Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween clones

Pin It When I entered my classroom yesterday morning for our Halloween festivities, one would have thought that it was the set for Invasion of the Body Snatchers. As I strode across the classroom, I found myself facing not only one or two, but three young men sporting similarly-familiar spiked hair, dress shirts, ties, slacks, and name tags indicating who they all were.

Remember that old expression which says that it is our actions which speak far louder than our words ever will?

These boys’ actions spoke not only loudly, but clearly as well.

I’m still flattered.



As an additional holiday treat, click here. Just know, it's probably inappropriate, but that's why I love it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Storm

Pin It
The latest forecasts are calling for storms brewing on the horizon; let the winds of chance blow you over to Four Perspectives to get the latest reports…

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Little Talk with Teachinfourth

Pin It Subject: The Par-tay.

Let’s have a conversation together, shall we? I feel that we have never really had the chance to just talk, you know? Sure, comments can be left behind in one’s passing wake, but these are telltale marks, much like instant messages read hours or days after the event has taken place. This is not the same as actually having a real conversation, is it?

I thought not.

So, here’s how it’s going to work…I’ve provided a script, and I’ve recorded a phone ‘conversation’ for you as well! I know what you’re probably thinking…Wow, technology has come so far, hasn’t it? You’re right, it has!

Whenever you’re ready, simply click the ‘play’ button below this message and then start your side of the script…be sure that you do your part well, okay? I’m forever telling my class to read with expression…what I’m asking you is to simply act like this is really real. In other words, have a conversation with me.

Don’t worry, it’ll make sense.

Now, you have a line after every one of mine…I’ll make it easy for you too, I start off with the word “Hello” after I pick up the phone, okay?

Ready, set, go!

video

Part YOU:

You: Hi, this is (insert name here), is this really you?

You: Well, you just sound different than I expected you would.

You: Exactly.

You: Teachinfourth, I’m bored…I've got nothing to do on Wednesday...

You: Unfortunately, no.

You: Wait, what did I just plan?

You: What? You mean that movie is returning to the theater after nearly fifteen years?

You: Well, how can I come?

You: Yeah

You: The password?

You: That’s it?

You: Well, should I bring something? You know, Halloween treats? Stuff like Cobweb Cookies or Harry Potter Punch?

You: What if nobody shows up at your little shindig?

You: How do I find your place, Teachinfourth?

You: Rock on, Halloween!

You: Can I tell you something, Teachinfourth?

You: Yeah, I want to tell you my deepest, darkest, secrets.

You: (You have approximately 15 seconds to share your deep secrets).

You: Well, yours IS my favorite blog, you know.

You: I wouldn’t lie about something like that.

You: Anything for you, Teachinfourth. You just name it.

You: You got it.

You: You, too.

You: (Ad lib here; you have approximately 12 seconds).

You: Catch you later, Teachinfourth, thanks for chatting

You: See ya.

You: Bye.


Hope to see you all on Wednesday…

Sunday, October 25, 2009

September Photoshoot

Pin It A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a photoshoot of a pretty fun family; unfortunately, with the onslaught of life and all that comes with it, I neglected to post any of the images.

I do this forthwith.






















At the second shoot, their youngest got sick…I thought you’d all appreciate this shot as well.


Unfortunately, I wasn't quite quick enough and missed the majority of the vomiting...

bummer.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Talking ‘bout a Revolution

Pin It There are times in my life when I realize that I am a bit competitive; you know, trying to get in the shortest line in the supermarket, or reach those perfect middle seats at the movie theatre. There are also times when I find myself having a silent race with nobody in particular… simply just because.

Yesterday I had a student who celebrated his eleventh birthday, and to honor this marvelous occasion his parents took him to a place called Pirate Island situated up Orem. He was permitted to bring a few of his friends from the neighborhood, school, and so forth. He decided to extend invitations to a fairly good group of boys—as well as a certain someone else.

His teacher.

I will admit that I was a bit surprised when I received a personalized invitation and three separate verbal requests on different days to attend his birthday gala. I had done quite well up to this point at deflecting each of these requests with the usual, “Well, I’ll try, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it.”

This worked for the first four requests; however, it was just a few days ago that his parents stopped in at the school to pick up some recommended literature; while they were there, they also requested that I attend. Since the gathering was from 3:30 until 5:00, I told them that I would stop in for a few brief minutes before it ended to make an appearance.

Roll forward to 4:45.

The consumption of pizza and most festivities had ended; the boys had all tromped off to the arcade when I slipped in to enjoy a slice of pizza and talk with this boy’s mom and dad who—not surprisingly—were a lot of fun to be around. His mom even entertained me by speaking ‘pirate’ since she worked there, and had dressed the part.

