Monday, November 1, 2010

Holiday rant

Halloween just ended. Yet, everywhere I look, there's no evidence of Thanksgiving. Just Christmas.

Even at the Galt House hotel, where I just spent five days, had a Christmas tree in its lobby on Halloween Eve. WTF?

I'm going to be so sick of Christmas by the time it gets here, I won't want to celebrate it. However, that will be OK, because by Christmas Day, I'm sure every business in the country will be celebrating Valentine's Day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Further proof that grammar is dead....

Remind me never to enroll my son in the South Bend, Ind.,
school system.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

English is dead, and I don't feel so good myself...

Today, my friend Libby shared a link on Facebook to an obituary that appeared in Sunday's The Washington Post. This was no ordinary obit. It was a cleverly crafted ode by Gene Weingarten lamenting the loss of the English language. You can read it here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/13/AR2010091304476.html

I've read it three times. The first time through I was amused by it, mainly because it is so cleverly crafted. As an aficionado of the English language, I truly love reading perfectly proficient prose. Which brings me to the thoughts that came to me during my second reading:

What the hell happened to our ability to write that well? When did writing become the bane of our existence? What happened in our society to cause high school graduates to choose their college major based upon how little they will have to write? Why is the only time students actively protest the actions of college administrators and teachers is when we require them to take a course designated as "writing enhanced" to graduate? And that begs another question: When did college curricula become so weak that it became necessary to add courses to them called "writing enhanced?" And what really burns me: Students who tell me they are majoring in a particular communication sequence just so they don't have to take a designated writing course.

My third reading came after I shared the column with several of my students, and it became abundantly clear to me none of them got the joke. As I reread the column, I realized that practically no product of America's education system during the past 20 years or so will get the column, because their reading comprehension doesn't extend to that level. What does this portend (a word I used in a Facebook postnthis week that actually confused some people!) for our society? How long until this country literally becomes functionally illiterate? And are we there already? And, the scariest question of all: Can we fix it?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Logo fail

My friend, former student and fellow grammar aficionado Evan Barker stumbled across this sign posted in his small town in Kentucky, which is preparing to welcome the World Equestrian Games. At least, I think that's what they meant:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why Qwest internet sucks

Here's the end of my just-completed online chat with a Qwest Communications representative regarding getting high-speed internet in my new house. It seems my next-door neighbor can get it, but I can't. And they have no desire to see that I ever pay them money for their service. Take a look at the abject stupidity that is Qwest Communications:


Steven Chappell: I can't understand why the person in the other half of my duplex can get service and I can't. There's no explanation you can offer that makes sense regarding that.
Curtis E. (20692): Because all the available internet lines are take at this time. I do apologize.
Steven Chappell: How can you have a cap on available internet lines? It just seems in this day and age that should not be a problem.
Curtis E. (20692): Once again I do apologize for that.
Steven Chappell: So, essentially, I have to wait for someone to cancel their service or die before I can get service?
Curtis E. (20692): Yes, when a line will come available.
Steven Chappell: But you can't add me to a waiting list?
Curtis E. (20692): I do apologize but I do not have a waiting list to add you to Steven.
Steven Chappell: So how do I know when service is available to me?
Curtis E. (20692): You just have to keep calling us and asking if your address is now available for internet service.
Steven Chappell: Why can't you set up a database to add me to a waiting list? How damn difficult is that for you morons to do?
Curtis E. (20692): I do apologize but I do not have a waiting list to add you to Steven.

I give up. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The knee is on the mend

It's been a while since my last blog post, but I wanted to give everyone a knee update. I've been hitting physical therapy really hard since the brace came off last month, and I have nearly regained full range of motion in the knee. I've been cleared to walk up and down stairs, and even though it's still painful to do so, I'm trying to do so as often as possible to strengthen my knee.

The PT has me working on a strengthening regime that has me pressing weights with my leg. I've nearly doubled what I can press with the bad knee in two weeks, which is way ahead of schedule. I don't think they realized just how strong my legs were to begin with, especially since they were unable to get a baseline weight strength on my good knee, because it was stronger than their machine could measure. So, the goal is for me to be able to leg press 250 pounds and call it good.

My last local PT visit will be next Thursday (Aug. 19), and then I load up the truck and move to Indianola to join Crista and Duncan, whom I moved up July 31. Then, I have to find a new PT and orthopedic surgeon to continue my treatments there. That should be just delightful.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 1 sans the brace

I have finished my first day of physical therapy without my brace. It wasn't as painful as I thought it would be, however, I am in more pain than I've been in several weeks.

I didn't think it would be as difficult to walk without the brace as it was with it, but I have found it to be so. Walking without the brace has been a completely new experience. My leg, of course, feels much lighter than it did before. As a result of that, I walk with a funny gait much like the one I was walking with when I was wearing the brace. However, I do enjoy my new found freedom. I was able to drive today with out any difficulty. It was very nice to have my mobility back and to be able to drive myself and not rely on my wife to do the driving for me. I am certain she is enjoying the extra time she will now have free from being my chauffeur.

I have at least two more physical therapy appointments, and probably three, before my next trip to the doctor. I will find out then how much longer I'll be going to physical therapy. My therapist thinks I'll be going at least six more months, so I'll have to find a new physical therapist when we moved to Iowa.

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!


The immobilizer came off today! Woo hoo!


And, it was quite by accident.


