Knoxville Interstate vs Knoxville streets

Q: “Why do you try so hard to avoid the Interstate? There are no traffic lights to slow you down and it’s more direct than zig-zagging all over neighborhoods.”

A: Knoxville Interstate drivers take it as a personal affront if someone merges in front of them and they aggressively try to avoid allowing anyone to switch lanes. Knoxville Interstates are dominated by the selfish and rude drivers.

Knoxville drivers on the streets will sit at a four way stop for a million years while they wave for the other drivers to go first. Knoxville drivers on the streets will cause a traffic jam stopping to let opposite direction drivers turn left in front of them. Unless they are driving a Humvee or a similarly oversized vehicle, Knoxville streets are filled with mostly polite and thoughtful drivers.

Students before politics

I’m weary of people being dismissed from participating in discussions and decisions about education if they don’t have subjectively determined bona fides. Education shouldn’t matter only to people with underage children. Interest in education should not be limited to the school closest your home. Education determines the quality of life now and in the future for the entire community. Education is the one thing that should matter to everyone.

If a school outside of my community wanted to add something special for their students, I would never try to prevent them from having it because my community doesn’t have it. I would certainly watch their program to see which parts of it could be successful in my community.

If we have to wait until all the existing problems in all of our schools are gone before we attempt to make progress or evolve educationally, we will never grow and all students will suffer. Hear me clearly on this: Teachers are being treated horribly and students spend too much time on test prep. Unfortunately, Knoxville’s educational environment is in danger of being divided into pro and anti specific people instead of unanimously pro students. Teachers and students are doing the best they can while higher ups natter, but we are rapidly approach the kind of dysfunctional impasse that makes for good late night comedian fodder and bad everything else.

Knoxville people love to insist that every community in our little city has different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. The same is true of our schools. Rubber stamped, identical schools don’t allow each school to evolve into what is best for their students. One High School in the Knoxville community has an IB program. Other High Schools in this community have things that are unique to their school. Extremely unique school programs occur in schools that allow out of zone students to transfer schools. The success of these various programs is positively impacted when students begin High School prepared for them. The next logical step for IB is expansion to the middle school. I’m not going to repeat the data contained in this PowerPoint explaining Middle School IB or this PowerPoint with statistical data about the Middle School with overwhelming teacher approval of an IB partnership.

What I will say is that BMS was the first school to allow my child with Autism to be mainstreamed. BMS is the school that inspired one of my children to love art and another to love music. When BMS was declared a “failing school” because of the test scores of students living in poverty and students with disabilities, BMS shifted everything to focus on intense intervention in areas where students scored lowest. Every student benefitted from those changes. With an IB program, BMS hopes that they can do even more to lift students who need support the most, but also add ladders for the students ready to climb even higher.

There are so many families from the wealthier parts of the BMS school zone who put their students in private school to avoid BMS that it would take more than 50 out of zone transfers to impact the staffing needs at BMS. The teachers want to implement IB and the students need every opportunity possible. Let them demonstrate that BMS is not ‘that school’ with ‘those students’ that need to be avoided. Give them a chance to show what they can do when they are supported and encouraged. Vote yes on the Middle School IB Partnership.

nerd life

She: “They updated the software on censored! They added censored and censored!”
He: “Let me see. Oooooh, sweet.”
She: “I want to take a picture of this screen.”
He: “No pictures. Violates the NDA.”
She: “Don’t they want people talking about the improvements?”
He: “Not with other people.”
She: “Don’t they want social media noise?”
He: “Nope. NDA.”
She: “I’m going to search online and see if anyone is talking about it.”
He: “You do that.”
She: “You go tell them that your wife wants to talk about it.”
He: “No.”
She: “Well, I’m going to blog about the much improved interface with new features.”
He: “As long as you don’t violate the NDA.”
She: “No problem.”

Hacky Cat

Several months ago, Westley found a hacky sack and played it to death. He tossed it in the air, dribbled it across the floors, rubbed his face on it and purred loudly while he carried it around like a lovey. He also played fetch with it. He demanded hours and hours of fetch the hacky sack. It was a very sad day when he punctured the bag so much that all of the filling spilled and a sad little pouch of fabric was all that remained of the beloved hacky sack.

