Saturday, May 31, 2008

redirected wanderlust

sunny skies inspiration
gives way to hammock-cradled reading.

tales of vagabonding,

mind wandering to itchy feet,
breezy skies blowing in dark clouds,
foretelling ominous ending for
his trek into the wild.

daegu destination,
wiped just as cleanly as these blue skies.

cleansing deluge washes it all away.
much like florida of past,
in my new virginia future.

Friday, May 30, 2008

a comedy of errors, friday edition

i'm taking monday off. sort of. i have a literal mountain of paperwork to take care of before wednesday next week. i'm not kidding when i say that it's a foot high. report cards and the like will plague me all day. as such, i had to plan for a substitute for monday as well. that done, i left work far too late. i soon found out why this was a bad idea for the friday afternoon commute.

1) i missed the doo on dc101. often silly and random, the drive home dj plucks a song from the radio's library that used to be big and doesn't get airplay anymore, or occasionally drops some rockin' new jams on us. i've missed it most of this week somehow, just a symptom of this time of year.

2) not far from school, sitting at a traffic light, a bubbly woman in a toyota corolla got on the gas a little too eagerly when it turned green and rear-ended me. she got the worst of it, grill and hood dinged with some white paint. last time that happened, a 16 year-old in daddy's cadillac got the scare of his life. same disposition. also a maroon car. honestly, as much traffic as there is around here, i'm surprised it hasn't happened until now.

3) bumper to bumper on 395. radio said the accident was cleared up an hour ago. delays persisted. for ten miles. i jumped off first chance i got and explored.

4) a bit of luck on my side, i finagled my way to a road i recognized. i wound up sitting at a light about a mile from my house. while police cruiser after cruiser came tearing through the intersection, lights on, sirens wailing.

you know, if i had any sense about me, i'd lock the deadbolt, chain the door, and stay in for the weekend. but i don't. i'm just gonna laugh about this, shrug it off, and hope my driving luck doesn't result in a one hour commute home ever again!

Thursday, May 29, 2008


a few weeks ago, i started getting spammed. my relatively unknown email address found its way out into a spambot computer. my email address was always relatively safe because those spambot computers were unable to generate it because i threw in an extra initial.

starting in november or so, someone in the district with whom i share a last name started setting up utilities, using my email address as contact info. i politely informed each of those companies that mine was not in fact sue's email address and to please contact her another way. oddly, you'd think those companies would know that because i had accounts of my own set up with them. unfortunately, with the same last name, perhaps they thought we were kin or married or something else somewhat logical. in any event, i thought this problem was solved. i deleted all of those emails when they finally ceased. now with a furious pace, i'm getting 20-30 spams a day because she's setting up homebased businesses, entering survey sites to win free stuff, sell viagra, god knows what else!

if only i still had those emails with her address so i could snail mail bomb her back. is that vindictive? eye for an eye, the bible sayeth...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

in the interest of my sanity

positivity is hard to maintain at this time of year. the end-of-the-year stresses outside of the classroom. the deteriorating behavior inside of it. from here on out, i'm going to have to follow a rant with a rose-colored glasses look at work, because i hate being so down on so few, when i should be high on success.

edition one. this boy struggles with writing. he's still learning english, though you'd never know it to have a conversation with him. he's a fluent speaker in two languages, with little trace of his native spanish. he busts his hump day in, day out, with the best attitude you'd ever want to have in a student. give me a class full of him, i'll be challenged, but happy. he's made a year's growth this year in reading. today, he wrote his best paragraph all year. on topic, five sentences, clear ideas, main idea, details. all it took was that little extra support before he started writing. instead of head-scratching confusion, he wrote for thirty minutes like he knew what he was doing. now i finally know what it takes for him to succeed in writing. too bad it was so late in the year!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

unintended consequences

mainstreaming is the newest and greatest development in special education since, well, defining kids by how different they are. for non-teachers, it's what happens when we decide a student is different, label them as different but fitting into a group, then stick them in a regular education classroom with 20+ other kids who are different and a little bit strange in their own special ways. it works for some kids. my guess is the intention is to teach everyone a little empathy for differences and give that special child some positive role models on how to behave in a "normal" classroom.

my classroom is far from normal, as i'm sure you've gathered. an unintended consequence of the mainstreaming of these special little guys and gals is the teacher spending more of their time dealing with that student's issues than with the other 20+ students thirsting for attention and knowledge and success. unfairly, that one child will stick in the mind of that teacher for years and years, while the sweet, quiet ones that were model students get lodged in the back of the memory bank where they'll remain until they walk in the door 15 years later, "do you remember me, mr. j?"

