Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 wishes revisited

at the beginning of the year, i made some pretty lofty goals for myself. i didn't think about them daily, but they were certainly in the back of my mind. for those of you new to my musings, here they were:
I don’t do new year’s resolutions. However, this upcoming year will be full of blank slate possibilities for me. A new home. A new job. A changing life...
First, I hope for strong friendships. I know that I can count on a lot of my friends for most anything. Some of my friends, I’m not so sure. I’d rather have a few true friends than a lot of occasional friends. That goes especially for those of you that I can see on a regular basis now, because come summer, I’m out of this town. Which category do you fall in?

with my move, i've figured out who my true friends really are. my occasional friends, i talk to occasionally or not at all. my true friends keep me abreast of their lives, return phone calls, and have even begun to visit! i'm making new friends up here, slowly but surely. same problem as gainesville: it's tough when i spend most of my days working with people who are out of my friend age range.
Second, I hope for an excellent new beginning, wherever I land. Overseas will be infinitely more exciting and frightening. I’m scared of what might happen, but I know that now is the time to do it. Any older, I’ll run the risk of not doing it and regretting the indecision. Stateside will also be great, no matter where I wind up. I’ll have old friends wherever I go, this I know. It’s the new ones that I’m looking forward to.

i think i'm off to a pretty damn good start!
Third, I hope for happiness. Not just for me, but for all my friends and family. I’m going to do more this year to ensure that in my own life. Spontaneity is the new trait I’m going to try on. I hope it fits. For the rest of you, do what you need to do in order to find your own happiness. Sitting around, lamenting faults does nothing to improve yourself.. Call an old friend. Make a new one. Learn a new sport. Read a book. Climb a tree. Go roller skating in the sunshine and eat cotton candy...

this move has made me happier than i've been in a long while. i've been more spontaneous with doing things this year. random trips, random fun. less stress about the outcome, more stress on the present. i don't think this move would've been possible without a lot of spontaneity. a month to find a job and a place to live, neither of which i actually accomplished before moving. stressful, certainly. a learning experience, more than i realize.

so those were my wishes for this year. i wish for more of the same in 2008. one thing i definitely learned though: wishing gets you nowhere. i can finally say that i'm not content to let things i don't like bother me or keep me down. i remove them from my life or ignore them. confrontations are still necessary, but there's no longer going to be a build up of weeks and weeks as before. which makes my last prediction or hope for my tabula rasa year the most telling:
Like a phoenix, I will rise from the ashes of the last year and begin anew.
On a tangent from the tabula rasa idea, I also see the first definition [a. The mind before it receives the impressions gained from experience.] Before it receives impressions gained from experience. That’s all well and good. Locke was speaking mostly about infants and their formative years. How little genetics play in how someone turns out. The nature vs. nurture argument. Yes, it’s an oversimplification. A little literary license, please. Some experiences are too painful or wonderful to forget. Painful lessons learned build up and make us more tentative to make friends, try new things, form meaningful relationships. Too many of those lessons, people become jaded and distrustful. I don’t want to get to that point. Yes, I hurt, but some things are always going to hurt. It’s just a matter of how often and how much. As the year begins, I’m going to do my best to get past the painful ones and quit living in the past. What’s done is done. I guess that’s as close to a resolution as I’ll make this year.

buying the cow

There is no such thing as the one. It's more of a mind boggling whole hell of a lot of potential ones. That should be comforting, it's actually pretty terrifying. We would all like to kick back and wait for some magical force to show us who we should spend the rest of our lives with. But the truth is, there isn't a lightning bolt that slaps you on the ass and tells you to pick this person over all others. It's like the rain, rain falls all the time. Sometimes we are prepared for it, sometimes we're not. And depending where you are when it hits, you either get caught in it, or you don't. In fact, most of us try like hell to avoid it.


more than any other movie, buying the cow changed my outlook on life. smart, hokey, and hilarious all wrapped up in a chick-friendly (but not quite a chick flick) package. think swingers meets failure to launch. okay, that combination isn't quite right, but you get the point. maybe.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

uh-oh!

"you did a lot better than i expected you to." quote unquote, courtesy of missy.

i went snowboarding today. i apparently did ok. my wrists, knees and tail are a little bit sore. forward, ok as long as there's an incline. turning, ok as long as it's a right and on my toe side. stopping, improving. people in the way sketch me out a bit. i was really worried i was going to flatten a five year-old.

yet another way to fall spectacularly; this time in a spray of snow and spinning snowboard. yet another expensive hobby. at least it's closer than climbing was in florida!

Friday, December 28, 2007

las luces


without snow to look forward to, there's gotta be some other way for south floridians to signal the beginning of the holiday season. christmas lights were always exciting when i was little. searching for them usually put me to sleep in the backseat, but once there, man, was i jazzed! there was one house in north lauderdale that morphed into two; before too long, the whole street was lit up like the vegas strip. there was the house in sunrise that covered their lawn with cotton batting and train sets. the one in coral springs by city hall that had a tiny village in the swiss alps that grew and grew over the years into what would've been several larger vilages and ski resorts, complete with lifts and train sets.

with no white christmas to speak of in the district, i'm glad christmas was back to "normal" for me. the folks and i went out light hunting on christmas eve. these two houses were nothing compared to the ones i remember growing up, but they were the best we found on a whim.

then again, maybe the lights twinkled a little brighter in the eyes of a five year-old. nearly two dozen years have passed since then. does nostalgia make things seem brighter and better than they really were?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

amazing

i always knew kris kringle was a climber, but who knew he bouldered! he's pretty hard-core, eh?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

christmas greetings

since technology has devolved our communication ability into shrt txt msgs and inserted LOL and BRB into the national lexicon, it seems only natural that holiday greetings would head the same way.

who here is guilty of sending a text message when a phone call would do better? one-to-one txt msgs, at least you're making it personal. mass text messages where it's clear that you're sending the same message to lots of people, i.e. feeling the need to sign your name...c'mon folks. i know the thought's there. i know we're all busy people, but it's just the 21st century equivalent of the form letter hastily inserted into your christmas card. with worse spelling and less detail. i appreciate the phone calls, or the even late requests for a mailing address. the thought's there.

yeah yeah, i'm a grinch, a scrooge. bah humbug and such. i was guilty of sending a few texts yesterday, but most of them were replies, and only one of them was to more than one person. it was to two people, roommates that would appreciate the picture i attached to it.

our techno-addiction should not devolve us from actually remembering that it's nice to hear someone's voice, and if it's possible, to actually see someone. so, if you're having a small gathering, wishing someone a happy birthday (yes, i know facebook and myspace remind us), or there's an obscure holiday, call someone. don't rely on something with a microprocessor to do it. (yes, i know phones have microprocessors, but i think you get my point!)

Monday, December 24, 2007

random movie quotes, part trois: christmas edition

name these flicks. some are certainly gimmes, but some are not necessarily christmas movies either.

1 "Okay, pork belly prices have been dropping all morning, which means that everybody is waiting for it to hit rock bottom, so they can buy low. Which means that the people who own the pork belly contracts are saying, "Hey, we're losing all our damn money, and Christmas is around the corner, and I ain't gonna have no money to buy my son the G.I. Joe with the kung-fu grip! And my wife ain't gonna f... my wife ain't gonna make love to me if I got no money!" So they're panicking right now, they're screaming "SELL! SELL!" to get out before the price keeps dropping. They're panicking out there right now, I can feel it."

2 "I took a shower washing every body part with actual soap; including all my major crevices; including in between my toes and in my belly button which I never did before but sort of enjoyed. I washed my hair with adult formula shampoo and used cream rinse for that just-washed shine. I can't seem to find my toothbrush, so I'll pick one up when I go out today. Other than that, I'm in good shape."

3 "No! No! I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!"

4 "Clarence! Clarence! Help me, Clarence! Get me back! Get me back, I don't care what happens to me! Get me back to my wife and kids! Help me Clarence, please! Please! I wanna live again. I wanna live again. Please, God, let me live again."

