Friday, January 26, 2007

"You're in the Army Now"

Recently, we have been studying World War I in the History class I teach. It always amazes me to read of the number of deaths resulting from these wars, and the number of ways man can come up with to kill other men.

When I was young, one of our favorite pastimes was to play Army. We would divide into two forces, and plan great strategies for attack and defense, each group doing its best to "kill" , or capture, the enemy. No one ever really got hurt. Even the dead were miraculously restored as each campaign ended. One of our neighbors had the ultimate fort for these battles. It was basically a Forest Ranger lookout tower, set on top of four telephone poles. The only access was through a trapdoor by way of a rope ladder. Everyone wanted to be on that side of the war, even if they were the "bad guys", just so you could go into this tower. We didn't have any allegiances, no agendas, except for that specific game. The next game you might be on the other side, "fighting" against your former teammates.

How simple things were. It was just a game. We didn't worry about the political correctness of what we did, we just played. Today I'm a good guy, tomorrow I might be one of the bad guys, but at the end of the day, we all went in for a popsicle, or a drink together. Too bad things aren't that simple in real war. Maybe if we could get everyone together at the end of each day, splitting a cherry popsicle, we wouldn't have the problems we have today. I think I would chip in a little for the cooler to get them there. Take care. Stick

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"30 Days has September"

Question to the Senior students:
"What is the date when all federal taxes are due?"

Answer from a graduate candidate:
"February 31st."

Shake your head and walk away.

Monday, January 22, 2007

"The Eyes have It"

When you meet someone for the first time, you have a tendency to look at certain features first. Some people (very shallow ones) will base their entire interpretation of what a person is going to be like based on this first impression. I know for myself, I have a tendency to look at the eyes first. I remember an advertisement from many years ago where the spokeswoman had amazing grey eyes. I was almost willing to use the product for that reason alone. It has been said that, "The eyes are the window to the soul." Whether that is true or not, I believe that eyes do tell us a great deal about the person they belong to. I have a little kids program on my PDA that allows them to draw faces. It gives them different choices of facial features to choose from, and they can create many different combinations. I have noticed that among the eye choices their is one set that I call the "evil eyes". No matter what goofy mouth, hair, ears, or nose you put on the face, as soon as you add the "Evil Eyes", that face is evil.

People you meet on the street are like this too. They may not be a bad person, and you certainly shouldn't judge them from a passing glance, but often you can see the "Evil" in them, at least at that moment. Maybe they have had a bad day. Maybe they are upset. Maybe they really are a bad person, but for that moment you can see exactly what they are. Some people have written about studies of psychopathic people, and one thing that they note is the lack of feeling and expression in these individuals, and this is why they are so successful at the things they do, no one suspects them, because they can't see the evil in them.

As a teacher, I can often see the guilt, or whatever, in my students long before I can prove anything. I try not to judge them, but they usually prove themselves out through their actions.

Keep your eyes open. I 've got mine on you. Take care.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Writer's Block"

I find it difficult to write a blog entry about why I haven't written any blog entries. If you have writer's block, and can't think of anything to say, how can you write to tell someone you can't seem to think of anything to write? I actually had an idea for something to write about as I was driving to work the other day. By the time I got there, I couldn't remember what it was. I'm sure it must be some form of brain damage, early alzheimer's, or some other aberration of nature out to ruin my life, or kill me off. You can't do anything anymore that is good for you. Every new study tells you some new thing that is hazardous to your health. This study says don't eat eggs, they are high in cholesterol, and can cause heart disease. The next study says, eat eggs because the proteins in them are good for you, as long as you eat them in moderation.

I'm not sure what I should do. If you stop eating everything, that will kill you too. I'll think this over as I eat my twinkie, drink full fat chocolate milk, and watch 10 hours of TV. Take care.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"The New Math"

My boy's share a math teacher in the 4th grade here. He has a problem of the day that he sends home to challenge his students, and this counts as part of their grade. These are his way of getting the parents invovled in their kids education, because the problems are difficult, even above grade level. The main dificulty with these challenge problems--sometimes even my wife and I cannot solve them. I haven't decided if it is bad wording on his part, or stupidity on our part. Maybe a little of each. We have tried some of these problems two or more times without getting them right. One frustrated me so much, that I took it to the honors Math teacher at our High School, and he and his students spent 30 minutes before coming up with an answer. I really think that 4th graders, who are still doing simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division should be given a break on this, along with their parents. At the very least, let it be extra credit if they get it right, and don't have it be such a big deal if they don't. Instead he sends them home day after day with "REDO" written across the top, untill we finally stumble on the right answer.
I hope I don't have any homework tonight. Take care.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Have you ever noticed how quickly we acquire things? Sometimes we don't even know where they came from, or what they are for, but we must need them for something, or we wouldn't have them. Right?
We have moved four times in the last four years, and each time we have moved we have gotten rid of some of our "things". When we reach the new place, we acquire new things to take the place of our old things. I heard Jerry Seinfeld do a comedy routine similar to this. He called it our "stuff", and he talked about going on trips, and taking selected pieces of our stuff with us. Then if you went on a side trip you had to make an even smaller selection of stuff to take.
I'm not sure if this is the same, but I know our grandmother was the "Queen of things" saved and acquired, and she knew where each thing was stored. I don't know what her inventory control program was, as it was all inside her head, but it was almost as efficient as any computerized version I have ever seen, if not always as fast. If you needed a left-handed, fine threaded thing-a-ma-bob, ask grandma. She would invariably reply, "I think I have one of those, I believe I saw it just the other day." Sure enough, soon she would appear with the sought after item. In the fantasy realm they have characters with suitcases that can contain anything you want to put into it, and can retrieve it simply by opening the bag and requesting the item. This was grandma. Our mother takes after her, although she doesn't quite have the same massive collection of things that grandma did. I think our grandmother must have been a bit of a magician herself. She certainly kept us entertained.
Here's hoping you have your own bit of magic. Take care.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

