Wednesday, March 10, 2010

1.3 Billion Dollars Worth of Illegal Immigration

Have illegal aliens contributed 1.3 Billion dollars to the IRS? It would be interesting to know if the comments of readers to this article are on the right track.
http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/03/09/old.tax.refunds/index.html?eref=igoogle_cnn

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The 295 Sequel Continues!

"On the Strange Things That Happen When you Drive 295 Too Much" Sequel
-By the Matriarch
 
Route 295 in New Jersey particularly north of the North-South Freeway has long been legendary in the Church household, even more so now with the construction between exits 28 and 32- we have dubbed it the "13th" Wonder of the Modern World. 
Who of you haven't been driving south near Woodcrest Station when invisible ropes pull you into a lane that you have no intention of entering. "Keturah, what are you doing.?! Stay in your lane." Only to find the very same thing happening to me the next day at the same spot. Freaky!! 
The other day returning from the infamous "Springdale Road" what should appear directly ahead but a miniature man filling potholes with black grit- you know the stuff that lasts the maximum of 12 hours. Whew, swerve a little to the right and I just miss him. 
My favorite game along 295 is "chicken". You know when you merge into 65 mph traffic (wait I thought the speed limit was 45 mph in construction zones) from a dead stop- how long is the line behind me??? Or when you are in the lane being merged into- do I slow down, speed up, or close my eyes? My favorite tactic is to shout aloud, "Don't you dare go now" as I pass. The other night it didn't work. Keturah and I were on the way to Medford Lakes in the pouring rain. She was having a pleasant conversation with a nameless college admissions' counselor (power of cellular) concerning a favorite archaic college tradition much loved by the alumni as we approached a car getting ready to merge and I yelled "Don't you dare" and he did. No chance to stop in the squeaky Chevy, no idea what is on my left. GAS It YOU GEEZER!!!! Not a chance! Sure collision!? Now this is one of the mysterious properties of 295- the expected never happens. I honk (weakly). Well at least he ought to know that he should have been rear ended. Keturah to the admissions' counselor, "My mom just almost ploughed into another car." Mom yells, "No, he almost side swiped me." Admissions' counselor doesn't miss a beat in his dramatic tradition description. "Oh rats, maybe my headlights aren't working and he didn't see me. Exiting at Route 70, "No, headlights are on." OK, what is the story? Phantom car? Your guess is as good as mine. Praise on the refrigerator, "avoided an unavoidable car accident. 
Last Friday night goes to the top of my list of 295 experiences. Yes, the night of the Salao tournament. Not up for 3 hours of sitting on the bleachers waiting game after game, I opt for a period drama in the comfort of home and at 1:30 AM head out to catch the last couple of games. 295?? Tempted to do the roundabout Haddonfield way, but take courage and 295 it. Too many potholes, so I take the express cattle shoot. I always wonder what happens if you break down in this lane-nowhere to go. Lots of trucks heading south to the left- can't they dim their headlights- police action on the right and no you won't believe this one, I hardly did, a horse galloping along the median toward me. I try to slow the car as he moves toward my lane. I check my rearview to be sure no one is following closely. As I return my gaze ahead, something flies toward my windshield and hits it with a thud. I am so surprised I almost duck, but thankfully I keep my nerve and stay on the road shaking in disbelief. After that I have no more "visions" of galloping horses the rest of the way to Bethel. As I get off the highway, I seriously doubt that anything really happened and am convinced that I am really too old for these late night excursions. Upon arriving at the tournament, all is forgotten as audible cheering from the gym changes 2 AM gloom to mid-day clarity. 
Next morning, of course, I think it must have been a dream. Upon jumping in the car to deliver some forgotten basketball shoes, I see a substance streaked on the windshield in front of the passenger seat. Investigating, I wipe a sticky pumpkin smelling substance on my hand. What can this be? In a hurry though, so I wipe the pulpy stuff from my hand and mind and am convinced that it must have nothing do to with any incident last night. 
Today 295 again, traveling south and there it is again that infamous streak of green spray paint that I see every time I am heading south just north of Haddonfield – Berlin Road exit. But this time not far from it, I also see what looks like a squished orange pumpkin plastered along the shoulder. 295 legends live on!

Please Advise: Extortion

I have to plead ignorance on this one. What exactly is so bad about extortion? Maybe I can answer my own question. For example, a greedy domestic of the Travolta family tried to blackmail them with "evidence" that they mistreated their son. Problem: it was a lie, and a particularly egregious one given that Jett Travolta died tragically from symptoms of a longstanding health issue. So extortion, when it seeks to ruin the the good names of hurting people out of greed, is really a bad thing.
But then is it always so?
Example two: David Letterman is off the hook after sleeping around with co-workers because the jealous boyfriend was stupid\insincere enough to ask for money for his silence. But what if the guy had simply spread the news? The difference in this case is that it was true. I hardly feel like 6 months of jail, 4.5 years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service is fair given the situation.
Read more about it here
Granted, I don't know what all was in the blackmail letter, but I get the moral of the lesson:

Call the bluff, laugh off your slimy behavior, and if your funny, and you have money, you've got it made honey!

Choose Civility Spoofs by Pumthuggee

A hilarious set of spoofs on Howard County's "Choose Civility" campaign from my friend Jon Barnes:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pumthuggee/4420315678/

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Teacher Gossip

Until I began working as a teacher's aid at an elementary school I had no idea of the similarities between teachers and students. Apparently, the age old practice of discussing good and bad teachers with fellow students is something teachers also indulge in. My lunch breaks generally consist of listening to different teachers discuss how ridiculous their students are. The most common topic is discussing just how many students a teacher has that really should be in some special program and need to be diagnosed.
In fact, the amount of gossip that passes between teachers on an average school day could certainly rival that of any group of chatty high-schoolers.

Re-thinking already?

Maybe "already" is the wrong word. It has been, after all, almost two decades or more since America's tepid voyage into standards based accountability gained traction.
So it's not surprising that some people are re-thinking their enthusiasm. Diane Ravitch is one of them.
After three years of teaching in Baltimore City Public Schools (at both a public middle school and a public charter elementary\middle school) I have a a certain sympathy for Ravitch's about face. The Maryland State Assessment, and linking the future of a school's existence to their results on the test, has led to a paucity of imagination in curriculum. Middle school instruction in low performing schools has literally been reduced to the teaching of isolated skills. This, I hope is obvious to see, is indeed a tragedy and even an outrage. Does that mean standards based accountability is the real problem? I think you have to look further and deeper. We should not expect a simple conclusion.
I just hope that Ravitch doesn't give up the ghost entirely. Unions, and the public school bureaucracy continues to cripple the education system more than any other curriculum or standardized test.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gleanings

An interesting article about the possible effects of 80% of job losses being for men. 
I feel fortunate to have passed into an ostensibly more mature stage in my life with marriage, and hopefully before long, kids. In fact, at 25, I feel very behind. Life is too short to squander on years of drunken nights that all blend into one. And fortunately, there are others who agree with me in asserting that exotic travel with small children is not such a bad idea after all (see the latest edition of the Atlantic).

On an entirely different matter, I read something interesting while teaching my 8th graders today (!). According to our MSA Finish Line books, "Many farmers [in Pennsylvania] practice traditional methods, using only the natural fertilizer from there cattle. Their picture-postcard farms are more productive than many larger agricultural operations that depend on chemical fertilizer. The trouble is that the manure runs off into the streams. They in turn flow into the Susquehanna River. And the Susquehanna provides half the fresh water for the Chesapeake Bay."
I guess I just thought the giant industrial chemical farms were the bad guys? 


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