The Short Suppositions

So here we are, the final post of 2014, but the penultimate writing for The Novel That Wouldn’t End.  But that’s not true anymore, either.  Sitting here on the cusp of a new year, there are seventeen remaining scenes, split among five chapters and two parts.  And once those are finished, then it’s The End time and I can take a bit of a rest and figure out what comes next.  There’s also the possibility that I’m going to add one last scene, because the final scene in the novel is really two-in-one, and I do love splitting that stuff up.

The funny thing is I don’t remember writing a lot last night.  Getting into Google Docs and having a friend help with editing another project I’m working on, yeah, that took a while, but when I comes to the novel it didn’t seem like I wrote a great deal–and yet, there’s two thousand and sixty-six words in the scene, and that’s not something to brush aside.

But what were those words?  Questions asked by Erywin, questions answered by Helena, and, it would seem, and understanding between them of what may lay ahead for my kids.

None of this are happy thoughts, but then what are at this point?

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Erywin took a long, deep breath before asking her next question. “Any news on Ruth?”

“According to the people who were doing clean-up, the woman you fought was her doppelgänger. They’ve checked up on her family and they’d fine—mother, father, younger brother, all still alive. She probably left in a hurry from home just like fake Kaden did.” Helena shook her head. “As far as the real Ruth is concerned, we’ll never see her again. The Deconstructors are good at disposing bodies: they either dissolved her after leaching as many memories as they could from her, or dumped her in the middle of nowhere.” She slipped her hand from Erywin’s and folded both in her lap. “I figured a team’s looking into the matter now, and by this time tomorrow Ruth McRoberts will have never existed.”

Erywin hated hearing such news. “Such a waste. The girl has one year of school with Tanith, and for that she dies. Not to mention I hate it when women join up with the Deconstructors—”

“Our struggle stopped being the matriarchy verses the patriarchy a long time ago, my dear. May as get used to the fact there are as many pissed off female witches these days as there are male who aren’t buying into what The Foundation is offering.”

 

Just as they would have done had Kerry and Emma died, it looks like the Guardians are going in and “harmonize”, as they would say, the McRoberts Family with the new reality.  You don’t have a daughter; you never did.  And everyone who ever knew her will forget she existed.  Maybe Tanith will remember her, but she’ll never know that the girl she was talking to the day before she met Annie and Kerry was an impostor.

Also, in that last statement from Helena, you get a tiny glimmer of The Foundation/Deconstructor brouha.  Is it really as simply as a battle between the genders?  Hum . . . you’ll probably find out if I ever get around to writing the third novel.

Something else is on Erywin’s mind . . .

 

“True.” Erywin had been carrying a question since they arrived at the CDC, and she needed it answered. “Why didn’t they attack the children right away? Why did they wait?”

“Could be any number of reasons.” Helena had wondered about this as well. “Best answer I can come up with is miscommunication on the Deconstructor’s part. When Tanith left early fake Kaden probably didn’t check with fake Ruth to see when they were suppose to get together. He probably then told the third member of the party to get over to the mall and get some eyes on Tanith, and by the time he got there Annie and Kerry had already hooked up with Tanith and were on their way to the park.” Helena crossed her legs. “That would explain fake Kaden leaving in a hurry: once they realized there were Foundation witches with Tanith, there was a need to get everyone on site in a hurry. And then the kids went invisible and silent, you were laying low, so . . .” She shrugged. “They threw up blocking spells and waited for everyone to show themselves.”

 

Deconstructors:  Bad Guys You Don’t Want Planning Anything.  And there is some truth here, because they don’t have a huge network, they don’t have centralized headquarters, they seem like a bunch of mopes involved in a rear guard action.  Which, we all know now, can screw up a modern army pretty well if you plan your hit and runs effectively.

Something pushes Erywin’s buttons, however, and it would appear that the Deconstructors moved into KC about a month before Team Salem showed.  As Erywin points out in a passive-aggressive way, that was about the time they were called into action.  So one might assume . . .

 

Erywin sighed before standing up. “Walk with me, please.” As soon as Helena was along side, Erywin began speaking in a low, confidential voice. “Tell me you had no idea we were going to run into Deconstructors.”

“No mentions what so ever, and I didn’t have anyone coming to me with secret information.” Helena stared straight ahead. “You saw the same reports I saw.”

