Monday, October 29, 2007

Thank you sir, may I have another?

I always liked that part said by the pledges of the other fraternity in the movie Animal House as they were getting paddled. Notice that I took the assignment (hence 'Thank you sir, may I have...", etc. Now I'm not suggesting that the title of the movie is apropos, but I'm not refuting it, either.

Yeah, it was music. I met the teacher, and was impressed. He is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford (see Kid1). This is one of the pre-eminent performing arts colleges in the country. I have a pretty good idea of how the school is easing him out, but do not have any official word. At any rate, I am thankful that the teacher will be there tomorrow. I have truly had it with obnoxious and disdainful students with no respect for authority...However, I do need some income so we can pay our mortgage to Countrywide every month.

I did get a wise-guy remark of 'Racist' from one student of color. I exploded with somewhat righteous indignation, like this, near to a shout, but not quite: "Don't you ever tell me about discrimination. I am discriminated against everywhere because of my wheelchair. People won't hire me because of my wheelchair. Don't you ever accuse me of discrimination. Got it!". The kid never said anything to me again.

And it was cathartic! I felt like that old Clint Eastwood movie where he said "A man's gotta know his limits".

However, I was subbing at the High School two days last week, and that experience was better. I had a science teacher's class, and it was far better. Of course, the ninth grade General Science was only a bit better than the eighth grade, but the tenth graders College Biology students were really good, and the Intro to Forensic senior students were really good. And of course, the teacher had a really good sub packet of assignments, so it was pretty agreeable.

What to do? Keep looking for a 'real' job and continue as is. Despite the previous rant to Mr. Obnoxious, every employer doesn't discriminate. I just have to look a little deeper, I have said that I do enjoy a challenge!

Friday, October 26, 2007

A sweet treat

I am honored to be the recipient of this One Sweet Treat to Read award. I am doubly honored to receive this award form that Tired Mama and former Bayside Belle Lynn. I am happy to be read, and more importantly, by the great writers I have met in the blogosphere.

The basis of this sweet award is the multi talented and artistic mom Trista who resides in the Pumpkin Patch. A bigger treat to myself is finding and reading so many other great new blogs.

I shall note the following rules:
"1. When awarded the Sweet Treat Award, make a post and award it to bloggers who you deem "One Sweet Treat to Read" everyday.
2. Make sure you inform those who you awarded that they have won!
3. Grab the button and proudly display it in your sidebar for all your old/new readers to see!"

I have to forward this award to everybody who I do enjoy reading, and they reside in places like Chicago, So Cal, Syracuse, CT, NJ, Idaho and elsewhere (can you guess?). I salute all the great writers I read regularly. Bravo!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hey, Teacher, leave us kids alone...

This is just not a Pink Floyd reference. Aptly, The Wall fits this student teaching thing, because if all parents knew what goes on behind that wall...

I really do not know if irony is the best word that applies here. However, consider just the facts:

  1. I cannot read music
  2. I cannot write music
  3. I cannot play an instrument
  4. I cannot sing (certainly not with style or grace)

Yet, I seem to be in danger of becoming a semi-permanent sub in Music. This strikes me as bizarre, but the music teacher is not there, it seems, anymore. I think. I have not had any grown-up in a position of authority tell me for sure. Therefore, tomorrow I expect a computer generated phone call at 06:00 from Kelly Educational. Oh, yesterday the call said for a math teacher, but I was asked to do music. Today it was social studies, but I ended up in you know where. Therefore, I am ready to launch the assault again tomorrow.

I do like the floating aides, and the administration has backed me up. The first eighth grade class was so rowdy that I asked one student to go to the office for me. A couple of minute’s later assistant principal whom I refer to as J came in to restore order. You have to know that J was a former Marine, a serious jarhead. Well, he fit the profile of a Marine drill sergeant, the kind like Jack Webb in the movie The DI. Order was restored, IMMEDIATELY. The assistant principal even used the time-honored Marine term knucklehead in his well-versed tirade. Bravo, a great performance!

One question, one comment for the blogging public out there:

  1. Why do many kids become issues in seventh grade? I notice some of the sixth graders who look like they just may become seventh grade jerks. Yeah, I know that puberty plays some role, but why the very sudden change by many (but certainly not all) into obnoxiosity?
  2. In my opinion, I think the behavior issues you see with teens and older adolescents began two generations ago, when society seemed to encourage more individualistic behavior, you know, don't worry about authority. The results are obviously glaring. I really cannot care about societal issues any more as to why kids (repeat: many but not all) act up and tend to ignore authority.

When I was in grades 6-7-8 I went to St. Christopher School in East Hartford. You never ever challenged authority. You were not to speak unless you were addressed by the teacher. When your class was changing classes, you were in a straight line. Little things you do not see any more. At St Christopher, you never ever wanted to be sent to the principal, Father Murphy. He was extremely gruff, but with a real heart of gold. I would guess that he would put it into words something akin to this: "You know the rules, what's the problem?” ...I do not ask for perfection, just a modicum of respect. A little bit...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

No more teachers dirty...

