Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Should I stay, or should I go now?

01It’s been a hard year for me.   This is the first time in my career that I’ve been forced to change schools, rather than choosing to.  The culture at this school is very bizarre; fragmented,  isolated and conflicted.  And the transition from high school back to junior high has been, to say the least, bumpy.

The principal send out an email the other day asking the staff about who is planning to retire, transfer or  for any reason not coming back next year.  I’ve been thinking about a transfer for quite a while now, and 02this seemed like the time to let her know what was going on in my mind.  I had a very good working relationship with her for 5 years at my first  school, and felt like I owed it to her to let her know.  So I emailed her back and told her that I would like to discuss it with her before I made a definite decision.

It was a really good conversation.  She asked for specifics about what was bothering me about the school.  I told her about problems getting back into junior high mode, issues with the faculty, some of the staff, and also the isolation caused by the physical building itself.  She didn’t disagree with any of the points I made, she even told me about some of the difficulties  she’s had, and is still having, with some of the people there.  She talked about how at the other school she had seen me develop great relationships with the students, and despite the problems I’ve had this 03year, she knows that that is one of my strong points.  She asked me what she could do to make things better, I told her give me only 4 classes with no more than 28 kids in them.  We laughed.  In the end she told me she would help me any way she could, that she’d hate to see me go but she understood that I needed to do what would be good for me.

What the conversation did for me was to make me think about what it really was that is making me unhappy there.  I realized that if my classroom was running the way it should be, that if I was happy in my teaching (for the most part at least), that all the other stuff would be tolerable.  I’ve also known for a while that a lot of the problems I’m having in the classroom are my own fault.  In junior high the first couple months are crucial in setting up classroom procedures and climate.  Although I disagree with the old 04adage “don’t smile until Christmas”, there is some truth to not letting anything slide by, in discipline or routines, for the first few months.  Once you’ve set up the expectations, once they are set in the way the classroom runs, good or bad, it’s hard to change them, and way too easy for the students to fall back into the old habits.  That was my big problem, I started out the year like they were high school students, and something unique to the school I was at, like they were high school students that had chosen to be there.  It’s felt a lot like my very first year teaching, and the best advice I got that year was that no matter how bad it got, I had to try a second year.  To take everything I’ve learned (or everything I’ve remembered, this time around) and start out the year right.05

So, I think I’m going to stay.  I need to show myself that I’m still able to make a junior high classroom run right.  I’ve never left a school because of the students, my first school was because of all the other crap going on outside the classroom.  The rest of the times I left I was going towards something new, not running away from something I was unhappy with.  If and when I leave this school, I don’t want it to be because of something I should be able to change, or because I didn’t even try.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Smog? Fog? Not on my blog.


Smoggy day in Salt Lake City today?  The tree branches all over my yard will testify that it’s too windy to be smog stuck in the valley.

Then maybe a fog has settled in?  Nope, no moisture on the car or ground.  The air feels dry, almost gritty. 

Yes folks, we do live in a desert.  The south-westerly winds not only foretell the incoming storm, but have also blown dust and minute sand across the valley.  Which not only gives the city an eerie feel about it, but means that as the winds shift to the north, we’re going to go from being blasted with tiny sand particles to getting hit by the smell of the Great Salt Lake.  Mmmmm Goood!


Hypocrisy, Utah State Government be thy name.

They hate Obama’s health care reform, because “Government is the problem, not the solution”, so they passed a law that presumably allows the State of Utah to opt out of this abomination.  They passed a law to circumvent Federal gun laws, to take back land in our borders that currently belongs to the Federal government and a bunch of other nose thumbing laws directed towards the Feds.  All because the less government, the better.  Power to the people!

Oh, but wait.  They’ve also passed laws to make it harder, almost impossible, for the citizens to get a referendum on the ballot.  Give the opposition an extra month to kill the initiative.  Give the Judicial system unlimited time to stall the initiative in the court system.  Don’t just let it get on the November ballot and see what the people are going to think, how they are going to decide.  That could be dangerous.





