Sunday, December 26, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
One of my 14-year-old boys wrote:
"I broke up with this girl before she did me, and her friend told her to, but she did not use irrational feelings."
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Conversation with Student:
Student: I’ll take your iPad
Me: I’m selling it for $500.
Student: I could give you a check.
Me: You really want to spend $500 on an iPad?
Student: Yeah, it will be worth it.
Me: I don’t think I really believe you. Last week you were going to bring in a box of tissues for the classroom and you never did.
Student: About that... Money is a little tight at my house right now for like food and stuff so I couldn’t get those tissues.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
At our first staff meeting the principal announces a series of great accomplishments and then tells us the four groups that came up a little short. They were the low-socioeconomic status group in English, low-socioeconomic status in math, the English learners in English, and the White kids in math.
That got quite a buzz around the room as none of us were expecting to hear that our white students were missing the targets.
There are some times in life I think comments and I keep them to myself, and there are other times I think comments and I go ahead and say them aloud. (I think the latter occurs more often.)
I was sitting in the front row and I turned around and said to the staff as a whole, “I guess we can start helping the white kids again.”
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I told my colleagues, “The way I usually explain it is this: I told her (my boss) what I wanted. She told me what she wanted. Then we compromised and I did exactly what she wanted.”
My co-worker Theresa responded, “Now you’re ready to be a husband.”
Sunday, November 21, 2010
If you have a saving account with 6.25% interest that compounds quarterly. You’re trying to save to have $4500 in two years how much money do you need to start with?
I was like, “I dunno. About four grand.”
She laughed and said she couldn’t really put that. I told her that if I had choices I could figure out which was right, but I didn’t know how to go back and come up with the number. (And I was already in bed.)
The next morning I woke up and had a text from her that read: $3955.56.
Damn. I’m good.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I read through my eight choices and decided to check the box for "religious observation."
I wasn't even lying.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Each game was an intense nail-biting, nerve-wracking, down-to-the-wire finish. That's what makes it so exciting. Like they did against the Braves, against the Phillies, and against the Rangers in game 4 tonight the Giants keep on winning.
I've invested more time and emotional energy into this post-season than I ever have before. I also have invested more emotional energy than any normal human (not playing sports professionally) should for any sporting event.
I thought the Giants could beat the Braves. I thought they could beat the Phillies. And I thought they would beat Texas in Six. That's why I picked game 6 to attend.
My hope was after four games the Giants would be leading the series 3-1, and they are.
So tomorrow will not be torture for me. I will not be stressed. I will be watching with ambivalence, maybe even apathy (not about the Giants, but about them wining or losing the game).
Because nothing bad can happen for me tomorrow. I watched the Giants get swept out by the A's in the Battle of the Bay back in '89. I watched the Giants take a 3-2 series lead into game 6 in 2002, only to watch the game unravel.
I stood by during the torture last season as the Giants once again flirted with greatness only to fall short of the playoffs.
Not tomorrow. Kick off your shoes and relax. Because by this time tomorrow evening my beloved Giants will be World Champions for the first time in my lifetime, and the first time since 1954, or they will still be up in the series three games to two coming back to San Fransisco. And I will be there. Wednesday could be the first World Series game I have ever attended, or it could be day three of our celebration.
For tonight, all is right in the world.
Feel free to imagine a team from the NHL or NBA if that helps.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I have four students named Alexis, three of them female. I have two Isaiah’s in the same class and two Kenneth’s in a different period. I have two Yulia’s. 2nd period has three Tayler’s. Also, in that class are Keiliyah and Kei’laja (but don’t worry those names are pronounced completely differently.)
Just two days ago I heard one of Raechele’s friends call her “Rachel” even though all year I’ve been calling her “Rachelle.” Turns out it’s pronounced “Rachel.”
I also slaughtered Michele’s name when I made the silly assumption of calling her “Michelle.” I should have known if you misspell Michelle it’s pronounced Mi-kay-lee.
In one period I have Aeakira, Cadaya, Virydiana and Waraguru. It took a little practice, but I finally say all their names correctly. Monserate is also in that class, but fortunately he goes by Mo.
And when I made new seating charts last week I unintentionally sat Yulia next to Julia.
