Amid the flood of Back-to-School cartoons that didn’t make me laugh, Baby Blues evokes a memory of parenting that did.
Granted, it wasn’t over math, since my boys were both better at math than I was and the teaching of math is far superior than it was in my day. Those factors are probably related, but math and arithmetic were “shut up and memorize this” when I was in school and the kids got “here’s why” in their lessons.
Better than that, when they got to geometry and proofs, where I got “no, that’s wrong,” they got, “Okay, that works this time, but here’s why it’s gonna get you in trouble when we hit the next level.”
In any case, my wanting to scream into the desert came in the Arts & Letters sector, because, no matter how bright they are, no matter how you try to explain it, kids have a concreteness up until maybe sophomore year that prevents them from understanding motivations that don’t involve bodily needs like thirst and hunger.
I tried teaching a weekly enrichment course to eighth graders in which we read “Hamlet,” which is chock-full of subtle, implied motivations.
I don’t think they learned a damn thing, but I sure did.
Juxtaposition of the Season
There was a time, O Best Beloved, when Labor Day really did mark the end of summer, just as Memorial Day marked the start.
My Colorado reporters have been back in the classroom for two weeks and my New Hampshire grandkids went back this week. They’ll all be in school on Memorial Day, too.
However, I don’t share Caulfield’s objection to where Labor Day falls, because I always saw it as “Summer’s over, but, before we get back to work, here’s an appreciation ….”
Though, as noted the other day, Americans get precious little time off to begin with, so it’s hard to feel appreciated.
Anyway, Columbus Day is the end of summer hereabouts, because that’s when the autumn leaves are over and the tourist places shut down for winter, though some of them have already shifted to weekends-only because half their workers are back in school.
As for barbecue, I already knew that most of my South African friends are apparently not even aware that it’s possible to cook indoors. However, I hadn’t known how widespread things were until I heard the makers of this film interviewed on NPR the other day:
(Available on Netflix)
Other Juxtaposition of the Day
I’m in the same boat as Arlo, though I store my plastic bags in another plastic bag. But I bring my reusables to the store, fill them, bring them into the house and leave them there for months, then repeat the process.
I guess if they banned plastic bags here, I’d have to remember, but I wish that, if they moved in that direction, they’d simply ban the flimsy kind.
The Coop Stores here use a bag of old-fashioned heft, which won’t blow away and which can be used for dredging chicken or for packaging goopy garbage, and they even have a bin where you can put your old bags for other people to grab on their way into the store.
And they have paper bags, and they still ask.
The reason I juxtapose these two is that I remember when plastic bags and plastic milk bottles hit the grocery stores in the early early 70s, and many of us objected to the waste. And we might as well have been screaming into the desert with Wanda (see above) for all the good it did.
I was behind a woman at the grocery store recently who had five reusable cloth bags. And was buying a case of coffee K-cups. We are ineducable.
But the bacon thing astounds me. While not everyone lived on brown rice and Jerusalem artichokes back in them thar days, we did avoid excess sodium, fats and, particularly, nitrates.
Until we didn’t.
And, while kale and pomegranates have been promoted on dubious health claims, you sure can’t say that about bacon, which is not only far more popular than it deserves to be but has become fetishized to the point of bizarre nonsense.
I hope somebody at the Pork Producers Council got a big fat raise.
And a carton of Marlboros, because why the hell not?
Here, Fastrack manages to hook into both Back to School seasonal issues and a current media kerfuffle, and, by the way, I like how Bill Holbrook has evolved Fi from an annoying side character into someone of substance.
The school issue is that I am of the belief that anyone proposing year-round school should sit in a classroom full of middle school students in July. Most schools in this part of the country have an air conditioner sticking out of the window of the principal’s office because that’s the only part of the building in use over the summer.
You want year round school, brace your budget for some major re-fitting.
Meanwhile, while I’m pulling for Cynthia Nixon to join the overall upset of the establishment, the flap over thermostat settings at her debate with NY Governor Andrew Cuomo pinged a funny memory but a real gripe.
As said before, I was once one of two men in an office full of women, and they kept turning the heat up while I kept turning it back down. We actually had two buildings, and one held the newsroom, business office and print shop, mostly male and kept cool, while the other was for advertising and circulation, mostly women and set at tropical levels.
I finally told my coworkers that I was going to start coming to work in sleeveless T-shirts and gym shorts if they didn’t relent, which made them giggle in horror.
But they were in light, sleeveless outfits, and, if there were ever a logical, objective argument in favor of the little blue dress-for-success suit for women, and the abandonment of jackets and ties for men, this is it.