Sunday, October 31, 2010


Friday, October 29, 2010


I saw on the news this morning that some retailers, desperate for the Christmas buying season that our economy has so pathetically become dependent on, have dubbed tomorrow “Black Friday”.  Traditionally the Friday right after Thanksgiving, they’ve decided to completely marginalize both Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family that didn’t celebrate Christmas and because of that the holiday has no emotional resonance for me, but it really bugs me that in search of the almighty dollar we are overshadowing one holiday that allows adults to revert to their childhoods and another that is a great gathering for family (and don’t forget the food).

For a while there I would boycott stores that advertised Christmas specials before Thanksgiving, but had to give that up when I was left with nowhere to buy my groceries.  Short of growing my own food, I’m just going to have to plug along, grumbling to myself and occasionally venting here.

Only 422 days of shopping until Christmas 2011, get your deals now!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yellow Journalism, or is it just Graffiti?

The Thematic Photographic for this week is “Yellow”, and I immediately thought of this picture: Out on the shore of the Great Salt Lake, about 20 miles outside of the city, there is, was and has been an events center called Saltair.  It’s been around since 1893 and has burned to the ground and been rebuilt several times over the years.  The last time it burned was in the early 70’s, which inspired a University of Utah film students to produce a movie called “Attack of the Giant Brine Shrimp”.

But I digress.  This picture, and the next one, were taken right by Saltair, where there are several train cars abandoned and taken over by graffiti.  I liked this one in particular because it wasn’t your standard graffiti, it kind of has a peaceful feel about it for me. This is on one of the trains in the same area.  If I remember correctly (these were taken in 2007) the yellow in the first picture was connected to the train, I think it was used as a gift shop for Saltair. This last picture was taken during the renovation of the Redman Storage building right down the street from my house.  It was one of the historic Sugarhouse buildings that, in my opinion, has been lost even though it’s been renovated.  The renovation kept absolutely none of the characteristics of the original building, other than the “Redman” sign which isn’t even the original, and as far as I can see might as well have been completely torn down and replaced.

Well, there are my Yellow pictures.

So this is what my house looks like in daylight?

I’d almost forgotten.  With the play last week and this week, it’s been almost two weeks since I got home from work before 9:00 pm.

But the play is over, and as tiring and time consuming as it was, it was also a lot of fun.  I’ve never done dinner theater before, it was quite interesting to do and with the PTSA moms taking care of the dinner part, it went off without a hitch.  Well, relatively speaking considering we’re in a junior high school.

Well, now it’s off to make some dinner and catch up on some sleep.  Tomorrow is a SNAD Day (Student Non-Attendance) and thanks to budget cuts it’s only a half day, so I’ll be out of there before noon.

Maybe get some time to clean the house?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The show must go on.

If you read my post from a couple days ago, you know that one of the things that kept me busy that week was the school play.   I don’t teach drama, my responsibility went to the Stage Crew department, I’m in charge of the crew.

Our drama teacher is quite creative and came up with the idea of a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater for last week and this week, right before Halloween.  One of the great things about the abominable building I teach in is that the cafeteria has it’s own small stage, which allowed us to present the play right inside the dining area. 

The play takes place in 2010, this year, on a cruise ship named the S.S. Enchantment.  As the guests enter the cafeteria, they are greeted by the captain, the cruise director and the servers offering h'ordeuvres and drinks (just water and lemonade, it is a junior high play after all) and welcomed to the ship.  Once the guests are seated the play starts, the plot introduced and then dinner is served.  During the dinner, the cast mingles with the guests, dropping hints and giving clues to what is going to happen.  After dinner, the plot thickens, threats on life and limb are made and then we get another break for a game of bingo.  During the bingo game, two of the characters are murdered and their bodies are set in strategic spots in the building.  After bingo, the play resumes, the missing cast members  are mentioned and foul play is implied.  The remaining cast pairs off and each pair takes a table of guests and leads them through the building looking for clues, and finding the bodies.  Everyone meets back in the cafeteria, the guests are given ballots to see if they figured out who killed who, and who has the cursed amulet (I’ll explain that in a second) and then the play goes on while the servers tally up the ballots.  At the end the three guests who got the most correct answers get a prize, a 2” plastic sword.

