Saturday, December 31, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
I recognize that I have some attributes that make me a very good educator. I also know that I am cocky and stubborn. Do you think I am difficult to work with?
Monday, November 7, 2011
I do maintain a second blog; tertiarythoughts. On this blog I don't write on consistent basis. I don't always do things like proofread, nor do I always have an intended purpose for sharing. However, maybe it will help fill the void from me writing less on here.
Thanks Sean. Good to know at least one person misses the regularity of my column.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
We all had various hobbies while we were in college. I played poker, played ultimate Frisbee, watched stand-up comedy, and picked up hitchhikers walking home from jail. Typical college stuff.
I still remember how it all began. At first I just saw a few other students sitting at the bus stop and I offered them a ride back in to town. Then one day I saw a couple of guys walking the side of the road. They were young adult males, white, tattoos, one of them wearing a wife-beater. I remember trying to describe it to my girlfriend at the time and as I struggled for words, “they weren’t exactly the type of guys…” she interrupted, “that you should pick up.” I responded, “Well, I wouldn’t have wanted you to pick them up.”
They hopped in to my 1986 Nissan pick-up with extra cab. One of them had to sit sideways in the back on the little square that folded down to make something resembling a seat. So I asked them with complete sincerity where they were coming from, and they responded, “We just got out of jail.”
At this point I hadn’t even realized I had passed a jail, so I paused before continuing the conversation. How should I respond here? Do I ask, “What were you in for?” Either one of these guys was significantly bigger than me, and there were two of them. Did I really want to know what they were in for? But… we only live once.
Turned out they were just in for some graffiti misdemeanor, or so they claimed. That was the start of my inmate education. I learned the cab ride back to town cost about $20. The prison that I had seen on the other side of the highway that we had yet to pass was a completely different facility. Little did I know that on my 6.5-mile daily commute to school I passed a prison and a jail.
That began my hobby of giving rides to convicts. Maybe another time I can tell you about the kid getting transferred from one jail to the next, or the time I picked up a couple, or the guy in for skipping out on a restaurant bill, or the time I picked up a 300-pound guy and another 6’4” guy on the same day, or…
Click here to read more about the SLO prison.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
I’ve been writing my column weekly now for over three years. Some of you that have been regular readers for a while know that I rarely miss a Sunday. I am proud to have developed a pretty good-sized reader base, and have enjoyed writing on a regular basis. I always appreciate when I run into a friend I haven’t seen in a while and they bring up one of my entries they’ve enjoyed. Thank you for your readership, and I hope you have been regularly entertained.
I’ve dreamed that one day that someone would read my stuff and offer to pay me money to write a humor column, but that hasn’t happened. The other day a friend asked me if I ever sent in any of my stuff to anyone.
No. Good point.
I still hold on to my dream to write a regular entertainment piece about life encounters that are amusing. So let me know if you know someone that might be interested in hiring me.
Admittedly, recently it has been harder for me to come up with material. My schedule seems to be busier than normal since school started back up last month. So I’ve decided to reduce the frequency of my column. Instead of weekly I am now going to post monthly, at the beginning of each calendar month. I recognize that I will no longer be able to provide you regular reading to distract yourself during your Monday morning work meetings. However, I have enough archives now you can go back in and pick something.
Thanks for stopping by, and check back in on the 1st.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
“Why did he listen to you? What happened in there? Who are you?”
“Like I said, I’m Peter Brand.”
“I know your name. Tell me who you are.”
In this scene we learn a little about the person of Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, and we meet Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). The two of them go on to create a philosophy that doesn’t just help the A’s succeed, but revolutionizes the game of baseball.
I read Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball several years ago. The book was fascinating. At least it was fascinating to me. It focused on statistical analysis, the inner workings of a baseball team, economics, numbers, and looking at essential baseball categories that are more likely to help you win games. He may have written the book just for me. I drove to the theater tonight wondering how a book for baseball and number geeks could be turned into a major motion picture with mass appeal.
Director Bennet Miller managed to pull it off with Moneyball. The drama was created in reality, but the movie highlighted the parts that made you want to keep watching. In 2002 early in the year the A’s were at the bottom of the standings. They changed their philosophy and their roster in an attempt to start winning games. I thought I saw something similar once in Major League, but this time the movie couldn’t write the ending. It was already written.
Could this team with its 40 million dollar payroll and poor start climb back into the playoffs? Could they pull off the longest winning streak in the history of baseball? And even if they did, would it matter if they didn’t go on to win the World Series? The drama was there. The movie depicted it. And Brad Pitt put together a brilliant performance that was so believable we forgot we were watching the star from Seven and Ocean’s 11, but rather watching Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, trying to win baseball games.
