Take Me Out…

3 Apr

Yesterday I sat down to watch the opening day baseball game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. I have always enjoyed baseball, both watching and playing, but the least interesting thing to me at any baseball game these days is when the home team takes the time before the game to introduce both teams, including bench players and support staff, to the crowd and then makes all of them lineup along the baselines and doff their caps and wave.

Perhaps once upon a time this was okay because the players were regular working men, just like you or your dad, and these guys represented your home team, maybe for years on end and most likely throughout their entire careers, so it was nice to see them introduced and waving to the crowd while you waved back and got ready for the long season of baseball ahead…but now they are mostly all millionaire mercenaries who are just passing through your home town until their contracts expire or they are suspended for drug abuse or some other such extravagance.

Anyway, maybe it’s just a sign of my age, for all things change over time and those ball[players are wealthy because we baseball fans buy merchandise and memorabilia and watch on cable and at the ballpark in numbers and with a disposable income that would boggle any third world mind…and I have to also admit that my team, (like I’m a part owner) The Yankees, has a new pitcher on their staff that is paid more money than the entire Houston Astros team so…there is that bit of first world insanity.

And yet what flabbergasted me most during that interminably long opening ceremony was that one of the last members of the Houston Astros baseball team to be introduced was their Massage Therapist! There’s no massage in baseball!!! At least there never was. But if there now must be, can’t these guys afford their own massages???

I’m sure The Babe, Joe D. and Mickey indulged in some after game therapy of their own on occasion but they probably got the kind of massages that came with happy endings… and they paid for it themselves… at least!

Geez, baseball and full time massage therapy! It can’t get much better than that can it? Three hours of work every day… of which maybe 15 minutes actually involves their running around and performing at top skill proficiency. You wouldn’t think they’d need so many drugs to keep themselves in top shape, let alone massaging at regular intervals.

And then the game started and they all proceeded to play as though it were opening day at the local little league…what with all the tripping and the falling and the overthrowing and the bobbling… not to mention the swinging and the missing! Did you know that last year Major League Baseball players set a new major league record by collectively striking out over 36,000 times?! That’s at least 108,000 swings and misses. Throw in foul balls and pitches out of the strike zone and when you consider all of the nothing that happens at a ballgame, professional ball players make the opening day ceremonies look like a veritable Zumba Fitness Party!

Still with all of that twisting and turning and swinging and missing and falling over and getting up again, I guess it’s no wonder that having a regular massage therapist on board makes a lot of sense for a baseball team. And just to make sure, I even checked the Yankees roster on-line and yep, they have a massage therapist too! And wouldn’t you know it, they have someone on their staff that not even the Houston Astros have thought of employing…not yet anyway….

…and that would be Mr. Chad Bohling…Director of Mental Conditioning!

Maybe the Yankees are on to something. However, when it comes to baseball these days… and professional sports in general…I am beginning to believe that it’s us fans, and not the rich, pampered and adored players, who are really in need of having our heads examined.

 

We Won’t Get Fooled Again…We Hope

2 Apr

When you’re a teacher, the hardest day of the year is always the first day of school…but the second most difficult day of the year, as far as I was concerned, was always April Fools Day. That was always the day when your students seemed to feel that they would be immune from punishment for whatever ridiculous and silly prank they could think up, so you always had to be on the lookout for your April fools. Woe to the teacher who did not keep track of the day and date and know what day it was!

I would always check ahead on the calendar and hope that April first fell on a Saturday or Sunday or perhaps even Spring break…but of course there was always the “sick day” that hopefully one had available just in case your particular pool of students that year was more fool-ish than friendly…

So here’s to all of you teachers out there and hoping that your day today was a good one…and also fool free!

Of Heaven and Homophily

31 Mar

Does anyone practice religion in heaven, and if so, what for?

Rise of the Machines III

29 Mar

Here is something that I just cannot seem to wrap my head around.

According to a news article that I recently came across, Pedestrian train accidents have been increasing dramatically. In 2013 (Through Aug. 31), there had been 352 pedestrian deaths compared with 281 during the same period in 2012, a 25 percent rise. The fatality rate in the first eight months of 2013 was the highest in a decade.

How does one manage to get hit by a train? I mean, first of all they are gigantic, mechanical locomotives! Secondly, they make tremendous amounts of noise and they have really loud horns that they blow when they see you and you don’t see them! And thirdly, and I think most importantly, they can only be found…on train tracks!

And yet there has been a growing phenomenon not only found in humans on train tracks but also among humans everywhere, called “distracted walking,” where pedestrians can lose a sense of their surroundings as they text and chat on mobile phones. Injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and these numbers are even believed to be underreported.

Perhaps you have crossed paths with one of these techno zombies or have been accused of occasionally having the infection? But might not this strange human behavior be the result of a sinister plot hatched by these very same and increasingly more ubiquitous and ever more self-cognizant machines!… In their attempt to take over humanity?

I realize that 352 human fatalities on train tracks (compared to all of humanity) isn’t very many…but if you are the machines…

It could be considered a start. Could it not? How else to explain…being run down…by a train???

New Jersey’s Big Fat Investigation

28 Mar

The verdict is in!

New Jersey has just spent 1 million tax payer dollars for a complete investigation of our Governor’s possible involvement in the closing of 3 lanes of the George Washington Bridge and the creation of a massive traffic jam, as payback for a Democratic mayor who did not support him.

And the Survey says: Governor Christie knew nothing!

That sure is comforting.

It’s always nice to know that your governor’s close personal friends and appointed aides are working hard for him and your state, without his direction nor his knowledge of what they are doing.

And who conducted this thorough and complete investigation?…for the tidy sum of 1 million dollars?

The governor’s close personal friends of course!

