Friday, December 29, 2006

New! New! New!

Something is different about this here Central Standard. Blogger has changed some things. You may notice that the typeface seems different. The inner workings of the thing are supposed to be new and improved, too, but I am still poking around. I'll let you know.

Monkey and I returned from Xmas Fest 06 in one piece. It was a long drive back, but we made good time. The visit was good, but everyone seems to think we are moving to Alaska, instead of Nebraska. Jackets and scarves and ear muffs to keep us warm. We'll appreciate them in the face of an old-fashioned Plains windstorm, but I think the change in temperature two hundred miles to the north is not as drastic as some might believe.

The nephews are growing and are as entertaining as ever. The young cousins (remember the ones climbing the walls last Christmas Eve?) still number only four and are as different as four people should be.

Everybody else, for better and worse, is pretty much the same. Thanks Mom and Dad for putting us up (and feeding us scrapple)! Thanks North County Sister-in-law for filling your house with Mad Dogs and Irishmen. Thanks Junior and JD for the crab dip and shrimp (and ruffage). Thanks everyone for being our family.

I just finished my online app for Lincoln Public Schools. Let the job hunting begin. I guess it's on, now.

I hope that I can keep in better touch with this here blog in the new year. I sure fell off at the end of this much to much to do. My resolution for next year: have more fun and use the phone more often.

On a side note: how did MU lose that Sun Bowl? Oh, the misery!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Hook

Yes, I have been observing radio silence for over a week. I guess I've just felt like I didn't have much to say. Ithought I'd take this morning's opportunity to give you an update on the novel.

I am still in the process of revising and editing. It's a slow process, but I think I am making some good choices. It remains to be seen.

I did spend some time recently writing a hook for the novel, since, once it's ready, I might as well send it out to see if anybody's interested. Keep in mind, this is an early draft. Read at your own peril.

A story of time travel, brotherly love, and talking dogs, with a healthy dose of severed digits, liverwurst, and world domination mixed in, The Trials of Vernon follows a day in the life of the title character as he comes to grips with the relationships in his life.

Tuesday dawns as a normal day: Beth is at work and Vernon is off to The Bagel Bin for breakfast, but that’s when things get strange. Vernon’s waitress disappears, leaving him to serve his own coffee, and, eventually, Vernon finds himself reliving the previous two hours. After finding the waitress in the park communicating with his dog, Vernon leads them on a quest to discover how and why his temporal difficulties are affecting him. In the meantime, Vernon’s brother, Brother, is in the midst of his own bad day, as his missing finger eventually lands him in jail, and Stanley, an eccentric collector of everything, laments that he ever gave Brother’s finger away. Of course, Kasha, Stanley’s frequent companion in the indulgence of liverwurst sandwiches, seems blissfully unaware that she is somehow responsible for all of this, as Baraboo Jones minds his bodega, waiting for his chance to conquer the western hemisphere. Throw in some omnipotent chipmunks and Bill, the unofficial watchman of Hot Dog City USA, and it’s no wonder that Vernon eventually realizes something important about himself.

Does that pique your interest?

Today sees the convergence of two great things: chicken nugget day and the last day of school before winter break. God bless us, everyone.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Reason # 371 Why My Job Is So Cool

Check this out.

In other news, Monkey and Yoga Lady will be making copious amounts of holiday cookies this weekend. Looking forward to that.

There's still plenty of snow on the ground from last week's storm. And it has gotten super-cold lately (yesterday AM, it was one degree above!). Today and the next two days are forecast to be in the fifties, so, I expect what's left to be gone soon. Hooray! Bring on the mud and the flooding creeks.

Have a good weekend, all.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Boys and Girls in America...

Tuesday was a day of highs and lows. The lowest low came as I stood in the cafeteria and opened my wallet in preparation for my weekly chicken nugget feast. In the wallet was nothing. Not a dollar. I had given my cash to Aunt James fot tickets to that night's The Hold Steady show. So, no nuggets for me.

I had some bar-like nutrition stashed in my desk, so I had something to eat. While I chewed my concentrated protein bar, I thought, "This show tonight better be excellent."

And it was. I know The Hold Steady are a band that dichotomizes music fans. You either love them or you hate them. Monkey and I saw them the last time they were through town, and they were great. Tuesday night was no different. The opening bands, Catfish Haven and something I forgot (which is not the name of the band--I really can't remember), from Chicago were okay. Monkey would probably give them a less than okay nod, just so you know. But The Hold Steady rocked. If you get a chance, check them out.

Yesterday saw the author showing his age. I was beat. I don't think I made it to 8:30 last night. I was out on the couch in a heartbeat. Pathetic, really.