“I believe you. I know you’d never lie to me, and if there had been evidence of Deconstructors, we wouldn’t have gone.” Erywin stopped near a small line of trees and stared out over the lake. “But I think someone in San Francisco knew. I think they were aware of what the kids could do. And . . .” She exhaled a long, low sigh. “I think they wanted to throw those kids into a situation where they’d have to do everything they could to stay alive, and they’d use everything magical they had to make sure that happened.” She frowned. “It seems they got their wish.”

 

If the Guardians are good at watching and manipulating, then one might stand to reasons that they knew there was a good chances that a throw-down was inevitable.  I mean, if you suspect you’ve got a couple of wonder witches working for you, it’d be a shame to let their powers and skills go to waste, right?

And what does Helena think?

 

Helena slowly reached out and took Erywin’s hand. She held it in silence for about fifteen seconds, just staring out over the lake with her partner and companion. “I believe that, too. I know the Guardians too well, and even though everything seemed on the up-and-up . . . it appears that everything was leading to the three of you confronting the Deconstructors.”

Yep–she’s got the same sinking feeling.  Probably even more so for her, because she not only knows the sort of buttholery the Guardians can employee, she helped put the kids on the firing line.

Which leaves my two witches having these last thoughts:

 

Erywin said nothing, allowing the quiet of the CDC campus gather around them. “What happens now?”

“Now?”

“Are the Guardians going to keep after them until they bring them into the fold?”

Helena shrugged. “Why wouldn’t they? They kept after me, didn’t they?”

Erywin snorted. “Yours was a different situation; they knew what you were from day one.”

Helena’s dark eyes shifted just enough that she could take in Erywin’s profile. “Yeah? What the hell makes you think they haven’t known the same about those two?”

 

That’s right, Helena:  plant that kernel of doubt that maybe the Guardians have known something for a while, and this was their way of proving it.  The situation was different with Helena–her grandmother did work for the Guardians, and though it’s never said, her mother works for them as well–and Helena was pretty much learning to kill at an early age.  It could be said that the Guardians have had their eye on Annie for a while, but Kerry?  Well, he did have the fortune of living right in the Guardian’s back yard in San Francisco for a few years, and they picked up on him pretty easily, so . . .

I’m not saying.  At least not right away.

Act Three is currently just over seventy-six thousand words–

That'll do quite nicely, now, won't it?

That’ll do quite nicely, now, won’t it?

–And by the time I’m finished with tonight’s scene with Annie and Kerry, it’ll be closer to seventy-eight thousand.

We’ll see, won’t we?

Flu Bound and Down

The last twenty-four hours have been my own special hell.  By the time I rolled out of Panera yesterday I was feeling sorta okay, but after paying a bill and having lunch, I knew I was sinking fast.  I figured it was a cold, so yesterday afternoon I bundled up, took some medication, and relaxed.

By six PM I knew the truth:  I had the flu.

I was tired; I couldn’t concentrate that well; I hurt all over, particularly in my joints.  I wasn’t running a fever–or if I was, I didn’t realize it–but I was coughing a lot.  Sometimes it was a dry cough, sometimes a lot of stuff from my chest would come up.

It has been hard to do anything, but I’m doing it.  I was out already this morning to pick up some food, things I could eat that would make me feel better.  I had oatmeal with blueberries and honey, with a little yogurt on the side.  Later I’ll have tea and more yogurt.  Light, healthy things that will help get my flu out of my system by helping my immune system.

Oh, and I’m doing laundry, because I have nothing clean, and the sooner I get this done, then I can get back into my pajamas and relax.

I’m trying to write, but it’s slow going.  I can only work about fifty to hundred words at a time, then I have to go sit or lay down for about thirty, forty minutes, because it hurts to look at the screen, it hurts to sit on this little writing chair, and whenever I start coughing my head hurts.

This sucks very hard.

I wrote last night, but over the course of four hours I only managed five hundred and sixty words.  I know:  stupid.  I should have just relaxed.  At the same time my mind was working, and I couldn’t shut it down, so I had to get up and write.  I consider it a victory, because I did create something that was actually worthwhile.  Had to do it, just like I’m blogging today.  I should be resting, but I’m crazy.

And then I didn’t sleep that well, but when I did, I was dreaming of running from zombies and figuring out how to make maps showing infestation locations using Photoshop.  Yeah, it wasn’t fun, and I blame Zombie Lori, because I want to see her come back and eat Rick’s face, and it’s probably not going to happen . . .

