I haven’t told many people because I don’t think it will be anything to worry about.  But I know that people I did tell wished I had told them sooner and wanted to know when I was going under; a date I didn’t have at the time.

So, fyi, I am officially having surgery on the 25th.  I know, you might’ve thought, “Cole, you’ve had a pretty shitty year.  I doubt it could get any worse.”  But you would only be partially correct because, along with the world, my body now seeks to betray me.

Today was fun though.  We took the kids golfing.  Well, Tom took them golfing.  I sat in the golf club-house and read a book.


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Out Again

John was doing so well.  Now he’s missing his second day in a row, which brings the tally to 34 days.  That’s over a month.  I’m not sure I missed that many days when I had internal organs removed from my body.  But that’s ok, his mom assured us that his absence is justified, “I don’t think he slept well.  He said his muscles were sore.”  If anyone has read George RR Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” John reminds me of Prince Robin.

When we went to Busch Gardens last Friday I had to convince his mom (who tagged along) that she could go to a show with the other adults and that I wouldn’t lose John.  Seriously, it’s a theme park and he’s fourteen.  When we got lunch, John picked fruit punch for his drink.  Until his mother told him to get the milk instead.

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Weekend Social Life

I don’t have alot for you today.  Honestly, I’m extremely tired because I didn’t get enough sleep this weekend.

Friday night everyone hit downtown and I was again reminded of how small a town Harrisonburg can seem.  JMU may bring business downtown but a good deal of its patrons are certainly locals, people I’ve known from Highschool and sports.  I spent the bulk of Friday night watching a 90’s music countdown at mason street and then Jess and I went to Finnigans with Dusty and Garrie.  It was a fairly uneventful night but I enjoyed it because everyone was content sitting and talking.  There was no overwhelming drive to get blitzed on card games and go dancing.

Saturday was also awesome because I had some good conversations with Geoff and Rachel and we celebrated Sarah’s graduating college.  (Five Years is the New Four)  Sarah even had a freakin’ moon bounce.  I opted out of participating but it still provided plenty of comedic entertainment.  The later part of the night was spent at the Duck where I caught up with Joe and the guys.

Sunday morning Rachel and I got Mr.s J’s and then I went to Church with the family.  I spent the day in Harrisonburg for Mother’s Day and arrived late in la plata.  Basically, I didn’t stop going all weekend and now I’m exhausted.  It was worth it though!

Especially because I had some good thoughts that I’ll spend this week filling out.  The first was about relationships and how bad ones are emasculating.  The second was about guilt.  I’ll spend some time the next couple of days writing about those and I may post the thoughts later in the week.  I hope your Monday goes smoothly!

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Excerpts from an Essay by the British Philosopher, Phillip Blond

“We live in a society of decreasing circles. More and more of us know fewer and fewer of us. We live alone and eat by ourselves, often with a TV or computer rather than a human being for company. If we do marry, the time an average relationship lasts decreases with each passing year.

For men, especially those at the bottom of the social scale who are increasingly losing out in education and career advancement, an emasculated life at the margins of society awaits. For successful young women, having a degree is fast becoming an indicator of a childless future. No one would choose this outcome nor wish it upon anyone else, not least because it drains the energy from domestic life and compounds the terrifying fate of getting old alone. Everywhere we look, the ties that bind are loosening, and the foundations of a secure and joyful existence are being undermined.

… through the privileging of alternative lifestyles, the prioritizing of minority politics, and the capture of markets by monopolies, we have destroyed the sustained and sustaining society. Little wonder that in a world in which binding norms, civil behavior, and notions of the common good have ceased to exist, frightened, isolated individuals call upon an increasingly authoritarian state to impose the order that we can no longer create for ourselves.

