1. As my old friend Chris V. reminded me, today was Opening Day Light. Gary Sheffield in a Detroit Tigers uniform for the first time. Hopefully, Neifi Perez in a Detroit Tigers uniform for the last time. I'm pretty excited about baseball season.
2. I met with the team captains today, went over expectations and such. This is my fourth year coaching, so these are all kids who I've coached since they were 9th graders. They're going to play right around the infield - 1B, 2B, SS, and 3B. All are great kids and great baseball players. My outfield corps is thin as of now, I'm not sure who the catcher is going to be, and I'd like to find another pitcher, but right now this is looking like the best team I've ever coached. I'll pay for it next year - this team will be mostly seniors - but it will be worth it.
3. Tryouts start Thursday. We have no bats and I'm going to have to run to the store to get some baseballs, unless a surprise shipment comes before then.
4. I'm enthralled by Octavia Butler's Kindred right now, and have two straight 60-minute sessions on the eliptical without being able to tear myself away to prove it. It's about a modern black woman transported to the antebellum south in order to save a white ancestor of hers, and it's reading like a great episode of Quantum Leap.
5. I really love it when I find a good book to read on a machine. I could probably get by with 45 minutes of harder sweating and still get the same workout, but I get my heartrate up over 160 while I'm engrossed in a book for 60 minutes, and I figure that's pretty good. The time just flies by, and I totally forget I'm where I am. Today, I forgot so much that when I took a sip of water, I nearly fell down, making the woman next to me laugh and strike up a conversation.
No more smoking in Baltimore bars and restaurants as of 2008. Wow, it's something I did't expect, and I couldn't be happier. It sure will be nice to sit at a bar and not breathe smoke, or go to the 8X10 or the Waterfront and see great live music without breathing someone else's lifestyle choice.
Ironically, this will make me go to bars more, which probably won't help my health any. But at least it will my own choice and not someone else's choice not to be healthy.
I bet none of those ridiculous "It will hurt the businesses" and "Please save my job" rhetoric comes to pass, just like it hasn't come to pass in other cities and states that have enacted the ban. There was actually a man on the incredibly biased Fox 45 news reporting on it tonight who said that, "corner bars are the cornerstone of our city." With a straight face.
1. I took a sick day today, my second of the year. That's more than I usually allow myself, but I woke up today feeling like I was run over by a semi truck. My throat hurt, my eyes hurt, and my head hurt. I probably could have toughed it out, but baseball starts on Thursday, and I want to make sure that I'm healthy for the season. Once Thursday hits, I'm not allowed to miss a day of school, no matter what, for nearly three months. It's a pretty grueling schedule, but, luckily, I love it. My department head called me and told me not to come in tomorrow, but since I'm not feeling sick anymore, I probably will nonetheless. The secret is that I went to sleep at 1:30 last night and my feeling horrible this morning probably was more a result of exhaustion more than anything, and sleeping for a few more hours, taking some medicine, sweating for a couple hours at the gym,and then relaxing has done me a lot of good.
2. One thing that I think I'd eventually like to do on the side is personal training. While I'm certainly not fit, now, I've lost 15 pounds in the last five weeks and it's because I know how to take care of myself when I make it a priority. When I'm at the gym, I love overhearing personal trainers talk to their clients, and, often, they tell them things that I already know from years of reading Men's Health and exercising myself. My weight loss from 310 to 190 was the result of hard and smart work in the gym and at the dinner table, and it makes me happy to relate good health tips to others. I think this would be something I could get into. Maybe after I get my MAT, I can think about having that as a second job in the summers and on the weekends.
3. I wish I had more stamina for packing. I'm packing all my books tonight, and I always get sidetracked with things like this: "Oh look at this weird copy of The Scarlet Letter. From 1954! I'm going to look that up on the internet and see if it's worth anything...." and then I'm off and I end up blogging or something stupid like that.
Moments ago, after submitting my pay-off amount of $282.67 (almost all of which I made this weekend in tips), I paid off my car!!
This car was purchased with an ill-advised, expensive five year loan with then-bad credit that made a car that cost me $12,900 to start with cost way, way more. She and I have been through a lot. In December 2002, I hit a curb obscured after a snowstorm, causing both airbags to deflate, and then when I reported it I found out that Geico had, without informing me, switched my insurance from the maximum to collision only, so it wouldn't cover it. (This is why I hate Geico.) Airbags cost over $2000 each to fix, and, thus, they've never been fixed. In the summer of 2003, I came within an inch of repossession at least twice. Later that summer, I made an attempt at insurance fraud against Geico after legal avenues were attempted that, thankfully, didn't go far because I realized the error of my ways. Around that same time, the car was booted by the city for excessive (and I mean excessive, as in unethically excessive) parking fines on five (just five) parking tickets. I got the car back. Later, I was rear-ended by some bitchy lady who had the gall to blame me for the accident, which tore off my side-view mirror. Later, I was side-swiped one rainy summer morning in front of my house, something that caused over $2000 in damage (thank god for Erie Insurance, which has been good, on that one). Just three weeks ago, my window busted in just three weeks ago in front of the same house.
Still, I have to say, the car - an electric blue 2000 Pontiac Grand Am - has been awesome for me overall. I've never had a problem with the way it runs. It's been nothing but reliable, whether in Baltimore or on trips to North Carolina or Michigan. It still looks beautiful; its electric blue color (what made me buy it in the first place) has not faded at all. It's still sporty (with a spoiler and a sunroof) but sensible (with four doors). And now it's all mine. Due to my Michigan roots and several family members employed by the car industry in Detroit, I'll probably never buy a foreign vehicle. Luckily, this GM product that is my car has been a superb purchase, in everything except that dreaded loan.
This car loan has been an albatross around my neck for a long time. I'd said quite some time ago that I would quit my second job once I got the car paid off. I'm not going to. I know, I know. Being enrolled in grad school has changed my financial picture in a way where I just couldn't give up the job until I finish up with that. This summer has a good chance of being brutal financially; I have four classes left and would like to get three - or even all four - of them done this summer. I've got a lot of saving to do before then.
1. I wait for this day all year and when it happens, it's always a little anti-climactic. That's okay.
2. I wish Babel, the best film nominated, had won Best Picture, but was not disappointed to see The Departed - probably the most unabashedly entertaining movie of the year - win. Babel stayed with me a lot longer, and I think it will be looked back on in 25 years as a better film, but The Departed was awesome too.
3. Forrest Whitaker's incredible Oscar speech was definitely the highlight of the show for me. It even made me feel a little bad for secretly rooting against him even though he was the obvious frontrunner (great performance, but a small role - I think DiCaprio had a better year and has been snubbed more before).
4. Helen Mirren's Oscar speech struck me as egotistical and too-rehearsed. The other annoying acceptor was Jennifer Hudson, but she redeemed herself later when she sung and her boob almost popped out. I was rooting for Rinko Kikuchi in Babel, even though I knew she wouldn't win. She just broke my heart in that movie.
