Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cool Patrol Kids

When I was in grade school, it was cool to be a patrol kid. Those kids were the chosen ones. Not just anyone got to be a patrol kid. You had to maintain a certain level of academic standing in order to qualify. From there, supposedly your name was put 'into a hat' and if your name was picked, you got to be a patrol kid. However, it was pretty much assumed by us kids that the teachers had a big say as to whose name got into that hat. Being a patrol kid was an early harbinger of how successful the rest of your entire life would be.

Imagine my extreme consternation then to find out that Eugene had been picked to be one of the 'chosen few'. It was disappointing enough that my name was not picked...but, clearly, Eugene did not even qualify to have his name go into the hat in the first place. Eugene was a 'trouble maker'. He had less than stellar grades (lots of D's and maybe F's). And the friends he had were of the 'wrong kind'. Even back then, we 'good' kids could see that Eugene was on a fast track to failure. This was the kid that one of my teachers had sent into the school room closet for punishment in a previous year. That's what a loser this kid was!

Eugene chosen to be a patrol kid??? Not fair! Not fair! So not fair! It was one thing not to have made 'the list'. But that this kid had bumped me off the list was nigh on to humiliating. I was disappointed and outraged, as only a grade school kid can be.

The teachers in charge of the super-duper, super-secret patrol kid selection process held a closed-door meeting with the unchosen ones. The teachers told us that, indeed, Eugene did not meet the usual selection criteria. However, they thought this could be a positive experience for him. Give him something good to feel about in his, otherwise, mostly negative school experience.

I don't remember being convinced at the time that HIS failures should be 'rewarded' at MY expense. But it did take a little of the sting out of the situation.

But, more than that, the experience began to shape my thinking about what is 'fair'. As I grew older, I would periodically pull out that memory and be able to provide more and more 'adult' context into that experience. I began to realize that life isn't 'fair'. It wasn't 'fair' that Eugene was selectively chosen over that situation. But what was less fair was that Eugene was born into a poor family. Eugene was one of those 'trailer family' kids. He was raised in a family that probably did not value education. His family could not afford the money to dress him well. I don't doubt that he was probably was one of those 'free lunch kids'--that was shameful in, and of, itself.

I began to judge what was 'fair' based on context, not just on isolated incidents. Over time I realized that, in the big scheme of things, I had never had to deal with the situations that Eugene had had to. There is no doubt that I would have a hundred times over chosen my life (without the cool patrol kid experience) over Eugene's life (with the CPK experience). Life wasn't fair to Eugene. The teachers had just been trying to place a tiny pebble on the positive side of the balance for Eugene. For that, they were to be commended.

Did that experience change Eugene's life? I'll never know. Did it change mine? Yeah, you betcha!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Time to Draft the Dogs!

Reinstating the draft for United States citizens has proved to be a non-starter. Democrats appear to be too divided on the issue. Republicans would only support such an extreme measure if there was clear and explicit language to exempt any Republican who "had different priorities".

Americans have been slow to volunteer for the military, knowing that there is more than a remote chance that they will find their sorry selves at the business end of an IED in Iraq. President Bush would like to increase the number of troops in Iraq, but is limited in his choices due to this inconvenient lack of resources. What to do? What to do? I propose a "Draft the Dogs" campaign. I think this idea has legs (and a tail)!

It's time to beef up the Military Canine Corps. Dogs have been used since World War II for use in the military. They have served with distinction. Indeed, trained dogs are used in Iraq today. I propose extending this program by instituting the "Dogs for Defense" recruitment program. What Republican would not be thrilled to have their pet serve honorably in this great war of their making? I envision President Bush would set the tone by enlisting Barney. Think of the photo opportunities! Picture it with me...

We begin the scene with President Bush in flight suit standing next to Barney at attention in full military regalia. First Lady Laura Bush silently kisses Sgt. Barney goodbye. We watch as Laura quietly, proudly, and delicately wipes the tears from her eyes. Barney solemnly shakes G.W.'s hand before trotting up the Airforce-1 ramp and off to war in Iraq. Barney takes one last glance back towards the crowd and manages one last lone "woof", as if to say, "I will miss you, but I am off to bite them there, so you won't have to bite them here!"

