Monday, August 31, 2009

The LTD conundrum is exposed.

…. Maybe it’s just me, but if you produce a website about classic cars, you really ought to get the basic facts right. And with cars, especially old cars, the year is not just a trivial detail. Even if the title of your website is “Les voitures classiques en Bulgarie”. (“Classic cars in Bulgaria”, and I didn’t even have to use Babel Fish to translate that.)
…. Anyway, the problem with the picture was that it claimed to be a 1970 Ford LTD, when it was really a 1969. Now, you’ve probably just said to yourself “who cares?” Well, I guess I do. There are some differences between the two years that make, at least for me, the 1969 preferable.

  1. The ‘69 has the horn ring, the ‘70 has it in the center bar.
  2. The ‘69 has the ignition switch on the dash, at the bottom.
  3. The ‘70 has it on the steering column. The ‘69 has nicer inside door handles.

Click on picture to see it full sized

…. You have now completed your course work in LTDS 6970. If you’ve read this far, I give you an “A”. See you in LTDS 7172 next semester.
- Professor Max
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ford Fanatic or normal human being?

If you can identify what is wrong with this picture, then you are an official L’Adunata Ford Fanatic.  If you can’t, then consider yourself lucky.  You’ll never be forcibly committed to the Henry Ford Clinic.
Click on picture to see it full sized.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Week one, over and out.

…. Well, I survived the first week, exhausted and ready to sleep Saturday away completely. Not only was it week one, but it was elongated by Back to School Night, the evening parents are invited to meet all their student’s teachers. We didn’t have it at either the High School or the Jr. High in the South Salt Lake Area, but at both schools before that we had it the week before the kids showed up. Go figure. Anyway, that meant that Wednesday was a 7AM to 8PM kind of day. Phew!

9th …. No school is 100% perfect, and even though my new school has it’s problems I am really happy that I’m where I’m at. My 8th grade classes are great, I’m having a really good time with them, especially my Advisory class. The one class that is causing problems is (sue-prise, sue-prise) my 9th grade class, and I have them every day instead of every other day. I’ve had to email one parent, am waiting for email addresses for 5 more from the office and have had to bring one student down to the office already. Hopefully once we start working in the computer lab (that’s why we meet twice as often) they will get a little more interested and cause less problems. Hopefully.

…. I’ve figured out which are the fun teachers on the staff and which are the ones to just not joke with. The PE teacher, who is the wife of a guy I worked with before, is hilarious. I walked in while she was making copies, she had the wrong master on the machine, so she pulled it off in the middle of copying, and stuck her hand over it. Got a nice shot of the whole hand, including he thumb ring. So, I asked her for the copy and told her that I was going to put it up on my wall and see if the kids could figure out which teacher it was. Of course i didn’t say anything to the kids, figured I’d just let them discover it. Every time I ran into the PE teacher (which wasn’t more than once a day since she is on the opposite side of the building) she’d ask (with the look and tone of a anxious 6 year old) “have they noticed yet?” Yeah, we’re going to have fun.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seriously, Cop cars do not have comfortable back seats.

.... No, you will not see an article in the Tribune with a headline that starts with "Teacher gets caught..." and ends with "...student."
.... It's been a long time since I sat in the back seat of a cop car, over 32 years.  Let's just say that I wasn't a model teenager.  But I have avoided them my entire adult life, until tonight.
.... I worked at the Chevron tonight, and sometime around 5:30, I turned around from helping my co-worker find the right can of Skoal for a customer to see a guy in his 40's walking out the front door with a 30-pack of Busch Light.  I turned to my co-worker and asked if he had sold the guy the beer.  He said "no".  So I told him I'd be back in a second, walked out the back door, saw they guy crossing 2100 So at Douglas Street and yelled at him "Hey, did you pay for that beer?"  He turned towards me, turned back and just kept walking.  Fine.  So I head back into to the store, grab the wireless phone and call Salt Lake City Police.  As I'm talking to dispatch on the phone I head out the back door again and spot him walking down Douglas Street.  Dispatch is asking me where he was headed, and as I'm describing it to her, the guy ducks behind Sherwin-Williams and heads up the alley.  Still talking to dispatch, I walk up 2100 So and spot him through the car wash heading north down another alley.  I also notice he's not carrying the beer any longer, so I head over to the alley to see where he ditched it, no longer on the phone with dispatch.  As I'm headed over there a cop shows up and I tell him where the guy was headed and that he didn't have the beer with him anymore.  The cop takes off and I find the beer in the dumpster at Sherwin-Williams.  Of course I leave it there, 'cause I know when CSI shows up they're going to want the scene left alone.  Yeah, ok, what really happened was another cop showed up, I asked him if I should leave it there and he said they'd pick it up and bring it back to the store.   I get halfway back and the phone, in my back pocket now, rings and it's dispatch with an address for me to go to so I can identify the perp. (The guy they found, I just wanted to say 'perp').  I walk to the address, three cop cars are there and they already have the guy in cuffs.  I identify him, they get all my information and then ask how much the beer is worth.  Nope, "about" won't do.  They ask me to call the store and get them the actual price ($16.99, we don't count tax when dealing with theft.)  Um, sorry, can't, the store phone is in my back pocket.  So one of the cops drives me back to the store, with the beer, to get it's retail value. On the ride back, (in the uncomfortable back seat, which, by the way, the airconditioning doesn't get to) he told me that this guy has been arrested several times for beer theft. He leaves the beer with us, and my job is done.
.... My co-worker texted (yeah, I know I'm probably making up that word) the manager to let him know what happened before I could tell him to send him a text that just said "Steve was brought to the store in the back seat of a cop car."  Oh well, it's not a good idea to give your boss a heart attack.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Of first days and photo journalism....