5. A bit too much of an Al Gore lovefest for me, but I did enjoy his joke when the music cut him off when he was going to announce he was going to run for President.
6. Ellen was great.
7. Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce both sang great. I was surprised that they lost Best Song, but I'm sure the Dreamgirls songs split the vote.
8. The Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and John C. Reilly song was really good.
9. Those shadow people were awesome!
I couldn't believe the snow we got last night. I wonder if there will be school tomorrow. It's almost 1am, so I wouldn't mind a delay...
So I'm thinking I go to the Dollar Store, get a few fake snakes and a toy gun, try my darndest to find some sort of an afro wig and some sort of official police-type hat, and go as Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane?
The thing is, I was sort of turned off by the whole gimmicky "motherfuckin'" campaign, and don't have much of a desire to even see the movie. Still, it would make a distinctive costume, probably beating out going as Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson.
Tonight, I repeated the last few Friday nights. I left school at the usual early Friday night time, then proceeded to take advantage of one of the things that's special about teaching: the fact that you're the first one to Happy Hour. We found our seat by 4pm, then proceeded to play nearly two hours of Rocky Run trivia before heading to work at 6pm. There, I worked for three hours, made $50, then headed off to home, where I'm relaxing and about to hit the sack early.
I'm starting to get pretty excited about the next few days and few weeks: the Oscars are on Sunday. Baseball season starts Thursday. I have exactly three weeks to be moved, to have my furniture and trash purged and all the rest of my possessions brought over to my new roommate's place. It's starting to see real to me. I'm wondering, for example, how my Quotable magnets of Emerson and Souza will look next to her "Sorry Boys, I eat pussy" magnet on her fridge.
Sometimes when I really get wrapped in myself and my solitude, I imagine myself on my own version of The Truman Show, and that people are watching my every move, studying me and analyzing my decisions. Or sometimes, when I'm shopping, I'm imagining the marketing consultants watching me, figuring out what I'll buy and what leads me to their product. Other times, I imagine teams of psychologists looking at me and saying, "Wow, what a fascinating specimen! He is the textbook case of indecision-disorder/emotional-paralysis/etc"
I'm sure Thursday night's episode of my show - a repeat of Tuesday night, in fact, featuring a drive up to Towson - was baffling to everyone. I get a parking spot. I walk into Barnes and Noble. I saunter around for half an hour, seeing if any of the displays have changed (they haven't) and thinking about buying something to read at the gym (I don't). I leave Barnes & Noble, and enter Bally's. I give the clerk my card. I walk through the gym into the locker room, noticing just how congested and busy it is. I go pee in the locker room. I think more and more about how I don't want to be there. I leave, promising myself I'll work out at home. I don't. I did the exact same thing both nights.
Center Stage's production of Trouble in Mind offers another terrific production this year, after the riotously entertaining musical The Boys of Syracuse, the intense Death and the Maiden, and a moving production of The Three Sisters.
They were great enough to find a grant that allowed a couple of classes of my students to attend a production today, and the kids all loved it. So did I. A funny, thought-provoking take on race relations and integrity, with plenty of moments of intense drama. E. Faye Butler, the lead actress, was phenomenal. Alice Childress' play is all about how much a person is willing to lose of themselves when playing a role, which is ironic because Childress could have been the first black woman to have a play on Broadway if she had tweaked the ending, making it more palatable. She refused, and instead it was Lorraine Hansberry's Raisin in the Sun - produced two years later, in 1957 - that became the hit, and this play faded to obscurity. I felt privelaged to be able to see one of America's great lost plays.
The kids were buzzing about it both during the intermission and the whole busride home. I was so proud when during the talkback, one of my students asked about the "motif of jelly donuts."
My one complaint? Why was the white director so cartoonishly evil? I think he could have been a more interesting villian if he wasn't such an over-the-top jerk to everyone.
Well, unless The Charles finally gets Little Children this weekend, or unless Blood Diamond expands beyond showings at 11:30am and 3:00pm at Muvico, I'm probably not seeing any more Oscar movies before the telecast on Sunday.
I'm set to go to an Annual Oscars Party, and I'm pretty excited. Still don't have a clever costume, and one just might not come; I probably will end up coming as Ryan Gosling from Half Nelson. I'll just have to not shave for a few days, pick up some more awkward white teacher hip-hop lingo ("Oh no, you didn't"), and find a crack vial somewhere. Luckily, I've already got a diminutive black female student sidekick that would be happy to be my prop - my dynamic little Diamond, only the second student whose number I've ever had programmed into my cell phone (the first was Bobby). And it's because I once put my number on a Letter of Recommendation that I wrote for her, and she programmed it into her cell phone, and calls me every now and then to get help or work. After a few times, I figured, what the heck, I'll just program it in. So she could come Sunday. (I'm not seriously thinking of doing this...)
Anyhow, I'm excited about the Oscars this year, like I have pretty much every year since I was a sophomore in high school. I just think they're fun to predict and get worked up over a little bit. I'm not big on awards shows, except for this one, the biggest one.
This is a cool year, because I've seen most everything, and can honestly say that there's nothing I really actively disliked. Last year, I thought Crash was okay, but too pat and too much a poor imitation of Magnolia to be as praised as it was. The year before, I thought Million Dollar Baby was one of the most overpraised films of the last couple decades. So I was actively rooting against both of those - albeit honestly the Crash thing was because I liked Brokeback Mountain as the best film of the year and thought it would win. The year before that - the Million Dollar Baby/The Aviator/Finding Neverland/Ray/Sideways year - almost all the films there were criminally overrated (except Ray, which I think actually qualified as underrated), so I had some different feelings going in.
Best Picture: This year, I've liked almost everything I saw. The Best Picture nominees are the best crop since at least 2000. I mean, The Departed was one of the most satisfyingly entertaining movies I've ever seen. Babel moved me a great deal. Little Miss Sunshine is a rare comedy that gets better with repeated viewings, and contained some of the best scenes I've seen all year. I was slightly less enthused with both Letters from Iwo Jima (solid, unremarkable war movie, often too heavy-handed) and The Queen (well-acted character study, but didn't move me much - could have been a TV movie). If we could have included Children of Men, one of the best films of the year, there instead of one of those, then this could have been a for-the-ages category. The last spot in my perfect category? Borat or Dreamgirls.
Anyhow, I'm rooting for... um... any of my top three. I think I'm rooting most for Babel - a big, messy, moving saga, the Magnolia-type that I love - but would be just fine with The Departed or Little Miss Sunshine winning. All three are very good films - not without flaws (The Departed has a plot hole that bugs me, several of Babel's scenes run too long, and Little Miss Sunshine treads some ground that better disfunctional family comedies like The Royal Tenenbaums treads) - that I enjoyed a great deal. Go, any of them!
