Posted by: cordy74 | March 27, 2011

Conversation With A Toddler/

Sometimes it seems like talking to small children is only slightly more rewarding than talking to a rock…or maybe a cat. I just have to wonder if what I’m saying isn’t clear enough or if maybe their tiny little unformed brains aren’t translating my words into intelligible and meaningful information.

Something like this happened today and I swear we’ve had this exact same conversation before. Today it went a little something like this…

Me: What are you doing, dude?

Boy: Good!!

Me: No, bud. I asked you what you were doing.

Boy: I know! That’s why I said goooood!

Me: (sigh) Who’s on first?

Boy: (big grin) Meeeeeeeee!

Me: I give up.

Posted by: cordy74 | March 14, 2011

Perfect Parenting: A Lesson In Futility

What the hell is wrong with public education today? Why is private school becoming a more and more desirable option for parents? Who is to blame for the fact that everyone seems to have less and less faith in our public schools to get our kids ready for life after graduation?

We could blame the government for not allocating enough money to our schools. We’ve all heard the horror stories of kids being taught out of textbooks that are decades old. I personally don’t remember anything like that growing up but I went to school in a pretty small town. There were only 97 of us in my graduating class. Our high school was fairly old but we always had pretty new books and materials. They put in a computer lab while I was there and even started having college-credit classes over a network connection the year or two after I graduated. That was back in Illinois about 20 years ago (20 YEARS!?! Where the hell did all of that time go?)

Now my daughter is in Kindergarten here in Kentucky. We’ve been to her school. They don’t seem to be lacking much in the way of up-to-date materials. Their books seem fairly new, they’ve got a couple of PCs in every room (not counting the computer lab) and everything in the school has that “new car” smell. Well, it should since they just rebuilt the whole thing a couple of years ago. Speaking of that, this area seems hell-bent on building new schools lately. I don’t know where the money is coming from but it seems like every time a dog farts there’s a new school building going up. Obviously our school district isn’t hurting for money.

If the schools have enough money to function then the problem must be somewhere else. Is it the teachers? I’ll tell you this: I can’t speak for every teacher out there but my daughter’s teacher is nothing short of AWESOME! Beyond the fact that she really seems like she gives a crap (she still has years of dealing with relentless, stupid little bastards before they beat the caring right out of her). I’d say the odds are pretty good that the rest of the teachers in our area are pretty good, too. Yeah, if you shake the tree hard enough, you’ll find a few bad apples dropping down on your head. But it’s like that everywhere.

Okay. If there seems to be enough money to run the schools and the teachers are doing their job (and much more in some cases) where is the problem? I’ll tell you where: it’s the parents.

My daughter is in a class with kids whose parents don’t seem to give a damn about their education. Obviously this isn’t true for all of the children or their parents but I’m focusing on the ones who didn’t seem to do jack squat about teaching their kids anything before they got to Kindergarten.

A couple of months into her Kindergarten year we were still getting the impression that some of the kids in my daughter’s class still did not have a complete grasp of the alphabet, colors, shapes or what have you. Seriously. What the hell are their parents doing? My daughter was reading well before she got to Kindergarten. Yeah, she’s pretty damn smart but it shouldn’t be that big of a stretch for a kid to know the alphabet before they get to school. For God’s sake! All you have to do is sit your little bastard in front of Nick Jr. or PBS for a couple of hours a day and they’ll learn the alphabet and more!! Turn on the freakin’ TV and let Dora do the rest.

These are the same parents who will NEVER talk to their kids’ teacher, won’t help them with their homework or will (and did) complain that their stupid little offspring can’t cope with the amount of homework they have been given. What can we do to counteract this brand of idiotic parenting?

One thing I can think of is to levy fines against parents whose children don’t meet the minimum requirements. If your kid doesn’t know his alphabet when he starts Kindergarten you have to pay the school a fine every month until the kid learns to count higher than the number of fingers & toes he has and knows all of the letters – even the vowels. Maybe even separate the kids who don’t know their stuff from the ones who do. Make the less advanced (read: idiots) kids stay in some sort of Pre-K until they get up to speed. And if they don’t happen to get up to speed until the end of the year they just have to wait until the next year to make it into Kindergarten. Failing all of that maybe we should just use a healthy dose of shame to whip the little morons into shape. Better yet – let’s shame the inattentive, idiotic parents. Something akin to a public flogging except maybe just with their pictures in the Sunday paper under a heading of “STUPID PARENTS BREED STUPID CHILDREN”.

