Monday, September 30, 2013

Bye bye clutch, bye bye happiness.

When I went out to buy a new Mustang back in 1999, my only 2 requirements were that it had a 6 cylinder engine and a manual transmission.  The dealership told me there were only 3 with those two in the entire state of Utah, and I could choose between the red one, the other red one or the third red one.

So I got a red one.

Saturday I was at the Honda dealership looking at cars with a friend.  She ended up buying a new Honda CRV.  While the paperwork was being put together I inquired about a Civic sedan, and discovered something I find to be a disturbing trend in the automotive world.

There are only 2 Hondas that even offer a manual transmission in their lineup.  One is the Honda Fit, which looks like a shuttle from Star Trek, and is definitely not my style.

The other option is the Civic Si Coupe, which only comes with a 6-speed manual.

Now, this is more my style, but frankly if I was going to buy a 2 door coupe it would probably be a Mustang or a Challenger.

Now I haven’t looked into other vehicle lines, but chances are good that if Honda is eliminating the manual transmission in most of it’s line-up, so are other manufacturers.

And I find it just a little sad that if you are looking for a nice small sedan with a clutch, your options are being limited.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dude, it’s not even October yet!

And I saw my first Christmas commercial.

Thanks K-Mart.  I know you’re desperate for those holiday $$$, but this is ridiculous.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Another week in the salt mines…

This was a banner week for weird things coming from students, and not always mine.

On Tuesday, while doing his warmups,  one of my 8th graders said to me “Seem like we were here just yesterday.

The same day one of my 7th graders asked me if I listened to Swedish Death Metal.  Not realizing it really existed, I pictured the Muppet’s Swedish Chef banging his head around and screaming about death.

Friday I was up observing my student teacher from last year in her classroom.  The first two kids to come into her 9th grade class decided to battle-crawl their way into the classroom – laying on the floor pulling themselves across the floor on their elbows.  One of them crawled past 4 rows of desks and instead of going down the aisle, he crawled under three desks before popping up in his seat.

The week’s coup-de-grace, which actually happened on Wednesday, was during my 3rd period 7th grade class.

Sometimes I chat with the kids as they do their warmups, and somehow we got onto the subject of the grossest food you’ve ever eaten.  One kid told about eating a ham & cheese sandwich, with peanut butter and jelly.  Right after that a kid raised his hand and told us “We were at this steak house and my dad ordered Rocky Mountain Oysters.

I didn’t see that coming.  But to make matters worse, a minute or two after I managed to get the subject changed, the Principal walks in and asks “So, what are you learning in Mr. Rossi’s class today?

Several kids blurt out “Rocky Mountain Oysters!”, which in my defense I pointed out that I wasn’t the one that brought it up.  Half the class pointed to the kid who did bring it up saying “Yeah, <insert student’s name here> brought it up.

I had a small panic attack as the Principal walked out, but quickly calmed down.  I’ve worked with her for 9 out of the last 12 years, have had even worse incidents and she still keeps hiring me, so I figured she would just call me into her office later and chastise me for getting off task.

I’ve talked to her several times since, and she hasn’t once brought it up.  But if fully expect, during one of our in-services on the Core Standards and Common Assessments to inform the entire faculty that “even though Mr. Rossi thinks they are, Rocky Mountain Oysters are not part of the Math Core Curriculum.

Friday, September 27, 2013

…, sleep well and dream of large structures.*

*(Yes, that’s not an exact quote.)

At 420 feet (128 m) tall, the Church Office Building is the second tallest building in Salt Lake, and Utah for that matter.   The Wells-Fargo Center is a whopping 2 feet (.6 m) taller, despite having 4 fewer floors, only because of the 2 heliports on top.

Built in 1973, it towered above the rest of the city until well into the 80’s, didn’t get beat out as tallest until 1998.

I took these pictures as the sun was setting, if you want to see more, unrelated, sunset pictures click the link below.

P.S. – You may not be a Utahn if… you have to ask what church I’m talking about.  You can find just about every religion on the planet here in Utah, but “the church” almost always refers to the LDS Church.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Merit pay for teachers.

When they figure out a way to quantify the father that came to my table at Parent/Teacher conferences, after his wife had talked to me about grades, just to thank me for “bringing out the best in my son”, I’ll be on board 100%.

Test scores simply do not tell the whole story.

Monday, September 23, 2013


I just got back from dropping off the payroll for Free Wheeler Pizza.  I was surprised to see extra money in my pay envelope, with a little note from the owner saying “It’s been a while, here’s a cost of living raise.”

The legislature also gave me a raise on my teaching salary this year. My first raise from them since 2009, which would have been a pay cut if I hadn’t earned my Master’s that year.  And it’s a whopping 0.33%.

⅓ of 1% from my full-time (and a half) job and 10% from the small pizza place I do payroll for.  Now you might think “Yeah, but ⅓% of a teaching salary is gonna be a lot more that 10% of what you’d get paid to process 20 paychecks a month.”

Au contraire, mon frère.  It works out to a difference of  $450 a month.

Yeah, the Utah Legislature respects and values their teachers.  Oh, yeah.  Not more than a struggling local businessman.

P.S. – red is the official Math Department color for sarcasm at my school.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Utah beats BYU

I’m not a big sports fanatic, and frankly I find it annoying that the reputations of the two biggest Universities in Utah generally rely on their ability to get a funny shaped ball over a goal line.

