Monday, April 28, 2008

Kids "Learn" About the Progressive Era

Hey it's a lighter post for once!

Last week, kids read the chapter of their WA state history book about the progressive era. They also took part in skits, debates, and other activities designed to help them get a sense of the issues. At the end of the week, you guessed it; they had to take a quiz about this information. Many did a fantastic job and made me very proud. Others struggled a bit, and some were clearly not paying attention at all. Here are some of the funnier answers:

Question #1: The _________________ movement was a push to make life better for many kinds of people. (Remember, this was the title of the chapter)
Funny answer: Prostitution (knowing this girl, she was NOT trying to be racy or funny)

Question #2: Prohibition was an attempt to outlaw the sale of ________________________
Funny answer: Flappers

Question #4: Part of the initiative system allowed voters to ________________ politicians who were unpopular.
Funny answer: hit

Question #5: The suffrage movement wanted to give women the right to _______________.
Funny answer: bare arms (sort of correct I guess)

Question #8: The _________________ World War was found in Europe.
Funny answer: really bad

Question #9: The government passed the ______________ Act which made it illegal to speak against the war.
Funny answer: Sedation

Question #14: Rivers helped to provide ____________ for the region by creating hydropower.
Funny answer: rivers

Question #15: The ______________ Dam in eastern WA was the largest hydropower project.
Funny answer: God (I think this kid WAS trying to be funny, but still they got no credit)

Don’t worry too much about the youth of America. Several kids even got perfect scores, so they can be the next generation of leaders. Or perhaps the kid who wrote “God” will one day be president.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sort of Relief

Not everything is resolved, but at least I feel a bit better about things.

Yesterday, I went to see the VP. I didn't go because I thought she could do something that the principal wouldn't, but I just thought it might help to hear from another perspective (I did get his permission before talking to her). I laid out the situation for her (yay! I can talk to someone about it and have them understand the personalities involved) and asked for her interpretation and advice in moving forward. When I did this exact same thing for the principal, all I got was very neutral language and nothing that felt like support.

What the VP did was not anything all that special. She heard my concerns, repeated key points back to me, gave her impression of the situation, and suggested a few things I could do to improve my position in the future. She then reassured me that I was doing a good job, that she valued my contributions, and that I did not have any fundamental personality flaws (how sad is that? I SHOULD have enough self-worth to know that without being told!). She said "You have high standards for yourself and your team, and I expect nothing less from you." In my head I was doing a little dance.

She also assured me that the principal feels the same way about me, but just cannot express himself worth beans. Like I said, not exactly rocket science, but it made the proverbial world of difference to me. Why the difference in approach between her and the Principal? Is it a woman thing? Is it because she is closer to my age? More recently in the classroom? Who knows?

Okay, so at this point I was feeling MUCH better about life. Sure, not everything was resolved, but at least I felt like I could cope with the situation. Little did I know that there was more to come.

The next part was where the VP told me that the problems with Lazy Man and Evil Woman are both known issues. She feels that there is not so much you can do about Lazy Man, but that Evil Woman is the one doing the real harm to our team. She (the VP) has been trying to get Evil Woman removed as leader for some time. Given this fresh set of problems, she is doing everything she can to have Evil Woman relieved of all leadership positions. Of course, the principal has the final say, but given this latest situation, she feels confident that she will finally get her way. Halleluiah! I absolutely will not smirk when the news comes down.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Suspended Animation

Sorry folks, my job is still a soap opera, nothing has been resolved, and so you are all forced to read yet another post about it all.

When things really blew up last week, I went to my boss in search of some help. He ordered everyone involved to stop talking to one another. This was a good thing because one "enemy" had been going around to the rest of the team bad-mouthing me and demanding validation for her terrible behavior.

I accepted his solution because he said that we would eventually all sit down and he would help us "hash out" the disagreements. I didn't like to leave things hanging, but I could see his logic, so I honored his request. Now he tells me that he doesn't plan to have the one-on-one meetings at all because "he doesn't know if it would help." Instead, he plans to attend our team meeting to help everything "run smoothly."

In my view this means that both of the people who treated me so badly will get off scott free (as the saying goes). Not only that, but the lack of consequences will certainly (I know these two) validate their behavior and encourage them to act this way again. My boss' cavalier attitude makes the situation all that much worse. Now I really don't know what to do.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Art Immitates Life

I absolutely could not believe my eyes when I opened the Sunday comics yesterday. It seems that my dilemma is well-known in the business world too.

I don't know if this will make sense since I haven't been able to explain the whole situation, but here goes.

Today was refreshingly quiet with not one single haranguing session from one of my fun co-workers. However, that is only because my boss ordered them to stop talking to anyone (there was a small gossip problem, and it WASN'T me doing the talking) about the issue until he can be there to mediate. I am still not looking forward to the resolution at all.

However, on the whole, I am feeling better than I was last week. First of all, the excellent friends and family rallied round and reassured me that I was not, in fact, a worthless scumbag. Also, on Sunday I had a chance meeting with another co-worker at the gym.

This woman is not on my team, not part of this whole big mess, and supposedly in total ignorance of the situation. She walked up to me, put her arm around my shoulders, and said "It's her not you. She's crazy and everyone knows it." I was so surprised I didn't know what to say. Needless to say, it made quite a difference to my frame of mind.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Fun Continues

Day three of the patented "trying not to care" program. Not caring seems to be going well as long as I don't talk to anyone. Unfortunately, I got cornered by an enemy agent, and given the third degree. The caring rushed back in full force. I've now violated rule #1 of being a woman in the workforce: Never cry in front of your boss. Pretty much have no professional self-worth left. On the bright side, this should aid in furthering the "not caring" protocol.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fun at Work

Hello and welcome to my personal pity party. Work sucks, can't say why (no kids are involved), and I'm feeling more than a little sorry for myself.

I have discovered the secret to professional success! First, you have to reach down deep inside yourself and find the place that cares. Some of you may remember this, it's the part that wants to work hard, make progress, be a force for positive change, and achieve professional satisfaction. You must find this part (however small and helpless it may have become) --- and beat it to death. This way you can put your head down, do the bare minimum (or a little less), and watch the years role by with the anonymous comfort of complete apathy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring For the Moment

What an absolutely glorious day! Sunshine, shorts temperatures, and lots of blooming flowers are enough to convince me. Sure, I know it might snow/rain/sleet tomorrow, but that doesn't matter right now. M and I did yard work, and then we were actually inspired to do some spring cleaning too. This afternoon I read my book in an actual patch of sunlight. Needless to say, the cats are also beside themselves with joy.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Next Caucus

Last weekend T volunteered to attend the next level of caucusing with me. Therefore, early on a Saturday morning, we headed down to a local high school (an hour early to be sure and get parking) to attend my district caucus. We were not the only people to arrive early, and by about quarter to the hour, there was a huge crowd outside the glass doors. We happened to be standing near the front, so when a caucus official stuck her head out to grab a volunteer, she happened to pick us.

We spent the next several hours signing people in who wanted to run for the delegation to the state caucus. This in turn gave us the chance to chat with a Clinton staffer who's spent the last several months driving around the country working for the campaign. I was very impressed with her intelligence and dedication (she gets almost nothing for the work but room, board, and gas money), but more on her later.

After our volunteering job ended, we joined the crowds of waiting people listening to speeches. The speeches were really there to make you not mind the waiting so much. It seems it takes a loooong time to figure out how many delegates are there, how many alternates are there, and how many alternates need to be credentialed to become delegates. This process took literally about five hours.

The one thing that really disturbed me about the experience was the behavior of the Obama supporters. I did not hear one Clinton person say a nasty thing about "the other side" but the Obama people would actually walk up to you and be rude. They booed speakers, carried on, and generally behaved like rabble. As T said "the main thing to remember that we have nothing in common with McCain." Obama may say he wants to bring people together, but his supporters REALLY haven't gotten the message.

Finally, we were called into our respective voting areas, and the voting for state level delegates began. More than 50 people put their names in the proverbial hat, but only 12 could move on to state. We all gave ultra-short speeches about why we should go, and then we marked our 12 choices on a ballot. By this time it was 4pm, we'd had no lunch break, and T and I both had somewhere we needed to be that evening. We left without hearing the final result (I didn't make it :( no surprise there).

All in all, I'm glad to have had the experience. I still have the county caucus coming up, and then my participation in the nomination process will be over. The saddest part of the whole thing was being unable to accept the invitation from that Clinton staffer to attend an after party for volunteers. The main guest at the party? Sean Astin otherwise known as Samwise Gamgee. How cool is that? I wonder if Frodo is for Hillary too?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Future President

Recently, I asked my class to pretend that they'd just been elected president. Their assignment was to write a letter to the nation explaining one or more important changes they would make. Surprisingly, they took it much more seriously than usual. Many were concerned about the war in Iraq and another large portion were worried about the environment. On the whole, I was very impressed. However, there are always the goffballs and those just not paying attention. The following are some of the most memorable (usually because they're bad, but not always) lines from their work.

“A recent studied showed that when kids in France were asked to draw a picture of an American, many of them drew Ronald Mcdonald. This is not what I want people to think of our wonderful country.”

“As president of the USA I propos to band all types of non-purpos car racing.”

“Our biggest Concern is Zombie attack”

“Thank you for supporting me through a long fought battle of the Poles.”

“We need to pull troops out of Iraq and use the money to fund electric cars and also ban smoking.”

“Wasn’t the war supposed to end when Sudan Hoosane was killed?”

“Making peace is a good choice because we would get new items and have everlasting friendship”

“This could influence the choices when eating out in a negative way”

“Piece is so much better than war.”

“So no taxes at all in the U.S.A.”

“Taxes are a hand foll to deal with”

“..but peace is effortless…”

“Being prez doesn’t mean just laying around in the Whitehouse all day.”

“Did you know many Homeless kids cannot Apford happiness”

“Something must be done and I will make it happen.”

“My fellow Americans thank you from the bottom of my intestines for choosing me and ordinary man w/ extraordinary vision as your President of the United States.”

“…along with vice president Schwnizerger…”

“War is another issue. We fight so many wars that the Simpon’s talk about it.”

“We are America home of the brave, so don’t be afraid of change.”

“Again, I want to thank you all for electing me your president. Sorry for the convenience.”

“To increase learning, all school days will be shorter.”

“We need to go over and take what we need but, if they so “no” Then we just let it go for awhile and then to back and ask again.”

“Our government has come up with the latest technology called the fake wall… If some of the immigrants don’t fall for it and run right through it we have border patrol waiting for them.”

“Even after Sadam Husseins death a year ago, Sheight militans are still threating.”

“I am proposing to shut down all cigarette factories in the U.S… If you some how keep getting cigarettes, we could care less.”

“What kind of country sells their military jobs to other countries?”

“Our country is filled with the fattest of the fats”

“We can’t have a strong economy if every American job is being shipped to China! What if we, God forbid were to go to war with them? All of their supplies would be paid for with the money that came from the jobs we gave them.”

“Also, since I am president I am going to make chocolate milk the state drink.”