Archive for January, 2012



31 January, 2012

My county has seriously messed up and they are just beginning to learn the ramifications of their error. Almost twenty years ago they made drastic changes in how they educate children, which included removing the onus of personal responsibility and making social promotion the norm instead of the exception. The results of this shift in policy are finally becoming visible.

The current group of seniors do not understand that consequences are directly linked to their actions and believe they are entitled to a high school degree and college admittance just because they are eighteen. These seniors have language arts skills in the fourth grade level, they do not pay attention in class, and the ability to sit through even twenty minutes of lecture is beyond them. The county is just beginning to see how much babying and head-patting has screwed these kids and they are starting to demand better behavior and a higher caliber of work from them.

Unfortunately, these kids are incapable of recognizing how badly damaged they are. Instead, they think the world outside the high school will function on the same rules and substandard expectations. They honestly think that doing your job is for suckers because you get your pay regardless of how much or little you do. So these kids are rebelling against the oh too late attempt at intervention. We already know a baker’s dozen kids will not graduate this spring that think they are going to and there is a slew of seniors who, if they do not change now, will join that group by the end of third quarter. The guidance counselor I spoke with today said in fourteen years on the job she has never seen so many children so dangerously close to failing to graduate.

County administration, you have created this catastrophe, how do you plan on rectifying it?


El Paraiso

28 January, 2012

6:10 pm

El Paraiso
516 S Van Dorn St # A
Alexandria, VA 22304

Tonight I shall splurge on myself and eat out. I am at a little El Salvadorian restaurant a short walk from my flat, El Paradiso. The atmosphere is authentic. The air is fragrant with spice and a mix of frying beef and tilapia. It is a rich smell that makes the mouth water. A football (soccer) game plays on the one television and the announcer can just be heard below the energetic conversations. The patrons speak an amalgam of Spanish and English with bits of recognisable dialect punctuating the emphatic expressions.

On the menu tonight is a pan seared rockfish with rice and salad. The photo in the menu was food porn and it matched the aromas and conversations so well, there could be no other choice, Uncle Tony’s warning about the uncertain results of ordering fish on a busy weekend night be damned. At least it’s not Monday.

I’ve paired the entree with the house Chardonnay. This is where the only flaw in the wait staff is noticed. The waitress asked if that was the red or the white. A bit unforgivable, that. Even over looking such an obvious ignorance, she would have done better to simply convey the order to the bar and trust them to get it right.

The meal is preceded by chips and salsa, a staple, a requirement, when presenting Latin American food to Norte Americanos. The salsa is fresh and the chips have been made recently. When Mr. Rockfish is presented he is served grinning. The skin is crisp and crunchy, though perhaps a tad over rubbed with salt. The meat beneath it is soft and easily separates from the bone. It pairs well with the Chardonnay. As for the sides, their flavour is subtle, purposefully plain and understated to counter the salty tang of the rockfish. In all, the meal is a pleasing treat, both visually and gastronomically. Definite food porn.

River’s rating, three out of four smiling fish heads, the wine mistake still bugs me.