Friday, December 23, 2011

My wife just received this email from Santa

Due to circumstances beyond the control of the elves and reindeer, I have found it necessary to deliver one of your gifts a bit early this Christmas.

To ensure that you do not forfeit this gift, the following rule is immediately in place:

You are forthwith and hereby forbidden to look upon the front porch of your house until Christmas morning. This includes, but is not limited to, prohibition against: looking out of the window in your dining room; gazing toward your front porch as you drive along the county road in front of your property; gazing toward your front porch as you drive along your drive way; walking in your yard beyond the side of your house facing your flower garden; walking anywhere in your front yard; walking anywhere in your front pasture; and any and all possible situations not covered here that might allow you to gaze upon your aforementioned gift.

Your cooperation is appreciated. Merry Christmas!!!

Santa Claus
North Pole

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9-11-01 Recollections

I will be avoiding TV, radio, and live online coverage of the 10th anniversary of 9-11-01. The memories and anger I feel are still too raw and unsettling for me to watch rerun video footage of the events and listen to discussion and analysis.

I don't even have to close my eyes to be able to see the events and hear the comments from that day, now ten years in the past.

That day started like most school days do when you have young children. Our son was 11 and our daughter was 8. I was doing some consulting work for Compaq Computers developing online process certification testing and was blessed to be able to do most of my work from home. My wife and I were watching the national news on TV when the first report of something hitting one of the WTC towers was shown on TV. We loaded up the kids in my wife's car, and she was off to drop them at their schools and head to work.

Not long after they left and I got back into the house, I watched the second plane strike the second tower live on TV. That memory and image will be seared into my memory for the rest of my life. It was clear to me in that instant that this was not just a tragic accident. I think that was the first taste of true fear for me.

My thoughts raced. My immediate concern was the safety of my family. I called my wife, who had just dropped our kids off at their schools. She was traveling a lot for work at the time, and I was so thankful that she was in town. She was traveling back from another part of Oklahoma the day that the Oklahoma City bombing occurred, and I remember the panic I felt that day until I knew that she was OK.

I called my parents. They were up at my grandfather's house butchering chickens and had no clue of what was going on.

I watched the TV coverage for about an hour. I don't have any memories of any specific thoughts. I was just riveted to the news coverage and the speculation.

I started to think about the awful possibilities. If this was a wide-spread event, there could be disruptions of banking and food distribution. I immediately went to the bank and withdrew $1000 in cash, came home, and hid the money in one of my favorite novels in my office. Looking back, I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I did this, but at the time, it seemed like a smart thing to do. I kept that money in that book for months afterward.

I had done some online work and consulting with two companies based in NYC, and I have vivid memories being in a car and being driven right past the WTC in the summer of 2000. I spent much of the rest of the day trying to contact my friends there. Email was "the thing" back then, and servers were down, email service spotty. I don't remember the exact time frame, but I do recall how relieved I was when I finally heard from both companies. One friend who had offices just a few blocks east of the WTC and who lived in Brooklyn told a sad story of being stuck across the river at home and watching the whole thing live while trying to locate his employees by phone and email.

I remember trying to sleep that night and hearing jets flying high overhead. It was eerie knowing that they were military jets and that no commercials flights were in the air.

A Delta pilot friend of mine was forced to land in Florida and was not able to get back home until Friday of that week.

I guess I had my fill of the constant media coverage that week. It became very difficult for me to watch any of the news reports after that week, and I still cannot bring myself to watch historical accounts.

So, today I will be doing my best to avoid any direct reminders of that day and week. But, rest assured, I will be thinking about it a lot as I have morning coffee with my wife, read my analog newspaper, write my lesson plans for the next week, grade students' papers, go to the grocery store, see my daughter off to her third week of college, and do all of those normal, every-day things that some misguided madmen tried to take away from me ten years ago.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

MeteorWatch is Coming! Unique Social Media Event for the Perseid Meteor Shower

August 11-13, 2011 will see the peak of this year's Perseid Meteor shower. While there will be a full moon, this shower can be very surprising and rewarding.
Here is a video trailer from touting this year's event. What an awesome and unique way to harness the power of social media and link it to science, learning, and having fun!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Car Salespeople and Teachers: Not So Far Apart?

I just read an article in the Houston Chronicle titled, "Most Auto Salespeople are Hard-Working, Honest," and I couldn't help but draw some parallels to the plight and perception of the modern teacher.

