Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Lasik - Final Report?

I sincerely hope that these Lasik reports are helping somebody. I know that I would have liked to have had more info on the procedure and the aftermath than what was at my disposal. I didn't pour over the internet looking for such because, frankly, I didn't want to let negative reports scare me from doing this. Not exactly a balanced approach.

Things are going great. Nine days into this, I'm still getting improvement every day. My closeup vision is just fine now...and this is where I see the gain each day. Distance vision continues to be excellent. One thing I plan to ask about during my next post-op appointment (tomorrow) is whether the halo effect that night lights have will go away. If it doesn't, this will be the only negative I have from doing this. I kinda think the halos will go away in time.

For those of you considering this procedure and living in the Metroplex, I would shop around. I totally trust Dr. Boothe's expertise. I totally abhor his operation. Surely, the Key-Whitman clinic, Dr. Carter, or Dr. Tyloch can get the same results but in a civilized environment. Boothe's office is out of control, and that's putting it mildly.

In other news, I've painted our utility room over the past two days. Painted it barn red. I am so sore from painting the ceiling, squeezing behind the washing machine and dryer, and squatting to paint the baseboards...right now, clipping my nails would be a major challenge.

I am so glad I don't paint for a living...or hang wallpaper.

Postscript: Just returned from another post-op. Vision is 20/20 in both eyes. I asked about the halo effect. They said that this is being created by both eyes currently, but that my distance vision eye would gradually eliminate it. The near-vision eye won't. So, the halo stuff will improve but not go away. I can live with it.

I am very relieved to have this work out so well. It is a remarkable feeling to have something fixed that had bothered me for 57 years.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Lasik - Nearly 6 Days Into It

So far, so good...I think. Never having done this before, I'm plowing new ground. Distance vision remains great. Night vision is a little tough...all lights have the starburst effect. I'm gonna assume that will improve as the corneas continue to heal. Upclose vision seems to get slightly better each day. Letters tend to have a shadow effect - so I can read small print, but it isn't as sharp as it could be. Again, I'm gonna make the assumption that it will improve.

The docs and the techs keep saying my vision will fluctuate for two months. I'd rather not have to have an "enhancement" surgery to fine tune the vision, but I'd do it if necessary.

The eyes no longer have any rough feeling. My routine of 3 kinds of prescription eyedrops every three hours will end after the first week and I will have just one different prescription eyedrop to use for the subsequent four weeks. I'm supposed to be putting re-wetting drops in every 15 minutes and I've been trying to remember to do this. Sometimes I sense that I would see a little better if my eyes weren't constantly swimming in stuff they want me to put in.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Lasik - Day 3

Checking in on the 3rd day after Lasik. Continued progress. Distance and mid-range vision - tack sharp. Close-up vision continues to improve to the point that I haven't used reading glasses much today. If improvement on close=up vision stopped right here, I'd be disappointed, but there's no sign that the improvement trend has stopped.

My eyes have been sore the last two days even with all the drops I'm using. BTW, 3 of the medicines are from the pharmacy and come with little bitty droppers...and cost $65 total. And I have to refill them tomorrow. The soreness gets a little worse late in the day, but it's not really a problem. I know the corneas are still swollen and that's what hurts. Hey, it hurts to look in the mirror at my eyes. A lot of red around the irises.

I do have to wear plastic covers over my eyes at bedtime. No big deal. Just tape them over the eyes. After Sunday night, I won't have to do that anymore. One of my big fears is that I'll forget what happened Monday morning and start rubbing my eyes. That would be a serious no-no, akin to riding a pogo stick after reconstructive knee surgery.

So, all in all, I think I'm pleased. I have another post-op appointment tomorrow at 4:30. I plan to spend the day at the airport doing what I love until time to head to Dr. Boothe's.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Post-Op #1

I've just returned from my first post-op appointment. Here is where we stand: Distance vision is good; I had no problems driving home. Closeup vision still not so hot...I'm using reading glasses at the moment in order to get this typed. However, I'm less concerned than I was about this. They said my left eye (close-up) was pretty beat up and that I would see improvement as the cornea swelling went down. Also, it is rather common to do "touch-ups" in lasik, where they get a second chance to fix the problem. Someone in the waiting room mentioned to Carole that his brother went from 20/400 to 20/45 in the first procedure and then to 20/15 after the touchup.

My eyes are difficult to look at...lots of red where there should be white. They are sore today, noticeable when I blink, but not a big deal. I have to do the series of drops every 3 hours now instead of every 10 minutes (whew!). I have to wear plastic shields over my eyes whenever I sleep until a week has passed. I also have to wear swimmers' goggles when outside to shield my eyes from wind.

So I'd say I'm probably where I'm supposed to be, barely 24 hours after the procedure. Just a bit impatient to get the final product. I guess I'd heard too many stories about folks who got instant results...walking outdoors and immediately reading license plates a mile away.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Early Returns are In

Well, my body survived the Lasik procedure and now it's time toss out my first grade on the eyes. My distance vision is great. My upclose vision has room for improvement. I'm currently typing this with the help of Carole's reading glasses. But it is WAY too early to be making judgments. The first few hours indicate very little. I return early tomorrow morning for my first post-op appointment, and at that time a soft contact lens which was inserted today will be removed.

The procedure is nothing to fear, I found out. After they called me back, my eyes were deadened with a series of drops. Then a doctor proceded to draw on my eyeballs (yes, he did) with two sets of felt-tip pens. After many minutes of waiting, I made it to "The Room" where the action was. The first step was to slice open the flap which would expose the cornea. My eyes were bathed in some sort of solution and a soft vinyl suction device place over the orbit opening. I was directed to look at a light. Painlessly and imperceptibly, the flap was created. I knew what they were doing - otherwise I would have had no idea they were doing anything.

My eyes were bandaged and I was led like a blind man to a waiting area. I sat there wondering about the life of the blind...about how confused and frustrated I felt in a world of darkness. Eventually, I was called back into the room, a room by the way that is kept around 60 degrees. Well, I waited in the room a long time for part two. Machines were whirring and I could hear the sharp reports of lasers being fired off. I could also hear Dr. Boothe mumbling to his aides.

Finally, they called my name and I was lead to the machine again. They verified who I was and a couple of other facts. My eyes were again bathed in solution and again I looked toward a light. The laser fired off a few times for each eye and there was the faint odor of something burning. Again, I felt nothing and had little to do except keep my eye on the light. And that was easy.

