Monday, August 30

Education - Then and Now - A Long Comparison and Rant

When I was in the transition between Junior and Senior High schools, I first noticed the deterioration of the public school system. For me, this was the mid 1980's. As I recollect from my memories, I feel that I struggled somewhat with my studies, maintaining a seemingly normal C+ to B- average in most classes. Some classes seemed harder than others (as is for most students) but it all seemed normal. Then suddenly in HS I was easily passing classes that I should have had to work harder at, if everything followed the regular pattern I had previously been through since Kindergarten.

The difference? My early school years were in Indiana and my HS years were in Arizona. This is not about how one state is better than another, just my viewpoint.

One good example: Algebra and early Geometry were courses I struggled with in Jr High. In HS, I "breezed" through them, as they were separate courses, on the same Jr High level I had already been through. Obviously this is due to the AZ school system being set back than Indiana's due to ESL (English Second Language) and other barriers to the teaching process (I opine that is it because of the damn illegal immigrant situation).My kids, attending schools here in AZ, don't see the difference in learning levels as much as it appears normal to them. But as a parent I see other problems in the education system.

Let me narrow it down a bit more. I see a problem with individual teachers, not as persons, but as instructors, and their styles of instruction.

Now I am sure pretty much everyone reading this is going to think back to their school/college days and think of that one instructor that they "hated", or never liked their style of teaching. Though many of you still passed the course, even if it may have been barely. Somehow, despite it all, you persevered.

Anyways, times have moved forward since my days of school (and I am sure yours as well). It seems my older kids have actually been assigned homework that can only be completed by Internet access - be it to access some "school online website" or to locate needed information since the public library is closed after 6pm, and they are not given time at school for the school library (if they even have one). I know we have moved into a more technological computer age, but when is it needed, nay, REQUIRED, to have a computer, let alone Internet access, for our children to do homework? Textbooks are no longer given out (budgetary restraints) so "online textbooks" that have to used for homework. WTF?!? I could see needing a computer to "type" up a report. But Internet a requirement (which is never mentioned at any school registration as a needed  item for schoolwork). How is a school to provide computer access, let alone Internet access, for those who families cannot afford it? How can they require this, and not provide it, yet it needs to be done? I don't understand.

We don't live in Snobsville, but we don't live in Shantytown either. My family lives in a "nice" neighborhood. We have decent neighbors. Schools, shopping, parks, freeway access - all close and convenient. Shootings? Every once in a great while. Police helicopters overhead at night? Sometimes, but usually more in the lower income area off in another direction. My kids attend public schools that do have a large Latino presence. In elem. school, the lunches are automatically free as the income for most students families are low enough it is cheaper to just provide the whole school - though bringing your lunch is an option. Yes, ESL is a big factor in our schools. I have seen students bring their parents to open houses, and have to do all the translation for them (constantly).

Through it all, my kids are learning well. So far, the three older ones have been in "Project Potential" - an accelerated class for regular school studies. I am sure the last one will too when he gets in school. Though I gripe about the school requiring it, we have computer and Internet access for the kids to be able to finish their homework. Even if we have to help them search for exactly what the instructor has asked for (even when it is not even having to do with the homework, but it is required. IE. Geometric angles for a starting algebra class?)

Sigh. I gripe. I bitch. I whine. I try to understand, and I do bits and pieces. Still there is much I don't and that helps infuriate me more at times. But we do the best we can to provide the needed info and availability to get that to our children.

So maybe I should get to the specific thing that just pisses me off tonight. It is a prime example of my comment about instructors and their style of instruction. Maybe re-reading this (or rather proof-reading this) will make me see a better answer to the problem. I don't know.

My oldest son is in Junior High, which started about 3 weeks ago. You already understand the make-up of income and race in our area. How it affects the school system budget, public interaction, and I am sure the teaching of anything to students.

I need to back up one year, to when he was in 6th. He was in the accelerated class, instructed by a a woman from Jamaica. In the beginning of the year, I realized there were going to be issues, because her verbal and written instructions many times never matched each other, and would leave my son very upset as to how to complete assignments. Literally upset to the point of tears, late at night, because he was tired and wanted to go to bed, but needed to have it done for the next day. Her speech made listening a burden due to her accent, her way of calling every male student "Boy", and other problems presented themselves. The Wife and I thought several times (and sometimes actually listed examples to bring to) that we should meet with the principal and teacher about these things. In the end, we decided not to meet. At the 6th grade level, we thought maybe it best that our son learn that people are going to call you derogatory things because you are white and they aren't (no, not being a Nazi). That he is going to have to learn to inquire for more information if he isn't clear on things. Through out the school year, no matter the assignment, he still finished up Valedictorian of his class. No small feat. That was 6th grade. He learned things and had them sort of ingrained, I hope.

Junior High. His only class that is "advanced" is his Language Arts. I guess we would know it better as Reading, because so far it is more about reading and comprehension than a re-study of punctuation, etc that most call an English class. Either way, moving on. At the Open House about a week or so ago, this instructor mentioned they had been assigned a Book Project that was going to be taking place on top of other assignments through some time of the school year. Personally, no idea how long, but say at least several weeks. It entails reading a book (obviously) and from there do other things... something like a pamphlet, a report, some other stuff... etc.

