December 3, 2008

"Mi no save"

"I don't understand" in 250 languages...

I guess "Do you have to pee?" would be another important one to print out...

Appraising Teachers

A gracious and wise woman recently said "teaching is as much of an art as a science, and how do you measure art?"

Well, I suppose we could follow the lead of the art world* and hold auctions, sending teachers off to work for the highest bidder. Schools and communities that value specific traits in their educators would concentrate their money on building a collection, for example a staff of disciplinarians drilling facts and dates, or motivational gurus pumping up test-taking abilities, or grandmotherly types praising Mikey's creative side while he licks glue off his hand...

Ah, but we're going nation-wide here with NCLB and all that, so no one is able to agree not only on what makes a good teacher** but what schools are for in the first place.

Teaching is an art. Great teachers are artists. But that doesn't preclude teachers from the quality performance rubric, they still must be evaluated and deemed worthy of caring for and shaping and helping to build our children into adults. We use "artist" as one of the highest compliments; one can elevate a skill or talent in any field to an art -- an auto mechanic, the weekend barbecue-er, wide receivers and batting champions, even some scientist cultivating genomes in a lab somewhere has heard from a colleague "Man, the way you handle those beakers, you are a true artist!"

Great teaching is an art, and great teachers need to be paid commensurate with their talents and value to society, which is almost immeasurable -- how many children did Terrell Owens*** have a life-long effect on today? Good teachers working hard to become great deserved the support and time and money to hone their craft...

oops, gotta go! to be cont'd...?

*I could have used livestock auctions as an example, but the metaphor breaks down when we get into the whole animal husbandry aspect, doesn't it...
**2nd un-used simile of the post: good teaching is like pornography, I know it when I see it? Didn't a Supreme Justice say that once?
***link does NOT go to anything T.O. related, but to an amazing student-athlete -- can you say 1st round draft choice neurosurgeon?

December 1, 2008


Ok, very cool... found this courtesy of Bonnie -- just put in your text and it gets all creative on ya...

It's called Wordle , and you can click on my picture then on my pseudonym and see what I did instead of homework for several hours tonight...

I don't recommend jumping their homepage with small children, or large immature ones either, since nimrods like to play with bad words...

November 30, 2008

Rhee Rocks!

Accountability? Being responsible for one's actions?

Being good, not just being there, gets a pay raise?

I have a new hero, and she's kickin' ass without wasting time to take names in Washington DC schools!

This week's TIME magazine has an article on Michelle Rhee* firing bad teachers and offering huge pay increases to eliminate tenure -- tenure?!? -- who else has a job that's extremely safe, no matter how bad you are or how little you care to put into it, solely based on the fact that you survived the first few years? We don't even let our Presidents hang around warm and secure just because they've received a paycheck for a specific amount of time...

Now I don't want to talk too much out of my place, not even being a rookie teacher yet (plus I should read the article again -- I may have missed a few key points amidst my "amens!" and "git 'em girl!" shout outs) but why do people have a problem with getting paid based on performance? If you are good at what you do, what are you worried about? And if you're a bad teacher, as a citizen and parent and colleague I don't have one single minute to waste by allowing you to continue working with my children. If you're a bad teacher, retail is always hiring....

*not to confused with Michelle Yeoh, Goddess of the Silver Screen

November 26, 2008

The Crash of '08

The hard drive, just like my chorizo burrito-addled heart will someday, came crashing to a grinding, screeching, obliterating stop.

So the bad, and expensive, news is it had to be replaced.

More bad news: I only backed up my photos and iTunes, so all else is gone, gone, gone...

Good news: reinstalled the iTunes, bad news: did it twice and now have doubled every single song...

good news: get to make all new playlists while deleting those doubled every single song...

ok, I knew I had Inka Dinka Do but what about...*

Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy) ?
Fly Trapped In A Jar ?
Bom Bom Bom ?
Sheep ?
The Cannonball Run Theme ?
Lunch Box/Odd Sox ?
She came in Through the Bathroom Window ?
I Love You, You Imbecile ?

*a free book from my shelves if you can sing 'em all...

November 16, 2008

Things I should stop doing soon so I don't regret not stopping sooner...

