Friday, April 22, 2005

Where's the Ruler?

I just saw on the news that a little girl in Florida was put into handcuffs when she was, "out of control in the Assistant Principal's office." Now it was all on tape. She did hit the AP, and she was asked to stop. When she didn't, the AP asked for the cops to intervene. The mother of the little girl thinks (of course) that this was excessive and wants to sue. It could be that this was excessive, but here's the problem: If the AP had grabbed the girl, she could have been sued. Her only recourse was to ask the police for help.
We live in a society where teachers can be sued for breaking up a fight between two students. It used to be (yeah, I know. A "when I was your age" speech) that if two students were beating on each other, teachers could grab the students and separate them. Now educators have to be very careful about being sued for sexual harrassment. Sure it's not the "right" kind of situation, but it can be done for "inappropiate touching" and such. As I mentioned before, if the AP had grabbed the little girl, the mom could sue the AP for hurting her daughter. The justice system has been twisted in such a way that anyone can be sued for any reason at any time. We, especially in America, are looking for a quick buck without having to work for it. Look at the woman in California who put a finger in her chilli to attmept to sue Wendy's. Of course, it's possible that she really did find a finger, and it belonged to a Wendy's worker, and the chain is trying to save money. However, this woman has been known to sue other chains for other problems. There was another woman here in Minnesota who attempted to sue Walmart, because she was trampled at a store sale. Thing is this was the fourth time this had happened to her, and this was her fourth lawsuit against Walmart. Now, Walmart is no saint, but that's still excessive.
So what's my point? Well, the Assistant Principal did the only thing she could do. Remember how people always talked about nuns and their rulers? Educators can't do that in the public schools, because they would be in serious trouble. It would be called abuse. I agree that there has be a line. If a student talks back to a teacher, the teacher should not be allowed to smack the student. However, if a student takes a swing at a teacher, the teacher should be allowed to defend him- or herself and not worry about being sued for it. I also agree that handcuffs may have been excessive for that little girl. Still, she was being overly violent and there was no other choice that wouldn't end with the AP being sued. It is still my opinion that alot of parents think that teachers and administrators should let kids walk all over them.
Maybe one day educators will be allowed to take care of these problems themselves and not have to worry if a lawyer is on retainer.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Five Year Reunion Blues