After lingering a respectful amount of time on the now-departing plane which is slowly gliding down the runway, the camera pans back to President Bush who is ready to make a speech. And quite the speech it is. Heart-felt. Moving. Inspiring.

"My fellow Republicans, barely-tolerated Defeat-o-crats and all you patriotic boys and girls out there in America, you have just witnessed one of the finest sacrifices a family can make for their country during this time of war. As you all know, the world changed after 9/11. In this war on terror, no sacrifice is too great. First Lady Laura Bush and I have just sent off a member of our own family to help us fight the good fight over in Iraq. Although Barney will be missing from the family meal table, he will constantly be with us in our thoughts and prayers. We have been inspired by Barney's sense of patriotic duty to our country and his loyalty to the cause. Never once did he complain that this was an unjust war or ask why we were sending him instead of one of our beloved twins. Never once did he lift a critical eye to us over the fact he was being sent over to fight in a dangerous war with the dog armor we had rather than the dog armor Barney wished we had. Barney, cheerfully and without whining, placed his paw print on the enlistment papers that stated--albeit in fine print--the stop loss clause that states he can be retained indefinitely after his official tour of duty in Iraq is over.

"Barney will be the first dog in our Canine Corp program to participate in a second-generation press imbed program. A program we have named Dial-A-Dog. Besides the usual Canine Corp gear that Barney will be outfitted with, he will have a photo-cam attached to his collar. Americans can view 24/7 Barney's life as a proud member of the Canine Corp in the military and observe first-hand the responsibilities and rewards that go along with it. For those of you who use the internets, you can go to If you can't remember that, just do the google for "Dial A Dog" and you will be directed to the website.

"Although Laura and I fervently pray for Barney's safe return, we understand that there is some danger involved. With the photo-cam attached to his collar, any situation that may result in injury or death to Barney will be witnessed as it happens by the American people. We will all be able to experience first-hand the final most-patriotic event of Barney's life and mourn for him in real time. I like to refer to this as "reality-Reality TV. Heh.

"A second point I would like to make is.... Let me first state emphatically: Barney IS the smartest dog in America. (He'd be the smartest dog in Texas, too, if we were in Texas.) But Barney cannot do the job alone. Barney needs your help. So I am asking all of the children out there in America to think about enlisting their canine (that's 'dog' or 'puppy' for you little ones who don't know what "canine" means) into the Canine Corps. We have established a program called "Dogs For Defense" that is set up to streamline the process of getting your dog into the Canine Corp. All you children need to do is take your pet to any recruiting station in the area and they will have all the details.

Besides the pride you will feel in knowing that your pet is serving this great country of ours, this program will pay for your dog to go through obedience school free of charge. In addition, I have commanded that the two floors in each of our Veterans' hospitals be converted to veterinarian clinics. If (and I pray not), your pet gets injured in any way, your veteran pet will have the best care a veterinarian can give. I have requested Congress to divert a portion of the money spent on wasteful veterans' programs and unnecessary Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts to this worthy cause.

"As an incentive for you adults to sign up your children's pet for this program, we have established a much-needed tax rebate check-off program. If your pet is killed in the line-of-duty, you will earn an instant tax rebate of 5% on any capital gains taxes you paid over the course of the life of the animal. (Consult with your tax-care specialist for details as restrictions do apply.)

"We are also offering a not-so-low-interest loan through our faith-based private sector for those of you who would like to purchase a photo-cam for their personal pet. You can go to the Halliburton website for details on that particular program.

God bless you all and remember to keep Barney in your prayers."

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Who was your favorite teacher?

I was listening to a story today about a teacher. That got me thinking. If I had to pick one favorite teacher, who would that be? And, more importantly, why? What are the characteristics of a "favorite" teacher? Is it the subject they teach? Is it the teacher's knowledge and/or love of the subject? The time in one's own life? Did that teacher motivate me to aspire to do something I never would have done otherwise? Did that teacher motivate me to be someone more than the person I thought myself to be?

As I thought about the question in my own mind, I realized I could not pick out just one teacher. I was fortunate to have had many great teachers during my school years. However, my favorite teachers always had two traits in common: They cared for their students AND they made me feel special in some way.

