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Happy Independence Day!

Welcome to the 4th of July were the U.S.A. celebrates it’s independence from the tyranny of the United Kingdom with a Chinese tradition — fireworks. It’s also the one day of the year where you can have an open beer in your hand before noon and no one looks at you funny. Many of you will be going down to Crissy Field or Fisherman’s Wharf with the thousands of others to be crowded together to watch the fun. I will not.

I did the Crissy Field thing once and while it was fun there were too many people drinking too much to get in a portapotty to give back the beer and afterwards the drive out was so slow that I have to say I have never seen so many people jumping out of their cars and running off to the side of the road to pee. Nope, I’m not going to drive through a river of hot urine just watch some fireworks. There’s plenty of other places to see them minus the urine and drunkards.

The first thing is you need to get high. No I’m not talking about smoking pot, but get as high up in the air as you can. Twin Peaks is a good place as you can see Crissy Field as well as Oakland and Union City’s shows. This place does get a little crowded though so get there early. Oddly enough on a warmish day like today when you go up there at night the heat of the day rises so be prepared to have shorts and tank top handy as San Francisco radiates back all the heat of the day.

Grandview Park is another good place in the Inner Sunset and you only have to walk partly up the steps to see it. This was our usual place, but tonight I think I’m going to try the Northwest corner of the Sunset Reservoir. I’ve heard lots of people recommend it and it’s closer to my house. The parking in all these other places is much easier to get in and out of and they’re also nice if you have kids that are scared by the loud banging.

Fisherman’s Wharf I did one year which is a good place if you want to get closer without being boxed in at Crissy Field. You can even hop on the Metro and enjoy the fireworks from the Embarcadero and if you’re quick you can hop back on to before the rest of the crowd does.

If you want an alternative fireworks festival go down to Ocean Beach. The outer Sunset and Richmond district seem to have a number of pyrophiliacs and while not as big as the Crissy field show there are still some pretty big rockets going up in the air out here. I do remember one year there was an older Chinese man with his granddaughter set up at the school yard of A. P. Gianinni Junior High that was sending up some definitely not safe and sane stuff that was pretty impressive. He was there for over an hour. Local schoolyards seem to be a hit or miss attraction for people. The police generally leave you alone there unless you’re tossing M-80’s around because there isn’t too much to burn on the asphalt play areas. The good old days of driving to Daly City to buy your own fireworks are pretty much gone. I’m not sure if Pacifica is still selling the old Red Devil fireworks of my youth, but at least I’ve given you a few ways to see something tonight while you’re eating your burgers and slugging down too many beers.

Sometimes Teacher’s Have To Strike

Members of United Educators of San Francisco on the march

The following is an article I was forwarded about the SFUSD Teachers that are planning a strike. Most of the news seems to focus on teachers wanting a pay increase, but aren’t looking at the full effects of what will happen. I have bolded and italicized a particular section because as many of you know my autistic daughter is in a SDC or Special Day Class. When she started there were only about 8 kids in the class [this was for pre-school] when she starts kindergarten in the fall there will be 12 kids in the class. The increases they want are unthinkable for special needs kids let alone non-special needs kids.

My daughter’s current pre-school teacher had her students raised to 12 this year and it was maddening for her at times. She did not have enough materials or aides to help her out and was only given a funding of $5/student for the entire school year. I am reposting this because sometimes teachers need to put their foot down. These aren’t teachers in the six figure range, but teachers who are lucky to get $50k/year and they’re investing their own money in purchasing school supplies because the SFUSD isn’t providing them enough to use to teach their classes.

Why I’m voting to strike

David Russitano, a member of United Educators of San Francisco and Educators for a Democratic Union, explains why he plans to vote for a teachers’ strike.

May 10, 2012

Members of United Educators of San Francisco on the march

UNITED EDUCATORS of San Francisco (UESF) is mobilizing for the first of two strike votes on May 10. The union was pushed to organize a membership meeting because of a massive assault on educators and public schools.