  1. eating so much -- despite still looking good, I've gotta be up over 220, and the kids are going to be curious about their Halloween candy bags any day now. Shoot, at the rate I'm going they'll soon be curious about the cat...
  2. saying "whatever you want, my love" -- she either hates it and we argue mis-communicate in sarcastic tones or she says "ok" and we end up wandering through another *%#@$&in' mall...
  3. watching Dexter -- when that evil entity called Netflix sends a season's worth of discs, do we have to watch them in one sitting? in the dark? until it's very late at night? and very dark? Confessions of a wimp (I prefer "more sophisticated and culturally evolved"): I avert my eyes when the cellophane comes out...
  4. random blogs -- 90% I can't read due to language difficulties, as in they ain't in English, 10% I shouldn't read, as in I can't hit the back button quick enough, and the other 10% never reply to my utterly witty comments...
  5. making lists -- letting my mind wander when I should be studying. Or eating. Or making sure that guy from Dexter isn't hiding behind the couch...

November 4, 2008

cool website (but dorky graphics) with tons of power points for lesson plans, or for using at home for homework help/making your kids do extra work to make 'em smarter...

if I didn't do the link right, this is it:

November 3, 2008

Redemption vs. Election

Just had a nice couple on the doorstep, the type I usually brusquely remind about private property and trespassing laws. But since the she of the couple was mildly cute, I let her talk a minute and invite us to church. Alas, when opening the screen door to get her pamphlet, the daily cascade of voting placards* landed at their feet and I asked "did ya vote yet?" --

Awkward silence.

They stammered a bit and said no, they were more concerned with my eternal soul and the end of the world. They did want to see the right Propositions pass (no gay marriage being the big one), but always left it to God's will.

When they asked why we didn't go to our regular church anymore, I told them it was because no one there ever voted...

*thanks, Slim +

October 30, 2008

When the inevitable question was posed, Who's fixing dinner? instead of the usual spousal debate, all I had to say was:

"43 6th graders"

No, not all day, in the same room at the same time.


update 10/31:

Sorry for the incoherent grammar-deficient post*. In an effort to appease one of my 1/2 dozen readers is the following presentation of Who's Fixing Dinner II, The Clarification Edition:

When the inevitable, as in always, predictably due to being creatures of habit and in need of sustenance for our physical bodies, every night around 5-ish in the evening, sometimes earlier if we did the brunch thing or later if we had a late lunch down at the mall or if the boys, one or both or even all three, had practice that evening, question was posed, Who's fixing dinner?, or some variation of the query, including but not limited to What are you making, what's in the fridge, what do you have planned, where are you taking me, and sometimes, but rarely I have a little cash, instead of the usual spousal debate (transcript of actual debate, repeated countless times word for word, so help me God and ask my children if you don't believe me because they plan on having it engraved on our headstones:

She: So, who's fixing dinner (or some variation, see above)?
Me: What would you like?
She: What do you want?
Me (sweetly, with nothing but the desire to make her happy shining in my eyes and dripping from my voice): Whatever you want, my love.
She: What do you want?
Me (with only the satisfaction of her desires in mind and heart): Whatever you want, my love.
She: What are my choices?
Me: What do you feel like having?
She: I dunno, what do you want?
Me (while looking desperately at my sons, hoping one of the boys does something even remotely wrong so I can thump him upside the head and with one thump conceivably accomplish two goals, the first of which is to take out my frustration on a kid who probably deserves a thump anyway, I just haven't found out what he's done yet, and secondly to disrupt the inane conversation long enough that She actually tells me what she wants for dinner, or looks away for long enough for me to escape): Aaaaaahhhhh!!!!!!

...all I had to say was:

"43, as in more than double 20, which is more than plenty already, thank you very much, 6th graders, the kind of children between the ages of 10 - 11 with the beginnings of puberty's hormonal rushing chaos sprouting up somewhere deep inside, unbeknownst to most of them, unless their parents bought them a book or they are allowed to watch 2 1/2 Men"

No, lucky me, not all day, in one room because unfortunately I could not lock half of them outside the room, at the same time, as in at the same with me, otherwise I would not have been witness to this 7th level of hell.


Then again, there is Who's Fixing Dinner? The (censored) Uncensored Edition:

When the inevitable question was posed, What the %&$#%'s for dinner? Instead of the usual spousal debate all I had to say was:

"40 %$#$-3 %$#&^ 6th %&^$#@# graders in 1 %$&&# room!