"Carl isn't in the house--have you see him?  Shit, I mean--arrrhuggreehug!"

“Have you seen Carl?  He isn’t in the house!  Shit, I mean–arrrhuggreehug!”

Today I rest.  I’ll probably get well enough tomorrow to be able to head into work.  That’s always the suck, because your weekend is completely in the toilet and there is nothing you can do, but come Monday you have your energy back, just enough that you can make it through the day in a semi-coherent mode.  That’ll be me:  semi-coherent, making a show of the situation.  But I probably will feel better tomorrow.

Then I can get back into my life.

Roller Coaster Meditations

The 6th of November will be remembered, not with bonfires and a terrorist’s face becoming a well-known symbol for hackers, but with an enormous wave of people on Facebook declaring the world has gone to hell, the Apocalypse is upon us, and that they are moving to other countries as soon as they find one that doesn’t have any socialist tendencies.

As for me, while I’ll have something to say about last night’s election, I won’t say it today.  I need time for the brain to calm down, and for the head to stop hurting.

Oh, and there’s other writing I need to do as well.

The last couple of days have been difficult.  Stress, stress, stress, and I’ll admit there was a fair share of it coming from the lead up to the election.  It was giving me headaches, sometimes to the point where I found it difficult to think.

But today . . . I think the roller coaster is through with all the twisting and turning.  I think it’s coming into the station, and I can relax.  Oh, sure:  there are still things in my life that are pretty crap right now, but those will diminish in time.  And then I can do what I like.  What I want.

I did write last night, but the distractions–oh, my.  I got the chapters in; on finished, another started.  I got over twenty thousand words last night, but it was a squeaker.  Today, there needs to be more attention paid to the words on the page, and I have to get ready for a big chapter in my NaNo Novel.  Not big in that one will see a gazillion words written, but big in the sense that I have to lay bare a character’s life, and that is going to be painful.  My poor, maimed, little Indri:  you’ll be better for this when it’s over.  Trust me.

I’m checking the word counts on my chapters, and I’m on my track of about sixty thousand words for the story.  A check last night said I was going to end around fifty-three thousand words, but I have a couple of big chapters coming, and that’s going to tip the scales in the end.  There’s even the possibility that–gasp!–I could go more than sixty thousand.

As I always say, the story ends when it ends.  I’m still writing, so when I get closer to the end, I’ll know.

There is something else that I feel, and it’s that I might not end this story before 30 November rolls into town.  Getting my fifty thousand?  Sure.  Getting to the end of the story?  Maybe, maybe not.  We’ll see.  After all, just because the calendar flips and becomes 1 December doesn’t mean you go, “Oh, shit, NaNoWriMo is over!  What time does My Little Pony come on?”  It doesn’t work that way.

You have to keep writing.

I will.  I have this idea that I’m a writer.  I’ve had other people tell me the same.  And, hey, this is crazy, but I keep writing, and someone will buy me maybe.

2012 is all about change.  It’s here; we saw it last night.  Go with it, or get run over at your own peril.

I know what I’m doing . . .

Blackout Days

Just to let you shiny people know, I may say some bad words in the text below.  So if you don’t want to see them, I’ve left you this video of a Skyrim mod where all the dragons have been changed into My Little Ponies.  Enjoy.

A lot of people doing the dark today, all on honor of kicking SOPA and PIPA in the ass with hob-nailed boots.  Both links are up, by the way, and for obvious reasons–namely, information needs to be free.  And if you aren’t educated, then you can’t make up your own mind.

Oh, sure.  We know why these are up here.  Because the Internet is rife with piracy.  Go out on YouTube any day and, horror of horrors, someone has put up a video of a song–that they don’t have permission to play!  Oh, my gawd, I can hear Mista Kurtz now:  the horror, the horror.  Or someone has put up a picture, and they didn’t get permission from the people who own the copyright on movie it was taken from!  Or, worst of all . . . you put up a video clip without the express written permission of Major League Baseball.

Now you’ve stepped into the shit, my friend.

Let’s face it: this isn’t about protecting the Internet from piracy.  Oh, sure, we’re told we need to stop the rip-offs that happen every day, that a lot of people are hurt by Internet pirates who just take and take and don’t give a shit if you’re hurt in the process.

