Monday, December 31, 2007

A Real Resolution: Let's Go Meta For a Minute

Having written about 450 or so posts over the last 2.5 years, there have been many points at which your humble blogster has asked himself "what, exactly, is the point here?" Of course, the number of commenters who have asked this question is far higher, but that has been okay because Burque Babble has resisted having a real point since its inception. Lacking a real agenda has seemed as important not having ads or asking commenters to register before being able to make comments.

Lately though the question of "what's the point" has raised its head in a new, more blog-threatening way. Being meaningless is fine, but what if "the Tubes" themselves don't have a point? More importantly: What if all this time spent on the "Internets" actually retards creativity, thinking, knowledge?

(insert sound of today's wind silently blowing through your humble blogster's brain)

Some friends and I had a conversation about this very topic last night, and it was one of those situations where a topic was brought up in a light-hearted provocative way and ended up leaving us all silent and wondering. How much "work" are we really doing here in blog/internet land? What is the quality of the "entertainment" we are receiving and how active is our brain in receiving it, whether information or entertainment? Just how passive is our mental interaction with this Internet thing? Just how addicted are we?

(reinsert sound of today's wind)

Ever since I got my first Compaq "portable" computer back in 1985 (before moving up to my Dad's IBM XT with, get this, 10 MEGABYTES of hard drive memory), I have tended to laugh at famous writers who continued to either compose by hand or on old Underwood typewriters. Even before Mosaic and all that it seemed quaint, but silly.

Now, 22 years into this computer thing, I wonder.

I've spent an embarrassingly large number of hours before the computer in recent years, but haven't really questioned it, feeling that the benefits outweigh the costs. Then I think about these "benefits", and wonder if it is really a "benefit" to follow current events via the 'Net and know the following:

  • That I can get a close look at the snow causing today's road closure of I-70 by going to TundraCam.
  • That Jimmy Fallon got married to someone he met on the set of "Fever Pitch"
  • That Ron Paul is running for President
  • That I can get a "Second Life" Class 5 Island on EBay for $1,450.
  • That a local Fox affiliate in St. Louis devoted a newscast to the erroneous rumor that Albert Pujols was on the list of those accused of steroids/HGH use in the Mitchell Report.
What would I/we be doing if we weren't living/knowing this way? Would we just find another brand of brain candy? Would that candy be as time-consuming and trivial, or even more so? What was the brain candy before Mosaic 2.0, PINE e-mail and the 14.400 modem?

I'm going to go offline for a few days and consider these questions. Or try like Hell to do so. It's a Resolution of sorts, and one that I can already see will be really hard to keep. For instance, all my music listening has been spent between Rhapsody and online radio for years now. Whenever I find myself listening to KUNM on the radio now I try to think back to a time in which I not only listened to KUNM but worked there DJing "Global Music". Can I really go back to that?

Of course the answer for just about every question is "moderation", but will moderation when it comes to the "Tubes" be enough?

I don't know, but I'm going to try to find out. I'm going some version of cold turkey for a week or so. No/as little/okay, maybe a tiny bit more than a little internet usage as possible. Time away from the laptop so overused that the silver paint has worn off around the space bar, and it's only 18 months old. Time doing something around the house...God knows what.

I think I'll start with that biography of Willem de Kooning I bought two months back and haven't touched. 600 pages of Abstract Expressionism. Scary, but maybe something like a crazy life and enigmatic painting is the way to kick this addiction. It also reminds me of a day back in 1994, I believe, in which at a computer lab at UNM I spent some time using Mosaic and going to the WebMuseum. I still remember looking at the Fauvists page there ( Matisse, etc.) and seeing these beautiful paintings of blazing color slowly load onto the 14 inch monitor.

My life hasn't been the same since.

Let's see what my life is like in a week or so, and whether I come crawling back to the Internet like some tweaking junkie back to Needle Park. Until then, enjoy the sunshine, wind, soil, reading chair, whatever is really out there.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Parental Discretion Advised: The Seven Words, Thursday Afternoon 2007 Edition

Because this is what you do during a vacation Thursday afternoon, I plopped down on the couch (and where else does one "plop down" these days?) and surfed my way through the seven Jerry Springer telecasts to the "USA Network". Upon this channel I found "The 40 Year-Old Virgin".

Hmmm...I think to myself, "USA Network" at 1 in the afternoon. What hilarious censorship standards might I encounter in viewing this movie on this network at this time?

Answer: Much hiliarity. Levels of hilarity at or above the actual film. Okay, it's "The 40 Year-Old Virgin", it's a movie, not a film.

****ATTENTION TO PARENTS AND STRANGE FCC TYPES: "BAD" WORDS FOLLOW****

Good News For "Bad" Words: It's apparently okay to say "asshole" in a movie at 1 in the afternoon on "USA Network". It's also okay to have a character say "smoke my pole" and "did you cum in your pants?" It is strangely okay to say "nigger", but not "you are fucking with the wrong nigger" because of the word "fucker". Not that you asked, but it is okay for a character to say "and her dog starts licking my ass". Lastly, it happened fast, but I believe it is now okay to say "Goddamn" in a movie on "USA Network" at 1 in the afternoon.

Bad News For "Bad" Words: It is still not okay to say any version of the word "fuck" at 1 in the afternoon on "USA Network" on a Thursday Afternoon. "Shit" is still taboo. The word "pussy" is a no-go as well. There are some others, but I found that if the character says the word really fast they basically just left the word in, while if the character says something like "fuck" slower and more demonstrably the word "freak" would be edited in with remarkably poor quality.

Who makes these rules? What meetings result in the decision that "asshole" is okay, but "shit" is not? Can I attend the next such meeting? Can I get paid to attend and determine whether "smoke my pole" is appropriate at 1 in the afternoon on "USA Network"?

P.S.: Just noticed I misspelled "discretion" in the title for about five hours. These eyes of mine are getting past "old guy" to "glaucoma/cataracts" in a hurry. I'm already ctrl+ing two or three times in Firefox and still missing stuff. And have I mentioned that my knees are sore or that hairs are growing in my ears? Okay, hairs are definitely NOT growing in my ears. Forget I said anything about that.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Thing That Makes Them Tick Like A Bomb

"...I hope that Martin goes on to trounce whichever nutjob the GOP chooses to prop up."
-Jason Call, Ex-NM CD#1 Democratic candidate, 12/21/07
The quote above isn't a segue into any lame analysis of the CD#1 Primary or race. It's not an attack on the Republican Party. Instead, I want to spend a few words talking about "nutjobs".

Earlier today, as you know, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated along with 20 or so other people in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. On a less international scale, Albuquerque has seen three attacks (two arsons and one vandalism) at area abortion clinics/family planning centers in the last month.

Nutjobs.

I know "nutjob" seems a flippant, slangy term to describe people who would go around doing such things. But it somehow captures the utter stupidity of one being so convinced s/he is right and others wrong that they would kill the "other" and/or burn down their buildings. How can anyone be so insanely, illogically convinced of their rectitude? How can anyone possibly defend such actions?

Oh, sweet religion. Where would we be without it?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Et Tu, Thelma?

Thelma Domenici
Time to Kill Death Penalty

Thoughtful Gifts Build Bonds With Colleagues

New Customs May Ease Gift-Giving of Families

Along With Credit Cards, Bring Courtesy to Mall

State Party's Intention Clearly on Invitation

Ask Thelma: Grace Is Timeless Even in an Electronic World


Yes, I am just childish enough to find it funny that the Journal online has put the very serious opinion column "Time To Kill Death Penalty" just above "Thoughtful Gifts Build Bonds With Colleagues" under Thelma Domenici's name/picture.

And proving that I've been totally out of it culturally, I didn't even know that Thelma D. had joined the traitorous Gene Grant and left the sinking space ship Tribune for the cubed monolith of the Borg. Losing Gene is one thing, but Thelma!?!

Without Thelma, the Tribune is a discourteous pile of Jenga pieces, incapable of both staying erect and maintaining proper etiquette and decorum in doing so. Thelma's leaving is truly a sign of newspaper end times, and also a good indication that the gasping afternoon daily will not use proper stationary to formally announce its death.

As an infrequent contributor to the Tribune (and if I recall correctly, the death of the Trib will make it three separate publications I have successfully killed off merely by writing for them), I get the very occasional person asking me if the Journal has called asking me to write for them. Readers of Burque Babble tend to be a discerning bunch, so I think it's hardly necessary for me to answer that question here. I will say that the question is just about as funny, to me, as the Journal juxtapositioning a plea to end the death penalty between Thelma Domenici's name and "Thoughtful Gifts Build Bonds With Colleagues".