One memory stands out to me. I was in sixth grade and there was a not-so-popular girl being picked on by a group of students. My teacher stepped in to stop it. Later, Mr. O asked a number of girls to stay after school. Mr. O told us that the reason he was talking to us was because he felt we were students who could turn things around. He appealed to us to befriend this girl and, by that process, make it less likely that this girl would be the target of teasing and harassment. I don't remember the girl's name. I will always remember the lesson.

In high school, I signed up for Chemistry because it was something I felt I "had" to take. I was getting a very uninspiring "C" in the class. For some reason, my Chemistry teacher talked to me and told me he believed I would start getting A's on my tests before the end of the quarter. Just that small conversation motivated me to study harder. Not only did I end up with A's for the rest of the school year, but I went on to major in Chemistry and spent many years as an environmental chemist.

Of course I can't end this diary without mentioning my mother. She spent many years teaching elementary children. Her patience with students resulted in the placement of the "problem" students in her classrooms. She made sure those students got special attention so that they could go on to be successful. My mother was uncomfortable with recognition and never sought out the spotlight. Still, other teachers understood her value. She was recognized by her peers as a class act and was voted "Teacher of the Year" in our town the year she retired. It was a proud day for me.

The list goes on, but I would rather read your comments—and your stories. Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

An Open Letter to My Father

Before you begin reading this letter to my father, I need to begin with a preface. Although much of what I have written in the letter is accurate, no mere letter (or posting) can be completely true in all aspects. In truth, my father's beliefs are more complicated and nuanced than I have conveyed in this letter. I have done him a disservice if it portrays him to you as one who has completely "swallowed the kool-aid". I don't think that is the case as much as I believe he has accepted as fact the notion that liberals are bad for the country. His fear is that the country might get worse under the big "D" leadership. With this in mind, I write this letter from the heart and with the belief that you, the reader, will be able to get a glimpse into the hearts of both Father and Daughter as we struggle to communicate with each other in these most difficult of times.

Dear Dad,

I've been thinking a lot about you lately. Just this week your brother died. He was your best friend. You were his protector from the day he was born. I have watched through the years as you have been the pillar of strength to your family. From the time you were a boy to now and until the last one dies, you will be there for them. You've told me how very hard it has been for you to see them leave, one-by-one and year-by-year. For all you have done to protect them, you have not been able to protect them from death. And I know how that weighs on you.

And I've been thinking a lot about your service to country in World War II. You were called. You went. You served with dignity. And you told me that you learned from your experience that no country should ever send their young men and women to war except as the last resort. The. Last. Resort.

I've watched as you have lived your values. Loyalty to family. Loyalty to country. Do everything you can to protect your family. Do everything you can to protect your country.

And yet, over these last few years, I find myself angry with you. Angry that those very values that were your guiding principles through all these years and helped shape this country into being a beacon of light for the world have now become stumbling blocks to maintaining our country's democracy today. I am angry that your loyalty has too often been blind loyalty to the Republican Party. I am angry that in your desire to protect our country from all foreign enemies, you have failed to accurately evaluate the kind of protection our country now needs from the enemy within. As your attention is engaged by the outside enemy, you sorely underestimate the devastation unleashed by this Trojan Horse on the shores of this country you love.

This Administration and its band of liars know you. They know how to take your values and make a mockery of them. They know how to tell you one thing and do another. They know how to convince you that they respect your values as much as you do. Vote for them and they will take care of you and your family. You've worked hard all your life. You've done your duty. No need to watch over this Administration. They have you and your family's best interests at heart. No need to worry any longer.

They have promised you one thing and delivered another. They have said they will protect you and yours, while making us less safe, even as I write this letter. They demand your complete and unquestioning loyalty, even as they plot and plan to destroy all you hold dear.

I know I should direct my anger at this Administration and not at you. In truth, of course, I am angry at this Administration. I am raging angry. But I don't love them. I love you. And I don't expect them to listen to me. I did think you would listen to me. I am your blood. I am your daughter. I think I am more like you than either of us realize. But I don't feel like you are hearing me. At least you are not hearing me as I need you to hear me.

