Saturday, March 26, 2016

Our Culture, Our Poetry

While talking with some programmers this week I exclaimed, "Excelsior!"  It dawned on me that my own son might not know the meaning of this expression.  I used it in the fashion described in the Urban dictionarya phrase often shouted after successfully completing a mission.  According to Your Dictionary, it means higher; always upward: used as a motto (as on the New York State seal).  The word comes from a Latin root that means "higher."

Common expressions are part of the social infrastructure we call American culture.  I learned the term from a poem that I had read in my youth:  Excelsior by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  You can read it here at the Poetry Foundation.  I actually got a copy of a book of poetry for my son, A Treasury of Golden Memories by Kenneth Giniger.  This book has a lot of classic poems, like Excelsior, that were taught to me when I grew up, but which have been abandoned by today's teachers.  It is important to pass along our heritage, our culture, to our children.  If you are like me, we are busy.  It is so hard to juggle all our responsibilities and then find time to oversee our children's education.  But it is important to pass on down to our children those poems that are part of our culture.

Years ago I read  Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch Jr.  The author recounted how his father would only need to say, "There is a tide!" to convey the need to act.  The quote is Brutus speaking to Cassius in the play Julius Caesar (Act 4, scene 3) by William Shakespeare.

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

American culture is part of what has made America great.  If we lose our culture, we will lose our greatness.  Bombers and armies project power, but greatness lies within the heart!


Friday, March 11, 2016

Dad, They Towed My Car!

One day I got a phone call at work:  "Dad, they towed my car!"  My son parked in teacher parking at his high school and thought he would get a warning if he got caught.  It does not work that way.  The student handbook specifically says that no warnings are issued.  Put yourself in my shoes.  How do I get the car back?  Where is it?  I call the Plano Police department and learn that the tow company working my son's school is Signature Towing, 1204 Municipal Ave, Plano, with a phone number of 972-423-4010. So I call and confirm his car is in their possession.  I had to ask my son what the license plate number was because that is how they track the towed cars.  He knew the license plate number, fortunately, because I did not.

Getting a car back from the towing company is tricky.  Image you have given your child a card with the name, address, and phone number of the tow company.  Your child's car is towed and he goes there with cash to get the car back.  Well, that won't work.  The car title is in your name, not your child's name and they do not take cash.  The owner of the car needs to show up with proof of ID and pay with a credit card.  Perhaps the tow company will release the car if your child has a car insurance card that has his name on the card along with the VIN for the vehicle, but your child still needs a credit card to pay the tow company.  Be prepared to drive to the towing company to retrieve your child's car, and be warned that towing is not cheap!

I do not know if Signature Towing works all the high schools or just my son's.  It seems to me a good idea to coach your child  on how towing works in the schools if your child drives.  The lessons are (1) there is no warning ticket, (2) you or your child must know the license plate number, (3) it is not the teachers who call the tow company, (4) the police prowl the school parking lots and call the tow company if they find a car that can be towed, and (5) the tow truck will be there very quickly.  Perhaps the tow truck is even following the police!  One of my daughter's friends told me she parked in teacher parking, dashed into the office to drop off paperwork, and dashed back out to find her car already towed.

Forewarned is forearmed!


PS:  The staff at Signature Towing were courteous and professional.  I have no complaint against the towing company.