And no, I don't really think badly of Ms. Domenici or Gene Grant for leaving the Tribune early, nor do I think Thelma has hurt our ephemeral collegial bond by not getting me a "thoughtful gift" or even letting me know she was leaving the Trib. We've all got to do what we've got to do, and when the Borg asks you to put on the funky eye-piece headset, or join the others in the burning Viking funeral space boat, being assimilated looks like a pretty good option.

From what I hear (and no, I have no "inside" info whatsoever), the Tribune ain't gonna make it to my next scheduled column for them on January 3rd. Put simply and inadequately, that's a bummer, and not because the readers of ABQ will be deprived of some silly palaver from your humble blogster.

To wit: Randy Burge wrote a column for the Trib a few days back concerning the death of a homeless person. I admit I've generally avoided reading Mr. Burge's business/positive thinking columns over the years. Not my kind of thing. But here was a thoughtful essay that was by far the best "Christmas Sharing/Caring" article I came across this year. And from such an unexpected source.

Losing the Tribune is not a cataclysmic thing. It's not a tsunami along the Thai coast or the senseless death of a South Valley boy from guns or bad driving. But it does matter, I think. And Albuquerque will not be quite the same, regardless of how many blogs and other "news" sources try to fill the resultant void. Including this silly blog.

Well, at least we'll stay informed about things like Along With Credit Cards, Bring Courtesy to Mall. Hard to imagine how we'd get along as a society without sage advice like that.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Order Mikhail Bakunin Now And Receive Free Express Shipping!

The Old Gray Lady continues to show how hip she can be by dropping words I've never seen before. Today's New York Times way-cool term is "shopdropping" ("surreptitiously putting things in stores, rather than illegally taking them out"), and the piece focuses mainly on anarchists dropping advertising leaflets about how much advertising sucks.

And that's somewhat interesting, but even more so was the following:

"For pet store owners, the holidays usher in a form of shopdropping with a touch of buyer’s remorse. What seemed like a cute gift idea at the time can end up being dumped back at a store, left discretely to roam the aisles.

“After Easter, there’s a wave of bunnies; after Halloween, it’s black cats; after Christmas, it’s puppies,” said Don Cowan, a spokesman for the store chain Petco, which in the month after each of those holidays sees 100 to 150 pets abandoned in its aisles or left after hours in cages in front of stores. Snakes have been left in crates, mice and hamsters surreptitiously dropped in dry aquariums, even a donkey left behind after a store’s annual pet talent show, Mr. Cowan said."

Somehow a left-behind donkey says more about holiday shopping than any anarchist can.

I do like the Marx/Bakunin/Guevara t-shirt, however. It's the one on the right below:


Kike Arnal, New York Times


Happy last-minute shopping or "shopdropping" everyone!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Great Idea To Watch




Straight from Mario Burgos and Mudhouse Advertising comes this nifty way-cool idea. As Mario puts it at his site....

For every unique view this video draws during the holiday season

Mudhouse Advertising will donate $1 to Art Street and Albuquerque
Healthcare for the Homeless.


This contribution (up to $10,000) will be made on behalf of
all the clients and vendors who have given Mudhouse's art a home.

Special thanks to the generosity of:

Rebecca Elise Productions
Luis Molina
Half-Life Digital

For their donation of time, talent and resources
in the production of this video.

Watch, learn, and help us spread the holiday spirit!


Thanks for the great idea, Mudhouse/Mario!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Worse than a Jay Leno Rerun, ur "Classic"

Yes, we've been forced to this. A cross-posting of something I think is in today's Tribune. Oh, the ignominy! Burque Babble apologizes for its laziness and dereliction of duty. I have some excuses ready to offer, some of which are even partially true, but will dispense with "Andy Pettitte says he only did HGH two times and if that's wrong, well he's sorry" non-apology apologies, and just copy/paste the damn thing.

Lazy cross-posting begins now....

All Hail the New Mexico Bowl! (or some cheesy headline like that)

I want to start by welcoming all the many visitors as well as national and international press eagerly thronging our fine city to attend the hotly contested “New Mexico Bowl” this Saturday. I know the big game is still a few days off, but with all the hype of an epic post-season contest like this it’s a sure bet every sportswriter and ticket scalper in the nation has already made the Duke City their temporary home.

The game has already made big news around the country, with various sports pundits ranking the New Mexico Bowl anywhere from 29th to 32nd in importance and excitement out of the 32 ultra-compelling collegiate clashes over the next few weeks.

That’s high praise when you consider the New Mexico Bowl is competing with pivotal match-ups such as Florida Atlantic v. Memphis in the “New Orleans Bowl” and the scintillating Colorado/Alabama battle of 6-6 teams at the “Independence Bowl” in beautiful, exotic Shreveport, Louisiana.

Of course the real treat locally is that rabid fans of the New Mexico Lobos (who rabidly attended the last UNM home game to the tune of filling half the stadium) will get to drive only a few short miles to attend the game, unless the weather is chilly or the wind is blowing or it’s cloudy or they need to buy some holiday presents or do laundry.

Besides, being the ultra-important game it is, the New Mexico Bowl will be on national television, watched by untold hundreds of gambling addicted ESPN junkies who would gladly watch Don Schrader if he appeared on national television and they could bet on how many times he said the word “urine”.

After having almost defeated the football powerhouse San Jose State last year, this go-round the Lobos tackle another gridiron legend, the Nevada Wolf Pack. Yes, it’s Lobos v. Wolf Pack. Wow, is that interesting! It’s like the teams have the same mascot or something!

A coincidence like that can only add to the interest of the game in the same way those chirpy TV sideline reporters can when they mention 45,000 times during the upcoming telecast that UNM hasn’t won a bowl game since 1961. Or that UNM basically invented a bowl game in a cheesy attempt to finally play someone they could beat and have people stop saying things like “UNM hasn’t won a bowl game since 1961”.

Not only that, but UNM hasn’t played Nevada since 1942. Fascinating! And chock full of historical significance. Facts like these will doubtlessly add a historical context making this year’s New Mexico Bowl one long remembered by fans and creepy lovers of obscure factoids alike, at least until the playing of the tremendously important “Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl” later on Saturday.

So, welcome college football fans and media from around the world and welcome to the 2007 New Mexico Bowl! Be sure to also attend the world-famous “New Mexico Bowl Parade”, featuring a ‘61 Studebaker festooned with chile ristras as it weaves its way from Coach’s Sports Bar to University Stadium prior to the game. Unless it’s chilly or windy or cloudy, in which case we’ll just watch the game on TV at the bar.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Problems We Never Have To See

Hey, did I miss anything? I think my hibernation is just about over. Once I can clear out all the sleep boogers from my eyes I'm gonna turn on this here computer and start wasting folks' time again.

But after looking at this, maybe I should leave the sleep boogers alone...


The photo by Seattle Times photojournalist Steve Ringman showing the result of timber clear-cut + big rainstorm reminds us down here in the largely treeless Southwest that all that photocopying we do comes from some place. Ringman's photo looks to be having something of an impact on folks up Seattle way. Having driven by many a clear-cut as a resident of Washington State back in the 80s-90s, I can tell you there might be no uglier man-made thing than a clearcut.

Well, there was the Copper Queen Mine down in Bisbee:


Nope, clear-cut still got that beat. Oh well, time to go make a bunch of copies for class tomorrow.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Grass Is Always Deader On the Other Side of the Classroom

Crawling out, once again, from deep within my work bunker, now six school days from a long-awaited break that will surely be gone seemingly minutes after it begins, I pause here to put far too many commas in a sentence and write another incoherent ramble.

No, I promise this is not another in a series of "my job is hard" whiny rants. I'm sure I can think of something besides how tough the last part of this semester has been. Hmmm...still thinking.

Hey wait, instead of writing about how hard K-12 teaching is, why don't I just link to this article by Trib columnist (and soon-to-be-ex charter school substitute teacher) Joseph Crumb about how hard K-12 teaching is? Or even quote from it:

"But after three years of substitute teaching in Albuquerque's charter schools, I have a different theory as to why Johnny can't read: He doesn't want to."

Nothing is as good for the soul as finding someone more bitter than you are. I thank Joseph Crumb for making me feel better during these dark days when Winter Break seems as far away as one of Neptune's moons. Here's some more salve to soothe the bitter teaching beast:

"But read in school? Johnny is more likely to throw his hand up in a traffic-cop pose: Stop! For Johnny is determined to remain illiterate."