5 "You see, Mrs. Walker, this is quite an opportunity for me. For the past 50 years or so I've been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we're all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle."

holiday travel

it's been a while since i've flown anywhere on christmas. i thought i was going to miss all the insanity of christmas travel by flying on sunday. misguided, yes. it seems that no matter when you try to travel around christmas, the airport's going to be slammed. delayed flights, people laid out everywhere. one flight was supposed to leave for the holiday hotspot of des moines, iowa at the next gate. their plane was trapped in madison, wisconsin. when my flight left an hour late, their plane was still in wisconsin, so they were still looking at at least 3 hours of waiting. thanks, mom and dad for living where ice storms are uncommon and pretty much unpossible.

spirit airlines is pretty awesome. leather seats, wide open cabin with no divider between first class and coach. lots of kids, none of them annoying. only complaint: a young couple that brought their damn cats in carriers into the cabin. leave a bowl of water and a bag of food, they'll be fine. but no, they had to sit two rows behind me and allergify my bubble of air. oh yeah, and they charged for drinks and snacks on the flight. $2 not so bad, but they wouldn't take cash, and as a matter of principle, i don't use my credit cards for a $2 transaction.

it's great to be wearing flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt, if only for a little while. packing for warm weather travel is so much easier. at least i'm not going to miss a white christmas in the district. everyone do their snow dance and wear your pajamas inside out for a white new year's!

Friday, December 21, 2007

grateful

every year, i get gifts from my students. leading up to christmas break (yes, i said christmas break! p.c.-sensors be damned!), i field many subtle and not-so-subtle queries about what i like to do or what i'd like for christmas. i haven't been one to outright tell anyone what i want for christmas since i was a kid. why? the thoughtful gifts from the heart mean more to me than the ones that i'd tell someone to get me. if there's something i need, sure, i'll let that be known. someone that listens to me can figure out pretty easily what'll make me smile.

i'm grateful for all the gifts received from my students because i certainly don't expect them. hell, some years, i don't even feel like i deserve them! i'm noticing that the cards and smaller gifts i receive from my less fortunate students are the ones that i appreciate more. does that make me an ingrate towards the students that can afford to get me something nicer? or the ones that do it because their parents feel like it's almost expected of them as the price of admission to my room?

one of my students from years ago (listen to me, i sound like an old man) gave me a simple card for christmas. nothing fancy, just a hallmark card. i still have that card because i knew it was from the heart. throughout the year, it was a struggle for her family to scrape together $2 for a field trip or buy pencils for school. her mom wrote the sweetest note in the card that i know my student picked out.

and like a girl, tears welled up in my eyes.

shifted

running late this morning, i sat at an intersection less than a mile from my school. as late as i was, there was a police officer directing traffic at this four-way stop instead of the normal crossing guard with nothing to do. that's twice this week that i've been running that late.

in any event, there were a lot of cars today. one car away from making it through the intersection, two motorcycle cops cruise up, sirens blaring and stop in the intersection. i correctly assumed that they were the lead bikes for a motorcade. and what a motorcade it was! 10 plus bikes, several cruisers, an unmarked crown victoria, and an suv. going through my head: what self important politician is dropping his kid off at school and wasting tax dollars?

long story short, i came to find out that it was actually a granted wish through the make-a-wish foundation. that was the wish of a sick girl who's a student at the school a mile or so from my own, to be delivered to school one day in a motorcade. boy, did i feel like an ass for my impatience in that traffic!

(sidenote: here i sit finally watching today's jeopardy on DVR. one of the contestants works for make-a-wish. in d.c. she interviews the children to find out what their wish would be. i bet she knows the girl who got her wish today. random!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

just to see you smile

this morning on my way to work, it was commercials on all my normal stations, i was 2 blocks from work, and i hit scan. for the first time in a while, my radio stopped on a country station.

and i left it there. on my way home, a tim mcgraw song came on and my mind started rambling. not because of the actual song, but another. i'm not sure why either.

yesterday I knew just what you wanted
when you came walkin' up to me with him.
so I told you that I was happy for you,
and given the chance, I'd lie again.
just to see you smile...


an ex and i used to joke about this song, saying we'd do this for each other if it ever went south. notice, i did say ex, so it obviously did. i always took the lyrics of this song to be from some lovesick fool who can't get over a lost love. though i never saw myself in this mold, i have been in those shoes. where my heartbreak would stay hidden when she finds new love and i unluckily get to meet him.

thankfully, i've never had to lie about it. when it would've been a lie, it never came up. now that it wouldn't be a lie, the same is true. as best i know, all the women in my past are giddily happy with guys they've either married or madly in love with.

...and i couldn't be happier for them. no lie!

mangia!

friday night, i discovered (with a little help) an italian deli in arlington. brought me way back. when you walk into an italian deli, there's a certain smell. the mixture of fresh-baked bread, deli meats, and miscellaneous sweetness, with a hint of nutella for good measure.

after making homemade sauce on saturday, i decided i needed to get some fresh pasta for said sauce. barilla nor mueller's don't deserve homemade sauce. on tonight's menu, purchased from the italian store (yes, that's the name): gnocchi! better start the water...

Monday, December 17, 2007

going postal

no, i'm not going to run amok. i went to the post office on saturday morning to mail granny's christmas present, despite her insistence, "i DON'T need anything." for once, i didn't have too bad of a time standing in such a long line. i got there at 12:30, they closed at 1. line out the door, people short-tempered.

despite all that, the postal clerk still had a sense of humor. did i have a bicycle in the envelope? was anything hazardous, et al? does bamboo count? that's about all i've got. not that i want to mail anything this week, i wonder how chipper he'll be when everyone's short tempers become even more so and the reason for the season gets lost in the shuffle of christmas cards and packages.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

art gallery

the initial concept and general visualization for an image always begins for me out of everyday experiences as a consumer, from the subconscious repetition of elements of the mass-cultural landscape which unavoidably, and relentlessly, fall into my perception like droplets into an ocean. mixed with aesthetic antennae willfully combing through this junkstream, and a tempered absorption of history and the patterns of past utopias, my hope is that a synthesis greater than the sum emerges, a nostalgically transcendental phenomenon. this new manifestation of previously unrelated and disorganized facts is an attempt to express something about the places we inhabit, the ones we have lost, the places we hoped to make, and the ones we hope to never see.


this is three sentences. grammatically, i suppose it's correct. no one ever gave this emo artist any hemingway to read. terse text is best; this explanation of his weird art would be better served by something along these lines:

so, this one night, i packed a bowl of maui wowie. after a few hits, i started messing around with photoshop...or was it a pair of scissors? damn memory loss. i found some photos, dropped some acid, and came up with this piece. i don't really remember what my inspiration was. let's say it was a little aqua teen hunger force and the my little pony theme song. asking price: too much money!


all kidding aside, last night, missy and i went to an art gallery opening. i didn't see the road bikes parked outside, they must have left them out back. the emo/scenester kids all around made us feel a little out of place. the photos were pretty, the mixed media stuff was strange, and i forgot my scarf and skinny jeans. we left in about 15 minutes and got a drink at a coffee house. ok, emo bashing blog over...

aggravated

i'm beginning to see that there are far worse problems in education than our supposed falling behind in the world market because of low test scores. i don't know if the prevalence of diagnosed problems in kids these days is merely the symptom or actually the problem. my kids this year are ADD to the nth degree. it grows tougher each year to maintain attention while teaching. i can't even take a breath in the middle of a sentence without their impulsive nature taking over and causing them to call out answers, questions, or random stories that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. i teach a classroom full of id with no superego to control it. one of the more problematic should be in an alternative placement. the reason he's not? an inflexible specialist who refused to place kids in said center. "it can be controlled with medication." aren't we then breeding a generation of pharmacologically-dependent children who can't cope with their issues without an rx? that ain't right. it doesn't fix the problem, it merely masks it, and when the dosage needs changing because the kids grow, their education as well as those of their classmates suffers.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

perspective

pardon my french, but yesterday sucked. gray, cloudy skies. two meltdowns by my favorite 8 year-old. a perceived crisis explained to me ad nauseum about one of my students...a "crisis" in name only, i was let in on it 2 months ago by his mother. my heart breaks for the poor guy, i can relate to some of his troubles for sure, but i don't need to hear about it twice from other people in the school who never see him. oil change that took three and a half hours. blah blah blah. you get the point. it's over and done with, and as i recount it, i can feel my pulse and blood pressure rising...

this morning, much more sunshine. i'm feeling better. life put me in my place at school. one of my teammates' fathers is suffering with lung cancer. she's absolutely beside herself with grief and indecision. my minor issues yesterday don't mean shit. a moment of clarity yet again. yet another person in my life dealing with cancer. yet another plea for prayers, not only for her father, but for her peace of mind in doing what she needs to do. for her family, not for her students. to be selfish and cope with this difficult time in her life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

holiday parties

as a kid, i wound up at a few work-related holiday parties with my mother. if i was lucky, there was a kindred soul or two in the form of one of the other teachers' sons. occasionally though, i was left to fend for myself either with the "old ladies", who in reality weren't much older than my mother. as you well know, as a kid, everyone who's either taller than you or can drive is pretty much a senior citizen. now, not so much. rarely was there a male colleague at said parties, so i learned well how to make polite conversation with people that i really had nothing in common with besides knowing my mother.

