Saturday, September 30, 2006

What The Fuck, Here's One More And I'll Call It A Night.


Friday, September 29, 2006


Another son of a bitch comes late to the party.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Snow Day

The sleepy little seacoast town that I teach physics in has called a day of mourning for Army Specialist Jared J. Raymond. A recent SHS graduate, he was KIA in Iraq last week. In his honor, the town closed the schools for the day. The main streets were blocked off. Jared was given a full military funeral including a dress parade. Hundreds of people lined up along the route from the church to the cemetery. Most of the high school was in the crowd lining both sides of the street, students and teachers. Many more stood outside the church during the funeral. The services were broadcast via loudspeaker to those who arrived too late to sit inside with the family.

I am new here. I may have grown up the next town over but that was forever ago. Anyone I would have known is gone. Alan’s friends from Temple… Marty’s friends from running track… The girl Matt Dunn stole from Alan… That girl, Piper that I had a crush on from the drama fest… Long gone, all of them.

I certainly didn’t know Jared. He graduated high school two years ago. Many of my colleagues knew him. A few were broken up over this. The impression I get is that he wasn’t a great student but he was a nice kid, polite. Didn't deserve to die. That could describe anyone. It could have described me.

I went downtown to stand with the students. I didn’t have to. Jared wasn’t my student. I didn’t know him. I mostly have freshmen, many of which didn’t know him. I didn’t have come in today. I could have taken the day off. I could have worked from home and caught up on lesson plans. I could have done any number of things on this sunny warm New England autumn day. I didn’t do any number of things. I stood with the community and watched them bury a child.

During my job interview the principal said to me, “I’m not hiring people who want a job. I’m hiring teachers who are going to become a part of the community.” I liked that and agree with it. It turned out to be a big a selling point to me. So I stood there, not to impress the principal but to join my new community.

I stood there under a giant American flag as the caisson passed with Jared Raymond’s body covered under a smaller flag and thought of the investment the community put into Jared Raymond as he grew up. I thought of the time his family spent with him and the dreams they had for him. I thought about the education the community offered him. I imagined him playing in the park the same way the children played today before their parents told them to stand still as the horses pulled Jared’s casket by. It’s a shame America wasted that investment on a war we have no legitimate business fighting.

Tomorrow school will begin like usual. The news helicopters wont be flying over Humphrey Street. For all, Jared will be a memory. Another family, perhaps from the mid-west or perhaps from Salem will get their own sad news. Another lesson we won’t have learned. Another investment squandered. Another dream cut short. We don’t belong in Iraq. We don’t belong in Afghanistan. We don’t belong in Iran. We need to bring our children home alive.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Welcome To The Party

This sounds familiar. OH... It's because I said it two weeks ago.

This Will Go Down On Your Permanent Record

Adolescent ADD is a predictor of poor driving habits? OK you got me. In my case it probably is. Damn. I knew that week long intensive battery of cognitive testing my 5th grade guidance counselor made me go into Tufts Medical for was peering into my very soul. "It'll be a fun week off from school." They said. "You'll play logic games and do puzzles." They said.

My parents medical insurance paid for it so somewhere on my medical records this info sits like a ticking time bomb. It's only a matter of time before my health insurance merges with my car insurance company and decides I'm a high risk driver because I had/have ADD. It's not like Geico isn't penalizing those who didn't go to grad school on their car insurance rates. I know I'm picking on Geico but if they do it you know the other agencies are salivating at the idea of jacking rates.

In another related point... From the article:
"As teenagers, they experienced more behavior problems, less social competence and more friendships with antisocial peers."
How can you have a friendship with antisocial peers? It's like electing an anarchist atheist to be Pope.

Anyway,"...friendships with antisocial peers." I think they mean you Marty.

And in another somewhat nebulously related point. 5AM baby! Much too late to be going to sleep now.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

This Can't Be Good

Foreign banks are selling off their US investments. Gas prices are coming down and gold is flat while foreign investments are fleeing our economy. The Federal Reserve can't tell anyone how much cash is floating around and in fact is rumored to have quadrupled the printed currency supply in the last 6 months. The only growth in jobs is in the healthcare industry. There has been a net of zero new jobs in manufacturing any exportable commodity that our nation can sell on the international market.

The only way gold and gas can be so cheap right now is if there are tremendous forces driving the price down. Perhaps a firesale of cheap cash to pay for a flood of gold derivitives and futures contracts so that the dollar doesn't appear to be worthless. Not until at least we get through the November election. After that there's gonna be something like two years before anyone important needs to worry about what the average American cares about. Until then enjoy the massive volume of gold futures contracts that are coming from the United States and keeping the dollar from becoming a complete embarassment.

We're fucked.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hi, Did You Miss Me?