Ok, so I know I said I would post yesterday, but life happened, and I got busy. So sue me. Actually don't. I don't want to go to court for emotional damage for making a promise and not keeping it. You probably could sue at this point. Thanks justice system!
On a side note, congratulations to Pope Benedict XVI (nee Joseph Ratzinger) on becoming the new Pontiff. I am currently waiting for the Papal Hit Squad to show up at my door. Still, congratulations from us here in, "The Colonies." Here's hoping that you pull a John XXIII and live longer than the Catholic Church is hoping. I just like controversy.
On to the reunion. What an interesting weekend that was. It was not quite horrible and not quite awesome. It was in the middle. Tolerable, maybe? St. Louis was gorgeous, but the overall setup of the event was lazy and mostly boring. One of the main problems was the people. Out of 1400 people in my graduating class, only about 60-70 showed up. Of that, I only knew about 15 or 16. Of those people, I only knew most of them, because they lived on my freshman floor, which meant that I had not seen them in eight years. Still, they were able to recognize me, which was frightening.
At the same time, I was right about how the reunion would go. Everyone who showed up was either a doctor, a lawyer, or a business person. I have never felt so unique for something so stupid. My wife and I (an engineer and a teacher respectively) were pretty much the only people with different jobs. Thank God that Andrew and Melissa showed up, because they are a journalist and editor respectively. I spent alot of time saying the following: "Yes, I am a teacher. Yes, I am very happy. No, I don't make a ton of money." It was frustrating. At one point, probably because I drank a bottle of wine (and a little more) by myself, I told a doctor who was making fun of me, "At least when I screw up, no one dies." That shut up Doctor Dork who turned white and never came near me for the rest of the night.
Here are some highlights of the weekend:
Two straight late nights in bars. I met a guy and his girlfriend in the bar and ended up talking to them more than anyone else for the whole night.
A crappy brunch in the student cafeteria. My food was cold, wet, and screamed when I cut into it. That's always a bad sign. Beyond that, the food service staff was exactly the same, none of them had changed.
Thanks to Mark, the guy who wandered into Blueberry Hill, for laughing with me and making that night fun.
No thanks to the tour guide who took us around the campus. He didn't know half the information, we couldn't hear him, and when asked to speak louder, his response was, "No, walk faster...."
Cheers to the student protestors on campus. They were angry about how workers at Wash. U are paid two bucks less than other universities, so they organized a sit-in and a hunger strike.
HUGE jeers to the tour guide AGAIN for taking us through the protestors and then making sure we were close to him in order to hear the following: "If you donated more or even just donated, then we wouldn't have these problems." Yes, that was me who responded: "Who are you kidding?"
A complaint to the Olin Library (by me) for replacing everything with glass. It used to be that the library had privacy. Now, every pod has glass which means that the guy who stared at me for twenty minutes while I was reading was extremely disheartening.
A complaint to the 609/U-Bar for playing terrible music. M.C Hammer? How old did they think we were? Was it supposed to be kitsch?
A HUGE complaint to the guys or girls who now live in my house in St. Louis. What's wrong with you people? The gorgeous house now looks like it belongs in a trailer park. The lawn is dead and covered with hay, the porch was broken and covered with molding furniture, and the inside looked like crack addicts had decorated the interior. That house used to be known as the center of the street (at least when I lived there). Now I understand why the students I talked to deny its existence.
So what was the best part of the weekend? Well, cheesy as it sounds, the best part was going around St. Louis with my wife. Caroline and I went to every tourist trap (The Arch, Union Station, etc.) that we used to go to when we were in college. We ate at Riddles , where we had our first date and our first in-laws meeting. We ate at Yen Ching, where we went on another date. Everything that drove me nuts about the weekend was made up on Sunday when Caroline and I went to Forest Park and walked around. She made this weekened so much better.
So why the blues? Because even though I spoke to people I hadn't seen in years, I got the sense that, even though we exchanged numbers or email, we won't contact each other. It was just a nice thing you do. Good to see you. How can I reach you? Take care. Move on.
Maybe I'm being too cynical. Maybe they will contact me. But what if I am right? What if it's another five years (to the ten year reunion) before we talk again? It's not that it's going to break my heart, it's just too bad that the people who knew you in college and knew who you were are gone. Almost like a part of you and your past is gone.
Then again, if we REALLY cared, then we would have talked before the reunion. Way to end it on a sour note. Oh, I got the five year reunion blllluuuueeesss. Thank you Minneapolis. Good night.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Quick Note

My sister Abby had surgery yesterday. After hours of cutting and sewing as well as an epidural and some gas when the shot wore off, my sister is now resting in her own room at a New York hospital. It's scary when you think about it. We've come so far in the medical profession, but there was still a possibility that something could have gone wrong. I'm glad that she's ok, and I wish her a speedy recovery. Thanks to the doctor who worked on her.
This made me think alot about life. See, I live by the John Glenn principle. Think about this: John Glenn put himself inside of a tin can of gasoline (more or less) and shot himself into space. He circled the Earth and then, miraculously, he managed to return to Earth unscratched. He received a hero's welcome as was befit a man who had done something so dangerous. Now, so many people had given him little chance of surviving and told him not to even try something so radically dangerous. Glenn defied them, and he survived. The next day, after his heroic return, Glenn went into his bathroom, turned on the shower, and slipped. He hurt his back so badly that he was laid up for months.
So what's the point? Glenn survived the extreme and was almost done in by the mundane of everyday life. You have to live life and not be afraid just because it might be crazy. You never know when a brick may fall and hit you in the head. You might live for a few more decades, or you might get hit by a bus tomorrow. Don't be afraid to live your life, because who knows what you have left.
As for my sole (I think) reader out there, I will post on the reunion tomorrow.
Good health to you all.