Print Story Misadventures in middle class America
Diary
By lm (Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 01:46:12 PM EST) (all tags)
Who am I kidding? I'm living beyond my means.


On Sunday, my hand started hurting. It felt like a sprain. Come Monday, none of the exercises on the weight equipment in the gym aggravated it, so I don't think I damaged anything lifting weights. Paying attention to most things during the day, there weren't many things that really hurt other than two activities: twisting caps off of bottles and jars; and lifting my wife. So either I sprained my hand twisting off the cap of a beer bottle for my wife to have her evening brew or slinging my wife around.

As much as I don't like to admit it, I'm guessing it's the latter. She doesn't way much, a mere 134 pounds. But, due to her Spinal Muscular Atrophy, it's a dead weight of 134 pounds. Getting her up in the morning is like moving around a 130 pound sack of potatoes. There isn't much she can do to help that. Nor is there much I can do to help that. But it is part of my motivation to stay in shape. If my back gives out, she's in more than a bit of a pickle.

My weight is up a bit, up to 177 and then back down to 174. The weight training continues. Running times are par for the course.

:: :: :: :: ::

On Tuesday, I took the van in for the state of Maryland's emissions testing. It was kind of funny. The pamphlet they send out with the notification suggests that you drive at least 20 minutes on the freeway before going to a testing center. Then, once one arrives at the testing center, one is advised to idle rather than shut off one's engine as a cold engine will almost certainly fail the emissions check. But the line takes half an hour to an hour. Consequently, a program designed to reduce emissions guarantees a fleet of 50 to 70 cars driving 20 minutes on the freeway and then idling for half an hour to an hour, all the day long.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, that extra two hours I ran my car is inconsequential over the course of a year. Nevertheless, I have to wonder if anyone bothered to sit down and do the calculations. It'd be funny if the emissions testing caused more pollution than it prevented.

Personally, what I'd like to see is a chip that keeps track of such data and miles driven. Then once a year, you go through a drive through that reads that chip. Then you get taxed for the number of miles driven according to (1) how fuel efficient your car is and (2) how much pollution your car gives off. Not that I'll ever see such a system.

:: :: :: ::

Hoping to avoid the calendar malfunction of last term, I plugged all my classes and finals into Google Calendar today. It turns out that I have two finals on a Saturday this term. I find that odd. It's also inconvenient as one is in the early morning and the other is at night. But the rest of the calendar doesn't look bad at all. While it'd be convenient if Eastern and Western calculations for Easter coincided this year, they don't. But they're only a week apart and well enough prior to the end of classes that Holy Week should not interfere with my studies.

Speaking of preparation for the term, only about half of my books have trickled in thus far. It looks like a few more are slated to come in today. We shall see.

:: :: ::

Chuckles linked to this in the hole. But it deserves a permanent record as it's the most manly thing you can do with a 51/4" drive bay. I almost wish I had a machine with a drive bay that it would fit in.

The Beeb has an interesting reflection on interpretting Hamas. The last paragraph is the only thing that gives me any amount of hope at all over the current situation, ``They also point out that the PLO once talked in similar terms and that it is now in negotiation with Israel about a final settlement.'' But there are key differences between the PLO and Hamas. The PLO did not start out as an ideological movement but as a group of thugs.

And speaking of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, the Vatican likens Gaza to `one big concentration camp.' Harsh words. The dude from the Vatican certainly isn't mincing words, ``Cardinal Martino urged both sides to hold peace talks. `If they can't come to an agreement, then someone else should do it [for them],' he said.''

And an update on Candadian treatment of US asylum seekers: Last year, the Canadian parliament passed a non-binding motion granting asylum to deserters from the Iraq war. But correspondents say the governing Conservatives opposed the motion, not willing to risk upsetting Washington over the issue. This highlights one of the problems of the Westminster system where the executive and legislative branches are effectively the same. On the other hand, to be fair, we have to keep in mind it was a non-binding resolution that the present government is ignoring. Ignoring a non-binding resolution is no great miscarriage of justice.

Joe the Plumber is about to become Joe the Reporter

Britons are discovering what rural USians have long known, squirrels are good eatin' . I don't know if red squirrel in UKia is the same as red squirrel in USia, but if it is, the reds are much tastier than the grays. Or at least I've always thought so.

The WaPo has a position piece that focuses on school reform that focuses on administration working with teachers working with students. It's interesting because one of the complaints that many people have about school reform is that it's useless if the socio-economics of the situation aren't fixed first. Yet here is a school in an exceptionally bad neighborhood that seems to be doing exceptionally well.

My vote for the most idiotic idea of the new year.

:: ::

New Year's Eve, my daughter projectile vomited from the heights of her 8 foot Ikea loft bed. So I brought in the new year with a bucket of water, ammonia and a washrag. Afterwards, she did some cleaning with a spray carpet cleaner. The room still smells faintly of vomit.

