Oh dear, I’ve forgotten to write for the past couple of weeks. The truth is, I just haven’t had much to write about. I haven’t been able to find any work for the last couple of weeks, with the exception of a job I had last Friday. With snow days and conferences, the opportunity just hasn’t been there. I’ve been sleeping in more, drinking more coffee, and spending more time with my rats. I realized that I haven’t had this much free time since, well, ever. I should enjoy it while it lasts, because I don’t want it to last forever.

I’ve been thinking in earnest about where I’d like to live. I feel drawn to the Pacific Northwest. The culture, climate, and freshness all appeal to me. How realistic is it, though? If I can’t find a job here, what makes me think I could find a job there? I can at least dream, though.

I haven’t had luck with finding sub jobs this week; perhaps it’s because midterms are coming. The only job I’ve had all week was a half day elementary job yesterday, and that was a rather interesting story…

I’m certified to teach secondary education (i.e. middle school and high school) but will occasionally take jobs in upper elementary, and I’ve enjoyed most of my elementary classes. The kids are usually very genuine and I usually have more of an opportunity to do actual teaching as opposed to showing videos or telling the kids “work on your such and such paper”. I was having trouble finding a job for Tuesday, and when a half day job popped up on Subfinder for a second grade class, I decided to take it. I went into the school, and they accidentally directed me into the wrong room. “I’m looking for Mrs. Smith’s room (not her real name)”, I explained. “Oh, kindergarten, right that way!” Kindergarten? That wasn’t what I had signed up for. I had no idea how to teach kindergarten.

Sure enough, the teacher whose class I had agreed to take taught kindergarten. She hadn’t left for the day left, and when she asked me if I normally taught kindergarten, I honestly replied, “No, it said second grade.” She apologized and said that she had taught second grade the previous year and that the system must not have been updated with the change.

The day was difficult. I had a hard time getting the kids to obey; a couple kids were rowdy the entire time, and liked to run around the room. Another kid kept having other kids spin him around in a rolling chair, which I confiscated. I knew that I simply hadn’t been trained in dealing with this age range, and that the mix of common sense and student helpfulness that had previously gotten me through upper elementary classes wouldn’t bail me out here. Mercifully, it was a half day that was even shorter because an hour of it had the kids in their “specials” (Spanish and computer classes). I feel that I handled it the best that I could, but I don’t anticipate knowingly taking any students younger than third grade anytime soon.

To make matters worse, I hadn’t eaten lunch before leaving because I was running late. I’d had nothing but a banana, and I don’t plan on teaching on any empty stomach ever again.

Oh, I forgot about perhaps the most interesting part of the day. I had a student accuse another student of saying a bad word. “He said dammit! That’s a bad word!” I’m pretty sure that the “worst” word I knew in kindergarten was “hell”, and I remember that because a kid on the playground told my kindergarten teacher I’d said it when I actually said “Help!”


Posted: January 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

I didn’t expect to be working on Wednesday, as I hadn’t found a job the previous night, and expected to simply sleep in. However, I got a call shortly after 8; a teacher at the high school I went to had to go to the hospital, and a substitute was immediately needed. I was glad that I got to work that day, because today was a snow day. I’d estimate we got over half a foot of snow here on Wednesday evening, and it’s forecast to snow more tomorrow (though not nearly as much as on Wednesday afternoon). Depending on how much it ends up snowing, I’d like to go to a chess tournament about two and a half hours away on Saturday. That also depends on how much energy I have, of course.

The coffee maker I got for Christmas has become very useful. Making a couple cups in the morning and putting it in a portable cup is a lot more practical (and cheaper) than stopping at a convenience store on the way to work every morning. Few things put me in a good mood in the morning like black coffee.

Ban trolling on online memorials?

Posted: January 17, 2011 in news

A Kansas woman has proposed legislation to make it against the law to post disparaging comments on Internet memorials for the recently deceased. While she admits that there may be First Amendment issues associated with this, she hopes that there might be a “way around” them. The idea of desecrating the dead is similar to the issue of Fred Phelps’s protesting at soldier funerals, which has also prompted some legislation which is currently going through the court system to determine whether it violates the First Amendment.

It goes without saying that I think that anybody who would troll on such websites is a low life with serious issues, but I nonetheless can’t support such a law. It seems blatantly unconstitutional, and goes against both the letter and spirit of the First Amendment. The Bill of Rights wasn’t written with exceptions in mind. There are also questions – what constitutes “disparaging”? If somebody posts a joking comment about a close friend or relative that, if taken literally, could be taken the wrong way, are they violating a federal law?

