Food success on a day off.

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My Everyday Food magazine is not exactly being published anymore. To finish out my subscription I’m getting Martha Steward Living. This month there was an Everyday Food supplement. It had several good recipe ideas. Since I had today off, I figured I’d try one. I’ve been in the mood for Mexican food lately. This was a bean and tortilla casserole. There’s no meat and you use corn tortillas. So does that mean that it’s good for the gluten-free folks and the vegetarian folks? The ingredients were only black beans, corn tortillas, diced tomatoes with green chilis, Monterrey Jack cheese, cilantro and garlic. It was quite simple and tasted good. Here’s the link to the recipe in case you’re interested.

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The Worst Date. Ever.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As a single person, on this special day, I thought I’d share the story of my very worst date. I purposely didn’t write about it when it happened. But it has been probably close to 5 years ago that it happened. So I’m probably safe to write about it. Hopefully I can remember enough details to do the story justice.

Do any of you have a standard location to meet potential dates? A particular Starbuck’s is mine. I call it the bad date Starbuck’s. I’ve had a few of them there. When I need a place to meet that is an easy location for the other party, this is my standard spot. So one early December, several years ago, I agreed to meet a co-worker of my cousin. When someone offers to set me up, I usually accept. It’s only a cup of coffee and you never know where it might lead. What have you got to lose, right?

At this point, I don’t even remember the guy’s name. We’ll call him Todd, just for the heck of it. We met on a Saturday afternoon. We did the usual thing of getting coffee and chatting. I found out that he had a son. But the son lived with his mother. But this woman wasn’t an ex-wife or anything. She was just the mother of his child. Hmm… During the chat, Todd was doing the “lean forward” thing. I could tell he was interested. For me, the verdict was still out. I know I tend to make decisions rather quickly when I first meet a guy. So I was trying to keep an open mind.

After a little while, Todd asks what I’ve got planned for the rest of the day. Note to self: always have a plan even if you have nothing to do but your laundry. I’m a horrible liar and I wasn’t prepared to come up with an excuse on the spot. Since it’s still early enough in the afternoon, he suggests we go to a movie at a nearby theater. So we get into his SUV and drive over to the local mall with a movie theater. It’s December and during the height of Christmas shopping season. Navigating and finding a parking spot proved to be a challenge. At one point he was going the wrong way down a one way. Yikes!

We get to the theater and end up seeing something like, The Golden Compass. Does that sound like a movie that came out a while ago? I just checked. That’s the movie and the year was 2007. He gets the tickets and we find some seats. I’m sure I used the restroom at some point there and had a moment to myself to think, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” I go back to the theater and find Todd. The movie starts.

Not to far into it, I feel him leaning in and murmuring to me, “Do you mind if I hold your hand, I’m an affectionate kind of guy.” Hell yes I mind! But I’m too nice and polite to shoot down your ego at this time. I was not at a point in my life where I knew how to handle it when a man puts me in that situation. So, he proceeds to reach down and hold my hand and do the little circle thing with his thumb on my hand. Are you creeped out? I sure was. To this day, I jokingly do that move on my friends to purposely creep them out. It was the longest 2 hours of my life. After the movie he drove me back to my car at the bad date Starbuck’s and I never saw him again.

Later in the weekend he did call and want to go out again. In the meantime, I had called my cousin and she felt absolutely awful that she didn’t see that one coming. She’s quite the wordsmith and coached me on how to turn him down and “break it off,” even though it had never actually started. You’re a great guy and I had a nice time, but I just don’t see it going any further. Thanks for the movie. Good Luck! Hang up. I’m sure it wasn’t quite that short. But that’s the gist of it.

So on this Valentine’s Day, I may be single, but I like it. I’ll take single over creepy guys any day.

Magnet School

magnet school a public school offering new and special courses to attract students from a broad urban area so as to promote desegregation

Hmm… Is that what we’re doing? Could’ve fooled me. Apparently we’re a magnet school. I guess there are a few people who know about this. As far as the plans for developing the magnet, I’m sure there are some. But as someone who has been at my school for 16 years, apparently I don’t rank high enough to be included or informed about the plans. Most of us get informed about these decisions when we find the glossy brochure in our mailbox. Already printed and distributed to potential customers. I learned long ago, not to get phased by things like this. Decisions get made in education. Things happen. Things change. You can always count on change. What is “hot” one year is out the next. As far as teaching math goes, no matter what education fad is in the works, I still need to teach all of the stuff that they need to pass the state tests and graduate. They still come without knowing their basic math facts and need instruction to get them up to grade level. We’re still working with the basic building blocks no matter what eduspeak is in the wind.

So why are we a magnet school? It seems that elementary schools have jumped on the magnet bandwagon. And those elementary kids are of the age where they need to articulate to the high school level. This particular magnet sounds exciting. But currently there are 51 people who are listed as employed currently at the pinnacle of this field. There are another 38 employed in a management capacity. The location of these jobs are located far, far away from here (TX, FL, CA). Sounds like a promising career choice, huh? How would you like those odds at landing a job?

We may as well be a magnet in Underwater Basket Weaving. You could spend money on special equipment to learn the skills. Get your teachers to incorporate some aspect of basket weaving into their lessons. I suppose we could do something with patterns in math… In the end, how is it going to benefit kids?

To be prepared for the next phase in their lives, they need a good foundation of the basic skills that have already been determined by people who really know what they’re doing. We need to add in technology skills to adapt to the 21st century. They need to be able to work in a group and speak in front of an audience. Reading, writing and mathematical skills are still very necessary. They need to be creative problem solvers and critical thinkers. We need to encourage them to develop as individuals to find their special, unique niche in this world. I won’t even get into how we try to make up for their lack of food, healthcare and support systems.

When I was a teenager, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was beginning to figure out what I was good at. I knew enough to get into college and pick a major for something that was useful and something I could do. Even when I was done with college I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t figure it out until I was 26. And we expect an elementary student to know what they want to do? Seems a little crazy to me. Yes, there are those few that know what they want to be “when they grow up” from a young age. But they’re the exception, not the rule.

Am I going to get excited about this new focus? Not likely. I need a better reason than somebody somewhere thought it would be a way to draw kids to a school. No fancy equipment will make a difference if they don’t have a solid foundation to build upon.

So who is looking out for the “good” kids?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I don’t even know if I have my thoughts organized enough to write a post about it. But I’m going to give it a shot.

I don’t know if it’s just my situation or if it’s happening elsewhere. But we seem to spend so much time focussing on the kids at the bottom and the ones that are the huge behavior problems, the good kids just get left to fend for themselves. Who is looking out for sweet little Gao, who never requires an extra effort to teach? Who is looking out for Xee, who is always on time to class, participates and turns in her work on time? Who is looking out for Sunny, who would never hurt a fly, much less, get into a fight at school? Who is looking out for Mikayla, who is so sweet an innocent, she doesn’t even know what pot smells like?

Why is it that we focus on the bottom-feeders? Does it send a message to the “good” kids that it doesn’t pay to be good? The kids who are a pain in the ass get rewarded for NOT being as big of an asshole as they normally are. Hello? Who thought that up? You get a reward for being a little bit of an asshole instead of a huge one? C’mon. How do you deal with this as an ethical human being? The good kids just get ignored. There’s something “not right” about this.

I may be going out on a limb here. But you can’t say that bad behavior is a cultural thing. An asshole is an asshole no matter what color you are. Disrespect is disrespect. Don’t tell me that being disrespectful is okay in certain cultures. Being a jerk is not okay no matter what.

Is anyone else out there running into this problem?