I am begging you to re-evaluate your loyalties. Loyalty to family is only a virtue when the family is worthy of your loyalty. Our family is worthy. Loyalty to country is only a virtue when the country is worthy of your loyalty. Our country is worthy. Loyalty to an Administration is only a virtue when the Administration is worthy of your loyalty. Few Administrations have ever met this criterion. Please believe me when I tell you that this Administration is not worthy of your loyalty.

I implore you to re-evaluate your vision of what it means to protect one's country. Please be willing to admit that a country can be destroyed from within just as surely as a country can be destroyed from without. And it can be done without firing a shot if we let it. Please, Dad, don't let it happen here.

Your Loving Daughter

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Misadventures of Budlite Bush…Part I

Ever ended up on the road with a buddy of yours who has this great idea about going "somewhere"? Only he's not exactly sure where that somewhere is and isn't exactly sure how to get there –and for sure is too drunk to get you there safely. That is what I feel like with this Administration. It's like your mother told you that this "nice guy" she knows offered to take you all to someplace called "Freedom" and she decided the whole family was going along for the ride.

You: Where did you say we were going?
Budlite Bush: We are going to the place I call Freeeeeeeeeeeeeee-dom!
You: Where is this place and how do we get there?
Budlite Bush: (Winks!) Hey, kid, it's at the end of the road and I got the map in my head! Jump in the truck and let's goooooooooooooo!
You: How far is it from here? Can I see the map? This truck does not look like it's ready for a road trip.
Budlite Bush: Hey, kid. Not to worry! Like I said, I got the map in my head. And this vehicle is in fine shape. Trust me. Besides, son, you go to Freedom with the vehicle you have, not the one you want. Heh. Heh. Now get on board. My patience is beginning to wear a little thin. In my family, kids don't question the adults in charge. And as you can see, I am behind the wheel, so that makes me the adult here.
You: So how long a ride is this? How much packing do I need to do before we go?
Budlite Bush: Lordy! Lordy! You are a worrier! It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.
You: Mom, I'm not sure this is a good idea. I think we need to see a map and find out how far this Freedom is from here. We need to find out the best way to get there. We need to get this vehicle in shape for the road trip. And I am not convinced that Freedom is really where we want to go right now. We've got some problems here at home to solve before we get in the truck and take off.
Mom: There you go again! Sometimes I can't believe we're from the same family! Here I meet this great guy in the bar last night who tells me he's going to take care of me and my mine and he offers to take us all to Freedom and YOU are holding things up like you always do! Now get in the truck and quit your whining!
You: But, Mom, he looks and acts really, really drunk! There are no seat belts in the truck. And I want to see a map!
Budlite Bush: I told you, kid, the map's in my head. And we don't need no stinkin' seat belts! I got me a pistol in the glove box over there and a shot gun in the back seat. Hell, I got me an ARSENAL in the bed of the truck and I'm buying more every day! I might just break the bank some day buying up all those munitions, but I do it because I believe in keeping people safe. Remember when those guys robbed the bank here last 9/11 and they killed all those people? Well, that ain't going to happen while Budlite Bush is in charge! No sir-ree. Now I don't know how to fire these things myself, but I plan to pick up a whole lot more boys like you along the way and they can do the shootin'. Like I said, I don't like to fire those things myself, I just like to buy 'em. My friends in the gun business like me because I'm their best customer and it keeps the economy strong. Reminds me, we all need to cough up a little more money for safety's sake. Give me 50, boy!
You: Don't we need to at least spend the money on gas and maybe save some up for emergencies? Maybe some food and water along the way?
Budlite Bush: Hey, Momma, your SON is starting to get on my nerves! Why I think HE thinks he can drive this here truck better than I can! I know the type. "Read the map! Read the map! If you don't understand the map, get someone who does!" And then they get the map out and find out there's a dozen different ways to get where you're going. Then they hem and haw over which route to take and blah, blah, blah. At the end of all that, they haven't gotten anywhere because they decided it couldn't be done. Losers. That's what I call them!
Mom: (To you.) He's right you know. You never want to go any place without talking it over with a bunch of your like-minded friends. Talk. Talk. Talk. Blather. Blather. Blather. Reading all those books and then thinking you know something. Just like your Dad. And you know what HE did to me and I'll never forgive him for it.
You: Look, he wasn't your husband. He did not cheat on YOU. He cheated on his wife and then lied to you about it. Get over it.
Mom: I will NEVER get over it. You and your lowlife morals. And now here's a man who promises to keep us safe who says he's a church-going Bible-believing man and I can tell you just hate him. It's the same every time. I meet some great guy at a bar and take him home to you and you always hate him.
You: I don't HATE them. I mistrust them. I don't know how you can keep going to bars and picking these guys up and expect me to trust them. They ALL have the same pickup line. "I'm a God-fearing man. I'll keep you safe. And I'm not, well…you know…a F-A-G." Then you bring them home stumbling around, slurring words, and booze on their breath.
Mom: (To Budlite Bush) See, I told you he's a real whiner. Truth is, he's not my real son. He's actually my brother, but I treat him like a son. You can't really boss a brother around, but you can boss your kids around, ya know what I mean?
Budlite Bush: One last time, kid, you get in the truck NOW or I get the sheriff involved. And I know ALL the sheriffs real well around here, if you get what I mean.
You: (Reluctantly gets in the truck.) (Silently to self) I want to see a map.
Budlite Bush: Now that's more like it. Hang on, kid. You're going for the ride of your life time! And don't worry. Remember, I got the map right here in my head!

