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January 12th, 2003

a light sleet

Outside I hear little crackling sounds, because a light, almost-a-drizzle, sleet is falling. The weather will be too warm for any to stick, and the sound is quite pleasant. The weather last night suggested that we might get flurries of snow featuring huge snowflakes. I hope so; I love it when the snowflakes are big, individual spectator sports.

We spend in the Dallas area perhaps a day or two a winter under snow, and perhaps up to another three days dealing with sleet or freezing rain. When I was a kid, we got snow up in south Arkansas only slightly more often. We had a sled, but it got routinely only a day or two of use each winter. I used to love getting up on a snowy morning, listening to the radio as all the rural schools closed (and in those days, it seemed as though every hamlet of any size had its own school), waiting to see if our "larger" school (my town had a booming 2,000 citizens) would close. In those pre-acid-rain days, we made snow ice cream during our few days of snow.

Yesterday after a very long day of work with an attorney with whom I am co-counsel on an upcoming trial, I stopped by the Spring Creek Trail in Richardson. The sidewalk path through the deep creek bottom woods there appeals to me; if I have a complaint about the topography here, it would be too little deep woods.
It was quite cold, perhaps 40 degrees, but a great deal of the underbrush was green from the recent warm weather. Winter here is relatively stress free; by the end of February, we will be getting our first truly warm days, on an intermittent basis with cold days.
I loved the sound of birdsong in the woods. I keep saying to myself that I should learn bird identification better, but it's an odd thing--saying something does not make it so.

We went to dinner with my brother and his two boys (his wife was a bit under the weather) at the Texas Land and Cattle Company. The "smoked steaks" were quite good, really. We were "celebrating" favorable report cards for both boys, which made for a fun time.
My younger nephew, almost 10, is taking up chess, so he showed me his new ChessMaster 9000 software. I have not had a ChessMaster program since ChessMaster 2100 or so, so it was fun to see how the program has evolved. The game now features an array of "computer opponents", each with his/her/its own "rating", own strategic approach, and even a little icon picture. I whipped a 1582 faux player, but had to settle for a draw due to time trouble. I was impressed that my nephew, who was at Thanksgiving just above a beginner, is now able to "take down" 1050 faux players. He may prove to have real talent.

I think it's much harder to be a kid than it was when I was a kid.
School is certainly more challenging than my schools were. We barely had homework at all until 9th grade or so. Although our school days did involve integration of schools (after way too much segregation and way too much foot dragging in complying with court orders), in general, we did not have all that much tension, whether academic, personal, or otherwise. My nephews both attend the local "excellent" public school system, and they are worked to the bone and involved in doing things I never had to do (and still couln't do to this day).

But I wonder if they do not have advantages, too. Although their schools are demanding and challenging, the assumption is that virtually everyone in their class will go on to get college or vocational training. In one of the little towns I grew up in, the assumption was that most people would work at the plywood mill.
Many collegians went to college to become school teachers, so that they could move back to their home town and teach school where they grew up.

I'm happy enough with my life, but what would it have been like to get an education in education, and move home to teach history to people in a tiny little town?

The Dry Look