Ryan Cantrell

Too Fat to Fly

Kevin Smith is a funny guy. He’s also a large man…perhaps too large. Now it’s quite normal for the more rotund people to be picked on in our society, nay, even shunned. But it’s an entirely more unique occurrence when a man with over 1 million Twitter followers is picked on. Or Tweeters? Maybe Twitter’ers? Whatever.

Southwest Airlines is no rookie to shock-wave media exposure. You might remember the girl booted for skimpy clothing back in 2007. While Smith laid into the airline for days on Twitter and his website (which he last titled a post, “Running Out of Gas on this Subject”), certain others believe Southwest was too polite in their treatment of a man “unable to safely fit into his airline seat”.

I just wonder what Delta, AA, or TWA told John Candy or Chris Farley back in the day? If you adhere to the words of Brendan F. Behan, “there is no such thing as bad press“, Southwest shouldn’t worry about Twitter’s influence. Oscar Wilde gave perhaps the best advertising advise when he said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” I suppose you have too admire a company willingly to look at the rules so objectively (and who still allow bags to fly free). It takes a lot of guts to stand down famous celebrities when you know a backlash is on its way. While I don’t agree with either quote regarding my personal life, I think it stands pretty true for big business in our society.

Paradigm Shift

Growing up in an upper middle-class school district, the ultimate goal throughout my education was the same for everyone; graduate and go to college. I’m not about to suggest that shouldn’t still be the goal for all students in public education today. In fact, I’m fairly certain teachers in every school across America are stressing the importance of education and moving on to college. It’s their inherent nature. However, reality suggests the percentage of high school graduates attending a four year college is much, much lower (33% in 2008-09 to be exact). Yet the mindset in public education today is still the same as it was for my generation of the 80’s and 90’s.

Today, I teach students who’re quite different than the friends I went to school with. The state deems our school “economically disadvantaged”. I suppose that characterizes a majority of Americans during these times. And while it certainly paints a broad picture of the kids you’ll see walking our halls, it shouldn’t characterize all. The major difference I’ve found between my students and the ones I grew up with begins at home. If anything said at school will ever take effect, parents have to confirm and back it up at home. More times than not, that isn’t happening in the lower economic areas of America (as much as you might think). It’s said the lower socioeconomic culture is one based on entertainment rather than the middle and upper class culture based on acheivement (Ruby Payne: “Framework for Understanding Poverty”). I agree, but only because of the current educational system in place.

I wonder how America would survive if the overall theory of educators got its way? What would a college degree mean if everyone had one? Where are the customer service reps, sanitation workers, and mailmen gonna come from? Granted, I don’t believe all teachers shove college down the throats of their young minds, but most tend to. Many would probably agree that a 16 or 17 year old high school dropout has failed in life (and they don’t seem to be afraid in personally letting them know). But with the success stories of internet and online businessmen getting younger and younger, who’s to say what IS and ISNT “successful”? The Office for National Statistics points out that the amount spent on state education has risen by 43% since 2000, yet school “productivity” has actually declined by almost 8%. That’s called a “reverse correlation”. My old warehouse boss had a 9th grade education. Check that, he only finished the 8th grade. Failure isn’t a fitting description in any way, shape, or form for his accomplishments.

I don’t want to see any 11 or 12 year old kid feeling that education has left them behind…and there’s no way to catch back up. The sad reality is, Johns Hopkins University research has shown indicators that begin in 6th grade proving whether or not a students will graduate high school or not.

  • Under 80% attendance (usually missing around 35 days during the year)
  • More than two (2) behavioral consequences (with the office/principal)
  • Failed math
  • Failed reading

Students matching three (3) of these four (4) indicators will almost certainly become negatively labeled, cast aside as a failure in the educational system. I’m thinking of a handful of them right now. I’m not trying to bite the hand that fed/feeds me, but I think a change in philosophy may be in order. In some cases, it is. Technical careers and trade schools are being promoted more and more at the high school level. Options are out there, and hopefully students are taking advantage. But I believe those options could be even more exclusive. What if a student realizes standard college just isn’t in the cards? Why not give them the chance to work towards a career in say, automotive, and take NOTHING but classes geared toward that end goal, beginning as a freshman or sophomore? Why do three science & math, four English, and however many elective credits constitute a “successful” high school graduate? Why not offer a diploma needed to attend a standard four-year university and another to satisfy other careers? We already have high school diplomas and GED’s to get in the military…how about something fitting in between?

The “real world” isn’t high school. It isn’t college. Maybe it’s time our educational system tweak itself accordingly.