So, as it stands now, I'm semi-pleased. I won't be happy until both distance and upclose vision are there and that could be as early as tomorrow. But at least I lived through the process itself and discovered it is nothing to fear.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Drop Everything

As part of my pre-op for this lasik business, I've started today with a schedule of putting in various kinds of eye-drops. There are 3 separate medicines, two administered every two hours, the other every four hours.

Post-op, the real fun begins with more of the above plus eye moistening drops that will have to be administered every ten minutes. That's every TEN minutes. That continues at least for 24 hours; further instructions will be given after my first post-op visit the day after surgery. In case you're wondering, I don't have to stay up all night. Drops aren't necessary if you're sleeping.

This better work.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Eye Yi Yi

As mentioned in yesterday's blog, I went for consultation to the offices of William "John Wilkes" Boothe, he of Boothe Eye Care and Laser Center. I had heard only two words to describe the process used by Dr. Boothe to prepare patients for LASIK surgery..."assembly line". As the queen of Sheba noted, "the half has not been told."

I should have known something was up when we arrived. I was expecting a medical building with perhaps two or three floors devoted to his practice. Instead, we found him to be in a strip shopping area with no parking spaces available. The reason none were available was because there must have been 50+ patients inside.

The waiting room reminded me of when I kick the top off a fire ant mound. Patients and technicians are everywhere, scrambling through doors, fighting for empty seats. We arrived at 3 PM sharp. They called my name at 3:40. For the next four hours, I was paraded from one cramped room to another, getting eyes measured and payment worked out. Often I would be escorted to a tiny room for still another measurement only to find three other techs in the same room conducting tests on other patients. I literally had to step over the legs of these patients to get to the stool where I would sit for my exam.

But most of the time was spent waiting. They would do a test and send me back to the waiting room (nee, anthill) for 25 minutes of claustrophobic amusement. In this room, I had expected to find, shall we say, "upscale" patients. Uh, just the opposite. At the risk of sounding elitist, let me just say that Boothe's patients were 50% Mexican, 25% Black, and 25% Anglo. There were two things that kept me from leaving the joint and dropping the whole idea: (1) the multitude of endorsements from famous people that line the walls of the waiting room...famous athletes, famous radio personalities, famous actresses. I figure if they were unhappy with their results, they wouldn't be allowing John Wilkes to display their glowing letters of praise. (2) I want the end result...clear vision without glasses or contacts. I made up my mind to tolerate this madhouse because the finished product was gonna be worth it.

Finally saw the man himself around 7:00. In all my years, I have never heard any human speak in such a monotone. It was as though he were an actor trying for a part that represented a dull, simple man who couldn't put inflection in his speech pattern. I thought for a second he must be putting us on, that any moment he would exclaim, "Just kidding!" in a jovial voice. He never raised his voice level until he started flirting with Carole, who was sitting attractively in the corner. He noticed she was toting around the South Beach Diet book and this led them to five minutes or so of diet talk. I wouldn't call his conversation animated, but it at least proved to me that he wasn't a robot.

He does his first LASIK procedure starting at six in the morning. He goes until nine at night. Six days a week. Many of the technicians there match his hours. I asked one guy why he did it. He said he got paid by the hour so the money was great.

I have to be there at 5:30 next Monday morning. The surgery is slated for 6:30. Please say a prayer for me. And him. I've got tickets to a show at Ford's Theatre that night and I don't want to miss it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Eyes Have It

This afternoon, I will have my eyes examined in preparation for a LASIK procedure. I'm wondering if there is anyone who hasn't had a little trepidation about this little surgery. I woke up with a start at 4 this morning - wide awake because I know what coming...someone is going to take a machete to my vision machines.

I've heard all the stories from folks who've had it. No pain, no problems, wake up the next day able to see a flea on the neighbor's poodle. But still, think about it. You only get two of these brilliant devices in your life. And I'm about to let a guy cut on them with a serrated butcher knife. What if he sneezes mid-cut? What if Plano is rocked with an 11.7 Richter scale earthquake just as he's pushing this samurai sword into my cornea? What if I sneeze?

I'll report back after this afternoon's examination (3 hours...15 minutes to measure your eye, 2 hrs. 45 minutes to explain finance options). I'm planning on having this orbital amputation done next Monday morning.

See ya, I hope.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Free Day!

Well, I had laid the laptop next to my bed last night with the browser showing a list of school closings. That way all I had to do was hit "Refresh" and I could quickly find out if DISD was indeed closed.

I checked it at some point during the night - I think it was 3 AM. No word at that point on Dallas ISD. Woke up at 5 and there it was...even thought it said only that were closed, it fairly shouted, "FREE DAY!" I rolled back over and fell asleep again with a grin on my face.

It's cool because it's so rare. A day without responsibilities - all due to an act of God. A gift-wrapped excuse to relax. I quickly launched into a Saturday mode, where I tend to do nothing before noon. We did get something accomplished: the Christmas tree got put up. Nothing convinces you more than this act that the holidays are coming.

Unfortunately, Carole spent too much time bending at the waist and her lower back is strained.

Also, the garage door wouldn't go down today, but a $69 service call fixed that.

All in all, a wonderful day. Tomorrow, it's back to reality - followed by another free day. Tee-hee!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Head or Heart?

We've got a winter storm warning going in the Metroplex. Such an announcement creates mass panic in our area, something Northerners look at side-splitting laughter. A few flurries is all it takes to make folks here head to the store for a month's worth of groceries...or to put chains on their tires. Local TV stations are positively drooling in anticipation of the city shutting down completely. Based upon years of watching situations like this, the generalization I can make is this: the more certain they are of the storm, the less likely it will produce a winter wonderland. And the converse is also true.

Being a teacher, I am faced with a dilemma when forecasts like this are issued. My heart gets excited at the prospect of getting a couple of days with school called off. My head responds with the cold, mathematical deduction that you shouldn't wish for snow just have to make them up in the spring when the weather will no doubt be beautiful.

Try as I might, I can't keep my heart in check. If the weather service says it might happen, I immediately start revelling in the idea of sleeping in, cuddling, and spending a Thursday doing things that don't even remotely resemble my normal routine. All of this while realizing those days will return to haunt me when the weather is wonderful.

So, let it sleet, let it sleet, let it sleet.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

In Search of Picture-Perfect

The above picture was taken by my good buddy Ryan Umphrey. Ryan is the maestro of photography at DFW Airport. The rest of us just beg for the crumbs from his table. This isn't one of his most breath-taking shots, just a normal excellent example of superior work.