Another reason to wish the Tribune would last forever! Mr. Crumb is making me almost giddy with relative compassion for all things K-12. I am a veritable Mr. Chips in comparison!

Perspective is a great, great thing, and now that Mr. Crumb has me thinking, I can not only look back to my own days at a charter school (speaking of dark times of the soul), but can also remember my first year of K-12 teaching in a time/galaxy far, far away: West Mesa High School, 1993.

Man, did that job suck.

Conscious incompetence meets mid-90s gangland Albuquerque. I get creepy chills just vaguely remembering it. Better switch to yet another quote from Mr. Crumb:

"But these critics have never been in a classroom with 20 or 30 kids who have grown up believing, as a result of relentless corporate marketing, that they have an inalienable right to be entertained every minute of every day."

Ah, that's better. Maybe if I re-read Mr. Crumb's bitter ode every day from here on out I'll make it to next Friday, the 21st, and the sweet oblivion of a two-week vacation. Again, thanks Joseph Crumb. Your pain is easing my pain.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Game Called On Account of "Internal Polling"

Like some very careful burglars cleaning up fingerprints, today's ABQJournal piece by Jeff Jones cites an "internal poll" as the reason Martin Chávez gave up on running for U.S. Senate, and not sinister outside Democratic forces, i.e. Chuck Schumer and his alleged cabal of untrustworthy East Coast meddlers. According to Chavez Campaign-What Campaign? Manager Mark Fleisher:
"People like to think (it was). But ... as far as (pushing) the mayor to get out, there wasn't any of that," he said. Fleisher said he and Chávez began discussing a possible exit from the race last Monday when the Chávez camp got early results from an internal poll that "wasn't very favorable."
No, we don't get to see Marty go up against Tom in the Primary and get his swell-headed hat handed to him. Yeah, as Marjorie over at M-Pyre mentions, "I was kinda sorta looking forward to the contest." On the other hand, it's one thing to lose a Primary badly, but it's a really bad, stinky thing to barely leave the starting gate because of an "internal poll" that just has to be uglier lookin' than a truck stop bathroom. And yes, I would pay money to see this "internal poll". I am embarrassed to admit how much I would pay to see it.

Sure, nobody is necessarily going to believe Mark Fleisher or Chávez and the "internal poll" excuse, but you gotta admit that it sounds plausible because who would humiliate oneself enough to use an "internal poll" as the excuse, one that must have looked something like this:

To: Marty
From: Mark
Re: Example Question/Response From Our Polling

...Question #14:

If the election for New Mexico U.S. Senate were held today and the two candidates were Albuquerque Mayor Martin Ch
ávez and Super-Irritating TV Ad Attorney-Ambulance Chaser Russ "before you accept a quick check, check with me" Whitener , who would you vote for?
(Respondents: Whitener 81%, Ch
ávez 9%, "Can't Tell Difference Between Whitener and Chavez" 5%, Ron Bell or "that other lawyer guy with the mustache, the one that's really short, I think that's Ron Bell, right?" 5%)

So anyway, now Udall gets to idly sit on his fairly large pile of campaign cash for a while, Marty gets to focus more attention on his hyper-dysfunctional relationship with City Council, and Martin Heinrich, Darren White and others wait to find out if things are screwed up enough between Mayor and Council to get Chavez over his dislike of the continuous campaigning a U.S. House race requires.

Some of us kinda hope Councilor Debbie O'Malley and others start bringing the Mayor and his staff flowers, lattes and maybe even put aside overriding a veto here and there in the next few months. You know, make the Mayor feel at home. Okay, it's making me cringe to even suggest that.

Meanwhile, we're turning the page on the short saga known as "Marty v. Tom". It was far too brief, "flash fiction" really, but somehow... still satisfying. Especially if we really got to see that "internal poll". Viewing such enjoyable filth would be politiporn of the highest order.


P.S.: Speaking of Politiporn, I finally got around to watching the documentary "Street Fight" about the 2002 Newark mayor's race last night. Good, scary stuff. I know I give Mayor Chavez a ton of grief, but he's far from the worst mayor in the country (unless I'm missing something). Newark ex-Mayor Sharpe James might have been the worst for a number of years. Check this documentary out if you're a political junkie like me, or just want to get incredibly depressed about race relations in this country.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Deus Ex Machina: Friday Afternoon Edition

A hard week, one that left it impossible to put a grocery list together much less anything resembling a coherent thought. Not that Burque Babble is known for its coherence, thoughts or much of anything else.

Anyhow, there's been an involuntary bloggin' vacation for much of the week, replaced by several workdays in a row in which I questioned the desirability of the education profession on roughly 1.23 billion separate occasions.

Then I come home after a wild, crazy, draining, soul-deflating work week and read this.

What a great week it's been! And what a great way to go into the weekend! Work-schmerk, soul-deflating, schmoul-deflating...let's party!

P.S.: You think Marty will take back everything he said about Tom Udall being the uber-demon of anti-Lab Hell bent on destroying jobs and the New Mexican way of life?

No, I don't think so either.

Monday, December 03, 2007

...And The Horse Anybody, Anywhere Rode In On

Is it just me, or is our entire nation in the pissiest mood since "Laugh-In" was canceled? Everywhere I look people are beyond simple anger, leaps beyond snippy and moving directly into outraged and irate.

Maybe it's the intra-holiday period, made longer by an early Thanksgiving. Maybe Seasonal Adjustment Disorder has entered a new, larger, surlier phase in the days of record global warmth. Maybe we're all just mad because we can't afford to buy ourselves any presents this year.

Whatever the reason, I can't seem to go anywhere without crazy mad drivers, colleagues, blogposters, non-colleagues, older people, younger people...

and especially tonight's City Council meeting. As Dan McKay posted at ABQJournal earlier this evening, four Councilors aren't even at the meeting because they're mad at another Councilor who "repeatedly backed out of committments on who he or she would support" as next Council President.

I turned on for some juicy viewing, and Debbie O'Malley (always fun to watch for her snippy asides) was so snippy even I was cringing and had to turn the channel to ESPN's 987th rerun of the "The World's Strongest Man" contest on ESPN. And yes, all the Strongest Men candidates looked angry, too.

Okay, it wasn't actually the "World's Strongest Man" show, it was a college basketball game involving a team called Wofford. Man, you guys are so nit-picky snippy these days.

By the way, where's Wofford? Remember the old days, pre-Internet, where someone could bring up a school like Wofford to you and you'd spend three solid days obsessing about where the school was located and/or what its mascot must be. Now, it takes about four seconds to resolve the obsession.

But has this made us any happier? Can anything other than a long solid vacation at this point?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Best Email We've All Gotten In a While

From: Guild Cinema
Date: Dec 1 2007 1:17 P.M.
subject: Pornotopia-the show goes on

THIS WEEK AT THE GUILD CINEMA (...really!)

We have been advised by the ACLU that we may CONTINUE WITH
OURFESTIVAL. A hearing to review our case will occur on Monday,
sowhile we are not out of the woods as yet and we may still face fines
and potential jail time, we WILL go on with the show.

Hmm, we thought the USA had come to its senses about what
consenting adults can do and see, if they wish, in these 40 years
since Lenny Bruce's obscenity trials.....

Our web site, and our phone message, will be updated with any further
news.

THANK YOU for your continued support!

- Peter & Keif / The Guild Cinema

_____________________________________

No, I wasn't planning on going to this Festival. Yes, I'd rather the Guild was showing that fairly new Donkey Kong documentary that isn't out on DVD yet. But thanks to "local authorities", I now wouldn't mind if "Pornotopia" was held every day of every week of every year at the Guild. Even better would be if the fairly new Donkey Kong documentary could be considered part of this ongoing "Pornotopia", with Donkey Kong sex scenes added along with slavish licking of the game screen and controllers.

Those "local authorities" aren't just good at telling everyone else what they should be allowed to see, hear, perform, they're damn good promotional people! Marketing gurus extraordinaire! Thanks "local authorities" for helping make "Pornotopia" the success it will now surely be.

Peter and Keif could probably use the same treatment with the upcoming Joe Strummer documentary. Did you know, "local authorities" that Strummer was....A SOCIALIST!!! Or did you know, "local authorities" that the Guild's upcoming "King Corn" documentary says scandalous things about high-fructose corn syrup? Or that corn is a monocotyledon plant which sounds obscene and surely has something to do with sex? Plus, I think there is a sex scene in "King Corn" involving either fructose, corn or both.