I have three kids that go by their middle names despite the roll sheet listing their first names. Among them is Judith Holly Wood. (Yeah. On her papers she writes “Holly Wood.”)
Believe me folks. I can’t make this stuff up.
I didn’t even mention: Runako, Daysia, Aniyah, Tania, Kauron, Ke’Andre, Emoni, Janez, Berenice, Yelena, Leziya, Sevan, Goharik, Kashiemar, Leziya, Leparis, Zakiya, or Chanoy.
I was pretty amused; she made it look like my writing.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Rome: You get fined a 1000 bucks for orange spikes. What was the fine for?
Wilson: Uh... having too much awesome on my feet.
Click here to watch the entire interview.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
The rarely practicing Jewish family was led by their atheist father. For some reason in his final days he met with God, and his dying wish was for his family to sit Shiva… for seven days. The four adult children were quite reluctant to this idea, but when they started to present their excuses their mother stepped it, “Stop It! Your father lay dying in his bed for the last half of year or so. How many times did you visit him, any of you? Your father made his last wish known, and we will honor it. All of us. For the next seven days you are all my children again.” That was that. For one week the family dysfunction would be on display for the reader to enjoy.
Their mother made the speech while still flaunting her inappropriately large fake breasts, and a parenting book she authored years ago. (The book managed to offer embarrassing and detailed accounts of each of the four children without any attempt to change their names.) Each of the siblings brought their own character flaws and family history into the mix. Just imagine if your own family (including multiple generations) was jammed into a small living area sitting on miniature chairs for an extended period of time.
The story was told through Judd’s perspective as he contemplated his life and his relationship with his family, and doing so while relegated to the basement because this visit he came without a significant other. His mother, whose fake breasts and short skirt didn’t fit her age or the situation, always believed in openness and honesty. The book is written in the first-person as Judd describes various situations like when Betty Allison, the mother of one of his grade school classmates, came over to pay her respect:
“I’m so sorry to hear about your father.”
“Betty’s daughter Hannah was divorced last year,” my mother says brightly, like she’s delivering a nugget of particularly good news.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I say.
Betty nods. “He was addicted to Internet porn.”
“It happens,” I say.
“Judd’s wife was cheating on him.”
“Jesus Christ, Mom!”
“What? There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Judd becomes self-conscious as other people in the room may be noticing the conversation, but the two mothers continue the ploy. Betty adds that she is sure her daughter would love to hear from Judd.
Betty and my mother smile conspiratorially at each other and I can hear the telepathy buzzing between them. Her husband was addicted to porn, his wife screwed around . . . it’s perfect!
“I’m not ready to start dating anytime soon," I say.
“No one said anything about dating,” my mother says.
“That’s right,” Betty agrees, “Just a friendly phone call. Maybe a cup of coffee.”
They both look at me expectantly. I am conscious of Phillip’s elbow in my ribs, his low, steady chuckle. I’ve got six more days of this, and if I don’t nip it in the bud, my mother will be trumpeting my situation to the entire community.
“The thing is, I enjoy some good Internet porn myself, every now and then,” I say.
“Judd!” my mother gasps, horrified.
“Some of it is done very tastefully. And especially now, being single and all. It’s a great resource.”
Phillip bursts out laughing. Betty Allison’s face turns red, and my mother sits back in her chair, defeated.
Tropper brilliantly takes you inside one man’s head, and creates a story that had me shocked a couple times, once openly saying “please don’t, please don’t,” and bursting up laughing several times. Even with only fifty pages left I found myself asking, “Will Judd try to salvage things with his wife, pursue something with his old high school fling, or go a different route all together?” Not only was I unsure how the book would end, I was unsure how I wanted it to end. But I would certainly enjoy the rest of it.
And it ended just as it should.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
I love you. I love you past Heaven. I love you to the moon and back. I love Uncle Kevin too.
I love you at the zoo,
Not bad. I may solicit his help in the future.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
During our route on public transportation we ran into three others and now traveled to the waterfall as a group of five. We got far enough down the path that the water was splashing us consistently and we met our guide that informed us we could not travel past the gate without him.
We had a conversation that translates roughly to this:
“It is five dollars per person.”
“What does the tour include?”
“We will go down this way.”
“Are we going to get in behind the waterfall?”