There are two things that keep me heading back out to airports. First, I enjoy it immensely. I can spend time alone with just my gear to keep me company, and I find myself not thinking about work or any other cares...just about how much I love doing this. Pretty cool, eh?

But the other reason is the constant pursuit of perfection. I've taken 3 or 4 photographs out of tens of thousands that I'm happy with. Ironically, two of them were of Air Force One when G.W. dropped in on Love Field. Nice time to be perfect. I could probably increase my chances of nailing "the shot" by upgrading my camera, but that'll wait for another year, or decade. Instead, I endlessly experiment with settings, sunlight, angles, and subject matter.

Someday, maybe I can sit at the table with Ryan.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Incredible Power of Prayer

My great-nephew, Canon Perkins, got his transplanted liver yesterday and is doing great. In a situation where so many things could go wrong, everything is not only going right, they're going perfectly.

Makes me wonder why we (I) occasionally doubt prayer. Of course, God doesn't always answer prayer like we'd like, but if we couldn't change the normal course of events by petitioning God, there would be no reason to pray.

Thousands of folks have prayed for Canon. God has listened and unleashed his mighty power. Stand back and be awed. It's a mighty thing to behold!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Save Yourself Some Trouble

With age comes wisdom. Not because you're constantly doing research in the library, but more because of osmosis. Lessons get pounded through your skull simply because you've been around forever. If I live to be 138, I'll really be wise.

One lesson I've learned is that sports don't matter. I find them interesting, but not worth a lot of my energy. That's quite a reversal from my attitude in my young married years. If the Cowboys played on a Monday night and won, the excitement would keep me from sleeping the rest of the night. If they got beat, the deflation would do the same.

Nowadays, I can take or leave a Stars game and skip Mav games in droves. A Cowboy victory is nice, but a loss is no problem. With all of the other things in my life that have assumed importance, a mere game gets pushed down the ladder. I'm sure part of this is the stereotypical millionaire athlete and his stereotypically selfish, me-first attitude. But in the main, the key factor in this mental transformation is the realization that it's really all about God, family, and service. If such is true, sports is mere galactic dust in God's universe.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Mellow Thanksgiving

It's approaching 10PM on T'giving evening. What a great day we had. We survived the noon to three time frame when 30+ folks were gathered here. It got a little noisy, but the food and fellowship were outstanding. And once more, I must give credit to my remarkable wife, who pulled this off with style and grace.

But now, the grandsons are asleep and Brooke, Michael, Jenny and Brett are playing Clue. Carole is reading the massive ad sections that impregnated the morning paper. And I'm content. God has been good to us, and nothing says that any better than having your family around. Our kids have been great kids and they married well. This is the reason I'm mellow tonight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Good Time to Be Male

As I type this, Carole is in the kitchen preparing a pre-Thanksgiving meal for six. She has been getting ready for this holiday for several days. The planning and logistics are intense. Meanwhile, I've been pretty much a spectator...observing her industry and love from a distance.

We men have it so easy during this holiday. We usually do little or none of the food preparation. As the women are furiously getting the turkey and all the fixin's ready, the males are gathered around the TV to watch a Detroit Lions game that has no importance in the grand scheme of things.

By Thursday's end, the men will be exhausted from eating continuously for seven hours. The women will be exhausted for a more honorable reason...hard work. May God bless the women in our lives. Because they have surely blessed us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chandra, Drew and Canon

Today, my great-nephew Canon flew from Amarillo to Houston for his second try at a liver transplant. For Canon and his parents, this was deja vu. Just a few days ago, they had a "false alarm"...the harvested liver was too large. Sadly, the doctors discovered today that the little guy had a slight ear infection and a slight lung infection; just enough to make the transplant risky.

Please pray for these three and the grandparents. Our hope is that they won't have to wait long at all for the next opportunity, and that Canon's body will accept the liver without complications. We won't know the reasons for these false starts this side of eternity. But God is in control and all is well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Down and Out!

This is a 1968 GMC school bus. Think it has seen its final trip? Kinda sad to see it there, rusting in the weeds. We have come such a long way with school buses.

I would imagine that this bus had a stick shift, with the stick protruding from the floor. It probably had steel bars atop each seat, guaranteed to add appointments to the orthodontists' schedules. There was no radio on this bus; if the driver had difficulty, a student would be dispatched to the nearest house to beg the owner to make a phone call.

Wonder how many kids threw up on this bus? How many current Ph. D.'s rode it? How many times did the driver have to break up fights? How many times did a driver escort a team to an athletic field and then hunker down for a couple hours of sleep?

Did it have that "new bus smell" when the keys were handed over that first day?

I believe all vehicles develop personalities. Was this one steady, dependable, reliable? Or moody, grouchy, and prone to pouting?

And why, for pete's sake, is it not being used in Costa Rica at this moment to squeeze a few more thousand miles out it?

We're Moving Uptown...

Okay, it's not the Lexus of school buses. But it's at least not a Saturn, either. It is the first bus I've ever called mine that had "features", to wit: intermittent wipers, a floating driver's seat, and cruise control. It has a white roof, thus lowering indoor temps by a few precious degrees. And, it has only 77K miles on it...just getting broken in.

All perfect? No. The aforementioned driver's seat squeaks, and neither I nor the mechanics can find the source. It's a little slow off the line, and that can be nerve-wracking if you've decided you have time to enter a busy boulevard, but the bus seems content to scare you with its gitty-up. But it has so much to offset those liabilities. Two powerful air-conditioners. A wonderful engine sound that purrs with diesel power. Nice noise-suppression. It's actually a fairly quiet bus...until the kids arrive.

I guess it's wrong to pray for a school bus since there are, uh, real problems in the world. But this baby was an answer to my supplications. When you spend as much time as I do in a yellowhound, it might as well be a nice one.

In my next installment, one final look at the school bus topic.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Aging with Grace

This is D305. The "D" is for diesel. I love diesel engines. There is a feeling you get when driving diesel that is a combination of sensations you feel from the accelerator passing through your shoe and into your foot...and the glorious sounds emanating from beneath the hood. I had temporarily driven a diesel bus my rookie year (1982) and loved it. The only drawbacks with diesel are the slow getaways from a stop and the messy job of putting the fuel into your tank. That stuff seems to be mix of oil and gasoline.