Yeah, yeah. I know. I’m generalizing and it’s not always the parents’ faults. Sure, there are some kids out there who have reading disorders or other, valid reasons why they don’t know what they should when they get into Kindergarten. But that can’t possibly explain what I have been experiencing over the past 8 months. I’m not perfect but at least I paid enough attention to my kids to plop their little asses in front of some semi-educational programming once in a while.

Posted by: cordy74 | February 18, 2011

All Knotted Up

I don’t remember when my parents first taught me how to tie my shoes. If I were to guess I would say that it was probably my Dad who taught me. He seemed to take the lead in teaching us that sort of thing. All I know for sure is that I found out earlier this week that I have been tying my shoes incorrectly for thirty-some-odd years now. If I can’t tie my shoes the right way how can I possibly be trusted to raise children properly?

I love the website Lifehacker.com. Lifehacker isn’t just a website for geeks or the tech-savvy. There are all kinds of tips and tricks covering every subject from cooking and washing clothes to computers and automobile maintenance.  Just the other day I saw a post which explained the correct way to tie shoelaces.

If you really want to see what I’m talking about please go to the link and take a look.  Otherwise, here is what it amounts to:

If you tie your shoes one way it turns into a granny knot that comes untied easily. If you tie them a slightly different way you end up with a Reef or Square knot that stays tied and actually tightens as your foot flexes in the shoe.

It all comes down to which direction you send the bunny around the tree before he jumps down the hole. If your bunny runs one direction around your tree and the knot ends up looking sloppy you are doing it wrong. Go the other direction. If, after your bunny is done running his happy little ass around the tree, your loops and shoelace ends are nice and straight and perpendicular to your leg and foot then you have successfully tied a Reef knot.

As much as I would like to blame my Dad for not instilling correct shoe-tying techniques into me I just can’t do it. I know that at some point after he showed me how I either became lazy or figured I knew a faster and better way to do it. What did he know anyway? Well, it turns out he probably knew quite a bit more than I did.

As I said, I’d like to blame Dad for my decades of sloppily-tied sneakers and work boots. It would be so easy. Unfortunately, the blame falls squarely on my shoulders. I have not tied my shoes correctly for over thirty years. Now I’m supposed to teach my kids how to tie their shoes?

Many times in the past I have joked that people should be required to pass a test before they are allowed to have children. Little did I know at the time that I would have failed the shoe-tying portion of that quiz. WRONG ANSWER! NO CHILDREN FOR YOU!! NEXT!!!

I guess my saving grace is that I was finally able to learn the “correct” way to tie my shoes. It sounds cliche but old dogs can learn new tricks. I fully feel I have earned the right to have and keep my children… at least as far as their shoes are concerned. Now I just need to get down to the business of teaching the kids how to tie their shoes correctly.

Posted by: cordy74 | December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas and just be quiet. 

My wife and I have two great kids.  They are both very smart and, for the most part, very well-behaved.  I can take these kids into the toy section of any store on earth without the fear of hearing them beg and plead and whine for every toy they see.  Sure, they’ll exclaim and get excited about everything they see. They may even ask if they can have something but as soon as they are told they can’t get a toy every time we come to the store they won’t throw a fit.

Having said that I must now state the following:

I swear to Baby Jesus  in His golden manger that if I have to hear one more stinkin’ thing about the American Girl dolls, their accessories, their history, the Girl of the Year or ANYTHING  about Inner Star University before Christmas I am going to drop kick somebody.

The American Girl company sent us two catalogs a few months ago and my daughter has been reading those things NONSTOP!  She doesn’t just look at the pictures; she STUDIES them.  The girl has been through those catalogs so many times they are dog-eared and ragged.  She has memorized them.  The information contained in them is now an integral part of her psyche.  Stock in the American Girl company goes up 2% every time she passes gas.

My daughter knows she probably isn’t going to get an American Girl doll for Christmas because they are so expensive.  This hasn’t dampened her persistence.  The girl insists on pulling random American Girl facts out of the air and slinging them at us.  She has even let me know that, even though the dolls are pretty expensive, there are several items and accessories for the dolls that are less than $5 a piece.  These facts do absolutely nothing for me.

