A Regular Question…

This morning, I was pouring over the local listings on Craigslist and found myself about an hour later at a lady’s house the next town over.  While making our transaction, the question arose as to why I was free in the late morning on a Tuesday.  The woman guessed correctly that I’m in education, and she brought up a common question asked in the area: what do you think of year-round schedules?

First I usually explain that I grew up with year-round schooling in my elementary years, and I recall I and my family enjoying how it worked.  By staggering quarters of the student population into different three months on, one month off, the entire mass of students is never one the grounds, nor on vacation (except for 2 weeks at Christmas, and 2 weeks around Independence Day).  We liked being able to vacation at odd times, at least while my sister and I were in elementary together.
I also stipulate once kids are at the middle and high school levels, year-round schooling does not quite work.  Seasonal sports and performing arts programs would not quite work.  One cannot operate a musical ensemble when one fourth of the group is gone at all times.  The same goes for seasonal sports, perhaps even more so, particularly in limiting some students from participating at all.  So I do say, while it works well at the younger grades, the older students need the access to a full school of their peers.
Perhaps what could be done is not to stagger the schedules within a school, but to stagger all the schools.  If there are four high schools in a district, each one could take a different seasonal vacation.  This may aid in the issue this woman brought up in our conversation: juvenile misbehavior.  She had worked in law enforcement, and by far during the summers when kids are not occupied by something legitimate to do wind up becoming more bored and therefore destructive.
I would agree, and completely see that happening.  Of course idle kids are destructive.  Mine sure as heck is.  If he’s cooped up for too long, the whining and experimenting with stress tests on both toys and parents increases drastically.  She said that school should just be in session for eleven months as an aside, and I don’t think that’s too far off from how it ought to be anyway.  I’d sure like to work more months out of the year, and perhaps having only six to eight weeks of vacation would work well for most kids, especially when we cannot leave a single one behind…

English can be fun…

Thank Grammar Girl once again, for now my only quest in life (since my boy minds his Ps and Qs now) is to use the term ‘mondegreen‘ in a sentence.  Well, other than that one.  While I think it happens quite often, I suppose mishearing my wife doesn’t quite count.

Although, as much as I enjoy Grammar Girl, she did point out one thing that seems to be happening to me: I am regionalizing.  You know, I spent over six months in southeastern Great Britain, and did not pick up an accent.  When I tried, I was called a posh git and told to stop.  I did pick up many of their terms, most of which I still use.
Now… now though, I’m slipping.  I’ve called soda by the term ‘pop’.  And now… now… oy.  Even my ‘out’ has changed a touch, and don’t even get me started on pronouncing the name of my fair state.  My identity is in a state of utter disarray.
Oh well.

Oh Boy…

imaginative
adj.
1. Having or showing creativity or inventiveness.
2. My son, Austin.

This morning, Austin was playing at his corner Lego table. He was chattering away at me as usual, this time with the tale of him being on a baker’s blue airplane. When I told him to play nicely while I was going to take a shower, the following conversation ensued:

“You can’t take a shower, Daddy.”
“Why not?”
“It’s the Baker’s shower.”
“Oh it is, is it?”
“Yeah. It belongs to the Baker in the kitchen.”
“Okay, Austin, I’ll just ask the Baker to use the shower.”
I walk over to the kitchen. “Hello Baker,” I began, “mind if I use the shower? *insert gibberish as baker’s reply* Okay sir, I will keep it clean in there; no splashing around.” I turned back to my son at the table, “The baker said it was okay for me to use the shower. You play nicely and I’m going to go take–”
“You can’t, Daddy. You didn’t ask Tony the Baker.”
“Oh? I thought I just had.”
“No, you didn’t say Tony.”
“Ah, I see.”
I stepped back to the kitchen. “Hey Tony,” I said with a bad Jersey accent, “Mind if I use the shower? *More gibberish reply* Thanks, man!”
Back in the living room, “Alrighty, Austin, Tony the Baker said I could use the shower.”
“Okay, Daddy.”

I had to negotiate with an invisible baker named Tony in my kitchen in order to take a shower this morning. If that’s not a sign of a free mind at work, I don’t know what is.

Ratatouille…

Last evening, the family and I partook of the latest Pixar film, Ratatouille. I will admit I was a tad skeptical on how good it would be before going to the theater. After all, this film had some tough acts to follow (I still think Finding Nemo is one of the best movies ever made, animated or otherwise.) So I walked in with my expectations a little low.

We entered the theater a few minutes after the show started, and the room was quite dark for being a part of an animated movie. The three of us managed to find our seats and took in what we could of the opening plot. Immediately I was taken aback at how realistic the scenery was, and it continued to develop in its quality as the movie progressed. The elements, especially water, were particularly well done. And the camera angles! Oh my, they were quick and fluid and fun, especially when taken through the perspective of a rodent’s location and how quickly everything swaps around when trying to evade a waiting cart. Oh, and I think the animators captured the look of a soaking wet rat perfectly.

But the movie was far more than simple eye candy. Here is where Pixar excels over all: they make good movies. The medium is what is it, but the quality of the plot and characters are grand. While others may not care for the pretense of a rat wanting to be a cook, I liked it. Plus it lends to a greater point, and surely the driving home of a principle of doing what you have a passion for, even when it’s not what is customary or common, is a good thing. The theme was tied in at multiple places, and I liked the reinforcement at different while not beating it over the head.

I walked away happy, having both enjoyed the movie personally, and knowing my son had just seen something of high quality.  It struck such a chord personally that I was thinking of it the next morning while taking a shower.  My only beef is, while the movies Pixar makes are wonderfully mature (not necessarily adult or for a specific age group), they have let a few instances of curse words slip.  Now, I’m not one to usually care for censorship, and even was one who came of age during television’s destruction of decency (6th graders watch Family Guy for goodness’ sake!)  But when everything else is so good, the world ‘hell’ sticks out in my ears.  But, c’est la vie.

The Pixar studios must be an amazing place.  I can only imagine that the thought and work created there must mimic the movie studios of Disney nearly half a century ago.  I extremely highly recommend going to the theater to see Ratatouille.  Not that I am against waiting for DVDs and making personal copies; rather, I simply think it is a movie of such high visual and content quality to be worth paying the God-awful prices at the theaters to see it on a big screen with great sound.  And who knows, maybe, like myself, you’ll walk away feeling a little bit inspired.