This is the first bus I drove that had tinted windows. Hats off to the genius who first had that brainstorm! The students on the inside can see out, of course, but those on the outside have no idea they are being waved to, yelled at, or signalled with a certain finger. And most importantly, this was my first bus with air-conditioning. It is impossible to describe the difference that makes on a hot or even warm day. It takes irritability and short tempers and replaces them with comfort and solitude. Well, not exactly solitude, but it had an incredible calming effect on the kids and the driver.

D305 has two air-conditioners. The one in the back was great. It blasted ooodles of frigid air and could almost chill the entire bus by itself. The front one, however, had only one speed...slow. The air was wonderfully cold, but you had to get right up to the vents in order to feel it. As a result, little of the cold air reached the driver. It did have a fan installed on the dash which helped somewhat.

I drove this baby from September to May last year. I was semi-happy with it. But it has 123,000 miles on it and I never knew when something important might decided to quit on me. It is solid as a rock and has a great "feel" to it...something only a school bus driver could understand. But when I got another chance to upgrade this past August, I gleefully left 305 behind.

Next, the story of D450.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Miles to go before I scream...

This is P3058, the "P" representing propane, the fuel that powered this bus for the estimated 50,000 miles I drove it. I was first handed the keys to this half-BlueBird, half-GMC hybrid over a decade ago. And I drove it around the planet twice. That thought staggers me.

Good ole bus, though. Did zero to forty faster than any bus I've ever driven. Was very reliable, was seldom in the shop. She never, ever stranded me with 50 sugar-crazed middle-schoolers. She always waited until I was alone, like the time I was doing 45 down Scyene on a Friday afternoon, gleefully headed home for the weekend, when she dropped the transmission. Uh, I was late getting home that day.

She witnessed numerous fights in her time, nearly all of them in the morning on the way to school. Stuff would get started between a couple of kids long before I arrived at the bus stop, only to escalate to a main event after the combatants had boarded.

She also saw the scariest thing I've ever seen...a student sailing through the air after being hit by someone who ignored my alternating red flashers...knocked him out of his shoes to an LZ 50 feet away. He survived only through the grace of God, but the video still runs through my head with startling clarity.

Alas, I betrayed 3058 before she betrayed me. I got a chance in 2004 to upgrade to an air-conditioned bus, and I jumped on it big-time. Tomorrow, I tell you the story of D305.

Sorry, I'm busy.

Hey, I'm very busy these days. Still working on the school bus post.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Coming Attraction

Since I know you hang on each word I write, stay tuned for an upcoming blog on the subject of school buses. I'm working on a few minor details, such as how to insert pix in between paragraphs. Hang with me; it'll be a killer blog.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A "Chance" Meeting

Bear with me. This will be a tad lengthy, but will be worth your time.

I read a post from a Christian author (Edward Fudge) yesterday in which he described a chance meeting with a homeless person who needed shoes. Fudge was in his car at the time and a quick check of his pockets revealed a $5 bill and a $20 bill. Unwilling to part with the bills, he instead emptied his car's coin tray and gave that to the man.

As he drove away, he was instantly guilt-stricken. Fudge related that he had just been listening to audio tapes on Christian discipleship...and here was an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ which he mishandled completely. He immediately prayed that God would give him a second chance.

Minutes later, he was gassing his car. Across the street he noticed a beggar with an amputated leg. Edward went over to meet him, gave him the $5 bill and said, "Please accept this in the name of Jesus!" "Ah, a Jesus man," the beggar responded. He then lifted both hands in the air and said, "Thank you, Jesus!"

I was touched by this story. Often, in the poverty-stricken neighborhoods where I drive a school bus, I will see someone pushing a grocery cart loaded with aluminum cans. To me, these folks presented a case for being the perfect people to help. Here they are actually working rather than begging on a street corner. However, the sheer logistics of suddenly stopping a school bus on a busy street made such an opportunity to render aid impossible.

So, after reading Fudge's account, I said a silent prayer that God give me a way to help people like the cart pushers. I didn't have to wait long.

A little after 7 this morning, I had parked my bus in my usual holding area near Hawn Freeway. As per my morning ritual, I closed my eyes and prayed for a time. When I opened them, here is what I saw: about 30 feet in front of me a woman was searching a large garbage container for cans. There was a tobaggon pulled down low on her forehead and she was wearing a Dallas Cowboys jacket. She was using a long stick to probe the innards of the trash can, occasionally lifting up plastic sacks and shaking beer cans loose.

She would stomp the cans flat and put them her own plastic bag. Then she would continue the operation. Minutes went by. The single-mindedness of her quest could not be underestimated. She was relentless. Occasionally, she would extract something other than aluminum that would be put into another bag. I found myself transfixed by this real-life drama being carried out at sunrise. Boom! It hit me. The prayer from yesterday. God had heard my prayer and was answering it in an unmistakable manner; I had been too overly-curious to catch on at first.

Now, it was 7:28 - a minute before I have to leave and head to the first stop. I eased the bus next to her; she was now nearly 20 minutes into this feverish attempt to what, feed herself? Her children? I opened the bus doors and she turned around. Her wrinkled face at first registered slight alarm. I didn't have any idea what I was going to say, but heard myself utter, "You look like you need a break!" I handed her a twenty. The face lit up and she smiled broadly. Amazingly, she had beautiful teeth. (How long had her life been on this track? Had she just recently been forced to the streets?) "Thank you," she gushed. "God bless you," was all I could think to say.

What a way to start the day. What a marvelous, interesting, amazing God we serve!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Finally, A Good Principal

Got this from Chuck Colson:

