Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:

Personal service: An interesting letter to parents from the principal at OPRF High School last week in the school newsletter. Nathaniel Rouse was recalling a point last fall when the school had an issue with a BB gun. He sent a letter to all parents via the school’s e-mail system alerting them to the situation. That system customized the e-mail so that it arrived reading: “This e-mail is regarding: YOUR STUDENT’S NAME.”

A surprising number of parents, said Rouse, assumed it was their kid in trouble, their child with the BB gun. Now it just might happen that someday I get a contact from OPRF that my daughter has done, well, something wrong. But taking a BB gun to school is not one of the things I worry over for her.

Rouse’s point, and the point he was making with parents, is that while the high school is a large institution, it tries hard to not to be an impersonal institution. So here’s the oddly reassuring part: if your kid screws up and does bring a BB gun to school, don’t expect to hear about it in an e-mail. You’ll get a call from a dean, a counselor. If your kid gets hurt, you won’t hear about it in an e-mail to your office. You’ll get a call from the health office. Presumably, if your kid gets straight A’s, lands the lead in the spring musical or saves a fellow student from choking in the cafeteria, someone will give you a buzz.

Those of us still secretly yearning for the days when the elementary school principal might buttonhole us on the school playground with a heads up about our kid, ought to take reassurance that the principal at the super-sized high school was taken aback by the assumption of some parents that a personal touch was beyond a reasonable expectation.

One million square feet: On the other hand, this being the time of year when eighth-graders and their parents are making their first forays into OPRF for orientations and such, a thought for the school’s leaders: We are sending our kids into that huge building with a bit of trepidation. Will you please stop saying at every turn, “This is a big building. Over a million square feet, you know!”

I’m just like you, only dumber: In an effort to connect with you, dear reader — and no, I don’t have the time to call each of you — I sometimes use the old columnist’s trick of telling a story on myself. “I’m such a dumb oaf, burned out my lawn, got a parking ticket, watched Dancing with the Stars. See, I’m just like you!” To further burnish my regular Joe cred, I was prepared this week to tell you about my car, the now doubled-down-retro PT Cruiser. But I find I can’t. It is just too humiliating what I did to that car thinking I was doing the right thing.

So instead, I’ll just say the car was in the shop a couple days last week, and I found myself walking around town. Have any of you ever heard of salt? Come on, people. It is treacherous out there. We groused about the village not salting the streets last year. The sidewalks are a suicide mission!

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...