Sunday, March 30, 2008

How would you react to the question?

I teach special ed at an elementary school this year. My 4th and 5th graders need to be escorted to and from the "Cafetorium". The word cafetorium is made up by people that should know better. Cafetorium reminds me of the vomitorium, of ancient Rome. The food at lunch also reminds me of that Roman creation. O.K., the Roman vomitorium did not serve that purpose, but it sure makes for an interesting story.

As we return from breakfast or lunch, we very often see other classes traversing the hall. Well, I have a moderate case of Cerebral Palsy(CP). This is generally not worthy of mentioning, but it is necessary for this story. My CP is not serious, compared to most people afflicted with the condition. Every now and then one of the students will ask me why I walk the way I do. This is, almost always, a question coming from sincere curiosity. It bothers the faculty quite a bit more than it bothers me.

Typically, I stop, let one of my co- teachers proceed taking my students to the classroom, and talk to the student who asked me the question. My standard response is " My brain does not tell my legs the right way to walk." This typically is enough information to quell the student's curiosity. While it is a simplification of the condition, it is basically true, and enough information.

While this settles the issue for the child, I've begun to wonder about the adults, other teachers, at the school. Thursday, I actually saw a teacher scold one of her students for asking that question. I can not tell you how badly I felt for that student.

Why would the teacher be upset at the student for asking the question? Is it like I'm going to think nobody notices my gait if no one verbally addresses it? Maybe, they figure I will forget about it if no one mentions the condition. Honestly, I was mortified to see myself walk on videotape about 8-9 years ago. Ever since college though, I've never been embarassed by the question.

I work as a teacher, if I can't honestly answer that simple question, then I've got bigger problems than an inability to walk properly. I've had the condition my entire life, as an adult you learn to handle certain challenges. I've always taught in inner city schools, that question is the least of my worries. Some people have told me it is impolite, maybe, but if it is not brought out in a mean way, I explain the condition and that is it.

About a year ago, a high school student asked me about my disability, while he was in a different teacher's class. I had stopped in to get some clarification on a school-wide reading project from his teacher. After clearing it with her, I proceeded to field just about every question you can imagine, from her class, about my disability. I was discussing and explaining, as best I could, CP, to high school students, for 45 minutes or so. The teacher thanked me, and the students were more respectful, than could have been expected. I teach in a program for severely emotionally disturbed students.

I don't think I'm that unusual. I answer honest questions as if there was no malicious intent. I consider it a 'teachable moment'. Sure, the question could be considered impolite, but I like my approach more.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Email Fun


8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 PM - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 PM - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!


Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.
They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.
In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was
placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

Quote of the Day

This is a quote from Paris Hilton....

I realize that I've not put much effort into this post, but this quote can stand on its own.

"I work very hard and I've built this empire on my own," she tells Reuters. "I think this is an inspiration for a lot of girls out there."

If you would like the story go to

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

LRA's latest

March 12, 2008
Christina Stephens
Louisiana Recovery Authority
Allison Morgan
(225) 925-3966

