Photo: Graur Codrin (click photo to link)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

The truth about water is that it usually is where I don't want it. I seem to have more water-related issues than most people...but maybe I'm just paranoid. I've been cleaning up my bedroom and closet because I have a plumber coming to (I hope) take care of some (but not all) of my water problems.

It all started around 6 months ago when the upstairs toilet began to seep. The floor was wet, and the seepage soaked into a seam in the ceiling over my dining table. Fortunately, I caught it early, turned off the water to the toilet and drained all the remaining water out of the toilet. Unfortunately, the seam is permanently bubbled over my dining room; bubbling but dry. So I had the toilet re-sealed, and it was fine for a while. However, it started leaking around the base again, so I have a plumber coming tomorrow, to fix it again.
leaking toilets do not look like this--they are much messier and uglier

You may wonder why I have to clean my bedroom and closet so that the plumber can come. I have a quirky floorplan. I guess that this was popular at one time, God knows why, but I'd never seen anything like it until I bought my condo. I have what is known as a Hollywood closet--you walk through it into the bathroom. There are two doors to the bathroom, one from my closet, and one from the bedroom on the other side of the bathroom. You have to walk through a bedroom to get to it; there's no access from the hall.

So, I have been cleaning my room, which is just a huge mess--books everywhere, papers in stacks, and milk crates waiting for bookshelves to hold them. Who would have thought that getting a plumber would create such a lot of commotion in my life?

Oh, yeah, the point of this post, though is that I seem to have water where I don't want it with an amazing frequency. My son, who is in college but lives with me, is often responsible for water where I don't want it. Like, when he forgets to check the sink before he starts a load of laundry, and the nylon which I use as a lint filter is so full of lint that it plugs the sink and we have a flooded laundry area. The first time it happened, there was water across the whole room, and the cats were going nuts because their litter boxes were in the middle of a puddle. So, we pushed water over to the floor drain, and sopped it up with sponges, and mops and dried the floor with a fan. All in all, it was incredibly not fun.

This, of course is pure cat drama, not really as bad as the cats would want you to believe

So, in the middle of a frenzy of chores and getting ready for the plumber, I get a message on my cell phone--my son saying he's on his way to work and that the sink has "apparently" overflowed in the basement, and I think that maybe I'll just never go home, and let the whole place fill up with water, and... but then I realize that the cat is home, and who knows if she can get to her litter box? So I go home and sop up the water, and change the nylon on the discharge hose, and all is wet but well. But the toilet upstairs can't be used because I haven't called the plumber, and so I have to run downstairs to use the other toilet which is a royal pain, especially in the morning because I really have to go first thing in the morning, so it's always a panic.

Of course, there's also water in other places that it doesn't belong...leaks into the cupboards under each sink, but they're little leaks and I may be able to fix them with caulk around the sink edges, but I don't know. I just hope that there isn't mold growing because then I'd have to bleach everything before the plumber would even deign to touch the job.

Water is very convenient, when it is confined to where it belongs. But, it just seems as if staying where it belongs is very tenuous, at best, and inversely proportional to the age of the house.

Oh, yeah, and the functionality of faucet handles is also inversely proportional to the age of the house, as I've now learned--the curse of corrosion and liming from hard water has frozen all the shutoff valves, so I am at the mercy of the plumber until I get around to the repairs for all four sinks, two toilets and one shower/tub fixture.

Who would have thought?

POSTSCRIPT: So it snowed and sleeted last night, dumping mondo piles of the white stuff, and the plumber hasn't come. I have to wait until Monday... but my closet is clean, and my room will be cleaner than it was...

Ironic, isn't it?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

According to an NPR summary of Obama's position on education, written before the election, the speculation was that he would choose one of these three for his chief of education:

  • Linda Darling Hammond: She is a professor at Stanford with the School Redesign Network. Hammond is most widely known for her work at Columbia Teachers College, long-considered an incubator for big, liberal, left-leaning education proposals. (Listen to an interview with Linda Darling Hammond from the PBS series Only A Teacher)
  • Michael Johnston: He works with the New York City-based organization New Leaders for New Schools. His organization is touted as one of the most innovative collections of education entrepeneurs who have made urban school reform their top goal. (More about Michael Johnston)
  • Andrew Rotherham: He is a former adviser to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and is widely respected in education circles. He is also the co-founder of the Education Sector, a liberal think tank in Washington. Rotherham is considered by some as a possible nominee for U.S. secretary of education in an Obama administration.

  • I wonder if there are others out there?

    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    Yeah, well...

    I guess that I'm not really into gloating. "Yes, we did", but the better lesson learned is "together we can".

    Monday, November 03, 2008

    McCain Palin Chart of Desperation

    McCain Palin Chart of Desperation
    Forwarded from Blogging For Michigan - Front Page by Christine for your viewing pleasure.