Best Actor: I'm rooting for Whitaker, DiCaprio, Smith, O'Toole, and Gosling, in that order. I think DiCaprio had a great year, and he's been snubbed a couple times already, dating back to 1993. But Whitaker gave a great performance.
Best Actress: Yes, I totally believed that Helen Mirren was The Queen. No, before I watched the movie, I had no idea what the Queen looked like or acted like, so that really didn't matter much to me. She was fine. I guess just give it to her. I wouldn't mind beautiful Kate Winslet going up there to accept, though I didn't see her movie.
Best Supporting Actor: Interesting category. I've developed a hatred for Eddie Murphy in the recent weeks, and don't really think he was doing much in Showgirls besides doing his James Brown impression. Therefore, I'm rooting for anybody but him. If he doesn't win, it will probably be Alan Arkin, who had the least interesting performance of all of them in Little Miss Sunshine ("Oh look! Grandpa's swearing!"). How ironic that both Murphy's and Arkin's characters died just as they were getting interesting. So I'm rooting for Mark Wahlberg, who was terrific in The Departed, lightening up a film that needed some humor. It was also a true supporting part, in a film full of stars. As for Honsou (who I have always liked, ever since Amistad) and Haley (who has a cool story), I haven't seen their films.
Best Supporting Actress: By far my favorite category. I'm rooting for Rinko Kikuchi, who was the mute Asian girl in Babel. She was just so incredible in that movie, illuminating her arc of the story so it was the one I remembered most after the lights came up. Likewise, though, is her co-star Adriana Barraza, who was similarly heartbreaking in her role. Little Miss Sunshine, Abigail Breslin, has been an amazing little actor ever since Signs (a very underrated movie, by the way), and she was great in that film. Cate Blanchett was just fine Notes on a Scandal. Of course, it's going to be Jennifer Hudson who wins, and that's just fine with me - she was part of the best scene of the year, the scene in which she tells Jamie Foxx she is not going...
Best Director: Scorsese, easily. I'll root for the Babel guy a different year. And anyone but Clint!
Today was a long, hard day. It was my first "regular" day in a while, and it was just hard to get into the swing of things. The morning went fine - I'm really feeling my English 2 classes right now. I played that Johnny Cash song "Folsom Prison Blues" that I had blogged about earlier, and the kids were able to pick out the theme of the song and compare it with a passage from Douglass in which he looks out at the Chesapeake and all the boats depressingly remind him that he's a slave. The kids did well with it, and it was fun to be in the room as I exposed them to country music. But the afternoon Junior classes were full of meetings about essays, while I had them working on small group discussions as I walked around to students about their big essay. It is grueling, especially with classes nearing 40. The noise level alone is astonishing.
Tomorrow is a field trip, though, as the kids are going to see Alice Childress' play Trouble in Mind at Center Stage. I'm looking forward to it a great deal. I wish it was my sophomores going, though. Their version of the same field trip was cancelled with the snow day last Wednesday, and Center Stage informed me today that they will not reschedule. I'm not sure why; every school in Maryland was cancelled that day, so it's not like they could have the performance. But maybe they did, I'm not sure. It just doesn't seem right. The sophomores were really pumped about going, complete with classroom visits from the cast and plenty of prep work.
Now I've got to figure out another field trip to take those kids on to make up for it. Isn't there some sort of Frederick Douglass museum down by the harbor and Fells Point? I seem to remember walking by a statue of him in a new-ish looking building that was closed at the time. I'll have to research that a bit; maybe it could be worth it. The kids are loving his autobiography... even with over a week off from it...
I have no idea what I'm teaching next year and probably shouldn't spend much time thinking about it; it's really totally out of my hands. However, I'm really excited about the prospect of teaching World Literature IB 3 again, and went so far as to make a summer reading assignment for my hypothetical new students today. I just was walking around Barnes & Noble yesterday and got so excited about it that I jotted stuff down and came up with this. I think this is what I'd do.
I really like the idea of incorporating some student choice into this assignment, as well as giving me an option as a teacher not to read the same essay 80 times. Summer reading is supposed to be able to be handled by the student without a teacher, so why not use the opportunity to let them choose something on their own? That option is much more limited during the school year.
I'm curious as to which option most kids would choose. Option B is the shortest option, but also contains Joyce - albeit accessible Joyce. Option A contain two page turners but both are long. Option F are both modern but both are very long works, especially The Corner. The mix modern works with older works. It would be interesting, and I think each kid could find at least something. This is for incoming smart Juniors:
Summer Reading English 3 IB
All incoming students must read How to Read Literature Like Professor by Thomas J. Foster and complete the activity on the back of this handout. For your other two texts, you may choose from several options below. Choose the option that interests you most, and feel free to change as often as necessary, as long as you have completed the two texts and the assignments by the time the school year begins.
For each book that you read, complete the following and be prepared to turn in for a grade during the first week of school:
1) Text-mark your books for author’s style, structure, and other authorial choices that strike you as intriguing.
2) Keep a spiral notebook where you record and clearly label the following for each text:
a. Five “Striking Elements” from each chapter (or 30 pages) or story that you read. These can be any five things that draw your interest – a certain style the author uses, an intriguing image, a line that you like, an authorial choice that strikes you, etc. Include page numbers.
b. A list of characters and their role in the story.
c. A list of several ideas that link the two texts together. The more concrete your link – the author’s use of food, for example – the stronger your eventual essay will be.
You will take a multiple choice test over both books during the first week of school, and writing a practice Link Essay on your two texts will be a major component of your first quarter grade.
Option A: Study of the Modern American Epic The Known World by Edward P. Jones and The Namesake by Jumpha Lahiri
Option B: Study of Short Story Collections Runaway by Alice Munro and Dubliners by James Joyce
Option C: Study of Dystopian Novels Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Option D: Study of Grim Fantasies Kindred by Octavia Butler and 1984 by George Orwell
Option E: Study of the Autobiography Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama and The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X with Alex Haley
Option F: Study of Non-Fiction The Corner by Edward Burns and David Simon and The Devil in the White City by Eric Larsen
During the early morning hours of Saturday, Feb. 10, my car's window was bashed in while parked in front of my house. Nothing was taken.
A simple window repair job, eh? No problem. I thought I'd be driving it by Saturday night.
Today, a full 10 days later, I'm finally driving it again.
The total damage to my wallet? $493.
That's $250 for my deductible and $243 for the rental for eight days. Insurance paid for $25/day for the rental, but I got the additional insurance on it and still ended up paying in the area of $25/day for it, plus tax.
Luckily, my insurance company did end up covering the "regulator," after intimating that they wouldn't. The total cost to repair my vehicle was $381, so just paying the deductible saved me $131.
It just took forever, which increased the price. I guess that's what happens when your car needs fixing during a winter storm.