.... First day of school is over. Only 177 to go. Every day I have three 8th grade classes and one 9th grade class, which happens to be at the end of the day. I've been out of Jr. High for three years now, but the flow came back pretty quickly, felt like I'd never left. One thing was confirmed, though; 9th graders are better in high school, where there are seniors to tell them to shut it. Had to haul J-cubed (three 9th grade guys whose names all start with J) out into the hall already. I may have a classroom with windows, but they don't open and without air conditioning the class got so bad I brought the entire class to the drinking fountain. Didn't want anyone passing out from heat stroke the first day. Next week, maybe, but not the first day. I told them that they needed to behave, so we didn't disrupt the other overheated classrooms, but J-cubed decided they wanted to roughhouse in the hall, so I quickly headed the class back to the room. When everyone was in their seats I called J-cubed out into the hall and reminded them that, although I don't want to see them melt all over the classroom, I can't have them driving all the teachers that I just met up the wall. J1 says J2 started it, J2 blames it on J3 who blames it back on J2. Um, I don't care who started it. The important part is that I didn't get overwhelmed by the whole thing, and overall I felt perfectly comfortable in all the classes. Like riding a bicycle.
.... I had to go to Home Depot to get some fans for my classroom, sweat was literally dripping into my eyes, and not due to nerves. So I picked up a couple $19.95 fans, tax exempt of course. On the way home I was sitting in the left turn lane at 13th E and 2100 So watching this man panhandling, hobbling up and down the sidewalk on a crutch, showing his sign to cars waiting at the light. Now, I felt a little guilty when I started thinking that the whole thing was a sham. It seemed that he hobbled more when cars were stopped than when the light was green, and for the most part it seems people use a crutch instead of walking on their bad leg, rather than on the other side of their body. But no, I must be hardened by dealing with them at the Chevron, which is on the same corner, and I'd never seen him before. My guilt was alleviated when I saw him lean his crutch up against his bicycle, walk around to the back and get something out of the pack there. Who wants to make bets on whether or not the leg brace is a fake too?

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This is it......

Let the games begin.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Of Kaffeeklatsches and JNCO jeans...

.... Ok, so there are a few negative people, but after Thursday I felt even better about being where I am.  Part of the isolation I was feeling is because I'm at the end of a hall with only 2 classrooms in it, and the doors aren't even right across from each other.  That was alleivated when I found out that the Schmeisenhower Coffee Klatch meets at the T where my hall connects to the cross-hall.  We had 7th grade orientation that day and I came out of my room to go to the office, there was 3 of the more fun teachers standing in the hall chatting.  As I walked up they said hi and informed me that they like to meet right there in between classes and just chat, making it clear that I was invited to join.  SCORE!  Those of you who know me, know that I like to chat, especially at school.  Add to that the sister of one of my best friends in high school is our half-time English teacher and the PE teacher is the wife of someone I got along well with at Granite Park, and VOILA, I feel fun in the future. 
.... A guy came into the Chevron driving a Delorean today.  When he walked into the store and I told him I liked his car, he recognized me as his Jr. High math teacher.  I sort of recognized him, but asked him to refresh my memory.  He says "I was the kid with his book in his pants."
.... Ahh, yes.  Remember JNCO jeans?  The grandpappy of saggy pants.  I actually still have a pair.  They fit normally around the waist, but very, very loose otherwise.  And they have big pockets.  So, this kid, we'll call him Spencer, was not doing very well in math and we had a meeting with his counselor.  One of the things we agreed on was that he would remember to bring his math book to class every day, something he rarely did.  He was pretty good at it for a little while, then one day came when he didn't have it with him.  I asked him about it and he told me he had it with him.  I looked around, under his desk, on the desk behind him and it was nowhere, so I looked at him and said "so, where is it?"  He stood up, stuck both hands into one of those oversized and extremely deep JNCO pockets and pulled out his math text book.  I was stunned and speechless.  He was gloating and triumphant.  All I had left to do was laugh and thank him for remembering his book.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Party like it's 1899.