So, let me get this straight.  The Federal Government is too evil and corrupt, they shouldn’t be able to tell us what to do.  We, the citizens, are too stupid and too easily manipulated to govern ourselves.  The Utah State Legislators, on the other hand, are smart AND benign AND moral enough to be given complete control over governing the people of Utah.

But, weren’t they all elected by us easily misdirected morons?  Wouldn’t that alone disqualify them as “philanthropic overseers of the public good”?

Tell you what I think.  If we’re not smart enough to throw them out of office this November, then maybe they’re right.


Sunday, March 28, 2010


Because this deserves as much exposure as possible:


Thank you, Naptime Nostalgia.  Very well put and I agree with you 100%.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Think about it…

screenYou’ve swiped your card on the little card thingy at the Chevron.  On the screen it says: ------------>

Down below you’re given the choice of a bunch of black buttons or:

  • yesornoa red button with an “x” on it,
  • a yellow button with “<” on it or
  • a green button with an arrow on it.

Take your best guess: which button means “YES”?

I can excuse the people who have asked “Which one means YES?”, after all there is not an actual button that has YES written on it.  Although I still find it amusing that they even have to ask.

But where on God’s green earth does a red button with an X mean YES?  And why get mad at me when you have to get your card out of your wallet and swipe it again because you thought that’s what it meant?


Stupid is as stupid does.

Life lesson #5A-627B, subsection iii:

When you are called before a judge, for whatever reason, do not wear sagging pants that show your boxers.

Life lesson #5A-627B, subsection iv:

When the previously mentioned judge asks you to pull up those sagging pants, don’t tell her to “F”-off.

We got a 14 day reprieve from one of our more disruptive and disrespectful students because he chose to ignore those life lessons.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grossing out 9th Graders

I was on break outside with 4th period today when one of the guys found an unopened tampon on the ground behind one of the benches.  They were thoroughly grossed out when I picked it up and threw it in the trash.  One of the boys said, as we were headed back into the building “What’s one of those doing at a junior high?”


Monday, March 22, 2010

More Utah Barbies (well, only 1)

This one comes courtesy of The Gearheads.  They came up with the idea, did the description, but I did put together the picture.  Enjoy.


There is nothing on the 
"Hackingpowell Barbie” 

I guess it's just cause she's missing, but can you still get the "coming up with stories to cover your back" Ken?


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Utah Barbies

If you read the comments on the last post, you will know that Writer asked me if I would be able to find this post I made way back in January of 2007.  I did, added the link to the comments.  The link didn’t work, so rather than fight that, I decided to just re-post it.
image "Park City Barbie"She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey and a  million dollar home. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version.
image "Draper Barbie"
The modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full-time occupation. Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately. 
image "Kearns  Barbie"
This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a Meth Lab Kit. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash (preferably small, untraceable bills) unless you are a cop, then we don't know what you're talking about.
image"East Bench Barbie"
This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them.
image "Riverton Barbie"
This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt and tweety bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams Jr. CD set She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's butt when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.
image "Emigration Canyon Barbie"
This collagen injected, rhino plastic Barbie wears a leopard print outfit and drinks cosmopolitans while entertaining friends. Percocet prescription available as well as  newly built high rise  condo. 
image "Tooele Barbie"
This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Butler Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter-top. Also available with a mobile home. 
image " The Avenues Barbie"
This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, arch-less feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her Willow. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two  Avenues  Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon,  you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.  
image "West Valley Barbie"
This Barbie now comes with a stroller and 2 infant dolls. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. White boy Gangsta Ken and his 1979 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant. 
image "Provo Barbie"
She's perfect in every way. We don't know where Ken is because he's always at church meetings.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Got these in an email last week. Laughed my butt off, especially the CSI one.


It’s another bipolar spring in Utah.

And you know how I know it’s spring?  There’s freakin’ cat hair all over the house.


Thursday, March 18, 2010




Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Eleven kicked my butt!

