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Adventures in Daily Life
A Tree-Hugging Liberal's Journey
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18th-Oct-2009 10:18 am - MH3
On most Sundays of the last couple months, I've been running with the Minneapolis Hash House Harriers.  They describe themselves as a drinking club with a running problem.  It is a very inter-generational group of runners (20-something to 60-somethings, and the occasional infant) that likes beer as much as running.  We meet, have a beer, tell dirty jokes, and then head out on the trail.  What we do is based on an old school game called Hare and Hounds.  The "hare" runs out ahead of the pack of "hounds" leaving marks in chalk or flour for the hounds to follow.  Some marks are meant to throw the hounds off the trail or to slow them down.  The hounds do their best to try to catch the hare.  In the middle of the trail is a beer stop where people catch their breath... and have a beer.  Then the hounds head out on the trail again.  Depending on the length of the trail, there might be another beer stop before the end of the trail.  At the end, there is more beer (or water, or pop for those who prefer).  We then circle up to talk about the trail, and celebrate/accusinate the hares, the hounds, and anybody who deserves some ridicule.  Bawdy songs are sung, and a good time is had by all.

This weekend is the 20th anniversary of the founding of MH3 and there was a pretty good crowd at the trail.  Old-timers were celebrated.  New-comers and visitors were welcomed/made fun of.  I was finally given a hash name.

Hash names sometimes have something to do with the hasher - something dumb they did, etc.  Obamamama, for example, skipped a hash to go see the President.  Many hash names are simply dirty or juvanile (which fits perfectly with this group).  Sno-ho, Jack Off All Trades, Felt Up, Hardware Skank, etc.

A few times in the past the hash tried to name me, but no conclusion could be reached.  Yesterday, though,  I was christened F*** Her She's Pregnant.  One of the other hashers, a new mother who is often pushing her daughter (Mini-Donut) on the trails, suggested the name because she knows Sarah is due soon and I didn't bring my phone in case she goes into labor.

So FHSP is what you can call me when you join me on a hash some time.  It's a lot of fun.

Simple pleasure - sleeping in four days in a row!

3rd-Oct-2009 04:09 pm - How to pad your writing
Short part of the assignment:
1.  Compare and contrast the city states of Athens and Sparta
2.  Write a paragraph about which city state you would rather live in and why.

"I would rather live in Athens.  I would rather live in Athens because they are a democracy.  I wouldn't like to live in Sparta because it is very disciplined.  That is why I would rather live in Athens."

17th-Sep-2009 10:10 am - A little sad
tea cup
When I was pretty little, my grandparents gave me a Tonka tractor, plow/disk, and trailer.  I played for hours with those toys in their garden.  After my grandfather died and I went up to help my father and uncle clean out their house I took the tractor, plow and trailer home with me.  They've sat on my desk at home, and on top of a filing cabinet by my desk at school ever since.  I got to school this morning and immediately noticed someone had moved the three pieces around because I usually hang my hat on the hitch of the trailer.  I went to hook the plow back up to the trailer when I realized that part of the hitch was broken and it would no longer attach.

Now it's just a little plastic piece that is broken and it looks just fine if it is just sitting on a desk, but I was really looking forward to playing with them again in the dirt in a couple years down the road with my boy.  I may certainly be able to find a replacement part (maybe... the plow is almost 30 years old), but if I can't I am going to be really sad that I won't be able to play with these things with my son.

It turned out that one of my students was back behind my desk, where they know they're not supposed to be, trying to see something or somebody out the window during a class when I am up at the high school.  he accidently knocked the tractor and plow off the filing cabinet and it broke.  I realize there was no malice in the kid's actions, and maybe it is true that he didn't know that the little piece broke, but this kid's lack of personal responsibility still wound up breaking a treasured posession of mine.  He apologized, which I accepted without question.