Crista had picked me up to take me to a lunch meeting. On the way, I was tightening the straps on the immobilizer, because, as they were wont to do, they had come loose. One of the straps, in fact, the most important strap, broke loose when the plastic ring holding it in place snapped apart. I am scheduled for my eight-week post-surgical doctor's appointment next Wednesday, when I was hoping to be freed from the brace. So, I called the doctor's office to see about a replacement brace until then. I was placed on hold for a while, and then connected to the doctor, who told me since I am seven weeks past, and since my physical therapy was progressing so well, I could remove the brace a week and a day early!


After lunch, Crista took me home, and I DROVE MYSELF back to work. It was the first time behind the wheel in eight weeks, and it felt so liberating to be able to drive myself rather than rely on the loving kindness of my wife. I know she's thrilled to be relieved of the inconvenience of that brace, too. It restrained her almost as much as it restrained me.


However, in just the three short hours since the brace came off, I've noticed a few things. My pain has increased. I've been about a zero most days, except for a short while after exercising or physical therapy. In the past three hours, my pain has achieved and maintained a steady three level. I am very limited in my range of motion. And walking is very weird. My leg is so much lighter without that heavy immobilizer it just feels strange to walk. However, it's a good strange, and I'm not complaining about that.


My next physical therapy appointment is in 20 minutes. We'll see how that goes now that I've been freed from my chains.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Knee update

It's been a while since the last update on my knee, but there's not been much to report. I'm still trapped in the immobilizer, and I'm still going to physical therapy. The pain is pretty much nonexistent except when I'm doing my exercises. Of course, the immobilizer remains a major annoyance, as I still can't drive because I'm too tall to sit behind the wheel with my leg locked into a straight position.

The scars are starting to fade, but they are still tender to the touch, and my tibia is still sore as well because of the giant screw inserted into it to hold my new ACL in place.

On the positive side, I've not endured any usual cravings or behavioral changes from the dead man implanted in my knee.

My next doctor appointment is July 21. I'm very hopeful that the brace comes off that day, because if it doesn't, we're going to be in trouble, as we are moving to Iowa July 31, and I've got to drive our moving truck all the way up there and fly back and live solo for three weeks afterwards. So, doctor's permission or not, that brace has to come off.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lou Ann Zelenik must never be elected

From the Tennesseean's politics blog:
Lou Ann Zelenik, a former chair of the Rutherford County Republican Party and a candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon in Congress, says she sup­ports the opponents of a proposed mosque in Rutherford County.
In a statement released this afternoon, Zelenik says the mosque plan is a threat to a nation’s “Judeo-Christian tenets.” She says American Muslims have not separated themselves from “their evil, radical counterparts” and says that until they “find it in their hearts” to do so, “we are not obligated to open our society to any of them.”
"There are those in our society who bow before the throne of political correct­ness, as if it itself were the god that would save our coun try. Those people live in a fantasy world that never was and never will be. Those who cower in silence are equally wrong. The People of Rutherford County all need to stand together and say, 'enough is enough.'"

Clearly, this woman is crazy. She couldn't care less about the Constitution of the United States, and she's likely, based on these statements, an outright racist. Everything I've read or hear her say is borderline batshit crazy, and this is no different.

Anyone who votes for her has no common sense.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Knee update

I made my first foray outside the house other than a trip to the doctor today, going to church and then out to lunch. It was a painful, but worthwhile, experience. I was just so tired of being trapped inside the house. I've been trying to layoff the pain medications because of how groggy they keep me.

The knee is definintely getting stronger. I'm still stuck in the immobilizer, though. And my exercises outside the immobilizer make me incredibly sore. It's amazing how tight the knee is. And the damn staples are itching like crazy. I go back to the doctor on Wednesday, when I hope to lose the immobilizer. I am also supposed to start physical therapy at the end of the week. I am down to one crutch. I hope to be off of them completely in a week or two. I'll give another update after the doctor's appointment on Wednesday.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Allograft, day seven

A week has passed since my surgery, and not much has changed. I have begun limited range-of-motion exercises, which is more work for Crista than it is for me. She removes my immobilizer and then tries to bend my knee into a 90 degree angle. It's not easy for her,as my leg weighs a lot, is large and bulky, and doesn't have much flexibility right now. My rehab is turning out to be as much of a workout for her as it is for me. All I do is hurt a lot.

I'm still taking oxycontin and percocet, and I have to admit I can see how people can get addicted to that stuff. However, my prescriptions have no refills, so I need to start slowing down the intake before I run out and have to quit cold turkey.

Even though I'm supposed to rest, I'm going stir crazy trapped in the house. I am a people person, and I need to interact with others again soon. I'm getting bored. My wife is wonderful company, but I'm sure she's getting sick of me by now. I feel guilty relying on her so much. I need to get up and about for both our sanities.

I really hate that tomorrow is Memorial Day, and for the just the second time in my adult life, I won't be grilling out. My favorite thing to do is cook and eat outdoors, but tomorrow, my grille will be silent and cold. Now that's just sad.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Allograft, day four

OK, so I skipped day three, but there wasn't much to report. I had my post-op doctor's visit, where I learned I needed five incisions, have approximately 12 staples in and around my knee, and had two holes drilled in my bones. Oh, and I learned I have to keep this immobilizer on for at least two more weeks, which means no showers! I am going to be ripe. Plus, have you ever tried sitting on the toilet in an immobilizer? That is not fun.

The doctor said my surgery went as well as he expected. There had been some additional tearing of my LCL, so they repaired that while they were in there. I should start PT after my next doctor's appointment on June 8.

If you want to see photos of my knee from the doctor's visit, check out my Facebook profile.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Allograft, day two

I spent most of the day in a drug-induced haze. The pain wasn't as bad as yesterday, except when I have to move. The nausea is gone, so that's good.

