Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Well, back to the grind this week. No problems getting back in the swing, at all.

Thanksgiving was great. A good get away and a relaxing time. I hope everyone else had as good a holiday as the Monkey and I. The only shortcoming? I didn't make any pie!!!! And, sadly, five days later, I am jonesin' for a stuffing sandwich. With gravy, of course.

One of my fondest post-Turkeyday memories is raiding my brother-in-law TD Jr.'s fridge and finding weeks'-worth of stuffing! Gawd, the Monkey and I gorged ourselves that year.

Today, the Monkey is ill. She has a sore throat. Currently, she is on the sofa watching "The Apprentice." Now, that's sick! Wish her good health. I am trying my best to fight it. SO far, so good.

Ripken spent the holiday visiting Aunt James and Uncle Joe and Ms. London Belle. He had a great time and slept all afternoon on Monday. Today, he's back to normal.

Monkey heads to NYC in two weeks. I'll be staying here, minding the fort. Among other things.

Now that we are fully into the holiday season, enjoy yourself as much as possible. It is easy to get frustrated by traffic and shopping and people and Christmas songs and other holidays and too much work and a lack of finances and on and on and on. But try to keep a smile on your face as you say, "Hey, asshole, get your Santa-hat-wearing-perfume-spraying-Happy-Holidays-repeating self OUT OF MY WAY! I've got shopping to do."

And, finally, to my sister (you know who you are): maybe if you didn't keep your photos in a bucket, you could post them somewhere....

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hippy Warlocks and French Witches

So,Friday night, after a long afternoon of Happy Hour hopping, Monkey and I joined My Favorite Berry and a host of her Harry-Potter-lovin' friends to the Hollywood 14 to see the lastest offering from Hogwarts, Inc. The theatre was packed with teenagers in academic robes. One old guy was dressed up like a sweet transvestite, but I think he was at the wrong movie. Dammit, Janet!

Anyway, Monkey and I paid our arm and leg for a huge bag of popcorn and a diet coke (the things I do for love...) and met up with the row of FOBs in theatre number 1. They had been there, saving the row, since six o'clock or something ridiculous. It was an 8:15 show.

The previews were many, and the commercials were more still. The movie: not bad. I must admit, I dozed through some of it. Not the movies fault, more the wine and beer's fault. I'd rather blame it on the cheese, but I know it ain't so. The kiddos in the flick are older (understandble and not unprecedented), and starting to look like little hippies. The coterie of young witches from France or wherever were strange in their children-of-the-corn-ness and bizarre finishing school mannerisms. And Ralph Fiennes without a nose is pretty freakin' scary.

Today was taken up nearly entirely by an online workshop for school. Monkey and I may make plans for tonight, but we can't seem to find any suitable time to talk about it. Tomorrow brings pie lessons for James and a visit with Ms. London Belle for Ripken.

Something is happening next week...on Thursday, I think...but I can't remember what it is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Random Thoughts, Part the First

What would it be like to be shot from a cannon? I mean, you know, would it be cool to be projected through space at 200 m/sec? Would it just be like, "Eh"?

Who first thought that a crab was something one could eat?

Why, Kansas? Why?

Who's in charge? I mean, really. Is one person making all the decisions, or does stuff just happen? I know how it works in my world, but I'm thinking of the bigger picture here. You know, like in Terra Haute.

What if everything we think about our universe is just a little off? I think I'm sitting here, but really, I'm sitting just a little more to the left than I think.

Two guys on the Yankees make $38 million a year. In case you missed that, I repeat: $38 million a year. Hey, I got a $300. raise last year, and the district keeps making me feel guilty about it.

It is cold in Central Standard Land today! Low tonight: 18 F degrees. It's a three dog night in this one dog household.

I mean, Kansas, come on!

There are 25,000 genomes in human DNA. It only takes about 1500 or so to make a human. Why all the extra?

When we run out of oil, why can't we just use butter?

There are currently only about 500 mountain gorillas left in the wild. Get yours today!

I could live on bread and cheese. Not for long, but I could.

Full moons on cold nights are the best.

Cold moons on full nights are a distant second.

I want my missing socks back!

Monkey's home from KC! And she brought cheese cake. It's not bread and cheese, but it's sort of close and will have to do. Gotta go!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Visit from Buddy

Firearms season for deer began on Saturday. A hike in a state conservation area was surely off limits. As a result, the Robmeister, K-Dogg, Monkey and I headed to the Shooting Star Trailhead at Gans Creek Wild Area here in C-town for a short hike.