fast forward a few years to now (ok, more than a few!), and i'm learning that holiday parties can be just as uncomfortable to the invited guests when they're work-related. i have no doubt that my mother was indeed friends with her colleagues, as they often went shopping and did things i thought all mothers did. elliot (dc101's morning host/dj) shared that many companies are doing away with the traditional holiday party because of either the expense or the feeling that it's a forced gathering with people you already spend a lot of time with, or don't necessarily want to see outside of work! in hearing some of my friends talk about their respective upcoming (or already past) parties, i get the sense that both are entirely accurate. yes, networking and such is key to advancing your career. in my field...not so much. collegiality is an important part of the climate of a school, now more than ever with the stringent requirements placed on education and the necessity for a team effort to get all of our charges to succeed. at the same time, it's still a little strange to sit around at a holiday party and drink a beer or a glass of wine with your administrators, all the while talking about work (which i don't particularly like to do outside of work!).

so, yesterday was our staff holiday party. off campus, of course, though we were "on the clock" for the majority of the time. i am fortunate here to have a few teachers that are closer in age to me and have a little more in common. at least last year, though i lacked many things in common, i could always count on talking football with my old...er, former colleagues. feigned familiarity during this time of year still feels weird. i'm still out of my element at work. perhaps it will come, perhaps we all still need to relax a little bit with one another. i'm hoping it does. at the very least i'd like to have discussions at lunch or elsewhere that don't center on work. i guess since i spend so much time here, i'd like to feel a bit more like...myself?

Monday, December 10, 2007

lit up like christmas

favorite christmas activity as a kid: looking at christmas lights. south floridians can go a little overboard with their lights. insane $400-500 power bills. the boat parade. million dollar homes absolutely drenched in millions of tiny, twinkling lights. front yards overrun by cotton batting to simulate snow and railroad sets that would fill a house. i never found such insanity in gainesville, but i'm hopeful to find some here because it makes little kids smile...or big kids who still act like little kids.

in high school, i loved going to tradewinds to drive through the fantasy of lights. junior year, they started a 5K for opening weekend for the spectacle, and i had to keep my senses about me during the race. several girlfriends shared my amazement at the lights. this year, mom told me there would be no lights, which is just as well. i think going to fantasy of lights now would be a letdown without dad's miata to get the full effect. it's just not the same in a plain old car or truck.

no car needed up here for holiday lights in a public place. the national zoo has zoo lights 4 nights a week leading up to christmas. i went tonight with missy. nothing like walking through the zoo, checking out all kinds of cool critters, shivering in pre-winter temps (probably because i had a slurpee in my hand), and admiring light displays that evoke that nostalgia in me. the perfect antidote to the overcommercialization of christmas. the little kids' eyes just plain sparkled at the panda mascot in the snow dome, the lights in motion, and the animals that pushed back their bedtimes just a little bit for their pint-sized visitors. gotta love the season!

Friday, December 7, 2007

new names at a new job

has this ever happened to you?

you start a new job. people introduce themselves to you. they more or less automatically assume that you know their names immediately. as time passes, it becomes more and more awkward to ask, "what's your name again?" you try and try and try to remember this one person's name: overhear it in conversation, wait for one of the kids to say it, steal a glance at their id badge. nothing works. you know if you hear it one time, you'll remember it, but damned if you never do!

yeah, me too. rarely is she ever in the same place as the other teachers and instructional ass'ts, so i can't pick it up there. can't ask one of the students in the room she works in, they're a little less than communicative. tried stealing a glance at her i.d. badge, it's always turned the wrong way. in fact, i'm not so sure that it can be seen. the part that makes me feel the worst is that she greets me by name every morning. we talk several times a week while her 4 little charges play on the playground with my 23 rugrats.

i'm a terrible person!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

delayed

snow day, i understand. yesterday, no delay, no early release, no snow day. forecast actually called for a dusting. flurries, if you will. yeah, we got close to 3 inches. kids, understandably excited. hell, i could barely contain myself. we weren't allowed to go out for recess. no, that wasn't my decision. i blame the "liability" excuse on people bent on lawyering up and filing lawsuits frivolously. let your kids be kids. yes, they'll get hurt, but who among us didn't have a broken bone, skinned knees/elbows, busted lips, or stitches when you were a kid? don't lie! the world wasn't sterile, and our parents sure didn't think it needed bubble wrapped. anyways....so i had to be the bad guy and tell the kids they couldn't make snowballs. they couldn't start making snowmen. fact is, i wanted to join them, but these parents and their overprotectiveness would not deal well with wet clothes, wet shoes, or a bruised anything from slipping on the ice...

so, i got to work too early this morning. took some pictures of the beautiful snowy wonderland playground, haven't done much else. i guess i should figure out what my schedule looks like today. pictures will be posted when i get home tonight...maybe.





Tuesday, December 4, 2007

winter

IT'S SNOWING!!!!

(i know i'll be sick of it come march, but i'm still like a 5 year-old! i want to go outside and play, but i have to work. boo!)

forecast calls for up to an inch tomorrow. snow day?

disjointed

disjointed thought processes aside, last week was pretty amazing. read between the lines of friday night's incoherent babbling, and you'll find that i'm supremely busy. this silly city has me burning my candle at all three ends. perhaps why i slept so well on lee's floor on friday night. i'd edit that last post, but i think it's funnier unedited.

to clear some things up, 9:30 club is phenomenal. i wish it were easier to get to. it is a music venue. it's common grounds times two with eddie c's sound system and pros at the controls (non-gainesville people: just imagine awesome). i went to a christmas show and saw sister hazel play. we missed pat mcgee's set, and i got utterly confused. it had been 10 years since i'd seen them...

this weekend's climbing was marvelous. my guinness t-shirt didn't fail me. i put down two long-standing projects of mine, as well as my first V6--the hueco-riffic the shotgun. (non-climbers: that means i'm improving, in spite of my 2 month hiatus). beautiful weather, good friends, inside jokes, unoriginal thoughts, hazzard-included slumber party.

to clarify further my musings on work, i shan't discuss my troubles outside of work too often. monday and wednesday will be my longer days at school, in order to improve my climbing experience at the gym. lower stress levels for me, hopefully increased productivity. the stress level last week reached its fever pitch. i nearly lost my mind. out of sheer frustration, when it finally abated, i refused to think about it. not necessarily very nicely either (sorry, Ma! do you forgive me?) now that work has affected my relationships with my friends and family, i'm going to redouble my efforts to leave it all there. less surfing, more planning and differentiating and collaborating.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

quick recap

it was brought to my attention that i have not written in a while. this has been quite a busy week. here i lay on the floor at lee's apartment in chattanooga with mostly new gainesvillain climbers that i don't know. quick flight, hilarity on the trip from the ATL with palmer, hanna, and the one and only c.p.

anyhow, back to the task at hand.

tuesday evening was spent in the back of my truck, under a sleeping bag, on my crash pad watching the planes land at reagan. i'm not talking crop dusters. i'm talking about commercial jets, 50 feet or less off the deck, bright landing lights illuminating the world ever-so-briefly. very awesome.

wednesday. work, eh. happy hour after work, better. gym bouldering session, best. now mind you, this is before i even got home. i think the grades are a bit soft in the gym. at least sending 3 V6s and flashing 2 V5s in one night is good for my self esteem. we'll see how it translates in the ever-flaccid grades at LRC tomorrow morning. quiet evening spent at home, laughing at eddie murphy and arsenio hall.

thursday. i have come to the realization that i cannot be complacent at work. ever changing, always 100%. i'm not content to be mediocre. something's gotta give: sacrificing my free time activities, and consequently my sanity; or sacrificing my beliefs about my own work ethic. 9:30 Club is like a 2 story common grounds with a pro sound system. sister hazel played a great set. all the stress dissipated as soon as i walked in the door of the club. i have unplanned-edly wound up going to 2 shows in the district, both for gainesville bands.