The law firm responsible for the investigation, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, has worked for the Christie administration previously. Debra Wong Yang, one of the top partners at the firm, is a friend of Governor Christie and, employees of the firm have previously donated money to Governor Christie’s campaign for statewide office…And three of the Governor’s aides, who were most integrally involved in the scandal, refused to be interviewed by the investigators…which is always nice to know.

They don’t do law in real life like they do it on TV do they? I sure hope the lunches were good.

But, I guess that when you are only paying 1 million dollars for an internal investigation you can’t expect the investigation to be very thorough. I mean really, how many billable hours can you expect from a top notch law firm when you are only paying them 1 million dollars??? Perhaps the Governor might want to look into cutting some of these wasteful, overpaid lawyers from the state budget just like he did with the wasteful, overpaid policemen, firemen and teachers a few years back.

Oh well, just more money down the New Jersey political drain. I wonder if any of that 1 million will find its way back to the Governor through campaign contributions from his favorite law firm. That’s probably very impolite of me to wonder and I’m sure the Governor wouldn’t know anything about that anyway since he’s going to be so busy running for the Presidency over the next 2 years, to pay much attention to the job that I do believe we tax payers are paying him to do…for us.

Wow! What a big, fat waste of time!

The investigation I mean.

Charter Charlatans?

27 Mar

If you live in the NYC area then you know that newly elected mayor, Bill DiBlasio, is working to fulfill a campaign pledge to charge rent to charter schools. The mayor said he wants to charge rent based on how much a school can afford to pay, and he also wants to slow or perhaps even stop the continued growth of the NYC charter school movement so that more focus can be brought back to the public schools. Naturally the charter schools are up in arms over this proposal because charter schools receive rent-free space in city buildings even though they are privately run.

During Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, Money for charter schools increased from $32 million to $659 million and what was once a modest collection of 17 charter schools has now expanded to 159 charter schools within the city…and overall the NYC education budget has almost doubled to 25 billion dollars from the 13 billion dollars that was being spent when mayor Bloomberg took office.

But the city charter schools, along with receiving free rent from the city also raise quite a lot of money from the private sector including large donations from “philanthropists” like the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, and the hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, along with other prominent Wall Street tycoons, (You probably remember them from the great financial crash of 2008)… Anyway, That’s how Success Academy Charter Schools’ chief executive officer, Eva Moskowitz. can make nearly $500,000 a year to run only 22 “non-profit” schools.

That’s also how Mayor DiBlasio can be opposed by a “nonprofit” charter advocacy group called Families for Excellent Schools. They have organized rallies in Albany, created an internet website and spent 3.6 million dollars on commercials that can be seen constantly throughout the day on television here in the tri-state area. Charter school political action committees have even donated more than 100 thousand dollars to NY Governor Cuomo and other NY state politicians.

So is it a surprise that The Governor says that he is now “Excited” about charter school growth and that Mayor Di Blasio is now beginning to step away from his hardline campaign stance against charter schools?

Isn’t it amazing what money can do? Teachers and educators have always known that money makes a difference when it comes to your child’s education. Can your public schools use its public money to advertise in favor of the public school budget? Do your public schools have 3.6 million dollars that they don’t need for educating your children, to use for creating commercials to “convince” local politicians and influence you to support their efforts in passing the public school budget, let alone raising the school budget?

Money matters! And one has to ask why billionaires are so interested in paying large sums of money in order to gain control of and advertise for the privatization of the public schools in our country… What’s in it for them? And most importantly, what do you think is really in it for you and your children? In the short term privatization always looks good, especially when there is a multimillion dollar ad campaign to help you to try and make up your mind.

But in the long run? Just ask yourself this: When have Wal-Mart, Wall Street tycoons and billionaires ever been interested in spending money on the poorer classes of this country…except when it leads to greater class exploitation and increased profits for themselves?

 

 

 

 

Shameless

24 Mar

I’m always receiving lots of junk Email in my inbox. Probably you do too. Most of it goes straight to my spam folder but every once in a while some slip through to my inbox and that’s mostly because every once in a while I can’t help but open one up just to see what it says. I’m sure that sets off an alarm in my browser that tells the internet police, “Hey! This guy will read anything! Send him more!”

Today I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this one titled: Background Checks: Find Out Your Parents’ Past Crimes!

If you’re curious about your parents’ past crimes, it just might be time to pack up and leave the house…unless of course you feel  they’ve been cheating you on your allowance and owe you more money for the lookout work you’ve been helping them out with… or maybe you feel they’ve been moonlighting with another gang late at night after you’ve been sent to your room to do your homework.

Here was another Email with the heading: Shameless Liars and Thieves!

It was from a Republican newsletter and after I opened it, it immediately identified the shameless liars and thieves as…the government. (As if I didn’t already know) but what had they done this time? Apparently our government has been withholding the secret to a cure for cancer for over 85 years! (I guess that means Republicans have been in on in too!)

Anyway, the short memo, as it’s called, goes on and on and on and explains that the good Dr. Al Sears knows the cure for cancer, aging, obesity, arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s, and even graying hair! In fact he knows the cure for everything! All you have to do is purchase his newsletter and buy and read his 5 volume set about how to cure everything. And somehow the government can no longer stop him! Hooray for the internet! Hooray!

Of course, as any English teacher can tell you, always read to the end before answering any questions or filling out any forms because if you scroll down to the very end of this rag sheet you’ll find this disclaimer:

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Well, I suppose you’ve got to give them some credit. After all, they did put the words Shameless Liars and Thieves right there in the title to their Email. You just had to read to the end to find out that they were talking about themselves…

Now, If only someone could find a cure for people who behave like that!…or is it being kept a secret?

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