Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jon Miller behind the Mic

Those of you that know me know I have an appreciation for good broadcasting, especially baseball on the radio. Jon Miller, with mastery of the English language, and incredible improvisational ability, does it beautifully. This is one of the greatest calls ever. And someone on youtube combined his radio call while showing the highlights from ESPN that evening. Even if you don't like baseball you should listen to this one anyway.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Camping Trip

I got this e-mail from a male friend:

Four friends spend weeks planning the perfect backwoods camping and fishing trip. Two days before the group is to leave Frank's wife puts her foot down and tells him he isn't going. Frank's friends are very upset that he can't go, but what can they do?

Two days later the three get to the camping site only to find Frank sitting there with a tent set up, firewood gathered, and fish cooking on the fire. "Man, how long you been here and how did you talk your wife into letting you go?"

"Well, I've been here since yesterday. Yesterday evening I was sitting in my chair and my wife came up behind me and put her hands over my eyes and said 'guess who'?" I pulled her hands off and she was wearing a brand new see through nightie. She took my hand and took me to our bedroom. The room had two dozen candles and rose pedals all over. She had on the bed, handcuffs and ropes!

She told me to tie and cuff her to the bed and I did. And then she said "do what ever you want."

Here I am.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Why I Need a Woman

I wrapped presents all by myself this year. Here is an
example of my fine work:

This is what my kitchen looked like after wrapping
three gifts:

Click here for unnecessary details.

Thought of the Week

Would you rather have a full-time job you are significantly over-qualified for, or one where you are significantly under-qualified?

Hanging the Lights

Rock Out

Head Tilt

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009: Blog Reflection

Don’t just read today. Comment. Give back. Identify yourself (or comment anonymously). As Louise would say, “Stop to pee on the lawn.” I’m hoping to get comments from 20 different people on this post.

For 15 straight months I posted every Sunday. After reflecting on 2009 I’m trying to decide if I should keep posting weekly or enter blog normalcy and post with the more typical frequency of sporadically.

A year in Review:

I started tracking my blog hits at the beginning of 2009. I had 290 hits in January, and after consistently providing a weekly column for an entire year last month, November, I was already up to 279. Okay, so it isn’t exactly exponential growth, but I have had a consistent readership. I’m not sure I’m up to my long-term goal of 40 weekly readers, but I do estimate over 40 regular readers, and I don’t read any blogs consistently either so I’m okay with that. I notice an increase of hits on Mondays so it is nice that I have followers that anticipate the new material.

I frequently scan to see the locations of my blog hits. Special thanks to Carla in Indonesia, whose regular blog visits keep me an international success. Karri, in Normal, consistently checks in. I also have a regular viewer in Iverness, Florida. Thanks for your readership. Who are you?

This year I managed to accumulate multiple bottles of hydrocodone. Any event that leads to me accumulating drugs with such great street value probably involves a good story. Sometimes, things are worth it in the end if you get to take with you a good story. (This is part of the reason why I used to consistently pick up hitchhikers walking home from jail.) Goods stories help make life a little more enjoyable and make blogs worth reading.

Of my anecdotal stories from 2009 I had a couple of favorites myself. There was the orange bowl story, and also the blogs about my emergency room visits, like this one. This year I also expanded my horizons and wrote a couple book reviews and even one fictional story. Let me know if you have a favorite blog that you remember. I need to hear a few comments like that to give me motivation to continue to find weekly material going into the upcoming year; I also could use them for my self-esteem. So try to say something nice.

I have added “videos” to my labels to the right. Feel free to click on that link to watch great selections like Que Hora Es, Seinfeld’s roommate switch, a couple of beer commercials and more.

For now I will plan on continuing to post weekly, on Sunday.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thought of the Week

“Worrying about seat time is worrying about the wrong end of the student.”


This is an old one from fail blog. Anyone that has used the bathroom
at my place understands why it is one of my favorites.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Master's Classes

I'm done.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Three Articles

This week I will not be writing my regular column, because I'm too busy today finishing up the four papers I have due in the next two days. However, I did come across some articles recently, so I will still provide you with some reading material for the day.

I read one story about a young man selling prayers. Fortunately, for his customers the agnostic entrepreneur is not the one doing the praying.

I play poker. I've been at tables when I was ready to go home, but chose to stay until a specific individual left the game. The reason was because the fish was just dumping money into the table, and the game was too good to leave as long as he (or she) was in it. However, I think at some point on a larger scale casinos need to be held responsible to some degree for exploiting people's addiction. I don't have the answer, but this guy lost so much money at one casino he was cutoff. Then he lost over hundred million more at the next ones.