On the positive side, I got to drive a nearly brand new SUV (Jeep Alero) for a week, including during the worst driving conditions of the year. It handled beautifully. Still, I'd much rather have my $493 back.
I was a fool and I didn't shovel on that first day. I thought I didn't have a shovel, but since have found it. Anyways, I'm the only person on my block whose little sidewalk area in front of my house is not shoveled. Neither is my own walkway or porch.
I haven't been able to do anything with this situation since Thursday. Yesterday, I was out there with a hammer, trying to break some of the ice free - to no avail. I might buy some salt today, although I doubt if it will really help much on this thick layer of ice.
I'd decided a long time ago that Half Nelson would be a movie I'd purchase even without viewing first. I figure it's the type of movie that not only will I love and want to watch more than once, but it's also possible I could use it as an after-school extra credit film, if I ever decide to run that program again (like, maybe next year they can not give me two new preps...).
I went to Target today, figuring that the movie that grossed $2.7 million domestically would be tucked away on their indie shelves. Nope. Its bin was first in the New Releases, and all three racks were sold out. Good for the film, but bad for me.
My current idea for my Oscars Night Party costume is to be Ryan Gosling. He is, after all, a teacher who happens to be a crack addict. Therefore, I could probably just come as myself with a crack pipe and be done with it. Now, it's just the matter of me finding a crack pipe...
I can probably come up with something better, though. Maybe I can come with a bullet wound to my forehead or something, in honor of The Departed... Well, I have one week to decide.
My usual Saturday night of sitting around and relaxing has once again repeated. I even added a nap in for good measure today. The Saturday Brunch shift of 8-5 just beat me down pretty good today, especially after waiting tables from 6-11:15 the night before after teaching all the day. I'm not complaining, just saying that these Saturday nights are becoming a welcome respite from having to be somewhere, from having to talk to people, and from all other responsibilities. I plan on sitting back in my living room in my underwear and watching Flags of Our Fathers, then deciding between Bamboozled and Anchorman. All are here from Netflix. Other than wishing I had someone to share my couch with, there isn't much more I could ask for.
I've made some intimations on this blog about my tentative plans to visit Costa Rica for spring break. A friend is teaching there. Two friends/colleagues want to visit her and explore the country and I would like to join them. We've got a place to stay and it would be my first real travel vacation in a long time. However, the money issue scares me. It would be a relatively cheap vacation - like Italy a couple of summers ago, I will have a place to stay and a local to be a tourguide, making my cost mostly my plane ticket. Therefore, it would be a huge opportunity to pass up. However, the roughly $600 plane ticket is nothing to sneeze at, and there's a reason I work two jobs: student loans are expensive, and taking classes are expensive. I also seem to just have bad times with money. For example, this month I make a double payment on my car, putting me less than $300 from having it all paid off, and then right after I did that my car's window was busted. There is a $250 deductible and the $200 or so I'll be spending on this rental (insurance pays $25/day, but the rental costs $38/day, plus the additional insurance I have put on it, and I'll have had it for seven days after the window is finally fixed). Therefore, I'm still not 100% sure. I'm about 75% sure at this point. It sure would be nice, though, to go somewhere warm and relax for a bit in the midst of this year, which I still say is my hardest-working year yet.
I'm dogsitting for this naughty little dog who has already pooped twice on the floor.
Tomorrow is a friend's 31st birthday and I somehow have scored a day off. That's two in one week, one of them being Thursday's snow day, after just one the entire first five weeks of 2007. I hope to get some school work done in the morning and afternoon, as well as a nice long workout to make up for today's day off from exercise, then maybe catch a movie and be ready to meet him and the the youth of Hamilton and Parkville when we hang out at Dead Freddie's for the night, starting at 9pm. Yay for President's Day Weekend!
Bobby update: I was worried about him for a little bit in the fall. He didn't like University of Maryland. He thought about transferring, a decision that would have been horrible, since it would have negated his full scholarship. He had his growing pains. But he got through that first semester with average grades, and now is enjoying school. He visited yesterday, and I gave him the hundred-dollar bill I made on Valentine's Day to buy some of his books for the spring semester; apparently some screwup with his refund check from the university, I don't know, I just want him to do well.
He has decided against doing the army reserves (good move, I say) so he can concentrate on school. He is no longer trying to also go to carpentry school. He's got such big goals for himself, but I think he thought college was going to be easier than it is.
I wrote 47 questions today, and felt pretty good about it, and ended up rewarding me with a viewing of Letters from Iwo Jima, for its last showing in Baltimore tonight. The jaunt off to the theater started off annoyingly, as somehow I didn't realize until I was in that area that I didn't really know where the Rotunda was.
If there's any part of Baltimore I know almost nothing about, it's Hamden. I need directions to Cafe Hon. And, lo and behold, the Rotunda is in Hamden. I barely even knew that.
But I found it, 40 minutes after I left the house. And, of course, they did not take a Visa debit card, so I had to go around the little podunk mall area to find an ATM, and then back to the theater, where I found my friends after several brighter scenes flashed across and I could scan the theater. Yes, I was that guy. I found them about five minutes after I got in there.
The movie was good. Pretty much standard issue war movie, though. Up there in the league with Saving Private Ryan, and only mildly interesting and different because it told the story from the other perspective. Still, a nice job by all - certainly a comeback from Million Dollar Baby for Mr. Eastwood, who is still a heavy-handed director but at least had a better script to work with. It made me want to see Flags of our fathers, which I believe I received this weekend via Netflix.
1. Erie Insurance came with an inch of having me get so angry I would have driven to the nearest office and given them a piece of my mind. I was furious - they actually accused me (though in not so many words) of taking the regulator out of the door and were going to charge me for a new one. My car was busted into on Friday night. Now, six days later, it's finally getting fixed, and then they want me to buy a part? Uh-uh. That's why I've paid several thousands of dollars on insurance over the last few years to you. Apparently, the middle guy removed the broken parts out of the door frame and that's where the confusion rested. But, still - half a broken regulator is in the car door, and you're going to call me and say that it's missing and then say, "Yeah, you're telling me that your window went up and down on Friday before this happened, and that now the regulator is just missing? Stranger things have happened. You and I could both be aliens from Mars, too." What a complete asshole. All's well that ends well, and I kept my cool.
2. I've written 40 questions today. Does anyone know of a good poem about childhood? About a girl who is a tomboy or something? I'm thinking a poem version of Dar Williams' "When I Was a Boy," which I actually thought about using but it's just not clear enough.
School's out again, and I pledge to write an HSA practice test today instead of widdling it away on stuff I don't need to do. I'll probably also go see Iwo Jima, since it's the last day it's playing at the Rotunda and I like to see all the Oscar movies before the big date.
