PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.

Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.

I have a day job. So every word of this is my opinion, not that of my employer. This offer IS void in Wisconsin. Except, of course, that some material in this column comes from incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Sans Serif type font to distinguish it from the (somewhat) original material.

To Pay For This Column Voluntarily
Tales of Teaching 2004
Tales of Teaching 2005

P.S. A Column On Things: September 8, 2003

September 8, 2003 Vol. 5, No. 37

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Deliverance by Teaching
  • Paul Makes The NY Times, Again
  • Funny Teaching Story
  • Empty Nest Followup
  • Taiwan Update
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Web Site of the Week

  • The Onion


  • The Top 12 Signs Your History Teacher Isn't Very Qualified


  • None


  • Dalton on Election Fraud, Malchman on Teaching, Grobstein on Everything

General News

Deliverance by Teaching

I'm almost like the man on the roof in the flood who prayed for delivery by god. While he was praying, a boat came, but he refused to get in. "God will deliver me." Then a helicopter came, but he declined a ride, saying, "God will deliver me." He was swept into the water and drowned. He asked St. Peter what happened. "We sent a boat and a helicopter, what more did you want?"

I had always fantasized I could work for the educational foundation established by the founders of my former employer. I never heard back from them. I though maybe a former supervisor of mine would pay me to gather audio of the 2002 gubernatorial race for a national audience. Didn't happen. I thought I'd be a journalism lecturer at USC. Never got called. I believed I might have a shot at being a liberal talk show host on the newly forming liberal talk network. No one called back. Then a local middle school where I had many friends and much substituting experience called and asked me to teach full time. I really only wanted to teach half time. But unlike the man praying on the roof, I recognized deliverance and opportunity when they knocked. Eight days of teaching later, I've had some frightening moments, thousands of dull ones, and a few wonderful ones--parents have already told me their students are enjoying the class. That warms me. If I finish the year beloved and respected, that's nice too. But can I teach? Will they choose to learn? Vicki scoffs when I ask these questions, but I think they're still open.

Paul Makes The NY Times, Again

August 31, 2003
It's Back to School, to Become a Teacher

Blame the weak job market. Or the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Or the corporate accounting scandals that have left some workers disillusioned. Whatever the reason, as students head back to the classroom for the new school year, so are many executives who are aiming to become public school teachers, according to education experts and administrators of teacher training programs. ... Others are engineers who are accepting early-retirement buyouts from their companies. "Because jobs are not as readily available, people are coming to us and saying, 'Now I might as well do what I really wanted to do all along,' " she said.

That is what Paul Schindler, of Orinda, Calif., said he remembered feeling two years ago, after he was laid off as an editor at a publishing company where he had been working for more than 22 years. Mr. Schindler had always fancied himself a schoolteacher. So, with his 49th birthday approaching, he enrolled in an accelerated teacher certification program at Chapman University in Concord, Calif. He is now interviewing for English and history teaching positions in the Bay Area.

"I knew that if I ever was going to teach, this was the moment," said Mr. Schindler, the former editor in chief at CMP Media, a technology publisher.

Funny Teaching Stories (First in a series)

So, there's this stuff they teach you in education school. Like including an open invitation to parents to come by and visit your classroom, any time they like, without an appointment. I made that offer. I had a parent come by the next day. I was telling the other teachers about it. They were appalled. Mrs. S, my friend and mentor, told me to never do that again, and advised me, "The next time you think of doing something you learned in Ed school, check with me first." Which is also what my other master teacher (also a Mrs. S) told me a long time ago.

There's another idea I'm using; some books call it the bell-ringer. You post a list of things you want your students to do as soon as they enter the classroom, without being told. They are supposed to look at the board and do what it says. It gets things going right away. At first I called it "Do Me First." After two days, I noticed some boys chuckling in fifth period. That's when I remembered that you have to set your double-entendre filter very low when you are teaching 8th grade boys. If it can be taken as smutty, it will be taken as smutty. Smut, as we know, is in the mind of the beholder. There's lots of room in there at age 13.

The section of my whiteboard is now called "Before the Bell" or "B4 The Bell." Eventually, it will just be BTB.

Empty Nest Followup

Bob Nilsson notes, apropos of the recent material here on the empty nest syndrome:

Do your daughters instant message with you? With AIM, instant digital photograph posting to the Web and cell phones that allow free calls among them, I'm finding that sending our daughter off to college has been a lot less painful than it must have been even ten years ago. Or at least it makes the separation more gradual. Luckily we don't have different time zones to wrestle with.

We don't IM (at least not often), but we do a lot of phone and mail and digital pictures (mostly of our cats, to the girls), but Bob is right; all this helps. It doesn't fill the empty bedrooms, or make noise in the kitchen at night, but it helps.

