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When you read this, my younger daughter will have arrived home for a holidays visit after completing her first semester of law school. It will be very, very important to engage her in conversation about it. It will be very, very important to get other people to ask her about it.

This is because of the Wedding Monster, which has already consumed most if not all Christmas/Hanukkah spirit this year. There is little oxygen left in the room. My elder daughter is getting married on the thirtieth.

This would seem to be a strange subject for a Brothers and Sisters right now, what with it being a time of many holidays and many traditions. Yet it is the time of celebrating miracles and what could be more miraculous than two people- man and woman, two men, two women- deciding to see all this through, together. You and me, kid. I’ve got your back. I’ll always remember how you take your coffee.

Welcome to Brothers and Sisters, the weekly meetup for prayer* and community at Daily Kos.  We put an asterisk on pray* to acknowledge that not everyone uses conventional religious language, but may want to share joys and concerns, or simply take solace in a meditative atmosphere. Anyone who comes in the spirit of mutual respect, warmth and healing is welcome.
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Sarah Josepha Hale is responsible for the national holiday "Thanksgiving" that we'll be celebrating in a couple of days. Go look her up; then you'll know who wrote "Mary Had A Little Lamb" after wondering about it all these years. Anyway, she wrote five presidents about a national day of thanksgiving.

I suppose Abraham Lincoln thought the idea was safe from criticism in the American north after victories at Gettysburg, Vicksburg and the capture of Chattanooga. William Seward, President Lincoln's Secretary of State, wrote the proclamation for the holiday and Lincoln signed it. It was issued on October third of 1863 and things were going well for the United States. Well, the proclamation said so while acknowledging that there was a costly civil war going on. Go look it up; the writing is too florid to be Lincoln's and it's full of the Almighty, beneficent Fathers and Divine Purposes. I suppose the President decided to let Seward be Seward and not edit the thing.

Welcome to Brothers and Sisters, the weekly meetup for prayer* and community at Daily Kos.  We put an asterisk on pray* to acknowledge that not everyone uses conventional religious language, but may want to share joys and concerns, or simply take solace in a meditative atmosphere. Anyone who comes in the spirit of mutual respect, warmth and healing is welcome.
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Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST

WYFP? The Gettysburg Address

by algebrateacher

For California eighth graders, taking the United States Constitution test has been a rite of passage since before I was in eighth grade myself and that was more than forty years ago. When I began my teaching career in Illinois (I've been back in California for fifteen years), I discovered that there was an eighth grade Constitution test there, too. I'd like to say there were some standards (small s; teachers reading this know what I'm saying) and consistency to these tests but there weren't.

In the end, time was and is spent grasping at facts ("What fraction was used to count slaves?"), political science ("What is 'limited government'?"), structure ("What are the three branches of the federal government and what is the essential power of each?"), historical debate ("Why did the Antifederalists oppose the Constitution?"), the nature of compromise ("Why is the House of Representatives based on population but the Senate is based on the equality of the States?") and so on. Then a test was and is given. Students find out their scores and spend many minutes with wajjagets. Then everybody moves on.

This year's test is scheduled for this Thursday, November twenty-first.
The hundred fiftieth anniversary of the Gettysburg Address is Tuesday, November ninteenth.

WYFP is our community's Saturday evening gathering to talk about our problems, empathize with one another, and share advice, pootie pictures, favorite adult beverages, and anything else that we think might help. Everyone and all sorts of troubles are welcome. May we find peace and healing here. Won't you please share the joy of WYFP by recommending?
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Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT

TGR: First Year As An Orphan

by algebrateacher

When I think of an "orphan," I think of Oliver Twist.

Or I think of images on the television of children far away from me.

I think of children.

I don't think of a fifty-five year old man.

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Welcome to Brothers and Sisters, the weekly meetup for prayer* and community at Daily Kos.  We put an asterisk on pray* to acknowledge that not everyone uses conventional religious language, but may want to share joys and concerns, or simply take solace in a meditative atmosphere. Anyone who comes in the spirit of mutual respect, warmth and healing is welcome.
I am not Jewish but my wife and daughters are. Over the last almost twenty-seven years, I have attended quite a few Shabbat services and, yes, twenty-six and more services for Rosh Hashana, Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur.

Five years ago, my wife and I joined the Temple choir in time for the High Holy Days. I sing the bass line even though I was recruited as a baritone. I have been in the choir ever since; I am the unpaid "ringer" in the back row.