"Oh yeah, "Mr &%$#@^ Mom" without a %$&*^ job for 2 &%$%^# years while I've worked my &%%$#@ off, get your %^%$# in the kitchen!"


(ed note: he would never talk to The Wife that way, nor she him. although she does give mighty powerful glares. and if he did ever talk to her that way, you'd all be on Travelocity right now comparing prices of flights out west, and dusting off your somber black outfit.

*after all, they were 6th graders. 43 of 'em

October 24, 2008

Aaaahhhhh... (as in a sigh of relief)

as in, raise a few Heinekens to salute and commemorate my first (successful, if I do say so myself) substitute teaching assignment (or to use the preferred parlance: "guest teacher")...

No Child Left Behind? All I was worried about was no child left out on the playground, no child hiding under a desk, no child locked in the classroom for the weekend when I locked the door...

I must have had the deer-in-the-headlights look, since the teacher explained the lesson step by step, slowly and with small words, and then covered the textbook, her desk, and my tie in friendly reminder post-it notes. When she started sticking notes to each kids' forehead, I had to reassure and boot her out the door...

oops, gotta Lego emergency* -- to be cont'd

so anyway... the day went well. I choked a little when she told me after the math lesson I was teaching Sign Language, but luckily that consisted of popping in a video (and yes, she went over the incredible complex operation of this new-fangled contraption called a dee-vee-dee player step... by step... by step...). I wasn't sure if I was supposed to turn all the lights out on a room full of 7 year olds, but they were quiet and I'd just started to relax when they all instantaneously burst into song with the deaf kids in the show-- good thing my "holy *%#@&!!" was drownded out by the squeaky voice choir. Next came the clean-up song, chairs up, and they were out the door!

*y'know, when you can't find that one little piece to complete the Temple of the Crystal Skull, or something like that, so a complete all-out full-scale end-of-the-world melt-down is in order until Dad finds the brick stuck to the back of your sweaty, grimey little leg? Yeah, that kind.

October 16, 2008

poor bambi...

This is funny and scary: President Sara Palin ...

some things you should click on more than once, i.e. the door, then double-check to make sure you're registered to Vote!

August 24, 2008

It's been a good summer -- nothing dramatic or exciting, no travel and no visitors... a time to recharge the batteries before the hustle and bustle of fall begins:

1 High Schooler (cell phones and social life + grades do count!), 1 Middle Schooler (dances and French girls + sex education!), and 1 2nd grader (still the baby, but when did he get so tall?!?)

Grad School, How to be a Teacher 101 (5 hours a night, twice a week?) and attempting to be a substitute teacher -- I know, I know, you're supposed to do the learning part efore trying it in the real world, but I (and numerous credit departments) am impatient -- and now all those catch-phrases I spouted off as Boss/Dad come back to haunt me ("learn by doing" "no whinin', keep tryin'" "what doesn't kill you...")

football practice, better known as how to drive yourself insane by teaching 6-yr olds a fake reverse (and keep their mouthpieces in their own mouths at the same time)

The Wife + the new TV season, as she attempts to maintain "our" time after all else is done and in bed (I can't even escape by checking the Padres' score upstairs, since it's a pretty safe bet their losing. again.)

and Christmas is right around the corner...

June 9, 2008

Reading List

Legerdemain by James J. Heaphey (2008)

"Legerdemain" (not a word that rolls easily off the tongue...) means sleight of hand, a display of clever skill for deceitful purposes.

Cold War/Middle East military historical memoir... a recollection of espionage activity and political turmoil in post-WWII Morocco -- wasn't sure I would like this at first, not much of a modern history/warfare fan, but there was enough history (Nazis, Anwar Sadat) and it certainly relates well to the muddle of the Middle East (including Western involvement) today, and it's done in a fast-paced style that kept me involved. Some romance, some moral ambiguity, some violence, a little danger and drama, a good read.

A mark of a good book in my eyes is leaving me wanting to get more information about the subject and situation, and "Legerdemain" has piqued my curiosity in regards to Morocco, North Africa during WWII, and the more modern history of Egypt.

June 2, 2008

May 28, 2008

America America

America America

by Ethan Canin

Small town New York boy becomes involved with a wealthy family (with 2 daughters!) and presidential politics (cover ups, Nixon!) and deals with his changing family and personal life...

