Archive for September 2009

Vitter To Face Sanctions From La Bar?

September 30, 2009

No way it’ll happen, but this complaint is still awesome:

A Washington-based public watchdog group said Tuesday it has asked a Louisiana state agency that reviews lawyer conduct to investigate allegations that U.S. Sen. David Vitter solicited prostitutes. . . .

CREW’s letter notes that solicitation for prostitution is illegal in Louisiana and the District of Columbia. It cites the state court system’s Rules of Professional Conduct, which state that committing a crime constitutes misconduct. Complaints, if found valid, can lead to penalties ranging from private reprimands to disbarment by the state Supreme Court.

My first thought at reading that was that this is old news, nothing happened when it broke, nothing will happen now. The reasoning, though, is what makes it great:

CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated, “Sen. Vitter’s zeal to see ACORN criminally investigated for offering advice in setting up a prostitution ring reminded me he has yet to be held accountable for his own role in a prostitution ring. While ACORN’s conduct is indefensible, so is Sen. Vitter’s and what is good for the goose is good for the gander.”

Tough to argue with that. Vitter doesn’t, either, simply accusing CREW (Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington) of being a partisan group. They aren’t, they’ve previously attacked Mary Landrieu and their current list of most corrupt congressmen is evenly split between the parties. But even if they were, that has nothing to do with the validity of the charges. If he solicited a prostitute, he broke the law and therefore the rules of professional conduct. He shouldn’t get a pass. He will. But he shouldn’t.


Mountain Bike Season Is Here

September 29, 2009

Tonight I enjoyed the best mountain bike ride I’ve had since probably last April.

First, my bike worked. Sometime last spring I caught a stick or something between my rear wheel and my rear derailer. Result: Bent derailer hangar. What that means is that no amount of adjusting would aline the derailer with the rear cogset. With the two out of line, shifting was iffy at best. Sometimes the chain would respond correctly to shifts, sometime it wouldn’t go at all, sometimes it would rattle and then go about ten or fifteen seconds after I needed to change. Not having the skills to fix it myself and not wanting to spend the money to take it to the shop, I basically rode a single speed for the last five months. Eventually that got old, so I took it to the shop last week. Now it rides like new. Sweet.

Second, my favorite local trails – the Stoner woods system – are in the best shape since the tornadoes last spring. After those things blew through the area, most of the trails were blocked entirely or at least covered in debris. Not long afterwards, the weather heated up and then we had all kinds of rain in July. With the trails a sloppy steamy mess, no one rides them. With no riders, no one wants to fix them, either. Thankfully, with the return of fall, the truly dedicated have cleared out many of the trails. South of the Shreveport Barksdale Bridge parts of the trails are still under water, north of the bridge, though, everything is perfect. No debris, nice tacky surface, a few new trails that make for some sweet loops: It is fun, fun, fun.

Finally, the weather. Evening rides at Stoner are always nice, the sun sets behind you making the river beautiful. We don’t have many scenic views around here, but this is one of them. More than the blue sky and vibrant late evening colors, it was the temperature that made the ride. Low seventies at the start with no humidity. For months, the idea of “cold” or “cool” or even “comfortable” has been completely inconceivable. I mean, during the summer you know at some point you will again wear long sleeves. But that’s it, you just know it, like some academic fact you accept as true even if you don’t understand it. On the way home tonight, though, I almost felt like I could be wearing long sleeves.

All in all, the perfect way to spend an evening after work.

Just A Good Ole Boy

September 29, 2009

This guy is still at work:

Jim Thompson, principal at Stockwell Place Elementary in Bossier City, was booked into a Bossier Parish jail Sept. 18 with bond set at $2,300. Besides DWI and speeding, the Benton Police Department also charged Thompson with having an open container of alcohol and littering.