were you the one that threw your scissors and crayons when you were frustrated? "no." were you the one that kicked and scratched the substitute when i was absent, at training to learn how to deal with you? "no." oh, i've got it, are you the one who ran from me and the administrators into traffic when you had to sit out because you were a little shit in music class one day? "no." well, i'm sorry, then, i don't remember you. the 90% of the students who don't do these outlandish things, the 90% whose parents raised them to have some semblance of respect for adults and a love of learning, the 90% that you want your own children to be, are the exact same students that disappear from memory first.

another unintended consequence is the exact opposite of the positive influence the class is supposed to have on this child. instead of that occurring, and the troubled one becoming a better student and ultimately citizen for it, the reverse occurs. that child becomes a unwitting negative influence on others in the class. he cries when he can't/won't do his work, others notice that teacher gives attention, and he does less work or leaves the room with another teacher to complete the work. "hey, i like attention. i'll do the same thing."

and that is exactly what is going on right now. one student has picked up on the attention given to this special child because of his outbursts, and has decided to emulate them. tears, pulling hair, yelling at me. i'm done with it. it's over. i can't explain to him that the special one is special because he doesn't see that. he's too young to understand what kind of differences they have; all he knows is that his friend gets more attention when he cries and acts out, and it's not the same negative attention he'd get at home from his parents. guidance counselor wants to "talk it out" with him, see if we can get to the root of the issue. i'll tell you right now: child number one, that gets all the attention because of his issues, should not be mainstreamed. his disruptions have ruined a year of learning for all but a few of my students. i love this kid, he's funny and intelligent, i may even have him in my class next year if i get to move to third grade, but the effect he's had on the other 90% of the class wasn't worth it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

weddings weddings, everywhere

over the last two weeks, i've been to two weddings. quite a fun contrast between the two of them.

last weekend, you can see the attire to your left. this weekend, linen pants and a borrowed hawaiian shirt. i wanted to wear a white linen shirt, but the bride told me no. apparently, the groom was the only one who was allowed to wear white. who knew?!

last weekend, day trip to richmond. this weekend, we pitched a tent in the backyard.

last weekend, very scripted church wedding and country club reception. tuxedoed bartenders serving wine and cocktails in proper glassware. tuxedoed waiters and waitresses circulating among the cocktail-handed guests with tiny hors d'oeuvres. sit down surf and turf. wedding cake. bride, her friend. this weekend, laid-back, festive affair in the backyard. mai tais, ice cold draft beer. roast pig. buffet. bride, my friend.

similarities, there were many. the groom's expression when he first saw his bride in her dress. the happy tears of the mothers. the princess bride theme. girls dancing way more. the fight for the bouquet. none of the guys even looking the right way to catch the garter. four happy families in all.

Friday, May 23, 2008

work dreams

work is creeping into my dreams. it happens every year. for about eighty percent of the year, no worries when i walk out that door. i focus on life. outwardly, it would seem the same is true for the last twenty. subconsciously, apparently not the case. right now, assessment insanity at work. my poor 21 munchkins have been subjected to many, many out-of-the-ordinary reading tests one-on-one with me.

"here, read this book out loud. i'm going to listen to you read, and write down everything you say. don't be nervous."

yeah, right. doesn't even faze my high-achieving ones. attention problems. strugglers. yeah, they flip. they read worse than i know they're capable of, and ethically, i can't do a damn thing about it. i've got to call it as i see it, even if the day-to-day reality is far different than what that thirty minutes or less on that one day shows.

my college courses always said, "a test is one piece of information. assessment is ongoing." practice thus far has shown that to be bullshit. if it weren't, wouldn't assessment creep into my dreams year-round?

that's what i thought.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


day-to-day headaches of the classroom. chatty eight year-olds. paperwork.

which one of the above chases more teachers away? trick question. none of the above. it's a new breed of parents.

see here.



rock climbing routes and bouldering problems are graded for the difficulty of movement, the length of the problem, and the first ascensionist's mood that day. they're generally subjective, but for most beginning to intermediate climbers, they represent the proof that they are improving in ability. at the very least, they give a sense of how hard a climber must work to send a problem or route. at their worst, grades can intimidate a seemingly weaker climber from pushing him or herself to try something deemed by some to be hard. climber readers, i know you know all this. non-climber readers, just a bit of background information for you.

