Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Goodie. Goodie.

Throughout this mixed up world of kool-aid and gin. I like to admit that I always am looking for the positive in all bad situations. Even though there are some out that are perpetual pessimists, you need help. Go to your nearest watering hole and stare at the dude at the end of the bar. Watch him as he mumbles to himself. Notice how he complains about everything under the sun. Think.... That's going to be me in a few years, if I don't lighten up and see the good the world has to offer.

With that in mind. I checked this cool website out the other day. It's all about supporting the troops in Iraq by sending them books and magazines to read. It helps them feel more a part of home when they receive these books. The website is listed below. Check it out. It's something good, being done it this cynical world. Later

Walking the Line

I need a little time to rant. Not many places I can do this, so I felt instead of pouring my entire dsyfunctional banter on my wife, I would place it in the vast wilderness of the internet where it can get lost among other garbage.

It all starts with my job. I am a teacher. Not through schooling, but through opportunity. I was once pretty good at something, but I can't recall what it was. Now that I think about it, it had something to do with sports television.

Anyways, I get an update in my contract, by the way, if there was ever any bullshit bigger than the teacher yearly contract. My God, what would the world be like if every job you had, they issued you a yearly contract. Based upon performance and likeability you were either kept or kicked to the curb. I guess professional athletes get contracts, but teachers every year get a new one. It's never filled with incentive clauses or bonus'. Instead it's filled with ultimatums. If you don't get 12 university credited hours in secondary education before the end of the school year, the school has grounds to not extend another contract. Another famous clause, if enrollment drops below a certain level, the school has the right to terminate without justification whomever it pleases. In laymens terms, if the number of students decrease in enrollment, you're screwed.

So, where am I going with all this. Well, a boat load of other non-public school teachers and I are now required to get education courses over the summer. How do these classes help? I can't determine that right now. One would think, it could help with certification. Others, would say they are a waste of time. Instead of complaining, I signed up for 3 classes and I am in full swing as of this week. I think if I were to compare these courses to an outpatient hysterectomy I would say the hysterectomy wins by a nose. As one of my teachers would so eloquently state, "In the great wisdom of the state of Louisiana it's in your best interest to take the classes." Let me identify one problem. The state of Louisiana has no wisdom or rationality with their educational programs. The look around at other states and say why can't we do that. Then pump a bunch of money into a program no one supports or knows how to run.

Lastly, I take great issue in the school voucher progam. I totally sympathize with those parents who can't afford to send their children to private institutions and rely on the weak and falliable public school system. Although, it sends the wrong message. The public school system has competent teachers, what they don't have most of the time is the support from the parents, school board, and administration. So instead of fixing the problem, their solution is to send the students to private schools. How do you choose which kids get vouchers? Is it the top percentage of each school? Is it the bottom percentage at each school? Why do we as taxpayers, who can't afford and mortgage and loan money to send our children to private schools, be burden with paying for those who also can't afford. The system is whacked. I got a great idea. First off, if you are a school board member and you have children. You must send them to the public school in your area. Almost like the residency restriction for cops. Let's get rid of the idiots running the school board because they have no idea what is going on in the schools and their kids aren't even in the public school system. Why do we trust the ideas of those who have no interest or stake in the game? Lastly, let's get the parents more involved with school. Most of the time it's not the teacher's fault, it's the parents. Children model after their parents. If they see a certain behavior at home, guess what it's probably spilling over into school.

Whew!!!! Thanks I needed that.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Welcome to Armstrong Airport. Home of the New Orleans Saints. What else is there to say after that?

Poker night was a blast. I feel like Fast Eddy after they broke his hand in the Hustler. I know I can beat them, I just let my head get in the way too much. So, needless to say I lost. Did I lose big? Who freaking cares? Losing sucks in general, no sugar coating it. Rhett's new friend, Barry, the magical leprechaun won. Rhett lost out on the last hand, but it was a forced hand.

I had to run out and pick up my nephews at the airport. New Orleans Internation Airport, or Louis Armstrong International is one of the worst airports in the world, if not the worst. My nephews are 11 and 13 years old. They needed a guardian to pick them up at the gate and sign permission to gain custody. Almost like a prisoner exchange, and I think there is some relevance. Still I digress, I drop my wife off at the gate to meet the boys at the gate for the exchange. After parking the car, I ran into the empty airport. Now granted it's 11:30 pm. Not 1 am. There is not a soul around. In our post 9/11 world I would figure they would have security still there. I was wrong. No porters, no cashiers, no security officers or police, not even the janitors who supposedly clean up the airport. The only ones there, were the few stragglers exiting the plane, the flight crew, and those picking up family or friends. It's crazy realizing it now, but my nephews exited the plane to an ghost-town and were smart enough to follow the other zombies down to the luggage pick-up. Probably the only thing that is more excruciating than waiting in line at the dmv while someone is screaming that they want to personalized their license plate to says AZZCLN, is waiting for your luggage. Everyone stands around that rotating merry go round carousel contemplating the numerous situations your luggage could be going through at this moment.

"Are my bags being thrown around like a bag of ice being broken up or did my bags even make the trip. Oh, please let me have my bags."

