Thursday, August 31, 2006

And something of my own

it is hard to imagine the full sense of the pain
imagine one death ..
see the family taken in sorrow with the same suddenness of the death
no time to prepare, as if anyone could really be prepared for death
see the sorrow magnified by the friends and acquaintances
if possible, boil it down into one pill, that will catch in a communities throat
then take that un-swallow-able pill
multiply it by the other 48 passengers on that flight
feel the sorrow spread like a fog
it is a sorrow so deep that it escapes the families and friends
it grabs the heart of a nation
strangers sit on edge listening for news
flags are flown at half
an unexpected unpredictable chill follows the fog
our hearts cry out in an anguish that fears to escape our lips
our tears become our prayers
as we silently lift up the families of the fallen
once again, tragedy has forgone our differences
it has linked our hands one more time
we will rush to make some sense of the senseless
we will try to celebrate the lives lived
with the same heart that breaks for their loss
healing must begin in the strength of the mighty
and be passed to the hearts of the weakened
we will bind the wounds
and apply the balm
then ...
we will live another day

Ron Simpson, Jr.
August 31, 2006
To the families forever linked by 5191

Written by one of my students .. used with permission

In Remembrance of Flight 5191

I know that it is not easy

I struggle with every word

It’s hard to think of what’s going on

As I know everyone has heard.

These families have been shaken

They’ve lost ones that they loved

But I know they’re all looking down

On us from above.

Words seem so useless

I wish there was more I could do

Lord, help these families

They need us but they need you.

I catch myself every day,

Trying not to cry,

I can’t explain how much it hurts

Not knowing that was the last goodbye.

Although we have lost them,

They’re not gone for good,

Try to think of the happy times,

As you know, they all would.

Time can only factor,

What has happened in the past,

Tell yourself you love them,

And that, your love will last.

Kenny Johnson

August 31, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Moving .. and Lockdown !!

We spent the weekend moving into the new house. There was some missed communications that cost us a few hours of moving time on Saturday, but we still moved a lot. A friend loaned me a closed 15 foot Chevy 3500 moving truck. We filled it to the rim on Saturday and unloaded. Then, we started again on Sunday. We had a lot less help for a while. Help finally showed up. I placed a few phone calls and most everyone that was willing to help was working. Donnie D came by on Sunday to help us with the couch. This couch is a killer. It is a sleeper sofa that will not fit comfortably thru most 36 inch doors. The entry way into the living room of where we lived was only 34 inches. We used a tire tool to get it in. It took a hack saw, a removed door, and lots of pushing to get it out. Fortunately, the new place has double doors in the front.

School came way too early this morning. Auto students are still frustrated. One or two in particular are determined to cause trouble in the name of boredom and the afore mentioned frustration. I am sure, however, they would cause trouble without the boredom and frustration. This just happens to be the reason 'de jour'.

Then it happened. A few minutes into fourth block. The speaker crackles. One of the Asst. Principals at GRC announces a Level One Lockdown. My students inform me that there has been a mercury spill at GRC. It was in the Ag Dept. All students coming to the ATC walk thru that area to get to here.

Lockdown is funny. The students are suddenly dying of thirst. They are suddenly floating their bladders. They become quite claustrophobic. Some get antsy, some get sleepy. The professional troublemakers among the group see this as a prime opportunity to misbehave with some seeming justifiable cause.

I will try to fill everyone in this evening.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Yes, it is true ... We closed on the house.

Let's have a moment of revered silence for a process that has finally stopped clinging to life, refusing to be put to bed for the final time.

OK, moment's over, let the party begin ! ! ! ! ! !

Now, by party, I mean, Moving !

We closed yesterday at 3:30. I had a NCCER certification class in the morning/afternoon. Originally, I thought the class was all day. I called the class presenter to check, so I would know what time to tell the Mortgage Broker to schedule the closing. She informed me it was a 4 hour class, which began at 9:30 am. This should have put me out of it by 1:30 pm. That would give me enough time to get to the house for the final walk-through and then on to the closing.

OK, it should. However, since nothing has worked the way it should on this thing so far, why should this be any different?

Since only 4 hours was going to be used for the class, I needed to fill out a 'leave slip' for the remaining time of the day. The school secretary/time keeper told me to put it down as annual leave. I did, and presented it to the Principal for signing. She told me I could not take annual leave while students were in school (per our employee handbook) even though this had been done up until this point. She said I would have to use sick time. The only rub there is that our last staff meeting included a discussion about requiring DR notes for sick day absences. [This is the result of one or more teacher using a lot of sick days.] (we accrue one sick day, and one annual leave day per month for the 11 months we are in school. I have just over 17 days of combined leave available to me. Obviously, I am not one of the frequent missers.)