Taiwan Update

From Marlow in Taipei:

Today I went to Hsien with J and we bought some basics for the apartment (silverware since there was none, toiletpaper, etc.) and then afterwards we came back here and then I went out by myself and ran into a very interesting thing, a Taiwan UN rally. There were people giving speeches and then a heavy metal (Rammstein style pyrotechnics, Kiss style make-up) came out and sang some goth/punk song in Chinese after speaking some more about how Taiwan was not the same thing as China (I think). It was great. I love political rallies in any language. It was right by the Chiang-Kai Shek memorial which I had gone to with my new digital camera to take pictures for you guys (and since it is super close to my apartment). I also went down to Taiwan University (Tai Da) and I saw some guys throwing around a rugby ball so I assumed I had lucked out again and was going to get to see a rugby game, but they had apparently just finished a scrimmage and were on their way out. Oh well, now at least I know Tai Da has a team, or at least a field where local teams play.

I had sushi for lunch today, it was good, but not necessarily better than California, although it was much cheaper. And for dinner I finally tried chou dou fu (smelly tofu). Although it was smelly before cooked, after being prepared it was less smelly and actually pretty good tasting. I've also been eating a lot of shaved ice. I wish one of you were coming here so I could take you to try it. I don't know why I love it so much, but it is the bestest dessert ever. You get to pick four ingredients ranging from the pearls from pearl tea and pineapple to pudding and yams. And then they top it with ice and some sugar syrup thing.

Political Notes

This political analysis, which appeared on the front page of the newspaper, perfectly sums up my feelings. I am so glad to see someone telling the truth in print, even if it is in San Francisco, where, obviously, he's preaching to the choir.

ANALYSIS: Widening cry against GOP election tactics
Marc Sandalow, Washington Bureau Chief
Tuesday, September 2, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle

Washington -- Of all the arguments advanced by Gov. Gray Davis to fight the recall, none resonates more strongly with Democrats coast-to-coast than his assertion that Republicans are engaged in a systematic effort to steal elections.

The anger that began over former President Bill Clinton's impeachment -- and intensified after the contested 2000 presidential election -- has solidified into an unshakeable belief among the party's faithful that the other side has abandoned rules of fair play.

The charge, which is gaining favor among some scholars and nonpartisan observers, has become a staple of Democratic speeches, opinion pieces and conversations. Strategists expect, no matter what the recall outcome, it will become a potent rallying cry heading into the 2004 presidential campaign.

I got this from my friend Phillip Gill:

Hey all, I hope you'll forgive me for being a political this am, but I believe it's important not just to each and every one of us personally, but also to our country, that I pass this information along to you. I also wanted to let you know that last week I donated money to Howard Dean's campaign.

We may not win this election, but has George McGovern pointed out recently, he may not have won his election campaign for the presidency in 1972, but the issues he fought for did!!! His campaign changed the direction the country was going in and put an end to the war in Vietnam.

IN OTHER WORDS, he lost the battle but won the war!!!

We can do the same!!!

I agree, except for the fact that I don't want to lose the battle or the war.

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Poor Microsoft: more small but encouraging signs in the press of a tide of public opinion turning against Microsoft: a Seattle TV station writes Time To Update Your Microsoft Software Again: "Those of you using Mac OS or Linux can relax this time, but those using MS Office on Windows, take note: Microsoft has issued some more security alerts..." The Motley Fool's More Microsoft Mess says "...While Apple's Mac devotees just shake their heads in wonder, Windows users have had to contend with the Blaster worm and several variants. And yet, the stock price only trails the S&P 500's 12% gain this year by about four percentage points. (Apple, meanwhile, is up over 50%.)..." On the other side of the world China, Japan and Korea to replace Microsoft Windows: the three nations are ready to join forces to co-develop an open-source operating system to escape Redmond's control. An "18 minute gap" for the Internet age: Cringely on Stupid Microsoft Tricks: Why the Richest Company on Earth Feels it Needs to Cheat.

RSS/NewsSeer follow-up: more on the impact of RSS: Is RSS the Answer to the Spam Crisis? and RSS: Your Gateway To News & Blog Content. Also worth noting, the Mozilla-based RSS client NewsMonster. Last week after eulogizing here the loss of NewsSeer, I noticed that the bio of NewsSeer's Steve Lawrence says "...He is presently a Senior Research Scientist at Google." This make me wonder if we will see a reborn NewsSeer come out of the Google labs any time soon. I sure hope so!