When I was done eating I wished the birthday boy a happy day, smiled, and told them that I needed to go, but I was given a handful of tokens and instructed that I needed to use them before I left for the evening.

Curses.

I wandered to the arcade where my presence was officially made known to all of my students; they made it no secret that they were excited to see their teacher in a place that was—quite simply—‘not school.’ I pumped my tokens into a few of the machines as the boys frequently directed me to the contraptions which had the greatest probability of spitting out the most tickets to be redeemed as prizes. I quickly fed my tokens into these devices and gave all of my ‘winnings’ to the birthday student, as I had no need for whoopee cushions, eye bouncy-balls, or any other type of knickknack paddycrap.

As I was finishing up the last of my tokens, I noticed several of my students—good boys, really—who seemed to be in a bit of a competition; a few of them seemed to think that they were all that ‘and-a-bag-of-family-sized Cool Ranch Doritos.’

I walked to the group and motioned to the video game standing behind them. “C’mon, Mark,” I said with a grin to one of the boys. “Come take your teacher on in Dance, Dance Revolution.”

Mark looked at the game, saw that there was no controller or switch for his fingers, and quickly decided to forgo the match. Smart move, I thought. When you really when you stop to think about it.

Two more students were offered the challenge. Both times I was declined with nervous shakes of the head.

As I was starting to give up any hope of finding a contender, I noticed a certain young man from my class whom I’ll call ‘Joey,’ who happened to be passing by at that particular moment.

“Joey,” I said with a wave. “Come take me on.”

He looked wary, but walked onto the game pad and took the two tokens I offered.

The game began as the others watched on in anticipated awe.



At this point I’d love to say that I was leaping and blasting through each screen as the dance icons rocketed up and I blew everyone away with my dance skill, but this would probably be dishonest. If I’m really honest I’d admit that I was pretty much floundering all over the place, legs going every which way in a desperate attempt to beat my young rival. Granted, I must have looked like a giant, spastic, epileptic insect sprayed by a can of Raid.

Yet, my students were still impressed.

A bead of sweat coursed down my spine as the first round ended and I looked at the score; I was ahead by nearly 300,000 points.

You go, Teachinfourth, I thought to myself with a grin.

I glanced at my young rival, who just gawked at me with a look of awe. That’s when I remembered…he was only ten.

As the next song began and the second round started, my young opponent did far better than I did. My steps were not quite as accurate as they had been the game before, and when the final scores flashed on the screen, Joey was the clear winner. I pointed this out to him, and congratulated him on a game well played with a high-five and a pat on the back.

As I left Pirate Island a few minutes later and headed for home, I felt a sudden thrill at coming in second place and realized, second place is a great place to be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Connecting

Pin It I feel inspired to write this night falls on the city.

I hadn’t planned on doing so; in fact, I hadn’t planned on doing much of anything other than watching a few online episodes of Pushing Daisies via Hulu. However, for some reason I began to experience a connection of sorts with the world at large as dusk settled over the remnants of the day.

Funny, really.

It wasn’t too long ago that I happened to stumble across a video entitled, “Where the Hell is Matt?” from Mindy’s blog which I had watched, and found myself drawn into. Mostly it was from observing this young man and the extraordinary way in which he connected with the world through a simple and sublime act.

Truthfully.

I found myself thinking about that video again this evening and I looked it up. I watched. I smiled. I felt connected yet again.



It causes one to wonder—to question really—why it is that we can find it so hard to connect with those who are living right next door, and yet we can quite easily unearth that bonding link with those whom we’ve never before met.

To this wonderment I have no answer, but instead throw this unrequited question out into the cosmic void this evening…and to all of you out there whom I’ve never met—but were I ever to connect in this fashion—I would certainly hope that you would come and play a part.

Goodnight.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Good Friends = Good Choices

Pin It I am usually a pretty early riser. However, I like to retire early as well. People will often poke fun for my retreating to bed at such an early hour while the rest of the ‘party’ stays up late into the night.

This past weekend, I journeyed southward to stay at a friend’s parent’s timeshare and enjoy a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Since the three of us were staying in a three room timeshare, we each were blessed with private rooms. That first night the clock made its way to 9:30 and I made the announcement that I would be going to bed for the evening. As I stood, I could hear whisperedly-made clandestine plans to sabotage me in the middle of the night.

As I made ready to leave the room, I turned and made one final statement, “By the way…you’re more than welcome to wake me up tonight if you’d like; you can beat on the door, run into the room screaming, or to do whatever you want…but just realize this; whatever you do to me tonight, I will do the exact same thing to you tomorrow morning. Something else you need to realize is that I usually get up somewhere around 5:45 and I will get even the moment I wake up.”