State Payouts for Public Assistance Program Surpass $3 Billion
BATON ROUGE, La. (March 12, 2008) - The state of Louisiana has paid out more than $3 billion to local governments for emergency response, debris removal and permanent rebuilding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Public Assistance program, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) and the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) announced today.
The latest numbers indicate the state has disbursed $3,095,802,370 to more than 1000 Public Assistance applicants, paying on 13,362 project worksheets since the storms of 2005.
In the last year alone payments for long-term bricks and mortar reconstruction is starting to accelerate as applicants complete post-storm recovery and move into rebuilding work. In the heavily damaged parishes of Orleans, St. Bernard, Jefferson, St. Tammany and Plaquemines payments have more than doubled for long-term permanent rebuilding work, which includes repairs to roads, schools and public buildings. In Southwest Louisiana, Cameron Parish has seen increases in payments of three times for permanent rebuilding work in the last year.
"Meeting this milestone marks a significant step in Louisiana's recovery and once again shows just how far we've come in the last two and a half years. While much has been done, billions of dollars worth of rebuilding remains to be completed," said LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater. "By streamlining the reimbursement process and cutting time consuming red-tape with last week's launch of the Express Pay System we have already witnessed an increase in the speed of payments to local governments for rebuilding projects. We must continue to act with a sense of urgency to speed the pace of recovery. In doing so, our efforts will persist in searching for creative ways to strengthen the relationship between our local, state and federal partners to increase productivity."
In the first 36 hours of the Express Pay System more than $40 million was paid to local applicants.
Previously the payment process averaged between 45 and 60 days to make reimbursements to the Public Assistance applicant. The new Express Pay System allows applicants to submit a reimbursement request with the required documentation and receive payment within 10 to 14 business days.
While the time period for reimbursements from the Public Assistance program have been reduced, the state's internal controls, which must ensure that costs are allowable under federal law, are still in place. The Express Pay System has the support and backing of the Legislative Auditor and is being implemented to improve efficiencies in government.
"Reaching the $3 billion mark is a major accomplishment and a testament to the close cooperation among FEMA, the state and the local applicants utilizing the Public Assistance funding to rebuild Louisiana," said Acting Associate Deputy Administrator for FEMA's Gulf Coast Recovery Office Jim Stark. "Now, with the state's innovative, new Express Pay System, even more money will make it into the hands of local governments and private nonprofits to help spur along the recovery process."
So far, FEMA has obligated more than $6 billion for Public Assistance projects in Louisiana, with the state paying out over half of these dollars. As a cash reimbursement program, the state disbursement rate is over 93 percent on funds requested from local applicants.
FEMA's Public Assistance program works with state and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations to fund recovery measures such as the rebuilding of buildings, roads, bridges and water and sewer plants.
"There is simply no way to overstate what a great accomplishment this is for the State of Louisiana, " said Mark Riley, Deputy Director of Disaster Recovery, GOHSEP, "More than $3 billion in state payouts in 28 months only shows the progress from collaborated efforts at the state, local and federal levels in this recovery."
Project funds are obligated by FEMA through the Public Assistance program. Once the funds are obligated by FEMA, the applicant must request reimbursement from GOHSEP for eligible work completed. Obligated funds may change over time as the project is often adjusted as bids come in and scope of work is aligned.
During his first day in office, Governor Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order naming LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater as his authorized representative to FEMA's Public Assistance program. The LRA is working in conjunction with GOHSEP and its federal partners to identify ways to streamline the Public Assistance process and improve efficiency.
To view a spreadsheet containing the amount paid to parishes for rebuilding public assistance projects click here.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated South Louisiana, claiming 1,464 lives, destroying more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses. The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the planning and coordinating body that was created in the aftermath of these storms to lead one of the most extensive rebuilding efforts in the world. The LRA is a 33-member body which is coordinating across jurisdictions, supporting community recovery and resurgence, ensuring integrity and effectiveness, and planning for the recovery and rebuilding of Louisiana.

Delta's New Safety Video

CNN made this a big story this morning. I honestly don't see what the big deal is.

I found this on Youtube... It is supposedly from Virgin Atlantic.... I doubt it but it is much better.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Good way to kick off the week