Next, is the positioning that takes place as we awaiting the luggage coming from behind the black tarp. It's almost as exciting as watching Let's Make a Deal. "Do you want wants behind curtain #1, Curtain #2, or what's in the box?"
I love to see people fighting for the first position along the carousel. It's entertaining. Like their luggage was more special. No, I don't think so. More like your luggage was what the one piled on top of everything and crammed into the belly of the plane, then dropped by mistake, rummaged through for personal items, and then placed at the top of the stack. Needless to say, my nephews got their luggage after an 30 minute wait. Now we are enjoying a few days of touring the city while they visit. No time to practice my poker moves.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

My God, did someone turn on the heat?

I was reading my buddies blog about the heat and started laughing. Yankees!! Don't know a good sweat when it hits you upside the head. There is nothing to the summer time heat down here in Nawlins. I rather enjoy it.

For fun the other day, I dressed up in a huge parka with gloves and snow boots, from my days in the wintery Connecticut. I then got in my car and started driving to work. As I pulled onto the jammed up interstate, I sat there blowing into my thick padded gloves. People were staring at me, but who cares. It's all in good fun. I drove in the slow lane, so more and more people could build a huge bottleneck on the freeway that would cause a major traffic jam. Suddenly, the radio blasted the news, traffic and weather on the 8's.

"We have a back up on I-10 heading east before the I-10 and 6-10 split. It seems like there is a lot of rubbernecking going on as a mad man dressed in snow gear is driving his car to work. Now for the weather. (pause) It's going to be another scorcher today as temperatures will average around 98 with a heat index of 110. Please keep pets, plants and pipes in the shade. (pause) We have breaking news as a man driving to work in a SUV pulled off the interstate. He then pulled out a folding chair inside his car and began to sit on the side of the road apparently trying to receive a sunbathe. What is strange is the man is fully clothed in what seems to be subzero snow gear. He has a gortex parka with snow boots and thick padded gloves. We'll have more on the 8's."

Great to be living in the south during summer no place in the world like it. Swamp ass for months. That's something that will last with you forever. You can't help but lose weight. Yesterday the road in front of my house, just buckled up. I think it's heading north for the rest of the summer. Only 3 and half more months of this nice warm weather. I have an great idea to help beat the summer heat. Why don't we just drag a couple of those artic glaciers from the North or South pole and plant them in the major cities in the south. Then you just place them in the center of each downtown and let the cool water flood the cities. Almost like the fire hydrant during the summer routine but on a slightly larger scale. Well, have a good sweat for now.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

On the Road Again

You know what river that is, Russ?
No, Dad.
It's the old Miss. The old man. Deep River my home is over Jordan.
- National Lampoon's Vacation

Just got back from a 11 day tour of the Midwestern colleges with 51 high school juniors and seniors. Feels good to be back home. I felt like the principal from Save by the Bell , always on my guard looking for Zach Morris to get out of line. Never happened. Boys were great. No fights, no major issues. It seemed like everyone had a great time.

I feel like we saw the world in 10 days and I can't remember it all. Thinking back on the college visits, we hit University of Tennessee (550 acre campus), University of Alabama (greeted by Big Al the elephant), Xavier University in Ohio, "The" Ohio State University, Notre Dame, Northwestern in Evanston, University of Chicago (left wing baby), St. Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis, Christian Brothers, and Ole Miss. Not bad for 11 days. Somewhere along the trip we went white water rafting in Pigeon River, hit all the roller coasters at Cedar Point Amusement Park, and sightseeing in Chicago, 2nd Street Comedy show, Red Sox vs. Cardinals game and went to the top of the Arch in St. Louis.

One thing I think I will never forget from this trip despite the tremendous relationships I made with some of our top student leaders was the experience of attacking muffleheads. For those of you who have never heard of these creatures, they are cousin to the mosquito. They serve as a food source for fish on Lake Erie and do not bite humans. The whole catastrophe came down at Cedar Point. Our luck had provided us with the opportunity to stay in some log cabins along the shores of Lake Erie located on the northern tip of Cedar Point Amusement Park. The world's greatest amusement park on the planet the last 7 years. Upon exiting our bus to get into our cabins, we were attacked by one of the 7 plagues to hit modern man. Muffleheads. They come in by the thousands at night and are attracted to the light. They aggravate the living heck out of you because they get in everything and never go away. It's like having Steve Erckel following you around work all day trying to learn your job. They would never leave us and haunt my memory for the remainder of the trip.

Although, I must say I rode the Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster at Cedar Point and was extremely pleased. I have never faced death but I think this is as close as it gets. The ride is ridiculous: 22 seconds long, reaches top speeds of over 100 miles per hour and twist and turns you in your seat while making you pray for all the wrongs you have committed in your life. Perfect way to get information out of a suspect.

The rest of our trip was great. Chicago was fun as we visited Navy Pier, Manchester Fountain, and Second City Theater. I have to say the college visits all went extremely smooth, except for the University of Chicago. They are just a bunch of wierd squirrels. Very liberal. Very sarcastic. Very arrogant. You would have to be very open minded to go to a university that sponsors a Knit and Bitch club. I have no problems with diversity and freedom on campus, but at what expense do you need 350 student organizations on a campus of 8,000 students.
The best university we visited I would say had to be Northwestern University. The ivy hanging off the walls of the buildings and the huge sycamore trees laying shade throughout the pathways was so perfect. It has to be one of my favorite campus'. I am a sucker for Notre Dame with the Golden Dome, the grotto, and the beautiful lakes surrounding the campus.

Like I said before, it's good to be back home. The trip was so good, I am thinking of doing it again next year. We'll have to see what area of the U.S. we are going to cover. As for me, I am resting for the next week before summer school starts. I just hope the first day I walk into class I have Mark Hamil teaching us.