Jun 30 2006

Extending the School Day

Category: EducationTim @ 7:30 am

Sherman Independent School District (SISD) considers extending the school day by 30 minutes according to the Herold Democrat:

SISD Interim Superintendent Al Hambrick proposed the extended school day during the last regular board meeting June 19. He explained that teachers are requesting more lesson time in core subjects, particularly math and science.

Hambrick and the district’s curriculum coordinators looked at the alternatives to an extended school day and determined that elective courses, such as art, music and theater, would be cut to provide more core subject education.

The extended school day would eliminate some of the “pull out” tutoring, where teachers remove students from other classes to receive additional help in areas in which they struggle.

The extra 30 minutes in each day could be used differently at each campus depending on its individual needs.

Hambrick said the district will recommend the change, but the decision would ultimately be up to the principals and teachers.

For years, we have been adding more and more to the school day without removing anything. This proposal appears to be a step in the right direction; provided the extra time for instruction.

John Murphy likes the idea of a longer school day:

Why not extend the school day to better reflect regular hours in the workforce? It might be a better way to condition future workers for employment. If this initiative can be done cost efficiently, I would be curious to find out how or if it works.

CyberFayden thinks it’s a bad idea:

The reasoning behind the “extended school” effort is pretty lame – mostly that many other nations keep their kids in school longer and their kids test better. You know what, I really don’t want the USA to be like other nations, so I don’t generally care what they do.

Part of my opposition, admittedly, is that I hated school. I was bored silly, I didn’t think much of most of my teachers, I didn’t like people telling me what to do and there were always more interesting things to do with my time outside of school. I didn’t like going in the morning and couldn’t wait for the end-of-day bell to ring. Of course, my favorite day of the year was getting out for the summer break. Freedom!

This issue is being raised across the country. For other perspectives see:


Jun 30 2006

Coach Receives a Wonderful Gift

Category: Health,Youth SportsTim @ 7:00 am

What a great idea for a gift. Check out the complete article in the Orlando Sentinal:

When Brent Surman, coach of the Shetland Padres Pony League team of Murrieta, Calif., received his end-of-season gift from his team, he was touched.

Instead of a gift certificate or a plaque, the team made a donation in Surman’s name to Coaches Curing Kids’ Cancer to help fund pediatric-cancer research.

“I was so moved by their gesture,” says Surman. “The players demonstrated exactly the type of values I try to teach. I can’t think of a better gift to receive from my team.”

For more on this organization, visit the Coaches Curing Kids’ Cancer site.


Jun 29 2006

Waiting Room Rant

Category: Health,HumorTim @ 7:51 am

Waiting rooms are magical places and my allergy doctor’s office is no exception. What makes this one even more special is the amount of waiting you do; wait for the shot, then wait for any possible reactions. Granted, 30 – 45 minutes every other week is a small price to pay for the ability to breathe, but we all need something to complain about…

It was time for my shot, so I drove to the office after work. I scanned my card (cool check-in tool by the way), found a nice seat in the corner, and grabbed a copy of Time to thumb. That’s when I encountered a woman I’ll call Sandy. Sandy (used to be Sandi, but changed after the kids) had two kids with her; inquisitive and energetic little Michael (4ish) and poor little Gabby (2ish) who had missed lunch, skipped a nap, and really, really, really wanted some attention.

Sandy, however loves her cell phone and apparently believes the only way to talk on a cell phone is to talk LOUDLY. It seems Sandy and Warren (her husband) were having issues with their insurance. I won’t go into the details, but Sandy sure did. We make ID theft so easy sometimes…

Meanwhile, poor Gabby, wanting more attention, started to cry and climb her mom. Michael was roaming the office pushing the doorbell used by the front desk. “Now Michael, you know you are not supposed to do that.” Yes, he knows.

Enter David, a tall 17ish kid who loves to talk. David happens to make eye-contact with Paula, a poor-unsuspecting mom with a well-behaved 5-year-old next to her. With eye contact established, David dangles his bait, “You know, I had an accident on my skateboard and had brain surgery.”

Paula gasps.

David sets the hook: “If we had waited 15 more minutes to go to the hospital, I would have been dead. I only had a small cut on my head, want to see the scar?”

Paula looks genuinely frightened.

Sandy: “No, you were the one with the inflammation, you take care of it!”

Enter Esmeralda and her little daughter Angelica (2ish). Angelica has one of those special “bi-tonal” voices that, when you apply enough air, can hit two notes at the same time. She is very, very good at hitting those notes. It sounded a bit like a cross between a tornado siren and tires squealing. Angelica was not happy about ANYTHING.

David: “This is where the Titanium plate runs, they had to put in 6 screws. I’m a big believer in helmets now.”

Sandy: “Look, I never wanted to try that in the first place, YOU take care of it!”

Receptionist: “No Michael, don’t push that button again. It makes the nurses sad.”