This article you'll just have to check out for yourself. Well... at least the guys.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thought of the Week

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” -- unknown


Sunday, December 6, 2009

El Gorrito

I wrote this story for a fiction compilation. I'm open to critique. I haven't yet submitted it. Let me know what you think, or if you have any suggestions.

El Gorrito

I may have reached a new low. I thought I’d hit bottom when I told my mom I wouldn’t be coming back again. Right now I’m sore, I’m cold, and I don’t have anywhere to go. Maybe I am homeless. Shit, they’ve probably had me classified as homeless for years, but I’ve usually had a place to stay. I lived at the last hostel for 9 months ‘til I punched Lamarcus in the face and they kicked me out. I still think it may have been worth it. They say I have anger problems. Maybe it’s true, but he pissed me off for months ‘til I finally socked him so I guess I do have some control. I was supposed to stay at my brother’s house tonight, but he just beat the shit out of me. Again. I dunno. He does sometimes give me some clothes, a bite to eat and a place to stay. He’s an asshole, but he’s the only family I’ve got. I never met my dad. I had a mom until she married that prick, and since then I haven’t meant a damn thing to her. I found a wall to lean up against. It’s hard. The ground is hard. But for some reason this wall gives me some comfort. A little comfort.

That was over five years ago. I’d like to tell you that was atypical, but that was how it went. At that time I didn’t even think I would make it to 27. My life’s much different now. Better. But I’ll never forget those times. I’ll never forget where I came from. Nor will I ever forget when my life started to change. That wall and I spent some time together. I was in that very spot when it happened.

Two days later I was still against the same wall. I resorted to holding out a cup and asking for change. Not permanently, but it was winter, and I was hungry. Then a little old Mexican lady approached me. She spoke half in English and half in Spanish. I couldn’t really understand her in either language. She gave me a blanket, some bread, and “el gorrito.” That’s what she called it. Shit, I don’t even know how to say it English. It is a stupid-looking-hat-scarf-beanie thing. El gorrito. I didn’t really care what she called it. I was cold, and I put it on and wrapped in the blanket. I never saw the woman again. Believe me, I’ve looked. Looking back, I don’t even think she was real. I think she just came to that spot to save me.

After that incident weird shit started to happen. I remember people walking by thinking all kinds of things about me. It was crazy. Some people thought nasty stuff, others were more sympathetic, but I became aware of all of it. One guy walked by with his pretty little girlfriend and was like, “You fuckin’ loser. Go get a job.” I jumped up and hollered something back at him. He responded, “Back off. I didn’t even say anything to you.” He was right. He didn’t say anything. That’s when I realized it. For some reason I could read people’s thoughts. It took me a bit to put the pieces together, but it was el gorrito. When I was wearing it, I could hear everyone’s thoughts. When I wasn’t wearing it, things were normal. I later learned that once I put el gorrito on people weren’t able to see it either.

It was amazing how much money I was able to bring in after this realization. Instead of saying, “got any change?” I now was much more specific. For example, “Even if you don’t have any change, but have over fifty dollars in your wallet you can probably spare just one for me. I won’t even get up out of my seat, but I would appreciate it very much.” It was like people thought if they pulled out a wallet with too much money I was suddenly going to mug them. I didn’t, but I was tempted a few times.

Now with el gorrito, a little bit of wit and some social skills, I quickly became the most successful panhandler in the state. However, being a glorified bum had never been on my list of aspirations. I still didn’t have an impressive resume, but overnight I had become a tremendously good interviewee. It is funny how people will just be hoping you say certain things, and then light up when you respond in that way. Life was suddenly easy, almost too easy. Within three months I had a job, an apartment, and a girlfriend, who was much better looking than me. (That relationship ended shortly after I told her about my magic hat.)

I stopped wearing el gorrito to work. Ignoring people’s thoughts became more work than one might think, plus there are some things a guy just doesn’t need to know. I was doing okay for myself. I could maintain a job on my own, and I developed new friendships without reading their minds first. Using the powers of my hat felt like cheating and manipulation, so I packed el gorrito in a box, and stored it in the back corner of my closet. I knew where it was.

Then I met Jacqueline. That is when everything in my life changed. She had long, straight, beautiful dark hair, gorgeous green eyes, and a cute little nose. Every time she walked in the door she lit up the room, or maybe just my heart; I couldn’t tell the difference. When she approached me my whole body would smile. Finally, I worked up enough courage to ask her out.

The night before our first date I pulled el gorrito back out of the closet. I looked at it. Even put it on again for a second. It opened a floodgate of emotions. I remembered being outside and freezing. I remembered the Mexican lady that gave it to me. I thought about all the things I could use it for now. How much power could I have with the ability to know others’ thoughts? Do I want all that? Do I want to acquire power and wealth like that? Do I even want that ability?