I paused in the doorway to my room and smiled as wide as the Cheshire Cat. “Make good choices.”

I slept well the whole night.

I am so thankful that the people I choose to associate with possess superior decision-making skills.



Side note:

However, let’s just say—hypothetically—that somebody had done something which would have required my ‘getting even’ the next morning; it seems interesting to me that so often people find it fun to pull pranks on others, yet, when the tables are turned, they don’t think that it’s quite so much fun. I have a feeling that if I had had to strike back, it would have been me that would have been considered as ‘the jerk.’

Just out of curiosity, what do you think? Please take a moment to complete the poll below.

Somebody's Knocking

Pin It Now, when somebody does, what's the easiest way to discover who it is? You got it, head to the door and find out.

Image garnered from Gettyimages

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Going South

Pin It The familiar squeal of the latch and the well-known squeak of hinges as the door swung open was a welcome to the house of the Monks - a place I’d felt a kinship to now for several years. I stepped over the threshold to the friendly chorus of Tanner’s screaming my name in greeting as he launched himself across the kitchen.

How could you not want to visit? This alone was worth the four hours it took just to get here…my place of refuge from the life I live northward.

How I’d missed being here. My summer had ended down here far too soon, and already the heat was topping 85 degrees in October.

Brilliant.

Upon my arrival I was ushered into the ‘villa’—as it was affectionately christened; an apartment built on the backside of the garage for just such occasions and visitors.

Excellent.

Will I have photos to share of this trip?

Possibly.

Will I be on the lookout?

Undoubtedly.

Will I be disappointed if I don’t get any?

Not at all.

I aim to enjoy this journey, enjoy it I will…after all; I only have a brief time before I must traverse the roads northward once-again to reality and life.

So enjoy it I will…

Thursday, October 15, 2009

100% Natural Beauty Challenge

Pin It A friend of mine threw the challenge down via her blog the other day to take a photo of yourself right as you get up, another one of what you look like after getting out of the shower, and then a final shot after you’ve put on your makeup.

Well, this would be a bit of a difficulty for me, but I decided to take her up on this particular dare as she’s been taking me up on the challenge that I recently threw down…besides, she double-dog dared. Who in their right mind can refuse a double-dog dare?

Yeah, my thoughts exactly.

Just so as I’d remember, when I went to bed last night I set my camera down on the table so I would remember to take a photo of what I looked like first thing in the morning—it’s not always the prettiest, but remember: she dared, therefore, I did it.

When I awoke—face creased and pillow-wrinkled—I stumbled toward the bathroom and saw the camera. Once I did, I remembered the challenge and grumblingly snapped the picture, not even caring how the image turned out; however, after taking a hot shower, the ‘monster’ inside (and outside) of me just seemed to melt away with the rushing of water and down the drain. It wasn’t but a few minutes before I found a transformation taking place—I was rapidly becoming who it is that I usually am on a daily basis.

Well, pre-shaved version of course...

Next came the most (insert favorite adjective here) _____________ part…

Whilst I'm not usually an avid makeup wearer, I decided to throw off all inhibitions and go for it—I went all out and now I have to ask the masses:

What do you think? Is Maybelline really my thing?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Verbal Faux Pas

Pin It
So, what would you do if you were standing there and that slipped out of your mouth?

Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought.

Read all about it over at Four Perspectives

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Good day

Pin It While I don’t watch Oprah, I did watch this.

I smiled.

I hope you do, too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Moments with Joey - Profanity

Pin It
SCENE 1, INTERIOR. LATE AFTERNOON, FIFTH GRADE CLASSROOM. The school day has ended, and most of the students have gone home for the day; however, two boys remain getting help on their variable homework from Math class at the back table. As one of the boys finishes up, his teacher requests his paper to check over the problems he’s already done.

TEACHER: So, did you work out these last few problems, Joey?

[The teacher indicates several problems which are incorrect and have no work shown for them. The boy nods his head as he looks at the incorrectly-answered equations].

JOEY: Um, yeah…

TEACHER: Really? [Pause] You seemed to have missed quite a few of them…

[Pause]

JOEY: I did, Mr. Z, really. I swear.

TEACHER: Really? I didn’t think you did stuff like that.

[The boy’s face is blank for a second, and then takes on a look of shocked horror].

JOEY: No, I mean, I worked the problems out. I don’t swear; I swear!

[The boy stops in midsentence and covers his face with his hands].

