Sunday, May 31, 2009

Friday Festivities

Well it's the biggest thing in my life I guess
Look at us all, we're nervous wrecks
Hey, we go on next
--The Replacements, "Talent Show"

Our school's speech and debate team is underfunded. Way underfunded. Eight of our students are going to Nationals this summer, and travel expenses, etc. are quite steep. What is a poor little speech and debate squad to do? Well, I suggested they go find Mickey Rooney and a barn and "put on a show," but that didn't fly. However, they decided to organize and host the First Annual Capitol City Showdown, an all-high school battle of the bands!

I have been witness to a few of these type competitions, and I have to say, after watching two teachers plan the whole thing from scratch (with lots of help from parents and kids and other teachers and the community--no one exists in a vacuum (unless you're a dust mite)), I have to say that this particular event was pretty well done.

A host of teachers (myself included), worked the ticket table from 5:30-11 on Friday night. This particular event was well-attended. I'd say we had near or over five hundred paying customers. The competition included twelve bands (originally 13, but one no-showed--you gotta play to win!), and all were pretty talented bands.

At 11pm, as the last band played its last note, I quietly slipped out the door. So, I don't know who won (although I had a peculiar favorite--I don't usually like speed core-type stuff), but it had been a long day. It was a fun event to supervise, but I am glad it came at the end of the year.

I do hope they keep it going next year.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Human Tractor Pull

So, a new event occurred today at our school, as classes were invited to the auditorium for the Hour of Power, a tour de force of weightlifting. A group of students in weight training classes were attempting to set some school records for various lifts. Why this should be a spectator sport, I don't know, but several of my kiddos asked me yesterday if we could go as a class (the only way they were able to go, of course). I said no. We had stuff to do.

Well, one of my students is the daughter of the gym teacher/football coach who was hosting the extravaganza. In addition, her brother was one of the lifters. As well, other teachers said that they were going to go, so I put it to a class vote. Of my twenty-six kids, only two said they didn't want to go, of course. So, we went.

Wow, what a popular event. The auditorium was SRO, and the kids were really enthusiastic. But, it was just another glorification of the athletic over the academic, something my school is hella good at. I think it's time to start thinking about organizing a quiz bowl...with a weight lifting competition. Brains and brawn. Now, that would be an event worth sacrificing a class period for.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Le Deluge Avant Moi

A good deal of rain this morning forced me to choose the motorized transportation option. As a result, I was sleepier and today felt longer than usual. However, I had a generally good day (and we really need the rain, here).

In other important news, President Obama has announced his nominee for David Souter's soon-to-be-vacated Supreme Court seat. I know little about Sonia Sotomayor, since I don't really follow judges much, but what I know of her sounds okay, so far. At this point in my life, I am not looking for an ultra-Liberal judge. I just want a left-leaning centrist to consider decisions in a rational, humanistic manner. Sotomayor looks like that candidate to me.

As well, we had a food day in our teacher plan center. Hot dogs were on the menu. Did you know of my fondness for hot dogs? Well, let's just say I am a fan of the red hot. So, today's lunch was a treat!

Overall, a passable Wednesday, I'd say.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Plan to Save the New York Times

As we all know, readership is down for newspapers across the country. I am sorry, let me correct that statement: HUMAN readership is down. However, I have returned from an unsanctioned fact finding tour of all the major American cities that are across the Mississippi River from another major American city in Minnesota, and I have found startling evidence that proves that cat readership of the New York Times is at its highest point in the history of keeping track of which newspaper cats read.

Here is indisputable photographic proof that cats who read newspapers choose the New York Times. Or, at least, that cats who choose to curl up on newspapers choose the New York Times. Or, at the very least, that this cat is on top of a section of the New York Times.

Groundbreaking, I know.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Wholesome Goodness

Our weekend up north was great fun. Highlights for me include the seediest hot dog joint in America (said one diner: "It made me sick ALL DAY.") A groovy breakfast (best toast EVER) at the neighborhoodly Birchwood (If you put asparagus and fennel in my scramble, I will love you forever.)). An evening meal at Two Pony Farm that involved fresh greens, great cocktails, a tasty Mendocino wine (among others), and one (nearly) severed thumb (mine). Sleeping on the screen porch. Salted strawberries. A pleasant hike at Afton State Park. A second foray to the Blue Door Cafe (whose head honcho is a Lincolnite--go figure!). A nearly passed out trek to Izzy's for unique flavors of ice cream. And, a last morning chow of fried cactus and Cuban steak and eggs. In addition, Mr. Ambassador helped me clear my head and straighten my thinking on buying a new bike.

As usual, our hosts were awesome (and I know I am leaving out something). We will see them in a few months in Colorado, but, perhaps, we (or they) can fit in another visit.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Unofficial Start of Summer

Monkey and I are heading north momentarily to visit the Ambassadors. We expect good driving weather and two days chock full of food, wine, and fun. I am laying in a new supply of allergy medication so that Frank the Cat and I can co-habitate. Looking forward to a good time (but not looking forward to driving after a tough week corralling the kiddos).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Thespian Life

Just closed a two night run of the faculty play, EGAD, WHAT A CAD! Not a great name. Not a great play. But, it was short (which is good when you only rehearse for two weeks (off and on)), and we had a ball doing it. We went out last night (a school night!) and really had a good time. It was exciting riding home at 11pm along the darkened trails (I have a head light).

