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Weekend Wonk

Whose Language Is It, Anyway?

A friend sends along an item from the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Reign in those vocal chords.” Uh oh. The English teacher in me feels at once very annoyed and very tired. And it is as bad as I expected. Turns out, the Oxford University Press, in regard to its dictionaries, has decided to accept as correct spellings which were once deemed incorrect in certain stock phrases.

Cape Cod

I married well. I don't mean just the Longsuffering Diana, that pearl beyond price. I mean the whole Dinsmore clan that she brought to the marriage with her. A wonderful dowry they have proven to be, generous and witty and convivial. I have known them for more than thirty years now and, like a good vintage, they only improve with age. By any measure I lucked out big time.

Flannel Sheets

Backward, turn backward, O time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight

Elizabeth Akers Allen

The World’s Greatest Granddaughters came to town this weekend. Their coming is always a glorious upheaval along the lines of a violent meteorological event.

The older will jab the doorbell in staccato fashion, an eldritch grin on her face. Then their mother, our daughter, will give them the go-ahead. This breaching of the outer defenses signals the mad dash and ululating cries—POPPYPOPPYPOPPYNANANANAPOPPYNANAPOPPYNANA!

Celebs Sounding Off... Sort of.

A few weeks ago, a friend forwarded to me, with tacit endorsement, an essay by Jay Leno that a friend had found on the Internet. I found the jingoistic ideas expressed in it repugnant, but that’s not the point (after all, I disagree with most of what is floating around on the Internet). No, the point is that Jay Leno—with the exception of one line of his that got lifted from an old Tonight Show monologue—had nothing at all to do with it.

Phantasmagoria: After the Sandia Report

Back around 1989, Gentle Readers, when public education was the topic du jour, a research team under the auspices of the Sandia Corporation, here in Albuquerque, was charged with taking an honest look at our public schools in order to see if they were really as bad as everyone seemed to think. A preliminary report was issued (leaked?) in early 1991 and it said, to some people’s relief and to others’ outrage, that the public school system was doing a pretty darned good job, all things considered. Clearly that would not do.

Whipping Boy

I have taught in college for more than 40 years, and the Longsuffering Diana has taught in our public elementary schools for more than 20 years. That’s more than 60 years in the classroom, more than 60 years of frustration and, sometimes, elation. So when I say that we know something about education, I hope you will agree that we have real “street cred.” We can talk the talk because we have walked the walk.


Where to start with this Bush crowd?

It’s a smorgasbord of shame, a cornucopia of corruption. Where to start? Iraq? Or how about its more focused scandals, like Blackwater’s shootings, Halliburton’s gouging, or Abu Ghraib? Katrina? Signing statements? Neocon designs on Iran?

A paralysis sets in: where to start?

Anza-Where? Desert State Park

A couple of weeks ago, Shea hit the road again, back to Southern California on his Fall Break at UNM. (Readers of this space know that SoCal is one of his favorite haunts.) My plan this time was to spend a couple of days in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Age... and Age

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” (Satchel Paige)

Three Score and Ten

“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age.”

Ah, youth and age and the awkward in-between. Most of us, the lucky ones (“consider the alternative,” runs the joke), will reach a ripe age.* I have been thinking about age lately, now that I am 65 and counting. I don’t mean that I am getting morbid about it, just that I am curious about the way we view ourselves and others, and the way others view us. I am curious about people who appear “ageless” and those who, as the odometer metaphor has it, “have a lot of miles on them.”

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