I held it in my hands looking at it. Quite honestly, it looks ridiculous. I remembered how this hat turned my life around. Or did it? Could I have gotten a job myself, and worked my way back up without the aid of el gorrito? Maybe. Maybe, it just gave me the confidence I needed to get me started. Now, I can turn the corner without it. I’m sure being able to read Jacqueline’s mind would help me score some points on the first date, but what kind of person would that make me?
If I don’t wear it, then what? Should I pass it on to the next unfortunate person so that someone else who has been beaten down by life can get a leg up? How would they use it once they got it? Should anyone have this ability? All these questions and more raced through my mind.

After much deliberation I went outside and did the only thing that I could do. I took a lighter from my pocket and watched the magic gorrito go up in flames. There was something satisfying about it. This went beyond knowing that no one else would abuse the power. It was personal. I had el gorrito with me and all its power in my possession, but now I also had the strength to move on without it. Something inside me told me that the Mexican lady would have been proud of me too. I think she came here to bring it specifically for me. I was now out of the gutter and continuing to grow in my life.

That night I don’t think I said all the right things. I sure as hell was wondering what she was thinking. Despite my imperfections the date was perfect. That night was the best night of my life.

Jacqueline and I are married now. I met her at the right time. I was getting better, and she was already perfect. (Well, as close as I’ve met yet.) Life is different. Better.

Click here to read about the origin of this assignment.

Thought of the Week

I teach math for a living. In general I have a propensity for numbers. I teach on the same bell schedule every day, and it hasn't changed in two years. So why is that every day a couple times per period I check the bell schedule and time as I'm pacing the class?

Parenting Fail

Sunday, November 29, 2009

30 Minutes

Wednesday my massage therapist was late so I only had a half-hour massage.

She had a flat tire on the way to work. It wasn't even her car. She was driving her husband's car, because hers is in the shop getting a new transmission. Thursday was her first big Thanksgiving at her in-laws, and she was going without her husband. He's in jail right now.

That's a lot of information there, and this was just a half-hour massage. I didn't even tell you about how she had to adjust to sleeping on her back during her first pregnancy or the large TV she sold right after her husband got taken to jail.

At least his car is easier to borrow now.

Thought of the Week

The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again.

History Fail

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fortune Cookie

My fortune cookie tonight read:

Assert yourself, your ideas are worthwhile at this time.

To think, all these years I had thought...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

For over a year now I’ve posted a column weekly on this blog. I write with the intent to entertain the reader. Usually, I depict a situation that I found humorous. Sometimes just a story that I think is interesting. Occasionally, I broach a topic to provoke thought or discussion. A couple times I’ve done a book review. But always I tell the truth. I take events that have really happened and write them in a way to provide enjoyment for the reader.

This week I got an e-mail from a friend: “Hey Kevin - I'm organizing a for-fun fiction writing project: Fifty-four short stories, each one based on a Mexican loteria card... Interested? Let me know; I'll draw you a card.”

What? Fiction? How should I respond? Isn’t it every writer’s dream to write the great American novel? Not mine. I dream one day of writing a memoir. Should I just tell him that I don’t write fiction? But why not? Am I not creative enough to do so? Step out of the box, Kevin. I accepted. I drew #13.

I started brainstorming possible ideas in my head. Each time I came up with the same question. Why? Why would anyone want to read that? Why do people read fiction? I thought of some ideas: Interesting stories, humorous situations, to provoke thought or discussion, anything that might bring enjoyment to the reader.

How do people begin writing? (This question is not rhetorical; feel free to respond.) Do you just start with an idea for a plot and go from there? Personally, I felt I needed to find a reason first, and then come up with a plot. What do most authors do?

I thought of a moral dilemma for my protagonist. I don’t have an age, gender, or setting for the main character, but at least I have start. This could be fun. Thanks Ryan.

Thought of the Week

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
--Proverbs 22:6

Suspicious People

Sunday, November 15, 2009

2000 Toyota Corolla

Four years ago one of my students chose to interview me for an assignment. His assignment was to interview someone that was a positive role model and learn about his/her vocation. He did a great job with the interview and came up with some unique questions. For example, he asked, "What kind of reaction do you get from the ladies when they find out you are a teacher?" He also asked me about my salary. I told him that I was very comfortable, but there were certain extravagant things out there that I was not able to buy. He responded, "Yeah, I know. I've seen your car."

That was four years ago, and I'm still driving that car.

That Should Fix Everything

Thought of the Week

How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?