So I did what any man would do in a similar situation, I bought a new power-tool. In this case, it's the Bissell Little Green Machine which is a steam cleaner of diminutive size targeted at those of us who need spot cleaning. It did fine on the vomitrocious areas left over from Saint Basil's eve. It didn't quite get all of the stains out but it did fix the odor problem. It did far better at a test run on some two week old red wine stains. I suspect our carpet doesn't absorb red wine as well as it does stomach acid.

The Bissell was just under a 100 clams. Given that isn't all that far away from the full sized cleaners, I almost went with a full sized cleaner. But the full sized cleaners are rather full in size. And storage space is at a minimum. This little thing fits nicely on the top shelf in the closet. The down side is that it shoots about an 8" swath of hot water and detergent, but the suction nozzle is only about 2.5". The `turbo' nozzle has a smaller spray width. In either case, if the mess you need to clean up is substantial in size, you'd be wise to spend an extra fifty to seventy USD to pick up a Hoover F5914-900

::

My oldest daughter is being greatly challenged by her math class. Unlike the crappy school district we were in back in Ohio where getting an A in the advanced math course was like getting a gold medal in the special olympics, she has to work and work hard just to get an average grade.

From what she tells me it sounds like her teacher is substandard. Half of what she complains about, I think I can safely write off as stemming from her not liking to have to try so hard. Some of the stuff she complains about, after all, are the things that I think a good teacher would do. But the other things she complains about, if they are true, point to the teacher being a bad teacher. For example, my daughter was belatedly elevated to the honors math class. So she missed the introductory weeks on using the graphing calculator. The teacher is unwilling to sit down with her for an hour or so to show her how it works. There are also other issues. But, if what my daughter tells me is true about the distribution of grades, it is telling. There is one person in the class with an A, a handful of Cs and quite a few people are flunking. That suggests to me a problem with the teacher rather than with the students.

All of this has led to an extraordinary state of affairs. I'm making my daughter tutor me in math to explain what she's learned. She doesn't like this. For that matter, I don't like it much either. I'm a slow learner when I come to math. And the math she's doing isn't all that short of the college Calculus II class that I flunked that ended my academic career as a mathematics major at my first attempt at college.

Of course, she hates it. She just wants the right answers. I want to understand why things work. Thus far the tutoring sessions have ended in shouting matches. I'd rather they didn't. But both her and I are stubborn and butt-headed. So we butt heads. Painful as it may be, I suspect it's good for both her and me. For her, if she can adequately explain who things work to someone who flunked the math she's supposed to be working on, she'll know enough to get an A. For me, I get to spend time with my daughter. Granted, I'd rather spend that time playing games or something fun. But beggars can't be choosers.

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Misadventures in middle class America | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Fortunately... by dmg (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 02:04:20 PM EST
Consequently, a program designed to reduce emissions guarantees a fleet of 50 to 70 cars driving 20 minutes on the freeway and then idling for half an hour to an hour, all the day long.

Fortunately, man-made global warning is a load of BS, so you shouldn't spend too much time worrying about this.
Remember the big ice-age scares back in the 70s? It's just more of the same...
 
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
emissions rules aren't due to global warming by lm (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 02:11:03 PM EST
Well, some might be, but the ones in the states tend to because because the major metropolitan areas have very poor air quality. The goal is to make the air breathable, not to reduce geen house gasses.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
hmmmm by dmg (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 03:44:22 PM EST
In that case, simply banning diesel would be very effective...
Most of the particulate emissions in the atmosphere are from diesel powered vehicles.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
That may be true of NOs by lm (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 05:30:39 PM EST
But old fashioned petrol engines, factories, and power plants give off plenty of particulates.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Also, there is a reason for that stateside by lm (4.00 / 1) #15 Fri Jan 09, 2009 at 05:07:54 AM EST
In the US, for decades, emissions regulations on diesel engines were non-existent. I think that is still mostly true at the federal level, but many states have enacted regulations on diesel automobiles. Few states, however, have enacted legislation on truck engines and those who have have largely grandfathered in the old engines.

Diesel engines and gasoline engines are pretty comparable to each other in terms how much pollution they give off. But diesels are only now starting to have the anti-pollution technology that gasoline engines have had for ages. Further, the types of pollution are different. Lastly, until just recently in the US, most diesel fuel was far dirtier than gasoline. These factors are starting to converge to the different engines more equivalent with regards to clean air. But it will take quite some time for all of the old engines to get off of the roads.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
For fuck's sake by gpig (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 07:29:11 PM EST
There are reasonable ways to disagree with the anthropogenic climate change theory, and I respect those who have researched the topic enough to debate it. Unfortunately, that idiotic Channel 4 documentary reported none of these; it was just bad journalism, reporting science which has since been disproven, or is just bad.

Sorry for the bile, but I'm utterly sick of people wheeling out that moronic sensationalist TV program.
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(,   ,') -- eep

[ Parent ]
DNFTT by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 1) #16 Fri Jan 09, 2009 at 05:43:51 AM EST


[ Parent ]
Hoyer lifts by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 02:31:11 PM EST
are what I recall from my time in the group homes, I was never trained to use them though.


