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A principal has egg on her face…

June 14, 2016, 6:10 AM

As someone who was on the receiving end of some pretty unfair punishments in school, and having witnessed school officials blatantly flout the rules on a number of occasions, it’s good to see someone get called out for a punishment that’s out of step with policy.  This was the culmination of a controversy regarding several students’ drinking alcohol on prom night at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School‘s senior prom, and the reversal of a decision that would have prevented them from attending their high school graduation.

The situation, as I understand it based on a Bethesda Magazine article and a Washington Post article, began with a policy set at the school level regarding consequences for students’ showing up for prom while impaired by alcohol or other various substances, or becoming impaired by the same over the course of the evening, encompassing the prom itself as well as the official after-prom party.  The school’s policy was that anyone who either was caught drinking at prom-related activities, or showed up to same already drunk, would not be allowed to walk at the school’s June 1 graduation at DAR Constitution Hall.  This is supported by a prom guest application document from the school’s website, where the relevant section, near the bottom of the second page, reads:

Students and/or guests who are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, inhalants, illegal drugs or controlled substances will not be admitted to Prom or After Prom.  Students attending Prom or After Prom who show signs of being under the influence of such substances, or who are found to be in possession of such substances during either event, will be subjected to the consequences set forth in the B-CC Student Handbook, and their parents will be notified.  If the student is part of an athletic team or other school-sponsored activity, the coach/sponsor will be notified as well.  Note that any senior who is determined to be under the influence or in possession of such substances when arriving at or during the course of Prom or After Prom will not participate in the on-stage distribution of diplomas at B-CC’s graduation ceremony.

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Fun with music…

December 20, 2015, 12:41 PM

This past Thursday, among other places, Elyse and I checked out a store called Bill’s Music in Catonsville.  What a wonderful place this was, with professional-grade equipment for sale at professional-grade prices (but you’re paying for quality).  The store has every single piece of musical equipment that you could imagine, including some stuff I hadn’t seen in years, like real xylophones and such.  Elyse actually knows a thing or two about music, unlike me.

The first thing that we discovered was a metallic xylophone (metallophone?).  I hadn’t played one of these since sixth grade music class, a six-week “exploratory” course at Stuarts Draft Middle School.  It was pretty awesome, working not so much with singing, but mostly with musical instruments – primarily xylophones.  We learned some very basic songs on them, and apparently I still remember a couple of them:

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Augusta County puts enforcement cameras on its school buses…

May 20, 2015, 12:09 PM

I recently read in an article in The News Leader that Augusta County Public Schools, where I went to middle and high school, is partnering up with the local sheriff’s office to outfit two of its school buses with cameras.  These particular cameras are mounted on the exterior of the bus, on the left side, and are designed to catch people who pass a stopped school bus while their red warning lights are flashing.  Normally, drivers in all directions are supposed to come to a complete stop when the bus’s red warning lights are flashing and the stop arm is out.

Now we all know better than to think that this always happens.  I’ve written about school bus stops before, in regards to whether a right turn that begins just beyond a stopped school bus and moves away from it is a legal movement, or if it’s not.  I casually asked a Montgomery County police officer about this one time while I was out and about, and he said that it wasn’t a legal move, describing the area where drivers are required to come to a full stop for a school bus as being like a bubble, rather than as a line of demarcation.  I would have loved for the move that I described to have been legal, because then I could just zip past and be on my way.  But apparently, it’s not.

Also, for those of you who have never driven a large vehicle before, let me let you in on something: if you think that the people around you drive like wackos when you’re in your car, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve watched drivers around a large vehicle.  The “wacko” factor gets turned up to eleven when you’re driving a large vehicle.  After all, large vehicles are very different than your car.  They’re big, they’re heavy, and they’re slow.  And in the case of school and transit buses, they make frequent stops.  Drivers in cars know that, and as such, will do anything, even some very unsafe/illegal moves, to get past or otherwise not have to wait for a bus.  I have been cut off in just about every way imaginable when I’m driving the bus, and I don’t get special privileges like school buses get, i.e. I don’t get to stop all traffic when I’m boarding and alighting passengers.  And even if I could, fellow road users are still very poorly behaved and would stop at nothing to get past or around me while I was stopped, threat of ticket or not.