Here are some quotes that can apply to car salespeople and teachers. Just substitute "teacher" for "salesperson":

". . . the reality is the salespeople today are hard-working and honest individuals in an industry that has seen its share of ups and downs."

". . . most of the salespeople I know go to work every day wanting to not sell a car, but to help someone purchase one."

"Today's salesperson has to know every vehicle on the lot backward and forward. They are expected to know every feature and benefit of the cars that are becoming more complicated. They are tested by their dealerships and the factory to pass tough certification tests."

"So give a little love and respect to the next car salesperson you run into, and understand they are there to help you and to feed their families. That salesperson that spends hours with you before and after the sale may have only been paid $150 in commissions, sometimes less."

And my favorite:

"Can you imagine being in a business where everyone you speak to is suspect of you?"

So, what do you think?

original article:

Monday, April 25, 2011

High-Stakes Testing Guidelines in the Event of Severe Weather

This was shared with me at school today. I do not know the origin of this, but if you came up with it, I will gladly give you credit.

Testing Guidelines in the Event of Severe Weather

1) Please do not look out the window to watch for approaching tornadoes. You must monitor the students at all times. To do otherwise would be a testing irregularity and must be reported.

2) Should students notice an approaching tornado and begin to cry, please make every effort to protect their testing materials from the flow of tears and sinus drainage.

3) Should a flying object come through your window during testing, please make every effort to ensure that it does not land on a testing booklet or an answer sheet. Please make sure to soften the landing of the flying object so that it will not disturb the students while testing.

4) Should shards of glass from a broken window come flying into the room, have the students use their bodies to shield their testing materials so that they will not be damaged. Have plenty of gauze on hand to ensure that no one accidentally bleeds on the answer documents. Damaged answer sheets will not scan properly.

5) Should gale force winds ensue, please have everyone stuff their test booklets and answer sheets into their shirts being very careful not to bend them because bent answer documents will not scan properly.

6) If any student gets sucked into the vortex of the funnel cloud, please make sure they mark at least one answer before departing and of course make sure theGuidelines for Testing in the Event of Severe Weather

7) Should a funnel cloud pick you, the test administrator, up and take you flying over the rainbow, you will still be required to account for all of your testing materials when you land, so please take extra precautions. Remember, once you have checked them out, they should never leave your hands.

8) When rescue workers arrive to dig you out of the rubble, please make sure that they do not, at any time, look at or handle the testing materials. Once you have been treated for your injuries, you will still be responsible for checking your materials back in. Search dogs will not be allowed to sift through the rubble for lost tests. Unless of course they have been through standardized test training.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

First Asparagus Harvest From Our New Asparagus Bed

I put in an asparagus bed last spring. "The guidelines" state that you are supposed to just let the asparagus go wild the first season, which is exactly what we did.

About a week ago, I noticed that we already had shoots coming up, so I cleaned out the bed.

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"The guidelines" state that we can harvest the first shoots from each plant the second season. Here is our first harvest:

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We will have some more ready to harvest tomorrow, but we can't wait to eat this so we may have to eat this first harvest tonight.

If all goes well, next spring we can harvest as many shoots as we want. I can't wait until next spring!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Precious Gift From My Wonderful Students

When I got to school this morning, three of my students were waiting for me at the door of my classroom. They said they needed to talk to me, so I unlocked the door and we entered the classroom. They handed me a container with home-made cupcakes and a card. The card said that their prayer group has been praying for my dad and our whole family while dad is being treated for cancer. They wanted me to know that they appreciate my dedication to them, and that they care about what is going on in our lives.

Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by this wonderful gesture. It took all my strength not to cry in front of them. Their actions are coming at a time when my dad and our family need it most. I just got off the phone with my dad and told him the story, too. Dad is a retired science teacher and elementary principal. These students have given me the most wonderful gift, and they will probably never fully understand how meaningful their actions are to me at this moment in my life. Today was a very, very good day!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When State Standards Invade your Dreams

I had the weirdest dream last night. Teachers had painted their state standards on the walls of the hallways outside their classrooms. In big, red characters. Even stranger, it wasn't the complete text of the standards, or even summaries, but just the numbers and letters from the standards outline (2C, 3B, 5E, etc.). Perhaps the most strange is the fact that I remember this dream is vivid detail.

No stress here!!! Right???