Flash Fiction #288

 

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

IN AUTUMN, A YOUNG MAN’S FANCY

It’s Labor Day??!  Time to go back to high school.  Oh thrill!  Oh joy! (Insert sarcasm here!)

Some more pencils
some more books
some more teachers’
dirty looks

All the fun and freedom of summer, gone for another year.  No more swimming.  No more camping.  It’s like walking the Last Mile.  I feel the will to live draining away.

Hmmm??  A hot new girl just moved into the neighborhood?  She’ll be on our bus??!  She’ll be in our class??!  Interestinger and interestinger!

I’m going to get my hormones rotated, and YES, I enrolled in the Drama course.  Bring it, school!

***

If you’d like to join the Friday Fictioneers fun, go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Looking Back – Again

The weirdest things formerly taught in schools

Part Two:

Pluto is a planet

Kids used to be taught that our solar system has nine planets, and that Pluto was the ninth.

They were taught wrong. On August 24, 2006, the icy ball 7.5 billion kilometers away had its status downgraded to “dwarf planet,” courtesy of the International Astronomical Union.

It didn’t have enough gravity to clear its orbit of debris, which is one of the characteristics required to be considered a planet,” says Mary Colson, an eighth-grade teacher.

Darkroom skills

While some schools may for retro reasons offer photography darkroom courses, digital technology has largely killed the need to go into dark rooms and develop film in baths of toxic chemicals. Besides the dangerous chemicals, equipment and supplies for the outdated developing processes are hard to find.

Diagramming sentences

In the days of old, elementary students were taught to diagram sentences, to understand their underlying structure. These parts might include a subject, a verb, an object, adjectives, adverbs and so on. But the system developed by Reed and Kellogg fell out of favor as educators moved away from such regimented methods of analysis to freer forms of expression.

Using blackboards

The old blackboards and chalk first got downgraded by the introduction of computers and now are increasingly replaced by more versatile whiteboards, which can accommodate eye-catching marker colors and even serve as projection screens. Kids no longer have to clap together two chalk erasers to clean them, sending up clouds of particulate.

“Chalk really isn’t good for anything. It gets all over your hands and your clothes,” agrees a fifth-grade teacher in New Haven.

Note-taking

Before there were smartphones to photograph teacher presentations or record their lectures, students had to take notes—that is, on paper with pen. While technology may be more convenient, research shows that students have to pay more attention to what is being said or shown when they take notes, so they learn better.

Civics

Up to the 1960s, it was common to have separate high school civics courses, designed to teach students about community service and the government. But these courses have been slashed with school budgets, leaving the majority of schools civics-free. Some education experts believe that civics courses develop young people’s critical-thinking skills, making them more engaged in public debates and more likely to participate in elections.

Spelling

Apparently some students might have trouble spelling ABC as schools move away from explicit instruction in spelling, perhaps driven by computers and their easy spell-checks.

Writes a literary expert J. Richard Gentry in Psychology Today: “America has moved to a toxic system for delivering spelling instruction in spite of an extensive and evolving body of research showing that direct and explicit spelling instruction is required for students to master the Mechanics of reading and writing.”

Sewing

Teaching sewing skills to girls has become passé, as gender roles have become less strictly defined.  Still, with six in 10 adults unable to sew well or at all, there might be a rationae for both sexes learning to mend tears, and sew on buttons.

“We have shifted away from the anachronistic view that girls should sew as an acquired life skill. Now we would say that boys or girls who want to go into textiles [need to learn certain skills] and we would try not to be gender specific,” says Julie Nugent, chief executive of the Design and Technology Association.

Math drills

Again, calculators, smartphones and personal computers are making serious math drills less common in schools. But many educators push against the idea of always letting machines do the thinking for us, and losing the chance to exercise our mental chops. The benefits of math drills just add up.

Tough gym classes

Chances are, kids’ memories of gym class today are much different than their parents’. In the 1960s there was a push towards high-intensity fitness regimens. Today kids are more likely to be given choices that let them avoid team sports and sweaty workouts. However, with childhood obesity and sedentary lifestyles at an early age becoming an issue, a return to gym-class tough love might be in order.