The 1960s New Left, to counter the authoritarian state it created, built a personal zone free of control in which to repudiate all standards and sell the poisonous idea of liberation through chemical and sexual experimentation. But when these New Left individualists preached personal pleasure as a means of public salvation, they were not resisting state control. They were, through their demands for freedom without limit and life without responsibility, undermining all autonomous self-governing structures, leaving a dreadful legacy of anarchic individualism that required state authoritarianism as the only way to re-impose order and society. Contemporary libertarian individualism and statist collectivism created each other and are locked in a fatal embrace that destroys the civic middle and the life and economy of the associative citizen.

This whole scenario dawned on me when I realized that my left-wing friends didn’t really believe in community. They only believed in choice. They supported abortion because they found it validating, a demonstration of real personal autonomy. But they think that fox hunting is terribly cruel and so should be ardently opposed. No doubt the same dispensation finds similar expression in the United States.

The contemporary Right all too often believes exactly the same thing, but expresses it through economics. The dominant actor for right-wing theory is the self-interested individual. The invisible hand is meant to mediate goods and allocate resources according to the price system and the efficient market cycle. But that “free” market produced a massive centralization in capital, and it fed an asset bubble whose expansion and disastrous contraction has been underwritten by the state.

What has been exposed is the shared agenda of cultural libertarianism on the Left and economic libertarianism on the Right. There really was no difference between them because both were upholding the same perverted liberal ideology.

If we are just empty, atomized individuals whose only mode of progress is whim and personal inclination, then no common bond can exist between us, because bonds limit will and subject us to something other than ourselves. For the liberal, there is no more profound violation than that. Moreover, a self-interested individual needs the state to police relationships with other individuals. Ergo, extreme individualism leads to extreme collectivization—and back again.

This defines our political life. The Left loves collectivization: the state is a moral proxy for anything I do; the state protects my rights so my little individualisms can subsist and my cultural liberalism can then be defended by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the Right enforces an economic system that supports exactly that vision.”

I am excited about the rise of the RedTories in Britain and am anxious to consider what ramifications their seemingly new, but truthfully old, philosophy has for us.

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An Education

Basically, around every test, my Algebra I class becomes extremely frustrating.  Each day I present a new way to tackle a new problem.  I show the problems on the board and explain each step.  When they do their homework I think they attempt to replicate what I did as much as possible, getting most of the problems correct and usually getting problems that require a little deviation from my example, wrong.  All in all though, they seem to be learning, feel that they are learning and the class runs smoothly.

A test on a couple weeks of material will destroy their confidence because it reveals how little they actually know.  During the week, when we do one section at a time, they can try and imitate what I show.   But they actually lack knowledge of the concepts themselves, evidenced by their inability to give the correct name to the operation.  Everything deteriorates into shadows of what is truly meant.  Distribution becomes, ‘you put that into those.’  Concepts like the difference of squares or the perfect square trinomial degenerate into misconceptions and soon anything that resembles (a2 – b2) takes on the name difference of squares [a2 + b2, (a + b)2,(a – b)2, to name a few].  And no matter how many times you correct them, they seem to persist in their error.  I don’t know how many times we’ve multiplied two binomials by one-another and then when I ask them for the next step Mike will yell, “Factor!”  “No Mike, that would undo what we just did.”

I have been going through this hell the past couple of days trying to remedy what I can before we move to the next chapter.  Yet I’ve done this all year, after every test.  I would say that it is important for them to learn the vocabulary of mathematics before they begin, but I don’t think they’re capable of completing that process.  I also doubt whether learning the vocabulary, apart from actually applying the operations, is that effective.  I’ve stressed having the right vocabulary more than any math teacher I ever had and it has done little good.  Apart from, ‘be smarter’ I’m almost at a loss.  I honestly think to learn well, at this age, all the previous years had to have been spent forming your ability to make distinctions and speak with clarity.  Apart from John, these students received none of that basic education.  Their constant complaint is, ‘Well, you know what I mean!’  Maybe I do, but you don’t know what I mean when I’m explaining something.  I can comprehend your meaning, sometimes, because I’m better at the language game.  You fail to comprehend mine because no one around you has ever spoken with clarity or forced you to read authors who write with clarity.