I don't know.  I guess I'll try to find a replacement part.  I really hope that I can get it fixed.
Venn Diagram
Here are some snippets of interpretations written by my 9th graders of the artifacts from my "farm dump".  After going around 11 stations looking at bones, old cans, broken kitchen wares from the '50s that were dumped in a ravine in northern MN, students were supposed to use their observations to make some suppositions about the people who had lived there.  Here are some of my favorites.
  • They could have had a big or small family or they could have been rich or poor.
  • I am guessing that these things are not verry, very old, but kind of old.  Like from the late 1900's.  So these people must have been the first to invent these things.
  • One of the objects was a shoe, I think it was used for some event like the war or some thing, it was well used it looks about 40-80 years old.
  • There were items from possible in the B.C. era to the 1950's.  I, for certain saw a taken apart radio from possibly the '50's.  I also saw a boot that was most likely from the late 1800's.... When some things were broken, put the pieces together made it much easier to guess what it was.  Like the broken rubber item that was in 4 pieces.  I still didn't really know what it was though.
  • They didn't seem to be a whole lot into sports because I didn't find any sports artifacts.
  • The bones looked like it was an dinosaurs bone so this was like right after the dinosaurs died.  It also seems like back than they drunk a lot of beers like Ham's.  Not only all these things came from the 1950's but it was in Minnesota.
  • Family appears to eat mainly soup; this idea came from what appears to be the cup part of a ladle.
  • I bet the people that invented these objects were rich because a lot of people bought that stuff.  Their lives were probly great and I bet they were smart if they invented those things.  I wish I could invent something that would be cool if I could invent something.
I was getting looks from the people at the table next to me (I was in Groveland Tap watching the Gophers and grading papers at the same time) as I was laughing every few minutes about what my students wrote.  Though it's going to be a busy school year for me, these kids are going to be fun, and I'm sure there will be no shortage of amusing writing.

Simple pleasure - listening to Sarah be angry at the Vikings... it's a little funny

12th-Sep-2009 12:19 pm - Another Student Gem
Mr. Rogers
Vocabulary assignment.  Student was supposed to come up with a sentence.  The word is Cannibalism:

"That man is committing cannibalism by eating his legs."  This is accompanied by a picture of a person with his legs in his mouth and two people pointing at him.
tea cup
Well, I've survived the first week of school.  I averaged about nine and a half hours each day at school as well as a couple hours of working at home each day.  Four preps with three new classes is a lot of work!

Cold War - I wasn't sure I'd be teaching this class until just a couple days before school started.  It's the larger of my two classes at the CLC.  It may be a struggle to make sure class starts on time since school starts at 7:45 this year (and many students had trouble even getting to school by 8:30 last year.  The staff is trying to change the culture of the CLC to increase student accountability and studiousness this year.  I think we're off to a good start.

Geography - Second year of teaching this class, so this will probably be my easiest class this year.  It's also my smallest class with about twelve enrolled.  That's good for us at the CLC because it allows me to spend much more time with students individually when they need help. 

Area Studies - My eleventh graders at the high school.  This class has gotten off to something of a rocky start.  This is easily my loudest class at the high school.  Between some  more patience-trying students and a couple activities that didn't go over quite so well, it'll be good to move on to new material next week.  This class will probably take the most prep time for me.

World History - Two classes of ninth graders.  I like these kids and I think we're going to have some fun.  Some of the observations they made on the archaeology lesson really impressed me.  I'm looking forward to reading what they had to say in their individual interpretations. 

Overall things are going well eough.  I've got a long list of things to, including organizing the piles that have already accumulated at my desk.  Ugh.  Now if I could only snap my fingers and instantly learn the names of all of my students.