Some books I can pick up and read at anytime or anywhere, such as waiting for The Wife to run errands or in between switching loads of laundry -- in contrast, America America demanded and deserved my undivided attention, not for its complexity or density but because it is the type of story that draws the reader in and sweeps away the outside world as you read. It is a book for a quiet place, a chair and a drink, and the time to meet and learn about and be involved with the characters as their story, their life, unfolds. I found this a beautifully written story, with touching familial relationships, intriguing personalities -- some of which I wanted explored further, but I also appreciate the author's dedication to his primary storyline -- and an emotional twist that literally made me pause and look away from the page for a few minutes... It is also a book that leads to further reading (or recollecting, depending on your age) regarding the political landscape circa 1970-72.

Highly recommended.

May 1, 2008

Thank you!

(imagine a sentimental over-emoted sappy ballad, Celine Dion or Air Supply maybe, playing softly in the background...)

Now that classes are over it's time to catch my breath*, unwind a little, and look back on the past several years and appreciate those that made it all possible, to give thanks and credit where it is truely due...

There is especially one who deserves the utmost recognition and special attention, who was my rock, my right hand, my support and my strength; I absolutely would not have made it through the late nights and the hectic mornings, or handled the hectic last minute panics without her...

Yesterday, she received some long overdue one-on-one time, an afternoon devoted solely to her needs and desires, to showering her with the care and affection she deserves... I spent a long time attending to cracks and curves like I hadn't done it far too long, and then while I thought I might rub her raw, she had a sparkle and shine that reflected my affection and appreciation...

After I finished, tired yet satisfied, I was just as proud of her as I know she is of me...

I love you, Krupsie, thank you for being there for me...

*I know, I know -- it's actually time to GET A JOB but one cannot blindly wildly rush into these things... I'm not sure I'm ready, I mean what if I've forgotten how to shave? Tie a tie? Who knows if I even have pants that fit my fat lazy ass?

April 29, 2008

School's Out!

(I need a little Alice Cooper singalong right about now...)

I think I'm a fraction taller today,
walking with a bit more purpose in my stride,
might even be, if it's possible, just a little bit better looking...

I know I'm smarter.
I know what's happened, and why to whom and when,
I am now aware of how everything works,
and why it doesn't when it doesn't,
or if it can't, or just won't.

I can read faster and smarter,
I can undangle participles and label particles,
classify, justify, simplify, glorify, demystify,
and GoogleWikipediacutandpaste-ify...

I am new and improved, ready and willing,
capable, competent, qualified.
I can laugh louder and last; I can love longer, and last.
I am now able to check more boxes on surveys and
fill in more lines on applications --

and I have the paper to prove it:*

I am a college graduate.

*well, not technically in my hands, they have to mail it to me...

April 23, 2008

But is it Art?

No, I don't think so...

Just wanted to share my final art project, a little self-portrait I titled
"Imagination Amok: Things in the Past that probably didn't really happen versus Things in my Future that probably will never occur"
(copyright 2008 3BoysProductions, all right reserved, except of course for the images, ideas, and other creative parts that were obviously stolen borrowed from their original sources. Much thanks to ya.)

*other boy questions I've heard ad nauseam this past week include: what's a prostate? who's that girl? can I have a credit card? where's Mommy? promise me you'll never smoke again for the rest of your life.... what's a prostate again?

April 3, 2008

The Pearl

The Pearl by John Steinbeck (1947)

This is one of those books I think everyone read in High School (jr high?) but I don't remember at all... and 20+ years after reading Cannery Row (for the first of many times) and reading lots of other Steinbeck, kinda funny I never got to this one... until now!

I loved it, it made me angry, I expected bad things to happen -- but not that -- and was a little drained and quite impressed as I finished it... which is why Steinbeck is one of the greats, and I'll force my children to read him and love him and take my picture next to the "Steinbeck was here" signs every time we visit Monterey...

March 30, 2008

art as authority

this is the guy (the one getting inked as part of his art show) who teaches us how to do the art classes for the boys' school...

I haven't really checked out the site yet, so I take no responsibility... there is a nice article on him in Sunday's U-T though...


I am honored to have a celebrity visit my blog, and a comment from the artist himself, Kevin Freitas:

"The blog, is user friendly and user safe and covers a lot of what's going on in the arts in SD. I welcome everyone to check it out and leave a comment, if they so desire. The exhibit downtown at Simayspace Gallery that I organized and curated (and where I was inked), is within the confines of the Art Academy of San Diego, and is open until April 25th. Please visit. Thanks!"