First is the book.

The book needs to be selected and read. A very obvious thing. Let's talk about selection, after all, it can't just be ANY book. There are criteria that have to be met. There are criteria that are required NOT to be in the selection. Here are the basics:
      1. Must be Non-Fiction, or Historical Fiction - Non-Fiction leaves a large area open. but saying "OR Historical Fiction", does that not sound oxy-moronic? Can't be fictitious, unless it is historically so? I don't understand.
      2. Cannot be an Autobiography, or a Biography - Nope! Would have been too easy to get just the facts.
      3. Must be in the student's Lexile range. At the open house, parents were told that this score would be provided to the student in days to come, and that there was a website to find a book in the range would be given later on.

- For those that don't know, the Lexile range is a numerical range of reading level, based upon a person's comprehension of material they are reading. I would think usually this would go hand-in-hand with if a 12 year old is reading young adult books and understanding it, he is going to have a higher score and range than a student that can barely read a 3rd grade book. You can read more about it at

So, the son comes home tonight, he has to finish up some Social Studies homework, using the ONLINE textbook (which the provided the website for at the open house). I ask if that is all, and find out about this book thing. He has to have the TITLE of the book he will be doing his project on by tomorrow class time. He was just given the Lexile score today. No other info was given - like where to look up the list of books, etc.

I'm pissed. I happen to Google Lexile, find the main site. You can plug in a score, and it will bring up "a list" of books by category for you. I enter the info, and have the selection of around 20 or so things. Historical Fiction is not one of them. History and Social Studies is listed. I look in there....OMG. He is supposed to pick something from here? Then the questions start from me : where is the site info? Where is the info about this project? Did the teacher provide ANY info? etc etc

No website was given. No additional info as to what Historical Fiction pertains to ("Little Men"?). Does Non-Fiction include other things like Science and Technology, such as the title "Non-Fiction" seems to indicate, though, saying Historical Fiction, non autobiography/biography seems to say you want something more in the line of history.

Why the FUCK can't the DAMN teacher be a little more precise? Why can't she provide a specific book list? Why is ANY INFORMATION that would be more helpful NOT anywhere where a student could get to it tonight, the day before he is supposed to have a selection done?

We called the teacher's school telephone recorder thingy. Her message mentions the basic info (Non Fic, or Hist Fic - not Auto/bio) and that's it. There is no forum or website through the school to see possible other information on the project. I asked why he didn't get more info, he said he didn't know he needed more, though he doesn't understand what he is supposed to pick or from what list, the same as us.

I am pissed. I start to write an email to the instructor, and going to enclose a cc to the principal, and maybe the school superintendent. I proof-read it. Change this, edit that phrase, take out that cuss word.

Still I have not sent it. After writing all this out, I have begun to think a little on it. Last year, we explained to our son, he was going to have to get used to people in the world that do not, maybe even cannot, give you every bit of info needed, or treat you the way you should, etc. He is going to have to learn how to deal with it.

Maybe, this is one of those things. If he doesn't understand, maybe he needs to go back and ask questions until he does understand. If it hurts his grades, maybe he will learn to ask questions in a better time frame.

Though, given no other info except his Lexile score, just today, and then expected to know what to do with it, on his own time, with no other indication.... should he have asked? Why didn't any other student? Do they understand what needs to be done and is it just my son?

I don't know.

Edit: I just got done giving my son the best solution I could.  Just go into class tomorrow with no title selected, get more info, and take whatever deduction of points or whatever for being  day late, but better informed. She ain't going to fail a weeks-long project for one day in the selection of a title. I don't know if he is going to do that, or he and his mother (not Wife now, we argued about this) will try and pick something out. Either way, not my problem. He will have to learn how to do this on his own somehow.


Should I start a Countdown??

It's 2:40am. I guess I have awakened due to all the excitement I feel inside. That, or the incredible urge I had to relieve my bladder. No, before you ask, I am not going irregularly in the night. I am always up at least once, since I drink so much fluid during the day.

But if it were possibly any day but Monday, some excitement might be about, too. We are down to just a week left until Labor Day Monday - or as more commonly known this year as Ralphd00d's Official and Last Birthday of His Formulative and Wisdom Gathering Years for Maturation, more commonly understood as, Last of the Third Decade Dynasty, or even 'round here, just noted in RM's little day journal as "Ralph - 39". Yes, that last big celebration to be taken advantage of for 365 days, before the the next decade begins in the Story of My Life.

Well, there I gone and done it. That's the most excited I have been ever for a birthday I think. Yeaaaaahhhh, I did.

No huge celebratory plans - after all it ain't what most consider a milestone marker year. Saturday and Sunday are pretty clear and open. Monday plans are to head over to Sis' for Family get together and eat/swim/whatever for the day. Her hubby and I usually put our bdays together (his is exact week after mine - though I am the younger one - just to not confuse you). I know my boys have been looking forward to the pool and cooling off as it has been pretty sticky around here for the monsoon season. Waiting to hear from the daughter if she will make it home from college for the weekend, or if she has other plans.