The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) opened contract negotiations by sending out over 500 layoff notices. It tried to split the union by attacking seniority, and then proceeded to demand even larger concessions by, for example, asking to raise class size in K-3 from 22 to 25 stuents.

We already rank highest in the number of K-12 students per teacher, with an estimated 20.5 students per teacher–the rest of the country averages 13.8, according to the California Budget Project. This will make things worse for students and educators trying to work in an already underfunded system.

Not content with raising class size in the early primary grades, SFUSD is also proposing to increase special day class limits from 12 to 17. Special day classes serve students who, because of a disability, can’t function in a standard classroom.

They also want to remove many of the protections for special education teachers to get help from the principal in case of an emergency and limit the ability of regular classroom teachers to give input about students with high needs. Finally, the district wishes to remove the teacher position from a committee that makes decisions about special education.

As Matt Bello, a special day class teacher, noted, “The district is trying to convince us that the proposed special education reforms will be a step forward. How could increased caseloads and class sizes along with the removal of teacher input in district decision making be looked at as progress?”

SFUSD is also asking educators to cover the same material in fewer days by proposing eight furlough days over the next two years if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure passes. If the tax measure doesn’t pass, they want to increase that number to 18 furlough days.

For early childhood education centers, the attack is even more brutal. Regardless of what happens in November’s’ election, 27 days are to be cut from each year. Students at their youngest will be denied some of the basic educational foundations that could help make them successful and ready for kindergarten.

In addition to affecting students, these cuts will bring a huge cost to educators. For paraprofessionals, in particular, the cuts to early childhood education will cost thousands of dollars and take away valuable jobs during the summer when paraprofessionals are unemployed.

Further, the district is going to unilaterally change all of the paraprofessional hours to standardize them at 5.5 hours each day. This is disastrous, as right now, they don’t make a living wage. It means that many will have to give up their second job, while many will also have to scale back their hours. Even worse, these decisions won’t be based on fulfilling students’ needs at a particular school, but rather to meet an arbitrary time requirement.

As Robin Horne, a paraprofessional at Marina Middle School, summed up:

The attacks on paraprofessionals will be devastating to us. We barely make enough money to survive in this city, and we are unemployed during the summer. Many of us are also losing hours, which is a partial layoff. Others will be forced to take on more hours, which will prevent some from holding down a second job. Still other paraprofessionals will be losing their jobs outright.

Paraprofessionals often have a stronger connection to working class communities in San Francisco than teachers, as they are more likely to be San Francisco natives from working class areas in this city. Losing these people will not only be devastating for them, but will also be an attack on working people in San Francisco in general.

Financially, we are looking at a cut in compensation of $10,391 for certificated staff (teachers, psychologists, social workers, nurses and counselors) and up to $3,206 for classified staff (special education assistants, instructional aides, community relations). Substitutes will lose up to $6,983. Those hit the hardest will be early education teachers, who stand to lose $16,307 in compensation.

By any standard, this is the largest attack on our union in the last 20 years. It’s clear that the district is making a major push toward school “reform” at the expense of teachers, students, and communities these schools serve.

To accomplish its goals, SFUSD will stoop to any level, pitting educators against each other by using social justice language as they did around seniority. They are willing to break the law by throwing out whole sections of the contract around special education. It is obvious that they are also going to sidestep collective bargaining, because on May 3, the SFUSD declared an impasse, moving one step closer to imposing these cuts unilaterally.

The district feels confident about pushing its agenda now partially because the union has given into concessions before. Two years ago, UESF took a contract that gave back $39 million during the deepest point of the economic crisis. Most of the money came from eight furlough days and layoffs.

Unfortunately, the union has shown that it is more than willing to share the sacrifice during a recession. However, the district now has enough in reserve to save people’s jobs. It isn’t a question of money; now, it’s a question of will and intention.

To fight against cuts, UESF has taken halting steps towards organizing the membership. It was clear from the start of bargaining that the district was going after a lot. Yet the current leadership hesitated for months in calling for a strike vote.