My follow-up appointment is tomorrow morning at 10. I'll let everyone know what he says as soon as I can.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Allograft, day one

I had my allograft (cadaver ACL replacement) today. I went into the surgery center at 6 a.m. By 7 a.m., I was anesthetized and have no memory of anything after that until I woke up in bed at home around 2:30 p.m. Crista and I both feel I was discharged and sent home way too early, given how incoherent I was at discharge.

Since waking up this afternoon, all I've felt is intense pain. If the oxycontin is working, I would hate to think how much I would hurt without it. I've been too nauseated to eat much, and have spent most of the day drifting in and out of consciousness. If I had known how much this was going to hurt, I might have not shown up for the surgery.

My knee is in an immobilizer, and I can't bend my left leg at all. My follow-up with the doctor is Wednesday morning.

Here's hoping tomorrow is better.

Knee surgery in T-minus six hours

It's just after midnight, and I find myself wide awake, knowing that in fewer than 6 hours, I'll be going under the knife for an allograft, which is the scientific name for cutting into the bone of my knee, removing my existing ACL and replacing it with the ACL from a cadaver.

I had knee surgery back in December, on the same knee, for what the MRI technician said was a torn MCL and LCL. It turns out that the technician did a crappy job reading the MRI. The LCL was torn, and repaired by my surgeon, but the MCL was actually fine. However, the ACL, it turns out, was shredded beyond repair, which necessitated this second surgery.

The recovery on the first surgery wasn't that bad. I was up and walking within a couple of days, and had full range of motion within a month. However, everything I've heard and read about this surgery indicates it's going to be a much, much more difficult road to recovery, and hence my apprehension and insomnia.

I'll post updates to this blog as pain and time permit. If you are interested in following my recovery, keep an eye on this blog.

Oh well, on the plus side, I should have time over the next couple of weeks to clear out nearly 90 hours of unwatched shows on the Tivo.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's official, we're moving to Iowa

I have accepted a position as a journalism faculty member at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. I know this will come as a surprise to many of you; but some of you already knew about it. Crista and Duncan will be moving to Indianola on July 31. I will be following them on Aug. 20 after finishing up work here.

It's been fun being back in the South, but it's not been without its sorrow. As most of you know, we left northeast Missouri to move back here due to my parents being ill. I got to spend one year with my dad before he died; and my mom died one year after that. Then, last year, my dad's brother passed away. Crista lost a beloved great-aunt during that time, and we've had other family upheaval that's, quite frankly, made our four years in Tennessee a bit more sorrowful and much more stressful than we would have liked; but had we not been here, our lives would have been pretty much impossible. I'm very thankful God provided a job for me here that would support my family and allow us to deal with the needs that were put before us.

However, God has now provided another opportunity. It's not near what we consider home, but it's not all that far from where we called home for nearly 10 years, so it's not unfamiliar to us. I'll be teaching journalism and advising student media at a small, private, Christian liberal arts college. It has a strong program and a strong faculty. The entire college has just 1,500 students, so it will be a very intimate atmosphere; one in which I get to know the students well. I'm looking forward to that.

At the same time, I'm saddened at leaving some students behind with whom I've made strong connections, and I regret not being here to see the MTSU Student Media Center through to completion. However, if everything works out, I'll be leading the development of a similar center at Simpson, which excites me as well.

The move comes at a good time and crossroads for us. Duncan has just crossed over into Boy Scouts, so he's at a good point to shift into a new troop. He should earn his black belt in taekwondo on June 25, completing a three-year journey in that sport. That will provide him the opportunity to step back for a while before deciding whether or not to continue in the discipline, and the black belt will afford him multiple opportunities should he decide to pursue it. He's finishing the fifth grade, and though he would have stayed at the same school here, moving to Indianola means he'll be entering middle school with everyone else, so he'll be no different in that everyone will be new to the school in the sixth grade. We will, however, miss the outstanding gifted education he has received at The Discovery School. I'm pretty certain we'll have to work hard as parents to ensure he continues to be challenged. I've seen nothing to indicate Indianola's gifted program is anywhere near as advanced as what he's had here.

Also, Crista's father is retiring this year, so while we'll be living several hundred miles away, it's not as if his work schedule will dictate if, when or for how long they can visit. I know Dad likes to complain about driving anywhere that takes more than an hour, but as parents are alway fond of telling their children, adversity builds character. It's not as if he's going to have to hurry to get anywhere any longer!

We've made a lot of good friends in Tennessee these past four years, and we're going to hate saying goodbye to them. The goodbye to our church family is going to be especially hard, but also the friends we've made through taekwondo and Scouting will be difficult to leave as well. However, life is all about change, and we'll weather this change as we have all the other change in our lives.

Crista and Duncan will moving up the first of August, and I'll follow on Aug. 20, just in time for Duncan's 12th birthday.

And, of course, I'll continue blogging, Facebooking and tweeting, so I'll be in touch.

Monday, May 3, 2010

We are safe

We are safe here in Middle Tennessee. Most of the damage has been north of us in Nashville, but there are pockets of flooding around Murfreesboro. Duncan enjoyed a day out of school because of road closures. MTSU postponed finals but still required everyone to come to work.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Well, the election is over

And none of the candidates I supported won. In fact, as is always the case in Murfreesboro, it's simply the elite who get elected. To make it worse, they are legacy elections. For some reason, this town thinks that only the children of former elected officials should be elected to office here. It's ridiculous. And, based on the interactions I had with several of them, they think it's their birthright. They don't care about the town. They only care about preserving their family's legacy.