No, what this is about . . . is money.  Big money from big players, who only want to get bigger.  And these players got some important people helping them out.  I mean, come on: SOPA is sponsored by Larmar Smith, a genuinely batshit insane douche if there ever was one, and PIPA is sponsored by Patrich Leahy, who, while usually something of a moderate, is way the hell off-base on this.

But if you really want to see how these players just shuffle people around, one only needs to look at the current head of the Motion Picture Association of America, one of the biggest players behind SOPA.  The chairman of MPAA is none other than former senator Chris Dodd, and boy, is he pissed that people are blacking out the Internet today.  He’s pretty much calling it a “gimmick”, and a “dangerous one” designed to “punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals.”

Well, now!

Lets face it: there is a problem.  Stuff is being ripped off all the time through the Internet.  Or, I should say, it gets ripped off and then shared through the Internet.  I mean, did someone really rip off Transformers 3: We Still Ain’t Got a Freakin’ Script through an Internet download?  No.  They got it through other means and then . . . well, someone in their insanity decided people really wanted to see this, so they passed it around.  I know; it doesn’t make sense, but it happens.

It’s no surprise that a lot of piracy comes through Asia, in particular China, and that government doesn’t give much of a shit about piracy in any form.  I remember the days, back in the very late 1990’s and the early 2000’s, when, as the visiting IT guy, I’d catch someone in our China office loading software they’d picked up at “the night market”–the place where you bought all your pirated stuff–on to their computer.  Hell, I once caught one of the office managers installing the newest Microsoft op system, and sure enough–straight outta the black market that shit came.

China is, to put it bluntly, the World’s Knock Off Artists, and people there will pirate every damn thing they can while the government looks the other way.  How bad can it get?  How about 3 fake Apple stores in Kunming?  Oh, did I say 3?  Those are just the ones in Kunming that were shut down.  How about 22 total?  And the ones that were shut down were found to be “trading without a licence.”  Not that they were selling bootleg shit out of a bootleg store.  No.  They didn’t have their paperwork in order.

Of course I could say this is payback for Apple using Foxcomm to make their iPhone, and where the working conditions are so horrible that, recently, over 100 people said “give us our pay or we’re gonna kill ourselves.”  Amazon uses them to make the Kindle as well . . .

Of course, no one does much about China.  They bitch about it, yeah, but they don’t do anything.  Because, in the end, it’s all about money, and it’s easier to look the other way there and continue pandering to 1.3 billion consumers, while busting some 18 year old’s ass over an Adele video on YouTube.

And why would “liberal” Hollywood get behind these bills?  Please.  As I’ve pointed out before, while a fair number of actors and actresses are, by definition, liberal, the people running the studios are all about putting asses in the seats and coin in their pockets, and liberal isn’t something they get behind.  They want to fight the easy fight, and that means they’ve finally gotten tired of having their lawyers chase down some guy who’s set up a Deep Space 9 fan site and are currently threatening to lock their ass up for 20 years if they don’t pull down those pictures of Ben Sisko.  Naw.  Let the government do that for us.  And while they’re at it, just shut down the whole fucking Internet as well, ’cause we know the greatest threat to company profits are those illegal fansites dedicated to getting Kira Nerys and The Intendant together.

If you really want to see how SOPA and PIPA play to the big money players, just look at how lowly writers fair.  A day doesn’t go by when I don’t hear about how Amazon is guilty of allowing plagiarized, or just out-and-out ripped off, ebooks to be sold through their outlet.  And when this is brought to their attention, the attitude is sort of like, “Phuff!  Go away, kid, you’re bothering me.”  This happens a lot with other sites selling, or even giving away, pilfered ebooks, as well.

Sort of the same situation with pirated role playing games, like the ones sold through Drive ThruRPG.  I can find copies of just about every game somewhere on the Internet, and independent developers lose their asses because of this.

Is the government going to step in and shut down a couple of sites because Cubical 7 is getting ripped off?  Is the government going to shut down Amazon if I discover my ebook is being sold under another title by another writer who decided to rob my ass?

Yeah . . . you know the answer to those questions, too, don’t you?

In these times where the debate on corporate money in politics is coming to a head, it’s plainly obvious that SOPA and PIPA is just one more example of how that money is buying the people at the top what they want.  In the end this is about money, but it’s also about control.  It’s all about making more money for the people who already have it, and tightening the noose around everyone else’s neck if they decide to get out of line.

In the end, it’s all about seeing how much longer you’re going to swallow this fucking lie that you’re really free.