Benton Police Chief Charles Pilkinton said Thompson threw a Bud Light beer bottle out of a moving vehicle and hit the chief’s personal pickup parked outside his Pine Street home. Pilkinton hopped in his pickup and followed Thompson, in a late-model Toyota Avalon, and radioed for help. A Bossier sheriff’s deputy and Benton police officer in a marked car pulled Thompson, who was alone in the car, over on Linton Cutoff, near Cypress Bayou Reservoir.

Drunk driving and throwing s**t out of a vehicle in a residential neighborhood! Nice! This isn’t just getting drunk at the house; this is endangering people’s lives and property. Not really the example educators ought to set. Thompson will now have zero credibility with teachers and students.

As for why this guy is still working, my first thought was, well, he hasn’t been convicted yet. But if this was in Caddo, he’d be on paid administrative leave until the case was settled. Then I saw this quote:

Superintendent D.C. Machen Jr. said there isn’t anything under Bossier Parish School District policy that would punish employees for misdemeanor charges.

That means even if Thompson is convicted, he will still be principal at Stockwell. There’s a reason people like working in Bossier’s education system. This, however, is taking loyalty to employees way too far.

Misleading Lede? Or Double Standards In Sex Offender Cases

September 28, 2009

Here’s the lede:

A former North DeSoto High School teacher will not spend any time behind bars after admitting today to having an improper relationship with one of her teenage students earlier this year.

The teacher, a 23 year old female, had consensual sex with a 16 year old male student.

Given those facts, and the lede, the comments to the story are mostly some variety of “What? If the sexes were reversed the teacher would never see the light of day!” Probably true, but I think the outrage is a bit premature. It might be that she does not face jail time yet.

This story first broke last spring, when DeSoto authorities discovered inappropriate text messages between the student and the teacher. However, the actual sex took place in Shreveport, where she was charged with molestation of a juvenile. She just pled in DeSoto to indecent behavior with a juvenile. The story makes that much clear. What it does not make clear is whether or not she still faces the charges in Shreveport, or whether the plea also included an agreement with the Shreveport authorities. Obviously, the molestation charges would be more serious and would probably result in jail time. If they do not? Then it’s time to ask about double standards.

AT&T Sucks

September 26, 2009

So we go to send an e-mail but find the internet is out. Annoying, but not a surprise, AT&T’s internet service is ridiculously unreliable. When we try to call, though, we find annoyance number two:  The phone is out, too. Time to pick up the cell and call customer service.

Now for annoyance number three. The animated answering service tells us “Your area is experiencing a high volume of calls right now due to . . . [new voice enters after time to think of an excuse] severe weather [new voice ends] please stay on the line and a service representative will be with you.” It’s sunny and eighty degrees. Hasn’t stormed in over a week.

Finally someone picks up. Now the annoyances turn into white hot rage. She runs some over the phone check and discovers the problem is with the line. Now, guess who was out at the pole not ten minutes before we noticed our service was out? Yep. An AT&T tech. So what do you think happened? Did a squirrel happen to chew through the line at the same time the tech was outside? Or did the tech screw up our line while servicing someone else’s? Of course it was their fault. But hey, the guy only left ten minutes ago, so surely he can come right back and fix his mistake, right? Right? RIGHT? Oh no, says the sales rep, we have no way of contacting the techs, and hmmm, let me look this up, it will be uhh, NEXT M.F.’N SATURDAY before anyone else can come fix it!

In sum, AT&T f**ked up my phone and internet and will now wait a week before fixing it.

Thankfully, this is the age of the internet. We’ve already found a new internet service provider and as soon as that’s done, we’re going Vonage.

For now though, I’m posting from the library. I doubt I’ll post again until we have the new service at home. That’ll be before next Saturday, but it’ll still probably be a few days. In the meanwhile, anyone with a blog who reads this, do me a favor and send some link love. Unlike Lance Armstrong, whose complaint about AT&T to his two million followers on Twitter got him service in no time, I don’t have much of an audience. Still, I’d love to spread the shame as far as possible.

Celebrate Banned Books Week

September 25, 2009

Starts tomorrow.