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Sometimes you have those weekends where you just have to get out of the house…

June 11, 2014, 6:06 PM

Ever get that feeling of “I just have to get out of the house”?  I recently had that feeling, where I just needed a change of scenery for a little bit, and so I planned a weekend trip down to Stuarts Draft to visit the parents, going down Friday, and coming back Sunday.  They were, as always, delighted to see me, and on the whole, we had a good time.  I also made some extra space in my house, as, on Mom’s request, I brought my sister’s old bicycle back to my parents’ house.  Gave me some practice in “beheading” a bicycle by removing the front wheel, and then reattaching it at my destination.  But it travels much more easily without the front wheel:

The bicycle has been beheaded!
The freshly-liberated front wheel.

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Ten years after I graduated college, I’m going back to school…

December 23, 2013, 4:08 PM

First of all, yes, it really has been ten years since I finished college.  I finished up at JMU a little more than ten years ago, and then they mailed me the diploma not long after that.  I can’t believe that it’s been that long.  Doesn’t feel like ten years have gone by, that’s for sure.

That said, a lot has happened lately.  I am now the proud holder of a commercial learner’s permit, which I got on Monday at the MVA in Gaithersburg.  That was a stressful time, but probably not in the way you might think.  I got in there, got my number, and then sat down, figuring that I might as well get comfortable.  I took this picture, and then posted it to Instagram:

Waiting on one of the benches at the MVA in Gaithersburg

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Categories: Driving, School, Work

So there I am, fast asleep, staring down a fire alarm…

November 11, 2013, 12:09 AM

I graduated from high school in 1999.  That means that I have been out of high school for fourteen years.  The question I have is, why am I still having fire drill dreams?  I had one of these on Saturday night, and I don’t get it.

In this dream, I was going to Stuarts Draft High School, which is where I actually went to high school.  Back then, the school had a Simplex system, but the school has since been renovated.  It now has a Notifier system with System Sensor horn/strobes.  The take-home point on this, however, is that the school now contains a horn/strobe in every classroom.  And I am acutely aware of this.  When I was in school, I only shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn once.  That was in kindergarten at Southside Elementary School in Rogers, Arkansas, but the kindergarten room was the size of a basketball court with a really high ceiling.  At Grimes Elementary in Rogers, and Stuarts Draft Middle School and Stuarts Draft High School in Virginia, I never shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn except for in shop classes (where I never had a fire drill) and Phys. Ed, where we did have the occasional fire drill.  However, in middle school, two Edwards horns in a big gym weren’t very loud, but four Simplex 4040 horns in the gym in high school were extremely loud.  But outside from those situations, there were no horns in the rooms where I had class (the horns were out in the hallway).

In this dream, I was sitting in a modern-looking classroom on the first day of school at Stuarts Draft High School.  And across the room from me was this:

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Categories: Dreams, Fire drills, School

I still don’t consider myself much of an artist, but I guess I can let you decide…

May 24, 2012, 12:07 AM

So I was doing some scanning work for Falcon this evening, and decided to finally scan some drawings that I did in high school. I’m believe that these are from the fall of 1996. And so away we go…

Lord Zedd in his chamber of command

Yes, that is exactly what you think it is. You are looking at Lord Zedd from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, standing in his throne room. It’s true. I was a nerd even back then. And I was pretty detailed. I got the pedestal, I got Zedd, I got the throne, I got the fan behind the throne, and I put a couple of putties in there.

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Categories: Myself, Power Rangers, School

With all of this exercise effort lately…

April 28, 2011, 11:20 PM

With all of this exercise effort lately on my part, I went digging around on the Internet to find information on the old presidential fitness test that we used to do in Phys. Ed class in school. Remember that one? It’s that test you did where you had to do pull-ups, sit-ups, and a few other things. And you know what? I realized, some 14 years after the last time I did one (Virginia does not require Phys. Ed past the 10th grade), exactly how screwed up the implementation of this test was when I was in middle and high school.

First of all, elementary school is always a bit of an outlier for me when it comes to school experiences. I went to elementary school in Arkansas, and then we moved to Virginia in 1992. And considering that I have not been back since, August 31, 1992 (the day we arrived in Virginia) is a bit of a “wall” in my life’s timeline, in that every event either happened before then or after then. Plus with no Email or Facebook back then, all my people communications with the Arkansas folks ended when we moved as well (though I now have contact with many of them on Facebook). My move to the DC area in 2007 wasn’t like that, because Washington DC was part of my life before then, and Stuarts Draft has remained part of my life since. So thus it’s harder to compare elementary school to the rest because it is behind that “wall”.