There’s this great little wing place right around the corner thecoopbirdfrom school, 4100 So and Redwood Road.  They have some of the best hot wings I’ve had in a long time.  That’s all they serve, hot wings and chicken tenders, with 11 different sauces ranging from mild to, well, keep reading, you’ll hear.  A couple coworkers and I have made a regular thing of heading there after work to decompress once or twice a month.
The place got brought up in one of my classes, and I mentioned that I had been there a few times and really enjoyed their wings.  One of the kids asked me if I’d ever taken the “Eleven challenge”.  Eleven is the hottest sauce they have, and if you can eat 11 of them in 11 minutes, without eating or drinking anything else for the entire 11 minutes whether you eat all the wings in 2 or 10 minutes, you get an “I reached Eleven” t-shirt and your picture on the wall of flame.
Yup, most of you probably figured out by now that I just had to take the challenge. 
The other two got their wings in the usual quick manner, mine seemed to take forever.  The tension was mounting as I was trying to figure out what was taking so long to get me my wings.  Were they really going all the way to get a little slice of hell for them?
When he brought them, he explained that they like to let the wings cool down, so the heat that kills you isn’t molecular, but spice heat instead.
The first one was pretty hot, but tasty.
The second one was really hot.
The third one felt like I’d taken a bite out of the sun.  I was sweating like Chris Buttars at the Blue Boutique.  The sauce on my face was burning, even after being wiped off.  And the pitcher of beer was sitting right there next to me, beckoning: “You know you want a sip or two.”
I’d eaten those first three in less than 2 minutes, so I decided to take a breather, let them settle for 30 or 45 seconds.
By the 4th one my entire mouth was completely numb, didn’t feel the heat there at all. 
5, 6 & 7 went down in a flash, figured I’d just inhale the rest and get it over with.
8 caught up to me.  The mouth was still numb and oblivious to what I was doing to it, but the stomach was completely aware, and not happy. At this point I still had 5 minutes to go, so I went out for a breath of fresh air.  Let it settle and then hit the home stretch.
I got back to the table a minute or so later, the stomach was still revolting, the skin on my face was getting ready to peel off and run for it’s life, I looked at the last three and thought “You win.”
Yes, I gave up.  I decided that I didn’t want to spend the night awake, reeling from an upset stomach, regretting the whole episode until the wee hours of the morn, or even into the morrow.  One of the things midlife has done for me, I protect my guts coopa lot more than back in the day.
After conceding defeat to the guy with the timer, eating a plate full of celery and downing a glass of beer, I offered the remaining 3 wings to my cohorts-in-catering and the other customers that watched the whole thing.  I ended up throwing all 3 away.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring has sprung, for now at least.

It made it close to 60 yesterday, and past that today.  Tomorrow and Thursday are supposed to be even warmer.  So, of course, to me that signaled time to un-winterize the swamp cooler.  Before I left for school today I opened all the windows (to burglar resistant levels) and ran the cooler (no water, just air) full blast all day long.  I love the smell of a freshly aired out house.  But, in the fine Utah tradition, we are expecting snow this weekend, so I have to keep the foam insulation ready to plug up the cooler shaft so I don’t lose heat out it at night and when it snows.  But still, 3 days of fresh air are worth the trouble.

In class yesterday one kid told a “Yo Mama” joke.  They all know that my mother passed away a long time ago, so they weren’t shocked when I told him that if he kept it up she’d come and haunt him.  Knowing my sense of humor, this provoked a different student to tell me “Yo mama is so stupid she falls UP stairs.”  I caught him off guard by, with a straight face, coming back with “That’s not funny, that’s how she died.”  It was only a few seconds before I told him that I was just kidding, but it left him totally speechless.  Which is no small feat for this kid.  He did find it funny, because I caught him telling the story in another class.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Excitement and Google glitch.

winter Yeah, I’m getting a little excited about this Ranger thing this summer.  It’s still a long shot that I’ll get the opening, but I can still hope.