Here's a little something to tide you all over. I'm almost at a point at work that I can start coming up for air.

Until then, enjoy these nuggets.



three This one is just for you Rickety. I haven't forgotten you, old friend.

Monday, September 18, 2006

This Can Only End Badly For The Educator Who Is Forced To Do The Searching

As a teacher, it's vitally important for me to maintain a professional standard based on respect and fairness. Right now I've got their fear but they're slowly starting to warm up to me. I can't think of a better way to ruin any sense of trust then having to be the teacher who has to strip down a student because some kid has figured out how to game the system. Schools get bomb threats during MCAS and Finals from kids who don't want to take a test. How quickly will they figure out it's an easy way to harass that girl who looked at them funny two months ago.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Media's Been Lying To Me Again

Maybe it's because I'm teaching in an "upscale" town but I haven't seen one single student who I would think is suffering from childhood obesity. There are a couple kids I'd call husky but they don't appear to be in grave danger of developing type II diabetes any time soon.

In fact, most of my students are in better shape then I was at that age.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I Knew It!

So that's why I'm so rich.

No really I once dated a girl 'cough' Stephanie 'cough' who couldn't handle the fact that on Fridays (not every night just that one) I would come home from work by way of "Brandy Pete's". She just could not wrap her blondie haired head around the idea that I might be still fucking working when I said "Why, yes boss. I'd love to get a beer before I go home."

How late would I come home? 7:00 pm. An hour and a half later then I normally would.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I Feel Better About Myself

This is the worse website ever. Really nothing I can do here can top the awefullness that you see when clicking on that link. I don't feel the least bit guilty about not posting.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Holy Shit

I have over sixty 13 year olds that I care for during the day. Most of them are awesome. Some of them are trying desperately to find my last nerve. Still it beats working for a living.

When I was bartending I had a drunk reach over and grab the knife I was cutting lemons with and wave it in my face. I miss him.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Do They Really Think We're Stupid?

Gas prices are coming down. So's gold. I think we have an election or something coming up in two months. I don't know who is controlling commodity prices but the sudden drop in both indices has me believing it's someone with deep pockets. What's the opposite of a bubble? As bubbles inflate so do they pop. As commodity markets shrink astoundingly fast so do they reset and fuck the little guy after the election.

Now is your last chance to purchase gold before 'The Draft'.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Hey Dean...

People ask me...

"How's your teacher prep time going? Are you getting more then one day ahead? Did you spend the weekend trying to get two weeks ahead?"

And I answer...

"You should see how shiney the tires on my truck are."

OH yeah, and I bought a copy of HALO at the Apple Store. Thanks Daren.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Speed Kills

I've got to slow these kids down. It's been 2 days of regular classes and I'm a week ahead of the other teacher. I know I should be worried about if they understand the material at this pace but I'm really worried about what to do if I finish a years worth of work in the first term.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I Have A New Hero In Life.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Do You Want Fries With That?

It's about time. I know someone who's recieved his masters degree in chemistry but can't read to save his life. At first I thought he was functionally inept but then I axed him if he was ever taught phonics. He never heard of it. I asked if he was taught "Whole Word" and that stuck a bell.

Prestadigitation. If you've been taught phonics you may not know what that word means but you can "sound it out". If you can sound it out to yourself or at least say it out loud you might have a shot of recognizing it if you've ever heard it used before. Otherwise if you've never seen it before you don't or most likely can't recognize it for the trick it is.

When I was a child, back in the very early 70's. I went to the 'Red Oak School' in Merrimac, Massachusetts. It's since changed its name to something like "The Dr. Frederick N. Sweetsir Elementary School". They taught me phonics there. I remember the workbooks. In second grade it was blue and in 3rd Mr Jervey gave us the green ones. We thought we were all grown up.

Phonics is the #1 reason why a Ritalin fuelled, ADD addled kid like me has gotten nearly this far in life.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It Was The Heat Of The Moment

Can't talk now. Got tickets to see Asia.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

How Was Your First Day Of School Dean?

I lost them in the first period. Luckily it was just in that one class. I'll get them back tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What Kind Of Teacher Am I?

Welcome To Introduction to Physics and Engineering Design (IPED)

I have only two simple rules but they account for a lot.

#1 Respect each other, me and the wonderful opportunities that XXX High School offers you. Really, this is a big deal. In order for you to learn and for me to guide you through IPED you need to be respectful of your peers. This can be as simple as arriving on time or as hard as not blurting out a joke that may not be appreciated by us all. If you respect this class you’ll be prepared at all times. You’ll have with you the following:
➢ Your covered textbook
➢ Your composition notebook and a folder for handouts and corrected homework
➢ Your homework neatly organized and finished
➢ A pen and a pencil (an eraser would be nice, no White Out!)
➢ A calculator
I believe that every student is excited to be here and ready to learn however there are times when we’re just not at the top of our game. Honest mistakes will be made but if you keep rule #1 in mind it will likely be forgiven. Unfortunately some students don’t follow the rules. They’re late, chronically unprepared, rude, careless to the point of dangerous, I hear a cell phone ringing or the student simply doesn’t care at all. These are signs of disrespect and will be met with a teacher detention or other more appropriate forms of disciplinary action.