Early release today, and maybe Bottle Rockets on Friday. The first full week since before Thanksgiving has been, so far, a'ight.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What Happens When You Teach Thoreau (A Really Bad Poem)

Imagine two of five quintuplets,
talking in only rhyming couplets--

That, my friends, is what you'll see
when you read this post from me.

I'll tell you now, with all expedience,
that today was "Civil Disobedience,"

By Henry David, young Thoreau,
who told us what we all should know:

We should do more than voice dissent
when saddled with an unjust government.

For doing so leads us to consenting,
by proxy, to civil wars fomenting.

Regardless of your chosen flower
of nomenclature: Bush or Lauer,

We seem to be in a hefty pickle
'mongst Shia, Sunni, Kurds a-fickle.

I would rather, if you please,
not have my fellows facing IEDs.

Thoreau says when the justice laxes,
we should all stop paying taxes;

When the government's off the bolt,
it's within our rights to just revolt;

To say we've had enough of this
ignorant, cowboy, gunslinging bliss.

The "Decider" has become a faker,
waiting for a word from Baker.

If only he had heeded those
who years ago stood on their toes

And peered just over the White House fence
to tell the man war makes no sense.

We don't want it. It always sucks.
It will wind up costing a gazillion bucks.

Now those words have come to pass,
and somebody looks like a stupid ass.

Of course, I don't mean to make light
of any awful martial sight,

Of any suffering those endure
who have to fight this awful war.

I simply sit and take my cues
from my rhyming couplet muse.

And my muse says now, my friend,
This little ditty's at its end.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


The snow has moved on (and a lot of it has been moved around), November has moved on (Autumn falls away), and National Novel Writing Month is on the last page. The "Currently Teaching" links have been changed, as we moved this week from The Scarlet Letter to the heady world of the Transcendentalists (they of the Oversoul and the "transparent eyeball").

I like teaching the Trannies, but I am always looking more forward at this time of year to the Realists (they will be visiting after the end of first semester). I certainly hope I don't give Emerson, Thoreau et al. short shrift, but as the days of first semester get shorter, I know I sometimes gloss over or skip some interesting and important texts. Of course, the end result (curriculum-wise) is the same, since we are less concerned with texts than we are with skills, but, it is American Lit, and I think it is a bit of a disservice when I have to jettison "Civil Disobedience" because of a snow day. It just happens sometimes....

The streets are cleared in the neighborhood. Some dude came by with a bobcat at about 9pm last night and cleared our street off. I was under the impression that I was going to help pay for that, but nobody knocked on my door, so.... I might venture out today.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Snow Day Ramblings and Pics

I am watching CNN, where the major stories are political turmoil in Lebanon and Mexico (which, by the way, are the names of two towns in Missouri, but we're talking about the nations, here), and the next big story is the snow in the midwest. As you know, any time there is a weathery-type event, the news folk send some poor schmuck to do an on-location story. The reports from KC and St. Louis (two more Missouri place names, both of which (in Missouri) are the places we're talking about) brought two things to mind.

First, there were no on-location reports from the streets of Mexico or Lebanon (the nations), as there were from the edges of Missouri. As well, there was far more analysis of the snow than there was of the two major world events. I mean, the Lebanese are demanding a new government, and the Mexicans have two presidents, one claiming the other was not legitimately elected. Is it not possible that Hezbollah will wind up being a major player in that new Lebanese government? Is Mexico not a major trade partner of this country; and will that not be affected by a political tug-of-war south of the border? Are these not issues that might be a little bit more important than a snow storm? Is it okay to ask four rhetorical questions in a row? Or five, even?

Second, if the big snow and lots of infrastructure disruption was what these reporters were looking for, why did they broadcast from two places where there was hardly any snow on the ground when I was sitting in a house surrounded by no less than a foot of snow, where Interstate 70 and other US Highways were shut down, where the snow plows were left sitting overnight due to blizzard-like conditions, where all were asked to stay off the roads and not to expect timely responses from emergency services like the fire department and ambulances? That makes six rhetorical questions; and this direct statement saves me from making it seven in a row (see below).

I know it is petulant and contradictory to make a big deal out of poor weather reporting after criticizing the network for dedicating so much time to weather reporting; but, if you are going to do it, shouldn't you do it right?

Here's a photo of what I did all morning:

Here's an action photo of Ripken greeting the snow early this morning:

Here's a photo of the boys with Monkey from their trip out on Thanksgiving weekend (we were in Rocheport):

And finally, a shot of the Great Pumpkin Pie-Off of 2006 (Yoga Lady and I got our butts kicked by some kid who uses real pumpkin (did I happen to mention that I'm impressed?):