Friday, July 21, 2006

There is ALWAYS an Evil Twin...Or is God the Original Human Cloner?

According to the National Right To Life website:
The life of a baby begins long before he or she is born. A new individual human being begins at fertilization, when the sperm and ovum meet to form a single cell. If the baby's life is not interrupted, he or she will someday become an adult man or woman.
End. Of. Story.

So, I had to ask the question, how does this explain identical twins?

If the right-to-lifers are correct in their assumption, then there can be only two answers to the mystery I have dubbed "Identical Multiple Birth Syndrome" (IMBS). Either one of the identical twins is an evil, soulless, spiritless being and most certainly NOT human -OR- God perfected human cloning eons ago (well, close to 6,000 years ago anyway) and, therefore, is in direct violation of HIS OWN WILL.

President Bush stated just this week that,

As we seek to improve human life, we must always preserve human dignity. And therefore, we must prevent human cloning by stopping it before it starts.
Yikes! This is a very tall order. Someone, perhaps the Leader of the Free World, President George W. Bush himself, needs to tell this godless God in no uncertain terms that HE is breaking the will of God. However, one might think that scofflaw God would simply resort to paraphrasing Richard Milhous Nixon, "If God did it, then it is not against HIS WILL."

That then takes us back to the Evil Twin Theory (ETT) and this gets complicated. Numerous questions spring to mind.

How do you figure out which of the two is the evil twin? Do we assume that the first born is the good twin and the second, by default, must therefore be the evil twin? Or do we look for little imperfections, on the assumption that the twin with the more numerous "defects" is the imperfect copy of the original?

Is it morally imperative that we eliminate the evil one? If so, when, where, and how do we terminate the so-called life of this evil being?

If one twin dies while still in the womb, do we assume the good twin is the one still living, or do we assume the evil one must have killed off its "better half"? Thankfully, we've all been exposed to the billboards touting the fact that the unborn have fingerprints early on. Therefore, between society's ability to fingerprint the remaining twin and the serendipitous fact that the evil one is "tied" to the crime scene, it should not have to consume many resources to ID the perpetrator and warehouse it until justice can be handed out.

Special note with an eye to the future: We must ensure our legal system is prepared to try, convict, and deliver the death sentence to the evil one. This is clearly even more important than legislation criminalizing flag-burning. Bill Frist, are you listening?

In these most special of circumstances, Republicans might even begrudgingly agree to spend a few cents per fetus to educate couples contemplating risky IMBS behavior. (Call it a User's fee and tack it onto the hospital bill.) They need to understand that death may well be the final result of any risky fool-hardy, self-inflicted choice they make concerning IMBS. Admonish the couple up front that there will be no money to pay for counseling services once the deed has been done and that there will be no tears of sympathy shed when they lose not one, but both twins. It's their own damn fault for having invited Satan into their bedroom to spawn the Evil one.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Another Modest Proposal

I confess I have tired of fighting the Republican agenda. I am ready give up and give in. I am ready to admit I may be wrong. Wrong about "family value" matters. Wrong about abortion. Wrong about torture. Wrong about any number of issues.