“Probably not today, because the water is too high with all the rain.”
“Then what is the point of the tour?”
“You will get closer to the waterfall.”
The guide wasn’t the best salesperson; he really wasn’t that good at communication in general. Not sure why we were even going at all, we attempted to bargain down the price. At one point he locked the gate and started to leave us, but he came back and accepted our offer of $10 for all five of us.
We changed to our suits right there on the side of the mountain, everything would be too wet from this point forward. We stuffed our clothes and cameras into our backpacks and stashed them in a little opening on the side of the mountain that would keep them dry as we continued.
As we hiked down there was no break from the assault of water in our faces. We followed our guide, who continued to tell us nothing, as we climbed up and over rocks hoping not to fall into the rushing water. Then we reached the point where the rocks were completely underwater. Our guide went first and planted himself securely in the middle of the section. We now each had to cross without being able to see the rocks on which we stood.
“Wooooohoooo,” yelled our guide as one by one we traversed the area. I didn’t know till later that Rachel (the lone female in our group) said the rushing water hid her tears as she feared for her life. I reached for the guide’s hand as if once I held on to him I would be safe for that moment. I cautiously stepped unable to see the ground below me. We crossed hoping that none of us would die. We did all of this while the water continued to fall in our faces limiting our vision.
“Woooooohoooo,” I yelled back; this was getting fun.
After that section we were now deep enough under part of the waterfall to climb into a cave, duck down, and have our first break from the water falling on us. With limited verbal instructions our guide indicated that the next section was optional. Then I watched Gio get to a point where he had no footing at all. He reached for something to grab on to, but found nothing. I looked at him desperately treading water in effort to stay alive. I yelled to our guide for help as I feared for my friend’s safety. Gio managed to get back safely and decided that he didn’t need to go any deeper into the waterfall. At this point life seemed more important than the final thirty feet of the tour.
We waited just a matter of minutes and the guys returned from around the corner. Apparently there wasn’t that much to see anyway. Really, we couldn’t see particularly well the entire time. The way back seemed safer than the way out, probably because we knew we lived the first time.
Eventually we all made it back safely up the mountain. We retrieved our things and pulled our wallets. Rachel, despite regretting the entire endeavor, insisted we tip the guide for keeping her alive.
I said with complete sincerity, “I would have paid the $5.”
I know understood completely why Emily said it wouldn’t be legal in the States.
That was our “tour” of the waterfall, and it was awesome.
Click here to read more details and see pictures from the trip.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Here is the example I did for the class:
10 + (-18)
I went to Chicago in the winter and it was 10 degrees outside. Then the temperature fell 18 degrees. Now it is -8 degrees outside.
Then the kids had to write their own example for 12 + (-3). (This is during the first week of school.)
A girl in the front row writes, “I had 12 kids. Then CPS took three of them. Now I have 9 kids.”
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Fortunately, as we were watching the bus about to drive by us, Gio had the inclination to throw up his hand. It must have been a sight to see for the locals.
Two Gringos standing in the rain on the side of the road with unusually large duffel bags wrapped in black trash bags, Gio holding his less than heterosexual umbrella, and me wearing a garbage-bag poncho trying to decide which one of us looked more ridiculous. We jogged awkwardly up the road with our bags, which they crammed up front as they hurried us on to the bus.
Here’s what I think I learned about the bus system in Honduras:
There are different lines. For example one line could take you in a fancy double-decker bus from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba for $28. Another line still used bus stations, sold tickets in advance, showed Jean-Claude Van Damme movies on a miniature TV without sound but with subtitles that mostly fit on the screen, and would take you from La Ceiba to Tela (about half the distance to San Pedro Sula) for about $6. Overall, it was a nice line. Then there were the buses of the people. These for most distances I found cost 12 Limpiras (about 60 cents). The White people I talked to referred to them as “The Chicken Buses.” They came in many shapes and sizes with the most notable type being the abandoned U.S. school bus.
Once we learned this system I found it to be quite effective. As far as I could tell there were no bus stops or bus schedules. Anywhere on the route was a stop as long as you were there and flagged down the driver. It was a two person operation. One guy drove and the other manned the door. He opened the door and hurried the passengers on, and sometimes even closed the door before we took off on the road again. All stops were brief and efficient. Once the bus was driving along for a while the door guy would go through and collect money from all the people that had yet to pay.