The trees have pretty much dropped all of their leaves, so the forest was barren. Very wintry and the views into the Gans Creek valley were spectacular, though not very colorful.

The hike, while not very strenuous or amazingly scenic, did provide for one out-of-the-ordinary experience. Near the end of the hike, we were met on the trail by a strange stray dog, who we later discovered was named Buddy. And Buddy wanted to play. He went into the woods and found a suitable stick (which was actually pretty large). He brought it back to the trail and stood about fifteen feet in front of us, placing the stick across the trail and patiently waiting for someone to throw it.

Which we did. And that was that. Buddy was with us for the rest of the way. When we got back to the car, Buddy kept fetching stick after stick, at one point holding four sticks in his jaws at one time.

We checked Buddy's collar and found his name and phone number. The Robmeister made the call on his cell.

"Are you the owner of Buddy the dog?"

"Well, he's here at the Shooting Star Trailhead."


The Robmeister told us that the owner said that the park was "Buddy's backyard," and to just leave him and he would come home eventually. I'm not going to pontificate on what I think about unsupervised dogs running wild, but this was a humorous occurence in my growing experience with unchecked canine curiosity.

After breakfast at Lucy's Restaurant, Monkey and I went to fetch our own canine after his sleepover at Uncle Joe's and Aunt James'. He reportedly had a whale of a time with Ms. London Belle. When we got home, he slept and slept. He even slept through dinner. Imagine that.

Some pics (courtesy of Uncle Joe) of Ripken's evening.

Notice he spent a great deal of time with things from Meadow Lane in his mouth. That's my boy!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Gag Me With a Spoon

Thursday night's "Speak Your Mind" forum at school was well attended (approx. 100). The topic, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita & the FEMA Response, was not intrinsically controversial, and the big issues really needed to be addressed by folks in Federal-level positions, but the local panelists that were there did a great job of using their own expertise to answer student questions as best they could. Our panelists consisted of a middle school science teacher, the Deputy Chief of the county fire department (and commander of a local emergency response team), a trauma psychologist, and a sociologist. The kids were great. Their questions, for the most part, were of a very high quality. I was pleased and impressed.

After, James and the Monkey and I met up at Otto's for a pre-show drink or two and then headed down the block to the Blue Note for the show. The American Music Club was good: a little jangly, a little loud, pretty smart. However, they played five songs and they were done. Some bullshit about broken guitar strings. Broken strings?! Go buy some more and keep playing--we payed fifteen bucks for this show. Between shows, we three headed up to the back bar, where you don't have to wait half the night to order a beer. While there, we found Coach B and the Kopster, his companion for the evening. And we stayed there all night.

Spoon just was not very good. Poppy. Crappy. Light. Uninteresting. At the back bar, some dude in a white t-shirt, smoking a Marlboro light and drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon-- in a can (the NEW cool beer--but still crap in my book)-- approached Monkey, James and the Kopster.

"Do you guys like Spoon?"

The Kopster stepped up, "Well, we ARE out here."

"I love them," the can of beer said, "but they are boring me to tears."

I leaned in to the trio, "Which one of you is going home with the T-shirt?"

"Puh-lease," they replied.

That says it all: they were boring their fans to tears. We didn't even feel slightly drawn to the theatre. Boo, Spoon. You are nothing more than plastic--Plastic Spoon.

Thursday night, of course, made Friday a slog, but, as a caring professional, I slugged it out with the day and won. After a quick nap on the sofa, Monkey and I were off to Otto's book club. Yes, two nights in a row at the same bar. That is not even close to a record.

Six of the originally scheduled eleven showed up to discuss the book: Monkey and yours truly, the Reverend Wayne Coomers, James, K-dogg and the Robmeister. The discussion was spirited and rich, the beer was cold (and the Wild Turkey was wild for the Reverend), and the food was adequate. By eight o'clock, we were headed home feeling a little piqued.

Today Ripken is to spend the evening visiting his best buddy, Ms. London Belle, and staying over at his Uncle Joe and Aunt James'. He is really excited.