The film was still about baseball. It was still about statistical analysis. But they managed to create it in a way that both baseball geeks and non-baseball fans could appreciate. If you’re not a baseball fan, there will be even more drama for you because you don’t know how the story ends. The writers couldn’t write the script with a storybook ending, because this ending actually happened.
Brad Pitt gestures with his hands as he says in the movie, “There are rich teams, and there are poor teams. Then there's 50 feet of crap. And then there's us.”
Go see Moneyball and find out if the team at the bottom can make it to the top.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
I walked around not able to find my items. Was I so tired I couldn't see straight, or had they moved some things around in the store?
I couldn't find the broccoli. I was in produce. No broccoli. I looked for quite some time and finally gave and moved on to the next item on my list. I pushed my cart across the store peering down each aisle looking for the quinoa. Couldn't find it.
I got about five aisles away, which at Trader Joe's is pretty much the opposite side of the store, and a woman approached me, "Excuse me you have my cart."
I looked down. Sure enough. Not only was the one item in the cart different from the one item I had put in my cart, but her purse was sitting in the very top of the cart. I got all the way to the other side of the store without noticing.
"I'm very sorry. I'm really tired."
"I was extremely worried. I believe your cart is back in the produce section. You should eat some protein."
After I finally found the quinoa I went back to look for the broccoli again. I ran into the woman whose purse I tried to steal and asked her to help me find it.
I should eat some protein.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
When your grandma and I got married we agreed that I would make all the big decisions, and she would make all the little decisions. We been married for 62 years now and so far there hasn't been any big decisions.
Grandpa on eating ice-cream.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
It wasn’t until about the third inning when we were talking about ticket availability that she reluctantly mentioned she was also going to the game the next day with a male friend, a friend that “she has known for years and was like a brother.” Somehow during that whole discussion I managed not to mention that I was also going to the game the next day and taking another girl. Honestly, if I wasn’t taking her I would have spent the night in the area and not had to drive back again the next morning. So I was being a gentleman by not mentioning it.
For both games I was using my friend’s season tickets. The seats to our left were empty, as they often were, and the seats to our right were again occupied by a couple of sisters that rarely missed a game. I was quite surprised at another couple that showed up in the seventh inning to the seats to the left of the empty seats. Maybe they were from LA. It turned out to be a great game and we enjoyed a victory complete with a Brian Wilson save. All together a good first date. Not our first date, but my first date of the week.
Now I wasn’t cheating on anyone or anything, but I did wonder if I would be able to pull off going to both games without mentioning the other woman either day. I was also wondering if one of the sisters would say anything when they saw me arrive. Maybe something like, “nice to see you again so soon.” However, on the way to the park Wednesday she directly asked me who I went with the night before (initially, when I invited her I gave her a choice of the two games, but I didn’t know she would remember that) so I had to tell her about Tuesday-night-girl. The idea of running into Tuesday-night-girl at the game did give us a few laughs. However, she had standing-room-only seats and was out in the outfield somewhere so it was unlikely that would occur.
I didn’t see Tuesday-night-girl for a couple weeks. We were talking candidly and freely so I said, “Okay, I have confession to make. You know the night we went to the Giants game…” She cut me off, “You went again the next day, with another girl.” I paused. I had a look on my face like, “how could she know that?” She continued, “I saw you.”
Apparently, with a large crowd at AT&T is pretty hard to find decent standing-room-only seats. She remembered the empty seats to our left the night before and thought she would see if they were available again. They walked up to the section. She looked up and saw me with my date grabbed her friend and ran back down the tunnel.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Sunday, August 28, 2011
I turned the faucet. Nothing. I tried the other side, as if maybe only half the sink wasn’t working. Still nothing. They shut the water off again.
Running two and half miles along the river in the Sacramento heat: great. Getting home to find out the water was shut off in your entire complex: not great.
I didn’t even know what to do. I was hungry, but I couldn’t even wash my hands. I thought about walking over to the pizza place just to use their bathroom to wash up a little. Then I saw the maintenance guy and he said the water would be back on in just a few minutes. I questioned the actual length of "a few minutes."
I was so sweaty and smelly I didn’t really want to touch anything or do anything. I just sat there contemplating my next steps. After only a couple minutes I heard the water pouring out of my kitchen sink. I jumped up turned it off and headed straight for the shower. I had a 4:30 appointment on the other side of town; I needed to get going soon.
I was only in the shower a short while, long enough to wash my hair and face, and then I heard the water starting to wane. I quickly got my face in front of the faucet as the last bit of water came out the shower head. I managed to get the soap off the front of my face before it shut off completely.