#2 I am the captain of this ship. I am judge, jury and executioner. I am your fearless leader. In short, I am in charge. However respect (rule #1) is a two way street. I will give you the same respect that I expect from you. I promise to always be fair. I do not assign homework as “busy work” and I will not give quizzes as punishment. It’s my goal as an educator for this course to strike a balance between easy & fun and rewarding & challenging. I will admit my mistakes and correct them quickly. There are no stupid questions and in real life there are often questions with no obvious answers. If I have to answer a question with “I don’t know” you can trust that I will write it down and after class find a way for us to answer it together.

IPED is a challenging area to study but it can be greatly simplified if we keep organized and focused. I don’t consider it my job to teach you IPED. It’s my job to educate you and guide you as you learn. It’s not your job to do homework and take tests to get a good grade. It’s your job to impress me with your new knowledge of science. This is your education and you should take full advantage of it. It’s my goal to give you the sense of ownership within this class that comes from the pride of knowing your hard work is worthwhile and respected. I will give you the freedom to make mistakes, learn from them and discover how to avoid them in the future.

Class Policy

No food or drink in the classroom or lab ever. The lab is not a good place to be touching anything that you plan on eating. It’s simply not safe. Mentos, Altoids and gum are food.

Lab safety is extremely important. When I say eye protection is needed and you’re not wearing it properly, you will not get a second chance. No warning. You will be removed from the lab and take a zero for the day. Contact lenses are allowed but I must be informed at the start of each lab if you’re wearing them. Shoes not sandals are strongly recommended. Shorts and skirts should reach the knee. I will assign a person who will ‘police’ each lab and make sure that benches are left clean and with all items returned to their proper place. This is mandatory and will be considered part of your class participation grade.

In order to be organized and facilitate the study of IPED you will need the following:
➢ Your covered textbook
➢ A composition notebook with graph paper sheets
➢ A 3 ring binder with paper (not a spiral bound notebook)
➢ A folder for handouts
➢ A pen and a pencil
➢ A calculator
➢ Optional items would be a stapler, eraser, 3 hole punch and sheet covers
➢ At no time will White Out ever be acceptable, ever. Don’t even bring it

Homework and most lab reports should be done in your graph paper composition book. These will be graded check +, check or check -. To get a “check +” you must have the correct answers and show all your work or explain how you chose your answers. A “check –“ will be given for lack of effort, poor understanding and wrong answers.

Other assignments, tests and quizzes will be graded on a point scale to be announced when they are given.

Grading will be as follows:
o Tests, projects 30%
o Quizzes 20%
o Labs 30%
o Homework 20%
o Class participation 20%
These numbers add up to 120%. It will be possible to get an A on sheer hard work and talent alone. However I realize there are intangible qualities such as class participation, turning around a slump or putting in extra effort and extra credit that can turn a D into a C+ or a B+ into an A. This will be a subjective determination made by me. I will never use it to lower a student’s grade. See rule #2. I’ll make it fair. There’s no bell curve in my classroom. In order to give an A I don’t need to give a C or D. If everyone earns an A I will give all A’s. I’m not stingy however I don’t inflate grades. I expect to give very few A’s. You do need to earn them. If at any time you feel that I misjudged your work speak with me for clarification. If I’ve overlooked something I will fix it. Don’t let a bad grade slide without asking what went wrong and how it can be avoided in the future. Don’t expect to argue your way to a better grade. I’m sure you’d make a fine lawyer but it won’t work with me (see the second sentence in rule #2.)

Calculators – use any calculator you like for any assignment, quiz or test. I realize the graphing calculators especially the TI-8x series are programmable and an excellent way to make a “cheat sheet”. Trust me it won’t help you and you won’t need a cheat sheet anyway.

All make-up work must be made up within 5 business days of the missed assignment. If an exam or quiz is missed for an excused absence you must make arrangements with me to schedule your make-up exam. You are in charge of your own make up work. I will not hunt you down. There will be a zero in your grade average and it will not impress me when considering your class participation grade.

Cheating will not be tolerated.

Monday, September 04, 2006


If the world is full of good guys and bad, Steve Irwin was one of the good guys.

Who here thought it would be a crocodile that eventually got him?