Sim Hell

Today was not a good day for writing–well, it was and it wasn’t.  For the most part I’ve doing a lot of editing on my last story, and I’ve cranked through a little over half the scenes and maybe 45% of the story.   (I have one scene coming up that’s 8300 words, and that’s 30% of the story, so I’ve got my work cut out for me.)  The edits are actually fun, because after burning through my story in 22 days I’m surprised to revisit and see where stuff needed to be cut, where stuff needed to be explained . . . for the most part, however, the first draft rocked.

So what did I do today?  Game and worry.

I wrote scenes for a game that I’ve been doing off and on and the scenes took up a lot of time.  Most than I thought they would.  It’s strange how trying to encapsulate some minute event in 100 words or so takes up so much of your time.  And I did a lot of those scenes; maybe 40.  So that’s 3000, 4000 words, and before you know it you’ve got a real story on your hands.  If only I did that for money–

Which brings up the worry: money.  Namely lack there of.  No joke that money is getting very, very tight, and after the end of next month operations cash is a true worry.  Need to make some calls in the next couple of days to see if I can fix that, but . . . I need to find something that’s going to bring in cash.

My mood was not helped by something I read on The Corner, which is pretty Mordor for the Conservative Batshit Insane.  Gee, I was surprised to discover that, according to the writer (who I refuse to name on the grounds dicks don’t deserve press), if I would only stay married, get a degree, work hard, and maybe go to church once in a while I’ll never be poor!

Hummm . . . let me see.  I’ve got a degree in computers and worked in the field for 25 years.  Sure, I’m on a second marriage, but my first one lasted 13 years and my current one is 13 and counting, and my daughter is a straight A student in middle school.  I don’t do church, but I do know the difference between right and wrong–and between the truth and mendacious bullshit.

In short, the “author” (and by that I mean someone who long ago discovered that “gai” is a legitimate adjective) can kiss my shiny white ass.  Try being 50+ in an age where companies view their employees as a necessary evil and are praying for the day when Chinese-style slave labor (only with less suicides because, lets face it, we do have fewer people) becomes the norm.   Anymore I’m all for lining CEOs up along Wall Street and putting them out of our misery.

Am I being mean?  No.  If I was really mean I’d swear a lot more.

And if anything, I’m all about keeping it SFW.

Running Out the Clock

Several months back I did a piece on this blog and sorta said some bad words.  Oops.  Sometimes that happens, you know?  One of the comments I received was, “A true wordsmith doesn’t need to swear to make their point.”  And you might think that’s true–right before I lock your ass in a room with Harlan Ellison and the ghost of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

So right up front, here’s some wordsmithin’ for you:  fuck you if you don’t like my language.  Are we clear?

Good.  Onward.

I’m out of work.  That’s a fact.  I have been for a more than a couple of years.  And I’m still looking.  I look a lot.  I send out resumes every week.  I no longer keep track of how many I’ve sent out because I don’t collected unemployment and there’s no need, but it’s well over one thousand.

And still nothing.

It’s not because I don’t have “the right stuff”.  I had 25 years in IT before I was laid off.  No, I know a lot of it was my age, which at the time I was laid off was on the low side of 50.  And I know that’s one of the reasons few companies ever looked at me; they saw my date of birth, had someone do the math (’cause most managers are too stupid to do it themselves) and thought, “Holy shit, this guy’s gonna want real money for a salary!”  And they shined me on.

And now there is a new meme going around: companies don’t want to hire the unemployed because they believe they aren’t the “best of the best”, that people like me, the 99ers, were laid off because we were too incompetent to hang onto a job.  And because of that, the common wisdom in the business community (if by wisdom you mean “I got my head so far up my CFO’s ass I saw his wife’s fillings when he kissed her goodbye this morning”) these days is if you’re out of work for more than 6 months, you’re toxic.  You’re gonna bring your stink in the door with you.  You are going to upset the perfect working order of out little empire.

So here I am, 2 1/2 years out of work, not making money doing the writing thing, and very close to running out of cash.  The few times I’ve spoken to headhunters who like my qualifications one of the first statements out of their mouth is that “You’ll be a hard sell because you’ve been out of work so long”.

Here’s my question: since companies think I suck because I’ve been unemployed for so long, what are my options?  What can they tell me and the millions who are unable to secure employment?  What is their solution?

