, 2002. The first details of the President’s Daily Briefing of August 6th, 2001, are revealed, including its title - “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.” The same day another memo is discovered - revealing the FBI knew of men with links to Al Qaeda training at an Arizona flight school. The memo was never acted upon. Questions about 9/11 Intelligence failures are swirling.

May 20th, 2002. Two days later, FBI Director Mueller declares another terrorist attack “inevitable.” The next day, the Department of Homeland Security issues warnings of attacks against railroads nationwide, and against New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

Number Two:

June 6th, 2002. Colleen Rowley, the FBI agent who tried to alert her superiors to the specialized flight training taken by Zacarias Moussaoui, whose information suggests the government missed a chance to break up the 9/11 plot, testifies before Congress. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Graham says Rowley’s testimony has inspired similar pre-9/11 whistle-blowers.

June 10th, 2002. Four days later, speaking from Russia, Attorney General John Ashcroft reveals that an American named Jose Padilla is under arrest, accused of plotting a radiation bomb attack in this country. Padilla had, by this time, already been detained for more than a month.

Number Three:

February 5th, 2003. Secretary of State Powell tells the United Nations Security Council of Iraq’s concealment of weapons, including 18 mobile biological weapons laboratories, justifying a U.N. or U.S. first strike. Many in the UN are doubtful. Months later, much of the information proves untrue.

February 7th, 2003. Two days later, as anti-war demonstrations continue to take place around the globe, Homeland Security Secretary Ridge cites “credible threats” by Al Qaeda, and raises the terror alert level to orange. Three days after that, Fire Administrator David Paulison - who would become the acting head of FEMA after the Hurricane Katrina disaster - advises Americans to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect themselves against radiological or biological attack.

Number Four:

July 23rd, 2003: The White House admits the CIA -- months before the President's State of the Union Address -- expressed "strong doubts" about the claim that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from Niger. On the 24th, the Congressional report on the 9/11 attacks is issued; it criticizes government at all levels; it reveals an FBI informant had been living with two of the future hijackers; and it concludes that Iraq had no link to Al-Qaeda. 28 pages of the report are redacted. On the 26th, American troops are accused of beating Iraqi prisoners.

July 29th, 2003. Three days later, amid all of those negative headlines, Homeland Security issues warnings of further terrorist attempts to use airplanes for suicide attacks.

Number Five:

December 17th, 2003. 9/11 Commission Co-Chair Thomas Kean says the attacks were preventable. The next day, a Federal Appeals Court says the government cannot detain suspected radiation-bomber Jose Padilla indefinitely without charges, and the chief U.S. Weapons inspector in Iraq, Dr. David Kay, who has previously announced he has found no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, announces he will resign his post.

December 21st, 2003. Three days later, just before Christmas, Homeland Security again raises the threat level to Orange, claiming “credible intelligence” of further plots to crash airliners into U.S. cities. Subsequently, six international flights into this country are cancelled after some passenger names purportedly produce matches on government no-fly lists. The French later identify those matched names: one belongs to an insurance salesman from Wales, another to an elderly Chinese woman, a third to a five-year old boy.

Number Six:

March 30th, 2004. The new chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles Duelfer tells Congress we have still not found any WMD there. And, after weeks of refusing to appear before the 9/11 Commission, Condoleezza Rice finally relents and agrees to testify. On the 31st: Four Blackwater-USA contractors working in Iraq are murdered, their mutilated bodies dragged through the streets and left on public display in Fallujah. The role of civilian contractors in Iraq is widely questioned.

April 2nd, 2004. Homeland Security issues a bulletin warning that terrorists may try to blow up buses and trains, using fertilizer and fuel bombs - like the one detonated in Oklahoma City - stuffed into satchels or duffel bags.

Number Seven:

May 16th, 2004. Secretary of State Powell appears on “Meet The Press.” Moderator Tim Russert closes by asking him about the “enormous personal credibility” Powell had placed before the U.N. in laying out a case against Saddam Hussein. An aide to Powell interrupts the question, saying the interview is over. Powell finishes his answer, admitting that much of the information he had been given about Weapons of Mass Destruction was “inaccurate and wrong, and, in some cases, deliberately misleading.”

May 21st, 2004, new photos showing mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison are released. On the 24th - Associated Press video from Iraq confirms U.S. forces mistakenly bombed a wedding party - killing more than 40.

Wednesday the 26th. Two days later, Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI Director Mueller warn that intelligence from multiple sources, in Ashcroft’s words, “indicates Al-Qaeda’s specific intention to hit the United States hard,” and that “90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on the United States were complete.” The color-coded warning system is not raised, and Homeland Security Secretary Ridge does not attend the announcement.

Number Eight:

July 6th, 2004. Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry selects Senator John Edwards as his vice presidential running mate, producing a small bump in the election opinion polls, and a huge swing in media attention towards the Democratic campaign.

July 8th, 2004. Two days later, Homeland Secretary Ridge warns of information about Al-Qaeda attacks during the summer or autumn. Four days after that, the head of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, DeForest B. Soaries, Junior, confirms he has written to Ridge about the prospect of postponing the upcoming Presidential election in the event it is interrupted by terrorist acts.

Number Nine:

July 29th, 2004. At their party convention in Boston, the Democrats formally nominate John Kerry as their candidate for President. As in the wake of any convention, the Democrats dominate the media attention over the ensuing weekend.