Welp, I think that is about all I got for right now. Anyone else doing anything exciting?


Sunday, August 29

Closing up the Weekend

Sunday morning here, and I was up since 3:30am. Seems that one good night of sleep I got, was al I was gonna get.

Went out and got a new computer the other night. The Wife is happy now she can play her games (meaning they can load up) on Facebook. Kids are happy, cuz I made another WoW account so they can play at the same time as me.

Family is going to church. I am gonna rest up and do nothing. Labor Day weekend is in a week.


Thursday, August 26

Maybe Back to Normal

I slept. I mean, I slept alot. About 10:30 yesterday morning, I felt tired, so I laid down, and ended up sleeping straight through to 5:30pm. I was like, 'Oh great. Now I won't sleep tonight.' I was still feeling crappy (literally) but by 9:30, I was back in bed and passed out. I slept through the whole night - a feat I have not done for the past several weeks. This morning I awoke feeling good, passing air, and not so 'blah'. Had a bathroom break about 7:30, but it wasn't anything much. So I think I am finally over that bout of poisoning. Tomorrow is Friday, and I will head to the pub to partake of some alcohol - we all know it will kill any germs left.

Today is Thursday though, and now that I am feeling better, I should get out and take care of more things that need to be done. I need to put some fluid in the radiator of my car - the light came on saying low fluid the other day. Then I need to run it up to go through emissions. Thankfully that place is only a 1/2 mile up the road. Then back home to do the online registration. The dame price for emission testing is almost as much as the price for 2 years registration. And my car is only a 1995...

Watched "Shutter Island" last night. I was not impressed. Twenty minutes into the movie, I had most of the movie pegged out. I will be watching "The Lovely Bones" next. Waiting for 8/31 and the "Sons of Anarchy" season 2 to be released. Great show!

Weekend is coming up... what will you be doing?


Wednesday, August 25

Day Three - I Swear It's Like the Energizer Bunny!!

I can't believe this shit... or lack of, in a way, I guess. Last night I started feeling better... hadn't had to rush to the bathroom in a few hours; no cramping in the stomach. Ate some Jack in the Box for dinner. Hit the sack about 9:30'ish and slept good til about 4:30am. That's when it got me. I guess in my sleep I was thinking of passing some gas, and it awoke me when it wasn't gas. In my Herculean effort (picture Eddie Murphy from that movie going "Hercules! Hercules!") to roll to the edge of the bed and arise without leaving mess from my shorts on the bed .... That effort catapulted me directly into the full pull of Earth's gravitational pull, and I damn near broke my nose as I landed, seemingly face-first, on the floor. From there it was a quick Shake of the head to clear the cobwebs, feel the stuff moving down the leg, and quick sprint to the rest room.

Yeah, it ain't gone yet. This little bugger is hanging on tenaciously. Overall I do feel a bit better, so surely I am on the backside of this, and no reason to go to the doctor. Even the lunch meat and egg recalls I hear about, describe the basic symptoms one might experience, and I am past all them. Plus, when I had them, they weren't as bad as they make them sound out to be. But if we could just end this short relationship, I would be happy. Tired of drinking like 2 quarts of water a day to be sure I don't dehydrate....

In other news - well, I don't really have any. The oldest son had his Jr. High open house last night. Because I wasn't feeling up to rushing around the campus, I stayed home with the two younger boys, and the Wife went instead.

I am falling in love with!! If you haven't heard of them, they show some of the recent episodes of TV programs that have been on. Not all of them, as it is only ones they have contracted to do, but man! I don't have to sit and wait for a specific night and time to catch a show! And the commercials they do show, are short and usually only 1 per break - sometimes 2 short ones. The episodes can sit there in my queue until I watch them, or in some occasions, Hulu will remove them from being shown. Usually after 5-6 weeks. So I been watching a couple favorites, and even checking out some other new ones, even if it is season 2, cuz if I like it, then I can go back and watch the first season on dvd usually.

Okay, I am out of here. It's Hump Day, and I need to hump it back to the bathroom again already.


Tuesday, August 24

Day Two - It's Still Here

Day Two - 1:30am : Dear Journal, I am still fighting my bout of food poisoning. I am up again pissing out my tender ass. Tender, you ask? It's been wiped like 90 million times over the last 24 hours. It's getting to the point it hurts to sit, or shit for that matter. Sigh.

Yeah, if I had a journal, that's what it would probably read. Today was spent mostly in bed, napping. The waking part spent on the toilet. I thought so much fluid could accumulate in the body, even though I know we are like 75% water. Just not used to seeing so much coming out at once I guess. Was able to get down a small lunch. Dinner was 1 piece of chicken and a small serving of mashed potatoes - and then stomach cramps started again, and I just wanted to throw it all up, though I didn't.

I don't know what else to do but let it run the course, and if not better in another day or two, go to the ER. In the meantime, I am miserable.


Monday, August 23

It's Come Around Again

Short post today. Only because I fear the amount of time in which I have to come up with non-witty remarks and boring details of my life. I know, you say to yourself that that does not normally stop me. But today it does.