K told me she would approve it this time but would require a DR's note for subsequent absences. Now, I am not looking for special privileges, but a consideration for all the things I do, might be a nice touch. I am pulling double duty to the detriment of my first and second period Electrical students with the intrusion of (now) 18 Automotive students in our class. Hiring a substitute would be a plan.

I am handling, teaching two different trades, managing the co-op as co-op director, and being the Skills USA advisor. The two classes combined are about 70 students over the course of the day. Add to this the over 80 students involved with Skills, and the dozen or so wanting to co-op, and I have my hands full. Then trying to work my closing around so that I do not have to miss any work, and it can become frustrating.

Still, I have managed to remain my usual smiling cordial self, mostly.

I did tell K that she could approve or not approve the time off, or write it up any way she decided, but I was taking off all day. She had already gotten a substitute for the whole day. So, she could approve my time off as annual leave, or she could write it up as time off without pay, didn't matter to me, I was closing on the house, with or without being paid for it. Don't get me wrong, I understand her job and her choice. She is a new principal and her boss is trying to make changes in our school in areas he perceives as problem areas. He does this by making them issues the he constantly brings up.

(He was interim principal while we were without between agent J's leaving and agent K's arrival. He would come to me and tell me we needed to get my numbers up. My program was brand new. It was in it's first full year. He brought this up every day, like I was supposed to mount a big white horse and ride to the High School and drag conquered students back down to take Electricity. He came up with no effective solutions, but only pointed to the problem daily. I am sure this is his technique with K as well. She is feeling the pressure of those over her and some perceived nonsupport of some of her hirelings.)

BUT .... We closed.

We have a house.

Monday, all of these recurring problems return, minus the worry about closing (it is replaced by the worry of paying the mortgage .. Just kidding.) The computer will be dismantled and reassembled, so, I can't say with any certainty, that you will hear much from us this weekend.

So, let me just say, one more time ... We got the house ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Raz-a-frz-a-braz-a-racker continued

Ok .. If you are a regular reader of either Tammy's or my blog, then you know we are trying to buy a house. It has been one headache after another. Probably 6 months or better ago, we found the house we liked. I remember snow on the ground when we looked at it.
We decided we liked it and began the process about financing. There were a few hiccups there with a phantom foreclosure on my credit, that never happened. It took much paperwork to get that cleared.

Then, there were the several extended closing dates. Most of these were the mortgage company's inability to communicate about exactly what they needed. They also seem to misplace faxes. Regardless, we still persevered.

Then we get a package from the bank about our loan, the closing costs were doubled and the interest rate increased. Hell no!

We talked with our broker and others, even getting an offer to close in ten days with a cheaper interest rate by going FHA. (he FHA angle wouldn't work because of the type of heating in the house. )

Our original broker got serious at the prospect of losing the loan after all the work they did and scraped the fluff away, and presented a bare bones, cut the cost, closing.

This worked.

Still dealing with extra kids, my Principal's version of 'shit runs downhill', and a wavering closing date.

We have set the closing date several times and watched careen on by, laughing maniacally at us on the side.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

Whewwwwww !!

Friday !!!!

Finally it is Friday. The extra 30 or so students is showing on me. Not that another 30 electrical students would be bad, but these students are not actually mine. The State is dragging it's feet about hiring a new automotive teacher. It is a quagmire. All the applicants were interviewed. All were liked. All would make a good teacher. BUT .... Each one had some small thing that didn't line up to the States requirements. Some were just minimal and the School is trying to get those fixed. The first one fixed is hired.

The problem lies, in that even when the State makes up it's mind, it will still be 2 weeks until the new teacher gets into the classroom. Most of the Auto students are getting frustrated (with good reason.) The rub is, that while they are frustrated, it is I that catches their anger. They get antsy. They get bored, because my class, as exciting as it is, is not automotive, which they signed up for. That makes it difficult for my students and them.
The strain of being 2 teachers short is even affecting our principal. She is running a bit on the ragged side. That strain is also passed on to the teachers. We are getting it from both sides. I am beginning to fell like a boob in a mammogram. I am getting pressure on both sides and feel like a pancake.

So ... I am glad it is finally Friday. That doesn't mean that Monday will be any better, but it will be after a 2 day break.