Gabby: “Mommy, please pick me up.”

Angelica: “AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Nurse: “Tim, are you ready to go?”

What? Already?

PS. The names were changed to protect the innocent.


Jun 28 2006

Chamillionaire, Chris Brown, & Ciara Concert Scam

Category: ScamsTim @ 12:40 pm

Dubuque, Iowa was getting ready for Friday’s “Summer Jam 2K6”, a concert this featuring Chamillionaire, Chris Brown, and Ciara (C-Era) when, according to the Des Monies Register, they received a most disturbing phone call:

T. Gray, a representative for Chamillionaire, said the artist is scheduled to shoot a video in Los Angeles on Friday, and “I guarantee Iowa was not on the schedule for late June.”

It seems the entire concert was nothing but an elaborate scam (Des Monies Register):

About 1,000 of the $25 tickets had been sold.

“They were real tickets to a fake show, which you don’t see too often,” Dubuque County Sheriff Kenneth Runde said.

There were radio commercials to promote the event, and someone had even reserved the stage at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds.

Apparently, the scam worked on everyone; even the police who had agreed to provide security for the event. According the article, very little of the money has been recovered. I suspect the scammers and money are long-gone.

Story Update: 6/29

According to KCRG TV, two men have been arrested in conjunction with this scam.

Authorities say Jeffrey Adam Revis, 20, of Wesley Chapel, Florida, and Charles L. Warthan, 30, of Chattanooga, Tenn., sold tickets for “Summer Jam 2006” at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds. But artists listed on the tickets they were never booked to play at the concert.

This scam really permeated the community.

The Dubuquque County Fairgrounds

Chamillionaire fans:

I’m going to see Chamillionaire, Chris Brown and Ciara on June 30th in Dubuque, Iowa. Pretty much going just to see Chamillionaire, but I won’t mind checking out Ciara. I think this concert will move up to my new #1.

Even VH1 had it listed.

This scam had a lot of people duped.


Jun 28 2006

Space Shuttle Countdown

Category: Sci/TechTim @ 12:25 pm

According to the Space Coast Newspaper, the countdown is about to start for the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery:

Liftoff is scheduled for 3:49 p.m. Saturday — prime time for seasonal summer storms.

The first official launch forecast will be issued today. But extended forecasts from the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing show a high probability of rain Saturday and Sunday.

Discovery’s crew nonetheless is keyed up about the launch countdown, which will begin at 5 p.m. today.

“We’re really excited to be here, ready to go do this for real,” Lindsey said. “We’ve been training for a long time. We’re as prepared as we’re going to be.”

As if there were not enough concerns over the launch, Bad Astronomy says:

When the Shuttle lifts off on July 1, the astronauts on board may well be concerned about their safety. But now they have something else to worry about: kidney stones.

Expressing concern over this launch seems to be a common them on many blog sites. Here is an excerpt from Fayrouz In Beaumont:

I’m concerned for the safety of these seven astronaunts. I have a feeling that if anything bad happens to the shuttle or the astronaunts this time, it may be the end of the manned space program until other safety measures are put in place. Most of NASA’s problems can be solved if the government raises the budget for NASA instead of cutting it. NASA doesn’t have a lack of intelligent people. It has a lack of funds.

We spent billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan where most people don’t seem to like us. But we can’t afford to spend enough money to help the brightest among us to discover the unknown around us. What happened to JFK’s vision?

Lou Minatti thinks it’s time to end the shuttle program:

The fact is, manned space flight is not a necessity for exploration. In fact, it’s a hindrance. Space exploration is much cheaper when no life support systems are needed. Manned space flight is a simply a prestige project. Other than finding the ultimate cure for disease, I think it is the ultimate prestige project. As an American taxpayer, I can’t think of more a more worthy program to boost American prestige around the world and attract the engineering and scientific talent we need.

For the latest on the launch, including live video, visit the NASA site.


Jun 27 2006

Randy Johnson’s Bird Pitch

Category: Pro Sports,VideoTim @ 4:00 pm

A few years ago, Randy Johnson was on the mound pitching. As he released the ball, a bird flew in for a closer look. The rest of the story is the video below. This has been around for a while, but it is still amazing.

If you are interested in the details of the event, check-out espn.com.


Jun 27 2006

Older Brothers and Sexual Orientation

Category: HealthTim @ 2:55 pm

According to findings reported by ScientificAmerican.com, “Having Older Brothers Increases a Man’s Odds of Being Gay.”

The number of biological older brothers a boy’s mother has carried–whether they live with him in the same household or not–affects his chances of being gay. The findings, reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by Anthony Bogaert of Brock University, lend credence to the theory that it’s not the social or rearing factors that influence a man’s sexual orientation, but rather prenatal mechanisms that begin in the womb.