In spite of their stereotype as hushing meanies, librarians are all secret subversives. I didn’t realize banned books week was next week until our last trip to the library. They had a big display set up, in the children’s section. It was as if they were intentionally flipping off all the busybodies who “for the sake of the children” would burn all those books. Loved it.

Because Being In The State’s Care Will Be A Big Improvement

September 24, 2009

Guy busted growing pot for his own use, kids taken by state.

To be fair, the article isn’t clear whether there is a causal relationship between the two, saying the cops discovered the pot while in the home “following up on a child welfare concern.” Maybe the welfare concern was independent of the drugs and enough by itself to justify removing the kids.

If not, that Dad gets high certainly is not so bad that it justifies ripping the kids out of the home. What’s worse for them? Pops toking after they go to bed? Or becoming nomads marched at the state’s orders from family members to foster care to who knows where else with never any certain idea where they’ll be next week. Maybe neither is perfect, but the latter situation seems like it would be much worse for the kids.

I’ve Been Traded

September 23, 2009

Not really, but it feels similar. Starting Monday I’ll be leaving seventh grade US History for the high school and Civics, Free Enterprise and World Geography.

I like the parish in which I teach. My principal, not so much. While she’s a micromanager and extremely disorganized, I’m very independent and CDO (that’s OCD in alphabetical order, like it should be). As a teacher, my only request from administrators is to be left the heck alone. I have the best test scores in the school, I have no discipline problems, I’m never absent, the students like me and their parents like me. With those credentials, I figured any sensible principal would be more than happy to leave me be and go worry about stuff that actually needs attention. Not so at my school. I actually had a written reprimand placed in my personnel file because I abbreviated the days of the week on my lesson plans. That’s just one example.

That kind of stuff led me to the school board office one day for a transfer request form. Like I said, I enjoy the parish, so I figured rather than look in a totally different place, I’d request a transfer to the high school. I never completed the form. Instead, last week I received a message from the central office telling me to come see the superintendent after school. Of course, my first thought was “OMG, what did I do?” Turns out one of the high school teachers found a job in another parish and that parish’s super called ours for a reference. Knowing we were about to have a vacancy, she had wondered aloud how to fill it. Her secretary remembered me picking up the request form and mentioned my name. Thus, the meeting and my transfer to the high school.

I’m not excited about switching during the year. If I’d completed the form I would have requested to switch next year. Moving now makes me crazy because I feel like I’m leaving a job undone; too many loose ends. It’s no good for the students, either. They’ve adjusted to my system and style but now have to start over. I’m also not excited about switching one class three. The extra prep time means I may, for the first time, actually have to take some work home with me.

Still, this morning when I received the same five page double sided ten point font memo of gripes, complaints and tasks that every other teacher did, I got to throw mine in the trash. And when they all gathered for our weekly hour long faculty meeting while I walked out the door, I knew for sure I would be better off in the high school.

As you might have guessed from my transfer story, I teach in a small parish. That means most of the students I teach this year will be the same ones I taught in seventh grade two years ago. Next year I will have last year’s students. The year after that, this year’s. So it’ll be four years before I have a totally new crop. Not sure what to make of this.

On the one hand I really like most of my students and am looking forward to teaching them again. Especially since they’ll be older and therefore (in theory) more intelligent and responsible. On the other hand, familiarity breeds contempt. In fact, while I was at the high school meeting with the teacher I am replacing, one of my former students saw me and asked what I was doing there. Not wanting to ruin the surprise, I said I was there for a meeting. He replied “Oh good, because if you were coming over here to teach us again, I’d have to shoot myself.” I told him the feeling was mutual. Still, most of the former students I saw today either hugged me (ugh) or said they missed me or something similar. Even the smart asses were, I think, in a way expressing fondness.

In short, I’m happy. When I was visiting with the high school principal this afternoon, I told him I’d gone over the curriculum and planned my first few lessons. Then I asked him what I needed to know to teach there. He thought and said “Just go up there and do your thing, we’ll leave you to do your job.” Like I said, that’s all I need.