At first, I thought the call to close school was a bit dubious. Yes, the roads are a bit bad, but the roads I travelled on last night at 11pm - from Fell's Point up to my home in Northeast Baltimore - were fine. However, after a morning trip up to Towson to head to the gym and a trip down via York Road - including a couple of jaunts onto side streets - I'm left with the realization that not only was it a necessary call to close schools today, but that it's going to take the city a lot of work to get them open tomorrow.
Side streets aren't just unplowed, but the snow on them now has a shiny coating of ice on them. I literally just sat behind some woman on Rosekemp Street who just couldn't travel up her street. I thought about getting out and helping, but her husband was out there just sort of watching her, so I decided to just sit in the SUV I'm renting while my car gets fixed and watch. It was bad. And I'm not sure how they can get this all done by tomorrow.
Hmmmm.... school tomorrow, or no? The cold is bitter and the roads are a bit slick, and there's also quite a bit unplowed as of now. However, a lot of the roads are clear. It will interesting. I'm thinking a delay. Several districts in the state have already cancelled, though, and it's just 11:30 the night before.
So tonight was Valentine's Day, one of the busiest nights of the year at the restaurant, a night like New Year's Eve and Mother's Day where as a server you can pretty much count on $200-$400. Unfortunately, I got screwed over tonight. One of my tables wanted to go downstairs to listen to the band. One of my tables wanted to move to a different section. Three of my tables were no-shows. I wish the owner had saw how things were going a little bit earlier, but she didn't, and only later apologized profusely for the lack of fairness with the doling out of tables. I got sat four times during the first seating, which everyone else did, too. But for the second seating, I got sat once. Everyone else got sat four or five times.
I'm glad, however, that she noticed, and apologized, and told me to pick out any wine on the menu to take home with me. Better yet, she didn't act like it made up for it, and promised that it wouldn't happen next time. Phew. It saved me from the complete bad mood. I was only partially in a bad mood after that. And I made about $110, so it's not like it was a total loss.
Over the weekend, I was walking through Trader Joe's, wearing a Tigers winter cap, when an employee stopped me and said, "Can I ask you a few questions?" I was taken aback, and wasn't in a particularly good mood anyway, since I was soaking wet from sweat from my workout and thinking about my drive home without a window in the cold.
"Yes," I answered, with suspicion.
He then began a series of questions that I answered all in the affirmative: Are you a teacher? Are you a waiter? Are you a Tigers fan? Do you work out at Bally's?
I quickly knew what he was getting at, and then he spelled it out: "So, when I got the job here, I googled 'Towson Trader Joe's' and your website came up. I know all about how sad you are that there is no salmon jerky. And I'm in charge of the frozen food ordering, so I'm going to make sure the lime popsicles are always well stocked."
Well, at least I know that all this blogging has been worth it...
School was on today, and it was great seeing the kids again. It was a strange day, with a switched-around schedule and the gnawing certainty that we would probably be dismissed early because of inclement weather (which we were, two hours early), but it was still nice to be back with them. I also had the pleasure of welcoming the cast of the current Center Stage show, Trouble in Mind, into my classroom to discuss the students' upcoming field trip to see the play.
And therein lies my current stress: if school is cancelled tomorrow - and let's face it, it probably will be - then the field trip is also cancelled. I was really looking forward to exposing these students to professional theater, especially with a piece that I think will be accessible to them as well as relevant to our current curriculum. The cast members who visited the classroom were wonderful, and I really look forward to seeing them perform. I hope that if school is cancelled, then something can be worked out.
My other, longer-term stresser: baseball season starts two weeks from Thursday, and now the 65-degree weather of January is gone and tryouts look like they're going to be fairly hellish. Hopefully things can turn around.
As for my personal life, I've been spending way too much time lately going out to lunch and bars. On Friday, school let out at 11am, and we were having lunch at Rocky Run by noon, and shortly thereafter we were having drinks and playing trivia. On Monday, no school was in session because of the heating situation, so we ended up eating lunch at the Loch Raven Ruby Tuesday's. No drinks for me, but a $2.99 salad bar (which was awesome) and a $10.99 creole fish still added up. Today, I tried to resist, but I was sucked back into the fun of my two friends, and ended up at Rocky Run again for an afternoon of beers and trivia. The Rocky Run afternoons have been so much fun that it's hard to look at them objectively, until I look at my wallet and realize that I've spent over $100 on the three outings and that's just not cool. I'm trying to afford a trip to Costa Rica for spring break, and I need to be a little bit better of keeping my money in my wallet. The car repairs will cost me my $250 deductible, while my rental I got will cost me $17 a day after taxes, and those are also expenses that I had not expected. Ugh.
Thank goodness I have a second job. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, so hopefully I can makea couple hundred dollars.
Another day without students - apparently not only are the heaters not working, but a pipe burst, flooding the gym and the basement. There is no telling when we'll be able to be back in the building, though we were optimistically told tomorrow. As it was, it was a day of meeting about tests and lesson planning, then a long lunch that lasted into the afternoon.
I'm feeling listless and a bit purposeless about it. I haven't seen a number of my students since last Monday, and miss them a bit. I actually got an e-mail from a student today that read, "If we have a snow day tomorrow, I'm showing up at your house and demanding you teach me something."
Unfortunately, I'm guessing we'll have a snow day. It's the first time I can remember in recent years when I'm really rooting against it, simply because I'm craving some time with the kids right now.
The snow starts at around 8pm. There will be nothing on the ground Tuesday morning, but school will still be cancelled because everyone is so worried. We'll get some accumulation throughout the day on Tuesday, and Wednesday school will be cancelled, as well. My field trip, scheduled for weeks to be on Wednesday, will not happen, unfortunately.
I'm actually hoping for no snow days this week. The schedule is already crazy at school, and I don't feel the need to add to to any right now.
I've got to work at 4pm on Valentine's Day at the restaurant. If I don't make at least $250, I'll be disappointed, especially since fixing the car window is going to cost me at least that much.
On Friday night, my car's front driver's side window was bashed in by unknown persons. They heaved down on it, and apparently also destroyed the motor that controls the window going up and down. That motor is a dealer part, which makes the job of replacing the window all the more difficult.
I was content going the first 36 hours of my windowless existence sans anything in the driver's side door. It wasn't so bad driving with the window open today; with the heater turned on as high as it could go, it almost seemed like it should be down. But with the "wintry mix" coming as soon as tomorrow, I decided I better put some plastic on there so no moisture gets in and ruins more.
My boss at the restaurant was nice enough to hook me up with some heavy plastic, duct tape, and scissors tonight during my shift, and I proceeded to cover my window opening. The drive home was terrifying. I went as slow as I could muster, but it certainly didn't make me feel much safer. I don't think I should take another drive like this. I kept imagining someone broadsiding me and me being unable to react at all. I've seen people with shit covering their window spaces before, and now I know just how impossible it is to drive safely like that.
With that in mind, I have no idea how my insurance company can justify just putting me back on the road. I should absolutely have a rental right now.