But in elementary school, when most of us first learned of the physical fitness test, I believe the implementation was done correctly, based on what I read on the site for “The President’s Challenge“, as it’s called. Basically, you had two award levels: “National” and “Presidential”. That was something to work towards, but if you missed those benchmarks, it was okay as long as you put your best effort into it. If you didn’t even try, then you were in trouble, but as long as you made a good-faith effort and tried, then it was good. I still remember doing a mile in 14 minutes and 15 seconds as a first grader (why I still remember that 14:15 mile over 20 years later is beyond me). Looking at the published benchmarks, I was only about two minutes off from the time indicated for the “National” award for six-year-olds today. The numbers may have been and likely were different back then, but for this discussion, I’m going to use the modern numbers because that’s what I have easy access to. If you have historic numbers circa 1988 or so, send ’em on over.

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Nice weather, fire drills, FIOS, and stupid Comcast…

February 16, 2011, 8:22 PM

So I did a Video Journal tonight. And here it is:

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So why don’t you just tell us what you really think?

January 11, 2011, 10:02 PM

So I drove to work today, and then going home, I put the phone in my GPS mount and did a Video Journal entry from the driver’s seat. And here it is:

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“Oh, it’s terrible! The King has been transformed! Please find the Magic Wand so we can change him back.”

November 27, 2010, 4:31 PM

First of all, I admit – the title doesn’t mean much in relation to this entry, except that it perhaps reflects that I’ve been playing too much Super Mario Bros. 3 on my Super Nintendo lately. Regardless, this Journal entry has been a long time in coming, since this is about a trip I took to Stuarts Draft two weeks ago. All I have to say is, hey, I’ve been busy. But it’s also somewhat fitting that I post this entry this weekend, since this was “Thanksgiving” with the parents a couple of weeks ahead of the holiday. Traffic is a real pain, you see, and this obviates the need to mess with it. Have you ever driven US 29 in Virginia on Thanksgiving weekend? It’s no walk in the park.

On Friday the 12th, after driving perhaps a shade too fast the whole way down, I arrived at Stuarts Draft Middle School. After all, Mom was there, and I hadn’t seen her new classroom yet. Mom was recently switched from sixth to eighth grade, and so she moved rooms as a result, from Room 24 to Room 1. And here it is:

Mom's new classroom, Room 1

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So with school starting up again…

August 14, 2010, 9:18 PM

School in Augusta County starts up again this Tuesday, August 17. I think that’s a bit early, but there you go, I suppose. I thought it was neat when one year, they started on a Wednesday. That seems to make a quick first week that still has time to cover all the bases. Day one, you welcome everyone and visit all your classes to see what the teachers’ expectations will be and to get your textbooks. Then day two, you have the big assemblies so that the administrators can explain their own expectations. Then on day three, you have a fire drill (Virginia law mandates a fire drill once per week during the first month of school).

Meanwhile, I decided to take a look at a few school-related things just for the fun of it. One of the things I looked at was supply lists. I went to the Rogers Public Schools Web site, because I’ve always found some of their supply lists amusing. Specifically, I found the supply list for Grimes Elementary, which is where I went to school. And we find out that the tradition continues. For more than twenty years, Grimes has been emphatic: NO TRAPPER KEEPERS. Does anyone even use Trapper Keepers anymore? Now there’s another device that Grimes hates: wheeled backpacks. I would consider wheeled backpacks to be a good thing, as it brings heavy loads to the ground and on wheels, where they probably should be. Maybe Grimes has a deal with a local chiropractor, where they load the kids down with heavy stuff, make them carry them on their backs, and then get a kickback for every Grimes student’s back that the chiropractor cracks. Who knows.

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Categories: School

I realize it’s been ten years, but I still think about it…

September 30, 2009, 10:59 PM

One AwayOne of the more memorable things I did in high school was The East Coast Price is Right. We followed the rules as they existed in Season 27 (the current season at the time), and I had that set that emulated the classic green, purple, red, and orange colors on the turntable. It’s now been a decade since I did that show, but it’s still something I think about.

Right before I left for Philadelphia, I did a bunch of ironing. Usually, when I iron, I turn on the television and pop a tape of something in, in order to spice up an otherwise boring task. This time, I popped in a tape of old episodes of The Price is Right, from Season 27. That’s when I start thinking about my own version of the game that I did a decade ago. In the intervening ten years, I’ve thought about the games I did, and what I might have played if I could do it all over again. Recall that for that game, I did (in this order) It’s in the Bag, Dice Game, Push Over, Grand Game, Switch?, and One Away.