So That’s What A Cop Has To Do To Be Disciplined

September 22, 2009

Be white and have corn rows.

Unfortunately, because, according to the story, several black officers are openly allowed to wear corn rows, the debate about that story will center on race rather than the lunacy of cops being disciplined for hairstyles while facing no penalty for things like tampering with witnesses.

Bye Bye Kittie Kitties

September 21, 2009

We are now a one pet household. After years of waffling, we finally decided to make the cats outside pets. Anyone who knows our cats will wonder, at least for one of them, what took so long. For everyone else, mostly for myself, here’s the reasoning.

They’re outside primarily because they are both a major pain in the ass. They have all the usual cat issues, from scratching the furniture to the foulness of the cat box, but these two also have their own unique issues.

Merton is satan. Seriously. This is the only cat I’ve ever known who has to be locked up whenever company enters the home. He will attack anyone who does not live in this house. Not just a hiss and a swat, either. He makes the most hideous, demonic, awful cat scream, bares his fangs and then goes for blood. Worse, just prior to attacking, he’ll often purr and mewl while rubbing the victim’s leg. So it’s “Ohh, what a sweet kitty, come here . . . .OUCH, M.F.’n cat, what they hell!?!?”

Scratchy, on the other hand, mostly hides whenever people enter the house. When he does make an appearance, he loves being petted. Unfortunately, he also has the weakest stomach of any animal I’ve ever met. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve awoken in the middle of the night to the lovely sounds of a cat barfing on the floor. Even better is when I wake up in the morning and step in a nice cool pile of cat puke. Nice way to start the day. And despite ninety per cent of our floors being hardwood, where does he always barf? Yep, the carpets.

Still, they’ve had these issues for years and we’ve dealt with it. We’ve had Merton since he was six weeks old. For all his faults, he’s a great lap cat. Sure he has his issues, but more than one person has pointed out he is the feline version of me. Maybe that’s why I’m the only person he never attacks; I can toss him across the room and he only wants to come sit in my lap again. As for Scratchy, we’ve had him almost as long as Merton. The kids like him. He’s part of my daily routine: Every morning I fix my breakfast, eat, and let him lick the leftover milk from the cereal bowl when I’m done. So every time I got mad enough to want to toss them, I thought about all the things I liked about them.

But lately we’ve had a new problem. In their middle age, they’ve gotten much, much, MUCH pickier about the cat box. For the first five years or so that we had them, they never used the bathroom anywhere other than the box. I let it go for way too long between cleanings, too. Then they started to find other areas to relieve themselves if I let it go for more than two days. Now? It does not matter how many times I clean it, every day I go into the laundry room and find cat turds on the floor.

I tried cleaning the box daily. I made sure to clean and disinfect the whole floor whenever they crapped on it. Tried different food. Nothing worked. So unless I wanted to set an alarm to let me know every time they took a dump so I could immediately scoop it out, my choice was to either let the cats use the floor as a bathroom, or to have outdoor pets. I picked the latter.

I don’t know how they’ll do outside. I tell myself they’re trading a long life of ease and security for a shorter one of excitement and thrills. One of them is probably happy with that trade. Strange enough, that one is Scratchy. So far he’s explored the yard and ran from me when I’ve gone out to pet him. Merton, on the other hand, has sat outside the back door and whined ever since going outside.

The other question is why this is such a big deal. They’re animals. They belong outside. They don’t have feelings. Yet I worry they’ll be cold, or wet, or hot. Anthropomorphically, I worry they feel betrayed. When I lay on the couch in the winter reading a book, I’ll miss Merton laying on me keeping me warm. On the rare day I sleep late, I’ll miss Scratchy jumping on my chest and whining so I’ll come feed him. On the one hand, it’ll be nice to roll over in bead without having to kick a cat out of the way, on the other hand, those overweight fur balls were comforting. Despite the relief of having a cat free house, this whole experience really has me depressed.

That’s why I gave them months worth of chances hoping the problem would end. But it didn’t. I had no choice. That’s how I’m consoling myself, anyway.