Since they’re not interested in me, what choices do I have?  McJobs?  Even those are difficult to find.  Around where I live the jobs at Walmart and Target and the fast food joints are filled.  I’ve filled out applications to drive a bus; nothing.  Delivery truck.  Nada.  You can’t even dig ditches without a college degree these days.

The more you look, the more business games the system to keep people out of their organizations.  I’ve applied for jobs where there is a list of 9 things a company needs for the person they want to hire, and I’ll hit 8 of them perfectly, and when you get to Numba 9 . . . ooooh, not so much, and that’s the fuck you the throw back in your direction:  “You aren’t perfect, so get lost, loser!”

Yes, I get it.  Companies are interested in generating profits and little else these days, so they can be picky.  Well, amend that: they can be picky because what they really want is a demoralized work force just this side of slave labor.  They’ve seen how well it works in China, where you get your iPhone built in a place where people are so worked into a mumbling depression that one plant had to take steps to keep people from killing themselves.  Can I get that app for my smart phone, by the way?  The one where if I press it enough it makes some poor bastard jump to their death because your buzzing makes some asshole floor go over and yell at them?  Hey, that could give Angry Birds a run for its money!

Here’s what I think, and excuse me for going dark here, but I’m a smart enough guy to figure this out for myself:

American business, as we know it today, wants me to die.

Really, truly, they do.  ‘Cause I’m a drain on society.  I’m beyond being hired for any goddamn jobs they have, so what solution are they offering?  Why, get the hell out of the pool completely.  You’re a bum because you were on unemployment; you can’t find a job because no one wants you; and pretty soon you won’t have any money to be a useful consumer–

So stick a gun in your mouth and remove yourself from out wonderful capitalist paradise.

It’s not really that simple, though, because if you’re going to take yourself out you gotta do it in a way that at least allows you to leave behind whatever meager insurance policies you might still have for you family–whom, by the way, American business don’t give two shits for.  Why should they?  They’re saddled with my incredible losership, so they must not be much beyond personal losership themselves.

Frankly I’ve had it.  I can’t take this “Winner Take Every Goddamn Thing” attitude that companies have these days.  I can’t take their smugness, the asshole management that views their employees as a necessary evil and not a force they should cultivate for the future.  Today it’s about money and little else; hell, the last company I worked for even tried to state in their first “vision statement” that the employees should do everything in the power to make the joint a company the stockholders would be happy to leave their money.  And this wasn’t an idea buried deep in their “values”; this was the second bullet point.  It was right there:  “Build an environment that is desirable for the shareholders”.

Sure thing, Massa.  You want that bale totted where?

Oh, and if you support the people–AKA Republicans, Teabaggers, and the DINOs of every stripe–who allow companies to get away with this shit, I can’t take you, either.

Don’t take this as a cry for help; I’m way beyond that.  I’ll find a way to continue, I can assure you.  But any more I can’t take the bullshit of the people who continue to say that I, and millions others, no longer count.  I have no kind words for these douchebags any longer.  ‘Cause when you’re a dead man walkin’, what have you got to lose?

Watch your asses; I’m liable to go all Travis Bickle on your asses . . . what’s that?

You talkin’ to me?

All Hail the Birthday Girl

Today is my daughter’s birthday, and it is also her last day of school for the 6th Grade.  In a way it’s a very big day for her.  She has entered the last of her twener years–and is looking ahead to her first teen year–and she will be leaving the self-contained coocon that is the 6th Grade, because in her middle school they try to keep the 6th Graders separated from the 7th and 8th Graders to allow them the time to adjust to a much different world.

All this year she’s been a member of the 6th Grade Honors program, which means throughout much of the year she’s been doing math and science at a 7th Grade level.  Not that she’s slacked off on the other classes: she’s had 6 classes every one of her 4 grading periods, and throughout the entire year she has scored A’s in all classes–the only exception being one B in a literature class during the second grading period.

Not too shabby.  Particularly when you consider she did all this while, at various times during the year, as a member of the School’s Spell Bowl, a cello player in the 6th Grade Orchestra, a sprinter in Girl’s Track, and taking taekwondo twice a week and reaching her last belt before moving on to 1st degree black belt.

And all of this is happening at a time when Indiana, like maybe states run by crazy scumbags–I’m sorry, I mean, GOP governors and legislators, are pissing and moaning about how the public school system is broken and is should be replaced with something better–like charter school that are run like businesses and have about as much accountability.

