Hey, looky — I’m seven

22 February, 2015
Rat Fink

It’s been seven years. That can’t be right. Holy cats.

On 22 February, 2008, I published my first post here at RtB. During the ensuing years, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about this little venture, and I’ve answered them privately, but can’t recall posting the answers anywhere so my readers (the teeming multitude of about 150 of you, worldwide) who don’t know me personally can see them. Therefore, I shall celebrate RtB’s birthday by listing and answering a few; kind of like, you know, interviewing myself. :-) Behold, the interesting questions and mundane answers:

What does Rockin’ the Bourgeoisie mean? “RtB” means, in a way, “rattling the cages of my fellow regular folks, and encouraging them to think, smile, and especially, talk to one another and to me.” You know I love comment love. I also love the interaction in a somewhat controlled space. While I don’t moderate comments like many bloggers do, I’m partial to having at least some guidelines for conversation. That makes it so I don’t have to check this place every 10 minutes to make sure something totally vile doesn’t upset my friends, or the parents and students who read here on a semi-regular basis.

What’s your blog about? Nothing. (I know I’ve said that here — probably about a hundred times.) This is likely the question I’ve been asked the most, next to Why “Rat Fink?”. Years ago, I read on some writer’s site that blogs without a focused subject are basically useless. Well, there you go. :-D

Why do you call your husband “The Thriller?” Because his name is Michael Jackson.

Isn’t this website expensive? Why don’t you just get a Tumblr or Blogger or WordPress site? I suppose self-hosting a blog could be viewed as extravagant, but it’s really not that terribly costly. In the interest of transparency: I pay $100 and change per year for hosting, and $20 or so for annual domain name renewals (I own three domains, and two are hosted on this server: finkweb.org and the site I maintain for my choirs). The best part is the complete control over one’s own domain space with regard to structure and design, software platform, and especially, (the 100% lack of) advertising. That was important to me, so I chose this route as opposed to the free sites (which are all fine and good, btw).

What’s your “thing” with David Soul? Hahaha. You refer to when I mention his name on the Law page. It’s a silly story, but David Soul (yes, that David Soul — the one of “Don’t Give Up on Us, Baby” and Starsky & Hutch fame), commented here once, on a post in which I wrote several nice things about him, and he behaved like the arrogant, self-important, smug jerk he apparently is. It was definitely a peculiar experience, and therefore totally worth memorializing in some permanent fashion.

What do you get out of writing like this every day? Well first, it used to be every day. Nowadays, not so much, and that makes me sad. I want nothing more than to change that and get back to writing every day, because as fellow writers know, it’s part of your cellular make-up; it’s a huge chunk of who you are. To abandon or even back-burner it is a disservice to your soul.

And here’s a question I just made up:

What do you like most about doing this? YOU. No joke. When I think about my family who have commented here, and the friends I’ve made and reconnected with through this forum, I can say with complete certainty that those relationships are what keeps this show on the boards. That you think it’s a remotely positive experience to click over here every day makes me very happy. So thank you!

All right, as usual: off to get some work done. Happy weekend!

Too much, maybe?

19 February, 2015
Rat Fink

So I lost my mind a bit. OK, a lot. All right…completely.

J’ever experience something that just keeps eroding your sanity ever so slowly, like the effect of water against rock over a million-year time span? Eventually, all that’s left is bare naked nerve endings, and you break like a ginger snap. That kind of happened to me.

Maybe it’s the ongoing deranged senselessness of CCSS and HST in my life and in the lives of my students and colleagues that pushed me over the edge of the Cliff of Insanity; maybe it’s Dinner Theatre madness. Maybe it’s my ridiculous schedule which keeps me away from my grandchildren. I don’t know what happened, but a bell rang and school was out and teacher lost her poop. What was the trigger? you ask. What horrible tragedy befell you? Oh, this:


Every day, I get an email from Groupon, with fantastic deals. 1,000s of deals. It’s always bothered me, that mistake. For a long time, I did my best to just ignore it. After all, it’s an email, people. Seriously. Worry about important stuff. But remember the water-against-rock thing? Seems the moon went into the seventh house, and Jupiter aligned with Mars, and then big bang. I went to Groupon’s customer feedback page and wrote thusly:

 

Please, please, PLEASE fix the gargantuan grammar mistake in ALL of your emails! It makes you look like idiots!

It is NOT: “We’ve got 1,000s of deals every day.”

You either have “1,000 deals” or you have “THOUSANDS of deals.” You NEVER have “one thousands of deals,” which is what your current graphic says, and which, as you most certainly can see, makes no sense whatsoever.

