Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Holiday

I'll be off for the holidays. I'll continue my regular Sunday column on 1/9/11.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Card and Elf Video


Brian, Aubrey, Timmy, Anastasia, and I got together and made this elf video for everyone.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


My students for their vocab tests are required to create sentences for each word. Our first word was “irrational.”

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."

Pic of the Week

I took this in Clearlake, CA.

Not only do they have a drive-thru cigarette store, there's a line.

Thought of the Week

If I told you to relax for five minutes and think about nothing, what would you think about?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bias in Testing

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Selling my iPad

A student overheard me tell a colleague I was selling my iPad.

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.

The Groom

This is my buddy, Brian, at the end of his wedding reception.

Thought of the Week

All generalizations are false, including this one.
--Mark Twain

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Subgroup Targets

So much of our focus in education is the results on our standardized tests. Each year we have targets to hit for each significant subgroup.

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.”

Pic of the Week

The other day I spammed myself:

I went to my hotmail account and changed the password.

Thought of the Week

A man's character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.
--Mark Twain

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.”

Pic of the Week

At Joe's Crab Shack in Old Sac

Thought of the Week

Pain don't hurt.
--Sparky Anderson

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Phone Math

The last couple months my sister has been calling me periodically to help with college algebra.(Why she is doing the class is another story.) We have done several lessons over the phone. Two nights ago she texted me at 11pm and asked me for help for the final time. I successfully explained how to deal with negative exponents, and then she asked me the next question.

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.

Pic of the Week

This is exactly what came up on my screen.

Thought of the Week

When we're older most of us will look back on our lives and explain some parts with, "Well, I was young and stupid then."

How old can you be and still be able to use that excuse later?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Personal Necessity

After our World Series victory in only five games, Gio (my coworker) and I decided to take the day off work for the parade. I clicked on the "personal necessity" category when I requested my substitute. I didn't realize on the paper form I would actually have to categorize my personal necessity.

I read through my eight choices and decided to check the box for "religious observation."

I wasn't even lying.

Please Post

Sometimes I can be a smart ass.

Thought of the Week

"Me carrying a briefcase is like a hot dog wearing earrings."
--Sparky Anderson

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Centered Living

You guys may remember my article about visiting this church. They liked my column so much they put in me in the first on-line edition of their magazine.

My name even made the cover.

Click here to read the magazine.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

S.F. Giants

Click here to read my thoughts about the 2010 World Champions.

Pic of the Week

In S.F. after the Giants parade last Wed.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thought of the Week

Most of us agree (to varying degrees) it is a little disgusting to eat food that has been on the ground. My question is:

At what age does the five-second rule no longer seem reasonable?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My 4th Period

Yesterday with a 3-1 World Series lead I changed plans for my fourth period AVID class. Here are a few pics from my classroom:

I love it when a plan comes together:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Giants Baseball... Torture

"Giants baseball... torture," remarked Giants announcer Duane Kuiper after another intense one-run Giants game. The phrase stuck. That's how it has been all year. That's how it was for the division series and the NLCS.

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.

Pic of the Week

Saving Gio's life while rafting in Honduras.

Thought of the Week

Suppose your favorite baseball team has a chance to win the World Series on the road in five games, but you have tickets to game 6 at home. Assume they are up 3-1 in the series going in to game 5. Would you root for them to lose so you could go to game 6? (What if you have never been to a World Series game in your life?)

Feel free to imagine a team from the NHL or NBA if that helps.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ashkon's Don't Stop Believing

I've already watched this numerous times, but I thought it deserved be reposted here:

Go Giants.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's Mi-kay-lee

I teach five classes, and I tell my students to give me three weeks to learn their names. Maybe this year I should have asked for more time.

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.

Pic of the Week

During the first week of school on of my best students from last year, Ayana, came back to visit me. I didn't notice that she added on to the class business section of my white board.

I was pretty amused; she made it look like my writing.

Thought of the Week

Getting a song stuck in your head is annoying. But it is much more annoying if it is a song sung by Katy Perry.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Giants Closer: Brian Wilson

I was watching Ashkon's video again, and I accidently stumbled across this Brian Wilson interview.

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

This is Where I Leave You

Jonathan Tropper is magnificent in his recent novel This is Where I Leave You. Judd recently discovered his wife’s affair, and his father just died. He is going through a state of anger, sadness, loneliness, and depression. So the setting is perfect for a comedy. Tropper pulls it off beautifully.

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.

Pic of the Week

Laura's bookshelf in San Jose:

Thought of the Week

If you want your handheld can opener to have special features like "the ability to open cans" then I would suggest spending more than $2.14.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I was listening to the Yankee game yesterday on the radio and the announcer was discussing one of the players. He said, "And just a few years ago he turned 27 years of age."