So go. Get some culture in your life.

March 28, 2008

similes and metaphors


"Purportedly, every year, English teachers from across the country submit their collections of actual similes and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country. Here are last year's winners:

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease .

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are known to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for awhile.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up."

March 26, 2008


this is cool -- put in an author you like* and it will show you others close in style you might like...

I would never have connected Emily Dickinson and Fannie Flagg with Michael Chabon, but it seems worth investigating...

*or dis-like, if you want to avoid similar authors...

March 14, 2008

I've mentioned her before, one of my favorite blog writers*, who now seems to be writing a new One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Boobs, Injuries...
Read it upside down, of course, go down to find "Part 1: I Hate Tapioca"...

*I still crack up** over her redecorating her son's room with condoms.

**oops, shouldn't use the term "crack up"

March 1, 2008

Election Year!

I don't usually espouse my political views out loud, and while I would have voted for him 8 years ago (man, that seems like soooo long ago!), I think there is a very important question to ask before you check the box for John McCain:

If you are between the ages of 20 and 30, would you want your Great-Grandfather as President? You might not even have one, they're mostly dead by now...

If you're between 30 and 40, do you want to vote for your Grandfather? C'mon, you don't go visit him regularly, and if you do you, don't you roll your eyes a lot?

If you're 40-60, aren't you thinking of plans for taking care of Dad, looking into nice facilities with backgammon night and several varieties of jello, rather than installing him in the Oval Office?

If you're over 60 and still get to the voting booth, how many times did you lose your glasses or car keys this morning? How many times did you forget you were looking for your glasses or car keys? Would your wife trust (let alone vote for) you as the Leader of the Free World?

February 14, 2008

Parental Predicament


If I buy my 13 year old an iPod and he turns around and sells it on the playground, does that make me an accomplice in a black-market enterprise?
Does this not bode well for any future career not involving the movement of illegal goods?
Is he showing initiative in planning to upgrade, or stupidity in letting his plans slip out before he made the new purchase?
Can I trust him to walk his little brother to the park, or will he come back with a fistful of pesos?

Seriously, the dilemma I find myself on the horns of is this: who gets the money? I know it was a gift, but a) my feelings are hurt, and b) I could use that coin! And since he forgot about tax, doesn't he owe me a little extra?

I don't mind giving him the $ back after he's earned enough for the model he really wanted, but I don't want it wasted away on fritos and video games (kids these days...)

Any ideas, suggestions, helpful hints...?

February 10, 2008

The Freedom Writers

Freedom Writers Diary
... loved the movie, added the teacher Erin Gruwell to my Hero/Aspire To Be Like list, and the book makes the transformation and accomplishments of the kids even more remarkable...
so remarkable the cynic in me (always present, just at times more "vocal") started questioning the veracity of the stories... towards the end, every page seemed to have a too good to be true factor: this kid's going to Harvard, this one Columbia, this one football scholarship UCLA, this one drafted to play baseball... I don't know, I'll have to find out how much *creative* writing was involved...

January 1, 2008


Happy New Year!

Ok, so not all of last year's goals were accomplished, but it's the quality, not the quantity that's important when it comes to self-improvement, right? I did add Ray Sings, Basie Swings and Blues Before Sunrise to my listening rotation. I did not get a job. I'd say the universe is quite balanced...

So for a Great '08, I resolve to:

  1. Get a job. No, really. Seriously. I will graduate in May (just cash, please) and start the Teaching Credential program in September, so it's time to see if all this "Inspired" stuff can help put bacon on the table. I should be able to work as a substitute, maybe even before grad, and I actually look forward to it -- throw me in the lion's den, I'll teach 'em how to not dangle their participles...
  2. Spend less time making irrelevant and sometimes asinine comments on LibraryThing, and adding 600 books a day to my "wish list"...
  3. clean out and organize the storeroom...
  4. ban all post-it notes from the house. There is a feral pack of them, 25-30 strong, stuck all over my desk, and I think they've eaten all my pens. Looking closely, but not too closely, I can see vague, barely decipherable markings that at one time must have been important words: Zorba, vocab, Paolo Nutini, $17.03, thermal plumes, crickets... what could it all mean?!?!? ...
Anything you would like to add to the list?