They continued to rely on their “skills” at the negotiation table to try to beat back the attack long after it became clear that SFUSD was not giving in. The membership was asked to trust that the bargaining team was doing the right thing and to wait until our activity was needed.

Unfortunately, our union leadership seems to be more afraid of active membership than SFUSD. For two months, at each bargaining session, UESF was asked for more and more. Yet the leadership was unclear about organizing for a strike vote until after the April 24 bargaining session.

Now that they are backed into a corner, they finally organized a strike vote for May 10. They are scrambling to make the membership meeting successful–we must have at least 900 people at it for a quorum. We have lost valuable time in preparations.

Why There Will Never Be A Straight Pride Day

The city of San Francisco had a fabulous weekend of marches and parades. There was the transexual march on Saturday along with the Dykes on Bikes drive from Dolores Park and of course the Gay Pride Parade. The city this weekend was FAB-U-LOUS! This brought a thought to my mind. Why is there no Straight Pride Parade?

Several years ago on a mailing list of people I went to high school with there a couple of somewhat homophobic people who protested that homosexuals shouldn’t have a day to celebrate. This was hit with a gay friend of mine saying that heteros get to celebrate every day. Hmmmm, not exactly was my first thought. about the only way heteros get to celebrate is by the guys going to a strip club and dropping money on girls who take their clothes off and simulate girl on girl activities, oh wait that’s straight guys watching mock lesbians. Wait, we see that at the gay pride events every year, it’s just that the guys aren’t paying.

Well, the  straight guys could all collect themselves on a float with their penii hanging out pointing at them and screaming, for women only! but you have to admit a bunch of guys standing together on a float with their penii hanging out looks a little, well, gay. Women could collect half naked on a float writhing around at which point the guys would be screaming once again for girl/girl action which of course would put them in the lesbian category.

The whole pride thing started out to celebrate the fact that there’s nothing wrong with being homosexual, then the bisexuals were added in, then the transgenders hopped aboard which some of them while being once male or female have switched sex might now be attracted to the opposite of their new sexual orientation making them technically straight, or if they are attracted to the same as their new sex would make them gay, but since they were once the opposite sex makes them kind of straight, so…did I loose anyone here?

Pride day, which has turned into pride month pretty much celebrates an act against normalcy. Normalcy is something you can’t celebrate because it’s, well, kind of boring. We don’t even have a good line we could chant in a parade. We’re here we’re straight we pay our bills, uhm, you know we’re normal doesn’t go over too well. Celebrations need a bit of antinomianism to them to be fun. You’ve got to do something a bit naughty to enjoy yourself. Normal people aren’t very naughty. Our former Governor cheats on his wife and has a love child BOR-ING. That is so 10 minutes ago it’s not even in the local papers anymore. The only way a politician can get more publicity is by soliciting a homosexual encounter in an airport bathroom or by sexting pictures of what might be his engorged penis to underaged girls [that’s straight, but wrong right?]

I did a search this morning for straight pride and was surprised by what it turned up. Most of the small group of people who celebrate straight pride do so by speaking out that homosexuality is an abomination of nature. OK, so if everyone was heterosexual you’d have nothing to speak up about. Well, that’s a definite party buzz kill. I couldn’t find anything that these groups could put a finger on to give them something to celebrate for being straight.

So with that being said, I wish all my non-breeder, non-Mormon, non-no sex having people my hopes that you had a wonderful weekend. Now I’m off to iTunes to gift I kissed a girl by Katy Perry to Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. Be Fab-U-Lous everyone.

 

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This site closed in honor of the Rapture

THANK YOU FOR COMING AND HAVE A NICE DAY.

HOURS WILL RESUME AT REGULARLY SCHEDULED TIME TOMORROW FOR THOSE NOT ASCENDED TO HEAVEN

Keep Your Goddamn Apocalypse Away From My Kids

BETH BOYLE MACHLAN

I’m back. And I’m pissed.

