Friday, September 30, 2011

Ode to a pizza parlor.

I got a text message in the middle of Algebra.  I took a quick look and all it said was “Free wheeler is closing”.  I had to wrap up the class, get the next one going, repeat the process a couple more times and then go to a 2 hour faculty meeting.  The message was pushed to the back of my mind.

Until I checked The Gearheads’ blog.  All I can say (not really, as you’ll soon see) is WOW. 

I’ve been involved with Free Wheeler Pizza since July 7th, 1978, in one way or another.  Other than the last couple months and a few years in the 90’s, I’ve been processing their payroll since 1980.  Started out doing it all by hand, on those big ledger sheets, looking up deductions and taxes on a chart, going through miles of 10-key paper at a time.  I got my first real personal computer from them to do the payroll on, an Apple IIe.  Complete with 2, yes two, 5¼” floppy drives.

That place was my first career, I worked there for the last couple of my teen years, through my entire 20’s and the beginning of my 30’s.   I managed the Sugarhouse store at 3 different locations, the West Valley store at 2, the Holladay store and owned my own franchise in Provo for the 6 months before it went bankrupt (a story for another time).  It saw me through my parent’s divorce, turning 21, my 15 years of getting my Bachelor’s degree, going from living at home to owning my own home (a duplex with The Gearheads), and my mother’s death.

Like Mr. Gearhead says in his post, it was more than just a business, it was a family.  And all my real family, all my siblings, were involved with it at one time or another.  Even my parents, who gave their house 4 or 5 years in a row for the annual company anniversary party.

It was a small, locally owned restaurant.  Even in it’s heyday in the mid 80’s, when we were virtually the only pizza delivery place in Salt Lake City, we topped out at 11 stores, but for the most part it was a 1 or 2 store operation.   The owners always worked there, and we all knew them as Mike, Mitch, Al, Tony, Don.   Never as “Mr.” somebody.  Ownership changed hands several times, but it was more like being passed down the family line than selling out to someone, the new owner was always someone you knew, someone you had worked with, partied with and grown with for several years, and in my case sometimes someone who I had hired and been manager for.

Well, I’m gonna head off to sleep, let this sink in a bit.  All I have left to say for now is “Herb, you put up a hell of a fight.  Thanks.”

You can see my first in a line of stories about the place on my other blog: HERE.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More funny stuff at school.

Seventh period I was walking down the rows to see which kids had done their homework.  I get to Nathan and he’s flipping through his book, looking furiously for something.  I watch for about 45 seconds, which in a middle school classroom can seem like an eternity, and then ask him “Did you do the homework?”

Totally deadpan, still flipping pages, he answers “No.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It’s all in the details.

They’re building a new dormitory for Westminster College right next door to “my” Chevron.  It’s been going on since April of this year and we’re just beginning to see the end of destruction and beginning of actual construction.

One of the reasons Architects on these kinds of projects get paid the big bucks is because, as the title says, it’s all in the details.  So, here are some construction details.

And if you want to check out more detail oriented pictures, or join in with the fun, click on the banner below.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Can we get any dumber?

I was looking out the window towards the gas pumps when I was at work tonight.  There’s a guy standing at the driver’s door of his silver Dodge Durango and I watch him light up a cigarette.  Figuring he’s just about to get in and leave, I don’t move to do anything about it.

Until I see him walk to the back of his SUV, with the smoke in his mouth, and open up the gas tank.  This is where I jet over to the intercom, punch the 1/2 button (for pumps 1 and 2) and dumbfoundedly  spit out “Um, there’s no smoking around the gas pumps, put out the cigarette immediately please” just as he removes the gas hose to bring it over to his truck.

Fortunately, he leans over and crushes out the smoke.  But he must have been a bit embarrassed, because he just hung up the pump and took off.  Without closing his gas tank filler.

Stupid is as Stupid does.

They didn’t get the memo.