Also, this seems like using a bazooka to kill a fly. I would think that it would be much easier to increase moderation of such sites so that such comments are removed quickly, or technology could be used to flag suspicious looking comments and subject them to site approval before posting. Altogether, I don’t think this is a necessary law to pass.

Lazy Sunday

Posted: January 16, 2011 in sports

This weekend wasn’t too eventful. I went to Culver’s tonight for dinner and the NFL playoffs game between the Jets and the Patriots was on the TVs there. Some of the employees kept stopping by the TV for extended looks, and one of them actually asked me about what was going on. I’m not judging; I remember when I worked dorm security in college and often took extended stops at TVs showing sporting events while doing my rounds throughout the building. I know very well the frustrating feeling of being scheduled while something you want to watch is on (and I didn’t have TiVo-type technology in college.)

Technically, more than two months remain in winter, although by mid-March, it doesn’t really seem like it should be winter. I think April is my favorite month – baseball returns, and it finally starts to be somewhat warm on some days – and I can go for long walks without realizing that I’m too cold to continue five minutes in. The first day of the year when you can wear shorts is glorious. Of course, in college, I actually could wear shorts every day if I wanted – working, not so much. There’s always when I get home, though.

When you become a substitute teacher, they give you some newsletters, and one of them gives you some up-to-date literature they recommend you read – it’s stuff popular with kids and teens, and supposedly gives you something to relate to students with. One of the recommendations was the Hunger Games series, and after seeing the first book available for $5 to download to my electronic book reader, I decided to give it a try. I actually enjoyed it, knowing all the time that it was as close to serious literature as Adam Sandler comedies are to Oscar material (and that I’d read so many books with similar premises – set in the future with an authoritarian government, etc.). Still, I now know why they price the first books of series so low. I’ve already bought the second one.

An old journal

Posted: January 14, 2011 in music

I kept a journal in high school off and on. It began in my sophomore year, and appropriately, ended when I ran out of pages the day before I moved off to college. Looking back at it 7-8 years later is interesting. I wrote some of it in something of a stream of consciousness style that might come across as somewhat incoherent to somebody who were to stumble upon it. There are some rather eclectic (or, to put it more bluntly, random) things in there, such as a baseball standings chart I cut out of a newspaper at a point when the Royals were in first place (yes, it was early in the season!), copied song lyrics, original poetry, and some newspaper headlines I also cut out. (One says “War on Terror”). Another thing I notice is that I used a lot of profanity in some of my earlier entries, but my later entries seem mellower. This makes sense; as a high school sophomore/junior I felt very rebellious, idealistic, cynical, and angry at what I saw to be injustices in the world. Part of me is jealous at the unbridled idealism I had back then; another part is grateful for the sake of my blood pressure. Of course, in retrospect, my view of the world then seems rather naive.

One reflection of my cynicism at the time is in a poem I copied out of my French textbook, most likely while I was bored in French class. The poem is written from the perspective of a bored, daydreaming student, which fit me to a T much of the time. So much of my knowledge of French has faded over the years, which is unfortunate – I really enjoyed learning the language.

I’ve certainly changed a lot since then, and that includes my tastes in music. I found a series of music-related lists, including my favorite songs of all time. Some of the songs on the list almost bore me at this point in my life (for example, #2 on my list is Smells Like Teen Spirit, which I estimate I have heard approximately 5 million times.) Out of all ten songs I wrote down, the only one I still really listen to is the #1 on my list, Kashmir by Led Zeppelin.

Not everything changes, though. I wrote some entries about romantic frustration, which is still on my mind today, but probably not to the extent that it was when I was a hormonal, growing teenager. I also notice that I wrote a lot of my entries late at night, and wouldn’t you know, I’m typing this blog entry up past midnight right now. My sleep schedule hasn’t gotten better since high school, it’s gotten worse.

Nonetheless, looking back on who I was in the past and comparing it to who I am now is interesting. I wonder what a future me who were to stumble across some of my blog entries written around now would think. Of course, the comparison isn’t exact – writing in the privacy of a paper journal, I feel free to be more open than I do on a public blog.

My return to the world of substitute teaching was slightly delayed by Monday and Tuesday being snow days. I was especially disappointed about Tuesday because I had a job lined up for that day. I had trouble finding anything for today, but I found a half day job. Next Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. day, which is another day off, so I need to take advantage of all the work opportunities I can. (One student informed me that their student planners also list it as “Robert E. Lee Day”, and Wikipedia says that such a holiday does exist, if only in the South.) 

Today is colder than either Monday or Tuesday. I can’t wait until spring, when I don’t have to scrape ice off my car in the morning, when I don’t have to bundle up everywhere, and when baseball is back.