Look Back In Anger – And Nostalgia

The weirdest things formerly taught in schools

Part one:

In another day and age, girls in public school might be separated to learn sewing and cooking in home economics class, while boys went to shop class to learn carpentry and mechanics skills. Dead languages were taught to understand live ones. Learning how to take proper notes, develop neat handwriting, read sweep-hand clocks and how to actually spell words are among the other weird things formerly taught in schools.

Latin

Schools for the most part no longer veni, vidi, vici the classical languages, Latin and Ancient Greek. True, you can’t use them in your day-to-day conversation but their loss is also our loss. Studying Latin helps us better understand the grammar and vocabulary of other languages, such as English. And many professions have vocabulary steeped in Latin, including law and medicine.

Handwriting

In the era of keyboard, cursive writing classes are on the way out or gone at many schools.  But not all educators are happy about this.

There’s a myth that in the era of computers we don’t need handwriting. That’s not what our research is showing,” says a University of Washington professor who has co-authored studies on the topic and followed the same children every year for five years to track their development. “What we found was that children until about grade six were writing more words, writing faster and expressing more ideas if they could use handwriting—printing or cursive—than if they used the keyboard.”

Home economics

In times past, it was common for boys to take shop classes and for girls to do home economics, where they would learn to cook, fold sheets and so on, so they could become proficient homemakers. Well, presumptions about gender roles have changed and home economics is fast becoming a creaky relic of the past. That said, teaching both girls and boys practical life skills, like how to boil an egg or do their own laundry, might be a good thing.

Shop class

No, shop class wasn’t learning how to become a more proficient shopper. It taught, boys mostly, basic carpentry and mechanics skills. Liability issues, using machines that can lop off digits or ruin eyes, may be one reason that shop and the industrial arts are increasingly falling off the school map.

But a school in North Carolina makes the case: “Shop classes offer students with their hands. They let students test their inclinations toward possible careers in engineering, carpentry, or architecture.”

Typing

As with handwriting, typing is being whited out in schools, with the belief that kids today are born with keyboards in their hands and screens before their eyes. So, gone are the days where students have their fingers poised over typewriter keyboards, with the teacher intoning, “D-d-d, space.” However, even though self-taught youngsters may be reasonably proficient, they would have a great work advantage if they learned to keyboard at full speed.

Dewey Decimal System

The Dewey Decimal System, first introduced in the 1800s, is a numerical system used by libraries to classify their book holdings into subjects and subcategories. Kids needed to get lessons from librarians to learn how to use it, thumbing their way through card catalogues, so they could research school papers and other projects. With the internet, Dewey Decimal is now skipping class. Even librarians are questioning the need to teach it.

Dodgeball

Dodgeball used to be a standard gym class activity, with two teams lining up facing each other and then hurling balls at each other in a contest of elimination. Because some kids have better throwing arms—and accuracy—than others, injuries happened and now schools are increasingly banning the game.

Using slide rules

Before using calculators in math class, we had slide rules to make basic calculations, especially multiplication and division. The rulers, with a central sliding slip marked with logarithmic scales date back to the 17th century. They fell out of use in the 1970s when mass-produced pocket calculators became widely available. The last slide rule was manufactured on July 11, 1976.

Reading Analog Clocks

Elementary school students used to be taught that when the small hand was at three and the big hand at six that it was 3:30 and perhaps time to go home. A new generation raised on digital readouts, have trouble dealing with analog time-telling. So much so that some schools have actually removed analog clocks because mystified kids were turning up late for classes and exams.

Etiquette

Etiquette hasn’t been part of school curricula for a long time. However, some experts believe it would do kids good to get lessons in class to supplement what they are learning, or not learning, at home. How to do a proper handshake, tie a tie, and address your elders, are good things to know.

We’ll have some more nostalgia later.

Kindergarten Comedy

My Kindergarten students are learning to read.  Recently one of them pointed to a picture in a book and said, “Look, a frickin’ elephant.”
Taking a deep breath, I asked why he had called it that.
“Cuz it says so in the book.”
And so it does – African elephant.

***

My wife and I went into town and visited a shop. When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. We went up to him and I said, “Come on man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?”