a few weeks ago, i successfully completed my first V7. i had to work my ass off for about two weeks to figure out the sequence and where my body had to be to make each move. i tried sections independently, but was never able to link them. finally, one day about two weeks ago, i sent it on my first try of the day. the first clue that i was capable of this was the relative ease with which i sent all of the new V6s that had been set within a week. it took some perseverance, but i did it. lee and palmer were congratulatory. i know damn well that plastic doesn't translate to stone, but i'm hopeful for colorado this summer.

last week, i successfully completed my first V8. second try. sure, it's probably "soft" for the grade, but i was sending everything else i touched on thursday too. i watched some guys working on the V8 last night. i think it played to my strengths. so last night, climbing well yet again, i discovered a lack of inhibition at climbing harder stuff. now, the point. i am no longer intimidated by grades! it took four years to get to this point. i think i'm much closer than i've felt to being the climber that i want to be. climbing what looks fun, instead of working at climbing harder and harder problems. that will come, but i think climbing might be a lot more fun from now on. frustration shows in laughter instead of anger. marvelous.

the game at the gym

the game by neil strauss. a book that spread like wildfire among my friends last year in gainesville. curious, i checked it out from the library. my hater blockers on, i still felt the judgmental eyes of the library clerk, seeming to say, "you macho chauvinistic pig! i can't believe you..." for the uninitiated, the game is a book by a self-proclaimed pick up artist. in it, he tells the tale of the underground world of men whose sole purpose in live is to (sadly) pick up as many women as possible in their life. most often, these sad little men are able to date out of their pay grade because of the mind games they play on unsuspecting weak women. (i don't mean that women are weak, i mean that they prey upon women with low self-esteem.) they think so highly of themselves that the book is bound to look like a bible. horrible book, no? i won't spoil the ending in case you are intrigued by it. i did pick up a few tips on how to interact with women in general, and how to read their subtle and not-so-subtle body language. it's made me wary lately, especially at the gym.

wanting to know someone's name, while seemingly innocuous, is misconstrued as showing interest. climbing last night, i didn't want to convey that; however, at the new gym, where no one seems to use one another's names, asking names is almost taboo. especially since i've been climbing there for the better part of 6 months now, and still know very few people's names. as i've been climbing well lately, and pretty happy, i seem approachable enough. when it's a mixed comp-any of climbing, the girls aren't as intimidated to ask for help, and often will just watch a stronger climber to figure out the beta (sequence of how to do it). last night, after the mixed gender sendfest, two girls were working on a problem and struggling with a move. they're both nice, and i've climbed with them before, but i have absolutely no idea what their names are. did i ask? nope. same dilemma as earlier in the school year with one of my coworkers, though i'm pretty sure in this case, they don't know mine either.

the all-too-common banter of rock gyms, in a social setting, would convey interest as well. back at the grg, an outsider would really have no clue about interest levels between some climbers. did grgers date each other? sure, but not as often as you would think with the flirting and posturing that went on between the males and females (or the males and males for that matter!).

some unexpected insights from a player hater about the game...

Monday, May 19, 2008

on childhood obesity

a few weeks ago, i mused about the obesity epidemic in this country getting worse, not better because of the poor example adults are setting for the children in their lives. it is affecting children. on one hand, the children don't see the value in exercising. on the other, a father dies too young, and his 12 year-old son sets out to not emulate that example. is that what it will take to turn some lives around? check this video.

downward facing dog

yesterday, as i brought my groceries in, i saw a woman doing yoga by herself in the grass. facing westward, it took me a second to realize she wasn't dancing. it was a beautiful afternoon to do it. rather than making me laugh because she looked silly, it made me simultaneously happy and sad. happy from outdoor yoga memories. sad because i miss climbing with the yogi. i briefly thought of joining her, when i realized that my inexperience would have intruded on her spiritual experience. i walked silently by, wishing for a day when i know more and can practice on my own.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

well fed

what a foodie weekend! i miss mom's kitchen and satchel's and sweet tea, but the quest for the best barbecue or southern cooking that was in gainesville has morphed into a quest for as many different cultural food experiences as i can muster in this cosmopolitan county in which i reside.