I have a new close friend for the day. It is called a toilet. Seems I ain't some bad lunch meat at the end of the week, and those nasty bacteria finally caught up. The Wife was complaining about my nauseous gas emissions last night (which was nothing new). I was in bed about 10, up again at a little past 1am, cramps in the stomach and the urge to make greetings with my new friend. We have been inseparable since. Well, maybe for a lucky 20-30 min at a time. Now at 10am, I am feeling a bit better - less cramps, but still making that trip just the same. Hoping this clears up by later today. It was only 1-2 pieces of lunch meat for goodness sake!

Daughter starts college classes today. She made Honor Choir through tryouts over the weekend.

I got to do some running, will take me like 45 min to do. Wondering how well I trust my body? Wondering IF I should trust myself, and should I dress just in case?

Decisions ... decisions....


Sunday, August 22

Relaxation Day

I am declaring today a day of relaxation. Even God had to rest (according to the written Word) so why the hell shouldn't I?

Daughter is moved into her dorm, though I hear she is a bit lonely. I guess her dorm mate knows several people down there and is spending her free time with them, leaving my daughter alone. First step in learning about life is how to entertain yourself I guess.

Feels a little different around the house with her gone though. Now I can run around the house naked if I want since all here is the boys and the Wife. Sounds good, but I ain't starting that habit.

Another one of them sleepless nights. Was in bed about 10'ish and was feeling really tired. Up at 2:30 and still at it at 5am. My farmville ain't suffering from this sleeping weirdness, thats for sure. And my email correspondence with family is all caught up. Now if I just had something interesting to write about...

Went looking for a new CPU today to replace our older computer. It seems to really bog down trying to load the graphics, etc. from the net. Since we moved to high speed, it does better than on dial-up, but I think it just can't process the more detailed stuff nowadays. Found one at a good price, but of course they were out of stock. All the stores in the Valley were out of them supposedly. I went back and looked at some others, but everything else that I felt would be appropriate were way more expensive. I am going to check around with some friends and see if they have some spares/old one they aren't using. Maybe I can get a better deal.

Labor Day is coming up. That last big 3-day weekend we all love. That last big celebration of barbecues, picnics and family gatherings ... My usual 3-day drunk celebrating my birth. Except this year things are changing. I am getting too old to handle the drinking like I used to. I been noticing it off and on the past couple months. So I might just cut it back to one night instead of three. If I can find a DD that is. Sis is wanting to get family together at the new house they are moving to that Monday, so I am sure we will end up there.

I am off to enjoy today relaxing how ever I want. Maybe you should go do the same.


Friday, August 20

She's Gone!

Welp, my daughter came back up from Tucson last night, just to finish packing. This morning they loaded up to head back down to move her into the dorm. They got on the road and hour later than they planned, so I am sure they caught all that morning rush hour on the Phoenix freeway system. They could start moving in at 8am, but at the rate they were going, they'll be lucky to be there by 9-9:30.

I got all our vehicle insurance squared away yesterday. I dunno if I said, but I switched to GEICO, and it cost me more. Of course, we added a third vehicle and the daughter. I need to call today and cancel our old policy.

No exciting plans this weekend. Need to check on my friend's cat tomorrow.


Thursday, August 19

Getting Closer to Weeks End

I don't know why, but I wish today was Friday. I guess it is just one of them "feelings" ya get every now and then, ya know?

Got up early today. Headed over to my friend's house to take care of her cat, Samantha, who was over-joyous to see me. It looked like she hadn't ate much, but I topped off the bowls of food and water anyways.... scooped the litterbox. My friend always pays me well too. Again she left me 3 bags of cookies (ziploc bags). I tell her she don't have to do that, but she likes to, and I like to eat them.

Yesterday I called and changed our car insurance over to GEICO, and it makes me pay about $50-$100 more a year. Of course, I added another vehicle, plus the daughter driving to our policy, so that ain't bad at all. I am waiting the papers now so I can cancel our other policy.

It's Thursday. What, ya expect a book written today?


Wednesday, August 18

Not Off to a Good Start

Woke up this morning with a tweaked out back. Hurts to sit longer than about 20 minutes in a chair. I am hoping the ibuprofen kicks in soon ...

Since I don't have much time... I had to cancel plans this morning to go see "The Expendables" with PT. We had to temporarily reschedule for after the 28th due to our schedules.

Going back to bed to lay down. Seems prone doesn't hurt near as bad.


Tuesday, August 17

It's Getting Emptier

The daughter left this morning for Tucson to start college at UofA. That means one room of the house is now without a person in it for a short time. The Wife and I need to decide how we are going to use it. Daughter still has stuff in there that doesn't need to go to college, but we need the room for the boys. We just need to decide if we are going to put the oldest in there, or the 2 younger. I go with the 2 younger, as it is the bigger of the two rooms. It'll prolly be awhile before the I nag the Wife enough that she will finally agree to put the room to use.

