This may come as a surprise, seeing as how I write a blog, but I am not particularly computer literate. It has been a slow process. Part of my self-taught computer education has been learning about message boards and deciphering the slew of acronyms that appear in the various posts. For the ones I can't figure out, I ask the The Spouse. For the ones that stump both of us, we ask the expert -- The Teenager. I had to go to her for the one listed above ("The Idiots In Charge").
So, today I address both TFIIC (The Federal Idiots In Charge) and the TIICAW (The Idiots in Charge At Work). On the Federal level, I am really tired of reading items about the passport crisis. Back in February, I wrote a blog about getting a passport and the the new passport requirements under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. So, they enact all these new regulations, people apply for passports, people follow the rules, and hold on... TIIC DIDN'T ANTICIPATE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO WOULD APPLY FOR PASSPORTS?!! Big mess. So, TIIC have the rules go into effect in January, and now they are saying that there was a "huge, unanticipated surge in applications" in January, February, and March? Come on. My father sent in a passport renewal application in early April. He finally got his passport about two weeks ago -- a little shy of the four-month mark. Before the new requirements, I read the typical wait time was only about 6 weeks total. He was one of the lucky ones -- his vacation plans didn't get screwed up. By June, the backpedaling started. So, now, until September 30, if you haven't gotten your passport yet, you can present a passport application receipt and government-issued photo ID instead. By September 30, the feds hope to have the wait time back down to 6 weeks. I wouldn't hold my breath.
Put this one in your “You can’t make this stuff up” file.
Just over one month ago, the esteemed American Medical Association decided by the narrowest of margins, that it should NOT classify the excessive playing of video games as a psychiatric addiction. This decision was taken after much debate of an AMA generated report, which strongly argued that young people who spend inordinate amounts of time playing video games actually suffer from a “psychiatric addiction”. The AMA called for “more research” into this question.
Lately I've found myself traveling beyond Brookfield's borders into New Berlin.
I've found myself driving on Greenfield Ave. two or three times a week. Greenfield Ave. is a good east / west alternative to Bluemound Rd. There is little traffic and few stop lights. The 45 mph speed limit can easily be maintained. There are relatively few businesses (except at the intersections), and many homes with large lawns. I enjoy the suburban look. (Yes, I do know that the westbound lane is Brookfield!)
As you may have noticed, there is a new look to the blog sites. That's because we now have a new blog "tool."
With this new tool, among other features, readers can comment through the blog (you will need to sign in) and can sign up to be automatically alerted when I post a new blog.
With the sad realization that summer is winding down, the new school year brings the exciting news of recent Saint John Vianney school improvements. With the help of guidance counselor Teri Kovars, I got the opportunity to tour the school the other day and see the recent changes.
For the first time ever, a new air conditioning system, something our students and staff will notice on those remaining hot September days.
Newly installed heating units.
Recently installed energy efficient windows and doors in the cafeteria. In addition, a brand new brick wall was built around the windows to enhance the energy system. The cafeteria floor was resurfaced and freshly painted, most notably the athletic stripes on the floor, as the room is often used as an auxiliary gym.
A freshly painted health room and school office, along with new chairs for waiting school visitors.
A new bench directly outside the school office, for the students to wait for carpools or busses.
Courtesy of the Bid for Kids monies - six new Smart Boards have been installed. A seventh Smart Board, along with a supplemental computer program called SynchronEyes for the computer lab, was donated by a very generous school family.
Also courtesy of Bids for Kids - a new acoustic piano, a digital Clavinova piano, new desks in the 6th grade, new religion and language texts throughout the school, and a new concrete play area outside the K4 classroom.
Walking through the school, I could not help feeling that the new additions seem to reflect the pride and joy of the St. John Vianney community. Along with our new principal, Mrs. Jayme Hartmann, we are also proud to introduce Mrs. Joyce Block as our computer teacher, Mrs. Gerise Grzeszczak as the Reading Specialist and Mrs. Jennifer Williams as a first grade teacher. With all of this, we are truly blessed to have such a wonderful start!
It’s Packer time, and I can’t let this particular summer end without some historical comment. This summer notes the forty-year anniversary of 1967, a period that is euphemistically known as the “Summer of Love”. I believe the 60’s are very relevant today, because the explosion of social and public policy which then occurred serves as a crucial backdrop to the current content of social discourse and governance at the national, state, and local levels.