yesterday, wedding number one of many in the upcoming 52 weeks or so. open bar. free gin and tonics? sign me up! surf and turf for dinner? sign me up. what surf and what turf? no, it wasn't glorified chicken and shrimp. filet mignon and crab cakes. perfectly cooked, the both of them. wedding cake was tasty, but her cakes are better.

today. taste of arlington, an annual gastronomic street fair in ballston. a bunch of good restaurants. a bunch of restaurants set up in the ballston commons mall. two bucks a ticket. a ticket buys a taste from each restaurant. at some (cough! melting pot!), that didn't buy much more than a slice of banana and a strawberry. at others, an appetizer sized bite of paella or a slider sized pulled pork sandwich. best part of it was that all of the restaurants featured are within five miles of my apartment, and none are in the district. indian, lebanese, spanish, and southern food sit in my belly right now. i now have more foodie-riffic restaurants on my hit list for the next few months.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

hip transformation

'villians and i always ragged on the hipsters we'd see at shows. square or black-rimmed glasses. flock of seagulls hairdo. scraggly facial hair. can of pbr. bobbing head or tapping toes. stone-faced.

i love me some indie music, but i got tired of those kids never showing how they truly felt about the music. there'd be one or two guys doing interpretive dance at the front of the crowd. do more than mouth bob your head. dance, scream the words with the band, bounce up and down. hell, start a mosh pit. something. the best part of live music is being with fans.

where does this retro rant come from? last night, i checked out a show in clarendon. two bands with female lead singers. boxcar collision. newer band, i presume. pretty good. there was the one guy, the superfan, that knew all the words. as i looked around the crowd, i saw the same hipsters from the 'ville. oddness. they were older, and presumably more professional than the college kids or townies that frequented the shows at the atlantic or sidebar or common grounds.

i realized something else. back in the 80s, these young professionals living in an urban setting had a different name. they weren't hipsters. they were yuppies. they enjoyed the arts. they went out at night. if it wasn't mainstream, they loved it and told all their equally hip friends about it so they could be different, just like everyone else! instead of road bikes and part-time jobs, they had bmws and high-salaried positions in tall buildings. as i stood there with my converse sneakers, wearing my too-small retro t-shirt, bobbing my head to the music, trying to discern the lyrics, drinking my stella artois, i realized something. i'm uniwittingly becoming a yuppie.


Friday, May 16, 2008


seven years or so, i've had my email address. seven years of listening to my friends complaints about hotmails lax spam controls and having an inbox full of spam from viagra schillers and snake oil salesmen. seven years of bliss from not having their problems with the bane of email. it ended on wednesday.

some spambot sold my email address. likely culprit, a suvey website of which i previously participated. all of the spams are coming from survey sites. well, and then there was the one from yesterday that claimed i joined their site in 1982. unlikely since al gore hadn't invented the internet yet.

if and when i figure out where it came from, i'll spam bomb them back. everything from brigham young to larry flynt will crash their system and their doors with the same viagra pitches, penis enlarging creams, and home encyclopedia sets. anyone know how to do that?

random cultured

netflix has brought me some dizzyingly odd and wonderful movies. way back when, i refused to watch foreign films because i had to read the subtitles. i'd lose the visual nature of the film because i'd be reading so slowly. i still have trouble reading the subtitles without losing some meaning, but it's improving. i feel like it started with chinese action movies. a lot easier for me to follow, even with the romantic subplots in crouching tiger or house of flying daggers.

recently, i watched volver. kind of a chick flick, with a dark twist. if penelope cruz weren't in it, i may have liked it less. she was phenomenal. any lesser actress in beauty or joie de vivre couldn't have carried the film, especially in light of some of the darker aspects of her character's life.

last night, i finished watching the lives of others. a german movie about the stasi in 1984 in east germany. the first half or so was pretty tough to watch. the setup for the second, far more satisfying half took a while. the plot wound up being fairly predictable. i'd probably watch it again if given the chance, but alas, netflix wants it back.

i've also been reading sporadically as i have time. just finished the kite runner. yes, i know i'm about a year or two late on that one. presuming the characterizations of afghanis true, i learned an awful lot about their culture, and in turn one of my students. for the same reason i didn't particularly enjoy deliverance the movie after reading deliverance the book, i'm not so sure i'm going to see the film adaptation of hosseini's acclaimed novel. i will however keep a look out for a thousand splendid suns, which i hear is also excellent.

