Saturday, 19 March 2011

A Memory List

A few weeks ago, I blogged over the upcoming downsizing of my old school in Bama.  The county board is discussing things but it's a pretty good bet that it will go from a ninth grade school to a sixth grade school.  It's been well over thirty years since I was around there.  There are a number of memories involved in this small town school.  Over the past week or two...I've settled on ten memories of note.

1.  The heat.  By the sixth grade....we were in the 1920's built complex and got introduced to radiator heat.  For some odd reason, I tended to always sit next to the windows and the radiators for the next four years.  I came to realize the implications.  For a young guy who ate sausage and eggs for breakfast....baking away at 90 degrees in a classroom for the morning....you'd come to release gas by noon.  You weren't allowed to open the windows, so I'd sit there and sniff the various gases released by myself and a dozen other folks.  Spring was a welcome pleasure because you could finally open the windows and avoid the gas attack.

2.  The beef stew.  The school lunchroom offered up a five-star stew mix.  Even by todays standards, it was something that I gave high reviews to.  The curious thing was that you could barely find any beef in the mix....with a lot of broth....and huge chunks of potatoes.  I actually miss the stew today.

3.  Earl.  We had this kid Earl who arrived round the fourth grade.  Earl basically didn't listen to anyone....even the teachers.  About five or six months after Earl arrived.....he was messing around on top of the school propane tank.  Three or four girls....along with at least one or two boys....went told Earl to get off the tank.  He refused, and they dragged him off (in a fairly severe fashion).  Earl got terribly upset, and ran off toward the general store (not the teacher or the principal).  He apparently called his momma and she came to lecture the teacher and principal for not controlling their punks.  Earl left, and never came back to our school.

4.  Halloween.  The school had a event fixed up to raise money to pay for various bills.  To lay out the complex nature of this evening.....there was the front entrance and the steps leading up.  This was where the older kids who'd left the school tended to hang out and swap gossip.  You'd find out which guy had a new car, which girl was marrying a guy from Cherokee or such, and which guy had joined up with the Army.  Once inside the door was the hallways....where the locals gathered to swap their gossip.  Then inside the basketball gym was the bingo area on the right, the cake-walk on the left, the basketball toss in the rear, the palm reader in the hidden room, and the fishing prize on the far right.   For some odd reason, it's a unique memory that sticks in your mind.

5.  The tomato juice.  The government had some program around the 3rd grade where they offered up juice for kids in the afternoon.  So you'd be marched off to the chow hall and given a glass of tomato juice.  I could never understand why they picked this.....other than higher nutritional value (I assume).  Occasionally, you'd be offered pineapple juice or apple juice.  I reached a point after about forty of these glasses of tomato juice that I hated the stuff.  I won't even touch it today.

6.  Ninth grade math.  We had this amusing chapter in the ninth grade....where maybe four kids out of the entire class comprehended these mathematical formulas.  The teacher stalled on this situation, and I would swear....even today....that we wasted almost ten weeks on this one chapter.  I got to a point where I lost all interest in math and mostly counted tiles on the ceiling.  At some point, the teacher rigged up a dumber-than-dirt test and arranged for almost everyone to pass.  Sadly, maybe nine kids out of the twenty-four actually understood any of this formula business.  I realized ten years later a basic way of teaching the same formula business from scratch and it'd take 30 minutes to get ten kids all up to the same way of thinking.  Sadly, you can't work that way in real school.

7.  The Library.  The county built up this fine library for the school.  Throughout the fifth and sixth grade....as it was new....we went down there for an hour each week and picked up various books to read. Somewhere around the seventh grade....things declined drastically.  I don't think I even made it a single time in the ninth grade to this library.  It was curious how my interest was lost in just a five-year period.

8.  Four Math Teachers in Four Years.  This was a curious school.  Most teachers stayed thirty years and retired.  For some odd reason, when I got up to the sixth grade, they started swapping out teachers almost yearly.  Each one had a totally different way of viewing math and you just kept getting different views every single year.

9.  Bathrooms.  The main bathroom for guys up in the big building was probably the most unsanitary place that you could ever envision.  I tended to do most of my business at home before leaving in the morning....and just hoped to avoid the bathroom every single day.

10.  Banana Juice.  We had some girl engage the history teacher one day on the possibility of there being banana juice.  This topic went on for almost forty-five minutes, thus relieving us of any history lesson for the day.  Afterwards, I went to an encyclopedia to find out if such could occur because the girl made a great case and the teacher took the whole thing as a joke.  Naturally, we should have asked the science teacher, but she probably wouldn't have answered this at all.  She had trouble just admitting evolution "might" have occurred (we skipped every single chapter for four years on evolution with her science class. I didn't even know about the topic until I graduated from high school).

Just An Observation

I have spent part of the week...watching some news media sources finally ask why the Japanese aren't all peppy and acting like Americans would. The end answer here...relates back to the Samurai tradition of five hundred years ago and this term Bushido.

The Samurai ended up with a number of ideas that stuck to Japanese society.  People tended to believe in their attitude and tradition.

So I went looking for quotes that relate, and these became kinda interesting:

Singlemindedness is all-powerful.


Tether even a roasted chicken.


Continue to spur a running horse.


A man who will criticize you openly carries no connivance.


A man exists for a generation, but his name lasts to the end of time.


Money is a thing that will be there when asked for. A good man is not so easily found.