Hiking on Sunday and a late Fall evening visit to Bradford Farm looking for owls and raptors. I'll tell you all about it. Later.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thursday: The Unofficial Start of the Weekend

Back in college, Thursday was really the signal day for weekend activity. Everybody went out on Thursday night, mostly because, after Freshman year, few people had classes on Friday. So Thursday started the weekly debauchery of college existence.

Well, to be honest, back in college, it was always weekend. Nobody really paid too much attention to the calendar when it came to evening festivities. But officially unofficially, Thursday was as good a place marker as any.

Tonight, after sitting in on a "Speak Your Mind" forum at school (I am "training" to replace the current moderators), the Monkey and I, along with James, Coach B, and who knows who all else, will be heading out to The Blue Note to take in the American Music Club/Spoon show. We are hoping to make it a relatively calm night. We do still have to teach the churlen and such on Friday, but we have chosen Thursday to begin the blowing off of the steam.

Friday brings the first official meeting (after a plenary meeting) of Otto's Book Club. We meet at a local dive, have a few drinks, eat some nachos and talk about a particular book. This month: John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Half of the members of the club have read the book (including myself), but it has been years for us all. We thought it would be timely, what with New Orleans nearly getting wiped off the map a few back. The next book: Cloud Atlas. I don't remember who wrote it, but I think he's British. I just started it. It's pretty good up to page nine, I'll tell you that.

I'm also reading a book called Bee Season, by Myla Goldberg. It is interesting. Cerebral and weird, but captivating in its own mystical way. I'll let you know if I truly recommend it after I finish. I am currently half-way through, about. I saw in the Times that they are making a movie out of it, but just from the short write up and the cast, I can tell it really will have little to do with what the actual book is really about.

If you're intersted, besides books, I can suggest you check out the following bands that Monkey and I have recently seen: The Hold Steady and The Constantines. I would recommend with reservations a band called The Cops, if you like updated takes on what The Clash Meet The Police might sound like. I don't think their name is an accident!

Stay tuned for the dillio on AMC and Spoon! I know, you just can't wait.

"I like American music.
I like American music.
Do you like American music, baby?"
--The Violent Femmes

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

And on the Eighth Day, They Shoved Their Heads Up Their Asses

This morning, as I prepared for a rare sick day in which I would spend the day grading papers (a little known fact: most English teachers take sick days to catch up on all the grading they can't get done during the other 60-80 hours a week they work), I skimmed the NY Times and found that the Kansas school board had again decided (after four years ago deciding to undecide what they had initially decided), by a vote of 6 to 4, to require that the teaching of evolution be accompanied by the disputation of the evidence that supports evolution as a scientific theory. They reason that other "theories" are just as scientifically sound as evolution. They are, of course, cow fornicating idiots.

Supporters of Intelligent Design, the new 21st-century label for creationism, are still trying to pull the wool over people's eyes. To what end, I don't understand. They claim that they are not trying to foist religious teachings on the school systems, but I don't buy that. The way I see it, the only "evidence" they have is in the Bible. Last time I checked, that was a religious text. Maybe in Kansas it's not, but I suspect it is.

Ever been to Kansas? I have. It's not a bad state. It's not as flat as you'd think. But, it's flat enough to make me think that people in Kansas (who prefer to be called Kansans, but I think I'll call them Kansassholes) might suspect that the world is flat. And that the ocean is a myth. And that two plus two may be four to the rest of the God-forsaken country, but there in the land of cows and corn and oil and sunflowers, they believe it just might be somewhere between three and six.

It's stupid enough to make me laugh, but it's real enough to make me scared. Kansas may seem like a far away farm-fantasy-land to some of y'all, but it's right next door and real as shit out here. And most Kansassholes think pretty much like the rest of the sheep-headed majority in this dim-bulb led monstrosity that we call the United States of America.

I think tomorrow I am going to teach my classes that MOST people may think that subject-verb-object is the typical word order in a sentence written in English, but other say theories scrambled that order acceptable is word.

How do you like that?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hog Roasting: A Tale from Pedro

Ola, everybody. Pedro here. Is been a long time since I talk to you all. Maybe this the first time I talk to some of you. If so, Ola. Me llamo Pedro. Back in the day when I live in Baltimore, I work all the time for this dude, Belvedere. Me and Pino and the Big Kahuna. We roast a lot of hogs. We drink a lot of beer. We dance with a lot of fat women from Brooklyn. But maybe I should no tell that story! Hehe.