Damn, it's Tuesday already. Seemed like the last few days have traveled by pretty quick. Saturday was a nice afternoon spent at the pub helping a friend celebrate their 50th birthday. She is leaving town today for a week back to Ohio. I will be stopping in at her place to check on her kitty a few times during that week. Sunday and Monday were both just days here at home. Sunday I felt more like it was a recuperation day after the party, and Monday. Well, I got some reading done, and some other stuff.

Tomorrow, Preacher Tom and I are heading to the movies. We decided to go see "The Expendables". So he'll pick me up and we'll catch the early day show tomorrow. I hear they already are working on a second movie.

Other than that, I am free for the week. Ya wanna get together for a cold one, let me know!


Saturday, August 14

Welcome to the Weekend

It is Saturday morning, early, at the d00d homestead.For some unknown reason, I was up at 6am this morning, and everyone else is still asleep in their beds.

Not much excitement going on this weekend. A good friend of mine is celebrating her birthday today, at the pub no less. She is going to Ohio for a week or so, and her birthday is while she is gone. So I plan on going to that... and having some beers.

The boys have finished their first week of school. The younger one is ok about it, after all, it is only 3rd grade. The older one has had homework every night, and is still feeling a bit overwhelmed I think. We went out to pick up pizzas last night, and were talking about it all. He likes about half his teachers, but hates having to go to a different room for every class.

Today is RM & PT's anniversary. I don't know how many years, but I am thinking like 25 or more... prolly more. I Should be the good son and call, but I will prolly forget later on. I always forget.

Man, I got this song in my head this morning. Must be a precursor of what's happening today. Enjoy.


Wednesday, August 11

Can We Say "Conspiracy Theory"

I found this when I went in to log to AOL.

(excerpt from AOL news)
DILLINGHAM, Alaska (Aug. 10) -- An amphibious plane carrying former Sen. Ted Stevens crashed into a remote mountainside during a fishing trip, killing the state's most beloved political figure and four others and stranding the survivors on a rocky, brush-covered slope overnight.

Three teenagers and their parents, including the former head of NASA, were on the plane when it plowed into the mountain Monday afternoon with so much force that it left a 300-foot gash on the slope, federal investigators said.

A doctor and two EMTs hiked to the scene Monday evening and tended to the survivors' broken bones and other injures during a frightening night on the mountain until rescue teams could arrive Tuesday morning.

A 13-year-old boy survived but had to spend the night near his dead father and senator. A mother and her 16-year-old son died. Former NASA chief Sean O'Keefe survived along with his teenage son.

The 86-year-old Stevens' death stunned lawmakers and residents alike because of his pre-eminence in Alaska history: A decorated World War II pilot who survived a deadly 1978 plane crash, he was the longest-serving GOP senator in history and became the patron saint of Alaska politics as he brought billions of federal dollars home.
Former Sen. Ted Stevens and former NASA chief Sean O'Keefe
Getty Images / AP
Former Sen. Ted Stevens, left, died in a plane crash in Alaska. Former NASA chief Sean O'Keefe, right, was also on the plane. O'Keefe survived the crash.

One failed effort - the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" - became part of his national legacy, as did corruption convictions that helped foil his 2008 campaign after 40 years in office. The case was later tossed out.

"He is one of the real giants," said Paul Brown, a consultant who was having lunch at an outdoor cafe in Anchorage. "He dedicated his life to this state."

Investigators with the NTSB arrived late Tuesday at the crash site outside Dillingham, located on Bristol Bay about 325 miles southwest of Anchorage. The cause was not immediately known, but weather is one area investigators will examine.

The flights at Dillingham are often perilous through the mountains, even in good weather. NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman said weather conditions at the time of the accident included light rain, clouds and gusty winds.

Hersman said the group had eaten lunch at a lodge and boarded a 1957 red-and-white float plane between 3 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. local time for a trip to a salmon fishing camp. The FAA had previously said the plane took off between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Lodge operators called the fish camp at 6 p.m. to inquire when the party would be returning for dinner, but were told that they never showed up. Civilian aircraft were dispatched, and pilots quickly spotted the wreckage a few miles from the lodge, Hersman said.

The doctor and EMTs were flown to the area and hiked to the wreckage as fog and rain blanketed the area and nightfall set in, making it impossible for rescue officials to reach the scene until daybreak.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3T was registered to Anchorage-based General Communications Inc., a phone and Internet company.

Four survivors were taken to Providence Hospital in Anchorage with "varying degrees of injuries," Alaska State Troopers said. Former NASA spokesman Glenn Mahone said O'Keefe, 54, and his son had broken bones and other injuries.

Sean O'Keefe was listed in critical condition late Tuesday afternoon, while son Kevin was listed in serious condition and sleeping. "There's no way he can talk in his condition," Providence Hospital spokesman John Hogue said of the younger O'Keefe.

The other survivors were William "Willy" Phillips Jr., 13; and Jim Morhard, of Alexandria, Va.

The victims were identified as Stevens; pilot Theron "Terry" Smith, 62, of Eagle River; William "Bill" Phillips Sr.; Dana Tindall, 48, an executive with GCI; and her 16-year-old child Corey Tindall.

Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for the troopers, said that the bodies have been recovered and were being taken to Anchorage.