> >
> > 1. You've ever wore shorts at Christmas time.
> >
> > 2. You pronounce Lafayette as "Laffy-ette" not
> > "La-fay-ette".
> >
> > 3. You learned to drive a boat before you could
> > drive a car.
> >
> > 4. You know the meaning of a "Delcambre Reeboks"
> > (that would be a pair of all white fishing boots).
> >
> > 5. You offer somebody a "coke" and then ask them
> > what kind: Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, 7Up?
> >
> > 6. You can name all of your 3rd cousins.
> >
> > 7. You plan your vacation around hunting season &
> > LSU football.
> >
> > 8. You greet people with "Ha's ya momma'an'dem?" and
> > hear back "Dey fine!"
> >
> > 9. Every so often, you have waterfront property.
> >
> > 10. When giving directions you use words like
> > "uptown", "downtown","backatown", riverside",
> > "lakeside! ", "northshore", "westbank", "down the
> > bayou" or "cross the river".
> >
> > 11. When you refer to a geographical location "way
> > up North," you are referring to places like
> > Shreveport, Little Rock or Memphis, "where it gets
> > real cold!"
> >
> > 12. Your burial plot is six feet over rather than
> > six feet under.
> >
> > 13. You've ever had Community Coffee.
> >
> > 14. You can pronounce Tchoupitoulas but can't spell
> > it (also, Thibodaux, Opelousas, Pontchartrain,
> > Ouachita, Atchafalaya).
> >
> > 15. You don't worry when you see ships riding higher
> > in the river than the top of your house.
> >
> > 16. You judge a po-boy by the number of napkins
> > used. (Amen) You Got dat rite.
> >
> > 17. The waitress at your local sandwich shop tells
> > you a fried oyster po-boy dressed is healthier than
> > a Caesar salad.
> >
> > 18. You know the definition of "dressed."
> >
> > 19. You can eat Popeye's, Haydel's and Zapp's for
> > lunch and wash it down with Barq's and several
> > Abitas, without losing it all on your stoop.
> >
> > 20. The smell of a crawfish boil turns you on more
> > than HBO.
> >
> > 21. You "wrench" your hands in the sink with an
> > onion bar to get the crawfish smell off.
> >
> > 22. You're not afraid when someone wants to "ax you
> > something."
> >
> > 23. You go by "ya-mom-en-'dems" on Good Friday for
> > family supper.
> >
> > 24. You don't learn until high school that Mardi
> > Gras is not a national holiday.
> >
> > 25. You don't realize until high school what a
> > "county" is.
> >
> > 26. You believe that purple, green and gold look
> > good together (and you will even eat things those
> > colors).
> >
> > 27. You go to buy a new winter coat (what most
> > people refer to as windbreakers)
> >
> > 28. Your last name isn't pronounced the way it's
> > spelled.
> >
> > 29. You know what a nutria rat is but you still pick
> > it to represent your baseball team. (Geaux Zephyrs).
> >
> > 30. You have a ditch on at least one side of your
> > property.
> >
> > 31. You have spent a summer afternoon on the Lake
> > Pontchartrain seawall catching blue crabs.
> >
> > 32. You describe a color as "K&B Purple."
> >
> > 33. You like your rice and politics dirty.
> >
> > 34. When given the choice for Governor between a KKK
> > leader and Edwin Edwards, it's a difficult decision.
> >
> > 35. You pronounce the largest city in the state as
> > "Newawlins."
> >
> > 36. You know those big roaches can fly, but you're
> > able to sleep at night anyway.
> >
> > 37. You prefer skiing on the bayou.
> >
> > 38. You assume everyone has mosquito swarms in their
> > backyard.
> >
> > 39. You realize the rain forest is less humid than
> > Louisiana.
> >
> > 40. You can list all the ingredient's of a gumbo or
> > a jambalaya.
> >
> > 41. You go to the "boat", but you don't plan on
> > spending any time over
> > water.
> >
> > 42. When you're in Baton Rouge you know the
> > difference between the old bridge & the new bridge.
> >
> > 43. If you ever had to wait for the bridge to "come
> > down" so you can get home.
> >
> > 44. If you pull for the Saints (who else would)?
> >
> > 45. If you've ever been to a wedding and someone
> > either danced in a #3
> > washtub or with a broom and this was considered
> > normal.
> >
> > 46. You make your groceries, or, wash your
> > dishes,or, have an icebox.
> >
> > 47. You can't think of anybody that can cook better
> > than your momma.
> >
> > 48. You know when it's appropriate to use "Tony
> > Chachere's" (anytime!!!!).
> >
> > 49. You know an old person that can "treat" you for
> > warts.
> >
> > 50. The four seasons in your year are: crawfish,
> > shrimp, crab and King Cake.


Friday, March 14, 2008

An Obit you might have missed

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week.

Larry LaPrise, the man that wrote 'The Hokie Pokey' died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.

Stop that. You know it's funny.


Friday, March 07, 2008

The Inverterbrate Party

As I understand it, this is a matter of getting FISA courts to give retroactive warrants for these wiretaps. These same warrants only need to be within 72 hours, and be justified to a secret court judge. Either this law is intended to protect the lazy work habits of the Republicans, or these wiretaps are not even justifiable to a FISA court anymore.

These warrants would give the telecomms protection, but it is possible that some of the wiretaps that they've already given were illegal. If the Democrats bail on this, I'm beginning to wonder if they should be renamed the Invertebrate Party.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

With Friends like these

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Who is good for Israel?

I've been hearing from various family members that they are voting for John McCain because he is a better friend of Israel. I've decided to research a bit to see the positions of both candidates (McCain and Barack Obama). For the purposes of this post I will not focus on Hillary Clinton.