.... Got to school this morning and checked my school email.  This was in it (see photo to left).  It's a technology work order, I used to see a lot of these when I was the Granite High STS*, but I left that all behind when I moved schools.  At least I thought so.
.... Now it obviously wasn't for any work that needs to be done at Granite, there's nobody there except one custodian rambling around all alone.  And I can't blame the person who sent in the work order, I got Granger High work orders all the time. (Alphabetically they're one above the other when choosing).
.... The reason this makes me laugh is that someone, a person who works at the district office, had to look at the original work order and think to themselves "Granite High, yeah, their STS is .......", and then assign it to me.  They didn't think "Granite High, that's closed.  Must be Granger, yeah, that's where I'll send it."  You would have to be pretty damn oblivious to work at the district offices and not know my school closed down.
.... I just love figuring out the systems at a new school.  It took me 1/2 an hour to figure out which Math books I'll need for my classes and where they were.  Person #1 sent me to person #2, who sent me to person #3, who sent me back to person #1.  On my own I found person #4 who referred me to person #5, who actually was the right person.  Yeah!  I don't remember any of the last 3 schools I've been at being this complicated.  To get copies made on the big Xerox, I have to fill out a form, give it to one of the secretaries with the original and wait a day or two until they have a chance to copy it.  For immediate purposes, there are a couple rinky-dink copiers in the faculty work room, but you'd have to collate and staple yourself.
.... Faculty meeting today was an, um, interesting experience.  It kind of brought me back to the meetings at the first school I worked at.  Not just because it's the same principal, but it's been quite a while since I've had to work with so many teachers (50+ as opposed to 17 the last three years) and it's been even longer since I've had to work with so many naysayers.  I actually heard a couple teachers say "I am NOT going to do that!", and it had nothing to do with adopting half your students and giving them a home.  It had to do with shifting the way we do grades so that one missed assignment wouldn't ruin a kids grade.
.... On the good side, I really like the principal, already get along well with the assistant principal, like the intern assistant, get along well with the teacher right next door and there are a dozen teachers I'll probably get along with also.  Could have been worse, at least nobody told me that they really wanted someone else and got stuck with me.....
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*School Technology Specialist

Monday, August 17, 2009

Math Tramp

.... I met for dinner with a bunch of the staff from the school I was at last year one last time before the new school year started. Even though it's been only a couple of months, it was good to see them and find out how things were going at their new schools. One teacher who had left in tears after finding out where she was going, is much happier about the situation now that she has had a chance to get out there a couple of times. A couple other teachers hadn't as good an experience, the worst being one of the science teachers. She wasn't at the dinner, but someone who had talked to her recently told us the story. One of the other science teachers at the school she was sent to ran into her and at some point told her "we were hoping to get -insert some other teacher's name here-, but instead we had to take you because your school closed." Nice. If it had been me, after recovering from the shock of someone having the chutzpah to say something that rude, I would have been tempted to give them the finger. I doubt she did.
.... Later we were talking about change, and I said something about liking it once in a while, and how I've been to 5 different schools in my career, and that I have no intention of spending my remaining 14 years at one school. The councelor chimed in with "You're such a tramp, a Math tramp." I think I'm going to get that on a license plate. Of course, since the state asks you to explain your request, they would never approve it, unless I could come up with some reasonable meaning that they would fall for. I've already had one personalized plate reposessed by the state, I have no desire to go for two. That plate had the french word "Merde", which you can have Babel Fish translate for you. I'd had the plates on my car for a couple of years before the state found out and revoked them. They did replace them with more acceptable ones, free of charge. If it had happened years later, I could have always argued that Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek TNG) often muttered the word under his breath during the first season. Probably wouldn't have helped, but at least I could have argued.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009


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Jenn & Scott

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Monday + 5 = Thursday?

