Thursday, July 31, 2008

cloe .. lately

Audrey holding Cloe while at the Legends Game .. her son, Chris, is on the left in the green shirt ..

Grateful for a 40 cent dip

Gas prices around here have dropped to around $3.65 a gallon. I got gas in Lexington on Tuesday using my Kroger card to drop the price an additional 10 cents and got it for $3.58 a gallon. This is a good thing. Especially since we are going to be road hogs this week.

Tuesday: Drove to Cincinnati and back to pick up Mauritha (Tammy's best friend of nearly 20 yrs.) 250 miles round trip.

Wednesday: Took Mauritha and half of Mt Sterling (or so it seems) to see Chris in Beattyville. Tammy filled the truck with people. Seven went. 120 miles round trip.

Thursday: We will be going to Lexington today to do some school shopping and then on to Nicholasville for some Karaoke. Several of the kids will be joining us. Some riding and some meeting us there. All three of my girls live in Nicholasville. 110 miles round trip.

Friday: We will be driving to Cincinnati to take Mauritha back to her sisters house. She is flying out on Monday to go back to Cocoa Florida. 250 miles round trip.

Saturday: Fellowship Rally in Burlington KY. 210 miles round trip.

Sunday: Our usual short drive to church. 70 miles round trip.

Total: 1010 miles.

With the gas mileage my Trailblazer EXT gets, that amounts to approximately $25 less for gas. I can live with that extra not coming out of my pocket.

Wahooooooooooo !

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Pics in Lexington

This was the scene as we were leaving Tammy's Doctor's office this morning around 11:30 am. The two converging storm cloud patterns left a gap between them. It looked like there was a rip in the sky ...

I took the pics with my Kodak Digital Camera

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ok .. the challenge ..

I had to add 30 names to my roster list (students who expressed an interest in taking electricity in the 08-09 school year.) Once again, I had ten days to do this. I, also, had to bring in at least one guest speaker to talk to my classes about careers in electricity.

The latter part was easy. It took one phone call.

The 30 new names tried to be tricky. I emailed and called the freshman principal at GRC to schedule a time when I could speak to the entire freshman class at once. There was going to be an assembly of the freshman class two days prior to the deadline. I was trying to get in to talk to them for 30 minutes to do my recruiting. That fell through. I scheduled another time to talk to more classes, but not the entire class at once. It was not the best scenario, but it was still something.

My principal had asked to be kept in the loop. What kinda irritated me was this ‘leave it all up to me’ stance that the state had. They hired me as a teacher. I was not a recruiter. I was not an administrator. My job was to entail teaching. I was to create lesson plans and teach them. That was the least of my jobs since I had been hired. If teaching was all I had to do, it would have been a cake job. Electricity, I know. Teaching, I know. Both, I have been doing for over 30 years.

Anyway, when I told her of my plans, she informed me that the ten days was ten actual days, not 10 business days. This meant that 2 weekends were included. Four days of the ten were days I had no access to students at all. She said she would try to get me more time. I had finally gotten a time when I would have access to most of the freshmen. Monday (day 11) was a freshman picnic.

I sat up a table. I had signs. Freshmen could sign up for a drawing for a cell phone, a Wal-Mart gift card, and McDonald’s gift cards. While they were signing up, I would talk to them about electricity class. I stressed to all of them that they were under no obligation to sign as interested to win any of the prizes. Over eighty signed up for the drawing. When the day was done, I drove back to the school and counted my ‘interested’ signers. It was thirty students.

I have to tell you, I prayed about this. We (family) prayed more than once. This was like a sign. I didn’t know if the state was going to close me down or not, but I knew it was going to be all right either way.

Needless to say, the state decided to close my program. One of the teachers at the school asked me why I jumped through their hoops when we all figured it was a forgone conclusion. My reason: when they did close my program, it would be not because of lack of effort on my part. No one was ever going to point a finger at me and say that I didn’t do everything in my power to keep that program alive.

Next installment: Student reaction and State insanity

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh say can you see ...

Tonight I sing the National Anthem to start the minor league baseball game between the Lexington Legends and the Columbus Catfish.

Game time: 7:05PM

Wish me luck !!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Oh yeah .. something I wrote recently

Crumpled

I found you today wadded up in the pocket of a pair of haphazardly discarded jeans, thrown carelessly aside at the end of a long day. It was a routine pocket cleaning before the equally routine cleaning of said jeans. Keys were placed where keys should go. Spare change was sorted and tossed into the silver or cooper storage tubs depending on their material.

My wallet, the walking around sum total of my existence, was laid in its place for safekeeping and ultimate transfer to the next pocket. How strange it is to reach into ones practiced wallet pocket and find nothing there. There is that moment of lost-ness. It is accompanied by a sense of frantic. All else stops at that moment until things in the world are righted and the wallet is in its customary spot.