It's pathetic. I truly believe the current makeup of the Murfreesboro City Schools Board, led by the dictator that is their director, dooms our children to a mediocre education at best for the foreseeable future. The only member of that board that I believe cares about the best interest of children is Nancy Duggin, and sadly, she's very much the minority on that board.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Murfreesboro City Elections Experiment, Day Five

My original blog post has been updated with three more responses. I heard from City Council candidates David Boyce and Brian Vaughn, and from School Board candidate Eric Newell, Monday.

I also learned through a Sam Stockard column in the DNJ that City Council candidate Bill Shacklett has dropped out of the City Council race -- after early voting had already started -- to declare as a candidate for the 34th District House race, after incumbent Rep. Donna Rowland dropped out at the last minute as part of a plan to ensure there would be few, if any, Democratic opponents for a weak Republican candidate. Shacklett, however, has not advertised this, and is still receiving votes that should be going to other candidates, since he has no intention of serving the term. I am appalled by that.

One depressing trend is emerging: Most of our candidates are grammatically illiterate.

Updates as events warrant.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Murfreesboro City Elections Experiment: Day 2

Twenty-four hours ago, I e-mailed every candidate in the Murfreesboro City Elections on April 20. My April 8 blog post lists all of the candidates, the questions I asked of them, if they have responded, and their responses.

All e-mails were sent between 11 a.m. and noon on Friday, April 9.

MAYORAL RACE
So far I have heard from both mayoral candidates. Neither of them impressed me with their responses. I would really like a third candidate, to be honest. Mayor Bragg simply passed along my complaints to other elected officials; he wasn't willing to address many of them himself. That's not a sign of good leadership.

Candidate Davis' responses were overly superficial and showed a lack of depth of thought. I would really like to know how he thinks he can cut city debt by cutting taxes, given that tax revenues are already declining at a rapid rate, which is increasing the city's debt.

In all honesty, I would prefer a third candidate.

CITY COUNCIL
Of the nine City Council candidates, I have heard back from two of them. I am reserving judgment until I hear from more candidates. If I don't hear from any more by the end of the weekend, then I'll pass judgment in absentia.

SCHOOL BOARD
Of the six candidates for the school board, I have heard back from three of them. Again, I am reserving judgment until I hear from more candidates. If I don't hear from any more by the end of the weekend, then I'll pass judgment in absentia.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Murfreesboro City Elections are April 20

Are you going to vote?

Are you going to vote informed?

I hope the answer is yes to both questions. I'm going to help with that. Today I e-mailed every candidate on the ballot with questions I felt were important. I'm going to let you know how that turns out. I sent a set of questions to the two mayoral candidates, a set to the nine council candidates (remember, you can vote for three of them), and to the six school board candidates (again, you can vote for three).

These are the questions I asked, and the responses I received. All e-mails were sent between 11 a.m. and noon on Friday, April 9.

CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR
Tommy Bragg (incumbent)
Tim Davis

The e-mail (identical to both candidates):
As I begin my exploration of the candidates for the Murfreesboro city elections, I would like to ask a few questions of you, that I hope you will answer to assist me in my quest to determine for whom I should vote.
1. What do you see as the three most pressing issues facing the city in the next four years, and how do you propose to deal with them.
2. The relationship between the Murfreesboro and Rutherford County school boards has deteriorated in recent years, particularly over the admissions policy established for Central Magnet School. What kind of role can/should you play in ensuring that kids who attend city schools aren't disadvantaged by decisions made by the Rutherford County School Board?\
3. One of the biggest problems I have in my subdivision is trash. My son and I regularly fill a 15-gallon trash bag  with trash that has blown into our yard because people do not properly secure their trash cans, or just litter indiscriminately. Many of the items I'm picking up are beer and liquor bottles that are discarded from moving cars, and I've had to replace my mailbox in the past year because either drunk or belligerent teens have decided to destroy it. I rarely see police patrolling my neighborhood, probably because it's considered middle class and not a major crime area. However, these problems annoy most of my neighbors. What do you propose to do for those of us dealing with these petty crimes on a daily basis?
Thank you for your time.
Tommy Bragg's response was received less than one hour after I sent my e-mail. Here is his response:
Briefly, the three significant opportunities facing our city government are maintaining superior municipal services within the tax dollars allotted by residents and business owners, continuing to keep traffic moving with road improvements and maintenance and, third, continuing our economic development efforts for new and existing business job expansion and growth.
I believe my record of fostering balanced budgets, cooperative efforts with all our state and local government leaders, and insistance on hiring and retaining only the best city employees should be continued to enhance these opportunities.
As to school issues, I would question the premisr you suggest. The city and county school board have worked cooperatively to improve roads, extend utilities, build tennis facilities for high school teams and residents, and provide new schools within the city and nearby areas.
There have been honest disagreements over who should pay the bill. The city, in any instance, wants to protect our taxpayers from having to bear an uneven share of costs. Thus, we work together to divide costs so that all county residents can share the benefits.
You have an elected school board member who represents you and would be interested in your comments regarding Central.
As to any neighborhood issues, you may have a homeowners association to use as a sounding board to raise awareness of your concerns. If not, then forming a gathering of like-minded neighbors can be helpful. Similar concerns are raised throughout any community and I would be happy to speak with you regarding any means our city staff can provide assistance.
Tim Davis responded 10 and half hours after sending my initial e-mail. His responses are below.
1. Debt; the current city debt is over $203 million. Jobs; Murfreesboro's unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Crime; according the Murfreesboro Post we have over 20 gangs in Murfreesboro.
We must reduce our city debt by lowering the taxes, which will allow money to flow which will create jobs.
With more revenue coming into the city we can reduce the debt and hire more Police officers and create a better community.
2. As Mayor I will give direction to the City Council to work with the Murfreesboro School board so that we ensure that no child is disadvantaged. I have promised that following the City Council session that the podium will be open for public input. This practice is currently not allowed. This will give you and the other citizens the opportunity to address issues such as schools.
3. This issue relates to my first statement of crime. I hate litter. I see it on a frequent basis, people just throwing trash out of their car. The car in front of mine on the way to my office this afternoon threw a piece of paper out her window. I blew the horn. We have to start at the elementary school level and teach not to litter. We also need to crack down on those who litter. A cleaner community is better for us all.
I thank you for your questions.
I ask for your vote. Early NOW thru April 15th
Election day April 20th.
Tim Davis
CANDIDATES FOR CITY COUNCIL
David Boyce
David Edwards (incumbent)
Madelyn Scales Harris
Shane McFarland (incumbent)
Thomas Connor Moss
Mark Nobles
Bill Shacklett (has withdrawn from the race. Read Sam Stockard's analysis of this decision here.)
Brian A. Vaughn
Doug Young (incumbent)