He just ignored us and continued writing the ticket.

I called him an “a**hole.” He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn-out tires.

So my wife called him a “s*ithead.”

He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first.

Then he started writing more tickets. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote. He finally finished, sneered at us and walked away.

Just then our bus arrived, and we got on it and went home.

***

A young boy comes running down the street looking for a cop.

He finds one and then begs “Please, officer, come back to the bar with me, my father’s in a fight.”

Well, they get back to the bar and there’s three guys fighting like you wouldn’t believe.

After a while the cop turns to the kid and says “Okay, which one’s your father?”

The kid looks up at the cop and says, “I don’t know, officer, that’s what they’re fighting about.”

***

A Polish man walks into a store and asks to buy 2 pounds of Polish sausage. The guy behind the counter asks him if he is Polish. “I resent that…”. The Polish man says. “If I asked for chorizo, would you assume I was Mexican? If I asked for Bratwurst, would you assume I was German?” The guy behind the counter says “Nope, I’d still think you were Polish… This is a hardware store!!”

***

A new father and a nurse were filling out the paperwork for the birth of his new daughter.  “What’s the baby’s name?” she asked.
He replied, “Kelsey Noelle.”
Confused, the nurse asks, “How do you spell Kelsey, with no L??”

***

When I was young, I was poor.  Now, after long years of hard, honest work…. I am no longer young.

***

As I looked at my naked body in the mirror, I thought to myself, “I’m going to get tossed out of IKEA any minute now.

Brilliant Comedy

Albert Einstein was also recognized as the original absent-minded professor. One day, on board a train, he was unable to find his ticket. The conductor said, “Take it easy. You’ll find it.”

When the conductor returned, the professor still couldn’t find the ticket. The conductor, recognizing the famous scientist, said, “I’m sure you bought a ticket. Forget about it.”

“You’re very kind,” the professor said, “but I must find it, otherwise I won’t know where to get off.”

—–

I had just moved to an address between Sunrise Ave. and Sunset Blvd., one of Sacramento’s major streets, and was explaining to a clerk where my home was located for billing purposes.

“I live between Sunrise and Sunset,” I told her.

“Oh, Honey,” she knowingly replied, “we all do.”

—–

The Game Warden stopped a deer hunter and asked to see his hunting license.

“This is last year’s license,” the warden informed him.

“I know,” said the hunter, “but I shouldn’t need a new license. I am only shooting at the deer I missed last year.”

—–

A little girl, dressed in her Sunday best, was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for Bible class. As she ran she prayed, “Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late! Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late!”

As she was running and praying, she tripped on a curb and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again.

As she ran she once again began to pray, “Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late! …But don’t shove me either.”

***

My English teacher used to tell me that I would never be very good at poetry, because of my dyslexia.

Well, I recently made three jugs and a vase – so there!

***

Imagine the conundrum of an Atheist,, stuck at a green light, behind a car with a bumper sticker that says, “Honk if you love Jesus.”

***

You can get lawyers at IKEA now, but you have to build your own case.

***

A WEE Bit More Scottish Humor

John decided to go golfing in Scotland with his buddy, Keith, so they loaded up John’s minivan and headed north. After driving for a few hours, they got caught in a terrible blizzard, so they pulled into a nearby farm… …and asked the attractive lady who answered the door, if they could spend the night.

I realize it’s terrible weather out there and I have this huge house all to myself, but I’m recently widowed.” she explained. “And I’m afraid the neighbours will talk if I let you stay in my house.

Don’t worry.” John said. “We’ll be happy to sleep in the barn and if the weather breaks, we’ll be gone at first light.

The lady agreed, and the two men found their way to the barn and settled in for the night.

Come morning, the weather had cleared, and they got on their way and enjoyed a great weekend of golf.

But about nine months later, John got an unexpected letter from an attorney.

It took him a few minutes to figure it out, but he finally determined that it was from the attorney of that attractive widow he had met on the golf weekend.

He dropped in on his friend Keith and asked, “Keith, do you remember that good-looking widow from the farm we stayed at on our golf holiday in Scotland about 9 months ago?

Yes, I do.” said Keith.