Monday, August 1st, 2004. The Department of Homeland Security raises the alert status for financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington to orange. The evidence supporting the warning - reconnaissance data, left in a home in Iraq - later proves to be roughly four years old and largely out-of-date.

Number Ten:

Last Thursday. At 10 AM Eastern Time, the President addresses the National Endowment for Democracy, once again emphasizing the importance of the war on terror and insisting his government has broken up at least 10 terrorist plots since 9/11.

At 3 PM Eastern Time, five hours after the President’s speech has begun, the Associated Press reports that Karl Rove will testify again to the CIA Leak Grand Jury, and that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald has told Rove he cannot guarantee that he will not be indicted.

At 5:17 PM Eastern Time, seven hours after the President’s speech has begun, New York officials disclose a bomb threat to the city’s subway system - based on information supplied by the Federal Government. A Homeland Security spokesman says the intelligence upon which the disclosure is based is “of doubtful credibility.” And it later proves that New York City had known of the threat for at least three days, and had increased police presence in the subways long before making the announcement at that particular time. Local New York television station, WNBC, reports it had the story of the threat days in advance, but was asked by "high ranking federal officials" in New York and Washington to hold off its story.

Less than four days after revealing the threat, Mayor Michael Bloomberg says "Since the period of the threat now seems to be passing, I think over the immediate future, we'll slowly be winding down the enhanced security."

While news organizations ranging from the New York Post to NBC News quote sources who say there was reason to believe that informant who triggered the warning simply ‘made it up’, a Senior U.S. Counter-terrorism official tells the New York Times: "There was no there, there."


You be the judge. Sometimes it's like living in a Banana Repbulic here. Election Fraud in the last two elections. Awarding a Supreme Court seat to a "personal friend" who helped in an election. What's next? Jeb Bush as President?
posted by Mike 10:20 AM

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Kindergarten Substitute.

Well I got a call on Sunday before going to work congratulating me on my decision ;-) and giving me my first assignment. Kindergarten at Troy School #12.

I couldn't sleep a wink last night I was so nervous and I won't even tell you how vivid my dreams were.

So at 7am I motored down the road to School #12 and reported for work. Luckily for me the teacher had JUST gone on maternity leave and there was an excellent lesson plans for today, tomorrow and Friday (Troy is closed on Yom Kippur).

Have you seen Kindergarten Cop, the cute scene where the kids say and ask really wacky things? It's true.

This week is brought to you by the numbers 1-4 and the letters E & F. We also did a science experiment with magnifying glasses. School 12 is a very mixed ethnic crowd, mostly black and hispanic, and the class was pretty evenly split boys and girls. Only a couple of kids tried to take advantage of the new substitute but the teacher had put in place some very good rules and systems so I had no troubles.

I go back to tomorrow and then "we will see" on Friday.

The amazing thing about today was how quickly the abject terror turned in to sheer enjoyment as I realized there was a planned and scheduled time for everything. You know 7:15 to 2:00 is pretty good hours all things considered, and the teacher has a half hour "lunch" off at 10:30 and a bit more near the end of the kids' day when they go to Music/Art/Gym for 40 min.

So I finally did it, and I loved it.

(And yes I still work RS nights (3pm on) and weekends)
posted by Mike 4:49 PM

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Wedding Run

Well we went to Liza's cousin Eliza's wedding yesterday outside of Philadelphia. The couple paid for the entire thing themself I am told and it was very nice.

We drove down in a major deluge with Alex and Liza's mom as well, with the intent to stay overnight at a hotel in the area and come back in the AM.

However, though the music and food was great and every one was having a grand time it was quite obvious that the party was petering out fairly early so we decided to just come home.

Left at 9pm and got home at 2:15am. Not a bad drive which I did the whole way. I had also driven the last 3 hrs down so it was quite a long day. Wholly worthy being able to sleep in our own beds though.
posted by Mike 11:26 PM

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Offered, Accepted and Rejected
or my cup runneth over.

I interviewed for a "Marketing/Administrative Assistant" job about two weeks ago now and figured I was way over qualified. This thought was confirmed by not hearing from the company for two weeks. Turns out that I did hear from them on Monday with an offer originally of 35 hrs at 10/hr. After some hard negotiation I got it to 37.5 at 12/hr or approx 450 a week. After much hemming and hawing I decided to take the job on Wednesday, though I had serious reservations because I saw it as a meticulous job and I am MUCH more of a Forest from the Trees guy.

This was about two hours too early.. I got a call at RS from the Troy Unified School District asking if I was available. Oh dear.... Well what do you pay? 90/day, but no guarantee of work 5 days a week. (I had kind of given up on the idea of Subbing because the only school district I had a day rate on was Lansingburg which was $65/day). Further discussion with the person who coordinates the subs revealed that on an average day, she has 40 to 60 teachers out and 39 sub willing to work, on average. And of that 39 not all are willing to go to any school or do any level. So I hemmed and hawed again. No guarantees.

Liza said: Do what your heart tells you.

So before I went into RS today I wrote the employer back and rescinded my agreement.

I'm gonna sub. Now we can just hope they have work for me.
posted by Mike 11:58 PM

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Fort Ticonderoga Camporee

The troop participated in the District wide Camporee at Historical Fort Ticonderoga this weekend.

I posted the pictures at the Troop 611 site.

posted by Mike 4:46 PM

The musings and meanderings of an overworked and underemployed mind