It is no secret that my daughter has an advantage a lot of other students don’t: she’s a member of a special program that sort of sets her apart from others.  But don’t imagine for a moment that she’s going into classes with only a hand full of other students.  I’ve met her teachers and see her classes.  The class load is no different than others, and her teachers aren’t super geniuses who have found a magical way to open up her head and pour in all sorts of magical learning.

And, yes, I have helped monitor her progress.  I have checked her progress online and saw when she was starting to falter and gave her encouragement to help her alone–and, yes, I even bribed her a little with the promise of payment in return for improving her grades.

(And before you get your knickers in a bind, here’s the payment: books.  Whenever she brought her grades up or managed to keep them at the same level, we would head off to the local Barns & Nobles and she would buy her choice of books.  And that was picked because she loves to read.  So there.)

She worked very hard to get to where she’s at this year, and even though there was some involvement on our behalf, really, it’s all on her.

She is a product of the public school system, and I’m proud of them both.

And though it might sound like the school system where I live just rocks to hell and gone, it has problems.  One of the biggest issue here is the age of the schools.  For example: my daughter’s grade school is one of the oldest in our town.  It was original build in the early fifties, and was expanded in the late 1970’s.  It’s class load is actually higher than then average for other elementary schools in the stat.  And it’s very ill-suited for the 21st Century, with tightly packed heavy brick and steel walls making it difficult to wire the building for full wireless use.

School infrastructures fail students.  A lot of the schools where I live were built in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Even the high school, which was built huge to accommodation a growing population, is over 30 years old and starting to show the strain of aging facilities and a large student population.

And yet, going back to my daughter’s elementary school . . . that one is not only considered one of the best in the state, but one of the best in the country.  That probably pisses the hell out of those people in Indiana who probably think the 300 students packed in there should be forced into a non-public environment where they can get a real education.  Sure.  Because we know everything run like a business is an Epic Win every time!

Another thing our system does is keep parents engaged.  We hear from the schools all the time, whether it be through news letters or automated phone messages, the various after school meetings and functions, or thought the various online sites, one which allows parents to monitor their child’s progress online.  Now, I am not a helicopter parent who hovers around making sure my daughter does everything the right way, but I did keep up on her progress, and when I saw she was having issues I helped where needed.  I didn’t do it for her, because by only helping she still learns.

And that’s another important lesson; your kid has to learn on their own.  They have to be shown how to take in the information they are taught and apply it to their work.  ‘Cause if all your kid is going to do is sit around and scratch ass all day and not give a shit, it doesn’t matter if the instructor is Albert Einstein–Little Johnny ain’t gonna lean a damn thing.  And in order for Little Johnny (or Jenny, I’m all for equal opportunity) to figure out how to do this, they need help from the parental units.

But if said parental units are unable to give a shit; unable to get up off their own asses to help where needed; unable to give encouragement where necessary; unable to do anything but piss and moan about how the “teachers ain’t learnin’ Johnny anything!” and how we needs to simple shitcan the public school system and replace it . . . well, folks, to put it bluntly–Little Johnny/Jenny is fucked.

Any time you want to cut funding for school programs that might enlighten your child and stimulate their imagination, you have fucked them.  Any time you take the disingenuous position of the schools have totally failed because your kids spends all their time watching TV and playing video games and you can’t understand why, you have fucked them.  And–a personal peeve of mine–any time you, as a parent, think the most important thing your local school can have is a brand new $30-40 million dollar football stadium–because you view football as a “religion” and see it as the only ticket out of your town–then you have no only fucked Little Johnny/Jenny, you have fucked every kid in your local school system.

You want your kids to find a way out of you town.  Then take that football money and spend it on science and math and literature classes, ’cause your kid has a hell of a lot better shot of getting out of Podunk Shithole, TX, by being a researcher or an engineer or, hell, even as a teacher, than they do as a future quarterback for an NFL team.  (And notice: where football is seen as a way up and out, it’s only for the boys–’cause we all know girls don’t need to be lifted up and out, yeah?)

Like everything else, you only get out of something what you put into the effort.  My daughter has gotten a lot of her school, and she’s told me that next year she wants to forgo Spell Bowl and Track because she wants to concentrate on her school’s Science Olympia program.  As she told me, “Yeah, I’ll have to study for it every day (after school), but on Saturday they let us come in play!”

Sure, they work all week and the school lets them cut loose on the weekend.  Sounds like fun.

And it will be.