Thursday, February 23, 2023

Don't Leave A Gun In An Elementary School Bathroom

Let me preface this post by writing that this is not about the second amendment or gun control. I'm limiting my writing to the story of the now former Rising Star, Texas school superintendent Robby Stuteville as best I can. If you haven't heard about this, Stuteville left his gun in an elementary school bathroom. A little later, a third grader found the gun and told his teacher. The teacher then asked another student to check the bathroom and confirm that there really was a gun in the bathroom. I'm just picturing what would happen if my third grader was in the same scenario. While I'd hope that he would tell his teacher, he might think it was a toy and play with it.

Texas is an open-carry state, and apparently, it is known that the superintendent and principal carry guns within the schools. In this NBC article, Monty Jones, the secondary principal for grades 6-12, said that he and Stuteville carry weapons because of school shootings that occurred throughout the country. How can you not be disturbed by this statement? The superintendent and principal feel the need to carry weapons because they fear that their schools could be next. While one could argue that the administration is preparing for the worst-case scenario, that's just a sad statement about the state of our country.

The other part of the story is that jumped out to me was that Stuteville resigned because he didn't want to be a distraction. Jones said that "No one to my knowledge called for his resignation. And the board certainly did not." NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! This is a got-to-go situation. Just because nothing bad happened, Stuteville doesn't get a pass. This could have been disastrous. You cannot be a leader and an educator and make this type of mistake where people could have been hurt or killed and keep your job. He needed to be fired. If you go to the Rising Star school district website, this is posted prominently on the front page.

Stuteville did the exact opposite and needed to go.

Friday, February 17, 2023

I'm (Almost) An Idiot

Last Friday, I received a random message on Instagram, which led to a week-long conversation. While I could explain the situation, I thought it would be better just to share the entire conversation.

While I should have been suspicious earlier, it wasn't until she mentioned mobile deposit that alarm bells went off in my head. I asked friends if this was a scam, and the answer was yes. And it was a unanimous yes. No one even said maybe or possibly. 

The photo was taken by my Luigi, my five year old. A mural of it would be pretty cool though I don't think I'm going to see a final product.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

I’m Going To Wichita

About two months ago, I volunteered to take a trip to Kansas. One of my bucket list items is to visit all 50 states. I’ve been stuck at 41 states for over a decade, so I jumped at the chance to visit Kansas and bump that number up to 42. Even better, I could tell people that “I’m going to Wichita” and have The White Stripes’ song “Seven Nation Army” in my head constantly.

Fun fact: If you’re in Wichita in the days after the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl, you’re going to hear a lot of discussion about the Chiefs. Since Kansas City is about 3 hours from Wichita, this was not a shocker. Now this is a shocker!

I had a few hours of free time, so I decided to explore Wichita before flying out. First, I stopped by the Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot-tall sculpture where the Big Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers meet. Apparently, there’s a nightly ring of fire ceremony around the sculpture, but I didn’t see it.

Then, I visited the Wichita Art Museum. While I’m used to free museums in Washington DC, I didn’t expect one in Wichita. They have some really neat (technical art term) works and exhibits. I love anything made by Dale Chihuly, so seeing his chandelier and the Chihuly bridge was really neat. (I’m available if anyone needs an art critic!)

Here are some other favorites: 

You can tell that "Chess Game" by Will Barnet is a painting, since in real life, most cats would probably go after the chess pieces!

My kids would absolutely love The Living Room. This looks like so much fun!

I learned that Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House is in Wichita, but there weren’t any tours available when I looked into visiting. I guess I’ll just need to take another trip to Fallingwater to make up for this. I did, however, stop by the Ulrich Museum of Art on the campus Wichita State University. Again, free! This was probably my favorite work. 

A bar with some weights on it next to a black and yellow painting. No big deal, right? Check out the portion of the video though. 

The artist painted while lifting weights. So cool! I just wish I wrote down her name and the title of her work. Here are a two other pictures I took from the Ulrich:

As I was writing this post, I learned that The Original Pizza Hut Museum is also at Wichita State. Although I didn’t plan on visiting, the fact that I was less than a mile away is somewhat devastating. If I realized I was so close, I definitely would have checked it out.

I had a bizarre restaurant experience. When I arrived for dinner, I was asked if I had a reservation. When I said no, I was told there would be a 30-minute wait. I said that would be fine since I needed to run to Walmart to get a lint brush since some of my clothes managed to have hair from Ziggy on them. I returned and was seated…in a fairly empty restaurant. In the time I was there, I counted 8 other tables with customers and triple the amount of empty tables. My guess is that they were short staffed as there were only two servers. I was told I could only order wine or beer since the bartender called out. The restaurant was also out of bread and baked potatoes. The food was good, but not good enough to deal with slow service and a limited menu. 