Did you, er, happen to get up in the middle of the night, go up to the house and pay her a visit?

Well, um, yes!” Keith said, a little embarrassed about being found out, “I have to admit that I did.

And did you happen to give her my name instead of telling her your name?

Keith’s face turned beet red and he said, “Yeah, look, I’m sorry, buddy. I’m afraid I did. Why do you ask?”

John replied, “Well, she just died and left me everything.

Sailor Smart

Some people will not be educated, no matter how hard we try.

When I attended high school, each year’s English class required that all students read six non-curriculum books.  You could pick them.  They could be about anything, but to prove that you had read them, you were required to submit a Book Report on each one – remember those? – fondly??

To prevent nerds like me from submitting them all in September, rules stated that they had to be spaced out.  A lad a year older than me, from landlocked Ontario, Canada, decided that he wanted to join the Navy, so he didn’t need to read no stinkin’ books.  Nearing the end of the year, he had managed to submit only five; although I think that a couple of them were based on Classics Illustrated comic books (Remember those, too?) – so he invented one.

Possibly using a reference to Herman Melville’s book, Billy Budd – Sailor, he gave it the title Sailor Smart, supposedly printed by a known school-text publishing house – number of pages and a plot précis – the story of a landlocked, Midwest boy who wanted desperately to join the Navy.  I’d have been tempted to let him away with his ruse, just for demonstrating such creativity and inventiveness.  The tough old schoolmarm, who made Archie’s Miss Grundy look like a kindly nun, spent most of an instruction period excoriating him, and demanded a real book be read and report filed.

He must have succeeded.  He graduated Grade 12, moved to Halifax, joined the Navy, and was never seen again.  Reading for enjoyment seems to be a Yes or No proposition.  My Mother read!  My Father didn’t!  I’ve known many intelligent, successful people who won’t read a novel, even when they could spare the time.  I just can’t imagine me without a book…. Or three.

I have seen many reading challenge posts.  I recently ran into this one.

In 2021, choose 6 books that have titles that contain a:

  • One/1 (ex. One Second AfterThe 100)
  • Doubled word (ex. In a Dark, Dark WoodWolf by Wolf)
  • Reference to outer space (ex. The Fault in Our Stars)
  • Possessive noun (ex. The Zookeeper’s Wife)
  • Botanical word (ex. The Language of FlowersThe Sandalwood Tree)
  • Article of clothing (ex. Bossypants)

The writer had read 12 books in a year, for a Goodreads challenge, but had read them all in the month of January, and then added 30 more by the end of the year.  I don’t understand the point of such challenges.  It can’t be to get people to read, because those who accept, already read – usually, a lot.  It doesn’t seem to be to get readers to read outside their preferred genre sphere, because you could pick books to satisfy all these requirements – in Romance, Sci-Fi, action/adventure, murder mystery, religion or political science.

In 2020 I read almost 40 books, from all the above varieties except Romance.  I checked them against this artificially concocted list, and found that I only had a match in (Maybe) three of the six categories.  No ‘ones’ or 1’s.  No doubled words.  Outer space came with Space Vikings, Star Rangers, Star Soldiers, and When The Star Kings Die – although both of The Expanse series, Babylon’s Ashes and Nemesis Games occur in outer space, but their titles don’t indicate that.

Possessive nouns returned with Babylon’s Ashes in hand.  The mystery Kevin: Murder Beneath the Pines provided the only botanical reference.  The requirement for an article of clothing might be satisfied, if you consider a gold watch to be clothing.

I refuse to obtain books just to satisfy some synthetic list.  I read what I find, that interests me, and Damn the Book Titles!  Full speed ahead!  How about you?  Would you buy/read just to check off some list??!

Comedy Conversion Therapy

Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company.  One day the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish priest and asked, ‘Father, my dog is dead.  Could ya’ be sayin’ a mass for the poor creature?’

Father Patrick replied, ‘I’m afraid not; we cannot have services for an animal in the church.  But there are some Baptists down the lane, and there’s no tellin’ what they believe.  Maybe they’ll do something for the creature.’

Muldoon said, ‘I’ll go right away Father.  Do ya’ think £5,000 is enough to donate to them for the service?’