Bashing the Bling A Principal Draws the Line
November 2, 2005
At high schools across the country, the prom has gone from being an adolescent rite of passage to an indicator of social status to, now, the kind of extravagant thing that can affect the Gross Domestic Product. Whereas, not too long ago, the expenses associated with attending the prom were the price of the tux or dress and a corsage, today they can exceed what some hardworking families earn in a year.
That's why one courageous and morally serious Long Island principal said, "Enough already!"
The principal was Kenneth Hoagland of Kellenberg Memorial, a Catholic high school in Uniondale, New York. Hoagland, a brother in the Marianist order, was weary of the stories he heard about the Long Island school's spring prom: "Students putting down $10,000 to rent a house in the Hamptons for a weekend bash … Fathers chartering a boat so their kids could go out on a late-night 'booze cruise.'"
What bothered Hoagland wasn't only, or even primarily, the "sex, booze, and drugs." It was the "the flaunting of affluence … a pursuit of vanity for vanity's sake—in a word, financial decadence … "
So, Hoagland took the almost unimaginable step: At the start of this school year, he wrote parents a 2,000-word letter informing them that Kellenberg would no longer "put on the spring prom." Parents are free to continue to do as they please, but the school would have nothing to do with what he called an "orgy."
As expected, students were dismayed by Hoagland's decision, calling it—what else?—"unfair." Only slightly less expected was the reaction of some parents. One parent told Associated Press that school officials don't "have a right to judge what goes on after the prom … "
Obviously, the entire point of sending kids to a Catholic, rather than public, high school is lost on this parent.
Fortunately, it isn't lost on Hoagland. His actions are a reminder of two basic, if often-forgotten, truths: First, adults are supposed to set limits on kids. This is especially vital in our culture where most of the time teenagers function within an essentially adult-free subculture.
Without adult intervention, peer pressure, affluence, and the need to "fit in" almost invariably lead to the kinds of excesses that drove Hoagland to cancel the prom. It's sadly telling that it took a celibate cleric to relieve parents of the pressure imposed on them by kids' ever-escalating demands.
The other lesson is about the place of money in a Christian worldview. To hear some of our critics, our worldview is only about sex and Darwinism. According to some Christians, the only thing a Christian worldview has to say about money is "send us yours."
Hoagland's actions remind us that both are wrong. Flaunting affluence is injurious to the good life—yours and others'. A society that pursues vanity for its own sake cannot be called good, even if it abstains from "sex, booze, and drugs."
So, three cheers for a courageous principal who in saying, "Enough already!" reminds us that what matters is not what we have but, rather, the way we live.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Glad There's God

Tough day today. The students seemed to react to a lower barometric pressure or something. But it was a day for idiotic questions (Are we going to have to work on Halloween?) and idiotic answers (No, I don't have my supplies...yet.)

Students smarted off, sassed, talked instead of worked, tripped other students as they walked down the aisle, and generally made me ponder slitting my wrists.

I'm in charge of the "Courtesy Club" at school, a lovely little organization that sends flowers to sick or grieving staff members. Last week, I arranged flowers to be sent to the funeral for a staff member's uncle, something that normally I wouldn't do...this is generally reserved for parents, grandparents, children, and siblings. But this niece was insistent that our school send flowers. So I did.

Today, she interrupted my class to ask me why no flowers were sent. I showed her the paperwork from the florist that showed I had done my part. She said none were there at the funeral. But she did say she would make some calls. She returned later (again interrupting my class) and said she had called the church...the flowers had arrived AFTER the funeral. I apologized profusely (for something that wasn't my fault) but the lady kinda smirked, turned and walked out.

Good thing God is in control. He understands days like this and has promised us relief and refuge. "Come ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." If you take that out of the King James, it reads, "I welcome you even though the world has beat you down. The things you experienced today are fleeting, not permanent. Remember that because I allowed my Son to be murdered by a mob, you don't have to assume that it will always be this way. Let you mind and body relax in the comfort that glory awaits you. And once you experience your first 10 seconds of this glory, it will all be worth it. Every tough day, every brutal moment, every dashed hope, every physical and mental pain. All worth it.

"For our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (II Cor. 4:17)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Let's Try This

For reasons known only to Al Gore (creator of the 'net), my blog completely disappeared today. Therein was lost an amazing amount of worthless musings and philosophy. So, I guess we start over.

God answers prayers. He really does. It's taken me many years to figure out that the greater your faith, the more prayers get answered. I believe we cheat ourselves by cautiously entering into prayer...almost hesitantly, as if expecting no results. (Caveat: I haven't solved this problem completely...just getting better at it.) I think God expects ridiculous faith. Faith that dismisses human logic and known laws of probability.

I bring this up because Carole and I have been praying for a 5 year-old boy named Tyler Stewart. Just a couple of weeks ago, it was discovered he had a brain tumor. Today, at St. Jude's Hospital, surgeons began what was to be an extremely delicate procedure to remove the mass and expected it to be a 5-6 hour process. Well, it only took 3 hours and the news is cautiously good. Preliminary reports show it to be benign.

The next two days are very important for Tyler. Doctors will be checking on bleeding and also on how his motor skills are. Please lift him up in prayer. God can handle it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

1. The glimpse of heaven produced when hundreds of well-trained voices sing praises to God.

2. The sound emanating from the pipes on my former Dodge Ram when cranking up.

3. Mashed potatoes.

4. The smell of new tires. (Weird, ain't I?)

5. That sweet NASCAR feeling you get when you stomp the gas and pass a car on Hwy. 281.

6. Apple-cinnamon anything.

7. Good kids. Whether they're mine or someone else's, it's pure joy to be around respectful, mannerly, clean-cut kids.

8. Thanksgiving. (Hasn't this surpassed Christmas due to the very nature of the holiday and the lack of commercialization?)

9. Drums. I dig drums, man. They're the most, man.

10. The way a flannel shirt feels the first time you wear it. But not the second time, because by then it has shrunk one full size.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday = Euphoria

One of the things I might miss when I retire is the pure, sweet joy generated by coming home on Friday after a tough week.

I usually reward myself by not grading papers on Friday night. That stack can wait until Saturday. My mind and body are too worn out for incredible stimulation of writing "53" at the top of papers. It's amazing how just the simple fact that, "Tomorrow, I don't work" perks me up. I'm cool with the world on Friday evening. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming.

Next blog entry may be on the polar opposite of this...the dreaded Sunday night feeling. Ugh. I better hurry up and retire.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Grammar and other Relatives

It is with some risk that I even bring up the subject of grammar. Because somehow by insisting on proper grammatical usage, one sets himself up as somehow superior...too good to be mingling with the masses. But if someone doesn't get on the grammar bandwagon, soon there will be no standards at all, just a mishmash of words thrown together in goofy patterns.

A little part of me dies when I hear a sports announcer say, "Joe Torre spoke to John and I before the game." Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!!! Why couldn't Mr. Microphone simply think, "Joe Torre spoke to me", therefore I will say, "Joe Torre spoke to John and me."?

Or this classic: "Us guys are going to the party." Would you say, "Us are going to the party?" I hope not.

Admittedly, grammar rules are obscure and nebulous. Admittedly, some folks are good at numbers and not words. But can you see how the entire scope of communication is hanging by a thread (or a dangling participle)? If the last person who can speak correctly dies, does ebonics take over?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Staying Ready

I'm reading a book by Greg Laurie on whether we are living in the "last days". He thinks we are and makes a credible case. One of his points is that Jesus, when asked about the last days, said they were akin to labor pains. Interesting comparison.