and back to the present time. time to hit the...carpet. yeah, i'm crashing on the floor. this is what i do for a vacation. i think there's something wrong with me...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

book learnin' about ecology

in my short (and failed) quest to read more before cable started to rot my brain (too late), i had checked out 3 books from the library, two i'd heard of and one i had not. the former ones, river of grass by marjorie stoneman douglas and their eyes were watching god by zora neale hurston, gathered dust and i only got a chapter or two into each of them. river of grass was a recap of all that i knew of the everglades. a great book for me to read had i never experienced the majesty of the swamp, or one to collect dust on my bookshelf for pretentious purposes. hurston's tale was described as a seminal work of african-american fiction. a great novel. i barely made a dent in it before lee sent a walk in the woods by bill bryson. no classic american literature, but a great, fast read nonetheless.

having renewed all three books, and returning two unread, i felt obligated to at least crack open the latter of the three: janisse ray's ecology of a cracker childhood. boy, am i glad i did! much like one of my favorites a land remembered, it details a natural history of georgia's longleaf pine forests. juxtaposed next to her poor upbringing in rural baxley, it certainly is an interesting read. the descriptions of the pine lowlands in southern georgia and how mankind has raped and pillaged them were vivid and disheartening. the book ends with this call to arms:

We Southerners area people fighting again for our country, defending the last remaining stands of real forest. Although we love to frolic, the time has come to fight. We must fight.
In new rebellion we stand together, black and white, urbanite and farmer, workers all, in keeping Dixie. We are a patient people who for generations have not been ousted from this land, and we are willing to fight for the birthright of our children's children and their children's children, to be of a place, in all ways, for all time. What is left is not enough. When we say the South will rise again we can mean that we will allow the cutover forests to return to their former grandeur and pine plantations to grow wild.
The whippoorwill is calling from the edge.


if you call yourself a naturalist, conservationist, ecologist, environmentalist, Southerner, woodsman, forester, READ THIS BOOK.

Monday, November 26, 2007

the issues

election season's heating up. less than a year until we'll have elected a new president. far be it from me as someone who doesn't really pay attention to the primaries to criticize any candidates. perhaps this is why.

there was an article in the washington post today with excerpts from the recent democratic debate in las vegas. (in case you're curious.) i know this wasn't the only issue brought up, but why is money and class such a huge issue for the campaign? they were debating who was rich and who was merely middle class. excuse me? i can see how that factors in to debates on taxes, but is that really a pressing issue right now?!

i seem to recall there's a war on, and i haven't read a single article or heard a single candidate mention anything whatsoever about education, except perhaps where they went to college in their online bios.

why can't there just be a candidate i want to vote for instead of choosing the lesser of two (or 10) evils?

Friday, November 23, 2007

thankfulness

this year, i am thankful for...

the courage to make a new start.
family and friends to help make the change, despite having no job and no home.
the continued blessing of family and friends as i adjust to the change.
new friends.
old friends.
happiness.
health.
wealth.

tabula rasa.i've been saying it since i left. it took a while for the blank slate to actually exist. letting go of the last 10 years was hard to do, especially leaving the grgers.

this took on a new meaning as well. in the last 3 years or so, gainesville finally became home. i belonged. i never had that sense of home in so.fla. yes, my parents are there, but i never had that bond with my surroundings as i did in the 'ville. i am thankful for that sense of home that i was blessed with for that most recent home, but i also know that it was indeed time to move on.

...and i am immensely thankful that i chose to do so.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

insanity

going to the grocery store on the sunday before thanksgiving is positively insane! everyone in their sunday best after church, cart bumper to bumper traffic. young folks like me, young couples celebrating their first or second thanksgiving at their house, older couples guiding their children through the store. ordinarily, i try to avoid such insanity. oddly, i didn't mind the craziness at all.

thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for one simple reason: it's incorrubtible. commercialism cannot corrupt this holiday. the true meaning can be lost, but rarely is that the case for those who celebrate it. for me, it's about thankfulness and togetherness. no matter what disruptive events of my life lead up to the holiday, i always make sure that i step back and smile about that which is good in my life. a big meal is one thing; being thankful for all else in our lives is another. i know i lead a blessed life. trials come and go, but much causes smiles.

this is the first year that i've not been in florida for thanksgiving. i'm excited for my parents to see the new life i'm carving out. i hope i don't screw up the turkey!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

the giving tree


since the leaves began changing, this tree has been assaulting my senses with its fiery red splendor on my way out of school every day. this picture does not do it justice by a long shot. enjoy!

Friday, November 16, 2007

is chivalry dead?

since relocating from the north of florida (read: the south) to the north of virginia (read: the north), i'm noticing a distinct difference in people. people in my neck of the woods, so to speak, tend to be friendlier than your average hustle-and-bustle northern city. at least the ones i've visited before, i.e. chicago, miami (yes, i know it's down south and warm, but it ain't southern by a long stretch!). strangers will smile at you on the street if you make eye contact and initiate. busy businessmen and women will thank you if you hold open a door for them. politeness is not absent up here, which is really nice. it has made an adjustment to city life that much more bearable.

today at work, speaking with the guidance counselor, i was venting about one of my kids. he'd hit a girl. in the face. repeatedly. generally, i like this kid. he's bright and pretty interesting. i had to restrain myself from blowing up at him for this "incident." ordinarily, back in the countrified world of alachu-ay, i'd have gotten real close and said in no uncertain terms, "gentlemen don't hit ladies. ever. i don't care if she hits you first, you don't do it. period." that made the point, and i never had to repeat it to him.

that argument fell on deaf ears today. he looked at me, "but it's not fair!" i continued with, "ladies first. get used to it. yeah, it's not fair, but as a guy, you get used to it. that's the way of the world."

same response, "but it's not fair!"

the guidance counselor's assessment, "there aren't too many guys like you left, mr. j." that of course got me thinking, is chivalry dead? have men really regressed so far from being polite and good to women that such concepts are going to die out with the generation of kids in my classroom? have "equal rights" or feminism or independent female pride eroded what was left of what i consider to be a decent way to act? why is it that i need to worry about teaching such things to my students?

the fact that i have to teach such things to some (not all) students explicitly is very telling. i'm sure that the majority of my kids' fathers embody the very spirit of chivalry, though few probably explain it as such. i know the fathers certainly will expect it of any boy their daughters date in the future, but who's really teaching it? there's been at least a few kids each year that have gotten my don't-hit-a-woman speech. (is it only male teachers that get on that high horse, or is it just a southern thing?) each year, i need to teach the basic manners of don't eat until everyone's been served. i'm going to bounce this idea off two markedly different groups of people this weekend and see what they think.

thoughts?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

one of those days

i don't know if it's the rainy weather that's sapping my motivation at the j-o-b. this week, i've figured out that i can be entirely productive for the course of the day and get it all done before i leave in the afternoon. perhaps it was a lack of meetings earlier this week. perhaps it was sunshine. perhaps it was a bit more sleep. i guess i'm struggling this week from a few too many midnight bedtimes and too much tossing and turning.

today will not be one of those days where it all gets done. i'd really like to figure out what the trigger is to raise my productivity. i know distracting myself with such things as writing is not helping the cause. HELP!!! ideas?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

redirected

woke up yesterday morning, and got the dreaded d.c. news. overturned semi on my way to work. back ups from the exit i take off 395 to the district. that'd be roughly 15 miles. guess that's what happens when 6 lanes need to become one.

so, i had to improvise. back roads around here are harder to come by and traffic lights are harder to predict. traffic patterns are fickle at best. what's clear one day is snarled the next for no discernible reason. leaving 5 minutes earlier or later can cause smooth sailing or tension headaches. yesterday took about 15 minutes more than usual because it included the beltway. today, i got a late start and it took me 5 minutes less because 395 was practically empty. i can't quite wrap my head around it.

one thing's for sure, there's far more roads than the two-lanes i got used to zipping down in the 'ville. far more cars, too, but that's immaterial for the most part. what still takes the most adjustment for me is flat-out not knowing how to get somewhere without a map. but i've mused on that recently, so i'm gonna hit the sack. stay well!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans' Day

in honor of Veterans' Day, we've been reading a lot of books, doing a lot of activities, talking a lot about veterans' sacrifices for us to live the lives we lead. i slacked yesterday. i should've been outside, enjoying the beautiful fall weather that our deployed friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters (well, not for me, but some of you) cannot enjoy in iraq, afghanistan, or other military posts around the globe. i should've gone to arlington nat'l cemetery to pay my respects to our lost loved ones and those we never knew. (i went today instead. somber, chilly fall day.)