Tomorrow, hopefully, the insurance claims adjustor will call first thing and I'll get this taken care of. Hopefully it won't take a few days, either.
Unbelievable. Grasmick is now saying that the HSA test requirements for graduation are "not set in stone." At least she's flexible, I guess. I've been pretty unhappy lately with the state and its decisions regarding the HSA, and the tools it releases to prepare students, so any revisions, or anything to make the tests less high-stake, would be welcome. I wish she would just retire, though. Apparently she and O'Malley haven't spoken in a year and a half.
The main reason I supported O'Malley for governor wasn't just because he was "Not Ehrlich" (and what a crybaby - he had this election won but just showed himself completely unable to work with anybody with different ideas than his own), but because I'm thinking/hoping he might do something about the education crisis in the state.
The landlord is planning to be done with her construction and raise the rent on the place by nearly 100% (from $500 to $950) on March 15. Right now, $500 is too much for me to pay for this place; it's way too big, unwieldly, expensive (to heat), and inconvenient for me. Inertia has prevented me from moving, but it's pretty much decided: I'll be moving in with my friend, um, "Daisy" on the day the rent raises.
Daisy lived with her partner for the last three years, including about six months in my house. They moved out when Daisy's house was finished, and then, about a year later, the two of them broke up. Her partner moved out, and it wasn't particularly pretty, but now Daisy has two empty rooms at her house. I need a place to stay. It's working out nicely, just like it worked out for the two of them over a year ago when they moved into my place.
I'm excited about it, for a number of reasons. First of all, I seem to be dangerously sliding into hermitdom lately. I still have a social life, but the times I spend at home are completely solitary, with little chance for anything else. I realized today that not a soul other than my parents (on Thanksgiving) and Bobby (briefly, late at night, to pick up something he had forgotten - I didn't even see him, he just called my name and said hi while I slept) have stepped into the house since my last house concert in October. While I do not mind my alone time, most of the time, there gets to be a time when that solitude is difficult to shoulder.
I value my privacy, but too much isn't a good thing. Daisy is a good friend, and it will be nice to counteract these recent sad Saturday nights, when I just seem too tired to do anything except sit around and try to stay up so I can be disappointed by Saturday Night Live. (Actually, you know what my task tonight has been? Well, we're having a contest at the restaurant as to who can make the best Valentine's Day mixed CD for our diners' pleasure that night. Of course I'll be involved. Without realizing that it's one of the more depressing activities that a sometimes-lonely-sometimes-happy-to-be-by-myself guy can have on a Saturday night. Worst of all, "Sunday Kind of Love" is already taken.)
This seems to be doubled up a bit with my dog. I'll admit it; I can be a pretty poor dog owner. He gets a daily walk... most days. Otherwise, Holden lives a lonely life, and that makes me sad because he's such a great dog. I know that the alternative for him was a life in the ASPCA, where he was adopted twice from and returned twice, but in reality he would be a whole lot happier with a bustling household, full of kids or dogs or houseplants. Since this isn't a possibility, at least now, with the move, he can be in a household with not one, but two busy young urban professionals, but, more importantly, another dog. Norman, an ugly little mutt who loves me to death, is Daisy's dog, and will provide some companionship to Holden that Tobey, as much as his feline mind tries, just cannot.
I've been steadily packing and giving away things over the last couple of months, and I'm sure this will intensify in the next few weeks. After all, I have only five weeks left in the place I've lived for the last six years. Wow. Just thinking about that gives me some chills.
Anybody need an old dresser? I've got a tall one and a short one. Plus some Ikea CD cabinets...
Just a few moments after feeling pretty bad about my fellows humans on earth - in a day where I recognized mostly its dregs, like the punks who smashed in my car window or the seemingly nice guy who tipped me $6 on $62 after two hours of superb service (and not, admittedly, the people I should have focused upon, like the friends who drove across the city to get me into work, or the wife of a friend who drove several miles out of her way to get me home) - I'm once again placing faith in humanity.
And why? Barack Obama.
I didn't think he could ever come close to topping his DNC speech of 2004, but, wow, his speech today almost did it.
My favorite part: I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness - a certain audacity - to this announcement. I know I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.
The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we've changed this country before. In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard a King's call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more - and it is time for our generation to answer that call.
A politician who makes me want to be a better person? A politician that seems like he could unite a country? I didn't think it could ever happen, but it's feeling like it now.
I took a whole course on Abraham Lincoln in college, called American Political Thought. I read most of Lincoln's writings during it, and the professor really made the man real for us. Politicans like to bring him up now, but it's never felt right until today:
By ourselves, this change will not happen. Divided, we are bound to fail.
But the life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible. He tells us that there is power in words. He tells us that there is power in conviction. That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people. He tells us that there is power in hope. (At this point, I was groaning a little bit, thinking he was talking about himself. Nope.)
As Lincoln organized the forces arrayed against slavery, he was heard to say: "Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought to battle through. That is our purpose here today.
That's why I'm in this race. Not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation. I want to win that next battle - for justice and opportunity. I want to win that next battle - for better schools, and better jobs, and health care for all. I want us to take up the unfinished business of perfecting our union, and building a better America.
And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I'm ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.
I mean, I know those lines seem totally cheesy. Unrealistic. Whatever. I'm feeling it, totally. And I've never felt that way about a leader before in my life.
I hope the pedestal I'm putting him on doesn't come crashing down. But I also hope this feeling doesn't dim.
It's a great appetizer he's serving up right now; let's hope that the main course is just as good.
I woke up today to find my front driver's side window smashed in. Glass was everywhere. So was a little blood. Nothing gone, despite a almost-new copy of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein laying on the front seat.*
I was heading off to work when I noticed, but that wasn't happening anytime soon. First, I had to call the police. Then, after waiting a half hour for them to arrive, I called the insurance company and reported it. They told me they didn't really need the police report, and told me where to take it. I struggled to clean up all the shards of glass, and ended up giving up after a while, instead just putting a thick old blanket on the seat and crunchily sitting on the pile of glass on the seat. When I was leaving an hour after initially calling 3-1-1, the officer showed up and expressed condolences, but that was it; there was really nothing he could do.
I called a few friends to help me out, and ended up pulling a friend and her fiance out of bed to follow me to the window repair place, then to take me down to Fells Point to work at the restaurant job. I now feel a little guilty about it. Was it overstepping the bounds of friendship? I'm not sure. I like it when people ask things of me that put me out a bit - it makes me feel like I'm needed, and valued - but am never sure if that's how other people feel. I bought them breakfast; hopefully that did the trick. They left saying, "You can get your car broke in to anytime." I hope they meant it because I've felt guilty about it all day since then.