Interesting. Me too.


This was posted on the island of Cayos Cochinos in response to people stealing the turtle eggs for male sexual enhancement.

Feel free to ask me if you don't know why this is funny.

Thought of the Week

I think I am getting younger with time.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Noah's Letter

Last night I was at my parents' house with my sister's kids. She was working the evening shooting a wedding with her husband. Noah, her youngest (almost 4) said to me, "Uncle Kevin can you help me write a card for mom?" I asked him if he wanted me to help him write the letters or actually write the words for him. We agreed that he would dictate and I would write. Initially, he wanted me to write a "k," but after having no reason for the random letter he got directly to the content. Then when he finished I asked him, "How do you want to sign it? Your son, love, sincerely?" (I didn't really plan on choosing sincerely I was just trying to get him to close the letter.) He came up with his own, one that never would have even occurred to me.

Noah's letter:

Dear Mom,
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.


Thought of the Week

If you pack for the weekend before work on Friday, and get home after 10pm Sunday, a weekend away can feel like you were gone along time.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Emily described it as, “a tour that just wouldn’t be legal in the United States.” Gio and I both wanted to see the Pulhapanzak Waterfall, and were willing to pay the extra money to have the guided tour that would allow us to get in behind the waterfall.

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.

Thought of the Week

If your wallet costs more than the money you have to put in it you may need to do a better job prioritizing your finances.

Pic of the Week

In Hotel Quinta Real, La Ceiba, Honduras.

I'm not saying I don't ever drip a little myself. I've just never seen urinals complete with toilet paper and individual trash cans.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


To practice working with negative numbers I had my students write out a story to represent each problem.

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.”

Thought of the Week

Even Napoleon had his Watergate.
--Yogi Berra

Pic of the Week

Baggage Claim at the Sacramento Airport

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bus System

I assumed if it was the right bus it would stop at the bus stop. I also assumed we were at a bus stop. I also assumed there were bus stops.

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.

Thought of the Week

Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours.
--Yogi Berra

Pic of the Week: 4

Taken at Expatriados, a bar in La Ceiba.

So you and the guy next to you can both piss at the same time without having to worry about holding your cigarette.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My friend Ryan just posted this on his Facebook. I do not know his friend Joe; nor do I know if Ryan has ever visited my blog. I'm not saying I'm an expert on where to put a comma, but Joe's funny.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Manuel: Our first contact in Honduras, the director of our language school, father of David (pronounced Da-veed), and the opposite of dependable.

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.”

We laughed.

I added, “Estoy de acuerdo.” (I agree.)

We laughed again.

My New Life Quote

“I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult.”
-- E.B. White

Pic of the Week

A little dramatic. No son sopas, son sopas Quiznos! I laughed everytime I saw the sign, and I did get a a sopa Quiznos one night.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pronouns Are Hard to Misspell

One of my student's Facebook update from earlier today:

danq we lost da 1st tew qames den 1ne da last tew i waz killn dat ball wit ma ncredible qoaly n sweepr 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.

Thought of the Week

"Once you decide you have nothing else to learn, you have nothing else to teach."
--Terry Olson

Pic of the Week: School Bus

Ever wonder what happens to old yellow school buses?

They go to Honduras, and are used for public transportation.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Driving in Honduras

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 Hondure├▒os 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.

Thought of the Week

I've studied human psychology for 9 years, but I still can't explain why the person who broke into my car took the owner's manual but not the cash and change.
--Louise Cosand

Pic of the Week

Sausalito, CA

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Feature

Quite some time ago Sean complained about me consistently posting the fail blog photos. Michelle added that I was over-posting them. I did a survey and everyone said to continue sharing them in some capacity. However, the other day my thinking was beginning to agree with Sean, and I told Michelle I planning to just cancel fail blog all together. Being a good editor she immediately asked, "What are you going to do to replace it?" I hadn't thought of that. So I kept fail of the week for a little while longer. Now I have the answer to her question.

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

Fail Blog PG-13

Once again we take this opportunity to laugh at the inappropriate. Only look below if you can handle it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On Vacation

I will be taking my first extended vacation in two years. My regular Sunday column will resume 8/22.

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.

Hasta luego.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bathroom Conundrum

The left side of the stall (right side if you’re already sitting) contained a stainless steel contraption holding the toilet paper and seat covers. The top of it provided a nice little platform just large enough for me to stand the papers I received when I registered in the morning. After using the toilet I picked up both my bags off the floor (they gave me another bag when I registered) and I headed to my 9:00am session.

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.

Thought of the Week

Nostalgia and hope stand equally in the way of authentic experience.
--Wiggs Dannboy
(character from Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume)

Fail of the Week

"Officer, I am totally sober. Honest."