The plot of the play is simple.  Cruise ship director finds amulet, the captain reads the inscription (in French) on the back  and a group of pirates who were cursed in the  1700’s are brought into 2010.  Pirates take over the cruise ship, battle amongst themselves and in the end are, by the power of the amulet, sent back to the 1700’s.

The kids were fantastic, they and the play are entertaining and funny.  The play requires them to improvise and they did quite good at that too.  The actor playing “Salty Pierre” got quite a few laughs when the bingo spinner broke on him and he did a little improv thing about it.

The only bad part was when the drama teacher got a call from home right at the end of the first performance, with the news that her husband had had a heart attack and was in the hospital.  Last thing I had heard was he was out of surgery and doing well, although she was not there for the second performance.  Thanks to the PTA parents, the cast and the stage crew, all of who knew what needed to be done and did it well, the second performance went off virtually without a hitch. 

We have two more performances, Tuesday and Wednesday this week and as of now I have no idea if the drama teacher will be there.  It’s good to know that the PTA, cast and crew have their jobs down well enough that if she needs to be with her family, she won’t need to worry about the play.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hosts from hell, pilfering blue jay and a big mud puddle.

Last weekend I was down at Arches National Park.  We had a 4 day weekend off from school and, since my brother had booked the campsites 6 months in advance, I decided to take advantage of the free time and join the family down there.  I had a great time, relaxed a lot, hiked a little bit, found some dirt roads to drive down and sat around the campfire with the family.  Overall a worthwhile weekend, but at the same time the culture of the place has changed so much I’m not sure it’s worth going again.

First of all, we had the camp hosts from hell, and it seems that the Park Service allows them to make up random rules for the camp area they oversee.  Now I understand that rules are important, without them us wonderful human beings would overrun the park, destroy everything around the campsites and make them uninhabitable.  But, like I’m told all the time for my classroom, rules have to be visible, enforceable, reasonable and above all else, consistent.  Allowing volunteers that change every season make up their own rules makes no sense.   Especially when the rule itself makes no sense.

We booked three campsites six months in advance, and even then we couldn’t get them all right together.  One was up over on the other side of the hill.  So we did what we’ve always been allowed to do; used the closer ones for as many of our party as possible and reserved the farther one for stragglers.  That meant putting 2 trailers in one of the campsites.  The paved parking pad was big enough for both of them, and even room for a car without blocking the road at all.  We happily moved the car so that the road wasn’t even slightly crowded, but according to the hosts we were only allowed one trailer per campsite.

There is already a written rule, in the pamphlet and on the website, limiting each campsite to 10 people, so it wasn’t a matter of too many people at the site.  5 couples with 5 tents and 5 cars would be allowed, but not 2 families with 2 trailers.  If we had one of the smaller campsites and the trailers were crowding the road, that I could understand.  But the hosts couldn’t give us any reason other than it was their rule.  And when asked where the rule was written, their response was “If we had to write every rule we’d have to print up a 7 page book for everyone.”   In 2010, that excuse doesn’t work, because my niece was willing to obey the rule if they were even able to show it to her on the website.  And that costs nothing but time for 7 pages everyone can see.

Anyway, you can get a first hand account of things from my older brother’s blog here, and in the end we did get to keep both trailers on the one site.

Even more disturbing to me is how the whole feel of camping has changed down there.  I’ve been camping in and around Arches since the spring of ‘76, right after I got my driver’s license.  For me, the fun of camping does not come from sleeping in a sleeping bag, on the hard ground in a tent that is usually either too cold or too hot.  I put up with all that because it was a time to relax, to hang out with friends and/or family and, especially, a time to sit around the campfire till late in the evening joking, laughing, telling scary stories and just bullshitting.  Back when I first started going down there, that seemed to be the general consensus.   Just about every camp site had a fire going in the evening, and at least half of them would be up late talking, joking and enjoying themselves.  Nobody was bothered by the occasional outburst of laughter.