Speaking of Peter and Kief, maybe if the "local authorities" follow through with their threats of fines and jail time we can set up a defense fund, fine payment collective or even offer to serve some of their jail time. Or maybe we could just stop forgetting (me included) about the vital service the Guild provides us and stop taking the place for granted. Good on ya, Peter and Kief, and thanks to the ACLU (I'd almost forgotten you existed, too....) as well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Gentlepeople, Start Your Vitriol, Mudslinging and Backstabbing!!!

Folks around the world have all been wondering the same thing: when will Burque Babble officially start to care about the 2008 Presidential Race? In order to stop the incessant calls from Le Monde, Al Jazeera and the Aiken County Standard asking me this question, I now formally announce that I am almost ready to care about it. Caring could begin as early as Saturday, unless I have more laundry than usual, in which case caring will have to be moved back to Sunday.

As some of you may remember, especially if you don't have many things to remember in your life, I have been a useless proponent of going to a 90-day official election period instead of the 24/7/52/infinity system we have now. My rebellious throwing of an argumentative dirt clod into the ocean on this matter has resulted in zero change. Meanwhile, I have largely missed approximately 2.75 million televised debates, YouTube debates, Manchester Rotary Club forums on C-SPAN and avoided any news concerning the State of Iowa, despite the importance Iowa and its citizens play and have played in my life.

This news moratorium has extended up to now to all Election 2008 races with the exception of the U.S. Senate Primary, and anyone would have to admit that whole deal is a unique situation all around. Plus, it involves Marty Chavez, and...well, I think we've said enough about that to last us a while.

The impetus for setting a possible caring start date? Hearing Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani argue. Like the rooster crowing at dawn and Christmas retail commercials appearing on TV in late October, the sound of Republicans sniping at each other over who is more xenophobic can only mean one thing.

Admittedly, I have some catching up to do. Evidently, somebody called Hillary the "B" word, Hillary said something about wearing a highly protective pantsuit, Romney has a full-staff of illegal immigrants working at his castle and every candidate is a fan of both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox simultaneously.

Still, I get the feeling that catching up with Election 2008 is going to be like seeing a soap opera for the first time in two years...not terribly tough to catch up on. Does Obama hate Hillary? Does Bill just prefer running for things over doing an actual job? Is Mitt's hair penetrable by anything less than a bunker buster? These plot questions will most likely still be hanging in the air for some time, and I won't have missed a thing.

So this morning I actually went to JoeMonahan.com, stayed for about 10 seconds until the "total blog election coverage" headlines made me run away. Maybe Carla Aragon should consider moving to JoeMonahan, her experience with "Breaking News", "First on Four" and "Look at Me!!!!" is perfectly suited for Mr. Monahan's site.

Then I went to Haussaman and caught up on actual information presented in a way that didn't make me feel like I was reading a slightly more pornographic version of the NY Post. I caught up on Southern NM politics while also reading about a little commenting brouhaha that surfaced on Haussaman's site. I plan on spending far too much time at "Haussaman on New Mexico Politics" in the next 11 or so months.

And there will be the other usual suspects like DailyKos, RedState, Rasmussen Reports, and myriad other sites to gaze at for far too long at relationship-straining intensity. But all that can still officially wait until Saturday, or Sunday if the laundry is really piled up.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Sincere Apology To Our Readers...

It has come to our attention that Burque Babble has won some sort of award or something. Frankly, we (that is I) have no idea what this award is for ("Most Typographical Errors in a Blog" perhaps), but rest assured that we will do everything in our power to make absolutely sure this sort of thing never, ever happens again.

P.S.: We also promise to stop making inane, self-referential posts as soon as the onslaught of intra-holiday work gets below neck-level. Rest assured that the level of inanity will continue to be absurdly high, as Babble readers have grown accustomed, but we (that is I) promise to be less self-referential in that inanity.

Thank you, and again...we apologize.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who Were The Other Two Finalists?

I admit the question above was my initial response to reading that outgoing APS Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt beat out two others to get the head job at Aiken County Schools, S.C.. Given any semblance of administrative experience on the part of the other two finalists, just who could Everitt possibly outclass for the job?

So, thanks largely to the Aiken Standard newspaper and an ABQ Journal link, I found out about the two who aren't getting the job.

Dr. David Mathis

Dr. Frank Roberson oh, and Dr. Roberson has his own web page too.

Both of the newspaper profiles make, in my opinion, interesting reading, especially in a detached I live in APS bizarro land and it's good to see things are just as screwed up and confusing in other parts of the country sort of way.

They say the grass is always greener in another time zone, and I guess they'd be right. I also guess I wish Dr. Everitt well, even if I wasn't that impressed with the job she did here in Albuquerque.

Dr. Everitt, I hope your new Titanic floats a little bit longer than the ship you just jumped from. Don't worry about us, we'll just be floating out here with the icebergs.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I Seen The Stuffing And The Damage Done



Somehow this song fits on a cloudy day-after-Thanksgiving post-engorgement "nod". Plus it was evidently recorded on "The Johnny Cash Show". The juxtapositions are just too hard to resist, even if it is one of these new-fangled Internet Video things. Mr. Young, fresh from Canada and looking about 13 years old.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Let's Have The Airing of Grievances Early This Festivus

In some ways, the Thanksgiving Break is a vile tempter (I'd say the usual "vile temptress", but that phrase has always struck me as sexist in the same way that women can be called "bitches" and men don't really have a identical word to be dropped on them).

I'm sorry, where was I...oh yeah, Thanksgiving Break can be a vile tempter-person. It is a highly anticipated break, especially in public school, but it's so darn short. Or maybe when you're conditioned to teaching summer and winter vacation, it seems like a piddly excuse for a respite.

Faithful readers of Burque Babble, all 20 of them, have probably noticed an even higher level of acerbity in recent postings. I'll admit It's been a bit of a tough haul these last few weeks heading up to Break. And, as usual, solving the ever-changing puzzle of how to best motivate and inspire schoolchildren has been a two-hour therapeutic massage compared to wrestling the broken puzzle that is Albuquerque Public Schools, K-12 education "policy" and the adult human population in general.

So when I read stories like the one in the Tribune yesterday (I'm guessing it was yesterday as see it online this morning) about teacher in-services, my acerbity-meter goes to eleven, at least on this first morning of break. I mentioned yesterday that APS seems to be in the news, almost always for the wrong reasons, enough to put out a daily newspaper entitled APS Sucks Post-Gazette. Perhaps the Tribune should be purchased just for this purpose.

Anyway, this story about in-services is maddening in that way news stories about your profession often are. It starts off with the fine premise that in-services are a complete waste of time. If one polled teachers throughout APS a strong super-majority would be in agreement. So I'm expecting a story with specifics about what a waste of time they are.

Then the story switches gears with this "graf":

An evaluation summary released this month for the September in-service day showed an 86.4 percent endorsement of the "usefulness" of the course material.
As the famous book title says there are "lies, damn lies, and statistics", but you've have to go way past "damn lies" to capture the uselessness of the 86.4 percent number above. This number doubtlessly comes from these little quickie eval forms that presenters pass out at the end of their in-service spiels. I'm here to tell you they are statistically worthless (unless your job is to defend your existence via useless evaluation forms).

There are two main reasons for this:
  1. Teachers are far too nice on these forms because they, too, are professional presenters and feel empathy for a in-service presentation regardless of how useless it is.
  2. Teachers know these evaluation forms mean nothing, that in-services will continue to be worthless as they have been from the beginning of time, and instead of ruffling feathers why don't I just circle a few Likert Scale 5s for "outstanding" and get the Hell out of this education-forsaken room and have a two-hour lunch?
I'd like to conduct my own survey for teachers. It would have one question on it. That question would be:
"Do you prefer an in-service day or a day teaching students?"
Even in my presently still-acerbic state it would be highly pleasurable to see the results of such a survey question posted along with a newspaper story entitled "Albuquerque Public Schools Teachers Ponder Worth of In-Service Days". In fact, I think I'll start my Thanksgiving Break winding down from the intensity of the past few weeks by daydreamingly contemplating the publication of such a survey.

I could then dreamily envision a special meeting in which the survey findings result in the decision to cancel all future in-services and burn all the Likert Scale evaluation forms in a ritualistic ceremony at APS Central Office. Then the fire from this huge bonfire of wasted paper would get out of control and start to engulf APS Central Office itself. Firefighters would try, but be unsuccessful as the APS towers burn to the ground, orange flames visible throughout the overly-gigantic district as ever-larger numbers of on-lookers rejoice and perform primordial dances of ecstasy.