I believe the completion of this old-time sentence is "looks". Not that giving the evil eye to those students that might turn them away from what grandpa might have called n'er-do-wells. Yep, I did another stint as a substitute teacher at the middle school on Friday. This time it was a music appreciation class (ironies abound when I was there, unable to read or write music and as for a great singing voice, well...). And the day involved two sixth grade, two seventh and two eighth grade classes. The kind principal put together a writing assignment for this class, and on balance the day went as expected: The sixth grade classes were pretty well behaved, one seventh and one of the eighth grade classes behaved okay. The others were badly behaved as a rule, with maybe 4-5 students taking the time to complete the really easy assignment, at least IMO. It has become a totally social setting for many kids.

I did have a floating aide for a while, but she was called away. I did remember what other teachers said: put the troublemakers in the hall, and remember that the principal's number is 6-0-0-1. I'll remember that.

As I noted before, the sad aspect is that so many of these kids are craving attention because they don't get any at home. Unfortunately, there really is not a parental figure advising them about proper behavior, about working hard to succeed, about paying attention to authority. The problem kids now are probably going to have problems as adults. However, I cannot worry about that. I hate to see anyone fail in life, but there is nothing I can do. With the tiny bit of authority a sub has, if a student is going to be a problem, out in the hall. You will not be allowed to be a problem for me this period. Amen...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Scary, and I'm not wearing a mask

The ever lovely Odat offered this unique way to get into the mood for the scary Haloween season. I like the results! Martini, shaken, not stirred, of course...
You Are

A Drunk Pumpkin Face

You would make a good pumpkin martini.
our Monster Profile

Evil Strangler
You Feast On: Pickles
You Lurk Around In: Candy Factories
You Especially Like to Torment: Hairdressers

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Here, kitty kitty...

Gotta love The Far Side, a fave of many until its 1996 end. I suppose that Gary Larson just ran out of of all the loopy ideas there were after fourteen years. I like dogs (like the shady dog lawyer above), and really like cats. I was a dog fancier but not quite a cat person prior to Sir Humphrey becoming a member of our family in 1999. He was a unique animal, and really softened me up to becoming a cat person as well. Since his passing in June (here and here), we have been thinking another cat. To make it even more interesting, I propose our becoming a two cat family. My sister Michele volunteers at the Humane Society, and she said that they would be thrilled if we adopted an adult cat (most people want only kittens). I think that's okay, as our last felinus obnoxious was about 14 months old when we took him in. I guess that I like cats after all, they enrich our lives by doing absolutely nothing! I can't explain that...

I wouldn't mind a dog, but am not certain that it would work as easily as a cat given the wheelchair. So a cat it is. I grew up with a couple of canines: Boris, a gregarious, nice collie-shepherd mix, and Maggie, a lab-something mutt, aloof and liked to sleep a lot (a very cat like dog). So I'd prefer to not get into the dumb argument some get into, which is better. Both are adept at becoming furry family mates.

I have noted that if we got a gray cat, we could keep the existing pictures in frames, and who would know? Sir Hump was a fine fellow, although he liked doing things his way, which did not include his annual vet trip (see picture). You needed to use guile and trickery, of course, to get him into his travel cage. We referred to it as our patented Snag-n-Stuff Method®. It took three people to perform that trick (I could only offer encouragement). He doesn't look sad here, but resigned to his fate, booster shots in his hindquarters and a bath. His look here suggests that "they tricked me again"...Once my employment and SSA situations settle, we'll be on the prowl for a bunch more fur...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ho, Ho, Ho and a bottle of cheer

I am honored to receive this gift from that terrific mom Linda. This award originated at Santa's Community Blog and can be passed on to as many other bloggers as you like.

According to Santa, the Spirit of Christmas Award is for those who talk about and show the spirit of Christmas in their blogs. Those that have a generous and giving nature embody the Spirit of Christmas… Those who care about others and who have a kind word to say or a broad shoulder to lean on…Those who display the "Spirit of Christmas.”

In that same spirit, I would like to present this to a couple of giving individuals: Ina, The Moose Buyer and to Curmudgeon, always giving his finest Second Effort.

Awardees can pick up the award code here and then pass it on to whomever they also feel displays the "Spirit of Christmas." I thank Linda for her kind words about us Connecticut bloggers.

Friday, October 12, 2007

School Daze

As I had mentioned in earlier posts (here and here), I was contacted to try my hand at being a substitute teacher. Well, the first day started at 6:00 AM with a call from Kelly Education (a division of the mega staffing agency known once as ‘The Kelly Girl’). You follow the prompts on the phone to answer. I accepted a seventh grade class at our city's Middle School.