Stevens and O'Keefe were fishing companions and longtime Washington colleagues who worked together on the Senate Appropriations Committee that the Republican lawmaker led for several years. Stevens became a protege to the younger O'Keefe and they remained close friends over the years.

Plane crashes in Alaska are somewhat common because of the treacherous weather and mountainous terrain. Many parts of the state are not accessible by roads, forcing people to travel by air to reach their destinations.

Stevens was one of two survivors in a 1978 plane crash at Anchorage International Airport that killed his wife, Ann, and several others.

In a similar accident by another GCI-owned plane, an amphibious, float-equipped Havilland plane flipped after landing on Lake Nerka in 2002. The pilot drowned and a passenger was injured. The plane was landing on the lake in front of the lodge when the accident occurred.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the state had lost a hero and "I lost a dear friend," praising his service during World War II. He flew cargo planes over "the hump" in the Himalayas and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

"Alaska has lost one of its greatest statesmen and a true pioneer of our state with the passing of Senator Ted Stevens," said Murkowski's counterpart, Mark Begich, who defeated Stevens in 2008 and who lost his politician father in a plane crash in 1972.

A White House spokesman said President Barack Obama called Stevens' widow, Catherine, on Tuesday afternoon to express his condolences.

Stevens was appointed in December 1968 and became the longest-serving Republican in Senate history. (The late Strom Thurmond was in the Senate longer than Stevens, but he spent a decade there as a Democrat before switching to the GOP.)

"He always kept his word to me and to other senators. In moments of legislative battle, he would come onto the floor wearing his Hulk tie, and he would growl and act like a bulldog. But then he would spot friends on the floor and give a wink and a grin," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The wiry octogenarian was a legend in his home state, where he was known as "Uncle Ted." Though he was built like a birch sapling, he liked to encourage comparisons with the Incredible Hulk - an analogy that seemed appropriate for his outsized place in Alaska history.

He was named Alaskan of the Century in 1999 for having the greatest impact on the state in 100 years. He brought in "Stevens money" that literally helped keep the remote state solvent. The Anchorage airport is also named in his honor.

"He did his job and he did it well," said Royce Metz, a bookstore worker. "That's all I want to know about a politician: Do your job."

But one of his projects - infamously known as the "Bridge to Nowhere" - became a symbol of pork-barrel spending in Congress and a target of taxpayer groups who challenged an appropriation for hundreds of millions of dollars for bridge construction in Ketchikan.

Stevens' standing in Alaska was toppled by corruption allegations and a federal trial in 2008. He was convicted of all seven counts - and narrowly lost to Begich in the election the following week. But five months later, Attorney General Eric Holder dropped the indictment and declined to proceed with a new trial because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Stevens never discussed the events publicly.

The Stevens crash is the latest in a long line of aviation accidents to claim political figures over the years in the U.S., including Pennsylvania Sen. John Heinz in 1991, South Dakota Gov. George Mickelson in 1993, Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan in 2000 and Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone in 2002.

Associated Press writers Mark Thiessen and Mary Pemberton in Anchorage, Alaska, and Pauline Jelinek, Matt Apuzzo, Mike Schneider and Natasha Metzler in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

WTF!!! I mean, let's see, good old guy from a solid background dies on a plane trip (small plane) but these other fuckers 'survive' and they refuse, nay, I say that word refuse, to let the kids talk!?! Sounds like some debate went on in the plane, and this was the final result. 

Conspiracy theory? Hmmmm, it just looked a bit fishy to me. What do you think?


Tuesday, August 10

School is In!

My two older boys started school yesterday. The older into Jr. High, and the younger returning to Elem. for 3rd grade. A new experience a bit for the older one. He finally had to ride a bus to/from school; changing to new room each class; majority of students he did not know; and the school messed his schedule up. They actually omitted a whole class from it. He's good and smart and was able to get it corrected all on his own. Plus, he wasn't the only one that had schedule screw-ups. Both came home and said hteir first day was good...even with homework.

I have a dental cleaning this morning....yee haw.

Wife has misplaced her keys, so I need to get off here and see if I can find them. She borrowed mine for the van. I have no idea where to start looking. Wonderful.

(edit) Well, I found the Wife's keys. They were under a bag of clothes she had one of the boys trying on last night. How they got there... no clue. She's relieved I found them though. You know how that is.

I'm hungry for breakfast, but hate to eat before my dental appt. All that extra brushing/flossing to be clean as possible is a drag. Maybe I will go get some McD's sausage McMuffins afterwards.

Wife and I might be going out and looking for new springs/mattress set. The one we have is old, and for some strange reason, sagging on my side of the bed. We have had this bed set for several years, and was used previously at her parents house, so not sure exactly how old. Definitely ready for replacement though. The Wife had found a good deal in the ads, so we may go check it out tonight.


Sunday, August 8

Not a Bad Saturday

We went at noon and celebrated my 2nd son's 8th birthday. Most of the kids seemed to enjoy playing the games, I unfortunately, did not get the chance to check them out. It was a small gathering of family, but my son still had a good time!