I sent the same e-mail I sent the two mayoral candidates. Their responses are below.

David Boyce responded at 10:27 p.m. Monday, April 12. His e-mail response follows:
Thank you Steven for taking the time to get involved in the political process.

Q1. The three biggest problems we will face is unemployment, a growing debt, and crime.
   Our current unemployment rate is higher than the county, state, and national average. The fastest way to stimulate our own economy is to lower property taxes. The extra cash left in the private sector would increase economic activity and cause job growth which would also cause the city to collect more tax revenue. Another thing we can do to help our economy is to reduce the heavy regulations and ordnance's that this city council has placed on our business community. We have lost several business because they did not want to deal with these issues.
   We currently owe over 203 million dollars in debt. Growing our economy will help reduce this. We also need to justify each expenditure the city makes and cut out all the "would like to have" items and focus on the "must have" items. I have also introduced a plan that would change the way city government thinks. Currently all departments will spend any money they have left over at the end of the fiscal year because they are afraid that their budget will be cut if they turn in any money. Lets tell all the departments up front that unless there is across the board cuts, those departments that turn money in will be guaranteed full funding next year and for each dollar they turn in and city will return 50 cents. Under this plan a department could turn in $30,000 dollars, get guaranteed full funding next year and receive $15,000 back next year to help pay for a capitol project. There are also some smaller ideas I have that would save a lot when combined together.
   Improving our economy would also help out on the crime rate. However their are more gangs moving into the Murfreesboro area. I think our right to bear arms under the 2nd amendment is important especially on the green-way. Our police department already has very good equipment to work with so I would just like to see a more coordinated effort between the city, county, and state officials to fight crime.

Q2. This really sounds like a issue to be worked out between the school boards but I would be glad to help solve any problems that might come up because that is what I do for a living, I solve problems.

Q3. I would be happy to come over to your home and take a look at the situation. To be honest it would be hard to offer any real answers without seeing the property and knowing its location.
I hope this has answered some of your questions. I'm for limited government, more freedom, less taxes, and more job growth. I'm a Major in the TN Army National Guard, in management in the private sector, and belong to the NRA and the Heritage Foundation. I hope this info will help lead you to voting for me. Also please excuse any bad grammar for I have only been sleeping about 3.5 hrs per night. Thanks David
David Edwards has not yet responded.

Madelyn Scales Harris has not yet responded.

Shane McFarland responded seven hours after I sent my initial e-mail. His e-mail response follows:
Thank you for your email.
1)  I don't think you can narrow just one issue that we have in the City that we will be dealing with in the next four years.  The obvious answer is the economy, but I think there are so many things that we will be dealing with.  Supporting our safety providers and continuing to make sure that our community is safe will be a top priority.  I will continue to work on the budgeting issues to make sure that every tax dollar is spent wisely.  Education is a top priority.  I will continue to work with the City administration and teachers to make sure we provide an education that is second to one.  I would propose that we continue to look at ways that we use technology to lessen tax burden and increase our operations efficiency.  I would also propose streamlining several departments to make sure that customer service is job 1.
2)  I have talked with several County School board members to try to find a better way to work together.  I honestly think the willingness is their between the school board and the City Council, but there is no willingness with the current Superintendant of Schools to cooperate with the City.  I have proposed and will continue to push for meetings with the County School board to better address the Citizens of Murfreesboro.  We all are Rutherford County residents and County tax payers.  We should not be penalized for living in the City of Murfreesboro.  There should be no distinction made between a county resident and a Murfreesboro City resident.  I will continue to push for these ideas.
3)  I will continue to support putting more police officers on the street.  We have to be able to have our officers in proactive situations where we can patrol areas and not just deal with reactive issues.  I will continue to support finding ways to better use our officers in ways that enhance every member of the community.  If you will let me know your subdivision, I will request patrol to help alleviate some of the issues.  I think we have to work with our residents when we have input to make sure any crime or potential crime issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently.
I have made it a point over the last four years to always listen to resident input and follow through.  I will always follow up on resident requests and resident complaints.  That is my job!
I would appreciate your vote and support.  You can always email me or call me @ 642-9244.
Sincerely,
Shane
Thomas Connor Moss has not yet responded.

Mark Nobles has not yet responded.