We all know that labor begins with pains pretty far apart, but progresses to a point where they are quite close together. Laurie says that when we see tragic, cataclysmic events in increasing proximity to each other, Jesus' return is imminent.

Consider the past 4 years, beginning with 9-11-01. Consider what has happened in the past 10 months: tsunami, hurricanes, earthquake.

Whether there is validity in his theory remains to be seen. I tend to agree with him. I think that, barring an early exit of this life, I will be alive for the second coming. Regardless, we should live a life of anxious expectation with a sense of urgency when it comes to sharing Jesus with others.

One thing is for sure, we are closer than we were yesterday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

How to Take Winning Shots

1. Let you hair grow a little long in the back. Artistic guys do that, ya know.

2. Wear the ballcap backwards. This shows a certain rebellious attitude and commands instant respect.

3. Utilize a huge lens. The bigger the glass, the better the shot.

4. Wear a tee shirt over a long-sleeve shirt. Again, this connotes that a real artist is at work.

5. Note the delicate grasp of the left hand. It's not gay. It's the mark of a genius getting a shot right.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sorry. I Can't Get Over This Pick

I know I've already railed against the president I've voted for twice over this Supreme Court nominee. But I need to vent again. I just can't get over how foolish this is.

We judge how foolish an act is by the importance of the circumstances. If I unexpectedly burp during a meal, it's foolish...but of no long-lasting consequence. This nominee business is at the other end of the spectrum. It will have enormous impact for decades to come. Harriet Miers is 60ish. We can assume that she has at least 20 years, if confirmed, of incredible influence on this country's law.

Miers stands to slip into the seat that Sandra Day O'Connor has been warming. And O'Connor was repeatedly the swing vote in critical cases. And Miers has no paper trail. It staggers the mind that Bush has treated such a blockbuster situation with so little thought.

Throughout the past 6 years, I have dismissed most of the criticism of Bush's intellect that has become so familiar. Yes, he obliterates the King's English upon occasion. Yes, he doesn't come across as a guy who reads books before pillowing his head at night. But I assumed that because he went to Yale and because he was dead-on in many of his conservative beliefs he must have more cerebrum activity than he lets on.

But to treat this appointment so cavalierly is to akin to lighting up a smoke at the gas station. You may get away with it or you may change the look of the neighborhood forever.

George Will made a good point in his recent column. He said that if 100 legal scholars were to each list 100 of the most qualified jurists for this Supreme Court vacancy, you would end up with 10,000 folks not named Harriet Miers.

Bush also said that he had not discussed abortion with Ms. Miers. Huh? If he's lying, that says something about his veracity. If he's telling the truth, it means he's so out of touch with his conservative base that he would ignore the most controversial social issue of the day.

This whole thing smacks of poor judgment and poor advice. As I said two days ago, the only hope for the true Republican conservative is that Bush has blindly tossed a dart in the general direction of the target and managed to hit a bulls-eye.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Weird or Eccentric or Harmless?

Older son Brett is arriving tonight for a weekend Scrabble tournament. That's his thing.

Younger son Blake will travel long distances to take in an Oak Ridge Boys concert.

Daughter Brooke knows more about hockey than any male alive, including the Great One.

Wife Carole collects life-like silicon dolls.

I hang out at airports with a camera, getting high on Jet-A fuel fumes.

Where did we go wrong?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bush Misses the Mark

Yesterday, George Bush picked Harriet Miers to replace O'Conner on the Supreme Court. I can't believe he would be so careless with his religious constituency.

Bush was elected twice mainly because religious folks voted for him. His second victory was even seen as a mandate from the Christian right. Now he has picked an unknown with no record to a position with mind-boggling power.

She may turn out OK. About all we know is that she does attend an evangelical church. But why is Bush not picking a seasoned judge with a thick, conservative resume? Doesn't he owe us that?

The word is that Bush wanted someone that the liberals won't vote down. She is female, of course. Important Democrats have not reacted with dismay over her choice, and that is scary.

With so much on the line, from abortion to gay rights to individual freedoms, Bush should have shown loyalty to what got him there. Here's hoping he lucked into something good.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

True Stories from the Hood

I'm gonna type this verbatim from two bus referrals of this week:

Driver comments: "When I was stopped at a red light, Ernesto yelled out the window at a vehicle next to us, screaming 'Crackhead' at the driver. Then he tried to mess with the air-conditioning vents, even though they are clearly marked 'Don't touch - Hands off!' He refused to sit down even though I was yelling at him to take a seat. Please put him off my bus for a long time."

Action taken: Conference with student.

One day later...

Driver comments: "Ernesto boarded the bus, went to the rear of the bus but didn't sit down. I asked him three times to take a seat. He refused. Then he began making his way to the front. I asked him what he was doing since he was going against the flow. He yelled back, 'None of your business!' He continued to force his way through people to get to the front and then left the bus. I recommend he be put off the bus for the year because of his previous trouble and his totally disrespectful attitude. He should also be prohibited from even stepping into my bus because he likes to temporarily board the bus and call for his friends to join him in taking a DART bus. All this does is make boarding impossible for the rest of my riders."

Action taken: Removed from the bus one week. Return to bus 10/3/05.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I want to apologize to legions of you who are fans of my blog.

I've been busy.

My total student count sits at 192 now. Last weekend I had a stack of papers 6 inches tall to grade. Plus, it was the end of the six weeks and grades had to be averaged.

It is taking a toll physically and mentally. I'll try to make it up to you. In the meantime, say a prayer for me as I cope with this ludicrous situation.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

This was going to be a post to elicit sympathy for me. After an exhausting week with my overcrowded classes, I basically spent the weekend grading papers.

But we just returned from a Bible Study and as usual, we went around the room asking for prayer requests. There was Stella, telling us about her friend, June, who has been battling cancer for a long, long time. June begins a new round of chemo this week. Nine treatments.

There was Fran, informing us that her sister, Jan, has a very arthritic spine, beset with bad disks and bone spurs. Jan battles pain every day, but needs two more years of work in order to qualify for her retirement package...and her insurance situation is miserable.

So let's put it all in perspective. I will survive school with God's help. But I have no problems. Just blessings with some of them disguised as problems.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Typical Saturday

7:15 Woke up, having enjoyed an extra two hours of sleep.

8:00-10:00 Finished mowing the yard and weedeating...had started the task las night.