Yeah, I know. Seventh Grade. I cannot imagine anything easy about working with students in this awkward age in society where respect for authority is lacking somewhat. Nevertheless, I figured that the worst possible assignment is worth looking at just for the experience.

Room 206, starting with homeroom, the challenge was to hold the students attention while being in a wheelchair. At 5 ft 4 in the chair, I do not enjoy the physical presence of someone who is standing. The sense I got was that they would not pay much attention to me, and there were those who would try to push the envelope.

I was not disappointed, as it happened just as I envisioned. At least I was treated the same as any sub at this school in this grade. There was no prejudice against the wheelchair, the instigators being equal-opportunity troublemakers, loudmouths, and/or attention grabbing kids. The class was Geography, and the teacher left the same worksheet for all five classes: Read pages 41-44, and answer the questions on the worksheet. I gotta tell you, this was very easy work IMO. However, it seemed like too much for many of the kids in there. They did not want to do it. I said a more than few times “Fine, it’s not my grade, it’s yours”.

But I don’t believe that all the classes were bad: the third of the five classes was the best behaved, I think that class was the most studious of all. I think that they were taking algebra, and were generally more into working and learning.Even they could make a dull roar. The worst was the fourth, the homeroom returning for the class. I guessed that the teacher that had this particular classroom was a big man, really imposing and he could maintain order just by being big. Other teachers I asked confirmed this. Note that in even the loudest classes there was a core of 4-5 students who took the assignment seriously, and they wanted to learn, and could block out all the distractions. That was nice to see.

Would I do it again? I will, even at the middle school. I need work, and will do this while pursuing better paying full-time work. I do think that much of problems you see with students starts at home. As background, the city where we live has a population of about 18,500, with city problems. There are projects and pockets of poverty, and middle class suburban areas where we live. While trying to avoid class or sociological reasons for this, I would say that many of these kids do come from broken homes or homes where schooling and learning are never emphasized. If you do not have parents pushing you, it is hard to get an appreciation for school. And many of the ones that aren’t working these easy assignments in seventh grade may not really do so at any grade level. That is the sad takeaway of what I saw. Nevertheless, I enjoy a challenge, so we will see if this can happen again.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Eyes Have It

I have been sorting thru our digital images today, and ran across this....I believe it's me, taken in the early days of our foray into digital photography in 2002. This is all that appears. I don't know the circumstances, but this shot highlights my eyes. So what does my expression mean? Surprised (but not startled)? Smiling (but no visible laugh lines)? At least I'm not wearing sunglasses. The mystery deepens...

The thing about sorting through older photos is that you find some interesting shots. Since I don't seem to pose smiling that often, this one jumped out at me. Of course I'm smiling, I am with the lovely Patti at Christmas luncheon a few years ago. She has a nice smile, and as for me: when you're happy, why not let it show???

Friday, October 5, 2007

Manbag redux

In a previous posting, I offered that I had a 'man-bag' of sorts. Of course, I offered a reason for the existence for said bag, and it did not include anything like a 'murse' or any other metrosexual items.

It is indeed what I explained it to be in that previous post. It was purchased and stuffed as a support for my right leg as I drive my trusty and hulking full-size Ford E-150 'Boris' Clubwagon. This graphic shows the support provided by this brocade beauty of a bag. My right leg would fall off the seat if not supported, and would be uncomfortable. Not that I would carry this bag in public, that would require incessant explaining, and who needs that?

However, now that I have let the blogging public into my Ford, y'ins (Pittsburgh for y'all) probably wonder about the stuffed Bruins you see there. The two here are Dickens and Birthday Bear. But there are more...and more! Not shown are Henri, Tops, Salty and Dickens. Yes, I have six bears to make my driving domain a bit more soft. I don't think that I have personified these guys that occupy my cup holders, but I may profile them at some point (no, I am not off my meds!). It's just that I don't know anyone else who carries plush bears in their vehicles. In the picture on the right, I evicted a bear from the cup holder and placed the bear on the dashboard on the left. I didn't move the bear so he could get a better view, but needed that cupholder space for a bottle of water. Really!!! That's all...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Will you still need me when I'm...famous?

I borrowed this meme from Odat, master of that snotty (literally, as I understand) Spud. I like this tag because when I am famous, I can change my nom de plume or nom de guerre as often as my mood suits me. You want personality? I've got plenty to choose from:

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Boris Clubwagon

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Vanilla Oatmeal

3. YOUR “FLY Guy” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Detective Blue Doggie

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Irwin ‘Atlantic’ City.....(yuck)

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
The Red Pilsner

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
Ralph Thomas

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)
White Linen Bonbons (not 'buns')

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names )
Margaret Irwin

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Hickson Houston

12. SPY NAME/BOND GIRL: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Fall Lilac

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “y”)
Pear Corduroy

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)
Corn Chex Maple

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”)
The Airplane Fog Tour