The folks who saw the show were very complimentary. I played a small role, but one with a great sensational entrance, since I played a detective who was undercover as a woman (shades of Tony Curtis, you know). The students especially had a great deal of comment both after the show and in classes the next day. It's fun to let them see another side of me!

I hope to be invited back to appear in next year's show, whatever that might be.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Old Man Down!

Cracked my ribs playing ball last night. Ugh. It is sore. It only bothers me when I am in bed and I try to lay on that side, or I have to roll over. You never realize how much you use your core muscles until you mess them up, somehow.

As a result, I have driven my car to work today. Here in the middle of Bike to Work Week. How ironic is that? But, after today, it's back in the saddle, partners!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You Can't Call It Cheatin'

Wow, have I been away! In order to make up for my dearth of posts (and mainly to make myself feel better about keeping up with this bloggy thang), I shall backdate several posts, as if they had been written about the previous twenty-four hours (or so).

These will post in descending chrono order, so this preamble is actually being read as a sort of out of place epilogue.


Looking forward to a big replanting weekend. So far, I only have two scrawny spinach plants growing. I think I may have accidentally pulled some of them during a weeding foray, but that doesn't explain the dearth of lettuces. I am also planning some mesclun, basil, and a potted tomato to compliment the ferociously growing squash and beans. I think the beans are going to overwhelm the squash, but we'll see.

It is the seventh week of the term. The kids can smell the end. They can also smell that we can smell the end. They try to be awfully manipulative, but, as long as I keep them busy, they won't have time to attempt any of their nefarious mind-control tricks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Still in the Saddle

As much as I may seem mentally checked out during any given school day at this time of year, I am still hard at work, learning the churlen and keeping their parentals apprised of their progress (or lack thereof). However, there is still time for some fun and adventure during the work week.

As you may recall, last year, I had a part in the faculty play at my school. This year is no different. We play two nights next Monday and Tuesday, and we are hard at work trying to learn our lines and hit our marks. It promises to be a fun show for cast, crew, and audience all. I look forward to it.

Today's adventure came from my bike ride home, as I furiously attempted to make it back to base before the ominously dark skies opened up on me. The whipping wind made the ride a mild challenge, but the threatening weather kept the trail relatively free of dog and baby walkers, so that was nice. (Not that there's anything wrong with baby walking or dog walking. Their lowered presence made for fewer obstacles to dodge, is all.)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Getting My Needs Met

For a while there, folks in my department would meet for an adult beverage every now and then. Maybe once every month or less. This was not meeting my needs.

Teaching can be a high stress job. It is immensely challenging and rewarding. However, it can also be mentally and physically taxing. I like to unwind at the end of the week, decompress with my fellow pedagogues, and unwind with a beer or two.

Now, keep in mind that I am not talking about going out and getting shitfaced every week. That is irresponsible and not the point. Some of my colleagues even choose a soft drink at these after school meetings. But, I had grown accustomed, in my past employ, to a regular gathering of like minds.

So, I took matters into my own hands and organized a regular happy hour. I am proud to announce, after about six weeks, that it has been a rousing success. People truly seem to look forward to it, and even if they can't make it every week, they still know that they have a place to congregate, if they so desire.

And, I must say, that it has increased the quality of my life here in Cornopolis. I feel more a part of my department (not that I didn't before), and it has allowed me to spend time with people from other departments, who meet at the same place. For me, I feel that it has increased the camaraderie in the school for the twenty or so semi-regulars who show up every now and again.

Keep in mind, I am not advocating that alcohol is some sort of curative. I know that you don't need alcohol to foster friendship and have fun. But, goddammit, it helps!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Reason We're Here...

is to play the drums in our long underwear!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The End is Nigh

Thursday is the last of the dreaded parent-teacher conference nights. After that, four more weeks of pedagogical bliss, a round of exams, a round of golf, and it's summer time.

Sometimes, people ask if I would ever teach summer school. My response? "HELL NO!" I mean, one of the biggest perks of the job is that nine weeks or so (it's actually getting shorter every year) that I get to spend puttering, taking a trip or two, and just hanging out with Monkey. I understand that some teachers choose to teach summer school for financial reasons, and maybe one or two of them actually do it because they like it...MAYBE. But most of them are doing it because they have to, like Mark Harmon. Well, maybe that's a bad example...or maybe not.

Anyway, I am counting down the weeks at this point. Soon, I'll be counting down the days.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Monkey Update

I was hoping to give you a couple of real time updates on the Monkey's progress, as she pulled herself from her sick bed to run the half-marathon, but uploading that peep video took longer than I anticipated. I made appearances at spots to rally her as she ran. She looked fresh at the three mile marker (where the neighborhood Parrot Heads were handing out margaritas, blasting Buffett music, and telling the runners, "Keep your fins up!"). She weathered the 20th Street hill, as I clicked a few pics (to be seen later) near the nine mile checkpoint (where more contemporary radio rock was blasting from a tent, and the two Port-a-potties were in high demand). And, she came in under 2:45 (I think), at the finish, just outside the august Memorial Stadium.

So, HOORAY for Monkey. I am so proud of her. She is a Superstar!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Peep Attack!

Apparently, my co-workers have little to do on a Friday night. The video speaks volumes--ignore the end part with the dog, I just don't know when to shut the thing off!