Another reward I got for helping Lisa Shafer with the publication of one of her books the other day was a box full of real cotton cloths for waxing and cleaning my cars.  On her way out she made a comment about making sure the box was closed so that the cats wouldn’t get into them.  Something about the cars not appreciating cat fur all over them.

Well, this afternoon I found this:

Seems one or the other, or maybe even working together, the cats got the box off the table and opened.  After I wash the rags, I think I’m going to remember to put them away in a closet.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

War on Public Education Rages.

There is no doubt in my mind that, especially since their 2007 defeat by public referendum, the Utah State Legislature has been waging a war against public education.  There are more than enough rumors of legislators referring to “starving the beast” of public ed. for them to be believable.  Especially in view of legislation passes since then, and three bills that most likely will be put on the floor during the 2012 legislative session.

  1. Public High Schools will be charged for remedial courses their students are required to take in college.
  2. Amend the Utah Constitution to give the Governor direct control over Public Education.
  3. Require failing schools to be dismantled and put out to private contractors.

I’ve been at 6 different schools, from the upper income east side to lower income inner city schools.  The majority of the teachers I know are doing their damnedest to educate their students with the largest class sizes and lowest per-pupil funding in the nation.  I do agree that the reforms of the last couple decades were necessary to help bring education into the 21st century, and education in general needs to continue being required to adapt to the changing face of our society.  But since George W first introduced the No Child Left Behind concept, the silence regarding parental and student responsibility has been deafening.  Here’s my comments on these three pieces of legislation:

  1. And the student is not the least bit responsible?  A motivated student will learn even if they have a bad teacher, a student determined to fail will fail despite a great teacher.  Success in school depends on a trifecta: Students, parents and teachers.  This legislation puts absolutely no responsibility on either the student or the parents.
  2. Uh.  Hm.  Let’s not leave the running of education in the hands of people elected (despite being hand-picked by the Governor) for the sole purpose of making decisions for education.  Nah, let’s put that power in the hands of a single person, whose responsibility includes the entirety of the State Government.
  3. This is my favorite one.  If a school fails, let’s fire everyone responsible for it’s failure.  Oh, wait.  The students are responsible too (see #1).  And what about the parents who can’t, or won’t, help or even expect their student to succeed in school.  (YES, that does happen).

I had a 9th grade student at an inner city school that just about fell asleep in class.  I asked him about it and he told me that he was out late working.  He told me that, in addition to school, he worked about 30 hours a week.  I made a comment about how great it must be to have all that money to spend.  He looked at me and said “Nah, I have to pay the rent.”

How can I compete with that?

I will bet an entire month’s paycheck on two things if this privatization of “failing” schools passes.

  1. No private school can improve the scores of students if they are required to do it with the exact same clientele and money per student.
  2. Somehow, miraculously, the Utah State Legislature will find a way to improve education funding, helping line the pockets of their cronies in the private education business.

I love my job, can’t imagine doing anything else right now.  But with each and every attack on my profession (and I do not view every change or criticism as an attack, there is a lot I agree with) managing a Chevron is looking better and better.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Bear of a Day

Last week we ended our big school-wide fundraiser.  As a reward, the PTSA arranged to have the Utah Jazz Bear visit the school during both lunches.

Second lunch had a bit of an advantage over the kids in first lunch, a few had heard about it and were waiting for him to show up at the front door.

He shot off a confetti gun inside the cafeteria.

Twice.  Spewing confetti over the entire lunchroom.  I had an advantage second lunch too. I had a bit of a blood pressure spike during first lunch when that first shot went off. It didn’t sound like a gun, but I immediately spun around to see which kid had blown up his lunch bag and then popped it.

Then he signed a the kids hands (and mine too), and a few foreheads.

He had a few contests with some of the students, and arm-wrestled one of the mothers.

And took pictures with some of the kids. (even the 50-year-old kids.)

Finally, before taking off, he had me and one of the PTSA members take a picture of him with all the kids.

Which kind of made me feel like I ought to change my name to Fidel.