13:00-1:30 Graded papers with 20 minutes off for lunch.

1:30-2:15 Carole and I tried to take a quickie nap, but weren't really sleepy.

2:15-6:00 Graded papers until I was cross-eyed.

6:00-8:00 Ate supper, then returned to grading about 60% of the papers I brought home graded...

8:00-9:00 Worked on family finances

9:00-10:30 Created a question sheet for students on Monday and a test for Wednesday. Then did lesson plans for next week.

I am totally overwhelmed by school this year. The stress created by 185 students is crushing. If one has to spend a "relaxation" day this way, followed by a church day with more grading, well, you can see I'm tired of all this.

Only 30 more weeks to go!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Good News!

Grandson Zach had an MRI today to ascertain whether there was anything left over from a traumatic birth experience that might show up on his brain area.

He's clear! He has overcome so much in his short lifetime (3 years) and today's news is so encouraging.

Sometimes I can't get enough of God's power. Over and over again, prayers are answered. The more I see of His hand in our lives, the more confidence I have in turning "stuff" over to Him.

When Zach is much older and is fulfilling our dream that he be a warrior in God's army, he won't remember much about today. But parents and grandparents won't ever forget.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


News and tidbits:

1. Brooke and Michael are home from Vancouver. I can't wait to get their impressions. God is so good to have protected them on their honeymoon. Always a bit nervewracking to have your kids off by themselves in a distant land.

2. DISD is trying to kill me. With the addition of 7 more students yesterday and three more today, I now have in excess of 180 in my six classes. When I look out at the kids, I just see a sea of faces. Everything a teacher must do to be effective is strained to the limit by extra bodies. Particularly when some of those extra bodies have no interest in education.

By the end of each day, my voice is dead from lecturing and my bod is exhausted from dealing with the problems incurred with so many students. Luckily, I get to unwind by driving two school bus routes.

I'm getting through this by telling myself that this is it as far as DISD is concerned. I will hopefully get a job at Dallas Christian next year. If not, I'll stay home and help Carole with Maddie and drive a school bus for Rockwall...or Dallas County Schools again.

3. The lady who will evaluate me this year is an assistant principal who is so inept in English that she thinks "attentative" is a word. She will no doubt criticize my teaching skills as I wonder why someone who murders the language should be evaluating ME.

4. I've added a request for rain to my prayer list. This drought is getting ridiculous. September is supposed to be one of our rainiest months. No rain yet and none in the forecast for the next 7 days. My property is beyond parched. We need a hurricane to come up one of the interstate highways to Dallas, but praying for a hurricane now is, uh, kinda stupid.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Weird Guy

My family was polite enough not to say anything to my face. See, I had gotten up at 5 AM on Labor Day to pursue my hobby and an elusive picture. I wanted to catch the silhouette of an airliner with a rising sun as a backdrop. So I hustled out to DFW and was in place as the sun rose. Unfortunately, I may have been in place, but the aircraft didn't cooperate. The above shot was the best I could muster, and it was taken about an hour after sunrise.

But I had a blast. Even though I had traded sleeping late for this opportunity, I was really digging the early morning atmosphere at the airport. Plus, I was way out of earshot of the less than complimentary things the rest of the family was saying. I guess no one understands another's hobby unless one has the same hobby. Too bad I can't work up a lick of excitement over Scrabble.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Tribute to Carole

My wife and I got Brooke married yesterday. The new couple is off to Vancouver for a few days to start their marriage off in style. The wedding was glorious and wonderful...mainly because my wife sweated the details and got it right.

I can't tell you how many nights' sleep Carole lost due to the incredible task of overseeing the planning of what amounts to three hours of Brooke and Michael's lives. It's nothing that a man could pull off. Shoot, we guys don't even know what to call things that are inherently wedding-related. They have this stuff that goes on the ends of the pews called "tulle", a homonym of "tool". When Carole told me about the "tulle" on the end of the pew, I started hunting for a power screwdriver or a wrench. First I'd ever heard of it.

So hats off to my beautiful wife for a beautiful daughter and a beautiful wedding. This will be the final one. No more for us. Thank you, Carole!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Faith Time

I'm down.

The anarchy and apocalyptic behavior in New Orleans has buffeted my heart, leaving scars that may never go away.

The kind of stuff I've been seeing on TV reminds me of attitudes I see simmering just beneath the surface every day at my school and the neighborhoods in which I drive a school bus.

Chief among these attitudes is the concept that nothing is ever wrong unless it gets you caught. You can do whatever, say whatever, try whatever...just don't be stupid enough to get caught. It's this type of moral vacuum that overwhelms me sometimes, and the enormity and complexity of the problem renders no easy solutions.

Of course, Christ is the answer. But where do you begin? I try to demonstrate Him to my students as a group and to individuals one-on-one every day. But when dealing with traditional poverty and poverty of the soul, I feel outnumbered.

I've quit watching the horrible inhumanity going on in New Orleans. Let me know when it's safe again to flip the channel back to CNN.

Meanwhile, I'm gonna go to work on my hope factor.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What Next?

The words and pictures from the Katrina devastation area cut like a knife. I've got something of a survivor's know, when everyone except you dies in an accident. Why them? Why not I?

Listen. Those of us who are "haves" must help the "have nots". If there were ever a time to grasp how rich we are, this is it. Comfort is a blessing. Food and water are blessings, yea even extreme gifts. Knowledge that you can sleep in your bed tonight is rich.

The church must rally. In the past, it seems our brotherhood have been late responders rather than first responders. We have been all too consumed, sometimes, about whether we should work hand-in-glove with other churches in matters like this...pondering finer points of theology while folks go on suffering. I pray that Christians of all stripes will mount the most massive aid response in history, one that will dispense help and generous doses of love.

Roll up you sleeves. Let's get after it.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Au Revoir to NO?

Just got off the phone with Brett. We talked about the trouble, to put it mildly, that New Orleans is in.

As I write this on Sunday afternoon, Katrina is bearing down on a city that averages six feet below sea level.

Even the most optimistic forecast is brutal for this city. The most pessimistic, however, is beyond belief. New Orleans is the worst city in the U.S. to handle a hurricane. And this one is no ordinary hurricane.

Brett said that we who are not in the path will be impacted, too. Many oil refineries lie in the path of this storm. When even one refinery worldwide goes down, gas prices spike.