So I was online checking out Cedar Breaks on Google Maps, and doing the street view along the ridge, right at the point where the road closes for the winter.  As I scooted along the road, in Google road view, it suddenly switched from  winter to summer.  It’s really not all that stupendous,summer but I just wonder if they got all that way up there and found the road closed, or if they new and just figured they’d get what they could and then go back later.  Enquiring minds want to know.


Saturday, March 13, 2010




Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hmmm, interesting proposition.

As I was perusing the Salt Lake Tribune this morning, a headline that mentioned ‘teacher’ and ‘park ranger’ at the same time caught my eye.  Apparently they are looking for teachers (or a teacher) to work this summer down at Cedar Breaks National Monument.CBreakstoN3a

As most of you who know me know, I love the outdoors, I love camping and I love Southern Utah.  My brothers and I have even at times talked about volunteering somewhere in the National Park system, just to be able to hang out there.

So I quickly headed to the computer, looked up Cedar Breaks, since I had no clue where it was, other than in Utah.  It’s about this |---------------| far due east of Cedar City on the Google map I pulled up.  Good.  Good, that’s doable. So I emailed the contact in the newspaper, told her about my love of Southern Utah and my teaching credentials and asked about applying for the position.  Later today she emailed me back, and instead of just “yeah, go here, download paper, fill out, mail in”, she came across as encouraging me to apply.  So I did.  Or I should say I’m going to, since I still need to get the Principalutah-map Approval Page signed by my principal (next paragraph will explain why).

The position is for 8 weeks in the summer, specific duties were not mentioned, but I would get a $300 a week stipend and my own  Park Ranger Uniform, I would be working as an official Park Ranger.  I do have to agree to do a couple things when I get back to the classroom.  The idea is to get teachers to develop lessons that bring the park system into their classrooms, so I would have to agree to do that.  I would also agree to (and this is where principal approval is required) wear my uniform at school during National Parks Week, sometime in April, and possibly even give a presentation on the parks there.  They also mention that if they have money to hire a substitute for me, I may end up having to go to other schools and present.  All stuff I can handle, and would even enjoy doing.

So, who knows.  Something may turn up that makes me decide not to do it.  They may choose someone else.  But whatever, I’m going to apply and see where it leads me.  After all, it’s the journey…


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Energy Solutions would even reject this…

Life lesson #1654-53A

Do not email someone out of the blue a decade after the last time you talked to them, call them spineless, wimp, gutless, question their sexuality, refer to them and an old friend of theirs as “a couple of old queers”, tell them their family hates them and generally berate them for something that happened over a decade ago, and then claim you harbor them no resentment.

I brought payroll down to the pizza place I’ve been involved with since right out of high school.  The owner, a friend of minetoxic-waste for over 20 years, told me of some contact he just had with a couple we all knew that he had fired from the business back in 1999.  I read the correspondence back and forth between them and walked out of the office with my mind reeling.  I won’t go into details, that’s not what this post is for, I just need to purge my brain.   I will say that I came out in a state of mind where I started giving this grown man advice likeToxic he was one of my 8th graders.  He didn’t need it, it was apparent from his last response that he knows the best thing to do is not even acknowledge it any further, but I had already slipped into teacher mode.

I call them toxic people.  I’ve been dealing with a few since the  beginning of this school year, and sincerely hope that I will let go of any resentment as soon as I’m out of the situation.  It was the same at the first school I taught at, which is one of the reasons I left.  Almost always negative, harping on things they cannot change, or changes their job requires them to make.  Every new idea that comes down the pike is “just another fad that will fade away when the next one comes along.”  Granted, especially in Education, there are tons of things that come down the pike that simply fade away, some because they were tried and failed, some because they never should have been tried.  But I’ve seen these people not only refuse to look into the new ideas, but fight even the ones the majority of the faculty have looked at and find interesting and promising.  bluesky

I’ve worked in 3 schools where these people  were the almost non-existent, silent minority.  Now, I’ve worked in 2 schools where they weren’t all that silent and, although still a minority, not-so-much non-existent.  Here’s to 59 more days of school, and blue skies in the future.