To hear a related Mitch joke click here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Within Reason

This week our principal called us into the office in small groups to discuss issues of equity. She showed us suspension data by race, gave a couple of poor examples, and showed a video that mentioned how much state money we were losing because of our suspensions. What was intended to promote discussions on racial equality created a stir among faculty that found the entire presentation quite offensive.

After a stir in the lunch room I even had one coworker show up to the meeting and proclaim to the principal, “Don’t kick the black kids out, because we lose money when they get suspended.” Her jaw dropped. (Their meeting was a little more confrontational than the one with my group.
Our suspension data mirrored the following table:

So now what? The solution presented was to build relationships with these kids to impact their lives. I do agree with that ideology. However, this issue is too pervasive for that to really impact the situation. Our junior high teachers may be able to reach a few of these kids, but the problem is bigger than that. Richard Hernstein and Charles Murray, in The Bell Curve, discuss how intelligence can be found as a predictor for behavior.* They even wrote, "It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences." Even if that is true, now what?

I have a professor right now, Dr. Temeca Richardson, who wrote a book called Can the Black Church Save Young Black America? Anyone can point out data that shows a disparity, but here is someone presenting a solution.
I recognize the limitations of my impact as an educator. I know what I can do. That will influence several students each year, but will not change the state’s numbers.
What should we do? Who else has a solution? Now what?

*The data also showed that people of above-average intelligence were less likely to be married by the age of 30. Good to know.

Thought of the Week

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
--Benjamin Disraeli

Fail Blog of the Week

What was the incident that possibly caused someone to write that?

Possible Titles:
For that Go Next Door
Here or anywhere else, please.
11 year-olds totally acceptable.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sports Interviews

Postgame interview after the World Series game tonight:

Chris Rose: Hey Jorge, did it feel like the late 90's out there, with you catching Pettitte, then Jeter behind you, and then closing it out with Mo?

Jorge Posada: Let's not forget this is for Mr. Steinbrenner. Alright. Every fan was amazing. Thank you very much. I can't tell you how I feel right now.

Um... Yeah. Nevermind the question. I meant to say, "What would you like to say?"

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Likes and Dislikes

At the beginning of this year I posted my list of likes and dislikes. It is a working list so I thought I would share it again.

Things I like:
• Going to the bathroom and finding the toilet seat already up
• Uninterrupted sleep
• Unlocked doors
• Playoffs
• Good salsa
• Bunting with runners on first and second with nobody out
• Eating a home-cooked meal, especially one cooked by someone else
• Competition
• Straight-forward women
• Kings that hold up
• Good stand-up comedy
• Beer
• Getting put to sleep
• A drying rack for dishes (drying dishes is the only household chore I can think of that I can not do, and come back later and find it done)
• Forever stamps
• Having the weather warm enough that I can open a window during the day even in the winter
• Days off work
• Assigned seating on airplanes
• Non-stop flights (let's not be too greedy: short layovers)
• Air-drying after I shower
• Spanish Language Schools in other countries
• Wheat Thins
• Web Gems

Things I Don't Like:
• People driving slow in the fast lane
• Having to unlock the dumpster to throw away my trash
• California cell phone laws
• New versions of Microsoft Office
• That high-pitched really annoying noise made by certain old sinks and showers if they're at a specific water pressure.
• Showers and sinks that make that noise
• People wearing handsfree devices in public talking on their cell phones
• People wearing handsfree devices in public and not talking on their cell phones
• Clocks that tick loud enough that I can hear the ticking
• People being inconsiderate
• Students that sit there in class not doing anything
• Losing
• Getting put to sleep
• Getting my impacted wisdom teeth out
• Drive-thru's
• Listening to "commercial free" radio tell me who sponsors their station, and then listening to them asking me to donate. (I'm sure the rest of the audience, besides me, would be outraged if they went to commercial advertising).
• People with joint blogs that give no indication of which person is writing the blog.
• People that call, "shotgun"
• People that write, "thanks for the add" when someone adds them onto their social networking site
• When I e-mail myself and then 30 seconds later my phone beeps and I check to see who contacted me
• The fact that I have a phone that beeps when I get a new e-mail
• People on their cell phone at a baseball game waving to the camera, please don't do that
• Interviewing athletes during the game

Thought of the Week

“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.”
-- Colleen Wilcox

Adults Only

Over the past several months I have collected the borderline inappropriate and the clearly inappropriate to present you the set of pictures below. They include sexual allusions, explicit references, profanity, and plenty of phallic imagery. So if you're note easily offened and have a good sense of humor get a laugh below. For the rest of you I included at the top a picture of a cute young koala bear. Don't look below that picture.