last week, as with every year, i read the wall by eve bunting to my class. for those of you that don't know, it's about a boy who visits the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial with his father. they look for his grandfather's name. maybe it's because the memorial still gives me chills everytime i see it. maybe it's bunting's phenomenal writing, or the somber illustrations. whatever it is, i can never get through the entire book without getting choked up. i read the book, and my voice gets softer and softer so it doesn't crack as the tears well up in my eyes. maybe those of you with more of a connection to that memorial, a lost loved one or friends can explain it to me.

call a friend. call a loved one. thank them for their sacrifice. the more i learn about what they've been through, the more blessed i feel that millions of brave men and women who don't know me do what they do for me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

quid ad aeternum?

found this latin expression in one of the bazillion manuals from orientation stuff i've been through for fairfax county.

quid ad aeternum? what does this mean in the eyes of eternity?

oddly enough, i found this today, as i was getting a little touch of agita at verizon for wasting my entire day instead of just the morning. they called, they bailed, then recommitted, then showed up. go figure. quid ad aeternum?

not a damn thing. when all is said and done, one more settling in bit of nonsense will be over with. now if i can just manage to get my emissions inspection, new tags, and a driver's license, i'll be set.

yeah, about that...

giddy

woke up this morning, looked out my window. SNOW!

not really, in my delirium and my watery, waking up eyes, i thought i saw a dusting on one of the cars in the parking lot. by the time i got my camera out and ran out to my balcony, the mirage was gone. maybe my mind just wanted to see snow...

in any event, this is the view i've been waking up to. today, the skies are a little grayer, but the leaves are just as colorful.

Friday, November 9, 2007

autumnal bliss

gray dreary skies. bright cheerful leaves. sure takes the edge off of a drive to work! guess which one i paid more attention to...

i need to get some pictures to share with y'all. this cold keeps up, the leaves are going to be on the ground before too long.

directionally challenged

i haven't been lost for over a month. thank you, thank you. as doc always said when we were out in the everglades, "you're never lost unless you care where you are." the biggest challenge with adjusting to non-gainesville is that i can't just find places by knowing the street address. i'm getting better, but in this google map world, people who can do that are becoming rarer.

the worst part about trying to avoid mapping everywhere (i may as well get a gps if i want to do that!) is that giving directions is becoming somewhat of a lost art. people around here seem to not know the names of roads as they give you directions, or it's a local thing. you've got to know the "trick." ask for directions at a gas station this day, and you're more likely to get a look taht says, "why do you have two heads?" than one that includes clear directions. further, you not only need to know how to get somewhere, but also how to get back. more often than not, i'm taking a different route each way. i'll blame it on signage, but i'm pretty sure that it's often not possible to use the same path. last weekend, i took 4 different ways to and from BWI to get clowe and drop him off at the airport. i never figured out how to get back to bubba's house from arlington when i was interviewing in august. i am getting better with navigating the district, but i still can't keep straight the lettered streets. i know named ones will just give you a headache trying to figure out where they go.

winter is going to be awfully disorienting. i see the sun now when i leave for work, but it's pretty dark when i'm headed home. good thing i know my way pretty well. lord help me if i need to make a stop along the way!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

almost done

aunt barb gave me a table that had been passed around by my cousins. i'm the fourth one to use it. as i loaded it in my truck a month ago, both dom and angela said i couldn't bring it back. i think i'll keep it. it was oak on the bottom, ugly faux-wood formica on top.

yes, the paintjob is my doing. (ok, that's not entirely accurate. so thank you, msz. picasso.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

movies, round 2

lately:
"Budster, there's a half-naked woman in your bedroom feeding pizza to some fish and she's all yours." (guaranteed unless you had HBO in the mid-90s, you have not seen this movie!)

"Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don't; but keep on dreamin' - this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'." (women, I'll be utterly dumbfounded if'n you don't know this one. men, i'll be dumbfounded if you do).

"Everything. OK! I'll talk! In third grade, I cheated on my history exam. In fourth grade, I stole my uncle Max's toupee and I glued it on my face when I was Moses in my Hebrew School play. In fifth grade, I knocked my sister Edie down the stairs and I blamed it on the dog... When my mom sent me to the summer camp for fat kids and then they served lunch I got nuts and I pigged out and they kicked me out... But the worst thing I ever done - I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed up to the balcony and then, t-t-then, I made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa - and then I dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then, this was horrible, all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life. "

upcoming:
"The man from the moon. But I think you've killed him already." (if you don't know this one, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and for God's sake, get out from under that rock of yours and see an 80s classic!)

fortune cookie

"you have an unusually magnetic personality."

i think i should play the lucky numbers on the back of this one!

Monday, November 5, 2007

train wreck

oh, how it made me laugh! no, it wasn't a real train wreck. clowe and i were witness to what was definitely a first date, possibly also a blind date or a match.com disaster. we were eating at a restaurant in chinatown yesterday. the place was pretty much empty. behind us there was a chinese couple, getting along very well. smack in front of us was a train wreck. some tips i gleaned from eavesdropping (yes, i know i should've minded my own business, but he was rather loud and hard to ignore. like bond week on TBS during finals week).
  1. stop and breathe. when you talk too much, you're not listening at all. at that point, the other person on the date loses interest because you're only interested in talking about yourself. this guy barely paused to let his date talk, and immediately jumped in as soon as she finished speaking. isn't the point of a date to decide if you like this person sitting across from you? wouldn't letting her speak often show your interest more than yammering about every job you've ever had, and stuttering when you finally do ask her a question about what she does?
  2. pay attention. if your date tells you she's a vegetarian after you've ordered, don't launch into a story about how you and your buddies used to go to golden corral to study in college. (for the uninitiated, golden corral is to steakhouses what ramen noodles are to asian cuisine). it's been my experience that this tends to turn most vegetarians off. they're ok with meat-eaters, just so long as they don't have to hear all about it.
  3. manners. elbows off the table, napkin in your lap. basics, right? let's take it one step further. if/when your food comes out first, DO NOT begin eating before your date's arrives. i teach this to my second graders, how did a military officer miss that bit of etiquette from his mama in west texas or elsewhere?
  4. restraint. just as you wouldn't get rip-roaring drunk on a first date (or any for that matter), don't gorge yourself with food either. i know i've been guilty of this one before, but i'm learning. however, when a heaping plate of food comes out, i've never loudly proclaimed, "wow! that's a lot of food...and i'm going to eat every last bit of it!" (remember, that date's food had not yet come out). a wing-eating contest might be attractive to some, but gluttony is not one of the seven deadly sins that i generally look for in a mate! save some for later, take it to go (usually poor form), and give it to the first hungry person that asks for it. that should score some brownie points. worked on me...

i don't mean this to be an exhaustive list by any means. just humorous. lord knows i'm not any sort of dating guru! as pop told me recently, you don't ever really want to get "good" at dating. the ultimate goal is to stop dating, right?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

soul food

oh, how i've missed you! i should've been an addict at mom's kitchen (no, not from the rocks being sold on the street corner outside). their fried chicken and greens (of the collard variety) were always pretty amazing. always out of sweet tea and lemonade that'll rot your teeth instantly.

yum.

clowe and i just returned from flavors in falls church. for about $10, i got more food than i could handle at one sitting. mac & cheese that i could eat by the pound, great greens, and pretty much two entire fish. and cornbread.

oh, sweet tea, how i've missed you!

i'll reserve my final judgment until i have their pork chops and fried chicken. yes, that means i'm going back at least two more times. who's with me?

Friday, November 2, 2007

i. love. music.

last night, i treated myself to a long-awaited night of live music in the district. the venerable black cat club in northwest. a run-down of the acts.

lucero
the headliner. for a reason. his set was awesome. gravelly voice, great songs. less indie, more springstein. straight up rock set. unfortunately, we had to leave before his set was over. cabbie strike in the district left us with little choice but to make sure that we made the last metro train from u street/african-american civil war memorial/cardozo (affectionately, longest metro stop name EVER). i hope i can catch his act again sometime.

bobby bare, jr.

odd. that's the best i can say. odd. phish meets nickelback on an acid trip. a rockin' jam band. their songs were all over the place. first few songs were somewhat demonic-looking. maybe because he had all the red lights on stage and devil horns on his head. i guess it was halloween and all. "the heart bionic" was one of the first songs, as catchy and odd as it sounds. it's on his myspace page. downhill from there. maybe i'll try catching him again sometime, only if i want to see the other acts performing.

whiskey & co.
opening up, i got to see my favorite gainesville band i'd yet to see. for over a year now, i've been jamming to their cd that i procured from the library. completely being against my principles for local, independent music, i've been trying to see them pretty much for that entire time span. it was worth the wait. they're as good live as they were on cd. vocals were spot on. if you've never heard them, their songs of misspent years in gainesville usually make me chuckle. i did indeed purchase their latest disc, haven't gotten to listen yet because my truck is sitting in a garage (getting a new battery, nothing major). i'm super stoked. i had to leave gainesville to finally catch their act and get their cd, all proper like. go figure.

great music + great company = great evening.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

drag racin'

no, motorheads. not what you think. last night was the annual dupont circle high heel drag race. yes, you heard correctly. drag queens. in high heels. sprinting down 17th street nw. well, some of them anyhow. there aren't any videos up on youtube yet from last night, but here's one from last year.



an accepting neighborhood. guys complementing ladies on their straight boyfriends. ladies complementing guys on their gay boyfriends. open praise of how "fabulous" the queens looked.

man, i love this city!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

slow down

just rec'd this in an email. now, i've got "inaudible melodies" running through my head. not a bad song for this busy life in the big city...