Father Patrick exclaimed, ‘Sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus!  Why didn’t ya tell me the dog was Catholic?

***

“Mommy, my turtle is dead,” little Freddie sorrowfully told his mother, holding the turtle out to her.

The mother kissed him on the head, then said, “That’s all right.  We’ll wrap him in tissue paper, put him in a little box, and then have a nice burial ceremony in the back yard.  After that, we’ll go out for an ice cream soda, and then get you a new pet.  I don’t want you….” Her voice trailed off as she noticed the turtle move.
“Freddie, your turtle is not dead after all.”
“Oh,” the disappointed boy said. “Can I kill it?”

***

A man kills a deer and takes it home to cook for dinner.
Both he and his wife decide that they won’t tell the kids what kind of meat it is, but will give them a clue and let them guess.
The dad said, “Well it’s what Mommy calls me sometimes.”
The little girl screamed to her brother, “Don’t eat it.  It’s an asshole!”

***

Teacher: “Kids, what does the chicken give you?”
Student: “Wings!”
Teacher: “Very good! Now what does the pig give you?”
Student: “Bacon!”
Teacher: “Great! And what does the fat cow give you?”
Student: “Homework!”

***

A little boy was swearing at birds that were eating the seeds he had just planted.  The minister hears this and goes over to the little boy.  “My son, there is no need to use the F word to chase the birds away.  Just say ‘shoo away birds’ and they will fuck off by themselves”

***

An explorer walked into a clearing and was surprised to see a pigmy standing beside a huge dead elephant.  “Did you kill that?” he asked.
The pigmy answered: “Yes”.
“How could a little bloke like you kill something as huge as that?”
“I killed it with my club” replied the pigmy.
“That’s amazing,” said the explorer.  “How big’s your club?”
The pigmy replied: “There’s about 150 of us”

Texas Hold-Em Joker

A blind man visits Texas. When he gets to his hotel room, he feels the bed. “Wow, this bed is big!”

“Everything is big in Texas,” says the bellhop.

The man heads downstairs to the bar, settles into a huge barstool and orders a beer. A mug is placed between his hands. “Wow these drinks are big!”

The bartender replies, “Everything is big in Texas.”

After downing a few, the blind man asks where the bathroom is. “Second door to the right,” says the bartender.

The blind man heads for the bathroom but accidentally enters the third door, which leads to the swimming pool, and he falls in. Popping his head up from under the water and flailing his arms, he shouts, “Don’t flush, don’t flush!”

***

The math teacher asked the class, “If I have three bottles in one hand, and two in the other, what do I have?”
A student replied, “A drinking problem.”

***

Eat whatever you like because

The inventor of the treadmill died at the age of 54
The inventor of gymnastics died at the age of 57
The world bodybuilding champion died at the age of 41
The best footballer in the world, Maradona, died at the age of 60
And then..
KFC inventor died at 94
The inventor of the Nutella brand died at the age of 88
Cigarette maker Winston died at the age of 102
The inventor of opium died at the age of 116 in an earthquake
Hennessy inventor died at 98
The inventors of Afghani food (Qabeli, Manto and Chapli Kebab) are still alive.
How did these doctors come to the conclusion that exercise prolongs life?
The rabbit is always hopping but it lives for 2 years and the turtle that doesn’t exercise at all lives 400 years.

So,  Rest,  Chill,  Stay cool, eat, drink and enjoy life…

***

This is Rowan, our Wee Bean. The only other person that I personally know named Rowan, is Rowan Atkinson, who played Mister Bean.

Rowan is the official name of the Mountain Ash tree, sacred and respected by Wiccans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two weeks after they had photos taken of our new great-grandchild, his new Mom returned to the studio to view the pictures on a colour monitor. The photographer started describing the merits of each photo, but as he went through the set, he rattled off his sales pitch so quickly that she couldn’t get a word in.

Finally, after she’d seen all 20 poses, he asked her which ones she was most interested in.

“None,” she replied. “This isn’t my child.”

***

A guy walks into a dentist’s office and says, “I think I’m a moth.”
The dentist replies, “You shouldn’t be here. You should be seeing a psychiatrist…”
The guys replies, “I am seeing a psychiatrist.”
The dentist says, “Well then what are you doing here?”
And the guy says, “Your light was on.”