.... Monday I went up to the hospital to visit my dad. They said everything was looking fine, and he was looking so well that the adrenaline rush calmed down and the worry diminished. Seems he was doing even better than that. He was supposed to be in there for observation for 5 days.
.... I went up there Thursday after my workshop to see how he was doing. I took the elevators up to the 4th floor, opened the doors to the wing he was (supposed to be) in and was surprised to see the whole thing gutted, floor and all. So as I'm standing there trying to figure out if I'm at the right set of doors, trying to remember if there was something on the news about an explosion at the U Hospital, a very nice nurse pointed down a different hall and told me they had moved the entire ward. In two days. It took us 3 months to get our furniture when we moved out to Utah, and here they move patients, nurses, charts, all the other medical paraphenalia, and even the floor, in two days. How things have changed.
.... So, I go down to the new spot looking to say Hi to dad, a friend of mine who is a nurse there is on duty and asks me what brings me by. I tell him and he says "Oh, he left already." Now my brain immediatly jumps to the most common way of leaving the hospital early, so I ask "Are you sure?" He goes back somewhere for a minute, comes back and tells me "Yeah, he went home at 15:30 today."
.... Well dad, I'm glad you're home and feeling better. Seems things must have cleared up a lot faster than expected.
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Lynda & Todd

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fun at the Algebra Academy.....

Professional development is vital for teachers.  Ahem, let me rephrase that.  Valuable professional development is vital for teachers.  Not the run-of-the-mill "we didn't pass AYP so we're going to repackage the same old stuff and regurgitate it to you again so we can say we're doing something" type.  I spent the last two days learning all about background knowledge, differentiated instruction, graphic organizers, reading and writing in math, formative assessments and dealing with total boredom.  (As you know, Writer, I've already had extensive trainings on the above mentioned subjects.  As had many, if not all, of the other teachers in the academy).  So, 12 hours of rehashing stuff I've gone over in the last 3 schools I've been at.  Yawnfest Ought-nine.  The good things about my last 2 days:

  1. I ran into a bunch of old friends from the various schools I've been at.

  2. I got to get to know the Math teacher's I'll be working with better.

  3. $200 a day for the two days.

  4. Free, and good, lunch.

  5. Relicensure points.

  6. Lane change credits.

  7. The academy continues through the entire school year.  Once a month.  Now, from the way I described my last two days, maybe that's not such a good thing, eh?  If they keep their promise, then it is a good thing.  Their promise that at the monthly meetings we will get actual activities to do in our classrooms.  Ones that we will be expected to try out over the next month and report back on when we meet again.  This is good.  Some of the biggest complaints I've heard about professional development is "yeah, great ideas, but how do I put them to work?"  We are, theoretically, going to be given ways to put them to work.  Some may be good, some may suck.  But at least with the ones that suck, I'll be able to come back next month and tell them "that sucked."  Well, I'm off.  I've got only 2 more days of total freedom (no school, no Chevron, no church) before I show up for faculty meeting.  Gotta make the best of them....
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

..and bats in the belfry.

.... Did you know that Granite High has ghosts?  Considering that parts of the building are damn near a hundred years old, I wasn't surpirsed when I first heard the rumors.  With all the students and faculty that went through there, there's no doubt the place is filled with psychological ghosts and moral skeletons in the closets.  But real live ghosts? I went to lunch with the principal and counselor from that last year, and found out that some para-normal group wanted to rent the building overnight so they could attempt to contact the ghosts.  No, I'm serious.  It wasn't for a halloween gag or some sort of fraternity initiation.  They were real live ghost busters.  The principal had to say no, mainly because since the closing they have stopped new rentals until they know what is going to happen to the building.  Which we, the general public at least, still don't know.
.... So, the haunted thing in mind I made this up and sent it to a bunch of the teachers that used to work there, through district mail.
.... I talked to the principal today and she said it made her day.  Yeah, I think I'm gonna keep this going, I even got a new email for it:  Fun stuff ahead.
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Oh, and if someone from Granite reads this, shhhhhhhhh, mum's the word.