A while back I wrote and delivered an extensive talk on the subject of Western Civilization and American culture, part of which contained an in depth look at the 60’s. Names such as “The Summer of Love” and “The Age of Aquarius” are vapid and sadly misplaced, for they ascribe all kinds of noble and altruistic motivations to the 60’s. To the contrary, I believe it was an era that witnessed an unprecedented elevation of “the self”.
Today's quotes topic: Worry
If you are anything like me, you probably worry a little too much about things that are too little. I came across some great quotes recently that I use to remind myself not to sweat the small stuff.
Our family just got back from 2 wonderful weeks in Yellowstone National Park. It is hard to come back to the real world, but re-enter I must: Calhoun Road widening is on the Common Council agenda tonight at 7:45pm.
As many of us know, Brookfield is special.
This is confirmed by the City of Brookfield’s website, www.cityofbrookfield.com. The 2000 census shows that city residents are older, more educated, and have higher median incomes than those nationwide. Plus our homes are of a higher median value.
Two of SJV's very own 8th graders, Matthew Cekanor and Sung Yeon Won, prompted by an assignment from their Social Studies class unit on Social Justice, have coordinated a fundraiser. This miniature golf fundraiser, to be held at the National Golf Center in Big Bend, will benefit the DAAA (Dwarf Athletic Assocation of America). The Dwarf Athletic Assocation of America promotes and provides quality amateur athletic opportunities for dwarf athletes in the United States. The National Golf Center is owned by Paul Mindel and his family, a parish and school family. A donation will be made by the National Golf Center to DAAA for every round of miniature golf and bucket of range balls purchased during the weekend.
This fundraiser is just one example of SJV's efforts to educate our students about social justice and inspire them to think about what they can do for their community. The assignment was to come up with an action plan of helping a person or a group of people. Many of the plans included babysitting, helping a neighbor, creating a fundraising lemonade stand, and even holding a sports camp. If the students actually execute their plans they will receive extra credit in their 8th grade Social Studies classes - not to mention helping their community!
As I've written before, we now have this new blog tool through which you, the readers, can comment on my blog. I've had a question come up about this feature, so I want to clear a few things up. In order to comment, you do need to "sign in," but you do not necessarily need to give your name. You can remain anonymous.
Comments do not automatically post to the blog; I need to approve them first. However, the administrators of this blog have told all the bloggers that we should pretty much publish all comments -- good AND bad. We have also been told in the strictest of terms that we are not to edit any comments in any way.
On the Thursday night news, I saw aerial footage of the damage done by vandals to East's football field. (It reminded me of pictures of those farm fields where the corn is flattened out into strange, circular patterns.) Someone drove a car onto the field and performed spinouts on the grass turf. It was an intentional act of vandalism; the perpetrator(s) cut through a chain in order to get access to the field. As a result some of East's home football games will now have to be played at... Central! For the story, click here.
In the global scheme of things, high school football probably doesn't amount to much. But when it comes to the world of East v. Central, it is a big deal.
How proud the vandals must be, accomplishers of a tremendous feat that required the cloak of darkness to achieve.
How gleeful they must be as they boastfully recount their exploits.
How devastating the impact on the Spartan community.To paraphrase Winston Churchill – never have so few ruined so much for so many. One or a few punks really showed us what they are made of, didn’t they? I say “punks” fully acknowledging that we don’t know who did this, or what their age is. But be they students or adults, be they younger or older, they are most certainly punks.
Let’s call this action what it so clearly is: cowardly, malicious, and criminal. Let’s let the retribution fit the crime if we are fortunate enough to find out who did it.
When was the last time you visited the gravesite of a Revolutionary War Veteran? Or walked amongst the resting place of several Civil War Veterans?
On Memorial Day my family and I did this.
We did not travel to Massachusetts or New York; we drove about four miles from our home to Oak Hill Cemetery, right here in Brookfield.
Located on Brookfield Road and immediately adjacent to Brookfield Academy, this beautiful piece of land and history lies in the heart of our own community. Buried there are the remains of Nathan Hatch, a man who served America in the Revolutionary War.
Do you want a giant does of perspective in just a few minutes? Then take a half-hour this fall to walk under the trees of Oak Hill, and to gaze at the headstones bearing 18th Century dates and names. Go back over two hundred years to the lives these people led and the times in which they lived.
Let’s respect this Brookfield treasure in the best way we can.
By visiting it.
