Hypothetically, let's say you have an environmental job and there are lawyers involved. Then let's say that you have a tech and a subcontractor and some equipment at the site. Then let's suppose that a local with whom you have had no interaction previously comes up and, with his girlfriend, starts videotaping everything you're doing. Then he starts rudely questioning your subcontractor, but stops when you walk up. Then he tells his girlfriend to "get their tag numbers." Then he follows you over to another piece of property, and tells you, "I'm going to get some good pictures of your truck," and walks all around your vehicle to do so.
Question 1. What would you do?
Question 2. Is it a really bad idea to call up the lawyer and tell him/her in as non-confrontational a way as possible that if he/she's in contact with the residents (and perhaps asking them to videotape your activities), he/she should tell them that while they're more than welcome to document everything, you will not tolerate harassment of your personnel, and if necessary you will have the sheriff come out and escort your people to do their job?
Keep in mind that, in this hypothetical situation, you are 1) authorized to be on all the properties, 2) working under the authority of the state and the EPA, and 3) in the process of cleaning up THEIR shithole neighborhood OH MY GOD MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE AT THE STUPIDITY OF IT ALL. Hypothetically.
I personally have Very Strong Feelings about the issue of searches, whether they be at airports, stadiums, subways, or schools. When it comes to schools, I understand what the Supreme Court intended with New Jersey v. TLO and I understand the schools' arguments in that case. But in TLO the Supreme Court ruled that a school search requires "reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school."
Random student drug testing doesn't pass that test (I've spent quite a bit of time frothing at the mouth over that topic, thankyouverymuch), and a strip search of someone based on hearsay doesn't either. And even if it did, if a strip search were attempted on my child while I wasn't there, I would personally make every official involved wish they'd never been born.
(I say attempted, because I'm going to teach my children that if anyone ever tries to strip search them while I'm not present, it's okay to punch, bite, and/or maim said authority figure if they even so much as touch an arm after my child has made his or her feelings on the subject clear.)
I'm all for safety, but I refuse to believe the only way to have it is to take a dump on the reasonable expectation of privacy every citizen supposedly enjoys. Not only that, but in this case we're talking about children, and often children who are only a few years away from being voting, taxpaying citizens. What kind of a message does it send when their rights are so casually violated?
(On a related note, Todd once told me he refused to fly with me if I insisted on carrying this in the airport. He seemed to think it sends the wrong message, like CAVITY SEARCH CANDIDATE HERE, RIGHT HERE.)
So, the point is, I'm THRILLED the Supreme Court ruled that the school violated the Fourth Amendment when they strip-searched a 13-year-old girl, an honors student who'd never been in trouble, over a couple of ibuprofen another student said she had. On the downside, I'm not so pleased that Clarence Thomas has once again proven himself to be an unmitigated douchebag.
Putting his lessons to use
Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - 04:15 p.m.
"It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry." - Albert Einstein
Back in high school, in a school system that was often more focused on mediocrity and "leveling the playing field" than encouraging its students to excel, I was fortunate enough to have a small handful of really extraordinary teachers.
Last Wednesday, June 10, one of them was informed by email that he was being "involuntarily reassigned" from Hendersonville High school. It turns out he and the new principal have some sort of personality conflict. Unfortunately for her, there's a very good reason he got Teacher of the Year a while back.
By the end of the day, some of his former students had created the Facebook group "Save Fuqua!" And now, only one week later, the group has 1,723 members and 200 to 300 of his former and current students have sent emails to the school board, media, and to Mr. Fuqua himself.
And here's where it gets interesting. The media actually picked up the story.
I am an alumna of Hendersonville High School. I graduated in 1999 and was a student of Mr. Fuqua. I am currently an environmental engineer in Huntsville, Alabama.
I do not know the exact circumstances regarding the removal of Mr. Fuqua from Hendersonville High, so all I can speak to is my experience as one of his students. His class was one of the most memorable I attended during my four years at HHS - one that, to this day, has shaped my approach both to my career and my duties as a US citizen. His style of teaching is exactly what is needed to help develop independent, critical thinking and a passion for civic involvement. I think now, more than ever, we need people who are capable of analyzing issues, researching information, and educating themselves. The real world is not a carefully organized and presented textbook, and Mr. Fuqua gives his students the skills to navigate conflicting information and opinions in a capable, rational, and informed manner. His style is unstructured and informal, but then, so is life outside the classroom.
By removing Mr. Fuqua from Hendersonville High, the educational experience available to the students - never one of the best when it came to actively encouraging excellence - has been even further diminished. The students there will be poorer for never having the opportunity to challenge each other and themselves in such a unique and constructive manner.