Then, there was you, in my hand, headed to the closest trash container. However, my fingers lingered long enough for my curiosity to catch up with them. Something radiated through the crumpled folds and spherical shape. Interest worked its way until my fingers casually unfolded, uncrumpled, and opened until there you were, in your full glory, lying before my eyes.

The handwriting was unmistakable. The words were unrelenting. At some point during a day of that week, these were my emotions scribbled on virgin paper. The unadulterated sentiment violated the purity of the paper. Some word, some action, some deed, bore into my soul and it belched forth and fell in the lines of the sheet. It was a nearly lost testament to the effect of an incredulous event.

I read the words like the life of a dear old friend who had walked beside me for as long as I have had my shadow. Gone were leading edges of whatever created this bludgeoning tide on its path to forever alter the shore. The substance brought in the frothing white of the wave was, in part, still scattered about the coast. Elements of the shoreline were carried away as the wave ebbed in the defeat of the force once so powerful. The roar and the spray abated.

It does not really matter exactly what created the words or the wave. That has already been melded into the vast sea. In short time it will be indistinguishable. All that will be left to remind me that it occurred at all, are the words on a wadded piece of paper and the clutter on the beach. In time, the ebb and flow of the ocean will take even the clutter to its watery grave.

If I will look back and see this at all, it will be on another day, when I spy a formerly crumpled piece of paper with unmistakable handwriting, unrelenting words, unadulterated sentiment, and vague familiarity. All that is left in those well chosen polished words is the earnest of an event. I will take a moment. I will remember with some effort. Then, the paper will go back to its resting place until the next time curiosity finds it ways to my fingers. Like the paper, the words will be wadded back into my life. Another day, another word, another crumpled piece of paper. Life goes on.

Ron Simpson, Jr.

July 16, 2008

Oh yeah .. something I wrote recently

Crumpled

I found you today wadded up in the pocket of a pair of haphazardly discarded jeans, thrown carelessly aside at the end of a long day. It was a routine pocket cleaning before the equally routine cleaning of said jeans. Keys were placed where keys should go. Spare change was sorted and tossed into the silver or cooper storage tubs depending on their material.

My wallet, the walking around sum total of my existence, was laid in its place for safekeeping and ultimate transfer to the next pocket. How strange it is to reach into ones practiced wallet pocket and find nothing there. There is that moment of lost-ness. It is accompanied by a sense of frantic. All else stops at that moment until things in the world are righted and the wallet is in its customary spot.

Then, there was you, in my hand, headed to the closest trash container. However, my fingers lingered long enough for my curiosity to catch up with them. Something radiated through the crumpled folds and spherical shape. Interest worked its way until my fingers casually unfolded, uncrumpled, and opened until there you were, in your full glory, lying before my eyes.

The handwriting was unmistakable. The words were unrelenting. At some point during a day of that week, these were my emotions scribbled on virgin paper. The unadulterated sentiment violated the purity of the paper. Some word, some action, some deed, bore into my soul and it belched forth and fell in the lines of the sheet. It was a nearly lost testament to the effect of an incredulous event.

I read the words like the life of a dear old friend who had walked beside me for as long as I have had my shadow. Gone were leading edges of whatever created this bludgeoning tide on its path to forever alter the shore. The substance brought in the frothing white of the wave was, in part, still scattered about the coast. Elements of the shoreline were carried away as the wave ebbed in the defeat of the force once so powerful. The roar and the spray abated.

It does not really matter exactly what created the words or the wave. That has already been melded into the vast sea. In short time it will be indistinguishable. All that will be left to remind me that it occurred at all, are the words on a wadded piece of paper and the clutter on the beach. In time, the ebb and flow of the ocean will take even the clutter to its watery grave.

If I will look back and see this at all, it will be on another day, when I spy a formerly crumpled piece of paper with unmistakable handwriting, unrelenting words, unadulterated sentiment, and vague familiarity. All that is left in those well chosen polished words is the earnest of an event. I will take a moment. I will remember with some effort. Then, the paper will go back to its resting place until the next time curiosity finds it ways to my fingers. Like the paper, the words will be wadded back into my life. Another day, another word, another crumpled piece of paper. Life goes on.

Ron Simpson, Jr.
July 16, 2008

My Review of "The Dark Knight"

We went to the midnight showing of the new Batman flick last night. YEAH !! It was great. LONG !! But still great

Here is the review I wrote on the movies website

totally NOT disappointed

As a reader of comic books for 40 plus years, I was eagerly and cautiously awaiting this release. I sat enthralled in a theater packed with new teen aged Batman fans and hung on every explosion, every twist, every piece of the action. This movie jam packed the action into every scene. The story was wonderful. The dedication to the spirit of the comics (Batman's code of honor and the Joker's complete lack of one) was clearly defined.

The seething darkness beneath the calm exterior of Bruce Wayne was wonderfully captured by Christian Bale. His acting displayed the diversity of such a complex character as Batman and still maintained the simplicity of his quest.

Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker was stunning. Not to take anything away from previous actors filling this role, but he surpassed them all. In the original movie, Nicholson stole the show from the weaker Keaton Batman. Christian Bale's strength in this character pulled equal footing, which made the epic struggle between them all the more thrilling to watch.

Although time constraints did not permit for the full development of the Dent/Two-Face character, it was still a strong performance by Eckhart to manage the character. As a lifelong fan of Batman, I had the basis for filling in gaps necessarily left in the movie.

If there was a weakness in this movie at all, it was in the portrayal of Rachel by Gyllenhaal. In "Batman Begins" Rachel was a tough city prosecutor in a city run by it's lowest element. Holmes looked dainty but pulled off toughness. In this movie, Rachel seemed weak and directionless. This was further convoluted but her confusion as to which hero she wanted to be with. Her vacillating emotions between Wayne and Dent made her character seem weaker. Additionally, there seemed to be no real chemistry between either man and her. In "Begins" she had clear and concise purpose and did not let her emotional attachments sway her direction. This was a strength created in "Begins" and seemingly abandoned in "Knight".

The continuing development of Oldman's Gordan is phenomenal. The entire theater gasped when he was shot. (WARNING ~ SPOILER) When he showed up as the driver in the transfer scene, the theater erupted in applause. This is an emotional attachment to a movie character not often seen. Well done.

I loved the tense scenes aboard the two ferry's as the riders struggled with who and what they were. There was one line when the citizens were discussing the 'value' of keeping the prisoners alive at the risk of their own deaths. Someone spoke up and said that it was obvious that they hadn't decided to let us die, as we are still here. It was a great moment of the acceptance that there is good and evil in all of us.

Overall, this was a great movie. I highly recommend anyone to see this movie, comic fan or not.

Oh yeah .. and more on the job story is coming .. I promise

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Favorite Holiday

Yesterday, July 4, is my favorite holiday.

The basis of everything else we celebrate in the way of holidays and special days comes in the freedom we have. Regardless of which holiday is your personal favorite, the right or privilege to celebrate it comes in the freedoms our forefathers wrested from the hands of the British.

Our country is not perfect. Our system has it flaws. It is rife with instances of abuse. The very nature of our freedoms provides place for those that would exploit the system to do so. Many, eventually, are caught up with and a band aid is placed on the problem. We cannot fix this problem without taking away freedoms we hold dear.

Benjamin Franklin said, "Those that would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"

My right to complain about my country is afforded to me by the same country I criticize. That right was given to me and is celebrated yearly on July 4th.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The promised update: Part One

I am going to try to get all of this in here as close to chronological as possible.

Last year, my program was flagged. This means that the state was watching my numbers (primarily enrollment) as a means to determine whether the class should continue. The state required a ratio of around 10 students per class. That recently changed to 12.5 per class. My numbers were around 11.

Sometime in the middle of the year, I got a letter that my program was subject to closure. All the while, every person I spoke with in the department in which I worked assured me that the state had never closed a program that they could recall. Now, this is not to say that I relied on that fact.

My program was just in its third full year. Every year the ratio increased. Each time it got close to the number required, it seemed that the state raised the number. What I didn’t understand, and I do consider myself to be somewhat intelligent, was how I was supposed to increase the numbers for my program. Every time the numbers were brought up, everyone looked in my direction for answers. I am a teacher and an electrician. I am not an administrator. I am not a career counselor. I am not at the high school where I meet students. The students that I meet are the 300 students out of 1750 that have decided to take a class at the ATC (Area Technology Center.) Recruiting these students would only steal them from other programs and not fix the overall problem.

Anyway, there was a meeting. Everyone was there, almost. The Director of the OCTE (Office of Career and Technical Education,) the Deputy Director of the OCTE, the area supervisor (over 12 schools,) my principal, several counselors from GRC (George Rogers Clark High School,) and one of the associate principals from GRC, and the Superintendent of the Board of Education of Clark County, and myself. Missing were my advisors to my program. The meeting was scheduled for an earlier date which all of them planned to attend. The rescheduled meeting did not work with schedules, so they couldn’t be there.

In the meeting, I was given a few minutes at the start to talk about my program. I talked for about 5 minutes and answered a few questions. Then I left. The meeting progressed without me.

The following morning, I got the news on the results of the meeting. I needed to invite speakers to talk to my classes about employment opportunities after graduation. Their concern here was that we hadn’t placed any students into the trade. Of course, what was not taken into consideration was that this was just my third full year, and the first year I had ‘completers’ that could go into the field.

The next thing I needed to do was to add the names of 30 students that would be interested in taking my class the following year. They didn’t have to schedule my class per say, but they did have to put on their schedule that they were interested.

Oh yeah, I had ten days to do this.

Next: The challenge …