I think if I were to do it all over today, I would have swapped out two games. I think I did too many cash games, playing both “It’s in the Bag” and “Grand Game”. Additionally, as I messed up “Dice Game” a little bit, I would have done a different car game for the first half of the show. For that, I’ve often thought that Lucky Seven would have been a game that would have fit my production better. All you do for that is have them guess numbers, reveal the correct number, and then take the amount of dollars that comprises the difference (e.g. if they guessed a seven as the second digit and the correct number was five, the host takes two bucks back). Then they just need one dollar to buy the car. That’s the game that stands out most in the would-have-done category. Now as far as the cash games went, I basically had to do “It’s in the Bag” first, because setting it up on stage with the audience in place would have revealed the prices. That game was set up before the show started. But “Grand Game” was too similar to “It’s in the Bag”, and so I probably should have dropped that one, and considering how close I cut it on time, a quickie game like Danger Price or Most Expensive would have fit the bill quite well.

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Today marks ten years since I graduated high school…

June 4, 2009, 8:54 PM

I can’t believe that today marks ten years since I graduated high school. June 4, 1999, at Expoland in Fishersville, I received my high school diploma, officially ending my days as a student at Stuarts Draft High School. That was an interesting day. Rather than go to school, the seniors traveled to Expoland for graduation rehearsal, where we walked through the whole procedure. We lined up. We sat down. We had to sit through every single bloody name getting called. And then I think we were done by noon.

Then that evening, we went through the ceremony for real, with all of our friends/family/etc. watching. And we got our diplomas. And each student got their photo taken as they received their diploma, in the cover that we were required to buy (I did not appreciate that). And then after that, we were done! No more Stuarts Draft High School for me. No more block scheduling. No more AP classes. No more nonsense from Mr. Schindler (principal), whom I didn’t really get along with all that well.

Of course, for me, this graduation was simply a formality, because for all intents and purposes, I had already accomplished what I came to accomplish. I got accepted at James Madison University for the fall 1999 semester, and so from the beginning of April onwards, I basically enjoyed myself. Or at least tried to. Less than two weeks after I got my college acceptance, I fell at home and dislocated my right shoulder, which caused me to miss my first day of school since fifth grade, and put me in a sling for a month while it healed. Then Columbine happened a week and some change after my injury, which put everyone a little bit on edge. And I managed to get myself suspended for two days for making some remark about it (yes, I got suspended – get over it). I don’t even remember what the remark was, but obviously, Schindler thought it was important enough to warrant kicking me out for two days. Not like I particularly cared, though. I had already sent in the deposit for JMU. And I enjoyed my two days off. My mother was not so laid back about it, though, as she came into school and handed Bill Schindler his behind on a platter for the whole incident. Let’s just say that my mother is awesome for that.

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Categories: School

So I find out that Augusta County is planning on killing an elementary school…

January 1, 2009, 4:28 PM

While my father and I were out today, he told me that he had heard that Augusta County might be closing Ladd Elementary, which is in Waynesboro.

First of all, before I even researched it, I said it was probably a good idea to abandon the site. First of all, the facility is indeed an Augusta County school, but it’s located within the independent city of Waynesboro. That happened because the area that the school is in was annexed by the city of Waynesboro in the 1980s or so. So it’s an anomaly for being a county school that’s no longer in the county. But it’s also now in the middle of a large shopping district, with Wal-Mart directly across the street, and Home Depot, Martin’s, Target, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, and a plethora of other smaller retailers within a short distance from the school. Traffic is hideous outside the school, with signs for tractor-trailers telling them that the school is not a turn-around. Plus I’m sure some other retailer would snap up the school site in a heartbeat to peddle more crap to people.

Then I found an article in The News Virginian about the plan. How interesting. They want to close and sell the Ladd location in Waynesboro, close Beverley Manor Elementary School near Staunton, and expand Wilson, Cassell, and Riverheads elementary schools to accommodate more students. They say no teachers will lose their jobs, since it’s more of a consolidation than a closing. And the idea of moving the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School into the old Beverley Manor building was tossed around as well. Currently, that facility shares a building with Valley Vocational Technical Center.

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