Alex & Marijke

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Back to school & a hospital visit

....Yesterday they came in the newspaper. The back to school ads. Yup, exactly 2 weeks from today the kids will show up at my school and I'll officially be a junior high teacher again. I hate to admit it, but the truth is I'm looking forward to it. The same way I look forward to the beginning of summer. A change. I like teaching, I like being in the classroom and interacting with the students. There is a lot of crap in the profession that annoys the hell out of me, and there certainly are days I wish I was independantly wealthy and could quit. But overall, I love it. I get kind of bored trying to find things to do by the end of the summer. It's time to start wrapping up the home projects, and not enough time, and often no more money, to start new ones. So, bring it on, I'm as ready as I'll ever be.
.... On the other hand, I won't have to hard a time finding something to do this week. My father is going to be in the hospital for at least the next 5 days. I got a call from my sister-in-law this afternoon, and as soon as I heard her voice I knew something was up. Being the smart woman she is, she started off with "He's going to be fine,...." Much better than leading off with "Your dad's in the hospital..." He has some blood clots in one of his lungs, which caused his heart to overwork itself trying to get oxygen to his body. He's on blood thinners and they are keeping him there just to make sure his heart repairs itself when his oxygen levels rise again, which they are as sure as they can be that it will. All in all not that bad, but it's still freaky when someone you love is in the hospital, no matter how good it looks.
.... Now, if any of you have wondered where I get my bizarre sense of humor, here it is. My dad's laying in the bed, oxygen tube in his nose and a tube hanging from his arm that they use to inject his medicine, so they don't have to keep jabbing him with needles (just put one in and leave it there for the duration). He looks down at it, holds it and shows it to us (my sister was there too) and asks "You know what this is for?" Yeah, but he doesn't give a chance to answer. "To make it easier for vampires." We laugh, I say something about not having to puncture your neck and start slurping at my arm. We laugh some more and then my sister says, in her best vampire voice, "I like this place, they give you straws." I thought they'd have to use the paddles.
(That picture came after the comments, so you may have read them to get it).

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Are you on crack?

or just a total moron?
This silver Pontiac Sunbird pulls up to pump 5 and the guy gets out with a lit cigarette. Now this is stupid enough, but since people usually immediately throw the smoke on the ground and stomp it out I didn't think much of it. A couple of minutes later I look out there and he's pumping gas with his left hand and holding the lit cigarette in his right hand. I actually had to get on the speaker and tell him to put it out. "Welcome to Chevron, smoking is not allowed at the gas pumps." You can just imagine what I wanted to say.
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Friday, August 07, 2009

Fun with Photoshop, 2

This one was inspired by Writer's comment, but with my own twist....
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click on photo to see full sized

Fun with Photoshop

Writer, Jannx and I save 13th South from the floods.......
If you want me to add you in, just go to The Hero Factory and then send me the picture.
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click on the picture for full size

Strange things are afoot on the internet.

Thanks to the internet, in less than 20 minutes you too can be a comic book hero. A Paperback Writer found this website, The Hero Factory, and I had to go check it out myself. So, this is me, as the "Intimidating Spectaled Pike"
What? It doesn't look like me at all? Yeah, well they didn't have the "grey hair and beer gut" option. But I have been called intimidating before, and I do wear glasses. Close enough, isn't it?
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Thursday, August 06, 2009

How NOT to play with a laser pointer.

Thanks to jmpnmark for sending this to me, click on the picture to see the video.
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.... Contemplate the sign a minute.  Hmmm, if you can pay someone ten to twenty thousand a month to train, why can't you spring $10 for a sign that isn't hand written?  Or how about: In this economy you can pay $10 to $20 thousand a month to train, why do you have to advertise at all?  Shouldn't people be knocking down your door? And if you do have to advertise, why in the median on 21st So. and 13th E.?  Or: if you're going to pay someone $120 to $240 thousand a year to train, shouldn't you have a professional firm screening applicants?  Why can't you afford a professional firm?
.... I'm not even going to venture a guess as to what the scam is, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts that a scam it is.
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* Do people really fall for this shit?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Laughed out loud.

.... One of the things I love about CSI (the original) is how they weave humor into a TV show about murder, rape and other crimes.  Today I was watching a newly downloaded episode (A Space Oddity) and it made me laugh out loud.  Literally.
.... The first few minutes of CSI they introduce the story, Grissom was famous for pulling off a cute little pun right before cutting to the credits.  In this episode two of the minor characters meet at a Star Trek convention, although they call it Astro Quest and they make no direct reference to the Star Trek characters.
.... The murder takes place on the bridge of the imaginary spaceship, a set brought along for the convention.  The two minor characters immediately identify themselves as CSI, secure the scene and call the regular Police Detective, guy named Jim Brass.  Hodges, the CSI calling Brass simply tells him that there is a situation at the convention.  When Brass asks him what it's all about, Hodges relplies:
He's dead, Jim!
Being both a CSI and Star Trek fan probably helped. 
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