20020913

PUBLIC SCHOOLS IMPROVING
Say Parents Who Don't Want to Look Stupid

Source: The Washington Post

In an effort to turn around public perception of the quality of teaching in public schools, Fairfax County has turned to a new tactic - confusing the fuck out of parents.

"With some trepidation we undertook exploratory measures to temporarily perturbate the discursive facilities of the progenitors-slash-guardians at the critical junctures of criticism - when they see report cards," said a Fairfax County Spokesperson.

The new 41-page kindergarten report card has foregone the traditional stuff like "sometimes" and "tries hard" and "kinda good" in favor of a vocabulary that officials say better reflects the most important elements of learning at this early stage. "It also just plain shuts them up," said an official who requested anonymity.

Don Hutzel, principal of Churchill Road Elementary in McLean, which also used the new report card last year, said he got "very little negative feedback" about it.

Many parents express enthusiasm for the new system. Said Donny Mackle, "when I read that my Dyllann was an [sic] 'not an emergent sesquipedalian,' but was 'a primary force for general chickanery,' I almost cried in joy. I was so happy our schools have finally begun turning around. I told my son, that's great, er, super..super...fluous!"

Parental opinion is not completely unanimous, but the end results seem to be the same.

One parent, who requested anonymity, told us "I saw Jennifer's - er, my daughter's report card, and I just gave up after page 3. I sat down and cried. I don't know why. I just did. I lost all will to ever show up at PTA again." Then she started to cry again.

"It took me a long time to decipher it," said Diane Brody, president of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs. "It's going to be way over many people's heads."

County officials plan to expand the program next year. Said one official, "it will be a cornicopia of capricious condescension of gargantuous proportions"

Stumbled upon an interesting and lucid viewpoint of looking at every day as a fresh new good day, a mantra I firmly believe.

"Every day is a good day" is a quote from a Zen koan, spoken by Zen Master Yun Men, who lived and taught in 10th century China. It is found in one of the most influential classics of Zen literature, The Blue Cliff Record, a compilation of the sayings of many generations of Zen Masters and practitioners.

What Yun Men meant by these words is an interesting question to investigate and study. Here is what they mean to me:

To have the conviction that every day is a good day means that we are really living our own lives. If we discriminate based on our own feelings of happiness or unhappiness and say: "I wonder if today will be good," or "Today I am happy so it is a good day," or "Today I am unhappy so today is a bad day," or "If something nice happens to me today I will have the opinion that today is a good day," then we lose our lives. That kind of attitude means we are living passively, as if life is just something that happens to us. If we live this way we have given up the direction of our own lives and we will inevitably decline.

To understand that every day is a good day takes courage. Because on some days we will suffer. Then, when that is necessary, when that is the reality of our lives, it is our day to suffer. That reality shifts, as we all have experienced, from day to day, even from moment to moment. It shifts as a result of our intention, as a result of our karma. Some days we will be happy. Then it will be a good day to be happy. Some days we will have to struggle. Then it will be a good day to struggle. Some day we will need to fight. Then it will be a good day to fight. Some day it will be our day to die. Then, as Black Elk said, it will be a good day to die.

This attitude can seem contradictory to our familiar mental habits. We might prefer it to be untrue, because the implication of thinking this way is that we are responsible for our own lives. However, in fact, we are. And if we treat every day as a good day to face what we face, then our lives begin to change.

source: http://www.fightingarts.com


Tsunemoto says, in the Hagakure, that each morning you should wake up with the attitude that you are already dead. This is notably different from approaching each day as if you might die. Acceptance of death makes life more valuable, meaningful, fulfilling.

Today I had a great morning.


20020912

bah humbug

September 11. Sitting in a bar in Georgetown, to escape from the mourning bandwagon with friends, with gin, with tonic, and with merit ultra lights. Abruptly the bartenders yell at us to shut up, turn off the music, turn on the TVs at full blast, and show the Bush speech.

Nevermind that the speech was uninspired and banal. The point is, we're in a fucking bar. Three miles away, there's group hugging and candles at the capitol building, and likely countless other venues for wearing black and tearing your clothes and pounding our chest whilst bowing your head in silence.

Then a group of bargoers opened the piano and engaged into the most horrific rendition of "god blesss america" i've never dared to conceive of.

We left.

One year after the fact... frankly I didn't much feel like lighting candles or holding hands and singing or anything. It's my opinion that you mourn when you are ready and willing to mourn, or when your friend is, but not when someone tells you NOW YOU MUST MOURN.

I think this is related to my traditional pessimism about holidays and such. It's a random day of the year. Sometimes it has fun customs, sometimes you get a day off work. Sometimes it serves as a convenient landmark when everyone knows to get drunk at the same time. That's helpful. But it's not absolutely necessary that YOU MUST LIKE YOUR FAMILY TODAY or anything like that. The day of the week or the month or the year shouldn't have anything to do with it. This always killed my family and friends when I worked rescue every holiday, or when I was shift-work and worked to get the triple-pay every holiday. Will my family be any less related to me the day after Christmas?

I'd done my time, my healing, and I might need to do it again, or with friends again. But dammit if I'm going to force myself into a funk because the Earth is in the same position relative to the sun again.

Maybe it's because I do a decently half-assed job of waking up each morning with an appreciation for the fact that I'm alive and it's a beeautiful day that shall not be wasted with artificially induced pains.

This coming November, I could sit and contemplate, mourn, celebrate, or something on my new "dual-holiday" - Thanksgiving / Freedom Day. I could be funky or giggly. Or something. Instead, though, I think I'm going to take this opportunity to have a nice dinner on a day off from work with my family, my girlfriend, and her mother. Because it will be nice to do that. Because that's what I want to do.

Turn off the TV, ignore the paper and the radio, and sit and think for yourself for a moment - am I really in a funk, naturally? If yes, then good for you. Turn 'em all back on. Now's a convenient time to be in that funk. Me, I'm going to go be happy.

20020909

aight. we're up and running. let's fuck with the world, then.
TESTING TESTING FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE WORK THIS TIME