Please fix this glaring error for those of your customers who value proper professional business copy.

Thanks.
L. Jackson

 

Now I ask you: Why the need for so many CAPITAL LETTERS? I actually HATE IT when people overuse that device, and I used it FIVE TIMES in one message. What’s wrong with me? I’m not a meanyhead, and I try to never make folks feel bad. Am I cracking up? And to make matters worse, I received this kind reply:

 

Hi Linda,

Thanks for sharing your feedback with us. I’ll be sure to pass your suggestion on to the right people.

Regards,

Satheesh T
Groupon Customer Support

 

Oy. Rant like a loon, then read a courteous response. Way to crush an ant with a Panzer. Boot to the head.

On a brighter note: I have a wind chill day off school, so at least I can tackle the carload of work I brought home. Maybe I’ll see if I can escape for a bit to go out and visit the Js, too, and perhaps stop by and see Mavis, if she’s up to looking at my face.

OK, off to work. No more insanity from me today, I promise.

Thoughts on a chilly Sunday

15 February, 2015
Rat Fink

Obligatory weather app screenshot of current conditions that everyone who lives in the upper half of the country feels compelled to post on social media.

Cold, you say? Wind chills don’t scare me. (Unless I have to be outside shoveling the walks.) We live in the Great Lakes region, and it gets cold here; I know that. It’s not a big deal for temps to be in the single digits. But for two winters in a row, it’s been unusually cold. I mean, downright close-the-churches-and-schools, brain-freezing bitter cold, with great huge blowing winds that can frostbite a child waiting for the bus within seconds. Crazy, mayne.

Last night, I wanted to order a pizza for dinner, but couldn’t pull the trigger. I felt terrible for the person who would have to deliver it. Am I mental? I just couldn’t do it. So we ate leftover Dunkin’ Donuts for dinner. I am not making this up. Ask the Thriller. In fact, I joked with him that this was yet another reason why we’re so well-suited for one another: I don’t know any other man who would join me in eating nothing but donuts for an entire day. Granted, we don’t do it very often, but I had to admit it was fun. And yes, I was back on the treadmill at 7:00 this morning. Erk.

We won’t do anything like that today…because he finished off the last two donuts with his coffee this morning. Nuts. Back to the old grind. *sigh*

So, this 50 Shades of Grey craziness. May I share a confession here? When the book first came out, I noticed on my Facebook feed that the reactions were of the dreamy, can’t-stand-to-put-it-down variety, like it was a sweeping romance of the Nicholas Sparks ilk.

Hahaha. Yarite.

As the days went by, I began to notice a pattern. Many of the dreamy, can’t-put-it-down comments were from women around my age (let’s call it the 40-60 range). So I did some research on the plot. Um…a novel steaming with BDSM, and moms can’t stop posting about it? Isn’t that a little — I dunno — private? And isn’t it a bit too much info for kids to be reading about on social media?

There we go:  my geezerism is showing. But even if I were “into” erotica (and it’s fine if you are; no aspersion casting here), would I want my sons and daughters-in-law to be reading my over-the-top, drooly posts about it? Eww, people! Keep it to your dang self! *shudder* Now I don’t paint myself as a prude, and I hope I don’t come across as such. I’d like to think I’m a pretty tolerant person with regard to how secks and noodity figure into art (although from the reviews I’m reading, it’s somewhat of a tempest in a teapot, and that by today’s “standards,” it’s not all that shocking). But for real: …and I LOVED the part where he got out the handcuffs and… OK shhh. Just…shhh.

Maybe it’s not even that. Maybe it’s the unbearably annoying theme song — a slowed-down, analog-overdriven, affected remix of seriously, Beyoncé? – that makes me mad. Please stop saying uh-oh all shecksy and pouty-mouth and chin down and eyes up at the camera. Please. We know it’s a naughty movie. Spare us the overlong exercise in glottal attacks.

 

All right, enough of that. What else this morning? Oh, yes. The anti-high-stakes-testing movement is really growing legs in this country. I like it. Interesting what can happen when regular folks decide enough is enough.

Have a great day, fiends, and if you’re in my neck of the woods: stay inside!

Creepish

8 February, 2015
Rat Fink

Story time:

Friday, I received my first warning of sorts that I, as a faculty member, might be getting too close to the CC high-stakes testing controversy. An anonymous someone put this document from the Ohio Department of Education in my mailbox, as if to say, You’re fighting a losing battle, because there is no law that supports test refusal, so put that in your pipe and smoke it. Well, I sent an all-faculty email, asking for the person to please contact me. You know, because I have information for him/her. Truth is, ODE is having to regroup, which is resulting in scare tactics threatening retention and denial of graduation. The plot is not without precedent: give the people just enough incomplete propaganda, and they’ll acquiesce out of fear. I’ll let your imagination run wild on how many times, and in how many different scenarios, that trick has played out in world history.