You never see headlines like “U of U Ranks #1 in Math Publications” or “BYU Takes Psychology Title”.  There are no Sociology Booster Clubs or tailgate parties in front of the Theater Department on the nights of big plays.

It’s kind of pathetic the billions and billions of dollars we’ll dump into a bunch of guys chasing a ball around (I’m not talking just Universities or football here), but we bitch and moan about a couple extra bucks to have clean air, decent roads, good education and universal healthcare.

Sorry U of U, but winning a football game does not make you the better institution of higher learning.  And BYU, your loss does not diminish your ability to supply a quality education.

All that said, as someone who has spent many years studying at the University of Utah, I’m still glad they won.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Lisa & Jim

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to brighten your day.

At lunch a kid asks me “Do you know how to make a bad day better?

Ya do this,”he tells me as he tucks his arms into his short sleeves so that only his hands are out, flailing them around “and act like you’re a T-rex.  You can’t have a bad day when you’re acting like a T-rex.

I told the Vice-Principal the story and then warned him “If a parent ever calls saying I’m losing my mind and walking around like a T-rex, just tell them I’m improving my day.

And here’s a harvest moon over my school.  For those of you who think “Oh, that’s got to be photoshopped”, you’re right.  I took three pictures, one to get the moon, one to get the sky and one to get the school at their best.  Then I layered them and took away the bad parts so that only the best of the three things showed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Strangers in our midst.

I see a lot of strangers in our midst, and they don’t even flinch when I take picture after picture of them.

They’re the members of the team opposing my students.  We’ve never met before and I don’t know their names, they don’t know mine.

But I’ll admit this take on the theme is kind of a cheat,  because on one level we know each other very well. 

Most of them wouldn’t hesitate to ask me where the restrooms are or the front office or anything else they needed to know while visiting my school, they can spot a teacher a mile away. 

I wouldn’t hesitate to ask them to move for a second so I could get a shot (bystanders, not the players), or to quiet down, sit down or stop any inappropriate behavior.

We don’t know who each other is, but we know each other’s role.  Does this make us strangers or not?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Yesterday’s Clouds

Friday, September 13, 2013

Think you’re funny, eh?

I’m sitting at my desk, just finished up entering roll on the computer.  the kids are still working on the starter and remembering something I needed to do on the computer I say to myself “I know what I was going to do.

From the peanut gallery I hear “

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thematic Photographic–Treasured

One of my most treasured places is the family property up by Duchesne (doo-shane).  We call it Back of Beyone Ranch, in honor of Edward Abby and his book “The Monkey Wrench Gang.”

It was either 1995 or 1996 that we bought the first 40 acre parcel and quickly set up camp close to dead center of the property.

It was very basic camping.  One small tent trailer and the rest of us slept in tents on the ground.

But we were happy to have our piece of wilderness, where we didn’t have to compete for the prime campsites, or put up with people that had no respect for the others around them.

Below are my two brothers and myself at the top of what we named “Rossi Draw.” 

The following year the parcel adjacent to ours on the west side came up for sale.  The land was still pretty cheap, and we really liked the hillside that was right on the line of the two parcels, so we bought it and moved the campsite into the clump of trees on the hill, putting it pretty much smack in the middle of the two parcels of land.  Below is the new road leading from the old campsite to the new one.

Since then we’ve brought up trailers to sleep in, built a couple of sheds to keep our stuff in and built a one-room cabin for eating and socializing.  Here you see us taking a golf-break from building the cabin.

We also acquired a bath tub that sits out in a clearing and is gravity fed water from containers on the hill.  Cold water only, which is great on those hot summer days.

Rossi Draw is on the first parcel of land, right along the border between the two.  When we bought the second parcel we acquired what we had already named “Lost Draw.”  We named it that because when we were first looking at the land, before buying any of it, the real estate agent walked us up to the southern corner of the property.  I had headed back to the car a little before the rest, became disoriented and ended up coming down this draw, thinking it was the other one (Rossi Draw) where we parked the car.  Completely lost, I started screaming out for my brothers hoping to get their attention.  I had been screaming for about 10 minutes and just as I had resigned to walking down the 3 miles down the hill to the highway, and then 3 miles back up the dirt road to where the car was, my brothers found me.  As a way to perpetually harass me for getting lost, they immediately dubbed it “Lost Draw’.  Gotta love brothers.

My sister-in-law riding the ATV at sunset.  Every time I see this picture the theme to M*A*S*H runs through my mind.

And finally – winter camp.  Where the fires can get big, because everything is covered in snow and wild fires are unlikely.


Monday, September 09, 2013

Awkward moment avoided.

I was walking across the parking lot to Shopko when a hand waved at me from inside the car that had stopped for me.  It was one of my students.

I immediately thought “Please don’t be going to Shopko.”

It would just be awkward running into a student while I was standing in the checkout line with a package of tighty-whities.

Fortunately, they were going somewhere else.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Air crash in Olympus Cove

Well, that’s what it looked like.  A big mass of wet air crash landing right in a residential area.

I watched it for a while, photographing it as I did.  It looked weird as it pushed into the cove, hit the mountains, filled up the whole area and spilled over the tops of the mountains.

There’s been nothing on the news, so since no news is good news I’m assuming nobody got hurt in the crash.