On Gio’s birthday we had to take three different buses to get to the waterfall. It was fun experience. At one point five of us piled in to a 15-passenger van that already contained 15 people, and I’m not even sure that at that point it was considered full. 12 Limpiras each. We rode in an old yellow school bus that still had a sign in English up front that read “keep our children safe.” We never waited more than fifteen minutes for a bus, and the bus never waited more than 15 seconds for us to get seated.
Bienvenidos a Honduras.
One guy told us we could get from the Lake back to San Pedro Sula in just a little over 30 minutes. The girl at the hotel told us it would take about 45 minutes. Our taxi driver from the day before estimated the trip at an hour and a half. As we got on we asked, “San Pedro Sula?” They verified as they threw our large bags up front. There were two empty seats on this small bus/van. Gio took the one in the second row and I sat two rows behind him. As I sat there awkwardly trying to rip off my poncho without hitting the guy next to me or bringing extra attention to the fact that I was wearing a large garbage bag, Gio turned around and made eye-contact with me and flashed me a thumbs up as if to say, “We made it.” And only two hours later we were there.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Saturday morning we called Manuel for the first time. He arranged for David to pick us up from the hotel and we planned an excursion to the neighboring islands for Sunday at 8am.
It is Central America, but still by 8:45am we began to worry a little so we called Manuel. He claimed he was already there and the trip was full, but he would send someone to pick us up. Just after 10am some guys showed up in a jeep. We didn’t really know who they were, or where they were going, so we hopped in the jeep with them. During our attempt to figure out the situation one of the guys asked us in English, “What condition was Manuel in when he told you that?” He added, “He drinks a lot on the weekends.”
The next day we had a brief tour of the city before classes began. Manuel took us to a very nice hotel on the beach. He told us that he had an arrangement with the hotel for his students to come and visit the hotel and drink at the bar whenever they would like. Later we learned that he made this possible because the hotel bar was open to the public.
David drove us home from school, and we made plans to have dinner with him that night. For some reason later that afternoon Manuel called us and changed our dinner time from 6:30pm to 7:00pm. He liked to be involved in things. We waited at home all evening and no one every showed up. The next morning Manuel explained that he wasn’t able to make it because he had someone that he had to pick up at the airport.
One night at the bar I recognized some of the other students from school and I went and sat with them for a bit. We ended up exchanging Manuel stories. We began with the people newest to the school and worked our way up. I learned of stories that included: Manuel driving without a license, driving while inebriated, and stopping the car and asking a student to drive in order to get through a sobriety checkpoint. He had a reputation.
On our last day of class Manuel approached us about the cost of staying an extra night with our homestay. I was happy to pay for the additional night, but I wanted to pay her directly without giving any more money to the school. I ended up getting into a pretty heated argument with me bringing up the point that we paid for two separate bedrooms, but shared a single room all week. Apparently, it is the same price. I finally agreed to pay, but mentioned we did not have American dollars so he I asked for the price in Limpiras. I had trouble understanding his answers in Spanish. We had a conversation that went something like this:
“How much in Limpiras?”
“What was that?” (said as we were taking out our money)
“I’ll make it easy for you and you can just give me an even 500,” (as he took the 500 from us).
That same day he cornered Gio and asked him what we were doing Saturday during the day. Gio answered that we were going to Cayos Cochinos, and we ended up booking the trip with Manuel (again). He joked with us, “Don’t worry. I’m not picking up anyone from the airport tomorrow.”
It was a fantastic day and at the end of it on our way home I asked our guide what he thought of Manuel. He responded something equivalent to “no comment.”
I added, “Estoy de acuerdo.” (I agree.)
We laughed again.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
danq we lost da 1st tew qames den 1ne da last tew qames......man i waz killn dat ball wit ma ncredible qoaly n sweepr skillz....bt i pulld a muscel nda bak ov ma knee n knw itz swollen n i can barely bend it out bt we playd awsum lik we were qreat !!!!!
Don't worry. I don't think she's really hurt.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
The first person we saw was a completely naked man walking on the side of the freeway. From the looks of it he spent a lot of time in the sun, all of him. Gio asked our taxi driver, “Es normal?” Ismael answered, “No, el es loco.”