I think the response you've received over this issue speaks for itself. It is a firsthand look at how much Mr. Fuqua inspired his students and how well we learned his lessons. More than anything, he taught us to speak out and to do something when it comes to the things in which we believe. I am thankful for all I learned from Mr. Fuqua, and I am asking you to extend the same privilege to the current students of Hendersonville High School.
I don't know if any of it will make a damn bit of difference, but something about seeing all of us come to the defense of a truly outstanding teacher...well, that gives me the warm fuzzies.
Learning to Crawl
Friday, June 12, 2009 - 12:41 p.m.
This week has been full of so many twists and turns and batshit crazy goings-on, I don't even know where to begin. Let's just say that being sued is not the weirdest thing that's happened.
(Also, just to add insult to injury, our air conditioning died yesterday at the house. Like I seriously needed that little jab.)
So, I'm going to take a step back and try to process all the consequences of the last five days, while you enjoy some pictures of my adorable spawn learning to crawl. These were taken on Sunday. He is now quite proficient at traversing distances, and the cats are PISSED.
This is why God gave us booze
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - 08:19 p.m.
Holy shit, y'all.
Micah started crawling this past weekend. Yeah, milestone, yay, blahdeblahdeblah. It would be great if the little asshole hadn't also figured out how to sit up all by himself, and thus keep himself awake INDEFINITELY.
He has not slept a wink at daycare in TWO DAYS. And for the last two nights, instead of falling sound asleep with no fuss at around 7:00 or 7:30, he has spent his time screaming. I mean, SCREAMING, like he cries so hard he gags himself. And it's not that he's scared or sad, no, he's ANGRY. It doesn't matter if one of us is holding him or if he's in his crib by himself. It's the same either way. And he can do it for HOURS. LITERALLY. I AM NOT EXAGGERATING.
It's going to result in the death of one of us. And I'm the one legally old enough to rent a woodchipper.
Right now, I have the monitor off, I'm sitting in the office on the exact opposite end of the house, and I can hear him clear as day. I'm generally opposed the whole cry-it-out thing, but he's been screaming nonstop since about 7:15. One hour later, I am slap out of ideas that don't involve duct tape.
And hey! Todd just left for the weekend. Oh, but my mother-in-law is coming tomorrow to look at houses, so she'll be staying with me and Micah in our cat-hair coated, baby-toy-littered, debris-scattered house. I found that out Monday!
Also, today I received some letters from two weasels hired by someone near one of my jobsites. Apparently, it'd be ever so much better if everyone got a trip to Disney Land and the site and surrounding homes were left contaminated until Jeebus comes and beams us all up. Or I guess that's what they think, assuming they do any of that at all (and I'm not convinced they do).
Oh, and I haven't gotten anything done to get ready for tomorrow. And it's almost 8:30. Late night, comin' right up.
This has been one of those weeks where I feel like I haven't slowed down once. I know there had to be bits of downtime here and there, but overall, it's been GO GO GO. And I'm pooped.
On the upside, it's also been one of those rare weeks where I feel like I've actually accomplished something. I made progress on several projects that were hanging over my head. So there's that silver lining.
I went back to work six months ago. Micah was three months old, still a shrieking, frustratingly inconsolable lump of baby. I was HAPPY to be back at work, in a world I understood, where someone else had the responsibility of caring for the thankless little screamer.
But then Micah became awesome, almost overnight. And Todd started traveling again. And work got harder, the days seemed to get shorter, and I began to feel like a hamster on a wheel, always running, running and never making any progress at all. I've lost interest in doing my job, I ache to see more of my rapidly-changing baby, and I'm more exhausted every single day. Weekends are meaningless - just time to catch up on all the stuff I didn't have time to do during the week. If I take time to relax, it's always at the expense of sleep, because nothing else has any leeway. Something has to give.
A few weeks ago, my parents took Micah so Todd and I could go out and celebrate our anniversary, and over dinner we decided I would approach my boss about going part-time. And so, last week, I did.
It's not official yet. I still have to sit down with my department manager and work out specifics like what days I'll be in, who will cover what, and there's the little matter of money. But it's a step, and just knowing there's a light at the end of the tunnel has helped immensely.
There's a little something that feels almost like guilt for admitting I just can't do it all, a voice that keeps whispering, "Plenty of women manage everything, so why can't I just put on my big girl pants and figure out their system, huh? Am I just a complete wuss? Oh god, I totally suck at this parent thing." But mostly it's drowned out by the sheer relief of realizing I don't have to keep sliding down the slope. I have the option of stepping back for a while and you know what? I'm going to take it.