ok, cultured friends. hit me up with some more foreign or random indie flicks i can put in the queue, or books i should pull off my shelf. think classics in the latter regard. i have quite a few that i've never opened up. i think into the wild will be the next one i crack, but it's a short read i'm told. it's getting to be the time to read in the sunshine...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

lessons from mum

way back when, clip-on ties became uncool and it became necessary to learn how to tie a real necktie. according to gq, esquire, and various other men's magazines, it is just one of those skills of a gentleman. my father knows how to tie one, he just rarely wears them. my mother was the one that taught me. i think. why is it the same in many movies the women are the ones teaching their sons or tying their husband's tie?

movie one, the american president. michael douglas, as the president of the united states, can't tie his own tie. his daughter lucy ties it for him. she learned how from her mother. no son in the picture, but why doesn't the pres know how?

last night, i watched part of a german drama called the lives of others. the playwright georg is having a 40th birthday party. his girlfriend buys him a tie, teasing him about not being able to tie one. of course, he denies that and disappears to do so. while struggling with it, he pokes his head out into the hall to grab his neighbor to help him tie it. the neighbor? a woman.

today at work, it's necktie day as part of spirit week. i was asked to tie two ties today, for women oddly enough, when i realized that i can't tie them for others, only myself. somehow i need to hone that skill someday i can pass it along to my son when he graduates from clip-ons...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

random movie quotes, wedding edition

wedding season is upon us, folks. after a phone call from a childhood friend yesterday afternoon, i tallied the number of weddings i'm going to in the next year or so. six, four of which are in the next four months, two in the next two weeks! most of them are pretty close, but two of mine will take me past state borders.

1) I apologize to you if I don't seem real eager to jump into a forced awkward intimate situation that people like to call dating. I don't like the feeling. You're sitting there, you're wondering do I have food on my face, am I eating, am I talking too much, are they talking enough, am I interested I'm not really interested, should I play like I'm interested but I'm not that interested but I think she might be interested but do I want to be interested but now she's not interested? So all of the sudden I'm getting, I'm starting to get interested... And when am I supposed to kiss her? Do I have to wait for the door cause then it's awkward, it's like well goodnight. Do you do like that ass-out hug? Where you like, you hug each other like this and your ass sticks out cause you're trying not to get too close or do you just go right in and kiss them on the lips or don't kiss them at all? It's very difficult trying to read the situation. And all the while you're just really wondering are we gonna get hopped up enough to make some bad decisions?

2) Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam...and wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva...So tweasure your wuv.

3) Anything? Well, uh I guess I, deep down, am feeling a little confused. I mean, suddenly, you get married, and you're supposed to be this entirely different guy. I don't feel different. I mean, take yesterday for example. We were out at the Olive Garden for dinner, which was lovely. And uh, I happen to look over at a certain point during the meal and see a waitress taking an order, and I found myself wondering what color her underpants might be. Her panties. Uh, odds are they are probably basic white, cotton, underpants. But I sort of think well maybe they're silk panties, maybe it's a thong. Maybe it's something really cool that I don't even know about. You know, and uh, and I started feeling... what? what I thought we were in the trust tree in the nest, were we not?

ok, so they're all gimmes. go have a laugh.

Monday, May 12, 2008


i spent quite a while this weekend trying to write about my adventures. i apparently have a severe case of writer's block. my affliction has affected me before. i'd learned a lesson from the last time.

i must write when the feelings, the emotions, the experiences are still fresh in my mind. the euphoria. the rejection. the pain. the elation. some of you may know that i was using writing as a catharsis for some not-so-happy times in my life. it even got to the point when my scribblings were so good that i considered compiling said sad stories into a book of sorts. they're all true stories, though if i ever were to consider the book route, i'd change the names to protect those involved. it started over two years ago when lee and i lived together. i'd just returned from christmas break, and i had a stunning realization as i sat in my apartment alone late at night. so, i took out my laptop and started pecking away. two hours later, i had quite an introspective look into my head. and so it began...

i'm not sure how this applies to my current writer's block. probably something along the lines of if i want my tales to be more adventurous (even taking some literary license in them), i should write about them very soon after the adventure. the more time passes, the less the adrenaline will affect and accent the writing. my book has popped back into my head again, albeit with a happier twist. problem again, details escape me and the initial euphoria of those moments have passed. maybe with a little help from my friends...