Like I said, I think I need a longer break.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dear Surly, Distrusting Parent: Thanks For Dropping By!

We middle school teachers stand out in the hall between passing periods, performing "duty". Especially as my room is right next to the "Nurse's Office" (quotation marks absolutely needed), I see quite a few adults visitors swing by as I'm standing there smiling and watching semi-closely for neo-adolescent miscreants.

I'm pretty good about greeting each of these unknown adults with the vague Texan greeting of a nod of the head. Often they nod or smile back. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes I wonder why some aren't nodding back....and then there's a news day like this:

"Schools Not Checking For Past Crimes"

"APS Finds Teacher Absences Spike Ahead of Weekend"

"School Bus Driver Avoids Rabbit And Injures Twelve Students"

not to mention the continuing saga of "Stupid Elsy Fierro Hearing In News For 10,000th Time"

and I don't wonder why these adults aren't smiling or nodding back anymore....

P.S.: Being as it's the day before a one-day extended Thanksgiving Break, I also wonder how many times an announcement will come over our 1949-era intercom system: "PLEASE, CAN SOMEONE PLEASE COVER FOR MR. BLANCHARD (name invented) 4TH, 5TH AND 7TH PERIOD, HE DOESN'T HAVE A SUB. PLEASE!!!!!"

Such a pleasant way to start the morning with about eleven such stridently desperately cackled pleas. Happy Day Before The Day Before everybody.

Monday, November 19, 2007

And Now An Anachronistic Word From An Old, Crotchety Guy

There are two kinds of people, those who do/will like the new Duke City Fix layout and those that do/will not. It is with a reluctant, quavering blog voice that I admit I do not. I say this even though we bloggers should all stick together and one should especially be nice to the McDonalds (as in big, not reprehensible) of Albuquerque blogs. More importantly, I reluctantly say this because I can just tell from looking at the new DCF that by stating my dislike of its new look I am:
  • Old
  • Unhip
  • A Web dinosaur destined for extinction and eventual placement in an Internet museum as a relic of a distant unhip past
  • Really old
I guess it all boils down to my general desire for the Internet to go in a time machine and return to the year 2002 or so. I want my Internet pre-video, but with today's bandwidth (and yes I realize I posted three THREE separate YouTube vids on one post last Friday...but I can tell you it felt...kinda creepy).

I do not like "avatars". I do not like even typing the word "avatar". I do not like MySpace or Facebook or whatever new, hip site exists now for people to express themselves through "avatars". I make it a point to avoid MySpace sites, not because of any concerns about safety for its millions of teenage members, but because I can't stand being bombarded with crude "avatars", horrible backgrounds and cloying music that bring back all the horrible memories of those 1990s-era vanity webpages (here's an example), (oh, and here's another) but with tons more "avatars" from "friends" and other misuses of our increased bandwidth.

More than anything else, I detest the use of the Internet for "social networking". Okay, I detest the use of anything for "social networking". More to the point...I detest "social networking". I prefer my Internet video, avatar and "social networking" free. I like my Internet information-rich and visually poor.

I guess I like the 'Net more for its Wild West libertarianism than its High-Tech Socialism. Last week I showed part of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" to my film class. I freely admit it was the single least popular movie I've ever shown to a class (Westerns unpopular..whoulda thunk it?) Anyway, as you may recall that movie is all about the idea of the vanishing West, with Paul Newman and Robert Redford's lawless characters eventually forced out by the steady creep of "civilization".

Looking at the new Duke City Fix I feel a bit like Paul Newman's character (but without the beautiful blue eyes). Maybe I need to move, as Butch and Sundance did, to the Internet version of Bolivia. Or maybe even, dare I say it, read a book.

Friday, November 16, 2007

And We Wonder Why Al Gore Doesn't Run For President....



My wife was professionally obligated last night to watch the Democratic Presidential debate in Las Vegas. I was under no such duress, but happened across the first few seconds before my Wolf Blitzer gag-reflex kicked in.

Despite the rapidity with which I ran from the room in horror, I was reminded that U.S. TV "culture" and its current love of "reality TV" is based in part on the success of Japanese game shows. Those with cable here have probably already run into an old 1980s show, which in its skewering, below-sophomoric English translation edition is called "MXC" or "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge". Here's a clip...



Seeing, if only for a few pre-gag seconds, Wolf Blitzer, and an Las Vegas studio audience obviously swept up from a Ronco infomercial, was enough to make me think that we're about two logical heartbeats away from just putting Hilbamawards and crew in helmets and having them play "Human Tetris" and jump over icky moats in fashion-lapsed track suits.

Of course, for those who missed it, we now have another video-related invention to relive it in all it's gag-worthy glory. My Japanese game show dare for today is that anyone actually make it through all the introductions in the clip below. Viewing it is, in my opinion, far worse than simply trying to hop along a bunch of plastic "logs" to avoid an icky moat.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Reasons For Marty: Chávez as Colonel Kurtz

I promise I'll stop writing about Marty Chávez. Promise! My dog just had its knee surgery staples removed, and I've been spending all my time on Marty. Bad dog owner, bad.

And I'm taking a break from Marty to write about dog surgery staples, accordions ....anything but Martin Chávez just as soon as I explain yesterday's little wordblob in which I suggested Mr. Chávez become Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent. Maggie over at the dynamic trio of blogdom known as m-pyre rightly responded to the Chávez idea with a basic "huh?" and asked for an explanation. As I pack for my Marty vacation, here are a few reasons why I think this is a good idea, seriously.

"We had to destroy the village to save it"
--Alleged quote by a U.S. military officer during the Vietnam War
I've read with some interest about the process of finding a new APS superintendent. I respect and admire the work that has gone into cultivating public comment from every stakeholder group involved (including students, and that's great). But as we now go from public input to School Board decision-making, I am increasingly convinced that things are far too screwed up to expect:
  1. A powerful superintendent to come in and make significant inroads;
  2. The School Board to know a powerful superintendent from a bureaucratic hole in the ground, what with all their bickering, self-interest and general lack of vision;
  3. Any chance of real improvement barring the full-blown figurative destruction of APS village.
And that's where Marty comes in.

Yeah, I admit part of the appeal is that the Mayor has repeatedly talked about his desire to be involved with APS decision-making, boastfully implying and right out stating he could do a better job. And to those boasts I say "prove it". But there's more to it than that. Hiring Chávez instantly becomes the equivalent of bombing the village.

All the festering, open sores around the District (the latest being an audit showing the District can't even balance a checkbook) would immediately become battle lines between a defensive School Board and District employees and the supremely overconfident ex-Mayor (and yeah, he'd have to quit the Mayor gig and that has an appeal for many reasons including the fact that it would add to the already existing 5.2 million open political offices in New Mexico).

Armed with political cachet no former educator can claim, Chávez would "get things done", regardless of whether the solution was wrong or right, which would further inflame the Board and employees. Quotes from Superintendent Marty would quickly go up in Teacher's Lounges and Workrooms around the District, quotes like "I am not going away!" Many disaffected folks would leave, while others would entrench, digging bureaucratic trenches deep and well-protected.

The ex-Mayor would continue to boast, even as the situation implodes well-beyond its current quagmire and enter an "Apocalypse Now" level of the surreal. I can just hear the Doors music playing over press conferences by Fall-2009 as Superintendent Chávez explains why the test scores didn't improve and that everywhere he is surrounded by "errands boys, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill".

By 2010 everybody would be saying, in unison...."the horror......the horror....". The implosion would be complete and those not professionally dead or gone would pick up the pieces, form little charter schools amid the wreckage perhaps, or maybe finally split that South Valley into its own district.

I can see the little kids walking over hot, steaming metaphorical debris on their way to school, smiles on their figuratively smudged faces. They smile because while the District may have been destroyed, at least its destruction was sudden and complete, instead of the far more agonizing dysfunctional bureaucratic coma in which it currently reclines.

P.S.: But I could be wrong. I would love, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the School Board and District to prove me wrong. I would dance a happy jig of wrongness joy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's Not A Marty Coup de Grâce, Merely A Wafer-Thin Mint of a Proposal

It's true, many of us have done some serious Feudal Prince Marty Chavez bashing the last few days. Giddy with news that Tom Udall might/will run for U.S. Senate, we tipped back the political champagne bong and drank greedily. Making a little prognosticatory timeline of Feudal Prince Marty's dismal future might have been good for a laugh or two, as well. Well, at least for a scant few of us.