Edit: The person contacted me, and all is OK.

ODE is banking on the assumption that parents will not question this edict, and they’ll just “go along to get along.” Whether or not that will happen in my district has yet to be seen, but quiet obedience is not cutting the muster in other areas, and you know, stuff like that tends to develop a life of its own. It wouldn’t be the first time a band of citizens rose up to fight the Billionaire Boys’ Club.

The fact remains that while some tests are validated and distributed for good cause, the endless days of mindless drilling for PARCC and AIR and dozens of other ill-begotten, inappropriate, unnecessary acronym tests are hurting children (especially those in the elementary grades), while blind eye after blind eye turns away. For over a year now, I’ve been borderline silent — at least overtly, publicly — about it. In fact, this is the first time that I’ve really released the Kraken on the subject. So, when I press “Publish” on this post, I guess it’s on. Let ‘em come after me, because I won’t back down. Common Core and HST are bad for kids. You may not notice it now, or even a year from now. But let these kindergarteners process through the system, and check on them when they’re juniors. You do it, because I’ll be unable to bring myself to look.

I read an op-ed yesterday that described the inappropriateness of CC as “outrageously wordy micromanagement.” That about says it all for me, and I’m not even a victim of CC — yet. I predict my swan song will be written when I patently refuse to insult and degrade my students and my art in the name of profit any further, and somebody high up decides that choral music is too much of a non-event in the big scheme of getting kids “college and career ready,” and needs to be put in the dustbin with the rest of the creative processes that used to happen at school. Because what can’t be counted doesn’t count. Anyone who supports Common Core/HST and disagrees with that statement is lying, either to you or to himself.

I also predict that many unlovely comments will be made about me — both in secret and to my face — on this issue. It’s all right; I’m ready. Because, to quote Bill Shakespeare, truth will out. I just hope I’m around to see it.

Hopefully, many will join to take up this sword and fight to save our neighborhood schools, because frankly, continued silence only indicates compliance. The fight against CC/HST is not a conspiracy; it’s a national emergency.

On the warpath II

2 February, 2015
Rat Fink

Hello, fiends. It’s been too long. Didn’t I say I wasn’t going to disappear for extended periods of time anymore? I believe I did. And here I am, after a long absence. Still, you’ve been on my mind — as have many things.

The Fink is armed and ready for battle. (Is that not a great drawing of Yours Truly? Mad respect to Andy Nortnik for always getting Rat Girl right.)

I’m wrasslin’ with several dragons lately; some I’ve told you about already, and some I haven’t. Some are tactile and real, and others are of the emotional and cerebral variety. Many are way beyond my control, while others lie perfectly within my grasp. Some are just dumb. This day, I fight:

1. The insanity surrounding Common Core, and now, the reality of test refusal coming to my district (though I won’t fight that).

2. Trying to get back to being good to this old creaky bod. I just said to someone the other day: “I have a beautiful treadmill in the basement. There is absolutely no weather-related excuse why I can’t work out.” And yet…So, today, I fight that dragon. And I will win it for today, for five minutes from now, when I stop writing. Tomorrow? Tomorrow will have to look after itself for the time being.

And to a (much) lesser extent:

3. Boring, musically vapid Super Bowl halftime shows. You know, I think the shark has been jumped here (no pun intended) with regard to every year’s SB halftime being bigger, better, badder and nuttier. Last night’s version seemed more in line with an Olympics opening ceremony than with a halftime show, complete with flying people, great huge mechanical animals, and silly cartoonish characters dancing about. Add to that the rather-cool-but-totally-bizarre addition of Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott, and well…yeah. And I won’t even touch the renditions of God Bless America (John Legend) and the Star Spangled Banner (Idina Menzel).

4. The utterly infuriating trend of non-funny spokeswomen trying to be funny in commercials. What…is there research out there that supports goading the public into buying a product just so companies will stop advertising it? Does unfunny comedy traditionally sell hamburgers, insurance and phone contracts? Maybe it does, I dunno. But every time I see these commercials, I want to drown something.

And if I don’t get up from this box and get on to the next thing on the list, I’ll be here all day. Off to tread on my mill; moving in silent desperation, keepin’ an eye on the Holy Land…

Walkin’ Rat