There I was standing naked in the shower, still mostly dirty. I looked in the mirror to discover I still had soap in both ears. Now what? Should I go to pizza place with no shirt on and ask to use the bathroom to wash the soap suds out of my ears? I couldn’t wait forever. I found myself carefully pouring some water from a water bottle trying to wash the soap out of my ears.I only had about 8 oz. to work with.
I grabbed a towel and dried off a bit and stood there naked in my living room again contemplating my next move. As soon as I heard the water again I sprinted back into the shower. I fully rinsed off my head and ears. Then I took out the soap and carefully washed one body part at a time and rinsed it off before I continued with the soap. I finished my right arm and the water went off again.
I got out, dried off, and did notice that I was no longer omitting a distinctly foul smell. Now at least my hands and face were clean. I grabbed some food. Before I finished eating the water was back on again, but I no longer had time. I went to my 4:30 appointment without mentioning the adventure that it took me to get ready.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Jon Boyle said he would want to see my show if I did a half-hour of stand-up comedy. –2001
A friend suggested I get my own talk show.
“You are the least judgmental person I know.” –Whitney Baker
“It kind of kills me that as a math teacher you are such a good writer.” --Stephanie Anderson 5/19/09
On playing poker: “You sir aren't a pro (though you could be), a semi-pro, or even a "serious" player. You are simply one of the best part-time players out there. While you sicken me with your ability, I sincerely congratulate you on your well deserved victory!” --Dave Simon 9/28/09
“Being with you almost makes me want to ignore my technology.” –Rebecca Chakrin
For the best materialistic comment I have received recently, “I’ve been looking at all the sports cars on the road, and I still like yours the best.”
She later added, “If we break up, can I date your car?” (This would have been even funnier if she was joking.)
“You're a good writer and I like your blog..... it's kinda like The Office and Seinfeld in that it covers everything and nothing at the same time... but pretty entertaining in the process. I feel compelled to comment if I read it.” 7/1/2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
I definitely could make a living playing poker.
There are certain parts of the lifestyle I really enjoy.
I have the temperament to handle playing poker for a living.
You don't need to raise with AJo if three players have limped in front of you.
I admit it was weird calling down to the front desk to have someone help me with my luggage just because I didn't want to make three trips to the car. It was not weird drinking margaritas at the pool on a beautiful summer day. Throwing my towel on the floor so I can get a clean one the next day is something I could get used to.
I know a month is small sample size. I cannot predict exactly what would happen over the course of a year. However, I do know that I went to Reno for the Pot of Gold tournament and I played in a total of four events, and I won two of them. (technically, I won one, and five us chopped the money up in the other.) I had a hard time staying awake and focused during twelve hours sessions, but surprising I learned that even when I was not totally alert I was still able to play effective poker.
I had some good nights and some bad nights while I was in Reno. When I got back to my sister's house I don't think my family members could tell if I had won or lost money-- until they asked. Although, sometimes certain cards could have came out more favorably for me I never blamed the cards for the results of the session. Even after losing $400 the night before I still celebrated finding five bucks under my seat the next day. Even after winning over five-thousand dollars in a night I still bought lunch for eight bucks the following afternoon. Poker remained separate.
Also, during this month I got offered my job back. Interesting. I don't know if I want to live out of hotels multiple months a year and be on the road frequently. However, I don't know if I would mind either. I love my job, but I would also love the freedom of making my own schedule.
Eleven years ago after having a tough time in some low-limit poker games while living Long Beach for the summer I decided that I would not play poker for a living unless I could afford to not win. (Basically, not play with this month's rent money).
I can afford to play now, but I don't know if I could afford to not to teach.
One month 'till school starts.
Wish me luck.
Click here for an update.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
At 2:15pm the three of us report to the meeting even though we don’t know why we’re there. Our principal sits us down and explains the situation. Our union rep sat at the table as an official observer. Our boss attempts to soften the blow with some kinds words, jargony schoolspeak, and ambiguous information.
The summary: Our legal obligation is to have every student in a math class, but not necessarily one that fits their needs. So support classes and remedial classes could all be cut. We have to budget for two less math teachers. One of the two people being cut will be one of us in the room, and because we all had the same hire date we would decide by a casting of lots.
What?!!? The way we are going to determine which of us will no longer have a job at our site was by drawing straws? You got to be kidding me. Something is wrong with this system.
It gets worse.
I ask, “When do we have to decide by?” Today. This meeting. I continue, “Well, can you tell us a couple weeks ago so we can have some time to think about?” It wasn’t a fair situation and I didn’t have time to process. I did know a couple things: 1. I love my job, but every year I contemplate quitting or reducing my hours. 2. My colleagues across the table both had spouses and adult children that were relying on their employment. So I volunteered to take the “short straw.” My principal says, “Are you sure?” I respond, “No, I’m not sure.” Kim hugged me and Gary said he would bring me a bottle of wine.