There is movement on the house buying front. I will report as I find anything out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The pic the Lexington Legends gave me .. with the ticket (with my name on it) added Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Beautiful Songbird Posted by Picasa

LoveBirds Posted by Picasa

The Silverheaded Warbler Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hitting the ground running

School is back in session. Wednesday was the first day with students.

My classroom is set up to handle 14 students comfortably. With the Auto students that are hanging in my class until we hire a new Auto teacher, I have over 30 in my first period. That drops to 28 in my second period. Then third block is a slight breather with only 8, followed by 20 in fourth, and then finishing with 6 in fifth.

Fortunately, I am teaching on safety for the first week and a half. That is benefitial to both classes. It has been rather hectic though. There are new rules and some on the returning students are bucking against it. Oh, well, life is a B. Get over it.

All in all they are a good group, but in a group of that size it only takes one or two to mess it up. Believe me, some of thses guys have very little compunction about behaving. It is much more fun to stir it up. My Principal tells me I have to be very hard at the first (and I agree) but, in a week or so, thses guys will have a new teacher, and they will start all over again with the pushing the limits. Oh, to be young and uncaring once more. lol.

Time is short around here. Students will be arriving shortly. I hope to post more this weekend.

Y'all have a good one.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wowser ...

It is hard to believe that I have been quiet for almost a week. It has been an eventful few days though.

First ... Let me say that last night was monumental. I was scared nearly to death. I sang the National Anthem at a
lexingtonlegends Ball game. It was a great experience. When I went in at 5:45 for my sound check and practice, the young lady that directed me told me to stand in the circle just outside the path from third base to home base and to look up at the 1300 booth. It dawned on me then, that the game, and my singing of the anthem were going to be on the radio. The feed the butterflies in my stomach a health helping of miracle grow. Still, I managed to warble through the practice run. I was practicing being nervous.

As instructed (Teachers can follow instructions) I returned to the area at 6:45 to wait. There were some people that had won opportunities to throw out ceremonial first pitches. Then the young lady told me, when they began announcing the Legends line-up, at player 5 or 6, I was to walk out to the box and wait to be introduced. Walking to the singing spot woke up any remaining butterflies that might have been sleeping.

I waited ... And then, the announcer announced, "Will everyone please stand and remove your hats, while Ron Simpson sings our National Anthem." The 40 to 50 that came to see me whooped and hollered. I waved to my family (20 of the bunch) and proceeded to sing, A capella, the Star Spangled Banner. I was one scared puppy.

After I was done, there was an ovation (which is normal for everyone I am sure.) I got a chuckle, because a friend told me that I would probably get a standing ovation. It never dawned on me that he would be right because I forgot that they would all be standing for the Anthem anyway.

Several people told me I did great. I thanked them. One older lady came out of the concession to tell me that I had a powerful voice. I swear, I was red.

We stayed until the 5th inning. As we were leaving, we walked past an area under a tent like, where folks could eat. A man stopped me and asked if I was Simpson. I told him I was. I worked nearly 30 years in construction and was assistant pastor of a church for many years during that time. I have met and talked with thousands and thousands of people. I figured he was someone that had met me somewhere. No, he wanted to tell me that my rendition was the best he had ever heard. I was flabbergasted. Needless to say, I can no longer tell Tammy that I am not much of a singer. Not that I am bragging, please don't get that impression. I am one of hundreds of thousands of people in this world that can carry a tune. Still, my five minutes in the sun were quite nice.

Had I known, that my performance was televised on the jumbo-tron, I would have been all that much more scared. LOL.

Oh yeah, The Legends beat the Columbus Catfish by a score of 2 to 1.

The house is still at a standstill. More paperwork required. Why is it, that everytime someone tells you that you only need one more piece of paperwork, that one piece never satisfies what they need. They say, well, I needed that one to proceed until I need another piece.

Oh yeah, Red, my daughter did record the event, I will get a copy to you, or put it online, if i can ..

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


It is difficult to separate strong emotions. The strongest, and possibly, most fragile emotion is love. Every day we grapple with love and the extensions of maintaining it. The people we love are, on any given day, apt to anger us, disappoint us, disillusion us, irritate us, and generally cause us all manner of consternation.

One of the kids around here has a saying that she uses frequently. She says, “You can’t help who you love.” I have to agree. You cannot always select the people you love in your life. You don’t get the option of picking your parents. You don’t get your choice of siblings. Sometimes, you don’t even get the luxury of choosing the people with whom you fall in love. However, you do have a choice of the people you allow to hurt you.