This year I was surprised when I noticed it was only 9:00 and we were the only ones with a campfire still going.  It was eerie and weird and made me a little nervous.  The fourth night, when at 10:30 there were only 4 of us left around our campfire, talking quietly (I thought) someone from the camp across the way yelled at us to be quiet.  Kind of broke up the party, since we were already trying to be quite since it was after official camp hours, and we didn’t know how to be any quieter.

I think I’m going to stick to going up to the family property.  We can show up at anytime we want and find a campsite, we can put as many trailers in a row as we want and we can stay up as late as we want, being as loud as we want. 

So, here are pictures from the trip.  You can click on any of the pictures here to get a full sized one, or go to the album below and see them all (well, all the ones I’m posting, I always take about 3 times as many as get posted.)  As for that last picture, those were crushed cars being hauled out of Moab.  How many of the cars can you identify?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


This week’s Thematic Photographic is “Savor”, and if you read what I posted right before this, you’ll better understand why I chose this picture.

I am sooo going to savor the next 7 hours curled up on my bed. And that’s where I’m headed right now. G’nite.

How’s my week been?

5:02 AM Alarm goes off.
5:30 AM Wrestle my carcass out of bed.
7:00 AM Get to school, teach all day.
3:15 PM School’s out.
4:00 PM Start shift at Chevron.
9:00 PM Off shift at Chevron, go home, hit the sack.
5:02 AM Alarm goes off.
5:30 AM Get out of bed.
7:00 AM Get to school, teach all day.
3:15 PM Set up for school play practice.
5:30 PM Finish play practice.
6:00 PM Dinner with friends.
8:00 PM Get home, do laundry so I have clothes for school the next day.
9:00 PM Finally get to bed.
5:02 AM Alarm goes off.
5:30 AM Get out of bed.
7:00 AM Get to school, teach all day.
3:15 PM

Go down to gymnasium to participate in breaking world record for largest human/mattress dominoes.

4:30 PM

Done with Mattress Dominoes, head out to grab quick dinner for me & stage crew.

5:30 PM

Start setting up for school play.

7:00 PM

School play starts.  Spend time running around making sure stage crew is on task and getting them water.

8:15 PM

Play over, went fantastic, start cleaning up.

8:30 PM

Drama teacher gets phone call that her husband is in hospital, possible second heart attack.  Now I’m in charge of stage crew AND play cast clean up and putting everything away somewhere, because I have no idea where half the stuff goes.  Make executive decision: EVERYTHING goes in Auditorium.  (Did I mention we’re doing a dinner theater murder mystery in the cafeteria, so we can’t leave anything out?)

9:00 PM

All cleaned up, head home, feed the poor cat and go to bed.



5:02 AM

Alarm goes off.

5:30 AM

Get out of bed.

7:00 AM

Get to school, teach all day.

3:15 PM

Academic Games practice.

4:30 PM

Done with Academic Games, head out to grab quick dinner.

5:30 PM

Start setting up for school play.  Drama teacher absent all day, at hospital with her husband.  Try to remember everything that needs to be set up.  Forget important prop, actor has to trip over nothing because the chair isn’t there.

7:00 PM

School play starts.  Spend time running around making sure stage crew is on task and getting them water.

8:15 PM

Play over, went fantastic again, start cleaning up.

9:15 PM

All cleaned up, head home, post this real quick and head to bed so I’m at least half awake for school tomorrow.

And you wondered why you haven’t heard much from me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cold? Cold?!?

We (The Gearheads and I. For those of you who didn’t know, they are my brother and sister-in-law) checked the Thematic Photographic this week from our campground in Arches National Park and to our dismay saw that the theme was “Getting Colder”.  Granted one of the reasons we go down there in October is because it’s colder, but with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper-60’s it’s hard to get a photograph that implies cold.