I too was outraged by the idea that 6th graders (and up) are to be taught about oral sex and that parents need not be upset by this because they can "opt out". Opting out, however, is never an easy process. The administration knows that and they are counting on you not doing it. (This type of curriculum is one of the many reasons parents choose private education or homeschooling.)
If you notice in the last paragraph on first page (I got this from Cindy Kilkenny's Brookfield City News), to opt out, you need to make a request in writing on a special form and you must fill out a form for each lesson. The exact date of the offensive classes are not known — they are only approximate. (The letter also stated that the curriculum would be available for parent review on the district web site. I could not find it...yet.)
Frankly, most of what is on the list of student outcomes are things I would rather be the source for than the school system. Do we really need to teach kids that some people vomit to lose weight? Notice that abstinence is not taught until grade 8. Shouldn't we be teaching that abstinence is one of the best ways to prevent disease, pregnancy, and poverty anytime reproduction is taught?
I also found it rather interesting that under Peer Pressure/Relationships (Grade 6), point #2 discusses "Impact of peer pressure". It is ironic that they are counting on peer pressure to keep your child enrolled in their program!
What can you do?
If I was the parent of an Elmbrook school age child, I would contact every parent of my child's friends and join together to "opt out" en-mass. If your child has some friends opting out with him/her there will be little reason for them to feel they are unique. It will also make it known to the school district that you do not approve of this type of curriculum.
There are two schools of thought on this. The one most school districts take is that children will hear about all this anyway so they need to "teach" our children all about every aspect of human behavior: drugs, sex, smoking, drinking, self-destructive behaviors, etc.
The D.A.R.E. program would be a good example of this type of program in younger grades. Judging from the numbers of young people I see smoking and those I hear about underage/binge drinking and doing drugs, I would say that type of instruction does not work. Familiarizing children with forbidden subjects and topics does just that—makes them more familiar and less forbidden. Familiarization removes the taboo.
The other method of instruction is to teach a standard of acceptable behavior as based on absolute truth. For me, that is the biblical standard of Judeo/Christian values—the same values our Founding Fathers formed this nation on.
We have ratings for TV shows, movies (although PG-13 seems more these days like the former R), video games, and music. Parents try to monitor or filter the Internet. Seems a shame that after all these efforts our school system usurps the parents rights to protect their children from objectionable material by implementing subjects their children could not be exposed to in the public movie theater!
I favor the teaching the absolute truth and the moral principle that King David penned in the Bible: "I will set no base or wicked thing before my eyes." Psalm 101:3. That is pretty simple and I think is something most parents want. If some parents don't want those principles, then why not make them "opt IN" to Elmbrook's Human Growth and Development Program and leave the rest of us alone.
Brookfieldnow changed its software while I was enjoying myself at the geysers in Yellowstone. Not only do the postings look different, but now you are able to submit your comments too. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this new feature.
It is good to get other people's perspectives on things; often one good idea will lead to another. I have enjoyed hearing from many of you over the years.
I heard from a fellow ice cream lover that the Oberweis Ice Cream Store, located in the strip mall just east of the intersection of Moorland and Bluemound, has closed. The kids in my family loved to go there for the free balloons as much as the ice cream. Sorry to see it go. (I haven't heard anything about whether their dairy delivery services are continuing).
But don't despair, ice cream lovers. If you travel south on Moorland to Greenfield and then hang a left, you will find Maggie Moos ice cream store in the Brookfield Marketplace. Maggie Moos can mix your favorite ice cream with other favorite treats, like marshmallows or oreo cookies, similar to the way the Cold Stone Creamery stores do. They even have a few lactose free alternatives.
Today I received a copy of an opt out letter from one Elmbrook parent. Good for you! I hope many of you will choose this path. Better yet, I hope some of you organize.
As I mentioned in the Opt IN rather than OUT posting, I could not find the examination copies of the K-12 HG&D which were to be "available for parent review on the district web site in July." as mentioned in the July 1, 2007 Parental Information Letter. My curiosity is now awakened as to what they will all teach.
The school year begins next week. I'm sure children and parents are looking forward to it.
As the school bells start ringing...drivers need to slow down in school zones (15 mph), watch for school buses and be extra vigilent at intersections. At recess, the voices of children will resound through neighborhoods nearby.
In my last blog, I wrote that I heard that the Oberweis ice cream store closed. For those who might be concerned about unused subscriptions, balances on frequent buyer cards, or gift cards, a reader posted a comment with more information. Click here to access my last blog, and then scroll down to the Comment on August 29 by "BrookfieldMomofTwo."