Bienvenidos a Honduras.
It seems in Honduras there aren’t really driving laws, just guidelines or driving suggestions. I think I like this system better. Stay alert, use your head, make decisions that aren’t going to kill people, and drive without worrying about getting a ticket. I saw some things that just don’t happen in The States.
While driving across Honduras Ismael gave us a little tour of the country as we developed our initial impressions. He taught that the Hondureños love their car horns. They don’t use the horn to express anger and disapproval, but rather as a way to say, “I’m right here.” He used his horn more in the first 20 minutes of our drive than I will in my entire life.
He honked the horn every time we passed another car, if anyone was walking the side of the road and they were anywhere near our lane, and also if we saw any cute young chicas walking along the highway. It was a two-lane highway so you passed cars whenever there was enough room to do it safely. Just the amount of space needed to be “safe” was debatable. Cars headed the other way would be passing, thus headed directly at us in our lane and less than 100 feet away and Ismael didn’t slow our car at all. It was clear that they had plenty of room to get out of our way before reaction was necessary.
Once we were behind a couple cars going below our desired speed. Just as we went to pass them both the car in front of us was also making a pass. So we just went even wider. Soon we had three adjacent cars headed the same direction. It got sorted out with us in front and both cars ahead of the slow previously leader. Our driver smirked and said to us a phrase that roughly translates to, “I bet you don’t see that much in the States.”
Later in the week a taxi driver picked us up with his four-year-old daughter in the front seat. His young daughter sat in the front with no car seat and no seat belt. But don’t worry this was not a father that didn’t take precautions. Before we started driving he asked her to sit back in the seat.
I didn’t even discuss the public transit with no official stops, the passenger vans that were never too full for a paying customer, and pick-up trucks transporting the whole family.
We didn’t see any more naked people.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Tomorrow I will be beginning my new feature: Pic of the Week. This will be a better fit for the blog. I am going to share pictures that I have taken myself of things I have seen and personally captured with a camera. This will still allow for some humor, and still provide a quick pic for those that don't want to read my column. It will be more original and share insight on things I am doing with my life.
Next week I plan to get a new cell phone that more closely resembles the technological advances of our times. This will will allow me to take a picture with it and put it on the computer (my phone doesn't really have the feature now).
Enjoy Pic of the Week.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Until then feel free to stop by weekly and peruse the archives. On the right side of the page I have labels that include baseball, poker, education and emergency room stories. I'm guessing you can find something of interest. Those of you that want to avoid the extras and just read my actual columns can click on the "general" tab. I'm also planning on starting a new feature next month. Stay tuned.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I chose a table and met two of the 2,200 educators attending this AVID summer institute. Soon after sitting down I realized I left my registration papers in the stall. I immediately headed back to the bathroom. But of course, the first stall, the one I had used earlier, was occupied.
However, I noticed the stack of papers I left stood higher than the top of stall wall.
It would be very possible (and I think fairly easy) to just reach up and grab the papers. He may not even notice.
What am I to do in this situation?
Several possibilities crossed my mind.
None of them that involved speaking to a stranger sitting on the toilet seemed like a good idea.
So I just did it. I reached up, grabbed the stack of papers and...
As I thought the smooth acquisition was occurring I heard something fall to the ground. Oops. I muttered, “Sorry” as I began to walk away. The poor guy on the john said nothing.
On my way out of the bathroom another guy says to me, “That was awkward.” I guess he witnessed the whole thing. He added, “But you got the papers.” At this point I still wasn't sure what had fallen to the ground, but I didn’t feel like staying in the bathroom long enough to figure it out.
Back at my table I realized which paper it was-- the blue cardstock one which had contained my name tag and the day’s agenda. I asked the guy next to me for his blue paper so I could see if there was any pertinent information I would need before continuing my day.
While looking at his paper I realized a couple of things. One: it was clearly smaller in size explaining why it fell when I snagged the others. Two: There was a paper somewhere in the bathroom on the third floor that read, “Welcome Kevin Burrill.”
I headed back to the bathroom for the third time that morning. The bathroom was now empty and my blue cardstock paper was on the floor of the adjacent stall. Maybe it slid right through the air past my silent friend.
I picked it up and took it with me.