God's Hand

I would like to think that people view me as being a religious person, and I feel that I am. I have had too many experiences showing me the existence of a loving God to ever doubt his existence. There are those who are doubters, and as much as I would like to shake them, and show them some of the things I have seen and felt, it just doesn't work that way. Each person must decide, and have their own proofs. You cannot borrow that kind of experience.

In the hopes of sharing some of my proofs, to give hope to those who doubt, I would like to relate one of mine.

I worked for several summers for a church youth program, a week long camp where they were instructed and given many other experiences. In this program we had the need to have a huge support vehicle for carrying extra gear. Ours took the form of a 3 ton, red, flatbed truck with a four foot railing around the bed. This truck had plenty of power to climb the hills, as long as it could get traction. One of the trails we used (yes, the kids had to hike on this program) had a section we as counsellors liked to call "Killer Hill". The kids would hit this hill about five miles into their hike, and it was four miles long. The first five miles were fairly flat with a river running alongside most of the way, and since our program was in the summer, it was usually quite hot. Time and time again, the kids would want to pray when we stopped, and ask for rain to cool them down. Now this isn't the part of the story to show my proof, but serves its own proof quite well. As counsellors, we would always tell them, "You really don't want it to rain." Invariably, they would argue that they did, and so, more often than not, God would answer their prayers and give them rain. I don't know how many have been in a rainstorm in the high mountains, but it can cool temperatures dramatically. It also makes mud. So, shortly after it started raining, we would hit killer hill in the rain, cold, and mud. Every step you took forward would result in a half step slide back. This section of road was cut from a grey clay bank in the hillside that just became slick in the rain. So now back to our support vehicle. The staff member driving came over a little rise in the road, and headed down into a swell on the other side. With the slick conditions, the truck took its own route, rather than following the driver's wishes, and slid to within inches of toppling off the road before coming to a stop with one tire hanging out over mid air. We were able to get the truck back onto the center of the road, but it did not have the traction to climb the hill. We tried everything we could think of to help. We shoveled sand under the wheels. We cut brush and deadfalls to put under the wheels for traction. We got the entire staff together to help push, but nothing we did could get the truck moving. Finally we stopped to take a breath, and decided as a group that we needed to pray, for clearly we could not move this truck on our own. So we knelt there in the mud, all of us gathered together, and asked God to help us to do what we could not do alone. Rising, we went back to what we knew we could do. We cut some more brush,we shoveled a little more sand, and then we all got together to help push. The driver put the truck in gear, and then our miracle happened. It felt to those of us there, like a huge hand lifted the back end of the truck, and pushed . All of the things we had done had not helped untill we prayed. Now we could not even keep up with the truck as it went up the hill. Upon reaching the top, we stopped the truck, and when all of the staff caught up, we again knelt, and thanked God for what we knew was his help. We knew it! We had tried, and we could not move the truck, but God did.
God lives and loves us. He wants to be a part of our lives, we simply need to invite him in. Take hope and take care.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

To Write or not to Write, that is the Question.

I am an amateur poet/songwriter. No, most have never seen or heard anything I've written. I'm not sure if it is vanity or fear that keeps me from showing my work around. Maybe a combination of both. I have decided that maybe I will post one or two here, giving those who have found this blog a chance to see some of these. I can take the criticism, let me know what you think. Iv'e never named it. Perhaps "Harvest Moon".

As night rests upon the earth,
And the darkness takes it’s toll,
The peace you bring to me,
Has worked to make me whole.

The Harvest Moon shines in the sky,
A guide to this lost soul,
Emptiness is just a word,
Whose meaning has gone cold.

The daylight does not dim the fire,
It’s glow reveals no sin,
It simply serves to show all men,
What smolders deep within.

I have been a wanderer,
No place to call my own,
But since you have entered in,
The world’s become my home.