UPC on steroids: says MIT to uncork futuristic bar code and while some manufactures and retailers may be interested in the idea, most consumers and their advocates can't see whats in it for us. Basically EPC is like UPC but with plenty of Orwellian baggage: "...Protection of consumer privacy is also a concern. Wal-Mart Stores and Britain's largest retailer, Tesco, both ended the first in-store trials of the technology after privacy advocates spoke out against them..."

Technobits: the RIAA floats a lame "amnesty" --- Wired News: European Patent Law Draws Fire --- legal analysis of why SCO will fail if it tries Putting the GPL on trial --- Does the Right of First Sale Still Exist? asks George Hotelling as he tries to resell music bought from Apple's online music store: iTunes auction treads murky legal ground --- a 500GB DVR that stores two weeks of video --- powering portable electronics on fuel cells using methanol or borax --- the new feature film "This is not a love song" will have a free online premiere.

Web Site of the Week

The Onion

The Onion is almost always funny. Daniel Dern reminded me of this with an archival page that chronicles the death of Peter Parker (Marvel comic readers will get the joke). By an amazing coincidence, the same page contains the Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Had A Crazy Dream Last Night" parody I started looking for a few weeks back, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the speech.


The Top 12 Signs Your History Teacher Isn't Very Qualified

Normally, I don't run Top 5 lists I didn't contribute to. I wish I'd seen this topic go by; no matter how busy I was, I would have at least submitted a few ideas...

September 4, 2003

12> The only "General Lee" in his lectures jumps over creek beds to escape Boss Hogg and Rosco.

11> "Crimean, Korean, whatever -- we won, okay?"

10> Lessons always reflect yesterday's episode of "Sherman and Peabody."

9> "Yeah, right -- there were *two* President Roosevelts. Suuuuuure."

8> Devotes an entire week to the eerie similarities between JFK and Abraham Lincoln.

7> If Carmen Sandiego wasn't involved, he's never heard of it.

6> Invites his "Sigma buddies," Toad and Moochie, to help him re-enact the Whiskey Rebellion.

5> Refuses to teach about new-fangled things like the Internet... or Alaska and Hawaii.

4> Thinks the Bataan Death March is a Sousa piece played at halftime.

3> You're the only sixth-grade class studying the Battle of Hasty Pudding.

2> Claims George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election.

and's Number 1 Sign Your History Teacher Isn't Very Qualified...

1> He's teaching in a public school. Do the math.

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2003 by Chris White ]



You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database


Dalton on Election Fraud, Malchman on Teaching, Grobstein on Everything

Richard Dalton just ran into Greg Palast's extensive reporting on the GOP theft of the 2000 election, and wonders why we haven't seen much of it in this country. The major answer is he did it for the BBC; the minor answer is that the American media are too cowardly to tell the truth. Dan Grobstein liked Greg's article The Grinch Who Stole Labor Day.

Robert Malchman caught this fantastic piece from the San Francisco Chronicle, which I overlooked, about one teacher's very bad experience.

The Dan Grobstein File:

From the New York Times this week:

  • Paul Krugman details another Friday outrage as the administration attempts to hide its foul deeds.
  • Bob Herbert notes we could use some adult supervision, something which we aren't getting from the administration.
  • Thomas Friedman was blunt: Our Iraq strategy needs an emergency policy lobotomy. President Bush needs to shift to a more U.N.-friendly approach.
  • Bill Murray, a genius on and off the screen, had some fun with the AP at the Venice Film Festival.

To obtain a reminder when I post my weekly electronic column,
or to offer feedback, advice, praise, or criticism, email me. (pes-at-sign-schindler-dot-org)

New versions of my column are hosted here at Typepad.

Old versions of my column are hosted here at


Paul Schindler Home Page PS...ACOT BACK ISSUE archives
Journalism Movies Journalism Quotes
You COULD Pay For This Column Journalism Books
Archival Larry King: Letters From Europe
Current Larry King: Letters From Lesser Great Britain
Kevin Sullivan on Teaching
My Prarie Home Companion Script Groundhog Day: Best Film Ever
Women in Journalism Movies Larry King: British Journalists
Edwin Diamond: An Appreciation Tales of Teaching

Page forwarding code courtesy of:
BNB: HTML, free CGI Scripts, graphics, tutorials and more- for free!

FavIcon (displayed in browser address box) courtesy of:
Richard Sleegers

Blog-rolling (My Friends' Weblogs):

Jim Forbes' Forbes on Tech

Scot Finnie's Scot's Newsletter

Phil Albinus Blog

Dan Rosebaum's Blog

Mike Elgan's Blog

Fred Langa's Blog

Karen Kenworthy's Power Tools

Dave Methvin's PC Pitstop

You are visitor number

since Oct. 16, 1998.