Went and watched the UFC fights and threw up some dollar or two bets. I walked out losing everything, but I was able to call the wife to pick me up. She gave me and a friend a ride home, then I got the whole force of her displeasure. Yeah, I thought I was doing the better of two evils, by calling her for a ride. I guess I should have wasted more money by a taxi. That is the impression I got.


Friday, August 6

Fun for the Weekend

Tomorrow is my second son's birthday. He is turning 8. For gifts he said all he was interested in was Star Wars and video games. Makes it real fun to shop for.... I got him a couple Gameboy games, though may save one back for Christmas. He has picked a local pizza place for his birthday meal, and some of the family will get together tomorrow for that.

In the evening I have the UFC fight to go watch at the pub. Paid for a seat and get free drinks and food from 6-10 while fights are on.

It's pretty cold around the house. Of course, I am getting blamed for everyone else's attitude, so the cold shoulders and icy glares are coming at my from all the females... at least one I know for sure, and the other, well, I get the impression she is blaming me for the others icy glares.

Another reason why tomorrow night is going to be nice.

Sunday I need to go out and get a new DVD player. Seems our has quit powering up. Can't get the it on at all. Not bad for about 4 years and $40. Hope to find another cheap one like that. Also thinking of looking at a laptop for the in-laws to help them with correspondence. Seen some advertised pretty cheap (around $320 after rebate) so can't hurt to look.

Reverend Mother's birthday is Monday, ad I still have not gotten anything. No clue what to shop for. Have to figure out something over the weekend.

Come back later, things might have warmed up, though I ain't holding my breath.


Something New For Me

I knew as I got older, that things would change. I expected the normal progression of things, ya know, children grow up, out of the house, get married have kids of their own; become a grandpa, get slippers and ties and socks for gifts at all pertinent holidays. One could say I had it figured out well.... if we were back about 30 years.

I had a "talk" with my daughter, who is going away to college this fall, this evening ... late this evening. Yes, I had been drinking, but, bear with me.

We talked a bit about this coming school year, we talked briefly about the following year - more about how she should concentrate on being an RA next year, than having an apartment with friends. (She wasn't thrilled about that).

I brought up the subject about when she leaves in a couple weeks. More direct, what we are going to do with her room. The general talk had been about putting 1 of the 3 boys in there, etc, but her whine was about the things she could not take to college. I explained, we could put them in storage containers, and stack them in a corner of the room.

Needless to say, from there, it just got nasty from her. I was accused of "boxing all of her life" away, and that she would have no place to stay when she came home next summer. (sigh)

I gave up. Like so many times in raising her, I just gave up. Within 5 minutes, I had a nasty message directed at me (and conveniently copied to her mother) using the "F" word strategically in how I was a waste for her.

Yep. Really strains the meaning and full measure of the parent-child relationship. So, being the person I am, and expecting her to "grow into the adult" she is supposed to be, I responded.  I told her to "Grow Up. Use words you understand that can make people understand what you are trying to say, not cuss at them like they are retards." Of course, I still cannot believe that I said basically that same thing, without using swear words my self, but truly I did! For the at least 5 "fuck" (or derivatives) I did not even include a "shit", "damn", "fuck", or any other words considered 'foul' by most people.

Sometimes I amaze myself.

I love my daughter. I'll be the first to admit, no, I was not there for many things in her early years... I was wasting my life on stupid drugs. I admit it. And no matter what, I can't get those days back, and I know it. Never tried to.

Guess that is why she won't listen to common sense. I never had a chance to teach it to her before she was 4.


Wednesday, August 4

When does the Sun come up?

It's another 2:30am for me. At least this time I am not getting up, but rather, ready to head to bed.

Daughter left for Tucson this morning, and arrived safely. She is working therein the bookstore for the next 3 days. Then come home until the 20th. Which is a day I am not sure about yet. The Wife is taking off to help "move" the daughter into her dorm, but it is mostly non-furniture stuff, so why would I want to go? It's only an hour and half drive one way ... eh. I would rather stay at home and be on the computer or at the pub.

Today is going to be pretty normal. Only thing I have on my agenda is to contact the elementary school. Kids start back on Monday, but we have not received any notification of the middle son's classroom # or his teacher, etc. They usually do a meet the teacher evening thingy... but no idea so I have to call them tomorrow.

Dinner was a nice time tonight at the buffet. Wife and I got alot of things coordinated and updated each other. It's nice to feel in-sync again.

Okay, off to bed.


Monday, August 2

Playing the Hurry Up and Wait Game

Okay, got the van into the garage and now I play the damn game. The Daughter was nice enough to give me a ride home (and one back as long as it doesn't take forever) so I wouldn't have to sit there for who knows how long. Though, I will admit, they had it in the bay being looked at before she picked me up - maybe a good sign. I am just waiting the phone call now to tell me what's wrong, how much to fix, and when will it be ready.

Edit : Wouldn't you know it. Five minutes after posting this they call. Good news is it is all under warranty and I have to pay nothing to have it fixed and re-charged. I also had them check the oil again (due to the problem we had on the trip) and they said it is fine, but our transmission fluid is looking pretty dirty. This had been mentioned prior to our trip as well. So I went ahead and had them do a transmission drain/flush/refill. Van will be ready noon'ish - so the daughter is going to pick me up about 1 and drop me off there.