Louis Farrakhan has endorsed Barack Obama. He denounced Minister Farrakhan at a recent debate in Ohio. What does this endorsement mean though? Does an endorsement come with strings? It might. Let's look at the 2004 election as an example. The Ku Klux Klan endorsed George W. Bush. While that doesn't surprise me, it helps to prove my point. An endorsement from a fringe figure, or group does not mean that that group would have influence on said candidate.

While I disagree with almost everything George Bush does, I do not believe he pushes the agenda of the KKK. For instance, if Osama Bin Laden gets on Al Jazeera and endorses John McCain, because this war has been great for recruitment to Al Quaeda, then maybe we shouldn't vote for McCain. That is absurd.

What is more telling about a candidate's stance is not necessarily who would endorse them, but who would they appoint. Who are the members of the Middle East policy teams for each candidate? Here is a list of the policy team for each of the candidates. For the purposes of this post, I'm going to draw a couple of names from each candidates lists, to see how they might be influential; in relation to Israel.

There is however, one addition. I will be adding James Baker to McCain's list. Why might I do that, dear reader? Because when interviewed by Ha'aretz, an Israeli mainstream paper, McCain stated that Baker might be his choice for Middle East envoy. The other name he mentioned was Brent Scowcroft. In a later interview he stated that this was not a real interview, but appears to be caught in mid spin.Now, what does this mean?

Well, let me do a quick google on Scowcroft, and Baker in relation to Israel and see what it turns up. First, let's see what kind of supporter of Israel James Baker would be. McCain said he might be the Middle East Peace envoy, if McCain becomes President.
Well, Baker is on reported as saying "F@#$ the Jews". To find the full story click here. I don't know that I have to go any further with this guy. But for the sake of argument, what does he think of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Baker gave a speech concerning Arab Israeli relations in 1989. In part he stated that Israel was at fault for the conflict with the Arabs. Here is the website. I would guess that it could be understood James Baker is not the biggest supporter of Israel.

What about Brent Scowcroft? He has been in Washington for quite some time but it appears that his views are a bit more moderated. Here is one of the clearest examples of his view... after a quick google search. This talks about a

In the article, he argued that an invasion of Iraq would deflect American attention from the war on terrorism, and that it would do nothing to solve the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, which he has long believed is the primary source of unhappiness in the Middle East. Unlike the current Bush Administration, which is unambiguously pro-Israel, Scowcroft, James Baker, and others associated with the elder George Bush believe that Israel's settlement policies arouse Arab anger, and that American foreign policy should reflect the fact that there are far more Arabs than Israelis in the world.

I'm not sure if this is an anti-Semitic view, an anti-Israel view, or if it is just a pragmatic view. To see the full article I pulled this from click here.
I would suggest that neither of these individuals is necessarily, pro-Israel. Scowcroft's Wall Street Journal editorial in it's entirety is here. So now that we know the two people McCain mentions, as his go to Middle East advisors, are not exactly pro Israel, let's look at Obama's.

Anthony Lake and Dennis Ross have both been mentioned as top foreign policy consultants for Obama. Let me do a quick google search on each of them and we will see who has the ear of Senator Obama .

Anthony Lake is Jewish. The main complaint appears to be that he earned his stripes in the Carter Administration. The same Administration secured a lasting peace treaty between the Israelis and the Egyptians. Guilt by association is a terrible thing. I'm not quite clear on what the Carter Administration did but it upset a lot of people. This man converted to Judaism, and I've not been able to find anything that could be remotely, anti-Israel. He might not believe in giving Israel carte blanche in all security matters, but he definitely does appear to support Israel in general.

I don't see any problem with Dennis Ross. I believe he is also Jewish. In a 2006 Washington Post opinion, he lays out what should be expected of Hamas. It all seems very reasonable to me. I don't see anything glaring that says anti-Israel.

Honestly, I would say the Democratic team appears to be more supportive of Israel. I'll finish up with a quote:

"On just the question of Mr. Obama's support for Israel, however, the president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Howard Friedman, minimized any differences between the candidates. "All of the leading candidates, Senators Clinton, Obama, and McCain, and Governor Huckabee, have demonstrated their support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship," Mr. Friedman said."

Oh wait.... did you know Obama's middle name is Hussein.