Thursday, May 8, 2008


after work yesterday, i did nothing. well, at least nothing productive. biding my time between reading the kite runner and wasting time online, i mentally compiled my to-do list for after work. it took me until 9pm to finish it.

one, go to the gym. a bevy of new problems awaited me, including a wicked long lip traverse. left, heel, match, repeat on a series of taluses and juggy edges. that is until the final hold. giant sloper, no feet, throw for the top of the wall. i just didn't have it in me. it was quite a session with the others that were working it too. exhausted and de-stressed, i stumbled out.

two, groceries. my fridge was beginning to resemble old mother hubbard's cupboard. an apple here or there, various slices of leftover cheese. three almost-empty containers of hummus. a guinness. i made a list using the weekly specials email that harris teeter sends me. they base it on past purchases, which is pretty rad. i always know what lunch meats and cereals are on sale, so i can salivate on the way there. last night: london broil, cheerios, and cinnamon toast crunch. yum! somehow managing to tote all the groceries inside (and keeping the price under $60 for once) to dive right into the next one.

three, oil change. last time i attempted this, it was an epic battle between oil filter and i. jiffy lube grease monkeys will never again touch my truck. last night, nothing but net. well, except for my forgetfulness of the "lefty loosey, righty tighty" mantra. previous experience aside, i was more concerned about burning myself with the exhaust or engine block than i was about actually draining the oil. all told, one left arm greased up and fifteen minutes of work. about what it should be. 176,250 miles and still trucking!

four, shower. aaah! getting grease off isn't as easy as it used to be. i needed a brillo pad to clean it up, and i still managed to miss a knuckle and the back of my elbow.

five, dinner. finally. fatigue had set in and the apartment quickly filled with smoke at my attempt to toast my pita.

six, unwinding. this took far longer than expected. long conversations with two important women and elmo. another chapter or two from the kite runner. it wasn't until almost midnight that i fell asleep, but i didn't stir at all. the driver's side of my bed was still perfectly made when i woke up. is it really only thursday?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

an earthquake?

what the foxtrot?! today, whilst i was teaching my chitlins the intricacies of faces, edges, and vertices and three-dimensional figures, there was a boom. sounded a bit like something fell upstairs. a lot of something. problem is, there's no upstairs above me. personally, i thought a transformer blew up and half-expected the power to go out or at least flicker.

come to find out it was an earthquake according to the usgs. ok, a mini-earthquake.

those wily army engineers! if they'd tried such silly things in florida, they'd be underwater.


maybe it's because i'm a man in a mostly female work environment. maybe it's because i'm a cynic. maybe it's because i'm grumpy. this week is teacher appreciation week. i dread this week every year. why?

the appreciation doled out by our parents and administration is made with the best of intentions. i didn't get into teaching for the accolades or six-figure paychecks. lord knows neither one is coming around anytime soon!

the parents that give their all to show their appreciation during these weeks are the parents whose kids will succeed regardless of who's in the classroom. why? because they care. these parents see schools as only part of the equation in raising their children, not the whole kit and caboodle. these parents know that their kids will never make it in this world if they pass off their parenting responsiblities to a different person each year, realizing the constant of their parenting has far more impact. sure, these kids will always remember their favorite teachers, as i do. the ones that extolled the virtue of raising your voice at injustice (mr. deveney), the ones that connected subject matter to real life (mr. beames), the ones that let you slack off senior year (mrs. goldwyn), or the ones that made learning fun (mrs. harris, mrs. lombard, mrs. lay, mrs. stafford).

the administration? well, it'd be nice if it felt like we were on the same team most of the time. problem is, our new era of principals and their ilk are more concerned with test scores and budgets than getting to know the kids or connecting with their staff. dr. hirsch was the best first principal i could've hoped for. she was old school. encouraging, wise, loving. even when i screwed up, i could count on her to help me out. no child left behind administrations don't care as much unless your kids perform well on the Almighty Test. that's what i'd appreciate. guidance. yeah, i'm five years in, but i never feel that way. there's always much to learn, and aside from a workshop off-site, i never feel like i'm getting the resources i need from my own school. shouldn't that be the way to show your appreciation? to further my professional development by learning from your wisdom, rather than telling me what workshop to go to or what test score to strive for?

keep your recipe books and mary kay gift cards. if i can't glean some knowledge from this place, what incentive to i have to stay?