But now we've had our little divertissement, and it's time to get serious. Namely, the moment has come to put the final piece in the bizarrely complex puzzle known as New Mexico Election '08 into place. And the only thing worthy of completing something so bizarrely baroque is the sublimely bizarre. With no further adieu, may we solemnly, seriously recommend the following:

Martin Chavez for Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent

And no, I'm not joking.

I could bore you with some of the many reasons I think this is a good idea, and no not ALL the reasons are based on a strong love of Dadaist art and literary Absurdism. Some reasons, granted, but certainly not all.

Instead of boring you with these many reasons (at least now), I will instead bore you with the simple fact that, as Mayor, Martin Chavez makes right around $100,000 a year. Outgoing APS Superintendent Beth Everitt makes $185,000 $193,000 annually (a figure that always seems to be noted in every single media mention of her). Twice the salary for a fiefdom truly worthy of the name "Feudal Prince Marty". It's a marriage made in Dada Heaven.

And for those thinking that perhaps your humble blogmeister has taken one too many draughts off the political champagne bong, I know it's might sound crazy, it might sound antithetical to...uh...everything. But imagine...just imagine...and have some more champagne. Garçon!

P.S.: I was a little low on the salary. Now I see the District is thinking somewhere around $260,000 a year. $260K AND a fiefdom? Who needs Washington? Heck, I'm thinking of going to Almeda University for a quickie Ph.D., making a few other résumé touch-ups (the period 1987-1993 could use some work), and applying myself. Don't you think you could almost put up with the APS School Board for $260,000 a year?

P.P.S.: And no, I don't know what's up with all the French in today's post. Maybe I was thinking about Mel Brooks playing Louis XVI. It's definitely good to be the King, n'est-ce pas?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Accordion Dreams Courtesy Guy Klucevsek


The only Klucevsek playing I could find at YouTube, here playing as music score to F.W. Murnau's "Faust.
I guess the "avant-garde" doesn't get quite the YouTube action of Miss Teen South Carolina.


For me, going to a show at the Outpost Performance Space is like hiking. I don't do it that often, and every time I get around to it I ask myself..."why don't you do this more often?"

Ah those psychological mysteries: What makes us strongest eventually kills us, we seek out what we wish to avoid, and we don't go to the Outpost enough.

Anyway, the Klucevsek show was great. Solo accordion and I got to sit 15 feet from his flying left hand as it prodded, probed and danced around the bass buttons like a romantic surgeon. It brought out all my old attempts at playing the instrument (two years of lessons around the turn of the Century), but without the horror-inducing trauma of the lessons themselves.

Of course I'm now planning on going to at least 15 more Outpost shows this season, a number sure to be reduced close to zero by reality. But, man, what a great show.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where In the Political World Is Marty San Diego?

Okay, Coco is right. The crashing multi-year political fall of Martin Chavez is not that important. But at least it will be good for some laughs while watching the war between the U.S. and Iran get "out of hand". Now that I think about it, both Chavez and current U.S. foreign policy are all about hubris and fear (e.g., Chavez' warning that Tom Udall is too "liberal"). Marty would have fit in perfectly as a spokesperson in the Bush Administration. Especially at FEMA, what with the fake news conferences and all.

Meanwhile, Udall appears to be in the Senate race, and I'm celebrating by taking the highly geekified GPS out to the Sandias for a hike to the TWA Crash Site. And yes, it's somewhat of a muted celebration when one is going to a place where many people died. From what I hear though, it's very possible that my hiking buddy and I will be celebrating by getting lost, even with a GPS. Oh well, sometimes getting lost is all the fun.

And maybe if we're lost we'll find what's politically left of Marty Chavez out there (besides Tom Udall...sorry for the highly confusing pun-like reference).

P.S.: Waypoints for the Political Career of Martin Chavez 2007-2010

Nov. 2007: Udall announces he's running. Chavez has far too much hubris to switch to NM-1.
Primary 2008: Udall trounces Chavez like the New England Patriots playing New Mexico State.
Sometime 2008: Bill Richardson is appointed Secretary of Something by the Hilbamawards Administration. Denish appointed Governor.
Rest of 2008-2009: Chavez wanders the political Earth as increasingly distant ABQ mayor.
2009: With renewed hubris, Chavez recommits to taking on Diane Denish for Governor.
Primary 2010: Denish pummels Chavez like a Dollar Store pinata in the Gubernatorial primary.
Sometime in 2010: Chavez finally takes that job as FEMA Press Spokesperson in the Hilbamawards Administration.


P.P.S.: Did anybody else get that robo-poll last Thursday night about Udall, Chavez, Darren White and the rest of the cast of "Lost: New Mexico Politics 2008"? Interesting stuff, especially when the last question to me was: "If the New Mexico Congressional District Number One election was between Martin Chavez and Darren White, who would you select"? I'm serious...I stared at the phone keypad for about two minutes on that one.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New Mexico and the Rose Bowl Parade: A Short Retrospective

2006: Two years ago, it was Bill Richardson and Diane Denish sitting together under an attractive plastic tarp on a rain-soaked wagon-house combo while attendant blue plastic servants stood nearby. Diane has never been anywhere near Bill since:


2007: Last year...well last year I couldn't find an image. Probably because the state spent all its money on a 75 foot tall Manny Aragon balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (picture not available...but just imagine it bounding down Broadway)

2008: And this year the State Department of Time-Wasting Faux Art Work gives us this prototype:



No comment is necessary. Absolutely unnecessary to say anything this, whatsoever. So my comment will be unnecessary and flippant. I like how the "Spaceport" so closely resembles a nuclear mushroom cloud. And the little rocket to the side looks so very much like a nuclear warhead with teepee overtones. And are the aliens gleefully peeing off the side of the tophat-styled "spacecraft"?

Must....resist.........comments....must.....work......now.....

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Drawing Kids Like A Really Bad Magnet

I've avoided writing on school issues for a number of weeks now, as the mere thought of doing so makes me want to slit my wrists and the wrists of anyone in razor blade proximity to me. Okay, that's a pretty harsh image for 5:48 in the morning.

How about the mere thought of school issues has made me want to curl into the fetal position on the floor near my post-surgery dog and whimper in non-narcotic seizures of pain as I hold him desperately?

That doesn't seem much better, and the same can be said for the new-fangled but really very old and tired idea of APS School Board denizen Robert Lucero regarding Del Norte and Sandia High Schools.

As noted in this fascinating KOB "story" from last night, both of these schools are literally falling apart and enrollment is dropping. So what is Lucero's faux exciting idea here:

"The school board is considering the possibility of turning Del Norte High and Sandia High into magnet schools. It's an idea that school board member Robert Lucero said should have been put in place a long time ago. 'I think it's a great idea, it's long overdue that we need a magnet process for our high schools to keep our students motivated and keep them in school,' said Lucero."

The story goes on to say that school board members are batting ideas around like making a school a "film production" magnet school, in addition to the usual candidates: technology, science, fine arts, and sumo wrestling.

Very academically sexy sounding stuff, and in the antiquated thinking of APS positively "out of the box". Kooky enough to be "charter school thinking" even. But before prospective public school families arrest the flight to the Westside that has played a bigger role in Sandia/Del Norte declining enrollment, let's look at another "magnet school" done APS style.

Hayes Middle School is, as its web site states, "A Scientific Research and Technology Magnet School". It's located at the corner of Texas and Lomas N.E., at the edge of what was once known as the "war zone", alongside I-40 and a bunch of car dealerships.

Enrollment at Hayes has been dropping for years, and its test scores have been bad for as least as long. I worked there back in the 90s, and we tried to make the best of a bad situation through a steady diet of public funding for technology stuff. Because the school had plenty of "poor" students, the Feds were happy to throw money at us for things like fancy network servers, and I, as "technology coordinator" (quotation marks most needed), dutifully filled out grant applications and called state legislators to get more money for computers, robotics stuff, GPS equipment and anything else that could be termed "technology".

After I left in 2000 to experience my own hallucinatory trip through "Charter School Land", Hayes officially became a "A Scientific Research and Technology Magnet School", and had even more money thrown at it toward this purpose.

Maybe you didn't know Hayes MS is a magnet school. Maybe you just remember seeing Hayes' test scores in the paper and remember that the school is still "failing". Maybe you don't know anything about the school because the enrollment is still very low and going nowhere, even with new construction all around campus.

The bottom line is that Hayes is "A Scientific Research and Technology Magnet School" in name only. You can't have a "magnet school", if it has no magnetic pull. And one might argue marketing ideas like "magnet schools" have a real tough time succeeding when the District running them has demonstrated zero marketing ability. Less than zero.