The filling turned out to be tiny bits of plastic that looked like an intestinal blockage waiting to happen. So, I bought two nice new hacky sacks and deliberately killed those balls. First, I stabbed a hole in them.

Next, I removed all the plastic beads.

This was followed by a brief game of chase with the cat who had been silently stalking my work and decided to rescue one of the balls that I was abusing.

The next step was to fill the empty pouch with a plastic grocery bag.

Finally, I stitched up the opening. I used undivided cross stitch thread and it looks like a mess, but the cat doesn’t mind it.

This is the only picture I have of Westley with one of his hacky sacks that isn’t a complete blur. He is a very happy cat.

Night games

Every time the outside temperature drops a degree, ask for another blanket. Fall asleep under every blanket you own. In the middle of the night, start kicking at the excessive pile of blankets. Continue until all blankets are on the floor. Spend the next day washing every blanket you own. Repeat nightly.

Imaginary Sleep
When the pets start whining for food, water, outside or play at still dark o’clock, do not move a muscle or utter a sound. The first person to speak to the furry children has to get up and figure out what the pet thinks they need.

Snack Stamina
The last person awake gets to eat the one Klondike Bar remaining in the freezer.

Night Parenting
Neither partner gets to stay in bed. One person cleans the child. The other person cleans the child’s bedding, floor and the trail to the bathroom.

moving my cheese

I had to drive StacheMan to the Grands so that he could housesit for them. Driving to the Grands is something that I do on auto pilot. The same goes for the children’s schools, the grocery and the bullseye store. Routine routes are stressless.

I sang to the songs on the radio while StacheMan monologued about the condition of his computer cable. Spoiler: It’s frayed.

We pulled up to the four way stop where I usually start giving the children their marching orders. Instead of quizzing StacheMan on the feeding rules for the Grands’ cat, I sat at the stop sign and stared ahead. StacheMan’s mouth hung open and he gazed silently at our route.

“Where did the road go?”
“It’s gone. Why didn’t anyone tell me the road would be gone?”
“Why? Why did the road go away?”
“Why didn’t anyone warn me that there’s no road?”

We were a scene in a ‘Life skills for Aspies’ filmstrip.

After looping the alternate route, I called the Grands.

“You didn’t tell me that the road is gone.”
“I thought the sign said it was only gone for a day. I thought it would be back the next day.”

about that Kent State shirt

The people I follow on various social media channels are righteously upset today. They are appalled at a tacky shirt that a large chain store is selling. The shirt has Kent State written on it, but it is printed to look blood splattered. The shirt mocks the tragic death of college students. Nothing about it is funny. It is a vile marketing decision by Urban Outfitters.

The social media reaction is predictable. I follow the people speaking out against this shirt, BECAUSE of their passion and constant effort to make the world a little better. That said, I need to tell a snippet of a story from my past. It took place during my early college career. With my foot in a cast, the only summer job I could get was at Spencer’s in the mall.

My manager went to Kent State. He was on campus the day of the shootings. I know these things because they were part of this manager’s pick-up routine. The closer he moved to breathing on your neck, the more details he shared. It was beyond creepy and I spent most of my summer going to great lengths to avoid my manager. The fact that his main “move” was to tell a horror story means that some percentage of the time, people reacted positively to his gross out romance technique.

While my social media and IRL circle of people work non-violently to get an unfunny and cruel shirt removed from a store’s shelves, there are far too many people out there who only care about issues if there’s something in it for themselves. There’s always going to be some guy trying to use something offensive to get someone in his bed. Always.

Don’t buy the shirt. Don’t hang out with the people who do buy the shirt. This shirt has gotten the publicity that the store wanted and it will quietly disappear. Now, they’ll print something equally terrible. Don’t buy it.

timing is everything

Me: “I’m going out to run errands. Need anything?”
Family: “Nope.”

I text home two hours later. “Heading home unless anyone needs something.”
Text from child: “Nobody needs anything.”

I come home, unload groceries and sit down to remove my shoes and read email.

An hour later, I remove my bra and spend half an hour washing dishes. Those things aren’t related, but are part of the timeline.

Another hour later, I put on pajamas and curl up in a chair with a book.
“Mom! We’re completely out of cat food.”