I discovered some of my coworkers went to our union rep angry about the situation. It was nice to know at least some people would be upset if I left. (She explained to them that I did it to myself.)
I spent the next week agonizing over the situation. Did I do the right thing? Was I not looking out for myself enough? Did I possibly just create a situation where all of us would have a job, but I would be forced to leave my school and go somewhere I didn’t want to be? Was Gary every going to bring me that bottle of wine?
Another week passes and we learn that all three of us were being pink slipped along with two other math teachers in the department (5 out of the 6 could be getting laid off). So basically the whole “casting of lots” meeting didn’t even matter. Knowing that I no longer had a job actually gave me a sense of relief. At least it was out of my hands and I didn’t bring it upon myself.
Our school had to prepare for worst case scenario. Once the Bush tax extensions didn’t get on the ballot I mentally prepared myself for not having a job next year. I reacted exactly the way someone should in this situation—somewhere between acceptance and celebration. I began to calculate my living expenses if I was collecting unemployment, and more specifically my travel expenses while collecting unemployment. Quite frankly I wasn’t just accepting the idea, but embracing it. How long should I stay in Argentina?
Then at the end of April we go to court. Kim and Gary both testify on behalf of our department. I didn’t go into court or even worry about it that much, but I did get some enjoyment during Easter vacation by saying, “my lawyer is blowin’ up my e-mail today.” Then on May 7th we receive the judge’s ruling and the last sentence in article 68 of the 40-page document read, “Mr. Burrill shall be retained, and his layoff notice rescinded.”
A couple days later I was on the outside patio at a restaurant drinking a beer and a teacher from another school that I barely knew walked by and congratulated me. (She most have read the whole document; I just searched my last name.) I guess everything would be restored. When I had the chance to emotionally react to having my job back I had an epiphany: I really do want my job. The district just had to accept the judge’s proposal and everything for Kim and I would be back to normal. From what I heard the district pretty much had to accept it.
However, we still receive final layoff notices in the mail. After some inquisition we learn that they just didn’t have time to finalize the list so they just sent the layoff notices to everyone, and we should get another notice shortly reinstating our positions. A couple weeks pass and we still don’t have anything in writing. After getting over the initial disappointment of having my job back I was now embracing the idea of continued employment. So May 21st my boss sends an angry e-mail to the head of Human Resources stating how their poor business practices and organization were mistreating her employees. He calls her Monday morning and apologizes and ensures her that both Kim and I are on the list to get our jobs back.
Finally. I was getting a little tired of this whole process.
Now employed and happy I continue to go about my life in a normal way. I remained calm through most of this, but Kim worried enough for all of us. On May 31st Kim decides to call H.R. and ask for something official in writing so she can feel some security. The head of the H.R. department has one of his lackeys call Kim back and she basically tells Kim, “Um, yeah. About that getting your job back thing we kinda made a mistake. The judge really shouldn’t have included you guys, and as of right now you’re still laid off. And as far as him telling you on the phone that you had your job back, well, we can’t really get into who said what to who. But hopefully everything will work out for you.”
Seriously? Again? So now I was back to where I was before except instead of planning my vacation to Argentina I was disappointed about not having the job that I love. Something is wrong with this system.
Then the week after school gets out an article comes out in the paper saying that our school budget should look good for next year. So I assume that I will get my job back in time and I once again relax about it. Kim continues to stress out.
Last week I took a team of eight people from my school site to the AVID institute. I worked an entire week assuming that I will have my job next year, and will continue to head the AVID program at my school. One of my coworkers asked if I had received my letter of rescintion I said, “No, but I don’t check my mail that often.” She asked me to check the mail.
I find out that Gary got a letter on Thursday stating he has his job back (which is interesting because he wasn’t in the judge’s proposal at all, but he was ahead of Kim and I on the list). Kim and I have nothing on Friday. Kim contacts me Saturday saying she got a letter saying that she will have at least a 40% position.
What? That hasn’t been a thing. Are you kidding me? Poor Kim that been working so hard this entire time still doesn’t have a full-time position. She is extremely upset.
We text on Saturday.
Me: I checked the mail. (There was nothing.)
Kim: Shoot. Ok. I told Amy and Pannu that I thought that was the case. Pannu will got obat for us tomorrow. Amy and Pannu have talk about this. I email the attorney thought I don’t think she will do antyihng Next in my mind is the SCTA. We may have to petition to the school board since they accepted the judge’s ruling. They probably do not know what we hae been through. Have you followed up on the list of order of events I sent you?
Um… I checked the mail.