I've got to share a little student work now.  This was for an assignment in my Area Studies class.  The students were supposed to write, make a collage, or do anything to express what they know or what they think they know about people around the world.  The point of the lesson is to talk a little bit about stereotypes and to reinforce that there's a whole lot that we don't know.  The student who produced this can be a handful.  Though I think he may be difficult at times, this assignment is making me rethink my initial impressions.  He came up with a list of stereotypes and though some are a little less than positive, it is clear that most of what he wrote is pretty tongue-in-cheek.  I also like that he worded many items diffferently when he could have gone The French are like this.  The Australians are like this.  Etc.  I think my favorite are Brazil, Switzerland, and Canada.

Chinese people like to eat dog

Somalians have a distinct aroma

Irishmen like to drink beyond belief

Russians enjoy vodka more than any other race

Every Brazilian is phenomenal at soccer

Columbia’s cocaine business outsells its coffee enterprise

Individuals from Switzerland spend their time yodeling

Middle Eastern people keep extra bombs on tap

People from France smoke heavily and are afraid of conflict

Canada enjoys syrup and has a 90 man army

Germans often wear lederhosens and don’t enjoy the Jewish race.

Japanese people like to do calculus for fun

Nigerians often dig for diamonds

About ¼ of Spaniards are homosexuals

Italians make pizza and enjoy plumbing

Jamaicans smoke weed in abundance

Cubans like cigars and communism

Englishmen start the day off right with a healthy portion of tea and cru… [paper was cut off at this point]

Simple pleasure - going to the South St. Paul football game tonight with Sarah

9th-Sep-2009 07:56 pm - School
One Big Fist
I'd love to talk about how the first few days are going at school... but I've got too much to do to get ready for tomorrow and at the moment I'd rather be in bed.  Ugh.  This could be a long school year.
5th-Sep-2009 10:03 am - Full Time Work and Bike Stuff
tea cup
Less than 70 hours until students arrive at school... and so much to do.   

News about school:

I was hired for the additional .20 FTE at the CLC.  That means I have my first actual full-time salaried job since 2002, and the first one in my field!  Considering I was .80 FTE last year and only worked for 80% of the year, this is like a 40+% pay increase over last school year.  Holycrap.  It comes at a pretty good time too, as babies are pretty darn expensive.  Maybe after crunching some numbers I might even be able to accelerate paying back the student loans a bit.  It sure would be nice not having those hanging over my head any longer.  OH!  Since I'm full time, I'll be able to take advantage of the federal loan forgiveness program this year.  I think the feds will knock off either $3000 or $5000 for teaching in an urban district.  Woo-hoo!

I have meetings at school at least twice each week.  Ugh.  The meetings are at the high school, but my day starts at the CLC.  That means I will go to the high school, attend a meeting, duck out early, go to the CLC, teach, go back to the high school.  Since I am planning on commuting by bike as much as possible, that probably rules out biking on days I have meetings in the morning.  I just wouldn't have time to shower and change.  I also need to work out the feasibility of going between schools without being a sweaty mess for my 4th period class.  They are only about a mile apart, but that is plenty of time to get sweaty, or dirty, or something.  Do I ride between schools in my teacher clothes?  Do I change just for a 5 minute ride?  I don't know.  We'll see.

I'm planning on going in to school today, and probably Sunday and Monday too.  I've got the first week or two mapped out for myst of my classes, but I don't necessarily have lessons completely set.  I have syllabi to create/modify, papers/packets to create and copy, physical set-up of the classrooms to mess around with, and in the case of my Cold War class, curriculum to create.  Yeah, I'll probably be in every day before Tuesday.

Bike-related news:

I spent a bunch of time yesterday working on the single speed.  Despite what Joe said, that bike is too small for me.  It is also old enough of a frame, where some parts aren't made any longer and are very hard to come by.  The seat post, in particular, is too short for me.  I can deal with the short length of the bike, but I'd really like to be able to raise the seat.  Maybe I will have to move the strip/polish/paint the bike project up from next summer 'cause I don't know if riding this small bike is even a good idea.