If a relationship with someone you love is detrimental to your physical, emotional, or mental well-being, you have to make the choice to stay away from that person. That can happen in marriages, where one partner is abusive. It can happen in love relationship under the same circumstances. It can happen between parents and children. It can be on either side. It can happen between siblings as well.

There may be something in one or both of the participants that makes it impossible for them to co-exist in the same area. It doesn’t even have to be a failing on one side or both. It can just be something as simple as life choices. Something makes it impossible for one to have a personal daily relationship with someone they love.

The difficulty comes when we try to reconcile what our head knows and what our heart feels. Our head knows it is not healthy for us to be around this person. Our heart tells us of our love for that person and yearns to be in contact. It is never easy.

It is easier if we convince ourselves that we are angry with them. It is easier if we make them a villain (and sometimes they are.) Unfortunately, some days the mind gets quiet, and the heart screams the louder. We are left with the age-old quandary. “How can I hate someone I love?”

We have to be able to leave certain parts of ourselves out of the equation. We have to heart-love them and keep our distance with our mind. We have to compartmentalize it. Talking about it doesn’t make it easier. I have felt it in my heart. I have seen it in my friends. I have read it in the musing of fellow blog writers. The heart yearns. The mind warns. The soul laments. Then, we deal with the pulling.

I have found, when dealing with those issues, it is best to keep it simple. Do not delve into old issues, no matter how tempting it is to resolve them. Some things will not be resolved. Some things will never have complete closure. There will always be things in your life, that the only closure you will get, is the sound of you closing the door, on your side. Ignore the snide remarks that may arise. Ignore the cleverly (or not so cleverly) veiled references to past hurts. This is just part of the pettiness of the person with whom you are dealing. Make peace where you can, and leave the rest to the ages to settle. (My dad used to say, “charge it to the dust and let the rain settle it.”)

I look at it like this:

My daughters used to argue over some of the most inane issues (well, inane to me.) I told them once (probably much more than once, bit at least once), It doesn’t matter if your sister thinks the moon is made of green cheese. It does not hurt her to believe it. It doesn’t hurt you for her to believe it. It doesn’t matter. Some issues between those we love/hate are like that as well. (I am not talking about issues dealing with life and death that may contain vital life saving info.) So what if they think they were right. So what if they die thinking you were wrong. It isn’t worth the stress it will cause you to argue over petty issues. (I know, they are not really petty, but imagine them in the grand scheme. Is it going to damn or save you if the issue isn’t cleared up?)

Love what you love about them and leave the rest to the dust. Protect your heart and mind where it needs it. Take care of you. Let them take care of them.

Just my side of the coin ….

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Back to work

The 06-07 school year has begun for me.

Today I am back in the classroom. The AC is still out. Today is to be the hottest day of the summer here. The high is to be 96°. My classroom is a room built upstairs in my shop. All the heat rises to fill my room. It is stiflingly hot here. Now, when I say the AC isn’t working, it is like this: There is a window type unit in the wall, venting into a small storage area that is closed off. The unit works, sorta. It does blow air, and sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, that air is cool. Sitting at my desk, I get these alternating cool and warm movements of air. The warm air is simply the air returned back to the room that the AC takes in.

Note: the way an AC unit works. It does not cool the air. It un-heats it. True. The AC unit takes in warm air and removes the heat from it. It returns the air with the heat removed, to the area. The then un-heated air mixes with the heated air and effectively lowers the temperature of the room, house, building, etc..

My AC unit sometimes removes the heat, and sometimes doesn’t remove the heat. It doesn’t make the room hotter, it just doesn’t make it cooler either. There is a slight comfort (term used loosely here) zone at my desk because it is right beside the unit. Any more than 3 feet away from the desk and it is stiflingly hot once again. I have not checked the temp up here, as it is best not to know. It is one of those things. It doesn’t seem as hot until someone tells you it is 100°'s where you are. Suddenly you are sweating and dying of thirst.

Here is the problem. While there is work to be done at my desk, there is abundantly more work to be done away from my desk. There are tables to be moved, chairs to be stacked, floors to be swept and mopped, and other furniture to be rearranged. The Maintenance Dept assures me that my new unit is on the way and should be installed this week.

The first day with students is August 8th. It is ok if I am hot. It is not ok if 20 students are roasting in a room.

On another tangent, 6 days until I sing the National Anthem at the Lexington Legends Baseball game. The Columbus Catfish will be in town. I am expecting about 30 friends to be there for the event. Did I say nervous?

Well, between the heat, the air, and my hair, it is time for me to close. I will be back ranting, raving, and rambling, later.