    Christine writes: Well I'm just sitting here in my pro-American little town, minding my own business, when I get this email from the McCain-Palin campaign.

    The email asked that I download this chart and send it to at least 5 voters, but I figure we have at least DOUBLE that number reading BFM! :) Plus, there's always the possibility that Wizardkitten will put it in her Flickr set and it will end up as a tv commercial and a piece of GOP direct mail.

    The chart was incomplete when I got it, so I finished it for them by adding a couple of lines at the bottom. I'm feeling extra patriotic today!

    So here it is folks, pass this on to your friends. Or, just put it on your websites and caption it. It's just that ridiculous.

    I think Christine's additions add "truthiness" to the graphic...


    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    Friday, October 31, 2008

    Disability, Difference, Diversity and Equity

    Sarah Palin's youngest child, Trig, has Down Syndrome, and that has opened up a number of discussions about the commitment of our two presidential candidates to a number of disability-related issues. Among these are the funding of special education, ensuring the rehabilitation of military veterans with disabilities, and to other needs of the disabilities community. If you haven't read Paul Longmore's well-researched and thoughtful open letter on the two presidential candidates' positions on disability, I think that you might find some of the answers he gives to be very helpful in making your choice for our next president. Here's the link to Paul Longmore's letter. I think that what Longmore says will leave you thinking about much more than disability.

    As the parent of two self-determined adult children who often experienced a great deal of self-doubt in school due to barriers to the curriculum imposed on them due to specific learning disabilities, I'm in favor of reducing such barriers to education, in general. I'm specifically in favor of reducing barriers to children whose status as "disabled" or "poor" or "non-white" causes them to be needlessly removed from access to the general education curriculum and subjected to less content, instead of the same content in alternative formats. I believe that the boundaries of equity and social justice have been abridged when your home, your skin color, your ethnic origins, or your (dis)ability are considered "differences that make a difference".

    As a special educator, who achieved National Board Certification as a general educator (Early Adolescence/Generalist), I am a firm proponent of good teaching. I am especially interested in seeing the most skilled teachers working in settings where they can do great good: urban schools, as new teacher mentors, as the lead teachers for teacher interns, and as teachers in inclusive classrooms where their skills in meeting the needs of children can be put to best use.

    Of course, I understand that education, alone, may not be the "hill to die on"; that we have many interests and concerns, but a wise disability rights advocate friend of mine once reminded me that we are all only "temporarily-abled". As a person encountering some beginning age-related disabilities (considered mild by the medical profession, but every bit as confounding), as a parent and as a teacher, I care about much more than my own situation. Therefore, my concerns are for the many who are excluded from the benefits of full citizenship by virtue of "difference", in its many aspects.

    I hope we will leave our children and grandchildren with a nation that focuses its' commitment to "a more perfect union", where all of its' residents matter, and none are set aside.

    Kathleen Kosobud

    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    Perspective and Schooling

    I've got a somewhat different background and a somewhat different view of the definitions of political action, but what I do see is the absolute need for US schools to teach comparative politics and political systems. I have, for example, never met a Michigan HS grad who had learned in school, for example, how New York State votes, or had questioned why both Germany and the UK have larger legislatures than the US House of Representatives, or why other industrialized nations vote for parties more than individuals, or even that there are other voting methods than "majority rules" (or "first past the post").

    Without these comparisons young people grow up to be hopeless, believing that they live in a fixed, unchangeable system.

    Every other nation I've been in brings these questions into schools. I wonder why the US does not.


    Political Learning Community

    Thanks for including me in this little discussion group. Let's
    call it a "PLC"--political learning community. I use Google Alerts
    to direct me to whatever pops up on the web re: "teacher leadership"
    and this appeared today:

    And this is what I foresee in the month of October--a national
    blood-letting on the topic of race and culture in America. It's easy for
    Obama to brush off second-hand associations with folks like William
    Ayers and Jeremiah Wright--everyone with half a brain understands that
    you're not responsible for what your friends and colleagues say and do,
    in the end. What's really bugging the folks who want to attach Obama
    and Ayers is the fact that they were "radicalizing" schools in Chicago.

    Now--personally--I believe that schools where race, language and culture
    are central in the curriculum are a very promising and equitable idea.
    But those who fear the loss of privilege are going to push hard on those
    fears. Look for it in the next two weeks: We can't trust Obama. He's a
    crazy radical. He will take away from "us" and give to "them."

    Thanks for your honesty about Bill Ayers, too. As a former torn-jeans-and-peace-sign
    chick in the 60s, I know lots and lots of less famous folks who see their past as
    over-romanticized youthful daring, while still thinking, speaking and voting for the right
    principles now. Let's hope that Ayers uses the moment to step up to the plate
    and vindicate himself by expressing some humility and sorrow.

    Nancy F.

    Sliming and the Press

    Just a short report from the McCain/Palin rally yesterday in Clearwater, FL

    "Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun
    to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted
    with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on
    to blame Katie Couric's questions for her 'less-than-successful
    interview with kinda mainstream media.' At that, Palin supporters
    turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and
    shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin
    supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man
    for a network and told him, 'Sit down, boy.' ")

    (Another crowd member, upon mention of Obama's ties to Bill Ayers:
    "Kill him!")


    Responding to Palin's Attack

    I have been touched by the writing bug this morning. Thank, God!! So the reading of the links will wait until later. But I wanted to say thanks to you and your family for keeping some things in perspective. As a child of the 60's and Vietnam, all of us in that era could be called upon to point out our wicked ways by daring to speak against the government. Most of us are now solid citizens and members of the over 30 crowd we criticized.

    However, some things never really change so I am glad you keep reminding us to be diligent in seeking out the truth.


    Palin's Slimy Campaign

    I am unhappy about the latest slurs being cast about Obama's association with Bill Ayers. Since Dad served on the Parker School Board with him, and I hung out with a group of teens who called him a friend when I was in high school, does this make us suspect as well? Neither I nor Dad hatched any nefarious plots with Ayers, and as far as I can tell, most of his activities didn't involve 8 year old kids (as Obama was only 8 at the time) when he was in his "glory days" of plotting the bombing of ROTC buildings, and egging young adults on to disrupt the Democratic convention in Chicago.

    Where I find fault, if any is to be assigned is that Ayers remains unapologetic for his role as a gadfly, instigating havoc, and disappearing when the cops showed up. He, as far as I know, has never served a day in prison, and many of his "friends" have. In fact, as I recall, he and his wife took in the children of one of his compadres when she went to prison. While I do not believe in eternal punishment, and I believe that Ayers does much good in his community work, I still hold him culpable for the imprisonment or deportation of a number of people who got caught up in the movement. That he is unable to own his responsibility suggests that his ego still is a problem, a dangerous thing for Obama. One must hope that Ayers will redeem himself.

    What other (fake) dirt is going to be slung in Obama's direction?

    See, the Keating connection strikes me as much more apropos, since McCain was an adult, and a politician at the time, and the Keating contributions to his campaign are a direct reflection on McCain's lack of "due diligence".

    That's what makes the difference.


    Paul Longmore's Op Ed on the Candidates

    Here is a link to Paul Longmore's Op Ed on the candidates and disability rights. It is a great summary of the candidate positions, and clearly points the reader to an unmistakable choice...even if one is not disabled...

    For another take on the candidates, read Marian Wright Edelman's piece at the Children's Defense Fund Website

    Pass the word along...

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    McCain and Palin

    I kept trying to decide if McCain's selection of Palin was a simple-minded attempt to lure Hilary's dejected constituents away or what... After much consideration, I decided (in my usual paranoid way of thinking) that, in fact, this was the Republican "good ol' boy" (GOBs), "business as usual" way of handling things. I considered the evidence carefully: what women (and minorities) have been put forth as W's choices for various choice positions? Well, there's Condi Rice, and there's Margaret Spellings, and there was that brief moment where W selected "that woman" as his candidate for Attorney General, but she withdrew so he got Gonzalez to be AG instead. And, of course, there's Laura Bush... Not a one of them has had the spine to disagree with the GOBs, going along with anything they're told to do, obediently as any second class citizen from two centuries ago...

    Now, at first blush I thought Palin might actually serve as competition to Hillary's smarts, and her gumption to stick up for causes that no one cared to take on (after all they were all about human rights of those self-same second class citizen groups--which as far as I can tell, are still second class citizens even though we've had a few constitutional amendments, because the GW Supreme Court has been dispatching anything resembling human rights with all due vigor...), but that's all a red herring--to fool the three women who would have voted for Hillary because she wasn't black. The truth is, she's such a little fish, in an infinitesimal pond, that any of her teensy acts of rebellion are pretty much "stage dressing". I don't doubt that she'll be so busy being a "hockey mom" and so on that she will pretty much knuckle under to anything she's told to do. Oooooh, and I hear that she also has this little problem with her daughter (aged 17) being 5 months pregnant. I guess she'll be plenty busy minding the home front...

    So, don't any of us think that she's an outsider, poised to effect change--she's NOBODY!! She's INVISIBLE!! She's a stand-in whose voice will be silenced, except when it is expedient to set her up with shamelessly bigoted and inhumane remarks aimed at trashing the opposition, leaving that "wise-cracking" GOB McCain to stay clean, lily-white, and as out of touch with the people as he wishes. Meanwhile, the GOBs will continue to manufacture more of that slime that they "doo-doo" so well.


    Monday, June 16, 2008

    Wheeeee! The Fun Begins Again!!


    Great stuff is appearing to help us make our choice for the next president. If a compelling argument could be made to vote against a candidate these video compilations make it!

    Go to John McCain: Less Jobs More War for much more!