Bill Shacklett has not yet responded. He has also withdrawn from the race. Read Sam Stockard's analysis of this decision here.

Brian A. Vaughn responded by e-mail at 10:39 p.m. Monday, April 12. His response follows:
1. Reducing debt- by becoming more efficient, higher training and the tools to accomplish more in less time.  If we do not address  the debt we could end up with city taxes in the $8000-$10,000 annual range for each of our houses, like it is in New Jersey.  Jobs- We need to attract industrial, technology and high end jobs here that will also create labor positions.  This unemployment and abandonment of buildings is costly and bad economically for the city.  Planning- right now we have no long term plan to address paying off debt, or what our city will look like in twenty years.  The planning and zoning commissions could work together with the historical commission to set an idea of what we need/want and how to get to it on a longer idea than just one year.  We are currently approving and building with no comprehensive plan in sight.  If this is not addressed we run the risk of a really poorly planned city with bad infrastructure and city employees that are not valued.
2. This is a complex question and I do not have enough information to answer because I am not yet "on the inside".  The fundamental problem you have already alluded to; the city and county don't talk.  One of my priorities is to fix that.  We need a good, humble crew from the city to the county.
3.  I think we need to do a few things- off the cuff I would see how many police officers we actually have policing the streets.  I think the ratio of desk jobs to street police will amaze both of us.  I think tickets for beligerent littering could be written if necessary but I also think if we could get communities to be responsible for their neighborhoods and have some pride in their city that would go a long way, especially if citizens know they are backed by the police and council when they do the right things for the right reasons.  I also think the city should invest more in the neighborhoods that have neighborhood groups and a passion to combat trash and violence and other issues, people that invest.
These are all great questions Steven and one thing I am certain of; I won't try to make any of these decisions by myself to make a name.  I am not in this for me; I simply, without other motives, want to help our city to be the best in the nation... according to us.   
Please contact me with any other questions you may have and I hope to meet you face to face in the future when begin tackling some of these issues.   REMEMBER- VOTE VAUGHAN on April 20th.
 

Thanks,
Brian Vaughan for City Council. (615) 598-4357

Doug Young responded by phone call 21 minutes after I sent the e-mail. We spoke for nearly 15 minutes about the issues in the e-mail. He also took the time to ask me about other issues I felt the city needed to address. He promised to call the chief of police today and seek more patrols in my neighborhood, particularly at nights and on the weekends, when public drinking seems to be an issue with the college kids who live on my street. He talked about looking into issuing citations to people whose yards were clearly unkempt, which is a violation of city ordinance. He talked about how the school boards need to have a better relationship, and that it was something that needed to be addressed. In response to my first question, his major concern is the city's ability to continue to be able to provide adequate city services with declining revenues. I was impressed by his answers, his concern, and his prompt response to my call.

CANDIDATES FOR MURFREESBORO CITY SCHOOLS BOARD
Ray Butrum (incumbent)
Kevin N. Fisher
Patrick McCarthy
Eric Newell
Dennis L. Rainier
Mary McKnight Wade (incumbent)

Because I have a son, I place more emphasis on this election than the other two. I tailored at least one of my questions to the candidate specifically. I have to say regarding the two incumbents, I have little expectation of receiving a response, as earlier this year, when I e-mailed every member of the current board regarding the upcoming vote on the school calendar, only current board member Nancy Duggin bothered to return my e-mail and discuss the issue with me. As far as I'm concerned, she's the only current member of the school board who actually cares about parents and their kids.