I get that the news station’s call letter’s are KAKE, but KAKEland? 

I’m home now, so I guess I can say/write that I have a feeling I’m not in Kansas anymore.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

The Staircase

My street is a dead end. If I want to sound fancy, I can say that I live on a cul de sac though it’s an “L” shape ending rather than a traditional circle. Maybe this picture helps explain the street better than my description. 

Anyway, at the end of the street, there was a fairly steep hill to walk down to the adjacent street. There were several injuries from people falling going up or down the hill and kids would fly down it riding their bicycles. However, people continued to use the hill since it was a shortcut and much more convenient to get to the school bus stop or if their cars were parked on the main street.

About four years ago, the HOA and/or community management company worked with a landscaping company and built steps for the hill. We always thought that the steps looked incomplete, but they were great. No more people falling on the hill. No more muddy shoes from walking on the grass. You may notice that I'm writing this in past tense. About a month ago, caution tape was put up around the steps. 

Then, we received this email from the community manager:

It has recently been identified by the [redacted] reserve study conducted in Fall 2022 that the set of stairs in [my neighborhood] present fall/safety hazards and do not meet current code regulations. After much consideration, it has been determined that the best course of action is to remove the set of stairs, thereby eliminating these risks for our community. [Landscaping company] will be completing this project and will ensure that new landscaping is arranged in these areas to make a seamless transition with the existing garden beds. As always, the intention is to maintain the curb appeal of our community, while also prioritizing safety of its residents. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our property manager.

As my 11 year old would say, this is trash. There is nothing wrong with the steps. There is not a fall/safety hazard as the steps are safer than the hill. This is a liability issue, and the management company (different than the one in place when the steps were installed) is trying to eliminate a potential lawsuit. The neighbors are not happy. To remove the steps and put in some plants will cost $2000. While the management company is in the process of getting bids to see much it will cost to put in steps that meet code, it seems like this will be significantly more. Just keeping the steps isn't an option though that's what the neighborhood wants. So frustrating. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Random Ramblings: Family Edition

* For his latest Cub Scouts meeting, Pedro Tulo learned about knife safety and how to effectively use a pocket knife. I consider it a huge win that he only cut himself and drew blood once during the evening.

* Pedro Tulo also got to carry out the American flag and hold it on court during the national anthem before Sunday's George Mason-Saint Joseph's basketball game. As a tangent, attending Mason basketball games is a very easy and fun family activity. General admission tickets for the men's team are $10, there's free parking, and it's easy to get into and out of the parking lots.

* When talking with a neighbor recently, The Moose said that he doesn't want to play baseball this spring because he doesn't think he has a chance of being a professional player. Of course, he wants to play flag football instead since I guess he thinks he's going to make the NFL. I’m 5’ 7” and could never come close to running a 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, so it seems unlikely that he’ll have the size or speed to play sports professionally. Anyway, I tried to explain that you play sports for fun and to be part of a team. Selfishly though, I'm enjoying the current basketball season so much more than the baseball season. While he usually has basketball practice once a week with two weekly games, they rarely last more than an hour. During baseball season, he would also have games or practices three days a week, but The Moose would need to arrive at his 6:30 game by 5:15, and we wouldn't leave the field until around 8:45. That made for some very long days.

* Luigi did something to the web browser on my phone which reset all of my stats on Wordle, Quordle, etc. My Wordle stats showing only 4 games played looks really sad.

* Luigi’s kindergarten teacher told us that he is one of her easiest kids. He has the teacher fooled! Yes, Luigi is adorable and can be sweet, but he has regular meltdowns at home for various reasons where he screams like he’s being tortured in The Princess Bride. His most recent meltdown was because he wanted to make Valentines Day cards for his classmates and was told no since 1. it’s still two weeks away, 2. it was bedtime, and 3. most importantly, we don’t have the cards yet.

* It seems like the lead story almost every other day on national newscasts is winter weather. There have been deadly and crippling storms throughout the county the last few months. While the DC area has been fairly lucky so far, I have three flights coming up over the next few months going to Wichita (through Atlanta), Denver, and Florida. Really hoping for no or minimal delays.

* Finally, Costco is dangerous. If I see any type of snacks on sale, I’m buying them. Do I really need two monster bags of Chex Mix? No. Did I buy two monster bags? Of course!