If public education is going to work, the kids must be placed in the classroom as early as possible and the poor ones should be away from their families as much as possible.  Yet, who knows what kind of terrible social ramifications this system would cause.  I’m also quite aware that not all ‘poor’ families speak poor English or are uneducated, which poses another problem for the law; or rather, a problem for any law attempting to equalize the quality of education our nation’s children receive.

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What A Little Bi@%#

Seriously, I cannot foresee Michael finding happiness in life.  He’s an unreflective emotional wreck.  The only reason he’s been able to excel at all this year is due to the amount of attention, and motivation he receives from Tom and myself.  We had the following interaction during math class:

I was handing back Math tests so they could begin their test corrections.

Andrew was finishing up a problem so I asked to look at it.  I realized he had simply taken the answer, and plugged it back into the equation then put the ‘answer’ at the bottom of his ‘work.’  Basically he still couldn’t figure out how to find the answer but he was hoping that I wouldn’t look closely and count it as corrected.

Well, I got on his case for that.  I said, “Andrew, I think you try to fool me everyday.  I catch you so often, I can’t even guess how many times I don’t catch you.  What are you going to do when the teacher has 30 kids, never realizes your constantly lying and avoiding  the work?  You’ll never learn anything.”

As I’m chastising Andrew, Michael begins to mildly taunt him, “yea man, what are you going to learn.  You never read.”  (yea, I know.  Michael is a little Bi@%#.  But I think most insecure 13 year olds are.)  Here is what worries me about Mike: I didn’t let him get away with poking fun at Andrew.  I turned to him and said, “Michael, you’ve got the same problems.  Before this last math test I had each of you do the review questions.  You got every single one ‘right’ but failed the test, whereas Hannah was honest and asked questions on the ones she got wrong.  She did well on the test and you did not.  You were more worried about getting my approval Friday than you were doing well on the test later.”

This tendency worries me about both Michael and Andrew.  I worry more about Michael though because I chastised both him and Andrew in basically the same manner but Michael has simply turned sour the entire day.  I just sent him out of the next class because he was huffing, slouching, tapping and doing really anything to show that he was mad at me and didn’t care about what I was teaching.  He’s screwed when he gets to a bigger school where the teacher either a) doesn’t have the time to deal with his shitty little mood swings or b) never even notices.  I doubt Michael would be too moody in the case of b because he’ll never have a relationship with the teacher.  But the only thing that motivates this kid to learn is praise from someone he likes and if the teacher doesn’t notice him, I honestly doubt he’ll care.

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What a ridiculous weekend.  Friday night was awesome.  We all hung out in College park and had a Pascal seminar + wine + cheese + bread + cured meat.  Going into the conversation I was worried that we wouldn’t have an actual conversation and that we would essentially fail at sustaining a rigorous conversation for any period of time.  That fear proved completely invalid and we had an awesome conversation and a really good time.

Saturday I went to a DC United game and had awesome seats, 2nd row from the front, all thanks to Halie.

So at this point you must be thinking, “awesome weekend Cole, why was it ridiculous?”  Well, I played wingman for Paul and man was that a crash and burn!  This girl he was (emphasis on was) talking to called and told him to come hang out in Baltimore, so we got up off the couch and drove to meet them.  We got there around 8:30ish and well, they were quite drunk.  We walked back their apartment to ‘get food’ and the girls just went into the bedroom and promptly fell asleep.  Here we are, in this random apartment, with nothing to do.  Oh, and we also didn’t know the way back to his truck.  So we grabbed two chairs and sat on their back deck talking and drinking their beer.  I also ate a good deal of food out of their fridge.  You see, I was doing them a favor by making sure they were good hostesses.

Anyway, the night went down-hill because they woke up. The girl who invited Paul immediately dipped and went somewhere else.  The bar we went to sucked.  I met some random kid who went to my high school for a year in 2000 -2001 and Paul got lost in Baltimore, for a spell.  The end.

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