Ray Butrum responded about six hours after I sent my initial e-mail. I have not yet called him directly, as he asked me to do. As soon as I am able to do so, I will post that discussion.
The e-mail sent to Mr. Butrum:
As I begin my exploration of the candidates for the Murfreesboro city elections, and after reading your profile in the Murfreesboro Post, I would like to ask a few questions of you, that I hope you will answer to assist me in my quest to determine for whom I should vote.
1. You said in your profile that the most pressing issue is is repairing and restructuring the climate, culture and reputation of the board and system. I assume this stems from the low scores that have emerged from some schools as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. What is your opinion of that law, and do you think it has been beneficial or detrimental to our children's educational development? What would you like to see done with this law?
2. The relationship between the Murfreesboro and Rutherford County school boards has deteriorated in recent years, particularly over the admissions policy established for Central Magnet School. What kind of role can/should you play in ensuring that kids who attend city schools aren't disadvantaged by decisions made by the Rutherford County School Board?
3. The new director of Murfreesboro City Schools, whom you praised in your profile, seems to have entered into a tyrant mode of late, ignoring requests and calls by parents about decisions she is making and proposing, such as the school calendar issue. I know several people who have tried to contact her about her proposal to eliminate bus service to the Discovery School, but she refuses to answer or return those calls. How do you deal with her in issues like this? And what's your stance on bus service to Discovery School students?
Mr. Butrum's response:
Mr. Chappell,
Thanks for the email and questions.  I appreciate your interest in the school board and the upcoming election.  You questions are good ones and seem to be well thought out.  Rather than writing my responses, I would hope that you might be able to call and I can answer them in person, by phone.  My explanation of some of them may take a few minutes and will probably generate more questions.  Please feel free to contact me at my cell (584-3197) to talk.  I teach a grad class today from 4:30 - 7:30 and should be available after that.  On Friday I am free after 4 and will be free to talk most of the weekend.  Please call at your convenience.
Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you.
Ray Butrum
Kevin N. Fisher responded with a phone call within an hour of my sending the e-mail. The e-mail I sent Mr. Fisher:
As I begin my exploration of the candidates for the Murfreesboro city elections, and after reading your profile in the Murfreesboro Post, I would like to ask a few questions of you, that I hope you will answer to assist me in my quest to determine for whom I should vote.
1. You are one of the few candidates to address parental involvement as a major issue affecting our schools. As a parent who is very actively involved in my child's education, I agree that's a problem. But, I think it goes far beyond school choice. In fact, a major part of the problem are parents thinking that sending their child to the correct school will solve all of their child's problems, when, in fact, just getting the parent involved in the school would go a long way toward solving those problems. I volunteer at my son's school, and I haved worked with kids who tell me their parents have never read with them, sat down with them to help with homework, or even come to a school event. In my opinion, school choice does nothing to help with this issue regarding parental involvement. Do you have any ideas to motivate parents to get involved with their child's education on a proactive basis?
2. The relationship between the Murfreesboro and Rutherford County school boards has deteriorated in recent years, particularly over the admissions policy established for Central Magnet School. What kind of role can/should you play in ensuring that kids who attend city schools aren't disadvantaged by decisions made by the Rutherford County School Board?
3. The new director of Murfreesboro City Schools seems to have entered into a tyrant mode of late, ignoring requests and calls by parents about decisions she is making and proposing, such as the school calendar issue. I know several people who have tried to contact her about her proposal to eliminate bus service to the Discovery School, but she refuses to answer or return those calls. The receptionist at the MCS office acts like she doesn't even know what we are talking about when we call. How do you deal with her in issues like this? And what's your stance on bus service to Discovery School students?
Mr. Fisher and I talked for nearly 20 minutes. He is a strong, strong proponent of parental choice and parental involvement. He supports school choice, but he also has some ideas for getting parents involved directly with their children's school and their education. I firmly believe in parental involvement, and that if parents were more involved with their child's education, our schools would not have the problems they have now. Mr. Fisher agreed that more needs to be done to ensure all of our children are given equal access to education, and that discrimination for any reason is intolerable (read my earlier blog on the Central Magnet debacle). He agreed that bus service to Discovery School should not be cut just for financial reasons; that the impact of that cut must be fully explored before any decision is made (however, director Dr. Linda Gilbert seems to have no such concerns). We also talked about his background as a corrections officer and a single parent, and how that will shape his decisions as a member of the school board. He talked about the need to make our schools more safe, and brought up an issue that has not been mentioned much: The recruitment of gang members in our elementary schools. He talked about seeing younger and younger kids being recruited into gangs as a corrections officer, and that security and safety needs must be addressed in the future. He said that the board needs to be proactive, to prevent it from happening, rather than reactive. Again, I liked his viewpoint. As a single parent, he talked about the needs he has, and how he often finds school officials to be unwilling to respond to him when he has concerns. He wants to open lines of communication and ensure that all children, regardless of background, socioeconomic status or ability, are treated fairly.

Patrick McCarthy responded 11 hours after I sent my initial e-mail. My e-mail to Mr. McCarthy:
As I begin my exploration of the candidates for the Murfreesboro city elections, and after reading your profile in the Murfreesboro Post, I would like to ask a few questions of you, that I hope you will answer to assist me in my quest to determine for whom I should vote. Having met you on more than one occasion, and knowing your wife through The Discovery School, I feel I know most of your answers. But out of fairness, I feel the need to ask you the same questions I've asked of the other candidates.
1. You identified Race to the Top as one of the major issues facing the schools in the coming year. How do you see Murfreesboro City Schools making use of that money?
2. The relationship between the Murfreesboro and Rutherford County school boards has deteriorated in recent years, particularly over the admissions policy established for Central Magnet School. What kind of role can/should you play in ensuring that kids who attend city schools aren't disadvantaged by decisions made by the Rutherford County School Board?
3. The new director of Murfreesboro City Schools seems to have entered into a tyrant mode of late, ignoring requests and calls by parents about decisions she is making and proposing, such as the school calendar issue. You, however, have praised her on your blog. I know of several people who have tried to contact her about her proposal to eliminate bus service to the Discovery School, but she has yet to answer or return those calls. The receptionist at the MCS office acts like she doesn't even know what we are talking about when we call. How do you deal with her in issues like this? And what's your stance on bus service to Discovery School students?
Mr. McCarthy's response:
Great questions. Let me take them in reverse order.Yes, my initial response to the new director was positive based on the early indicators of a more open, collaborative approach. You point out two recent examples that raise legitimate questions on that front. In such cases, I certainly am willing to speak out. In fact, I just posted a new blog entry on my website (www.mccarthy4kids.com) earlier today that explicitly opposes the bus proposal (and the administration's role thus far on this issue).Your second question hits on two big issues with me. The first is fairness. As you'll see from my blog entry on the busing issue, fairness concerns stir me to action. 
The second issue is developing a more cooperative, coordinated relationship with the county board. During my first term on the city school board (2004-08), I was the only city board member who took the initiative to attend county board meetings and to individually meet with the county board chair and director. I did so explicitly to improve the relations and coordination with the county. However, my term ended before that developed further. I believe that I have a positive rapport with their chair (Mark Byrnes), and although we may disagree at times, we are mutually respectful and capable of frank and meaningful dialog. That's a critical starting foundation. 
You also raise an important question about how we will handle Race to the Top. I've become involved with Senator Frist's State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) to help lead current research into the best ways to improve Tennessee's education systems (including, of course, Murfreesboro city schools). While that's not yet complete, it's certainly clear that we need to target enduring education infrastructure investments and not momentary stopgap expenses.  
I'm not sure if this is longer or briefer than you were looking for, but you're welcome to call me anytime if you want to talk about any of this further. My cell number is 615-418-2126. You're welcome to keep in touch by email anytime too. 
By the way, if I'm elected, I will continue to be responsive to any comments or questions that you have in the time ahead. 
Thanks for your interest, 
Patrick McCarthy
Eric Newell responded Monday, April 12, at 9:16 a.m., nearly three days after sending my initial e-mail.
My e-mail to Mr. Newell:
As I begin my exploration of the candidates for the Murfreesboro city elections, and after reading your profile in the Murfreesboro Post, I would like to ask a few questions of you, that I hope you will answer to assist me in my quest to determine for whom I should vote. 
1. You said in your profile that the most pressing issue would be to ensure the Race to the Top changes include ambitious yet achievable goals that benefit students, and whose measurements are fair and equitable to the teachers. What kinds of changes and measurements do you think need to be implemented? 
2. The relationship between the Murfreesboro and Rutherford County school boards has deteriorated in recent years, particularly over the admissions policy established for Central Magnet School. What kind of role can/should you play in ensuring that kids who attend city schools aren't disadvantaged by decisions made by the Rutherford County School Board? 
3. The new director of Murfreesboro City Schools seems to have entered into a tyrant mode of late, ignoring requests and calls by parents about decisions she is making and proposing, such as the school calendar issue. I know several people who have tried to contact her about her proposal to eliminate bus service to the Discovery School, but she refuses to answer or return those calls. How do you deal with her in issues like this? And what's your stance on bus service to Discovery School students?
Mr. Newell's response:
Steven,
I apologize for taking so long to respond.  Its been a busy weekend.