I do have to hand it to the American Girl doll company, though.  They certainly do believe in diversity.  No matter what your daughter looks like she can get a doll that looks just like her.  I think that’s great.  I believe in diversity just as much as the next guy (As long as the next guy isn’t a Skinhead, I guess).  The American Girl dolls go a little further than just looking like your daughter.  You can get dolls that share the same religion and culture as your daughter, too.  They even have a Jewish American Girl doll named Rebecca Ruben.

I think having a doll like Rebecca Ruben is a really good idea.  But if I have to hear one more tidbit of information about Rebecca Ruben I swear on the name of Moses, The Destroyer of Worlds (Forgive me if I don’t have his title quite right. It’s been a while since I cracked open a Torah.) I am going to take the jawbone of the ass that Isaac used to slay Xenu, the Intergalactic Walrus, and beat the holy hell out of somebody.  Seriously. I am just that tired of hearing about these stupid-ass dolls.

Now that I have gotten that out of my system I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Joyus Festivus.  Feel free to celebrate the Holidays however you choose.  And rest easy knowing that the American Girl doll company is perfectly willing to supply a creepy-ass doppelganger of your daughter should you feel the need to fork over just under $100.

Posted by: cordy74 | October 4, 2010

Welcome to Work… SOS

Birthdays are great. As a little kid you look forward to your birthdays because of the parties and, of course, the presents. When you get a little older you look forward to them because it means you are one year closer to being a grown-up. And the presents. I’m all grown up now and I still look forward to my birthday, if a little bit less than I did a few years ago. Yup, I still love getting those presents.

I am extremely fortunate to work for a company that is fairly relaxed as far as corporations go. We even get to look forward to receiving something for our birthday from the plant manager.
I am currently serving under the third plant manager in my current location. Each one of them have handled birthdays in his own fashion. Each of them have tried to inject something of a personal nature into celebrating their employees’ special days.

If I remember  correctly the first manager would circulate a birthday card around to the managers of the various departments in the plant.  Each of these managers, along with the big cheese, would sign the card. Said card would then be mailed to your home in time for your birthday. Considering there were somewhere around 500 employees at the plant you have to sit back and appreciate the amount of effort required to sign all those cards.

The next plant manager shook things up a little bit. He decided to walk around the plant once a month, with the head of Human Resources in tow, to personally congratulate each employee with a birthday that month for beating the Reaper for one more year. He would also offer each employee their choice of several items emblazoned with the company logo as a gift.  The choices seemed to change every few months. You could walk away with a duffel bag, an insulated-fabric lunch cooler or a multi-tip screwdriver with a built-in flashlight. Nothing fancy, mind you. It was the thought that counted.

Our current plant manager is big on efficiency and reducing waste. Admittedly the monthly trips around the plant performed by the previous manager had to be pretty time-intensive. The new guy decided to gather all the employees born in each month into a conference room and shoot the breeze in a sort of informal and relaxed atmosphere. He would ask if anyone had heard any good rumors lately. He would then tell us some of the better rumors he had heard being spread about. There were also cookies, pop and presents. We musn’t forget the presents.

The last of these gatherings I attended offered a choice between a flashlight and a multi-function screwdriver. Neither item, much like all of the previous offerings, was of the highest quality. The flashlight was equipped with a row of LEDs on the side for use as a lamp, a set of two LEDs on the end functioning as a standard flashlight and a single red bulb which would flash as a sort of distress beacon.  Each of the separate functions was cycled through by pressing the single switch. I chose the flashlight.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I discovered a hidden functionality in the light. While this trinket was sitting on my kitchen counter I pushed it aside in order to make room to set something else down. In doing so I inadvertently pushed the light such that the button was depressed and held down for a few seconds by a book on the counter. This action resulted in every light being flashed simultaneously in the standard SOS pattern. I picked up the flashlight, turned it off, then pressed and held the button down again. Sure enough it started flashing SOS once more.

I cannot help but wonder, did the powers-that-be at my plant know about this “hidden” function? Do they intend for me to use it at work? Am I going to encounter a circumstance at some point during my daily duties that will require me to signal for help?

Happy Birthday to me. Now I’m afraid to go to work.

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