So I start thinking, with the help of a little Bacardi, “Cold, cold?  What’s cold in the desert?”  Bing!  The cold, harsh realities of life (and death) in the desert.  I go traipsing around the park looking for some signs of the cold, harsh realities of life and death in the desert.  Only problem?  In a National Park the rangers tend to clean up the cold, harsh realities of life in and around the campgrounds.  No sun bleached bones.  Nothing being picked apart by scavengers.  Well, unless you count the blue jay scavenging our pistachio nuts.Or maybe the bird learned a colder fact of life when s/he came back for more after we had put them away, ie: sometimes the food supply dries up.Just in case those aren’t cold enough, there’s always our camp tub in the snow that I took back in ought-3.  And finally, from a while ago also, the juxtaposition of fire and snow, hot and cold.  The bigger the camp fire, the colder it must be out there, right? P.S. – Since we live in an arid area, the only time we get to play with fire like this is when there is snow on the ground.  Spring, summer and fall the flames never get more than half a foot high.

P.P.S. – Stories and pictures from the trip to Moab to follow.  After I get caught up on a few things.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Taxes and Jimmy Buffett

I’m helping with Stage Crew this year, and we were there after school doing a run through of a dinner-theater play we are doing later this month.  I’m talking with one of my students and said something about heading out to my older brother’s  house (The World According to Pedro) to help him with his taxes.  The student asks me “Doesn’t he know how to do his taxes?”  I tell him “Yeah, but I’ve got the program to do them.” And then I ask him “Do you know how to do your taxes?” to which he answers

I’m 14 going on 15, what am I supposed to know about taxes.”   Good point, my young friend.

The play has a pirate theme, so all afternoon we’ve been listening to Jimmy Buffett, and since he’s one of my favorite musicians, I’ve been singing and dancing along with it making a total fool of myself.  (This is one of the things I like about Jr. High better than High School, the kids love it when you do weird stuff like that.)  Mostly we’ve been listening to “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, until gets busy fixing something and forgets to stop the CD after “Margaritaville”. I hear the next song coming on, immediately recognize it and go running for the sound system.

The song right after “Margaritaville”?  Just a little, innocent song titled “Why Don’t We Get Drunk (and Screw).”  And yes, I got it stopped before the lyrics started.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

“Branched”, revisited.

There’s a tree down in Southern Utah that is very near and dear to my siblings and me.  20 miles down the Burr Trail, which used to be 100+ miles of dirt road, is a huge cottonwood tree, towering above nothing but scrub oak as far as the eye can see.  My parents found it when we first moved here and talked about it enough that it became a family destination when traveling in So. Utah.  We call it “The Tree”, we all know which tree we’re talking about.  22 years ago we threw my mother’s ashes to the wind right by it.

So, here is “The Tree”, the first picture was taken in right around 1980, the second one a couple decades later.You can tell they were taken during different seasons.  The top one probably late fall, the bottom one early spring.  Mid summer is not a time to visit So. Utah, especially if you are camping.  But the cool nights and warm days of the aforementioned seasons are perfect for going into the desert.

Happy Ten’sday

Saturday, October 09, 2010

So, this clown comes into Chevron last night…

No, seriously, he was clown.  I know, you were expecting some story about an obnoxious customer.  But sorry, it’s just a story about a real clown.  I’m not sure the gender of the clown, because s/he comes into the store in complete clown uniform and usually just fills up outside and leaves.  Except for yesterday when s/he showed up while I was emptying the garbage at the pumps, and was already inside by the time I got my phone camera ready to take this picture.  Oh, well.  Just imagine a full fledged clown pumping gas into a little white pick-up.  That’s one of the things I like about working at the Chevron, you see some pretty weird things (see Sasquatch post 1 & post 2) pulling up and pumping gas.

And while we’re on the subject of clowns, my Vice Principal told an interesting story about the younger sibling of one of my students.  Seems that he decided to bring something from the family business into his 5th grade class for Show & Tell.  A 10 pound bag of marijuana.  Guess he thought it was “Show, tell and roast a bowl.”