Friday, May 23, 2003

Roommate made it home today. He looks very blonde/brunette, and he plans on shaving soon. He was in the hospital for almost a whole week. He had super-staph. It's almost like Peace Corps again!
Some person, somewhere in NY, has pissed off the powerful Norse god Huberdy-Guberdy. I think we need to start up the human sacrifices again to get the weather to return to normal. He's angry, so he's taken away spring. Find us some virgins. I want some sun.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

About two years ago, manmade erosion outstripped natural erosion, primarily due to the construction of the Three Gorges dam in China. The competition started millennia ago, and we finally have jumped into the lead. Our changes involve huge effort, while hers is effortless. Nature is very efficient at wearing things down, one rain droplet at a time. Cities have been buried by the sands of the Sahara, and the Appalachians used to be as tall as the Himalayas, apparently. Drip, drip, drip.

My kids are little elements of nature. My emergency phone is locked in a metal box mounted on the wall next to my door. It was meant to be a permanent fixture, yet it has to be remounted monthly. It is too sturdy to be yanked off, yet they always manage to get it loose. I figure that the kids learned the process from wiggling teeth out of their own mouths. One yank is too much, but endless wiggles seem to do the trick. Currently, it is hanging by the wires coming from the ceiling, dangling like some suicidal suicide hotline. Drip, drip, drip.

The same goes for desks. The formica is designed to resist wear and tear, but a child who can’t be bothered to write a single line of notes will patiently tunnel through a desk until it collapses like a termite-infested tree. Don’t even get me started on posters, books, and other paper products.

On our final commute to Brooklyn College this semester (our next semester starts June 2), Daphne was commenting on how her initial desire to teach has been worn down by how seemingly hopeless our situation has become after only one year. Our school celebrated the fact that we went from the 2nd worst school in NYC to 170th in English out of approximately 350 schools. This is great bad news. This is great for us, as we went from less than 10 percent of our students passing the minimum standards to nearly 25 percent. However, that means that 75 percent of our students still failed to pass the minimum standards. By the way, these aren’t high standards, but rather standards that have been created to allow ‘no child to be left behind.’

Our kids are not stupid. Far from it. Well, some are actually rather stupid. Honestly. But there are some brilliant kids in my classes. Our kids can use extensive reasoning and logic to destroy objects, set off the fire alarms, or launch desks from windows. Kids that can’t do formal geometry can figure out just how much room is needed to fit a desk through a small window four feet above their heads. I have some amazing kids that are learning despite every horrible thing in their lives, and I have some that could care less about their educations. They look around them, they see the historical abandonment of their neighborhood, or they really don't see anything wrong with it. They feel their lives are complete if they have a Gameboy and can watch TV all day.

I probably shouldn't write about education on Thursdays or Fridays.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Two cents: The Matrix Reloaded has everything going for it except for a believable storyline, good dialogue, or good actors. As a friend of mine commented, "It's like a porn/action movie, where they hashed out the action sequences and simply placed some really bad dialogue in between." The movie characters pontificate more often than Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, with about as much reality. I was so disappointed, as the first film amazed me. The dance scene just needs some Ewoks, you can't spell Kryptonite without Keanu, Yoda needs to spin around in one of those ridiculous fight scenes, and the new orphan kid is almost as annoying as JarJar Binks. Did the directors have to take all their cues from the George Lucas Dialogue Debacle dictionary?

Two cents redemption: A sequel that might be even more disappointing, or possibly more magical.

Monday, May 19, 2003

So Roommate is in the hospital from the nasty scabrous yuck filled wound on the side of his head. They took one look at it and admitted him into the emergency room. Now he's quite cheerful on his morphine drip, and Milton Bradley has the new Operation game "Icky-Sticky Wound." I checked up on him today, and the only thing he really wants from his friends is a brand new 30 gig iPod. I'll get him a card.

The new principal visited my school today. He will be the sixth principal of my school in five years. The only reason he is coming is because he's not being promoted to the new superdistrict, and he has seniority. He apparently will retire in another year and a half. As far as I can tell, he went to the same charm school as Dick Cheney. I had a coverage today with this one class from hell, not one of my normal classes. He walks in, sees that most of the kids are talking, and criticizes me in front of them. Tactless, clueless, and pointless. He managed to piss off about ten other teachers during his walk through our hallways. I'd been wavering about staying in this school next year. Now I'm certain that I'm leaving. This district has a lot more openings for math teachers than it does for principals.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Just registered for my new domain. Details will be up, along with pics soon. Maybe even my big debut on Channel 13 WNET during a feature on math teachers in NYC.
When stripping wires with the wrong set of pliers, one should always point them AWAY from one's eyes. After a long week at work, I had no energy for fun on Friday. My roommate Bryan has been needing some new electrical outlets for his dj equipment and computer for some time. We had already bought the materials, including some fun flexible conduit wiring. Very exciting stuff, plus installing new breakers in the main box is always an adventure.

I started fairly well, progressing backwards from the last outlets to the closest. To access the wires inside of the conduit cable, you have to have an expensive cutter or a lot of patience with pliers. I had neither, really. I was making progress, Bryan offered me my first beer. Beer is always an excellent choice to mix with high voltage equipment. Supposedly one shouldn't operate heavy machinery under the influence, but they never mention electical components. After one beer, I was really making excellent progress, looking like a true professional.

Then he gave me the second beer. Maybe it was the fact that my stomach was empty, maybe it was the fact that I'm a lightweight, maybe it was the nasty biblical-curse level boil on the side of Bryan's face wanting to jinx me. I'm separating the outer sheath off of the wiring, then SNAP! Whack! Right below my eye, a nice little divot taken off my face.

I'm a bit like one of those really stupid dogs that is nearly impossible to train. I curse, go to the bathroom, put some pressure on the cut until it stops bleeding. I return to the wall, continuing the work along with drinking beer. Did I change my method? Nope. Did I keep drinking beer? Yep. Strip, rip, snap, WHACK, ow. Above the eye, this time, lots more blood. Hmmm, maybe I should rethink this process. Maybe I shouldn't drink beer when working with sharp objects.

I'm good with stuff like this, I swear. Everything else went well, except for slicing open my index finger the next morning closing the last outlet. Loads of blood, of course, but I have plenty of pints chugging through my body. As my direct ancestral Monty Python knight would say, "It's just a flesh wound."