Bike work yesterday consisted of the following:
  • Installing a rear brake
  • Installing new brake levers
  • Installing new brake cables/housing
  • Re-taping the handlebars
All of this was new work for me except taping handlebars.  It wasn't very hard, but I know I could have done some of it better - particularly the fact that I didn't have any ferrules for the ends of the cable housing and I don't know that the second length of housing for the rear brake cable is routed quite right.  It will work, but I don't think it is quite the way it is supposed to be.  Oh well.  It is a working bike.

Bike work for the not too distant future:
  • Put a larger chain ring on the single speed
  • Strip the paint, shine the lugs, paint and or clear-coat the frame on the single speed so it isn't so darned ugly.  Then sell it.
  • Figure out whether the lock nut or the threads on the fork are stripped on the mountain bike and fix that problem.
  • Clean and lube the road bike
  • Taller and longer stem on the road bike
That's it for now.  Since this journal entry was something to postpone my leaving for school, I should probably wrap this up.

Simple pleasure - sleeping in
29th-Aug-2009 09:57 pm - Viva and Jerry's Country Music Videos
Instead of watching football *yawn* I started channel surfing and flipped through the local access stations.  There was this blue-haired couple that were laughing about something or other.  They shared a "touching moment" where they talked about a gorilla in a German zoo.  Then they started sharing little toy bears and having a grand old time doing so.  It was like nothing I'd ever seen, but I couldn't take my eyes off the TV.  At the end of the show we learned it was Viva and Jerry's Country Music Videos.  According to their Facebook page, they've had their show for 20 years!  This is what they do on their show according to their Facebook page:

We pride ourselves on making people happy. We first bring you two of Nashville’s music videos by today’s hottest country artists. We then feature a tender moment that we find necessary, ALWAYS an Elvis moment (from any thrift store I find it at) and then on to the SPOOFS! Our show has themes and we find things at church sales, garage sales and our favorite VALUE VILLIGE to help us make this show possible.

Anyway, here is an episode to watch.  The music videos are over at 10:45 if you want to get to the meat of the show.  Enjoy!

Simple pleasure - public access tv

26th-Aug-2009 01:55 pm - Inservice
Mr. Rogers
First day of school today for first and second-year teachers.  I must admit that I feel a bit overwhelmed.  I still don't know if I am being hired for the additional .2fte, and school starts in less than two weeks.  While I really want to be full time, not having one more prep would be less stress.  It would also mean that i am at the CLC for fall trimester only since I'm at the high school for four periods instead of three for the remainder of the year. 

I guess the reason why I am nervous has a lot to do with my teaching self-esteem.  I know that I am not going to be able to just hang on like I did at times last year, and it will be much more difficult to make things up as I go here at the high school than it is at the CLC.  A presentation this afternoon on differentiated education, only increased my apprehension.  Differentiation is important.  Good differentiation isn't easy, though.  So I'm thinking about standards-based lessons, differentiation, trying to make lessons relevent, assessments that require higher order thinking but that also don't rely on heavy reading and writing, making sure that  I am solid on the material that is new to me that i am going to be teaching, etc. etc.

Then during another presentation, a slide was in a presentation that made me think a bit.

I have a hard time with the "See" part of things and being positive there.  This year is going to be difficult in many ways.  I just need to keep positive about what I am doing and what is going on.  I feel like I was better about that in the past.  Maybe it's time to read some more Thich Nhat Hanh or go back to the Dharma Center.  I think that was a pretty big help in general.  Positive outlook.  I need to start now.

I have a great opportunity to use some great curriculum this year and learn more about topics that I find interesting.  I will be getting to know many more people in the district who are great resources and connections.  My second year at the CLC won't be easy either, but I'm established there now and have a better idea of how things work and what I am doing there.

Now if I could only be sure that my job is secure for next year.  But that's a whole other matter.

Have to take care of a few things here in my classroom before running a couple errands yet this afternoon, and then we go tour another daycare facility.

Simple pleasure - getting my classroom set up

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