Anyway, back to the car: I thought it would be all done by the time I got out of work. The insurance company was able to make an appointment for noon, and the very nice lady up in Parkville told me she'd hide my key in the console and it would be done. However, she called me a few hours later and apparently it's not just the window that is damaged, but it's also the motor that controls the automatic windows going up and down. So now it's not just the repairing of a broken window, but the replacement of a window motor. This cannot be done by the window place, but by a dealership. And that cannot be done until Monday. I even had to file a new claim once it was discovered that the damage extended beyond broken glass, so now my plan to go under the radar in terms of my deductible (my deductible is $250, the window repair woul dhave been $220) is probably for naught.
It's also really cold now to drive around. I haven't put any plastic in the window yet because I got off work all of a half hour ago and my bones are still too cold to venture another trip outdoors. Then, I guess I'll do some sort of shitty duct tape job. If it rains or snows - which it's supposed to do early next week - then I can't imagine what I'll do.
This shitty event is making me think of a few things:
1) I was very close to committing to taking a wild and crazy vacation down to Costa Rica this spring break. I'm struggling a little bit with money lately, mainly because I'm really working hard to get out of the debt that taking classes has put me under. But I was going to do it. However, now that seems for shit, at least for now. We'll see.
2) You cannot imagine what a bad mood I was in all day waiting tables after this incident. I don't think any customers noticed, but I sure didn't want to be there, even though I know I needed to be especially since I've got at least $250 I've got to spend in the next week that I didn't think I had to spend before.
3) Martin O'Malley became governor just a couple of weeks ago, and since then he hasn't had 24-hour police protection on his house. In fact, he has none. Since I live a block and a half away from him, I'd always pointed at that as a reason why the neighborhood was safe and always will be safe. Well, I think this might be the first sign that the pendulum might be swinging the other direction. See, it's really close to a couple of high-crime areas - The Cameo on Harford Road is known somewhat for some criminal activity, while the Moravia/Bel-Air intersection and area is a common filming site for The Wire for a reason - but has always remained quiet and safe in the six years I've lived here. I went through several weeks last year, in fact, of leaving my door unlocked because the lock was busted, and didn't even feel worried. But not anymore. There goes the neighborhood.
4) Either that, or it's just a couple of drunk kids who wanted to go smashing shit.
5) This entry is reading very calm and reasoned. But let it be known that I'm feeling like screaming curse words and kicking walls right now. I'm going to go down and lift weights in a few minutes. That should help. If anyone has a garage I could borrow tonight, that would help, too.
* If you didn't notice, this was my attempt at humor in the situation.
The heaters still don't work. On Tuesday, we were dismissed at 1pm. Yesterday, we had a snow day. Today, the students were dismissed at 11:45 am. What a strange string of events, albeit an exciting one as well. Apparently some classrooms are so cold that students are wearing hats and gloves during class. Mine, however, is like a sauna; I have to keep the windows open for a little bit of ventilation.
Apparently they have to clean out one of the boilers, or something like that, so we were told to remove everything from next to the radiators and then to vacate the building. Apparently steam can force itself out and destroy things in front, and even injure people if it comes out forcefully enough.
I'm lucky, because my first prep is all in the morning, and my second prep is all in the afternoon. The fact is, I haven't seen that second prep since Monday, but the rest of my classes are all on the up and up. And those Juniors could probably use a break from me anyway. Or maybe vice versa.
Awesome lesson today, by the way. Kids are comparing a passage from frederick douglass with a poem by Jimmy Santiago Baca. Tomorrow, they're writing a BCR comparing the symbolism of Douglass looking out into the Chesapeake and seeing the white sails across the blue water, and it reminding him of freedom, with Johnny Cash's song "Folsom Prison Blues," when he hears the train a comin' and the whistle reminds him of freedom. I might even play the song for them. Might. I'm still not sure if I'm into subjecting them to country music, even 2 minutes and 23 seconds of it.
Does Day-Quill have caffeine in it? Cuz I can't sleep.
Maybe part of it is because the life of Frederick Douglass is running through my mind. I finished his narrative today, as I'd just been one reading assignment in front of the kids until today. Now, I've finished the whole thing, and am just astounded - what a great book. It's not only restored my faith in our school's American Literature curriculum a bit (though, to be fair, it was something that we added this year), but even in all of 19th century American Literature, because it's something that is very accessible to the kids yet literary in every way. That's the first example of that I've seen thus far from the entire century. Seriously. Huck often sucks and actually is just really hard to read and goes on and on because it's so repetitive. The Scarlet Letter is a cool story but takes nearly two months to get through because the language is so tough. The ideas of the Transcendentalists are cool, but the actual reading of them by the kids is pretty tedious. With Frederick Douglass, the kids are loving it, and I am too.
Besides the fact that Douglass is a powerful writer and that his specific and reasoned descriptions of the horrors of slavery and his ability to overcome them is an illuminating and moving read with many applications to modern day life, I also find the fact that Douglass spends so much of his time in Baltimore - including long stints in Fells Point and on Aliceanna Street - to be fascinating. Next time I take a walk while I'm at work, I'll have to double-check the sign that's up over there and try to find his house, which I swear I've passed before.
Another thing I find cool about reading an autobiography is going to the computer afterwards and googling the people mentioned. One of the more intriguing figures I found after reading the narrative was the story of Edward Covey. When he was in his late teens, Douglass was sent to him for a year, as Mr. Covey had a reputation for "breaking slaves" who had seemed like they were too defiant. Of all the slave-owning bastards in the book, he's about the cruelest one. He just sounds like such a bastard, too - a horrible guy now only remembered 180 years later for his cameo in Frederick Douglass' life. One day, Covey beats Douglass and Douglass fights back, and they battle with each other for more than two hours. Douglass wins the physical fight, and, after that point, he doesn't feel like a slave anymore, and Covey never beat him again.
Well, it turns out that Mr. Covey - who lived in St. Michaels in Talbot County, MD, has a Wikipedia entry. And it turns out that Donald Rumsfeld purchased his former home in 2003. How strange.
So, I'm pretty sure I would have taken a sick day today if it weren't for the snow day, but I'm not that disappointed about it. I ran some errands, went to the gym for a long time, in between drinking a whole bottle of Day-Quill. I've then rested up most of the afternoon, doing some packing and sorting of clothes in the basement and some napping as well. I'm drinking enough water and taking enough medicine to make me think I'll be better tomorrow.
I finished the last four episodes of Lisa Kudrow's show The Comeback tonight. It ended up being not quite as good as Curb Your Enthusiasm - not as consistently funny, at least. In fact, the longer the series went on, the more sad it became: Valerie's pathetic and constant need for performance, for controlling everything around her, and for approval - culminating in the reversal of her decision to quit the reality show while on Jay Leno just because she realized that everyone was talking about it. I went from laughing out loud at several episodes at the beginning, to getting pretty depressed by it all in the last couple of episodes (though Kudrow's horrible performance of "I Will Survive" for her theme song was one of the funniest things I'd seen in a long time in a I-can't-turn-away sort of way).