The assistant principal was thrilled by all the chaos,

and I’m sure the custodians loved cleaning up the confetti.  Twice.  Once right after first lunch so the second lunch kids wouldn’t know something was up.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A little smoke and bull for you.

(**I stole that title from the email the writer, Lisa Shafer, sent me with the pictures we took during lunch.  I took the sign picture and she took the menu picture.**)

I helped my friend with her “Half-Vampire” book again today.  We worked on the cover (front, back and spine) and scanned a phew fotos for promotional stuff.  As a reward, I once again got a great dinner, we went to a local place called “Cowboy Grub” that’s been in the exact same spot since 1975.  Great, basic, comfort food.  I had a club sandwich that had just about everything on it.

Not only is the food as good as ever, but it has pretty much the same d├ęcor as it did back in the 70’s.  They even still have the non-smoking section sign attached to a pole, and restaurants have been completely smoke free for over 20 years here in Utah.  (And did you notice the non-smoking area is completely open to the smoking area?)

The other thing they still had was on the menu.  As a 15 year-old east coast city boy new to the intermountain west, I had no idea what Prairie Oysters, also known as Rocky Mountain Oysters, were, and on the menu at the time is said not to ask the poor waitress.  So I asked mom & dad and was both grossed out and in awe at the same time when they told me.

Lo & Behold, they are still on the menu there.  Mmmm, with dipping sauce!  But if you want to sample some of “the best of the bull”, you had better hurry.  The manager told us, when I asked if I could take a picture of the menu, that they wouldn’t be there on the next printing.  Seems it’s getting hard to get them from any supplier anymore.


Say What?

In Pre-Algebra we were talking about translating word problems from English to math, coming up with a list of words that translate into the different mathematical symbols.  For the symbol for multiply we came up with all the usual ones and I finally prompted them to come up with double, triple and twice.  A student offered the word thrice, which I put on the list but explained that it was a word we rarely used in American English.

About twenty minutes later a student was turned around talking to the kid behind him and I asked him “Are you goofing around or just having a spazz attack?”

His answer was immediate; “Spazz attack. I have them thrice daily.”

Then at the beginning of seventh period another student walks into class and he says to me

“That assignment was so hard, I think I cried a little.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Smart Thinking.

After school one day, headed back to my classroom, I noticed a garden hose going from a utility room into the boys bathroom, and heard the whoosh of water being sprayed around.   I stuck my head in to see what was going on, and there was one of the custodians hosing down the entire bathroom.

Somebody was thinking when they designed the school I’m at.  The bathrooms are all tiled all the way to the ceiling, and there is a sunken drain in one corner.  So, short of some kid throwing stuff onto the ceiling, which is not unheard of, the whole thing can be simply squirted down.

Some architect knows teenagers.

Lisa and Jim

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why do I always get stuck with the weird ones?

I have two T.A.s on my prep period.  They are the techie kids who make video Public Service Announcements for the school.  They do some awesome animations and also help with the school’s website.  They are also weird as can be.

Today I had to go talk to the principal and left them alone for a little while.  When I came back the were nowhere to be seen.  I walked over to my desk and when I walked around it into my little work area I found this:

He had the other T.A. tape his hands and his mouth to look like a kidnap victim.  (With painter’s tape, not really the thing to use to secure someone.)  The other one then locked himself in the closet.

I guess they were looking for a reaction, but I just said “wait a sec” and pulled out my cell phone to take a picture.    Anti-climactic, and to think he had laid there for 15 full minutes waiting for me to get back.  Ah well, at least I got a good laugh out of it.  And then this one had to encourage me to go looking for the other one. I figured when it was time for lunch he’d show himself.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Playing with (very little) light.

I love taking pictures in the dark.  Not only is it challenging, but because of long exposure times you get some cool effects.  Thursday night our Science Department sponsored it’s annual “Star Party” out on the athletic field.  I decided to bring my camera and see what I could get.  Keep in mind that the field was kept dark enough for star gazing.  Here some of the better ones: