Monday, June 30, 2008

July 4th

I wanted to wish everyone a happy July 4th. I'm on vacation this week visiting family in Northern California. I got to go to my favorite pizza place (Jake's Pizza in Saratoga), visit the tech museum in San Jose (if you get the chance you gotta go there) and spent some time with my dad who I've not seen in two years.

I hope everyone enjoys the holiday and remember that freedom isn't free.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It was fascinating to see what gets people to respond to blog posts and what makes the crickets chirp. My post on going to the bookstore generated a good response from my readers, and the last one from Lady Wore Black (who has a blog of her own worth reading!) asked for suggestions in regards to new books and authors to explore. So, after I list a couple of my own, I'd really appreciate it if you would add in your own suggestions.

Here are my suggestions to the lady in black

Educating Esme

Flight of the White Horse



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The writing process

One of the biggest mistake that people make is they think that you just start writing and bingo! Instant masterpiece... I wish it worked that way but the reality is far different for writers. Writing is a process, sometimes a long frustrating one, but a process either way. Here are the basic steps that you need to take for quality writing.

  1. Pre-writing. This is where you figure out what you are going to write about and begin to plan out your paper or essay.
  2. Writing your initial draft. Self explanatory...
  3. Revision. This is where the real work begins. Here you start to make changes to your paper. You smooth out transitions, strengthen ideas and generally turn your draft into something to be proud of. I've never written a paper that could not be improved with a revision or 5.
  4. Editing. This is where you get rid of all the misspelled words and grammar errors.
  5. Publication. Hopefully you get high marks for your effort.
Now you may have seen variations on this theme but the foundations never change. To write effectively you have to do more than sit at the computer and abuse the keyboard. You have to have a plan and follow through on that plan.

Right now I'm working (or I should be!) on my final paper. I'm almost finished with step 1, the pre-write and by tomorrow I'll be working on my draft and revising it. I will have it finished by Friday so I can turn it in and enjoy my vacation.

The moral of the story is this... Don't be afraid to make changes to your paper/essay/blog/proposal/speech. It can always be improved.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Since there were no subbing jobs today, I took my daughter to the bookstore and then to the library. I had gotten a $25 gift certificate and we had to return some books so it was a two for one bargain so to speak. I like this bookstore because it has a great selection of books from classics to fiction etc...

So here is what I bought with my $25.00

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo (I'm embarrassed to admit I have not read it yet)
  2. The Grapes of Wrath (have not read it in 20 years)
  3. The Great Gatsby (have not read it in 20 years)
  4. The Picture of Dorian Gray (I'm embarrassed to admit I have not read it yet)
  5. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (I'm embarrassed to admit I have not read it yet)
  6. The Old Man and The Sea (I'm embarrassed to admit I have not read it yet)
  7. The Dragonriders of Pern (have not read it in 15 years)

And I got a book on the Korean War at the library for good measure. I'd list the books my daughter bought and borrowed but your eyes would glaze over and you'd fall asleep in your Cheerios! It does pain me to admit that I had not read so many of those books, especially considering the fact that I'm going to teach English.

It was a well spent morning!

Now playing: Never Far Behind - Aly & A.J.
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Grandfather's Son

I'm about 2/3 of the way through Justice Thomas' autobiography. It's a great read and it's made me hold him in even higher esteem than I already did. I learned about his poor upbringing and the bigotry that he faced all the way through college and beyond as well as his journey from an "Angry Black Man" to the conservative he is today. If you have not yet read this book, you really should pick it up because you won't be sorry.

I also had the pleasure of getting back into the classroom again on Monday. I subbed for an art teacher at an elementary school and I could not believe how much I had missed being in the classroom. It made it harder to go to my other 2 day a week temp job working at a very very very upscale clothing store on the strip. ($155 for a polo shirt?) But it helps pay the bills and the people there are very nice so it could be worse. I'm also nearing the end of my summer school class which is nice because I could use the break right now in a big way.

Now playing: Black Dove - Tori Amos
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

First, I'd like to wish every dad out there a wonderful father's day, especially my dad and my father in law, both of whom read my blog. I'd also like to wish my grandfather a happy father's day, he's going to be 89 this October and still doing fine.

My father's day actually started yesterday with dinner because my daughter is going to Colorado for a week tonight so we had ribs, twice baked potatoes and salad last night. I got some nice gifts as well, including a gift card, a gift certificate to a used book store and the CDs for Animusic 1 & 2.

I also want to note the passing of Tim Russert, who died way to young at 58 of a heart attack. He was a class act and will be missed greatly. They just don't make them like Tim anymore!

Remember to call your dads today!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pipe Dreams

One of the big writing projects I hope to do at that Agassi school is to have my students compare and contrast two animations from Animusic. This is one of the few times they'll get to compare apples to apples. And the animations themselves are just plain cool. Thanks to the wonders of youtube, you can see them both here. Let me know which one you like better and why...

Here is the original pipe dreams...

And here is pipe dreams 2...

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Such a lovely word isn't? At least until we have to deal with it. I'm in that mode right now. School ended last Wednesday and tomorrow I need to start working or else things are going to get really tight around here. Our original plans to work for Xerox over the summer fell through. I won't be eligible to work for them until the end of August. And with the economy struggling, getting temp work is not going to be as easy as it used to be.

On the bright side. I got to meet and have a few frosty ones with Dr. Douglas who was visiting from Southern California for the weekend. We got to talk about politics and even played a little roulette. He even insisted that I keep my winnings (he staked me), which is enough to help with the house payment. It was really cool to meet a blogger who I hold in such high esteem and he was as real in person as he is on his blog. One other note, California Teacher Guy stopped by my blog and left a nice comment on it. His job at the jewel school just ended and he is looking for a new school to make a difference in. His blog is one that I check on a regular basis, because it's just than darn good! Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers. He is one of the difference makers in the education world and we need more like him.

Since the school year has ended, my blog is going to become more of a politics blog until I start my internship in August. And no, I'm not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination so don't start thinking that I'm gonna support Obama for president.

One other thing to all the teachers and professors out there. If someone asks you what you make, refer them to this video.

Now playing: Shut Up - Black Eyed Peas
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Getting Even and the end of the year...

That's what I did to 6th period today. No, they didn't get an extra hard version of the final. Most of them bombed it even with the notes they took last week. I'm talking about the semester grades and the citizenship grades. Yea, I enjoyed that part of the day. I gave out 9 'N's for 'needs improvement' and 7 'U's for 'unsatisfactory'. And for every 'U' I put the same code in for the comments, just to make sure the parents get the idea that their kid was a meatball in my class.
In addition, even though I told them at least 60000000000 times not to leave any questions blank because you lost both points, at least 8 of them did just that. And guess what happened to their grades? Yep, they went down the toilet.

The moral of the story is that the teacher gets the last laugh, and when you spend an entire semester being a meatball, it comes back to bite you in the end.

Now 5th period was the opposite. They busted their butts and did a good job on the final. Most of them passed the semester and I personally congratulated a couple of them because they really worked hard to get into the 9th grade and I was very very proud of them. Needless to say this was my last day at that school and it was very hard to leave. I made some good friends and I know that most of the kids are better at math now than they were in February when I got there. Knowing that I made a huge difference to some of my students made it easier to leave.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

That flew by.

So my time at the school ends tomorrow. It seems like yesterday it was late February and I was just taking over for their regular teacher who had to go out early on maternity leave. And now it's June and the students will either become 9th graders or go to summer school etc., and I'll have to find a regular job until August when my internship starts.

I'm really gonna miss the school, the students and the staff.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Cool New Forum

Nun, from nunoftheabove, has decided to start a forum for conservative teachers. I was flattered when she contacted me about my interest and asked me if I was interested in joining. Needless to say I agreed quickly and she was able to go live with the site a few days ago. If you're in education and you're a conservative or you like good discussions please head on over and sign up. Obviously, letting others know about the site would be helpful as well.

The site is called "Conservative Class" and has several discussion areas open right now with more planned.