Your Friend, Ardipithecus Ramidus (a.k.a. “Ardi”)

Never heard of him? He’s the latest research by scientists theorizing the evolution and history of mankind. I’m assuming the picture below was drawn from a police sketch artist during the ’92 L.A. riots, but the bones of this creature were found in Africa; Ethiopia to be exact. In fact, several bones have been found since the mid 70’s, “proving” that, as one scientist says, “human forebears walked upright that long ago (3.2 million years).” With Ardi it’s now believed humans started walking upright about 6-9 million years ago instead of 4-8 million. How bout that! You’ll have to excuse my urine soaked Dockers (as if I would really wear Dockers).

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I’ll take this moment to tout a little documentary called, “Expelled” with your favorite high school teacher Ben Stein as narrator/interviewer. Rent it. Bueller…Bueller? Watch it. It’s way better than the Discovery channel’s, Discovering Ardi. And yes, I just finished watching it. Well, parts of it.

Now I’m not one to talk trash against science (only if it can’t be proven), but I just don’t understand how bones from perhaps a new species of monkey can change the thought process Darwinists have held for so long. Did they ever consider Sasquatch MIGHT originate from Ethiopia, Africa instead of the Pacific Northwest? Hey, it’s a thought.

Justice Served?

I’ve watched with amazement over the past month (perhaps years) the character flaws of the NFL. Granted, with a 53-man roster opposed to an 11-man basketball, 20-man hockey, or 25-man baseball…football has the shear numbers to draw more negative headlines. Still, why aren’t we seeing more baseball players shooting themselves in the leg, or a dirty Canadian running an illegal dog fighting ring called, “Ya Wanna Go Kennels”?

Donte Stallworth served a single month in prison, receiving roughly $416,666 wearing bright orange instead of dingy brown (7-year deal worth $35 mil signed in 2008). He’s recently been banned from his profession for an entire year. By the way…he killed a guy! Plaxico Burress carried an illegal handgun into a Manhattan night club and forgot it came standard with a safety button. What if the bullet missed his leg, hitting that cocktail waitress he just tipped $250? As if anyone’s going to confront and harass a 6’6 black man in a New York, much less Manhattan club. You had a nice career Plax. At least all your boys will know you kept it real!

The Philadelphia Eagles just signed a man once worth $114 million to a 2009 salary of $1.6 mil. Arthur Blank is still sick about it.  His arrest was unconventional because he didn’t beat his wife, drive drunk, or even carry an illegal weapon. He didn’t harm people, he fought dogs; and he served two (2) years for doing so. According to our judicial system, his debt is paid and he’s fit to return as a rehabilitated citizen. He’s apologized countless times, lost countless millions, so the Eagles and the NFL are willing to accept him back.

But as I watched PETA protesters and animal rights activists protest against an already beaten man, I wonder what reaction Stallworth will receive when he returns? Did anyone picket outside the Izod Center in New Jersey after Jason Kidd beat his wife? I don’t remember many people up in arms after Michael Irvin came back to the Cowboys after his 3rd arrest for cocaine possession. Crap, he made the Hall of Fame as a convicted felon. Ray Lewis became a modern day “OJ” after beating a murder charge to become the face of the NFL for a time. Everyone knows he played a part in it.

So to all the Michael Vick haters, who as time passes, will fade away. Protest the athletes claiming lives, ruining others, and inflicting physical harm on human beings. We now know you exist, congrats. You’ve used Vick as a platform to put yourself on the map…now go make some real change. We haven’t heard from you since the conviction two years ago, and now you conveniently resurface. Tell these other organizations they’re not NEAR as passionate as you, and they need to take a lesson. Tell the family of Mario Reyes they sold out to a murderer and those second amendment rights should have tighter restrictions.

Motivate MADD to make more of a scene and tell the NRA-ILA to get their own Moses to rally the forces. Lay off a guy who’s paid the penalty and then some. There’s nothing he won’t do to help (by force now) your effort, so pick a fight worth fighting. This one is over.

Job Well Done

One of the foundations of retail is customer service. Go above and beyond what everyone else is doing and you’ll have a pretty good shot at seeing that customer again. The reason a store (any store) starts a business isn’t for a one-time sale. Even ReMax looks for your repeat business the next time you look to buy a home. But another key element of retail sales is word of mouth advertising/marketing. You can spend half your earnings trying to promote your business, but if you provide a sucky product/service, people can always find another option.

We recently had the pleasure of replacing the sewage pipes to our house. Fun. And, most likely a once (maybe twice) in a lifetime task. Let’s hope. I had been told of a place close by that offered 20 ft. PVC sections as opposed to the standard 10 ft. sections available at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Well without going into long, drawn out and boring detail, its refreshing to come across someone willing to go above and beyond.

Winnelson Plumbing on Commerical Blvd. in Fort Worth, TX can be contacted at 817-581-2230. They did their job so well I’ll never recommend anyone else when someones asks me about anything regarding their plumbing. They made two (2) separate trips by my house to drop off the supplies I bought and changed my purchase ticket after we adjusted our strategy and didn’t use certain pieces. Now I realize why I was told about them because I’ll be doing the same!