To clarify, I am willing to meet Republicans half-way. And I am ready to write it into law. In fact, I will go the extra mile. I am willing to give it an up or down vote and have it written into the United States Constitution if that's what Republicans want! I am ready to "let go and let God", so to speak.

Before you write me off as a nut case or just another liberal wimp, let me explain!

Just in case you haven't been paying close attention, Republicans are very concerned about divorce. They are convinced that our "liberal" divorce laws are a threat to marriage. Now I do not believe that our divorce laws are a threat to my marriage, but I am willing to believe Republicans when they warn us that it will weaken their fidelity to their spouse.

Republicans are very vocal about their opposition to any form of abortion for any reason. Abortion equals murder. Doctors, women, and organizations involved in "family planning" (code words for abortion/murder providers) need to be dealt with and dealt with harshly.

Republicans are convinced that right-to-die issues should not be decided by those closest to the situation, but should be decided by government intervention. Republicans do not believe family members are competent; that judges have the legal knowledge; nor physicians the expertise to make those end-of-life decisions.

Republicans believe that individual voter fraud is one of the gravest threats to our Democracy. Individuals voting in precincts for which they are not registered are of far greater concern to them than any rigged, paperless trail balloting system. If Republicans believe this is true, then I must believe them.

Republicans believe that convicted felons should not be allowed to vote. Ever! Again! Okay then. I am trying to understand. I need to take them at their word.

And I can no longer ignore Republicans' dismay over gays and gay marriage. Personally, I love my husband and have convinced myself that, if gays are allowed to marry (each other) that it will not change my commitment to my husband, nor compromise my oath of fidelity to him. I am forced to admit, however, that I cannot convincingly vouch the same for my husband. Although he has repeatedly vowed he would not leave me for another man--or woman--if gays are allowed to marry, I cannot really know he is telling me the truth about this until it happens--or until there are laws on the books that will allow me to--literally-hold his feet to the fire when demanding an answer. Again, however, I need to give Republicans the benefit of the doubt and believe them when they tell me it will be a struggle for Republicans to adhere faithfully to their wedding vows.

Here, then, is my modest proposal: Democrats should quit fighting Republicans on these issues. Democrats should begin working with Republicans in a true spirit of bipartisanship to enact laws and constitutional amendments we can all live with.

I, Naniboujou, hereby pledge to support all efforts to enact any and all laws that will protect Republicans-from themselves.

I promise to support any laws that will prohibit divorce--for Republicans. This will be beneficial in two ways. First, it will immediately prevent Republicans from divorcing for any reasons they might be tempted to use as an excuse to divorce now. Secondly, it will preemptively stay the inevitable Republican stampede to the divorce courts should gay marriage ever become legal in all states.

I promise to lobby for all laws that will increase restrictions on abortions for any reason--for Republicans. If they would like a constitutional amendment to that effect, I will personally drive any Republican to their precinct of choice to cast a vote in favor of this amendment. Furthermore, I will actively lobby for federal and state laws to prohibit pharmacies from legally dispensing to Republicans any form of birth control, including condoms. I am told such availability only encourages Republicans to engage in sex not intended for procreation and, thus, needs to be discouraged at all costs.

On the positive side, I will tirelessly campaign for the passage of new laws that will lesson restrictions on torture--for Republicans. You can never really know what your Aunt Em is up to in Kansas unless she is forced, coerced, or tortured to answer why she was calling a Republican at 7 AM, the morning of 9/11.

I will press for laws to increase penalties for individuals guilty of voter fraud. I am fully prepared to propose these laws be enforced retroactively. I will make it my personal mission to picket Ann Coulter's (legal) residence until justice is done and Ms. Coulter is put away for life and denounced as the felon she is. I pledge to be on Ann Coulter's case 24/7/365. I will be like a duck on a june bug. I will be what Ken Starr was to Bill Clinton. I will be Ann's constant companion like Jeff Gannon was to.... Whoops! Let's not go there.

I further pledge to support any and all laws that will once and for all ban pulling the plug on any Republican for any reason at any time--well, save for treasonous acts like voter fraud for which the perpetrator should be hung at dawn--after being tortured, of course.