And how many other bloggers in the world are writing exactly this same posting?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Labor Day

I've been out of work for over a year. No worries. I had some money saved up and plenty of credit to weather the storms. Lisa sold a few houses and we've managed to stay on top of our bills. We came through all this OK. Sure I could have picked up some crappy job at Target or washing dishes but I knew if I did that I wouldn't be able to focus on getting a job that does more then leave us just slightly in the hole every month. That's not to say we haven't had some lean months but things could be much worse. In fact, if I didn't get a job this month I would have had to go back into the food service industry. During all this Lisa has been supremely patient and for that I love her.

Keep this next detail in mind while I change gears for a moment. Lisa sold a house to the tenant living in our basement. The good tenant that we liked not the lieing ass bastard level 2 sex offender in our other apartment. Luck smiles upon us, we immediately found a single middle aged woman with no pets who doesn't smoke to move in right away. The perfect tenant.

Yes, for my so-called regular readers who missed all those postings I've got a job now. I'm teaching 3 courses at the regional high school for a couple small seacoast towns north of Boston. I'll be teaching Chemistry, Physics and a freshman level course called IPED "Introduction to Physics and Engineering Design". Chemistry is a no brainer for me. Physics shouldn't be a challenge but I'm not certified for it and so need to take the MTEL ASAP but I am a little rusty on the minutiae. IPED worries me. It's a new course being written on the fly by another teacher and The Museum Of Science. It's still experimental and may not always work. I pray for a common prep time with the other teacher. (Who by the way is awesome, I'm really going to learn a lot from her, probably more so then from my official mentor. My mentor is also a great educator and has been really cool so far but I won't be working as closely with him. Especially when school starts.)

I'll tell the story of how I got hired in a later posting, the important thing to know is that I was hired about a week before school started. This is really a story about hard work. I have 3 lesson plans to do. 180 days of lesson plans for 3 subjects. 540 lesson plans. Thankfully they're not all due on the first day but I do have to be close hauled along the line when the starting cannon fires. This has been the busiest week of my life.

Since there's not enough stress in my life we decided to add a little more. Remember that apartment in the basement. It's got a little problem with mold. Smelly mold. The last tenant didn't complain because he thought it was from his dog. Lisa's grandfather never noticed the smell because he smokes cigars and your sense of smell burns out with age. I can't stand it. I can smell it 3 floors up, especially in the winter time when the furnace kicks on and blows recirculated air all over the house. Last winter we tested the air in the house. It's penicillamide mold and I'm allergic to antibiotics, especially penicillin. Nuno doesn't smell it so it's not a problem. He even said at one point "If you don't like how the house smells you can move." This was the only time we've ever argued and if it wasn't Lisa's birthday I would have walked out and never looked back. You don't want to call my bluff, ever and I will call yours. Lisa managed to smooth things over the next day and Tom did admit that he didn't mean to blurt it out. Still I was already packing.

A couple days ago the new tenant called him to ask about the condition of the apartment. She asked if we were able to get the smell out and said she didn't want to move in if we don't. Now there's money on the line. Nuno sprang into action, apologized for not wanting to clean up the house and called a carpet company. Then he asked us to paint before the new carpets get installed.

Let's recap. I've been out of work for over a year. The apartment was empty for the last two weeks. We've been asking him to take care of the smell for a while now. I got a job that requires an assload of prep time. Now Lisa's grandfather wants to fix the apartment and since he's 85 and light maintenance is how we pay our rent Lisa and I have to pull out the old carpet and paint an 800 square foot apartment. I don't have any free time (I shouldn't be writing this.) We just finished painting. How many lesson plans have I written? None. Thankfully I still have 41 hours before school starts.

This is my last long posting for a really long while. I come up for air sometime at the end of June. I'll try to squeeze a few short ones in. Especially on what I like to call "Big Traffic Wednesdays".

And a post script to the story, because Nana was so sick for so long and on continuous oxygen Nuno smokes his cigars outside or in his Cadillac driving somewhere. But the cigars kill his sense of taste and smell pretty thoroughly. He's also going deaf. We can make all the noise we want to without bothering him but he doesn't understand why everyone is always shouting at him because he can hear the TV just fine. (These ones go to 11.) So there's deafness & blindness but what's it called when you can't taste or smell anymore? It's scary how quickly he's slipping into old age. In June you would have thought he was in his early 70's but since the hospital and the gout attack he's aged tremendously. He's still got his moments but they're shorter each day.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Yes, I admit it. I've gone around the blogosphere and made some subtle changes to postings here and abroad. Just making sure that Googling me doesn't lead directly back here. Not going to change the editorial substance of what I say. I just don't want to defend my political choices to some bored freshmen. If you don't know what A S-C are short for I still have some plausable denialability.

Ted Kennedy sucks!
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