Walk with a real man one hundred years and he'll tell you at least seven lies.


To ask when you already know is politeness. To ask when you don't know is the rule.


Wrap your intentions in needles of pine.


One should not open his mouth wide or yawn in front of another.


A straw hat or helmet should be worn tilted toward the front.

One should not be envious of someone who has prospered by unjust deeds. Nor should he disdain someone who has fallen while adhering to the path of righteousness.


Intelligence is the flower of discrimination. There are many examples of the flower blooming but not bearing fruit.


You eventually come to realize that these are people that you'd respect in any situation.  They don't get excited.  They don't run around looking for ways to screw people over.  They don't invent corruption via politics.  I must admit....they are folks that you wouldn't mind having as neighbors.

A Twist

Last Saturday night....here in my local area...over across the river in Bethesda, there was a murder.

It was a strange episode to start with.  Here was a upscale street of dozens of fancy stores along a main street.  Among them, a store that specialized in yoga clothing. The shop? Lululemon Athletica.  You'd kind of scratch your head....a murder at a upscale yoga clothing shop?  Doesn't make any sense.

The story goes....there are two employees left at the end of the day.  They walk out.  A phone call occurs around twenty minutes later that one employee (a junior person)....needing the senior one with the key....to come back and reopen the door.....so she can pick up something she left.  Both ladies arrive at the door....it's left unlocked as they proceed in.....two guys enter with masks and gloves....and the senior employee...Jayna Murray....ends up sexually assaulted and dead.  The second lady is assaulted and tied up. Cops find the mess the next day.  

Folks in Bethesda are shocked.  The cops are puzzled more than shocked.  It's not a typical crime for that town.  Nothing makes any sense.

Within days, there's this fantastic amount of money as an award to hunt down these two guys.  The survivor....the junior employee is very helpful.  These guys are a bit unusual....one is around six foot tall and the other is vastly short (maybe five foot five inches).  Nothing is spoken about the racial make-up of the two....but everyone seems to have this opinion that it's two black guys.  But there are no pictures or video to prove that point.

Strangely enough....there's an Apple store next door which has a camera or two.  The cops take video from that evening....figuring they'd see the two guys.  Strangely enough....they just don't have any pictures of two guys around fitting that description.

Then the forensic folks step in.  There ought to be semen because of the sexual assault.  But there is none. In the world of cops....that takes out a male assault.  So now, you start to wonder....was there ever two men in the yoga shop?

Last night around 7PM, the cops have a press conference.  They've arrested the junior employee of the yoga shop who was the one and only survivor.  The gal?  She is Brittany E. Norwood, twenty-eight years old.

It's a curious thing.  Two people outside the store watched this unfold as the ladies came back to the door....there was a argument of sorts.  The forensic crew finally came to a conclusion that neither woman was sexually assaulted......which can only mean that one killed the other.

It's the kind of situation that will likely be turned into a movie.

Some Observations

It's been a curious mix of news this week.

First, a judge up in Wisconsin stood up and put a hold on the recently passed union limitation law. This mostly has to do with the open meetings law.  The Republicans there say that they will fight via the court and not try to go back to the legislative process again.  The Democrats appear to be mostly happy with that....mostly because they'd have to run off to a Illinois resort hotel again, and they really can't afford that.  My best guess is that this will go to the Supreme Court....who will mostly shake their heads because this is mostly a state episode and they'd all rather just stay out of state affairs.

Second, the Justice Department finally wrapped up a investigation into the New Orleans Police Department. Surprisingly enough....they found all these various acts of misconduct. The cops there were actually using excessive force, performing illegals stop and seizures, and were openly doing some racially-slanted tactics. Court action? Yes, but this would all go into a federal court with lots of cops, lawyers, and media folks. In five years....my guess is not a single cop will end up jail because of lack of sufficient evidence to convict in a real courtroom. Just a humble opinion....but this ten-month investigation likely does nothing but headlines.

Third, Charlie Sheen will be touring twelve US cities apparently.  Its hard for me to figure out why folks would shell out $60 to see this guy go nuts on a stage.  It's likely the first time in US history that folks pay for a circus-like act with a bi-polar guy to do his version of reality.

Fourth, water in Tokyo is reportedly showing traces of radiation.  Not that I'd be terribly worried....but folks might be required to drink bottled water for months and years.  Naturally, it'd have to be imported and some water companies in South Korea and China might be making tons of money off this.

Fifth, someone finally woke up this week and realized that Libya actually maintains a stockpile of mustard gas.  Reportedly, it's around ten tons....and certainly not anything significant.  But you can imagine the media folks going off on a tizzy if this was suddenly used.  "War Crimes" would be uttered ten thousand times in a week and we'd start to see these think-tank old experts appear on MSNBC and Fox.....explaining the terrible reactions to mustard gas.

Sixth, this week....congress woke up and started finally discussing the idea of giving $200 million to a newly constructed military complex in the Arlington area (my local area)....for road renovation.  Normally, it'd take a year or two....to make this pass through, with lots of research.  The problem here is that it concerns the Mark Center, which is this DOD complex to be finished and operational by mid-September.  Over the past six to seven years as the Mark Center progressed....folks kept asking how traffic would flow into this site by the interstate....and nothing was done.  The question now is....can some idiot take the $200 million and somehow provide this work of wonder to bring folks to the parking lot of this building (to house 6,500 government workers) by mid-September?  The answer?  Not likely.