Saturday, August 31, 2002

August 31, 2002: Last night I attended what's bound to be the last "official" college event of my career, a retirement party thrown for me by the ACCTA (Alvin Community College Teachers Association). It was held at Darryl Stephens' house, a great old 19th century home with high ceilings, antique furniture, and huge rooms. The people I worked with at ACC for 19 years are the main reason I sort of hated to retire, but I'm sure I'll be seeing all of them again.

One interesting thing about ACC is that there are no bells. Sometime in the past, someone got the idea that school bells were "high school," so no bells ring at ACC. That's probably fine in a lot of ways, but it made me into a real clock-watcher, as if I weren't already. You have to keep on your toes, though, so as not to get deep into some project and miss class. And of course school teaching made me devoted to routine, as if I weren't already. The hardest adjustment to retirement will be establishing a new routine, one that I can live with. I'm trying. Now instead of going to class in the morning, I go for a run. I used to run at around 11:30 when I took my lunch break, and the early morning is certainly cooler (but no less humid). If I could just begin writing earlier in the day, I'd feel I'd accomplished something, but I'm still doing the writing at night. That has to change. And it will. Trust me.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

August 29, 2002: Sure enough, school started without me today. Instead of teaching an 8:00 class, I went out for a run. Not even a twinge of regret. Well, maybe a minor one. When you've been there for the first day of class every semester since starting the first grade (in 1947!), it's kind of hard to believe things just go right on without you. But they do, and I'm sure I wasn't missed. By next week, no one will even remember I was ever there.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

August 28, 2002: A guy at the college tells me that they're headed for near-record enrollment and will certainly come close to the numbers achieved during the recession of George the First. An enrollment like this is a sure sign that there are no jobs out there. The college administration should be pleased, since this is a funding year. Hey, who said Republican presidents weren't good for education?

The book burners are at it again. I've never quite figured out why some goobers are so afraid that someone else might read a book or see a movie that the goobers find offensive. If the goobers don't like it, they don't have to read the book or see the movie. They don't have to let their kids read or watch, either. But no, they want to tell everyone else what to do. Naturally they would be first in line to protest government regulation of, say, talk radio, but not something they deem offensive. They want the government to step right in and take charge.

First there are the nitwits in North Carolina who don't want their college freshmen to read the Koran as part of an assignment. Right. Why expose anyone to a different point of view? They might accidentally get educated. But wait a minute. Isn't education the reason for going to college? Not for these enlightened souls. Keep people ignorant. That's the ticket!

Then right here in Texas, in the lovely city of Cut and Shoot, there are people who are outraged about a book in the Montgomery County library. It seems that It's Perfectly Natural (placed in the YA section) implies that homosexuality might not be a hideous sin for which the vile practitioners will burn in the everlasting flames of hell with Satan giving them a pitchfork enema every day. You sure wouldn't want your kids thinking something like that! Gotta train them right. They have to be carefully taught.

Of course, the Houston police have been carefully taught. Taught to follow orders, that is. So when they went to the K-Mart parking lot last weekend to arrest drag racers and didn't find any, they arrested everyone else who was there, and everyone at the Sonic next door for good measure. Even people with receipts for food at the Sonic or for purchases at K-Mart.

Let's see now: mass arrests of innocent people, banning books, where have we heard all this before. Oh, yeah. Germany, 1938.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

August 26, 2002: Went to the college this morning to practice with the guys for tomorrow's performance. We aren't good, but we're enthusiastic. And we aren't too boring, which means we should be the hit of the workshop.

Allen called. He bought a new hard drive for his computer. 100 GB of memory. That's a lot. A mere $199, with a $70 rebate coming. Sounds like a deal.

I have about three more days of work on the western novel I'm doing, and then it's on to the one with Humphrey Bogart. I have to do an outline, which I hate, but I need the dough. I'm even considering writing romance novels. I'll have to come up with a new name, though. Angela Allen is one I like.

Monday, August 26, 2002

August 26, 2002: Today is registration at the college. Registration week was always the worst week of the semester, and I never slept well during any of it. It was the only bad part of the job. But of course today I didn't have to worry about it, since I'm retired. I went to the school in the afternoon to practice with the G-Strings, though. I'm an emeritus member, and we'll be singing three songs at the workshop on Wednesday, all original compositions: "Workshop Blues," "Waltzing to Alvin," and "In the Fall." I'm sure we'll be a rousing success.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

August 25, 2002: President Bush is calling for an "expanded" and "extended" war or terror, which I guess means a war, or whatever it will be called, with Iraq. Looking back on Afghanistan and our "war" with al-Qeada, I don't see much success. We killed plenty of civilians, several Canadians, and a handful of our own troops. But as far as anyone knows, Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenants are still on the loose, and al-Qeada is still plenty active. And then today a London paper reports that the Saudis paid bin Laden millions in "protection money." What does this mean in relation to Bush's "You're either for us or against us" declaration? From my persepctive, the whole response to 9/ll has been a badly-handled, if not completely bungled over-reaction. And an article in the Houston Chronicle today says that on Tuesday a report will be issued to say that the budget deficit will be double Bush's last prediction. We're in serious trouble here, and there doesn't seem to be a coherent plan to do anything to get us out.