It's too bad the show was cancelled, because it would have been interesting to see where the series went. However, that Season One did have a complete story arc, and, wow, it's pretty clear that Kudrow is one of the best comic actresses working in America. She was brilliant throughout.
Strange night. I'm feeling sick and slept from around 4 until 7, when one of Holden's farts woke me up with a vengeance: he needed to go out bad. I got up, frittered around for a while, and finally decided to watch the rest of The Comeback. Sadly, the forecast has gone from 2-3" of snow to less than 1", so I'm thinking there will be school tomorrow. I might call in sick if I'm not feeling any better, though. My bones ache a bit.
Today, some of the heaters didn't work at school so we dismissed kids at 1pm. The roar of applause could be heard around the whole building.
Of course, my classroom is 85 degrees, so hot that I have to keep the windows open. Go figure.
A snow advisory is in the forecast tonight, so I hope the long-awaited snow day will finally bless us this winter. Just one would be nice. If we get one, it will be just my second day off in 2007. Unfortunately, I feel a cold coming on, the kind that you sort of feel filling up your head and pounding on the inside of your sinuses, waiting to explode. I'm going to lay down for a few hours and see if it passes.
1. I'm officially freaked out by the blogspot thing. I may end up deleting this blog and starting fresh somewhere. Seems absolutely ridiculous, though, so I'm waiting it out a bit. The help room says that e-mail addresses are permanent.
2. It is ridiculously cold here in Baltimore. I hate this kind of weather. It makes me worried that baseball tryouts start in exactly 23 days. I was so excited back in January when I was being fired and the weather was 65 degrees.
3. So... the Super Bowl. I admittedly missed the first quarter, but it's hard to argue that those last three quarters were as slow and boring as sports are going to get minus the hype. I can never understand how someone who likes football could possibly say that baseball is boring. I mean, it certainly has its boring moments, but football has them, too.
4. The commercials were mostly snoozers, as well. How many CBS promos can you have? I'm happy for Dungy and Manning, though. I guess. I really didn't care who won this game.
5. Thank god for Prince. Once he stopped singing Foo Fighters covers, he was awesome. Actually, the Dylan cover was pretty cool. He's a much better guitar player than I ever would have imagined.
6. Of course, the Super Bowl is generally the signal for me that Spring Training is two weeks away. Yahoo!
7. I'm tossing the idea around of flying down to Florida for a weekend to visit my grandparents. They're getting old, as any grandparents of a 29-year old guy would tend to get. I heard Grandma's legs are hurting so bad lately that she has to use a cane and is constantly scared of falling. I'm hoping they both have another 20 years in them, but I know the end could come any time. I want to see them as much as possible.
8. I'm dreading waking up at 5am to go out in 5 degree weather. My bones already ache.
9. Is there a more embarassing politician than John McCain these days? Every time I hear something he says, I get sickened for him and his "Straight Talk" Express. Probably because I used to have quite a bit of respect for him.
10. I saw parts of Sheila Dixon's "State of the City" address. I'm sorry, Ms. Dixon, but I think your stay in office will be a short one. You have the charisma of a light bulb. I'm rooting for you, though. You seem like a nice lady.
11. I'm so glad I got into 24 again this year. I race home to get to see it on time every Monday, and tonight I wasn't disappointed. Woah! And next week is two hours...
Well, my problem with my blog cover being blown on this site appears to be gone, but apparently my name and school are still appearing on something called Bloglines. Yes, as you can figure out from that last comment, I'm a bit of a techno-idiot.
I didn't even want to sign up for Blogger.beta, because I figured something bad like this would happen. I have no idea how to undo it. I'd hate to have to delete the blog and start fresh.
I just found this on the Blogger help page:
That's right, it's time to embrace the new version of Blogger! Starting today, a small percentage of users who log in to an old Blogger account will be required to move to the new version. This involves moving your current Blogger account to a new or existing Google Account. After the move, you will need to log in to Blogger with your Google Account username, which is always the email address associated with your account. If you're one of the lucky folks who is prompted to move your account over to the new version of Blogger, you'll be able to postpone this process once (and only once) if you *really* need to get a post out of your head or want to say goodbye to the old Blogger. After that, it's time to befriend the new Blogger!
So, it wasn't my fault. I just don't know how to fix it.
Shit. I accidentally signed up for blogspot.beta last night, and it has completely de-anonymousized me, because I, like most people, had a gmail account with my name on it and it signed me up with in under that name.
That sucks. I don't know how to fix it in these ten minutes before work. I've already deleted my little-used class blog and tried to figure things out otherwise, but it's not working...
1. I know my blog has kind of sucked lately. I think last week was one of my least active blogging weeks ever, and I still couldn't write any good posts. Oh well. I'm working really hard on other things right now.
2. Yesterday my trips-to-the-gym streak ended at 23 straight days. I worked from 8-5 waiting tables, then headed up to White Marsh, and actually circled around the parking lot before realizing that I was sore, tired, and miserable, and then proceeded to do nothing all night except watch movies and surf the Internet. I did some push-ups. That was it.
3. The "feeling sore, tired, and miserable" thing could have come from working 80 hours this week, but it also could have come from going out for a riotous night of drinking on Friday night in Fell's Point. We're talking several hours at Ale Mary's, a trip to Max's (which I only like when it's not crowded), and a shot called "chocolate cake" at Bertha's Mussels, which I love because when you walk in you feel like you're in the band.
4. I'm watching the Super Bowl tonight because it's the thing I'm supposed to do, not because there's any sort of strong desire on my part to do so. It's really just a signal that spring training is a couple of weeks away from starting.
Thursday and Friday were Professional Development Days at school. While a few tasks and meetings were scheduled for us, the things that stands out most is the meeting we had on Friday about the High Schools Assessment.
This is the first year that students in Maryland must pass the English portion of this test to graduate. Our rates of passing our generally pretty good - mid- to high-eighties - and of course everyone is hoping they can be even better. The thing is, everyone on our immediate team is new to the course, have not been properly trained on what is on the HSA, and have been given insufficient resources to prepare class materials for.
It's really disturbing, and it wasn't until Friday's meeting that I realized just how unfortunate this all is. The state has provided almost nothing to help prepare students for this test, to reveal the format and expected sort of responses on this test, or to provide teachers with ways to teach the skills assessed. The city has done even less, providing absolutely nothing in this manner. I've never even seen an HSA. There are released questions on the not-very-extensive website, but they're pretty terrible questions, and it just all pisses me off.
I've come to terms with the fact that high stakes testing is a major part of today's educational landscape. I'm okay with some of it. But the fools that run business at North Avenue need to provide more resources to help these kids pass. And, most egregiously, the state needs to provide better resources for teachers to plan lessons and skills. I was really pretty irate on Friday, and today that anger is still bubbling under the surface.