But that's not important. I feel for the children, the elderly, the homeless, the poor whose lives are going to be changed forever by this storm. I pray the storm weakens or stalls or changes course. God bless those in Katrina's path.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

2 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 1

Exactly a week from this moment, my only daughter will have a husband. I submit that I am not losing a daughter, but gaining a son. So many families end up suffering from the poor decisions made by their kids when it comes to spouses. Not us, bruhthuh.

Not only are our kids great kids, they selected equally great mates. This makes for pleasant family least when Blake and Brooke choose to be civil...just kidding. What a joy to watch the two of us expand to the eleven of us...with not a single rogue among us. I truly think each of my kids has married someone who will help them go to heaven. What a joy for a parent!

May God grant Zach, Maddie, and Ethan a Jenny, Jaime, or Michael to make their lives complete! God bless y'all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

OK, I'm Tired

Guys, I'm tired. Eight straight school days of six lectures per to 28+ student classes. I can't even think straight, let alone come up with challenging blog material. Is it Christmas yet?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Leave Them There

Still more wisdom from "The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life":

I knew a Christian lady who had a very heavy temporal burden. It took away her sleep and her appetite, and there was danger of her health breaking down under it. One day, when it seemed especially heavy, she noticed lying on the table ner her a little tract call "Hannah's Faith." Attracted by the title, she picked it up and began to read it, little knowing, however, that it was create a revolution in her whole experience.

The story was of a poor woman who had been carried triumphantly through a life of unusual sorrow. She was giving the history of her life to a kind visitor on one occasion, and at the close the visitor said feelingly, "Oh, Hannah. I do not see how you could bear so much sorrow!" "I did not bear it." Said the visitor, "You are right. We must take our troubles to the Lord." "Yes," replied Hannah, "but we must do more than that; we must leave them there. Most people," she continued, "take their burdens to Him, but the bring them away with them again, and are just as worried and unhappy as ever. But I take mine, and I leave them with Him, and I take it to Him again, and I do this over and over, until at last I just forget I have any worries, and am at perfect rest."

My friend was very much struck with this plan, and resolved to try it. The circumstances of her life she could not alter, but she took them to the Lord, and handed them over into His management; and then she believed that He took it, and she left all the responsibility and the worry and anxiety with Him. As often as the anxieties returned, she took them back, and the result was that, although the circumstances remained unchanged, her soul was kept in perfect peace in the midst of them. She felt that she had found out a practical secret; and from that time she sought never to carry her own burdens, nor to manage her own affairs, but to hand them over, as fast as they arose, to the Divine Burden-bearer.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Giving Your Cares Over to God

More great wisdom from "The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life", discussing letting go present day worries:

"Just as you believed at first that He delivered you from the guilt of sin because He said it, so now believe that He delivers you from the power of sin because He says it. Let your faith now lay hold of a new power in Christ.

"You trusted Him as your dying Saviour; now trust Him as your LIVING Saviour. Just as much as He came to deliver you from future punishment did He also come to deliver you from present bondage. Just as truly as He came to bear your stripes for you has He come to live your life for you. You are as utterly powerless in the one case as in the other.

"You could as easily have got yourself rid of your own sins as you could now accomplish for yourself practical righteousness. Christ, and Christ only, must do both for you; and your part in both cases is simply to give the thing to him to do, and then believe that He does it."

Sunday, August 14, 2005


I'm reading a great book entitled, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life. Here's a wonderful bit of wisdom from the book:

"The maturity of a Christian experience cannot be reached in a moment, but is the result of God's Holy Spirit, who, by his energizing and transforming power, causes us to grow up into Christ in all things. And we cannot hope to reach this maturity in any way other than yielding ourselves up, utterly and willingly, to His mighty working.

The lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the potter is, during each hour and each day of the process, just what the potter wants it to be at that hour or on that day, and therefore pleases him; but it is very far from the vessel he intends in the future to make it. God's works are perfect in every stage of their growth. Man's works are never perfect until they are in every respect complete."

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I remember when I thought Rafael Palmeiro and Kenny Rogers were good guys. That they would make good neighbors and would suitable for kids to emulate. Now I and millions of others know better.

Whom should your kids look up to? I think, given what we know now, that it's risky to hold up professional athletes as role models. Well, you say, what about those athletes who espouse Christianity...guys like David Robinson, John Wetteland, and Curt Schilling? Those fellas are mostly admirable, particularly D.R, but I'm not sure our kids should model their lives after superstars whose income is likely to warp their perspective of life sooner or later.

Instead, I would let my children see as much of this type of person as possible: the "ordinary" person who manages to be the quintessential Christian servant. These folks are everywhere at church...those who selflessly give their time over and over again, many times doing thankless tasks that either nobody wants or nobody knows about. Let the kids spend an afternoon or a weekend with these servants and absorb the benefits through osmosis of being humble and caring.

These are the real heroes. Also, this is precisely the type of person I want to be for my grandkids.

Let the modeling begin!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Back to Work

I'm forever grateful that America's educational roots were shaped by an agrarian economy. Else, I might be working all year with but a two-week vacation. People who dislike teachers are quick to point out the incredible time, off. They have a wonderful point. I work 185 days a year, barely half of the days available. Is there any other job that gives you that while still paying you year 'round?

Most of us teachers, including me, feel that in the end, it's fair. We aren't paid that well and the benefits aren't very beneficial. It's not much of a point to say that we often bring work home, thereby giving a bunch of extra hours to our district. Well, a lot of working people have an attache case crammed with "homework", so that point isn't especially valid.

To me, the best argument for justifying the time off is role of stress on the job. My school day is worth examining. I drive two bus runs, teach six straight classes, and have to use my only off period to drive the bus over to my first afternoon pickup. In the end, it's basically an eight-hour day. The problem is the incredible mental and physical toll of dealing with kids without a break. My lunchtime is 30 minutes, but you have to subtract from that escorting my 4th period class to the lunchroom...making my lunchtime more like 20 minutes. If you've ever taught a class of any description, remember how tired you were after 45 minutes? Could you do it 30 times a week?

So, my self-serving, totally biased view is that the huge chunk of off time is quite justified; and it serves to decompress and recharge us for the next nine months.

I start year #36 Monday. Please for me...that I might have the physical, mental, and emotional strength to survive another year. But mainly pray that I'll touch young lives by being a Christian model. I've never quite figured out why I've been "stuck" doing something I'd rather not do for this long. The only answer has to be the amazing potential for shaping the spiritual lives of children who don't know Jesus. The stakes are high...and souls could be won or lost depending on how I reflect Christian values. Again, please pray.