***

With the rise of self-driving vehicles, it’s only a matter of time until there’s a country song about some guy’s truck leaving him.

***

Sitting in a recliner, naked, watching a movie, eating ice cream and Doritos, just minding my business….
And Wal-Mart calls the police.

WOW #69

I never want new words to be created for the English language by burger-flippers and stoners – but that always seems to be the case.  If they can’t handle the real stuff, they just make it up as they go along.  Bart Simpson has always been an underachiever, and proud of it.  Even he and his motley crew (not Mötley Crüe) of cartoon compadres have spit out a couple of neologisms new words.
Today’s case in point

CROMULENT

WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF CROMULENT?

Cromulent, “acceptable, legitimate,” was first used in an episode of The Simpsons in 1996. When Edna Krabappel, the fourth-grade teacher, remarks, “’Embiggens’? Hm, I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield,” Elizabeth Hoover, the second-grade teacher, answers, “I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.” Cromulent began as a facetious formation of an arbitrary “root” crom– and the English adjective suffix –ulent (from Latin –ulentus “full of”). Cromulent began as a facetious formation but is now at the brink of “cromulence,” as happened earlier with Lewis Carroll’s chortle, frabjous, and galumph.

While we’re blaming strange words on The Simpsons, there’s that word

EMBIGGEN

Verb (used with or without object) InformalOften Facetious.

to make or become bigger:
You can spot my sister if you
embiggen the photo.

ORIGIN OF EMBIGGEN

First recorded in 1880–85 as an example of a barbarism; made popular in 1996 in an episode of the TV show The Simpsons.

Even when they’re wrong – they’re right.  Who knew??!  Word is, there’ll be some good stuff here on Monday.  It would be perfectly cromulent if you showed up.  I want to embiggen my readership, to keep up with Brat Simpleton.  😀

Pooling My One-Liners

Hear about the snowman who had a big temper-tantrum?….
….It was a real meltdown

I was going to make an anti-masker joke….
….But my parents taught me not to make fun of the mentally disabled.

Why was the anti-vaxxer’s four-year-old crying?….
….Midlife crisis

How do we know that the Corona virus wasn’t made in China?….
….Because we’ve had it for almost a year, and it’s still working.

The spread of COVID depends on two things….
….How dense the population is.
….How dense the population is.

What sound do sheep make?….
….If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.

I have a few jokes about unemployed people….
….But none of them work

My teachers told me I’d never amount to much because I procrastinate….
….I said, “Just you wait.”

Will glass coffins be a success?….
….Remains to be seen

The guy who survived both mustard gas and pepper spray….
….Is a seasoned veteran now.

I can tell people who are judgemental….
….Just by looking at them

A backward poet….
….Writes inverse

C, E Flat, And G walk into a bar….
….The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve Minors.”

The constipated mathematician….
….Worked it out with a pencil.

I know the voices aren’t real….
….But they come up with some great ideas.

My name is Microsoft….
….Can I crash at your place tonight?

Man gets hit by rented car….
….Said it Hertz

Cosmetic surgery used to be such a taboo subject….
….Now you can talk about Botox, and nobody raises an eyebrow.

I called my specialist to make an appointment….
….His receptionist answered, “Urology, can you please hold?”

I’m so cheap that, when I die, and go toward the light….
….I’m going to turn it off

As I suspected, someone has been adding soil to my garden….
….The plot thickens.

My ‘good old days’….
….Were when I wasn’t good, and I wasn’t old.

My friend claims he can throw a stick 5 miles and his dog will retrieve it….
….I think that’s a bit far-fetched.

The first annual meeting of the Camouflage Club was a disaster….
….It looks like no-one showed up.

Venison for dinner again?….
….Oh deer.

A cartoonist was found dead in his home….
….Details are sketchy

A man tells his doctor, “Doc, help me. I’m addicted to Twitter!”….
…. The doctor replies, “Sorry, I don’t follow you…”

A dentist and a manicurist got married….
….They fought tooth and nail.

A will is….
….a dead giveaway.