APS can call every one of its institutions a "magnet school" if they want, but that doesn't mean squat. What might really draw, or retain, students better? How about just being a good school? How about being a really good school? I would much rather the District, and its individual components, focus on the grinding, unsexy drive to bettering itself over the illusionary academic sexiness of something like a "film production magnet school". And I say that as a teacher of a "film class".

Okay, I'm going to lie back down on the floor with the post-surgery dog now, and reminisce about Hayes Middle School, the 1990s and having no gray hair. Ah, the Clinton years....

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Monday of Zonked Dogs and Outraged Citizens: Good Times, Bro...Good Times


Okay, the dog still has a cruel series of staples running along half of his right back leg (not visible in photo above), but this Tramadol is quite a drug. We're supposed to be using "extreme confinement" as our Golden recovers from knee surgery, but with Tramadol prescribed "extreme confinement" means watching the dog sleep even more than the 14 hours a day he usually does.

A bit of wiki research informs me that Tramadol was part of the overdose cocktail that killed rapper "Ol' Dirty Bastard". You have time for this kind of research when your job is nursing a dog that sleeps 20 hours a day.

Meanwhile, I was getting all excited about tonight's City Council meeting, what with the scintillating possibility of discussion about red light cameras and closing city golf courses, but according to the Journal promo neither of those measures might be finalized tonight.

Pity. I was looking forward to lovingly petting my dog's surgery staples while watching verklempt golf nuts and other bad drivers go all apoplectic as they plea for cheaper golf and traffic violating.

In matters of full disclosure, let it be known that I occasionally go golfing with some buddies, and played at Puerto del Sol only two weeks ago. Yes, we thought it was too expensive ($15.25 for nine measly holes, if I recall correctly, not to mention $4 for a Heineken from the traveling beer cart), but I've always felt about golf the way some men feel about putting on women's clothes. It's just not me.

For years now I've gone, in increasingly rarer instances, just to spend time talking with some guys I don't see that often. We could be sitting in a bar (or shopping at the Mall, I suppose) and it would be the same thing, but golf offers the illusion of physical activity without the deleterious health effects of sitting at a bar.

Frankly, I'm hoping the price of golfing goes up to the point where my friends will decide social encounters are better suited to a hiking trail instead of a municipal course. Hell, make it $100 per nine. Make it more than it currently costs to run a red light at a red light camera intersection.

Other people, men most of them, feel differently. Golf is a big deal to the guys, and I'm looking forward to them spitting with rage about raising the price of their game. And lead-footed drivers screaming about red light cameras, too? Misplaced Testosterone Jackpot!

Most prefer watching alleged "reality shows" like "Top Chef", but I dig the ultra-real world of televised City Council meetings. My Tramadolized dog and I are really hoping for some great red-faced with rage diatribes tonight. Oh, the travesty of it all! The unfairness! Stalin would be proud! Hitler! Worse than Hitler!

Okay the dog doesn't really care...he's sleeping all night. But I'll be tenderly stroking his staples and stubby regrowing leg hair while watching it, watching and laughing.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Who Even Knew Dogs Had Knees?

Our Golden Retriever had ACL surgery yesterday (yes, sadly his days as a professional running back are now behind him), and he's making low, deep groans of what I can only interpret as pain. You can't blog when your dog is hurtin', people.

Besides, blogs are stupid. Even/especially when they get Albuquerque Journal hype even before they start. By the way, where were the newspapers when Burque Babble started? That's it...I'm firing my agent, my public relations folks, the hairstylist, everybody....out of here.

I'm doing the entire blog operation myself from here on out, just as soon as this dog quits hurtin'. In the mean time, I'm taking a break for a few days to attend to the poor guy. Don't do anything interesting while I'm gone, like start a fascinating blog entitled "Politician X is a Big, Fat, Egocentric Meanie Person Who's Like All Mean and Self-Centered". I wouldn't want to miss something as original, shocking and profound as that.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Internet Trivia & Another Bus Story: The Dog Days of Non-Election Year, Post-World Series October

Internet trivia time: Can you recite the entire script of the longer than Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats" running Albuquerque Journal required-to-view "premium content" ad from memory? Do you know which brand of breakfast cereal stars in the this ad? Can you name at least three Journal sports reporter merely from seeing this ad 5,000,000 times, having never actually ever seen the Journal sports page? Remember, peeking is cheating.


ABQ Ride Story #75423-A: Flying Condiments of the Apocalypse: So I'm playing with my new Garman 60CSx GPS on the #5 bus going down Lomas yesterday, not really paying attention to the very nice, older, heavily bearded gentleman wearing a top-hat with playing cards sticking out of it in front of me, when I see a man madly dash right in front of the 40 mph moving bus.

The bus lurches dangerously to a stop, and the guy who dashed across Lomas opens a styrofoam to-go box and starts rearranging the condiments on his 7-11 bought hot dog alongside the waiting bus. A few seconds of rearranging later, the bus driver gruffly to the point of almost homicidally finally says "get on the bus, sir". The panting, condiment-rearranging man is joined by an extremely pissed-off woman at the impromptu bus stop. She stares nuclear daggers at the man as they both get on the bus.

"That was so stupid" she tells condiment man while apologizing to the bus driver. "Why did you do that?" she indignantly asks.

"I have a short attention-span," the man replies. He goes back to obsessively making sure the ketchup and mustard are evenly distributed on his hot dog. The woman viciously rips off a few strips of brown gas station restroom paper towels and hands one to the man.

The #5 bus continues the trip down hill on Lomas toward downtown.

_________________________________

P.S.: Yes, the important part of that "flash non-fiction" story was the mention of my new GPS.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Baseball Good, The Music News Bad & The Politically Ugly

The Baseball Good

Sure, they're the New Yankees, but the Red Sox win seven in a row to go from 3-1 down to the maliciously mascoted Indians to sweeping the World Series against the overly overt Christian Rockies. Manny can be Manny all he wants in my book, even down to adjusting his cap while he leisurely chases down balls hit over his head. Evil Empire now has a new name...nah, the Yankees have been and always will be the Evil Empire. Even if they go back to signing Danny Tartabull and end up 60-102 next year.

The Music News Bad

Growing up watching Porter Wagoner sing with Dolly Parton between the duo's online testimonials for "Breeze Detergent" ("they're a free towel inside every box of Breeze!"), I was convinced Porter Wagoner was the definitively bad musical personality, worse even than Donny Osmond. Then I grew up and realized how good bad music could be, and that maybe the sublime was was actually IN the ridiculous. R.I.P. Porter. And no, I don't think Donny Osmond's passing is going to be mentioned at Burque Babble.

The Politically Ugly

Is there really any doubt that Marty Chavez is the singular current politician who would do absolutely ANYTHING to get elected? I know there are many unethical politicians. Hell, the phrase "unethical politicians" is about as redundant as you can get. But does anyone doubt that Chavez really has NO boundaries when it comes to how low he would go to get what he wants (i.e., win a U.S. Senate seat?)

Hell, making up who's on his campaign is morally nothing to this guy. He's willing to go much, much lower than that. I can't even see a moral bottom to Marty Chavez, now that I think about it. He's the perfect 21st Century Democrat, positioning himself as "electable" while offering no leadership or ideas, and quicker than any Republican to denigrate any real Democratic opposition as "liberal". Gee, he'd fit right in with the current Democratic leadership in Washington.

What a.....jerk. He's like our own little Evil Empire wannabe right here in the Land of Enchantment. All he needs now is a Yankees cap.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Anxiously Searching for Shore From the MIddle of the Working Ocean

The school year is an easy one when compared with your typical fifty week working year with that two weeks of vacation tacked on and the occasional casual Friday. I understand that.

But even the super-easy school year has its tough stretches, and right now we're in our High Anxiety March to Thanksgiving period. And Thanksgiving is a month away, too far to be spotted by even the most eagle-eyed break-seeking teacher with the most powerful vacation binoculars money and bitterness can buy.

This week our school had "Parent/Teacher Conferences", a chance for parents to stand outside our classroom doors for long stretches waiting while other parents heard us teachers say the same thing over and over and over. You get a whole new realization of the influence cell phones have over our lives when you see parent after parent impatiently waiting outside your classroom door. What do people do when impatiently waiting these days? Cell phone.

I imagine being on the other end of a phone call from an impatiently waiting person isn't typically fun. The look on the face of the impatiently waiting parent was very much in keeping with the fact that we're in the High Anxiety March to Thanksgiving period, and I'm guessing the tone of these cell phone interactions was, uh, terse. I'll repress the desire here to go into a tirade about how cell phones are ruining society, and just apologize to all the impatiently waiting parents at my school last Wednesday. I now know how bank tellers feel on Friday afternoon at the end of the month when the Social Security checks come in.

