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Sunday, 29 September 2002

I'm a big liar. My mom was doing terribly today. she spent an hour petting Christi and trying to say "nice doggie."

Everytime I start Internet Explorer, my system preferences are set so that it is my default browser, even though I keep telling I want OmniWeb as my default. And it keeps changing the homepage back to that terrible netscape.com home page for apple users. I hate that page. I like OmniWeb. Something is amiss.

I've been dividing the world into two groups, crazy and not-crazy. Toay I spent time with people who are definitely not-crazy. They're boring. Maybe the world should be divided into crazy and boring. I'd rather be crazy than boring, although there's a lot to be said for being functional.

there's nothing like hanging out with people you went to highschool with to remind you why you hated highschool. Or you could just read the front page San Jose Mercury News coverage of it. Since I graduated eight years ago, three of the teachers who were there while I was there were dismissed for sexual-harrassment related complaints. And that's just the ones I know about. My sophomore religion teacher was suddenly fired. The rumor mill said sexual harassment. At least it wasn't in the paper. Then a few months ago, my freshman english teacher was arrested for alledgedly fondling a student. Now last week, the volleyball coach, who I never had as a teacher is front-page news. Apparently, he commented on student's breast sizes, among his other offenses. I wish I could say that it's not something I could see coming out of a male teacher's mouth.

Saint Francis HS used to be two schools, Holy Cross Girl's HighSchool and Saint Francis Boys. Then they decided to merge the new schools. they sold off the girls school, got rid of the school's identity and fired all the nuns. the boys school legacy is very much stll present at SF. The school's chief rival is still an all-boys school. SF lives and dies by sports and rivalries are extremely important. It shows how much girls athletics mattetred when the glaring abscence of a rivalry is pronounced. Still, apparently they mattered enough to force players with stress-fractures to play anyway. My classes were full of people with shin-splints that were playing through them.

My classes also often had clueless male teachers. SF is a private school, so accreditation is not required. A cultural legacy lingers from the all-boys days and sports are very important, which means a permissive attitude towards misbeahving jocks - especially botys. Add this to a conservative Catholic philosophy and you've got trouble. My sophmore english teacher told my class that it was impossible to graduate from Bellarmine (the boys school who was our sports rival) without being homophobic. He also told us that his cousin's friend's roomate (or some other doubtful chain of people) knew the doctor who removed a gerbil from Richard Gere's butt. My freshman religion teacher, who was also a football coach and may have not been an accreditted teacher, tolf my class that god destroyed soddom and Gemorrah to kill the faires and fags. Yet another religion teacher spoke about aging his sperm properly to get his wife pregnant. He explained that you can't have sex every day, you need to make sure your sperm is mature. He, a white married guy, also claimed to understand discrimination because once somebody on a bus spit on him and called him a faggot.

I wish I could say I remeber a specific sexist comment where a teacher said something about a girl, but I can't. One of the issues was the dress code. Girls had to wear skirts that reacheed their knees. Quite often, girls would wear skirts that did not fully comply with this requirement. This created an atmosphere where the length of girls' skirts were fair game. Teachers would talk about girls in short skirts. They would be on the lookout for dress code violations. We heard rumors of a ritual where girls with skirts that might not be long enough would be asked to kneel to see if their hem touched the floor.

Jokes were made about this. Clearly it's impossible to learn in an enviroment where your skirt is an inch too short. I think it's possible that this issue contributed to an enviroment where male teachers felt it their right and duty to remark upon girls skirts and thus their physical attributes in general. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. Certainly the problem I was preoccupied with was homophobia. I do have some stories about substitutes.

My sophomore biology teacher was out sick and a substitute who knew nothing about biology was there. He was showing us slides of the Black Forrest from his vacation in Germany. At some point, he stood behind the most attractive girl in the class and started rubbing her shoulders. She stood, whirled around, and said firmly, "Do not put your hands on me!" Then when class let out, she went to the principal's office and the substitute was promtly sent packing. another time, I had a religion sub who spent most of his time working for Catholic charities. He worked with AIDS aptients. He knew that the highschool had problems with homophobia, so he instructed us not to hate or fear gay people, instead they deserve our sympathy. I remember arguing angrily with him.

The last noteworthy substitute was a borther with the order that ran my highschool. He was just visitting the area and helping substitute. Normally, he taught at our sister school in Columbia. He was probably also a religion substitute. He told us about how in that city there were two Catholic schools. both were free, but one was for poor students and the other, our sister school, was for rich students. He also described how both schools aided the government in helping uncover leftist students and turning them in if they were abscent because of political work. I stopped paying attnetion tohim at some point because I was doign homework for another class and because I was going to argue with him. It was unsurprising to learn that my highschool was partnered with crimes against humanity.

the moral of this story is that religion classes are at best a joke and at worst a scarring experience. the other moral is to avoid schools which have strong sports programs unless you are in dire need of an athletic scholarship. the third is to beward of conservative Catholics and remeber that it's not just priests who should be kept away from teensagers. Any male catholic may have problems with authority over youth.

this reminds me of my old youth group leader, but I'll save that slander for a later time.

In fairness, I should relate a story told by my senior honors english teacher. He had an open-door policy where students could always come to him. Well, one time a girl came to him and said her father (or some adult male in her family) was abusing her. The teacher aided her in reporting this to the authorities and ended up participating in the trial against the abuser. The lawyer for the abuser suggested that because the teacher and the student were alone togther, the teacher had abused the student. What saved the teacher from this charge against him was his habit of always opeining his blinds when he was in the room with someone. So when she came in to talk to him, he opened the blinds. So he couldn't have abused her with people walking right outside. Anyway she said he didn't. So teachers from my high school have been unjustly accused. My senior English teacher was actually an intelligent guy and a goos teacher. But so was my freshman english teacher, who went to jail. I just hope that harassment and abuse was the exception and not the norm. I wonder who else will be arrested, fired suddenly or the subject of front page news.

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