SLOW DANCE

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask
How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say,'Hi'

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....Thrown away.

Life is not a race.

Do take it slower

Hear the music

Before the song is over.

Monday, October 29, 2007

prayers

not a week goes by that i don't hear some bad news about someone's parents. used to be my friends whose parents were considerably older than mine. now it's shifted to moms and dads that are the same age or younger than my own. i'm blessed that they're both in reasonably good health for the ages of [section redacted for personal security purposes]. just another one of those consequences of growing up, i guess.

just a quick request for prayers for those friends of mine whose parents or other close family members aren't in great health, or recovering from an illness or accident. i won't explicitly name them here. the big guy in the sky will know who you're talking about. and if you're lucky like me, say a quick one to thank Him (or her, or them, whatever your beliefs are!) for that blessing.

much love to you and yours.

book learnin'

lee sent me a walk in the woods by bill bryson. he wouldn't stop raving about it. i've never really known lee to go on and on about a book, especially not to the point that he asked for my address, and it was in my mailbox 3 days later. anyhow, it was a fast read. took me three or four nights to polish it off. much like kerouac's on the road, it filled me with wanderlust. my long-forgotten dreams of completing a thru-hike of the appalachian trail were rekindled in part. perhaps this summer i'll forgo my route 66 coast-to-coast plans (mostly because i'm not sure if the old danger ranger can hoof it to california one more time!) and hit the AT's full length in virginia. 550 miles in all....we'll see.

anyhow, what struck me most in the book was not the memoir of life on the trail. that i easily related to, recollecting many nights spent in my tent after many miles on my feet. it was the commentary on everything else running through his head along the way that most interested me. oddly enough, here's the passage that resonated the most with me, for its absolute truth:

Consider this: Half of all the offices and malls standing in America today have been built since 1980. Half of them. Eighty percent of all the housing stock in the country dates from 1945. Of all the motel rooms in America, 230,000 have been built in the last 15 years...At the time of our hike, the Appalachian Trail was 59 years old. That is, by American standards, incredibly venerable. The Oregon & Santa Fe Trails didn't last that long. Route 66 didn't last as long...Nothing in America does. If a product or enterprise doesn't constantly reinvent itself, it is superseded, cast aside, abandoned without sentiment in favor of something bigger, newer, and alas, nearly always uglier.

agreed? in 274 pages of prose, that is what i agree with. no tradition in america. my kids won't have the experience of visiting my "hometown" when they're growing up. my folks won't live there anymore, though they may be in my adopted hometown by then. my grandma has lived in the same house for close to 50 years. i haven't lived in the same house for more than 10 years at any point in my life. perhaps my itchy feet aren't really helping me grow roots by the same notion, but that's the america i've grown up in. the woods that brian, mark, adam and i used to goof off in are actually the land that my mom's current school sits on. the once-deserted stretch of sw 20th ave that i once took a trip on as a pledge is glutted with gaudy apartment complexes, cookie cutter subdivisions, and too much traffic for a two-lane road.

wow. my fingers just wandered. i'm not sure where that came from. my subconscious types quickly.

in the woods again...

i just can't wait to get back in the woods again!

sending temps today. lots of quizzical looks from non-climbers about the crash pads on our backs. barrett and dani's super positive vibes, even though the rock was marginal at best. no lrc or hp40 sandstone here. schist, granite, and other metamorphic rock. the weather was beautiful, there were a couple of pretty cool lines. a slab solo or two. i finally understand michael reardon's 8-foot bubble explanation. it sure is serene when everything else just goes away. not saying i'm going to do it often, but i certainly enjoyed it.

this after a long day under the hood yesterday. 5 hours or so to change the spark plugs and wires in the engine bay. $80 or so, a few skinned knuckles, and yes, pop, i still have grease under my fingernails. much better than ten large for a new (used) vehicle!

on tap this week, lots of conferences with parents, a sub for thursday and friday. quirky city stuff that i'm sure i'll write about afterwards. time to get back to work on my table. pictures to follow when it's all done.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

classless

it's not enough that florida lost. i'm strangely okay with our losses this season. they were banged up, kestahn moore had a case of butterfingers, tebow was tentative when running.

mark richt showed an absolute lack of class today. in case you missed it, knowshon moreno scores the first touchdown of the game. georgia's ENTIRE BENCH runs onto the field like they've just won the super bowl and starts dancing around. wait wait, it gets worse.

mark richt was asked at halftime what he said to his team. ""i told them if they didn't get a penalty for celebrating after the first score i would be mad at them." so there it is. pissed off as i was at that lack of control over his team, and his apparent lack of class, it only took me a moment to realize why. he's a bowden disciple. he coached under bobby bowden at fsu during the spurrier years when neither bowden nor spurrier had any sense of class when dealing with the other. twisted knees in the pile, late hits on quarterbacks, sniping at one another in the media. it carried over today when richt improved his record against florida to a not-so-commanding 2-5. 0-1 against spurrier. 1-2 against ron zook, who went 8-5 for three straight seasons. 1-2 against urban's gator squads. impressive, eh?

gary danielson and verne lunquist actually PRAISE this lack of sportsmanship. something along the lines of, "way to be fired up!" what are you teaching our youth, cbs? that taunting is ok? sportsmanship is no longer the cool thing to do? it's no wonder when terrell owens and chad johnson are lauded as the greats in the game, and kids look up to them as they make an "art" of celebration and being assholes. i'm glad that i don't have any kids right now. i have a hard enough time teaching my class right from wrong, class, and manners. try teaching sportsmanship these days with the utter lack of nolan ryans, walter paytons, cal ripkens, and michael jordans in pro sports these days. guys that were great, and knew it, but were never cocky about it. they did their job and let their play speak for itself. i lost a lot of respect for georgia today, and i will root against them from now on, SEC pride be damned. i hope they lose the rest of their games this year, and dwell in the bottom of the east from here on out.

here we go again...

stalling in rush hour traffic on the beltway is a bad idea. too bad my truck doesn't really go the whole logic route when deciding to break down. driving home. a different way. to stop at dick's sporting goods for a bocce ball set. to stop at target for houseware type stuff. the danger ranger says to me, "nah, i think i'm going to live up to my nickname. let's stall right.......here!" and proceeded to stall, in the pouring rain, at 5:00 somewhere south of arlington blvd.

marvelous.

i waited about 10 minutes, started her up again, goosed her about another 3 miles down the road, but i smelled burning, and fear of stalling in the rain should not be my primary concern in wet rush hour traffic. so, i called AAA.

conventional wisdom says that i can fix this problem. wikianswers says that it's a 45 step process to change my spark plugs. in the (hopefully unlikely) event that i cannot fix it, it's car shopping time.

damn you carrquest. i want my repair money back. $800 only lasted 4 months. not much of a ROI in my book...