Monday, May 5, 2008

fat kids

an epiphany today. first, some context.

got it? on a borrowed peugeot road bike today, i soaked up the sunshine and something occurred to me. our green spaces are going to waste. the reason it's so hard for people to exercise and stay in shape when they're adults is because they're not doing it when they're kids.

how did i come up with this theory? first, i suck at bike riding. the best i ever did was the 3 miles or so to forest glen middle school way back in the day, and that took us 45 minutes there. home, much longer because of detours to the five and dime and the baseball card shop and fights in the park across wiles road. (no, not me fighting, watching others fight since that was the cool thing to do in middle school. back before weapons were part of the equation.) landed on my face once on my way to high school before i discovered that riding your bike to high school was decidedly loserish. so, long story short, my bicycling skills aren't so great. going on bike rides with her is generally an exercise in pain because she's better than me at it.

second, there were no kids having fun being outdoors on the trail today. ok, so there were a few tottering along or riding in trailers behind dad's bike. no kids playing in backyards. no kids enjoying a glorious spring day. it goes in cycles, but the most common answer i get when i ask my classes about hobbies is a list of gaming systems not sports. when we were kids, the world was perceived to be safer. we were allowed to go places and do things without the aid of minivans and mommies. we learned how to be responsible for ourselves and make good decisions on our own. neurotic parents these days (rightly or wrongly) don't trust anyone to do the right thing when it comes to their kids. they don't let kids have fun independent of them, let alone play neighborhood pick-up games of football (tackle in the grass, two hand touch in the street).

parents need to make a concerted effort to get their kids in the habit of being active. the kids emulate what they see. they don't see mom and dad doing it, they figure it's not important. worse yet, mom and dad do it, but complain about it, so the kids immediately assume the worst and resist it even more. i try to set a good example for my students, but it's harder and harder to make that connection with classes these days because of the climate and culture of schools. but this isn't a school rant. this is an exercise rant. get out. be active. parent or not, we all need to do so. don't wait until you have kids. you'll be old and tired by then. get in that habit now while you're just tired. don't treat it as a chore. do what you enjoy.

viva fun!

Friday, May 2, 2008

dream catcher

i rarely remember my dreams, and i woke up with my pulse racing at 2:30 last night from a nightmare. i've got no appetite for breakfast right now, and i'm curious about what my dreams from last night meant.

first one, i was climbing with random friends. some climbers, some not. we were deep water soloing and free soloing. crash pads, no ropes, somewhere touristy out west. we were next to a mcdonald's at my apartment. some of the guys were buildering (climbing the building) to my balcony, which was somewhere high up. a friend that'd already made it all the way up was goofing off and fell off the balcony. he hit a cliff on the way down before he settled on the crash pad we were using for our shenanigans. didn't die, but his leg wasn't exactly bending properly. the medical airlift helicopter couldn't land because of a mcdonald's helicopter bringing ronald mcdonald to some kid's birthday party. we were screaming at the chopper, ronald was waving like a goon. they finally went away, and i woke up as they were loading landon into the chopper. interpretation?

second, she and i went to paris on a whim. ran into my parents at some random museum. i tried paying our admission to a clerk that spoke no english and my very limited french was no help. i guess counting to three and saying i don't know won't get you very far after you ask if they can speak english and the answer's no. anyhow, i only had dollars, she was trying to figure out the exchange rate between francs (yes, i know they use the euro now), and disappeared. some other employee took us inside to search for her in the darkened museum gift shop. we never found her, so she took my money and ran presumably. we started checking out the museum, which turned out to be a cross between a car show, a car museum, and the gem exhibit at the natural history museum all crammed in a 12th century castle that had turned into a shopping mall. interpretation?

third, somewhere else in my head. randomly, i was hanging out with tim tebow at some deli that was in his apartment. we became friends because i didn't really care that he was tim tebow. everyone else was falling all over themselves because he was tim tebow. that's all i can remember.

Thursday, May 1, 2008



i can't seem to catch a break. i can't manage a solid night's sleep. strange dreams, waking up in the middle of the night over and over. i'd love to blame it on outside influence, but i'm pretty much comatose when i fall asleep. something just occurred to me, a car alarm did wake me up last night at 2, but i fell right back asleep. it was waking up at 3:30 that kept me awake for at least 15 minutes. then again at 5.

what's causing this? i don't drink caffeine. i rarely booze anymore. i'm exerting myself to the point of exhaustion when i run or climb or hike. i'm not waking up sneezing or congested or cold or hot. my prostate's still young enough that i can sleep through the night. is it stress? am i doing too much each day, longing for lazy florida days? or am i actually doing too little and not as tired as i feel?