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.