Friday, October 26, 2007

misheard

i guess i watch too many mob flicks. this morning, as i came in, one of my co-workers greeted me with an excited, "the rico man is here!"

my first thought was, "why are the feds here? was our school infiltrated by the mob?" of course, my sleep-deprived brain thought rico as in the racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations act so often mentioned in post-1970s mob movies. meant to bring down the organized crime, yes. investigating copier problems at school, no.

which is the ricoh man she was talking about. i added the H moments later, and it made much more sense.

i'm just glad it wasn't gerardo singing rico suave. that would've been awful...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ear-to-ear grinnin'

go heavy on the good, and light on the bad. a hair more happy and a shade less sad. turn all the negative down just a tad...

wrinkles only go where the smiles have been...

i'm growing older but not up...so let the winds of change blow over my head. i'd rather die while i'm living then live while i'm dead.
----------------------------------------
yeah, this leopard's changed his spots. life is good. the bones creak a little bit more than they used to in my early 20s, but hell, i'm having a lot more fun now! it's nothing a little vitamin i and ice can't fix. i think i've finally grown into the laid back, que sera sera attitude that jack johnson and jimmy buffett have been filling my dreams with for years. it's about damn time...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

misled

misleading advertising, especially from quote unquote respectable sources has always irked me. perhaps moreso now that i need to try to save what i can on travel since it's so darn expensive to get anywhere in florida for a trip.

case in point, last week, i booked my flight home for christmas. more than i expected to spend, of course, but i'd certainly spend that much in gas if i (for some odd reason) decided to drive instead. which would also be nerve-wracking for the simple fact that i'm not so sure how many more epic trips my 168,000 mile-old truck is up to. anyhow, back to my point. i get an email from spirit airlines today advertising travel specials between now and april if you travel on tuesday, thursday or saturday. no big deal, it's christmas break, i can swing that. problem is, they say fares starting at $55. therein lies the rub. it's not deceptive, only misleading. in the circuitous route their website wrung me through, nowhere was i able to find the advertised special. the closest i got was an $89 fare one-way on, you guessed it, christmas morning.

yet another case of don't believe everything you read, especially online. they wanted to get me to their website, they succeeded. luckily, the skeptic in me held off on canceling the prior made reservation until i made the new one. which i was unsuccessful at.

sorry, ma. i tried to extend my trip by a few days. shame on you spirit airlines for getting my hopes up!

Monday, October 22, 2007

quote unquote

"Perhaps animals are smarter than men...taking only what they need to live today, leaving something for tomorrow...Maybe it is man who will eventually perish as he destroys the land and all that it offers."--Patrick D. Smith

one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors. i think it's from allapattah, which takes place deep in the everglades. the protagonist is pissed off at developers for ruining the environment. the take take take mentality that so pervades our culture, with no thought for the ramifications today's decisions have on our descendants. it appears to be coming true in the southeast today. in case you've been living under a rock, you might have noticed that there's a pretty awful drought going on right now. lee sent this article to me. it's about his neck of the woods, but it hits home for me too (since i am too a tree hugger at heart). drought sucks. couple it with overpopulation of cities, and the american sense of entitlement for raping and pillaging natural resources., and i have little sympathy for the many millions that caused the problems, or the stupid politicians that lack the backbone or intelligence to fix the problem. here's how to fix it: move somewhere else. the ecosystem that you chose for your home was not made for 5 million people. [steps off soapbox]

the red is lee's commentary. blue, that's me.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CUMMING, Ga. - With water supplies rapidly shrinking during a drought of historic proportions, Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency Saturday for the northern third of Georgia and asked President Bush to declare it a major disaster area. Georgia officials warn that Lake Lanier, a 38,000-acre reservoir that supplies more than 3 million residents with water, is less than three months from depletion. Smaller reservoirs are dropping even lower.
Perdue asked the president to exempt Georgia from complying with federal regulations that dictate the amount of water released from Georgia's reservoirs to protect federally protected mussel species downstream.
"We need to cut through the tangle of unnecessary bureaucracy to manage our resources prudently — so that in the long term, all species may have access to life-sustaining water," he said.
On Friday, Perdue's office asked a federal judge to force the Army Corps of Engineers to curb the amount of water it drains from Georgia reservoirs into streams in Alabama and Florida. Georgia's environmental protection director is drafting proposals for more water restrictions.
More than a billion gallons of water is released from Lanier every day. The Corps of Engineers bases its water releases on two requirements: The minimum flow needed for a coal-fired power plant in Florida and mandates to protect two mussel species in a Florida river.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said Perdue's request will be reviewed. "In the meantime, we have already begun drafting interim rules to use procedures and flexibility to address the endangered species requirements and the Army Corps has started the process of revising the operations manual for the river basin," Perino said.
Georgia lawmakers say neighboring states also are exploiting the law as a tool to draw more water from Georgia's lakes.
"We've learned from this what a blunt weapon the Endangered Species Act has become," said state Rep. John Linder. "We need to understand this lake was created not for mussels but for people."
(Funny, I thought the ESA was for endangered species that people made "endangered." All along I thought the building of a massive man-made reservoir has somehow affected the mussels. Next thing you know, they're going to be telling me they not only need water, but it has to be clean too! It's a good thing I'm not a policy maker, I get these things so confused! Thanks Rep. Linder for clearing this all up for me, I sure was mislead. Those crazy enviro-libs nearly pulled the wool over my eyes that time.)
More than a quarter of the Southeast is covered by an "exceptional" drought — the National Weather Service's worst drought category. The Atlanta area, with a population of 5 million, is smack in the middle of the affected region, which encompasses most of Tennessee, Alabama and the northern half of Georgia, as well as parts of North and South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia. Georgia was placed under statewide water restrictions in April that limited outdoor watering to three days a week. By May Atlanta allowed watering only on weekends, and in September environmental officials banned virtually all outdoor watering through the northern half of the state. Funny how this seems to be years in the making, and only now it's getting attention. I don't think a 38,000 acre reservoir dries up in 6 months. Just a guess.
Restaurants have been asked to serve water only at a customer's request and the governor called on residents to take shorter showers. More limits will probably be needed, said Carol Couch, the state's environmental director. You reckon?
"This is not something we can conserve our way out of," said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
Well, it appears that one politician gets it!
The state of emergency Perdue declared Saturday affects 85 Georgia counties, more than half of the state. Conditions were worsened by stifling summer heat and a drier-than-normal hurricane season. State climatologist David Stooksbury said it will take months of above average rainfall to replenish the system. Perdue said the state has not yet formed a contingency plan in case the reservoirs run dry. "The backup plan is to conserve and use our water wisely," he said.
Gee, did Cher help you come up with that idea? I think it's a little late for that, Sonny!
The emergency declaration creates an emergency team that will oversee the state's response to drought. It also could free up some state money to respond to the drought, Couch said.

lord, i was born a ramblin' man...

Vamos. Vamos United. Esta noche, tenemos que ganar.

i got to go to my first football game last night. i, of course, mean football in the world sense, not our American sense. d.c. united games are fun. i expect to attend more matches next year. i hope i can decipher and learn the words to the fight songs that the screamin' eagles never stop singing...

good...nay, great day outdoors today. ramblin' around the woods. watching people climb rocks. scrambling up 5.2 slabs in sneakers. enjoying the spectacular weather. shenanigan-ing (because tomfoolery was apparently against the rules, so says bubba).















Saturday, October 20, 2007

revelations

nothing like waking up after a stormy night, rays of sunshine streaming in through the window. fall leaves finally starting to pop. doesn't seem real.

here i sit on the couch, watching the grapes of wrath. seems like a normal saturday from high school. cut the grass, come in, cool off, and watch some old movie with pop on amc that he's seen a hundred times.

i am my father's son...

Friday, October 19, 2007

second base

a little levity for your friday. have a great one!

Students Strike Out With Breast Cancer T-Shirts

WICHITA, Kan. -- Two high school seniors in Kansas must scrap their fundraising project for breast cancer awareness.
They started selling pink T-shirts with two baseballs on them. The text on the shirts read "save second base." The girls thought selling the shirts would be a good way to spread the health message and raise money for research.
The students' school said the sexual innuendo was too suggestive for the classroom.
"I think that if girls can wear shirts that imply sexual messages, they should be able to wear breast cancer shirts. They're trying to do it for a good cause," shirt supporter Cassie Werner said.







http://www.wesh.com/health/14375196/detail.htmlwesh.com/health/14375196/detail.html#

climbing culture

i miss my humble, boisterous, raucous, uproarious GRG. i could add in all kinds of other adjectives, but you get the point. it was to me what cheers was to norm. my lovingly degenerate college/climbing bum people. always welcoming of new blood, as long as they're there for a good time and a good climb. well, at least the boulder rats!

this new place couldn't be more different. i cowboyed up yesterday and joined the gym. being winter, i seriously doubt i'm going to get to the crag on my way home anytime soon (keep your mouth shut, lee!). for those of you who don't know, up here in the arctic, the sun goes down earlier in the winter. moreso than barely-not-tropical gainesville. i'm not rushing to judgment by any means, there seems to be a familiar friendliness to the place, but i reckon i'm going to have to introduce a few interactive games to make it more GRG-like. portuguese make-up, take away and add-on might well be foreign languages. these folks climbing walk in tottering on high heels or rocking business suits. on their way home from work i presume. i guess i am too, but i don't have to dress that nice for my jobby-job. too many boogers and dirty hands to wear good clothes.

anyhow, today was a good day climbing. i sent a pretty V4 on my second go. i was climbing with a guy that spent 4 months at hueco last year. pretty chill, my kind of climber. i need to get serious and train if i'm going to keep up with eme jota in december. a card full of V5s, including my first repeat of genghis khan and a first send of fat cat, is sure going to be hard to come by.

for those of you that read this in spite of having no earthly clue what i'm talking about, you rock (pun intended)...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

wine vs. water

I've read this one before, but my mother sent it to me. It still makes me laugh. You reckon this is why Jesus turned the water into wine?