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WYFP is our community's Saturday evening gathering to talk about our problems, empathize with one another, and share advice, pootie pictures, favorite adult beverages, and anything else that we think might help. Everyone and all sorts of troubles are welcome. May we find peace and healing here. Won't you please share the joy of WYFP by recommending?
I am a public school teacher.

1. Don't tell me that I should be paid more.
2. Don't tell me how good teachers can and should be paid more.
3. Don't tell me that public education should be changed so that more money is spent in the classroom.

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Temporary Friends

Consider: “We have three types of friends in a lifetime: friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime.”

My young twenty-something daughter is making major changes in her life. She has moved far from home (a different country!) and is beginning her grown-up life; that is to say, she is not in school anymore. She is going through that rough patch where you realize that making friends is not as easy as it used to be, or at least it’s different than it used to be. Everything is different from what it used to be. It sure doesn’t help that a young married couple she befriended there, and perhaps idealized a bit, surprised her and broke up recently, most likely irreparably. It gave her a good shake. That just wasn’t supposed to happen.

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Mon May 20, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT

The Grieving Room: Dear Mom,

by algebrateacher

Dear Mom,

This letter is a two-fer. I volunteered to write for a community diary about grieving at Daily Kos (I told you about them) and my grief therapist suggested I write a letter. As a matter of fact, when this appears, I'll be in a session. This was bad planning on my part. I suppose I'll just rush home after. People are cool in The Grieving Room diaries.

Part of me feels silly writing this because you're not going to read it. You died. On the other hand, I can see how this could be helpful to me to work through my grief. On the other hand (I have three?), maybe you will read this. It helps to think of you as in the audience.

I hope that wherever you are and whatever you're doing, you have time just to listen. You don't have to send a reply. It gets a little creepy when you send messages.

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Very short diary but, perhaps, something to think about and share your thoughts:

What would have to be in an afterlife for it to matter?

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Sat May 04, 2013 at 05:04 PM PDT

WYFP: Casualties

by algebrateacher

I hate looking at the list this year. I know it has to be published because you never know, someone just might be waiting for their shot. And the contract (for sure) and the law (I think) say the list has to be published.

What is the list? It's a list of all the "open" positions for teachers at my school. Somebody teaching right now at the school might have the right credential and want to move into a different slot. They get first dibs, more or less. Then the jobs are published districtwide, just in case someone wants to move schools.

Oh sure, there are people teaching right now in those positions. They'll work until the last school day in June plus one more so they can fully pack up and move out. They're being let go. Pink-slipped. Set adrift. Somewhere along the line, they can reapply for a job, maybe even the one they just did for a year. This year ten jobs have opened up. At my school, that's a casualty rate of slightly more than 17%.

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Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:03 PM PDT

Brothers and Sisters: Lincoln

by algebrateacher

Easter Sunday, one hundred, fifty-two years ago, March 31, 1861, there had been no American Civil War. The firing on Fort Sumter would occur in less than two weeks (April 12). People of the time still hoped- people still prayed- for peace on that Easter.

More than a year later, Easter came again on April 20, 1862. The telegraph and the newspaper allowed Americans to know that something awful had occured a few days earlier at a place called Shiloh. The amount of bloodshed at Shiloh shocked, dismayed and even angered Americans, but then they had not yet seen the Seven Days' Battles in Virginia that would give rise to Robert E. Lee. They had seen the amateurish First Battle of Manassas but not the professional Second. What made the American Civil War horrible was still largely in the future.

It is interesting to note that the city of New Orleans fell to northern forces a few days after Easter, 1862. In a culture that assured itself that as a people, they, the southerners, were fulfilling God's will (the north did this just as much), the loss of so famous and grand an American city as New Orleans (I think of this when I remember how many Republican politicians could not be convinced to help after Katrina) was met with self-criticism and self-doubt. Many ascribed the loss to punishment for slaveowners who mistreated their slaves.

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Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 05:01 PM PDT

WYFP: Marry Me

by algebrateacher

At 7:00 this morning, I was in a store buying a forty. Malt liquor is not my thing; I was buying the bigger box of Tampax Super-plus for Mrs. algebrateacher so that she wouldn't run out before I got home from work.

Today is not only Saturday, it is also the first day of my school district's Spring Break. In order to make some extra money, I went in to work to be one of the two certificated teachers supervising a Saturday Attendance Recovery Program. Students who need to make up an absence show up for four hours (I think more than a few have parents who see four hours their kid isn't home but they are, which might lead to the newest, youngest kid in the family) and the school district gets to collect Average Daily Attendance (ADA) money from the State.

At my pay rate, working today was worth a couple hundred dollars. My wife and I can use the money.

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