Anyway, is pretty cool here near the rivers. Not a lot of hogs to roast, but there is plenty of good beer to drink, and maybe the women are not the same as the ones from Brooklyn (dios mio), but plenty of them are about the same size. I sometimes miss the fun we have back when we roast the hogs, but is cool. When I get back to the casa after a night with the hogs (wink wink) I stink. Very smelly, those hogs. But, it was fun, and sometimes, we even got paid.

I remember one time we roast this hog at this dude's house and Pino pick up the lid on the cooker, and in like two seconds, man, the whole pig is on fire. It look like...well, it look pretty bad. The next thing you know, the fire department on the way, and the police right behind them. That no good. I no like the police so much. I no can say why. Well, I can, but I ain't going to, dude.

Well, anyway, the police come, so I disappear for a little while. I hide in the closet in this dude's house, you know? Well, guess who I find in that closet when I am in there? Yeah, dude, a fat girl from Brooklyn! Those bitches everywhere.

I am in that closet for like two hours, dude. And there no was a whole lot of room. For half the time I think I just give up to the police, but somebody blocking the door. When I get back to the crew, they tell me the police leave after like ten minutes. Ten minutes! And I am in that closet with that girl from Brooklyn for two hours. Everybody think that was pretty funny. Not me, dude.

Well, dudes, I want to shout out to all my homies. Especially the Big Kahuna. It is a long time since I see him. I seen that the sofa writes to everybody, so I think it be cool if I get a chance, too. I may no get to do it again. If no, vaya con dios. Maybe I see you all again, maybe no.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Pedantic Ponderings

Last week, I neglected to mention that I made some pies. Monkey was very happy. I was very happy. James, who found out I was making pie, because I called her and told her, was not happy. She didn't get any. I have been considering a cottage industry. Not as a pie maker, but as a crust-maker teacher. After all, give a man a piece of pie and he's happy for an hour. Teach a man to make a pie, and he's yelling and cursing and throwing things for about six months until he really gets the hang of it. Thanks, Mom!

Another week gone by. Seems like only yesterday, we were driving back from Oregon, getting ready to start a new job, a new school year. Preparing to buy a house.

Things change. The house buying has been put on hold, in case you didn't know. We've decided that with our status still fluid (will we be here for two years or fifty?) it is wiser to wait and see what happens. Our rent is less than any house payment, and having to sell a house after only owning it for eighteen months could wind up losing us money. We don't want to do that.

So, here we are in the same little house, still waiting to see what happens. Funny, I feel like we've been waiting to see what happens for about a hundred years now. And guess what. A great deal of stuff has happened, just nothing to give us any idea what the next step on our little journey will be. Does that ever happen? Maybe. But enough of that. Who wants to read me waxing philosophical? That's right: nobody but me.

The past week has been relatively uneventful. Read in the paper on Tuesday that one of my students had been arrested for armed robbery. That's always fun. So far this year, I have lost four kids to expulsion for criminal behavior. Sign of the times or just a bad year? Don't know. Global warming could be to blame.

The Monkey is in Oklahoma this weekend. I have no plans. Maybe a bike ride today with the Robmeister and K-Dogg, maybe a beer or two tonight with James. Maybe a birding trip on Sunday with the Osculator. Maybe I will just stay home, walk the dog and read (though probably not at the same time).

I will, of course, visit the Hive to do some grocery shopping. Oh, how I love grocery shopping! All those boxes and cans. All that previously frozen meat. All those waxy, flown-in-from-three-thousand-miles-away vegetables. Sometimes, I wish I lived on a farm. But, that's a full-time job in itself. How can I edumucate the churlen if I'm all day tilling the soil and feeding the hens? It just won't do!

I got into a little argument at a happy hour last night with a fellow teacher about the neccesity of the National Education Association (NEA). He felt that they were too much of a political organization and that they weren't really interested in "helping kids." God, that just fired me up. After all, education is probably the most politicized field in the country (short of abortion medicine (is that what it's actually called? Seems oxymoronic.)). Why shouldn't we (teachers) have a political organization to understand and lobby for issues that affect us? And, wouldn't educated, content, well-compensated teachers be best for helping kids? That's my take, anyway. And this dude I'm arguing with is somewhere near 23 years old. For some reason, I found that most frustrating. At any rate, we never came to blows or anything.

That's all for now. Think I'll let Ripken take me for a walk. The weather is fixing up to be great here this weekend. Until next time!