As Ben Franklin said, "In wine, there is wisdom; in beer, there is freedom; in water, there is bacteria.

In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) - bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop. However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.

Remember: Water = Poop, Wine = Health

Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of shit.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

diversity

this being the first year that the bulk of my kids aren't divided by how their church reads the bible. i learned a little about hari krishnas 2 years ago, but not enough. this year, i've got two boys in my class who are observant muslims. this being the end of ramadan (eid al-fitr), i checked out a book for the class about it. i learned a little bit. i read it today with them filling in any gaps, and getting really really excited about teaching me.

it was pretty awesome actually seeing them excited about their holiday. best part was, it was genuine excitement at telling me about the religious aspects of it, not the commercialism that clouds most of america's perception of christmas. maybe this year for christmas, i'll make a lenten-esque sacrifice of my time and do something good for my soul by giving back some of the gifts bestowed upon my life. (i mean gifts in the i-have-a-good-life sense, not the i-just-unwrapped-something sense).

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."--James 2:14-17

friend love

for the first time in a while, i feel like the effort i'm making to stay connected to my friends and family is paying off. for the past two nights, everyone that has said they were going to call me back has kept their word and talked my ear off. twenty minutes here and there, or an hour plus with relatives not heard from in months.

the really strange part is that some of these conversations are deeper than i ever had with some friends before i moved away. so let me get this straight: i got closer to my friends by moving away? who'd'a thunk it?

weird.

Monday, October 15, 2007

junk mail


aside from the wasted paper of it, i generally get agitated at junk mail for the simple fact that it rarely, if ever, offers any services or prices that i'm interested in. chances are, if i'm a homeowner, i'm not going to get my gutters replaced by some fly-by-night operator that sent me a flyer in a stack of coupons and ads as varied as check reordering and closet organization.

case in point today, though this one made me laugh out loud. an ad for a restaurant called the stray cat cafe. no, i'm not joking. my first inclination was that it was a joke, perhaps a clever name for an animal shelter (or a sleazier-than-most strip club). no, no. this was an actual ad for an actual restaurant. i half-expected to see dishes with strays as the dining fare. but no, just mildly clever titles working feline or meow into the dish name.

i should send this to jay leno for headlines. what were they thinking?

razzing

as an unfortunate consequence of being a single male surrounded by primarily older (presumably happily) married women, i've been subject to, let's say, encouragement to get settled and get myself hitched. one thing that's certainly changed in the last year or two (believe it or not) is that i don't need someone else to "complete me." sure, it'd be nice to have someone since a good number of my friends have taken the plunge and making plans with them would be easier if there were two of me, so to speak.

anyhow, friday afternoon, i was subjected to the funniest session of razzing regarding that since amber and cheryl used to get after me at lunch. or denise telling me she's going to set me up with so-and-so's daughter. or everyone saying they needed to approve of who i dated personally before giving their blessing to the relationship. especially after i related a summer fling with a girl from starke. anyhow, i got a few of my digs in back at them. oddly enough, the ringleader actually apologized this morning. said i probably get enough of it from my own mother. hell, under past circumstances, maybe i would have been offended, but i was giddy from the high of laughing my ass off.

laughter cures all. i think that's why i'm adjusting to the move so well. all my new friends make me laugh. maybe that's why i'm fending off cold and flu season too...

books

in an continued effort to simultaneously make myself more smarter and more interesting, i'm pledging to read more this month. before i get reconnected to the media-filled life that is american society. yep. november 10th-ish, internet, tv and a landline (how retro!), and my descent into ignorance begins anew.

anyhow, here's a sampling of the stuff i've read in the last year or so. any recommendations based on what's written below? classics, non-fiction, new fiction. pretty much anything but sci-fi or fantasy. just can't get my head around it.

cheers!

A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen
Big Trouble by Dave Barry
Red Grass River by James Carlos Blake
Florida Roadkill by Tim Dorsey
All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
Nickel & Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
The*Bully*of*Bentonville: How the High Cost of Wal-Mart's Everyday Low Prices is Hurting America by Anthony Bianco
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales

relaxation

oh, what to say. what to say. 400 miles added to the odometer.

friday night movie. saturday cooking lesson with granny. interesting times with the rest of the family. table in the apartment now. climbing with brad today. long talk with a california cousin tonight.

oddly enough, this was the most i've gotten to sit still in months it seems. aside from driving, of course. this city is nuts, and i absolutely love it!

next weekend, it begins anew. houseguest. futbol and football. go gators.

Friday, October 12, 2007

meetings

man, these meetings are about to kill me. i can't hardly get ahead in my classroom because of this or that. last night, left school at 4, right after the kids, got home at 8. in a meeting all day today, sub in my classroom. the meetings pile up, one after another. it's intense. that's the best i can put it.

at least it's friday, and i'm going to see granny this weekend. she's going to teach me some more italian cooking skills. let's see if i can remember the recipe because i bet she doesn't use one!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

80s "cinema"

Thus far:

"Look, I like you, I really like you, but I gotta tell you, I have become seriously and emotionally involved with someone who isn't my aunt."

"First of all Rat, you never let on how much you like a girl. "Oh, Debbie. Hi." Two, you always call the shots. "Kiss me. You won't regret it." Now three, act like wherever you are, that's the place to be. "Isn't this great?" Four, when ordering food, you find out what she wants, then order for the both of you. It's a classy move. "Now, the lady will have the linguini and white clam sauce, and a Coke with no ice." And five, now this is the most important, Rat. When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV."

"With Mogwai, comes much responsibility. I cannot sell him at any price."

name those 80s movies!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

kids these days

most days, i spend more time with my students than their parents do. that ain't right. 8:50 to 3:40 i see their smiling, wiggling bodies and try my damnedest to squeeze all kinds of knowledge into their sponge-like brains. can't waste a drop. some of these poor kids get dropped off at school before i get here and leave after i do. spend two, maybe three hours with mom and dad to do their homework, eat dinner, get a bath, and get to bed. it's no wonder that they're absolutely starved for attention. maybe attention deficit disorder has its roots in a lack of interaction with their parents instead of being overstimulated by television and video games. getting attention as the problem, not paying attention.

what do they call this, a moment of clarity?

heat

i was looking for the intro to the pool scene from sandlot, where the kids are all playing ball and bitching about how flippin' hot it is. my a/c is running and i don't like it one bit. it was gainesville august-like today. 94 degrees. what the foxtrot!?

"The waters? What waters? We're in the desert."..."I was misinformed."
"It's so damn hot... milk was a bad choice."

Oh I wish...
"One day it started raining, and it didn't quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin' rain... and big ol' fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath."

Monday, October 8, 2007

seasons?

one of the things i've looked forward to most with the move is a change in seasons. bright leaves in the fall, the need to wear a coat in the winter, an actual spring, a summer that doesn't last 11 months. right now, it's apparently 20 degrees above normal temps in d.c. yes, that means 90s in october. i thought i left all that behind.

the people up here seem to enjoy it.


the few trees that have started to change colors seem so surreal to me. yes, i've seen them before at hound ears and horse pens in the fall, but it's almost digital in my brain. my peripheral vision seems to be searching for the edges of the tv screen because it's not quite sure how to take it all in.

there's apparently selling seasons up here too. you can't buy patio furniture in october. why can't i enjoy a nice fall evening on my balcony eating dinner? oh yeah, summer is the time for that up here because it's not 97 degrees with 85% humidity. one thing hasn't changed though. today's date: october 8th. the christmas season is underway once again. is it just me, or does it seem like we'll be seeing santa in september pretty soon? retailers need to get a grip and remember the holidays between the fourth of july and christmas. perhaps....thanksgiving?