Your name becomes my byword,
Your face becomes my view,
Your smile brings light to darkest night,
Each thing becomes as new.

The day brings no deep regrets,
The darkness brings no fear,
Love has shown it’s shy face,
The one that I wish near.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Grade 'A' Beef

We are coming up to the end of our semester, and it is always amazing how many students who so far have not cared what grade they get in the class, are now concerned with what grade they will recieve. "Is there anything I can do to pass your class? How Can I bring my grade up?" These phrases and more are heard daily throughout our hallowed halls. My standard answer to most of these students has been, "You should have thought of this when you were choosing to talk in my clas instead of listening, or turn in the work I assigned when it was due. I don't accept late work."

Perhaps the ones I don't understand, even more than these students, are the students who have an 88% , whose parents come in to complain in order to raise their little Johnnies' grade another 2% so that he can maintain his straight "A" average. "It's not fair for you to bring his GPA down like this. What can we do?" My answer, or at least the one I would like to give, "Get a life outside your child's. This is the grade he earned. Let him have a little disappointement in his life, it will prepare him for the real world--you know, the one where his Mommy and Daddy can't solve every problem he will ever have." The shame of it is, many of them will continue to do this for the rest of these kids life. I've had my rant. Have a great day.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

It's a Guy Thing

It must have been a nightmare for my parents to have me around. Maybe I was not as accident prone as I think I was, but looking back on my life when I was a child, my mother must have worried about me every time I got out of bed. I got stuck in a tree, fell off a stairwell storage area, crushing my teeth, jumped onto a bed, cracking my skull against the wall, fell off a stage, breaking my foot in four places, got hit in the head with a claw hammer, and fell over a barbed wire fence, cutting a 5 inch gash in my leg, just to mention a few. Now I know there were many other near catastrophe's that my parents never knew about, like climbing down the drainpipe from our second story bedroom, or free climbing a mountain face. As I think back on these things, I start to worry myself. I have twin, 10 year old boys, and one one cannot think of to get into trouble, the other one will. Even at the tender age of 18 months old, having just learned to walk not long before, they were holding the chair for each other in the kitchen so that they could reach the cookies in the cupboard. I hope I'm not the only one who thinks, or worries about this kind of thing--I'm sure I'm not--I also hope they survive it. I'm sure it's a guy thing. Take care.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Deep in the Heart of Texas

After living for several years in Nebraska, my family moved to Texas. My father had been transferred by his company. The house we moved into seemed huge to us as kids, and compared to where we had lived before, this new area was as flat as a table top. The schools where we had been going, were a little behind Texas schools, which left many of us scrambling to catch up, especially me. My new school classes were already doing multiplication and division, whereas my old school had not even started these. I had to memorize all of my times tables in one weekend in order to catch up to my class.
I remember that as we left Nebraska, my parents told us that they didn't get snow in Texas, so we sold, or gave away all of our sleds. Our first winter in the new home brought 6" of snow--more than they had had in a while. Needless to say, mom and dad had a lot of explaining to do to the now sledless children.
Talking to people in Texas was also a learning experience for us. The famous Texas Twang, or southern drawl, left us wondering what our new friends were talking about. It didn't take us long to catch on though, and even now, after 20 odd years away from Texas, I still revert to my own version when I am very "tarred" (tired). There are times that I miss Texas, and the people there, but I there are other places and people that mean as much or more to me now. Home really is where you hang your hat.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Sick Room

I have six children, and like Bill Cosby said, the reason I have six is that I don't want seven. I was ready to stop with four, but my wife convinced me that we "needed" one more. One more was twins, so we have six. Now don't get me wrong. I love all of my children, and wouldn't give them up for anything, but there are days when I would definitely loan them out to someone else.

I believe my boys are trying to test the philosophy that if they can survive each other, they can survive anything. They can play together for hours without any problems, but sometimes can't sit next to each other for a minute without doing something to annoy or hurt the other one. A friend of ours told us they remind him of two characters from the recent animated movie, "Ice Age, The meltdown". They remind him of "Crash and Eddy" the two possums from that movie. I can't help but agree.
My kids have also gotten into a habit similar to that of "Delirious'" kids. When my kids get sick, they think that the place to recuperate is in mom and dad's bed. It's bigger, it's warm, and there is a TV coveniently placed for their enjoyment. Of course this means that every bug they bring home, they cough and sneeze into my bed, sharing their illness with my wife and I. My oldest is the latest candidate for this. She has had the flu for a couple of days. This means from the time she gets up, untill she goes to her own bed for the night, she is in my bed. She eats there, sleeps there (during the day), watches TV, and orders her medications, food, and snacks by way of the intercom. When she finally decides it's time to go to her room for the night, then I can have my side of the bed back, and can go to bed myself. Last night this didn't happen untill almost eleven. Now my wife has the flu too. I fear I won't be far behind, but so far so good. Maybe I just need to make my room less comfortable, or make their rooms more so.
Have a Happy New Year!