And speaking of apologies, I got a comment from John Fleck at the Journal noting that his paper did have some coverage of the James Quinn memorial ride, despite my claim that it didn't. Now I could go on and on about how I couldn't find any coverage at the Journal website after significant time spent looking and all, but the fact is the Journal did have a short piece and a photo layout of the event. I apologize for not seeing it and flaking out about its incorrectly presumed non-existence. My mistake. And no, I'm still not going to subscribe to the hard copy of the Journal just because the paper's website is, uh, terse in its user-friendliness and overall scope of coverage.

So it's been a week of apologies, impatience and High Anxiety. Not a combination one would want to last any longer than necessary, yet this year's new, improved APS five-day Thanksgiving break (it's always been four-days before) is well beyond the curvature of the Earth at this point. Even though of us who strive fairly hard to stay "in the moment" and revel in the daily drudgery that makes life great are feeling a little antsy after a week like this.

I think it's time to go to Orbitz, type in various locales (Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Buenos Aires, Helsinki, Sofia, etc.), and plan that trip when the High Anxiety is but a pleasant, patient memory and the eleven weeks of summer vacation lays spread out before some of us like a endless, tranquil hiking trail in a lush, cool rain forest along a rocky, spectacular ocean coast. (Insert lengthy slack-jawed, day dreamy distant stare here...)

Thanks (and apologies). I needed that. Have a good weekend, everybody.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hush-Hush on the QT with Teresa Cordova, Elsy Fierro and Friends

In an attempt to shield a young man from having his name and school grades made public, a parent appears with the son on television. In an attempt to shield herself from professional scrutiny in her role in changing the young man's grades, a woman (through her attorneys) tries to make a hearing about the grade change public, thus ensuring massive and long-lasting media coverage of the hearing process.

Now I don't know much about marketing and public relations, but I've gotta wonder about the "shielding" success possibilities of the strategies being employed here. I reckon about the only way Teresa Cordova, Elsy Fierro and other players involved in this grade change thing could do a worse job of "shielding" would be to have Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears drive them to the hearing. Maybe Cordova could name Brad Pitt her attorney and the hearing judge could be changed from G.T.S. Khalsa to Angelina Jolie. Jennifer Aniston could be named temporary State Public Education Department Director to round out the "shielding" tableau.

In other words, I haven't seen such bad "shielding" since that episode on Star Trek when the Klingons penetrated the Enterprise's defense system. You remember the one.

Okay, I'll stop now.

The whole thing stinks and reminds me again on why I decided to never pursue a degree in Law, despite the highly appealing concept of "billable hours". Maybe billable hours and wearing really nice suits changes things, but I have a hard time believing I could keep a straight face for more than two seconds if I was in a room with people "shielding" themselves and their loved ones in this highly-advertised manner.

My really nice suit would be ever-so-rumpled from the time I spent on the floor laughing at these people. Then I would remember taxpayers are footing the bill for all these billable hours and my head would explode, fully ruining a really nice suit.

Better to stay out of it, laugh from afar and try not to think about how much money this is costing, and that I can't get a lousy $1,000 for a mounted computer projector in my classroom simply because some kid missed almost a month of school his Senior year and couldn't pass English and then got all whiny about it and got his parents, who happened to be "just as important as everybody else, only a little more important", and they pitched a fit and talked some formerly no-name bureaucrats into changing the whiny kid's grades and then the grades got changed and all Hell broke loose and everybody either appeared on television and/or paid a bunch of lawyers to cry crocodile tears about "privacy" and "open hearings", and next thing you know Lindsay Lohan is driving Teresa Cordova to District Court in the new Lamborghini she got for graduating from Rehab H.S..

Okay, the head is dangerously close to exploding. Time to put the shields up. Make it so, Number One. Please (Insert Deity Here) make it so.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monty Python's Life of Al Gore

Not only would this ticket win in 2008 by a landslide, it would guarantee the WH would be under progressive leadership for 16 years. --"Scubaval", Daily Kos, October 23, 2007

The quote above is from a Daily Kos post entitled "What Redstate wants to keep under wraps: Gore/Obama WILL Win". The post is just one of the many post-Nobel "Draft Gore" screeds around the 'Net. This particular post includes advice like:

This isn't going to happen just because we wish it so. NOW is the time to put our boots on the ground. Online polls and petitions, diaries expressing our undying (or at least smoldering) love for Al Gore, and commenting on each other's brilliance in bringing more news are terrific tools, but there's more to be done.


Then the author goes on to list ideas on how to talk-up how great Al Gore is, get him on the ballot in various states and write articles for the local paper about the experience of having love for Al Gore.

Nothing makes for a good cult like an invisible leader.

I'm generally fond of the politics of Mr. Al Gore. I'd vote for Al Gore before I'd vote for a lot of people, Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson for instance. But I have some problems with the whole "Draft Al Gore" Cult. Namely:

  1. Al Gore doesn't want to run for President, by all accounts save those of the Al Gore Cult.
  2. Membership of the Al Gore Cult seems to be made up of the same exact people who were formally in the "Impeaching Bush Is An Inevitability Cult", which broke up sometime last week.
  3. Al Gore Cult members seem to share an incredible simultaneous combination of myopic positivism and zero political awareness.
  4. I'm not much for cults, invisible leader or otherwise.
  5. It's always bothered me that Al Gore has become the Official Voice of "Global Warming" spokesperson. I don't know how much of that is Al Gore's fault and how much of it is the fault of the Al Gore Cult. Maybe the members of the Nobel Committee are member of the Al Gore Cult, or maybe it's just that movie. You know the one. Anyway, Global Warming is, in my view, one of the biggest obstacles facing us. Yet I wonder if sticking the face of Al Gore as Spokesperson for the issue really helps any more than having Jerry Lewis lead the fight against Muscular Dystrophy.

As most things remind me of movies, I picture Al Gore standing naked at a window, overlooking a vast horde of grinning, worshiping supplicants-in-waiting, just like Brian in "Life of Brian". I think I remember Brian in the movie closing the window in aghast horror and embarrassment. Not that that stopped the horde, if I recall correctly.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Some Educational Days Are Worse Than Others

It's been a rough few days in the K-12 community:
The stories are very different, but in both cases chilling. From what I hear, Highland H.S. has been understandably left in a numbed haze by the killing of Vigil. I wonder how the added "throwing golf balls" element will play into the confusion, hurt and grief over the matter in coming days.

I know it's self-centered to think from this angle, but teaching at Highland has got to be very, very difficult in coming weeks, if not longer. It's going to be tough for everybody in that community, and it reminds us that schools, especially high schools, are very much communities.

And speaking of the educator angle, what can you say about the teacher sexual misconduct story? The AP report(s) the last few days are reminiscent of the first organized wave of pedophile priest stories a decade or so ago. There have always been individual outrageous stories about teacher misconduct (recent APS substitute teacher stories, e.g.), but the AP synthesizes all the outrageousness into a package that will probably lead to actions similar to those regarding priests, with the difference being the bureaucracy involved.

One wonders how governments will handle needed changes to teacher screening, policing and enforcement relative to the actions of the Catholic Church in this regard. One also wonders how governments around the country will mishandle, politicize and fragment over this issue in coming months. K-12 education unfortunately combines three elements almost certain to result in mishandling, politicization and fragmentation: kids, sex, and "states' rights". Doubtlessly, this will end ugly.

And yeah, it's a little tough to go to a teaching job you love when all you've got on your mind is some dead kid and sex predators. Thankfully, the kids will arrive, the bell will ring, the lessons will start and the beautiful dynamic of teaching will push these sad thoughts back, at least for a short while.

Meanwhile, at Highland H.S. sad thoughts will be the lesson. Hang in there guys. I know it doesn't help much, but we're thinking of you.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Blogging Postponed On Account of Paper Mountain Climbing

Still working through a mountain of student papers, finally trimmed down to Appalachian size from previous Himalayan heights. Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit. Whining might be a better word.

Anyway, the only thing I really want to talk/write about anyway is Patsy Madrid, and the sentiments of those on DemocracyforNewMexico are far more diverse, bizarre, diverse, interesting and bizarre that anything you'd see here. Maybe I'll get a chance to make some Rahm Emanuel/John Wertheim analogies in the near future, but I've still got a small mountain of wacky student-created analogies to wade through first.

Have a good Friday everybody.