1) Race to the Top is basically a plan that places as much as 50% of a teacher’s evaluation on student performance.  In other words, it holds teachers accountable for student performance.  The plan calls for setting goals that are “ambitious yet achievable.”  I want to see that these goals are fair and provide rewards for those who do a good job improving student achievement.   As you may know, Tennessee’s application was approved and the state has been awarded funds from this program.
2) I believe it is important that both the city school system and the county school  work together to see that all students in our county are successful.  I would make every effort to be an advocate for city school students to see that admissions policies are fair and beneficial to all. 
3) I am disappointed to here that your calls are not being returned.  As a board member, I would hold the director accountable for responding to parent concerns in a timely and effective manner.  If an issue was being ignored, I would hope I would be contacted to see that the matter is addressed and meet with the director to see that this is not how issues are handled.
I would like to see bus service for Discovery School students continue. 

Thank you so much for your questions and this opportunity to respond.  Please contact me again if you have additional questions or wish to discuss these further.

Eric
Dennis L. Rainier has not responded.
My e-mail to Mr. Rainier (sent through his Facebook account):
As I begin my exploration of the candidates for the Murfreesboro city elections, and after reading your profile in the Murfreesboro Post, I would like to ask a few questions of you, that I hope you will answer to assist me in my quest to determine for whom I should vote.
1. You said in your profile that the most pressing issue is being sure that No Child Left Behind measures are met. What are your opinions of No Child Left Behind as policy, and would you like to see that act overturned, or at a minimum, revamped to solve its problems? Or, do you like the act as it is?
2. The relationship between the Murfreesboro and Rutherford County school boards has deteriorated in recent years, particularly over the admissions policy established for Central Magnet School. What kind of role can/should you play in ensuring that kids who attend city schools aren't disadvantaged by decisions made by the Rutherford County School Board?
3. The new director of Murfreesboro City Schools seems to have entered into a tyrant mode of late, ignoring requests and calls by parents about decisions she making and proposing. I know at several people who have tried to contact her about her proposal to eliminate bus service to the Discovery School, but she refuses to answer or return those calls. How do you deal with her in issues like this? And what's your stance on bus service to Discovery School students?
Mary McKnight Wade has not responded.
My e-mail to Ms. Wade (sent through her Contact Us page on her election Web site):
As I begin my exploration of the candidates for the Murfreesboro city elections, and after reading your profile in the Murfreesboro Post, I would like to ask a few questions of you, that I hope you will answer to assist me in my quest to determine for whom I should vote.
1. You said in your profile that the city schools have been appropriately managing its fiscal issues, yet the DNJ recently had a story discussing how school board members were spending lavishly at a workshop in Nashville, even paying for expensive hotel stays at Opryland when the board members could have commuted to the workshop. How do you respond to that? How is that being fiscally responsible?
2. The relationship between the Murfreesboro and Rutherford County school boards has deteriorated in recent years, particularly over the admissions policy established for Central Magnet School. What kind of role can/should you play in ensuring that kids who attend city schools aren't disadvantaged by decisions made by the Rutherford County School Board?
3. The new director of Murfreesboro City Schools seems to have entered into a tyrant mode of late, ignoring requests and calls by parents about decisions she making and proposing. I know at several people who have tried to contact her about her proposal to eliminate bus service to the Discovery School, but she refuses to answer or return those calls. How do you deal with her in issues like this? And what's your stance on bus service to Discovery School students?


Friday, April 2, 2010

Throw what?


Sprint PictureMail, originally uploaded by Grammar Nazi.

I wonder how much money was spent on these glossy, full-color posters that are all over campus? And am I the first person to notice the grammatical mistake?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Celebrate by diagramming this sentence, revealed!

Here's the answer to yesterday's National Grammar Day challenge:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Happy National Grammar Day

Celebrate by diagramming this sentence!

Friday, January 29, 2010