Other than that, I am slightly bored already this morning. No new movies to watch.

Saturday is the middle son's birthday. He is turning 8. Sounds like we are going to do Peter Piper Pizza (a place similar to Chuck E cheese's in that they have a ton of video games to play) for lunch, but am not 100% sure yet. I know I reserved a spot up at the pub from 6-10 that evening for the big UFC fight. Yeah, reserved! Special seat and price gets you all food & drink for free during the fights. I am catching a ride with someone.

Reverend Mother has her birthday coming up as well on Monday. I have no idea what to get her. I hate shopping, let alone having to shop for "something" you think they will like. And yet, I usually end up feeling cheap and getting gift cards. I would rather them go get something they want than me trying to guess. I know sometimes you CAN find the right sort of gift you know they will love, but I hate the hassle of it all.

Well, it has been 45 minutes and no phone call yet. Wonder if that is good or bad news? Oh well. Guess I will go surf the net until I hear from them.


I'm About Done with the Damn Thing

Welp, Sunday evening brought with it the close of a nice weekend. We didn't have alot going on, and more rain came to town, sort of helped keep the temps down a bit. But it brought in a bit of the ol' Smith luck with vehicles.

The van (you know, the one we should take out and bury) blew a line from the A/C last night. We was sitting in the front room and hear this loud, like small explosion, come from the front of the house. I went running out, thinking it must have been a car accident right in front, or a tire blow-out. Nothing. Checked the tires on our vehicles. Nothing. Neighbors heads were poking out doors too. Then the wife saw some liquid spray marks near the front of the van. As I came around the passenger side, I could see neon yellow fluid running down the side near the engine. Popped the hood, and sure enough, saw immediately where it had popped off. The neon fluid is the dye they use to check the system for leaks. It shows up real good on the white paint of the van!

I used an old rag and wiped up the dye as best I could from the exterior of the van and inside the hood area before it could set. Guess I will be calling the garage in about 4 hours to see about getting it in today. The Wife mentioned she hoped it was something we could say they didn't attach properly when they put in the new compressor, but I explained it was not to be. The metal connection that went was a bolt & nut that when I put it back together, you could see that the bolt had snapped inside the sleeve. So that means replace that part...whatever it is. If it is part of the compressor, better get a whole new one, that's for sure.

So now it is like 3am, and I am awake. I went to bed early as I had been feeling pretty 'blah' in my head all day. Think I might be coming down with a head cold. I am notorious for getting colds in the summer, rather than winter due to all the in and out from 100+ temps to A/C chilled 70s... just brings it on faster for me. My nose was pretty clogged up earlier, but now is running like a choo-choo train. I should go see if we got some sinus/cold meds.

This week starts out with that visit to the garage. Tuesday, the daughter heads to Tucson to start at her job at the bookstore. She'll be down there about 3 or 4 days then comes home til the 19th I think. Then she heads down to move into the dorm. I was calling about adding her to our car insurance on Friday. On our current policy, to add her as a driver (no other vehicle) is gonna cost an additional $861. I told the agent, I needed to shop around for some quotes before committing. He was fine with that. In fact he is the one suggested I try Geico or Progressive. Wonder if that means he already did and he still has the lower quote.... Either way, I should get started on getting those quotes. I think I will try online here in a few.

Okay, that's all I got for this morning so far. Maybe more later today, especially if the van turns out worse. Oh! And I ain't even bragged about what the Rev Mother has for me yet!


Sunday, August 1

Stu has come to Farmville!!

I have been a Myspace user for a few years now. I originally signed up there to help with maybe getting in contact with people from high school. When it first started, Myspace wasn't too bad. Through the course of time, I ended up with more family members "friended" on there, than actual friends it seemed. Even my brother Stuman finally got around to signing in there. He was always saying how he wasn't going to get on that site, etc etc. By this time, it was teeny-bopper heaven, ya know what I mean?

Anyways... FaceBook came out, and I created an account there. As it became more and more popular, I eventually deleted my MySpace account, and just used FaceBook (FB). Over the regular course of time, I have hooked up with many family members across the states, and friends from past schools, etc. I even have family members friended that are the Wife, daughter, RM, and Sis to name a few. Stuman, for over a year now, has been adamant about not joining FB. I think was using some kind of excuse like he didn't need a socializing network to distract him from other things on the internet.... or something. I am sure he can comment later about whatever his excuse was. While I was on our trip, back at the beginning of July, Stuman succumbed and created a FB account.

Now that is all cool and dandy. I hooked up and friended him and all like a good person is supposed to do for a family member. It was no big deal. Just like we were hooked up on MySpace.

Of course, now there are a zillion and a half games you can play, and Farmville is one of them. I admit, I have been playing awhile, and enjoy it. Well, just the other day, Stuman is now playing it after swearing that he wasn't going to play.

Too funny! I know, a long post about it, and you aren't laughing. But I am!