If you live in New York, you’ve probably seen the signs on the subway for a food delivery service that promises to bring you anything, at any time. If you want sushi, they will fetch it for you, even if they have to go to the ocean to do so. In fact, the advertisement shows a cartoon man chasing down a cartoon fish; the fish, seemingly aware of his fate, has a thought bubble above his head that reads “Shit!” Or rather, it says “S*#t,” because I guess they figured the actual word might offend people — probably parents with children who otherwise might gliby shout “Shit!” all the way home, because the subway sign said so.

So my question to the people in charge of subway advertising is this: do you really think I’m more disturbed by the chance that my kid might say “shit,” or the fact that my kids have had the shit scared out of them by posters advertising the apocalypse? Do we really live in a city where it’s ok to terrify young kids, as long as they don’t express their terror using a PG-rated word?

It boggles my mind that, as a nation, our support for free speech completely outweighs our acceptance of freedom. We are more concerned about our kids being exposed to bare boobs and cigarettes than we are about assholes telling them that they’re going to die tomorrow. We grown-ups can make all the funnies about post-rapture looting and job openings that we want to, but I bet many children will be lying awake tonight, wondering if there will be school on Monday, or if they’ll perish in flames. (Do the schools close for hellfire, or just snow? What about alternate-side parking? UPDATE: We have an answeron that one!)

It makes me bananas that people in positions of power believe that gay people and single mothers are detrimental to the welfare of children, but evangelical lunatics with fat advertising budgets are permitted to spout terrifying jargon for everyone to see. Yes, I can and have explained to my children that this isn’t actually going to happen. I can also tell them not to smoke, but apparently the city doesn’t trust me to do that. Which is harder to explain, “Don’t smoke because it can cause cancer” (FACT), or “Don’t be afraid of the world ending, because it won’t; these people are crazy and wrong; just trust me” (COMPLEX CONCEPTUAL FACT I CAN’T ACTUALLY PROVE FOR 48 MORE HOURS)?

Another fact? Kids are afraid of death. They worry about losing a parent, losing a pet, and eventually, inexplicably, losing themselves. Usually, circumstances permitting, parents can mitigate these fears. But it’s a hell of a lot harder to do so when they have to spend half an hour on the F train staring at a sign about a world-ending earthquake. I’d rather sit across from a sign that said “FUCK!” in big block letters. But who’s gonna hang up a sign like that? IT’S OFFENSIVE!

Sex is not scary. Gay people are not scary. Bad words are not scary. An announcement that the earth will soon be consumed in flames? That’s scary. And my kids and I shouldn’t have to pay $2.50 apiece to look at it.

 

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Valentine’s Day: San Francisco

I am lucky that my wife never even looks at this site and couldn’t even tell me what color it is if her life depended on it, so I’ll share this with you instead.

I never liked Valentine’s Day very much because I always felt guys are on the short end of the stick. It’s all about what you’re buying for your girlfriend/wife. I suppose it’s slightly different in the gay community, but not being gay I don’t know for sure.

I never get even a card on Valentine’s day, but I’m usually expected to “put out” something along the lines of chocolate and sweets or jewelry. Well, I’m lucky. I didn’t marry that kind of girl. When we go out to dinner we don’t like to sit and languish for hours and hours. She’s a simple girl and that’s why she’s put up with me for over 14 years.

[mappress mapid=”33″]So I’m going to do something different today. Today I’m going to take my wife to a special place on Union Street called American Cupcake for lunch. This is a place that isn’t just a bakery shop, but more of a café that specializes in cupcakes. They’ve done so well that they’ve been featured on the Food Network or the Cooking Channel [I can’t keep the two straight anymore]. They have lots to offer outside of their sweet menu which is their cupcakes. They also offer a savory menu which is what you’ll want to get for lunch or dinner unless you like to eat cupcakes for those two meals.

They also have a PBJ assortment to offer as well as beer and wine based cocktails. All of their goodies are organic and sustainably farmed so the eco-geek in you will be kept very happy. I suggest you check them out and see what you think.