[…]

The fact that the common denominator between the older and younger biological brothers is the mother hints at a prenatal influence on sexual orientation. What it could be is still a mystery. But one theory suggests that after delivering a boy, a woman’s immune system produces antibodies to male-specific proteins. During subsequent pregnancies the mother’s placenta may deliver the antibodies to the fetus, possibly affecting its development.

Booker Rising adds:

First, he found that only the number of biological older brothers predicted sexual orientation in men–even when the number of non-biological older brothers was significantly higher. Second, his study showed that the amount of time reared with older brothers–either related or not–did not predict a young boy’s becoming homosexual. Professor Bogaert discovered that even if a young man did not grow up in the same house as his older brothers, the fact that he had older biological brothers increased his odds of being gay.

Spare Change has doubts about the study:

944 test subjects, out of a global population of 3 billion. And from that an unnumbered subpopulation of men with older brothers. And from that subpopulation, another subpopulation of homosexual men were extracted and examined. Add in no real data, and ignore any number of other important variables such as whether or not there was a dad in the home, whether the home life was healthy, violent, or in some other way dysfunctional, and then wildly interpret the flawed deductive reasoning


Jun 27 2006

Surgeon General: No Safe Secondhand Smoke

Category: Health,HoustonTim @ 12:49 pm

Game Over!

Today, CNN is reporting:

Separate smoking sections don’t cut it: Only smoke-free buildings and public places truly protect nonsmokers from the hazards of breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke, says a long-awaited surgeon general’s report.

Some 126 million nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke, what U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona repeatedly calls “involuntary smoking” that puts people at increased risk of death from lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.

Moreover, there is no risk-free level of exposure to someone else’s drifting smoke, declares the report issued Tuesday — a conclusion sure to fuel already growing efforts at public smoking bans nationwide. Fourteen states have passed what are considered comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws, those that include restaurants and bars.

From Where I Sit wonders:

If what the Surgeon General says about second-hand smoke being unsafe is true…does it change your opinion about the validity of smoking bans in public bars and restaurants?

My opinion didn’t change, I still can’t stand smoke in bars and restaurants. Houston has been working for years to ban smoking in public places. Recently, the Texas Medical Center banned smoking on all TMC property (over 800 square acres). There’s nothing worse than seeing someone in scrubs lighting-up on the side of the road.

Environmental Legal says on a recent survey, the majority of adults favor a ban on smoking. The site goes on to suspect:

So, if you smoke in your own home, beware: you’re next, especially if you have kids. Just one thing–I wonder how the government will enforce an in-home smoking ban? Will the police be going to Court to get a warrant to break into your house to arrest you if there is probable cause to believe you are smoking in your den?

Stay tuned. I’ll update this post when additional information is available.


Jun 27 2006

Extreme Makeover Theft

Category: Youth SportsTim @ 6:59 am

I’m sure most of us are aware of the ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. In February of this year, the show traveled to Boynton Beach Florida to fix-up a Little League field that was destroyed by Hurricane Wilma. Here is the background story from PalmBeachPost.com:

On “three,” the crowd joined in and the Little Leaguers opened their eyes to see gleaming new lights, grass, fences, a scoreboard and bleachers covered with awnings, all in the team’s blue and yellow colors.

The players tackled their coach in a heap on the new divot-free pitcher’s mound, then took a run around the bases.

“It’s probably one of the best parks in the country,” Mayor Jerry Taylor said. “Everything’s state-of-the-art. I can’t get over it.”

The show’s crew also built a spacious, air-conditioned concession stand with a plasma TV and installed a bronze sculpture of the poetic baseball figure Casey.

Hundreds of volunteers worked long hours to clear the debris Hurricane Wilma left behind and finish the new construction. The Boynton project, part of the show’s After the Storm series on hurricane-damaged communities, is scheduled to air March 23.

“I feel so blessed,” said Joe Irene, one of the coaches during the 2003 championship season who spent the weekend hauling debris off the field. “It’s the most beautiful field I’ve ever seen.”

Rochelle Stryker, who coaches her 12-year-old son Taylor’s team, was elated to have such professional fields after the league almost had to cancel the spring season because of the hurricane damage.

You can see it now; the running kids, the happy parents, the smiling coaches, and the slimy-low-life-weasel-opportunists. Yesterday, thieves descended on the new facility and stole several items according to Sun-Sentinel.com

What Extreme Makeover: Home Edition gave, burglars took from the East Boynton Beach Little League.

Months after the hit TV series came to town and remade Field No. 2 and the clubhouse, a thief broke in and took a donated 46-inch plasma television, a $500 microwave and $40, according to a Boynton Beach police report. That happened despite a $50,000 donation in March for a security system. The money is still sitting in city coffers.


Jun 26 2006

Crackberry: Blackberry Addiction

Category: Humor,VideoTim @ 1:03 pm

Don’t let this happen to you


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