They work fine by lm (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 05:19:52 PM EST
Highly inconvenient, though. They're big, take up a lot of space, and add ten to twenty minutes to the process of getting someone out of bed.

My hand is healing fine. Of all the years I've been taking care of my wife, this is the first time that it may have lead to an injury. I can think of two other times where an injury received elsewhere imperiled my ability to pick her up.

A Hoyer may be in the cards at some point. But not yet.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
deadlifts are your friend by gzt (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 04:21:46 PM EST
I think it would be very helpful for you to start deadlifting. Deadlift poundage goes up fast and when you can deadlift 270 pounds, picking up a 135 pound wife isn't as bad as it used to be. Of course, your gym may not accommodate deadlifting. Well, it's worth looking into.

I bet I could dead lift 250, if not more by lm (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 05:25:31 PM EST
Imagine trying to dead lift a 130 pounds of potatoes. It's not quite the same as dead lifting bits of metal firmly attached to a rigid bar that maintains its shape. Spinal Muscular Atrophy has left my wife no almost no muscle in her arms and legs. The weight isn't a problem. It's the way that the weight limply hangs on her frame that makes carrying her difficult.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Thanks by Phage (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 10:40:34 PM EST
For the Bissell tip. Duly noted. I'll spare you the gory details.

I mailed that link to the best accessory EVAR to a few people here. Many are actively considering it.

The joys of homework. I am currently taking my step son through high school science. Luckily the curriculum hasn't changed much in 30 years, and it's amazing what the clanking gears can drag up from the basement of memory. I nailed 2 out of the 4 uvast formulae...I'm a little proud of that. Unfortunately I had to google the others.

I've also covered the structure of the eye, including rods vs cones and the advantages and disadvantages of each. It was a good moment to do the faint star thing in the peripheral vision. It was a bad moment when he threw a wobbly, and I suggested that he might have spent some of his time on reading the book rather than the FIFA 07 and TV.

The point being that the teaching doesn't seem to be of high quality. The boy does have some autistic symptoms so it may be the class room environment doesn't work for him. As you said, so much depends on the teacher.

It depends on the teacher, the kid, the home ... by lm (4.00 / 1) #14 Fri Jan 09, 2009 at 04:32:48 AM EST
There's bzillions of factors.

I keep telling my daughters that I don't care if they're straight A students. What I want is for them to work hard for the grades they get. I'd rather see them struggle to get a C than breeze through getting an A with no effort. I don't think they believe me. But the fact of the matter is not everyone is built to understand certain levels of math or really get into certain forms of literature. While we're all humans which means we've got certain commonalities, we are also all particular human beings  with key differences. A good educational system will understand that and work out ways to reach each student where they're at. But few do.

But good teachers are nice to have. It's a shame they're so few and far between.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Schools etc. by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 11:15:36 PM EST
You said:

The WaPo has a position piece that focuses on school reform that focuses on administration working with teachers working with students. It's interesting because one of the complaints that many people have about school reform is that it's useless if the socio-economics of the situation aren't fixed first. Yet here is a school in an exceptionally bad neighborhood that seems to be doing exceptionally well.

The article suggests that they are spending money on things like beds for families who are sleeping 4 to a bed - so it does seem they are working on the socio-economics at the same time.


That was one example they gave by lm (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Jan 09, 2009 at 04:23:30 AM EST
But, yeah, my summary was certainly oversimplified.

Another thing neither the article nor my summary brought to light is that the school in question is in Montgomery County, one of the wealthiest (and best) school districts in Maryland. MCPS spends over $14k per child. Compare that to under $9k per child in DC. Broad Acres has access to financial resources that many underperforming schools do not. It's one thing to be a school in a disadvantaged section of an otherwise extremely wealthy school district and another thing to be a school in a disadvantaged section of a very poor school district.

That said, I think the approach of finding out what individual kids need both in and out of the classroom and getting those things to the kids is a fairly unusual approach. I've certainly not seen it taken up at any of the schools I've been to, any of the schools my daughters have been to.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
There's a hospital authority... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #17 Fri Jan 09, 2009 at 12:43:12 PM EST
in Chicago... West Side? I've forgotten the name, but they started to run in similar directions (melding social issue treatment with medical treatment) some years ago.

But you're right, schools are set up as factories, pupils are not supposed to have either personalities or wider life problems as individuals...


[ Parent ]
The best way to learn something by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Jan 09, 2009 at 02:47:55 AM EST
is to teach it.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Emissions by duxup (2.00 / 0) #18 Fri Jan 09, 2009 at 04:20:46 PM EST
I moved to MN just as they dumped their emissions testing system.  Coming from a different state I thought the whole idea was bizarre and wondered if the bother was worth it.   As for the tracking of cars and emissions, they might not track emissions but with a lot of states realizing that gas taxes might not be effective enough to fund roads in the future (electric cars and such) many are studying ways to track individual car usage.




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Misadventures in middle class America | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback