Wednesday, November 10, 2010

rearranging deck chairs

X pointed out this morning that we need more chairs for both Thanksgiving and general-use dining functions around the Hilltop’s massive table. Her exact words, while sipping coffee at the bar, were something like “finding solid, quality-made chairs for a reasonable price ain’t easy.” I decided then and there that I could include that tidbit within the grumpy fatherly advice given to children as they depart the nest (X added the last two):

1. Don’t get involved with crazy women.
2. Good quality dining table chairs are hard to find.
3. Don’t ever buy a piano.
4. Don’t ever buy a boat.

Of course, this led to me falling into my grumpy old father imitation (?):

“I don’t give a crap about your wife; I don’t have to talk to her. I don’t have to get in your damn boat or move your stupid piano. But, I do have to come over to your house for holidays because your mother will make me. I won’t sit in crappy chairs while eating overcooked turkey so get some goddamned good chairs. And, don’t ask me for any more money.”

On to other stuff.

Joel Klein is following Michelle Rhee as “school chancellors out the door” in urban east coast cities (but for different reasons). I’m bothered by Rhee leaving even if I’m not a DC resident because I think letting her finish the job (five years) would have been the better option but politics intervened. Klein has been in NYC for eight years which is a pretty amazing run. I don’t have fully formed opinions and evidence for charter schools, something Klein fully supported and Rhee seemed to sort of support, but it seems as if both of them were quite willing to take on the unions and bust some heads – nice turn of “union and head-busting” phraseology, isn’t it. I’ve lost count of the number of philippics turned while talking about education out loud and in my crazy head. It’s easy to look at Fairfax county or the district of my youth and make assumptions about the quality of education. I think we’re usually wrong to even consider either of those as the underpinning of the system as a whole. Shouldn’t we always consider the weakest link as the issue at hand? Even if you take that weakest link’s issues and apply them to the stronger links you’ll still see the same problems. Those problems? Mediocre actual skills and results, middling test scores, and grading that is focused on pushing kids to the next level, not learning them to the next level. I’ll let it go for now…I’m pretty pessimistic. I have an analogy to make between education and offshore drilling, if you can believe that, but I’ll hold it for another day.

(Here’s a harsh review of Rhee’s tenure in D.C. Read at will. Here’s a look at Klein’s in NYC.)

I’ve started about book, The Tiger, that has me massively enthralled. I’m taking it bit-by-bit because I’m quite keen on the writing and the story. Here’s a review from the Seattle Times and here’s the piece from NPR that got me interested (you can listen to the audio portion). I’m looking at Lemon in a new light…

Finally, one last yarn. X was given control of taking any important calls at work for a colleague at work who’ll be out of the office for a few days. The real request is for her to simply ‘handle’ the calls and ease the minds of callers – don’t actually try to solve any issues; issues to be solved will be handled by the master upon his return. She’s to just be nice and make them feel as if their concerns and feelings are being stoked. I passed along to her that you can really learn a lot from Roadhouse. In fact, just about every life lesson might be encapsulated in this fine film.

Be nice. You don’t decide to do anything…I’ll let you know.

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