TEACHER: Wait, so do you swear or don’t you swear?

JOEY: [The boy looks up with a confused grin on his face]. No, I don’t swear?

[The teacher nods appreciatively and starts to look over the boy’s assignment once-again].

TEACHER:
You promise?

JOEY: [The boy nods]. Yeah, I swear.

Fade to black.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pirates?

Pin It
What's up with the Pirates of Autumn? Hoist the sails and set a course to the second star to the right and straight on to Four Perspectives. Leave a comment over there to let me know that you stopped by. Please don't be disinclined to acquiesce to this request; if you don't, you might just have to walk the plank, matey...

Monday, October 5, 2009

It really is contagious

Pin It A friend of mine—strange that I say friend when we’ve never met in the ‘real world,’ but we’ve had so many encounters while here in ‘the Matrix’ — so I choose to call her friend.

While on a visit to her realm of cyberspace a day or two ago, I perchance encountered a song she posted which I’d never heard before. This song has become somewhat of an anthem in my head for the past several days—a testament to what I believe music can truly do; which is to speak the message which our hearts feel, yet we just cannot express properly with words alone.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this weekend, mulling over those times when I have felt myself drug down into that well-known pit of bitterness and despair. Don’t think for a moment that I don’t have one of these places, for I do; a deep, darkened abode which I frequent on occasion. Anyone who has read over the summer experience back home understands just how far one can wander when a tragedy hits so close to those whom you love.

Life is not always easy.

Heaven knows this, and unfortunately, hell does too.

So why don’t I always blog about those experiences? Why don’t I talk incessantly about the times when I feel that I am trapped on the outside looking in? Why am I not continually sharing the moments when it seems that things are bleakest and there’s no hope? Because let’s be honest, those times are very real and DO happen.

Mostly it’s because I believe that standpoints are infectious; I believe that attitudes are contagious. I have the mindset that if I can strive to believe it, I can achieve it….wow, I’m starting to sound like one of those Hallmark cards, aren’t I?

Who is the person who generally holds me back when I am not able to do what it is that I should? Usually, if I’m honest with myself, it’s me. The sun can be shining, yet I can carry around a proverbial raincloud over my head if I so choose.

Please understand right now that my life isn’t all rainbows and kittens (thank goodness as I’m allergic to cats, and when you stop to think about it, rainbows fade with the passing of the rain). This isn’t anything I need to remind myself of, after all—it’s my life; however, on my blog (and from day to day) I try to focus on that which is good.

But why?

Because I believe that attitudes—like I said earlier—are infectious.

Case in point: When I was a boy, I remember being in school. It was amazing to me just how much power the teacher controlled in the classroom. True, while I as a student could select my own personal outlook, but that teacher had an incalculable power to plot out the road-map for the day. If Mr. Miller, my sixth grade teacher, was excited and enthusiastic, it made it so much easier for me to be so as well; however, if he was complaining about his problems, or about how much he hated the job of teaching us, that attitude would have been transmitted to his students as well.

I cannot control others, I can only control myself. And that is a full-time job. When I go to school, I have two dozen students who look to me to set the stage for the day—I choose to have a good attitude and get them in the right mindset. It is from there that they must take the reigns and decide how they will respond.

Believe it or not, I hadn’t planned on writing all of this today—I really hadn’t, but I did. I’d only planned on sharing a song. But anyhow, there it is.

Attitudes are contagious, make yours worth catching today.

And if you’re having what I call a ‘rainy day’ this might help; however, remember the challenge…don’t click unless you’re serious.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

While in NY

Pin It While I was in The Big Apple, I knew that I’d only be there for a week; yet there was far too much for one pair of enthusiastic eyes to see in that limited timeframe. While one might argue that there was plenty to be viewed in the expected touristy places like Ellis Island, The Empire State Building, as well as a melee of places situated in and around Broadway, this was simply not enough—I wanted to see it all.

In the city, the subway is a quick transit from one locale to another—a spidery network linking the city in an underground circuit of tunnels; however, in riding the underground I was missing out on far too much of what could be seen on the surface. There was only one way to combat this miry predicament, and that was to travel by foot as much as possible, by which I would be able to bathe myself in the sights and sounds which would be happening all around me.

Walk I did, seeing old cathedrals and beautiful architecture



I saw John Lennon’s “Imagine” and strawberry fields in Central Park, along with the fountain from Enchanted though, admittedly, that last one was because I’d gotten lost—I hadn’t been searching for it.



I discovered the hidden location of The Shop Around the Corner from You’ve Got Mail which, consequently, was a cheese and antique shop which had closed a few months before, so instead of taking a photo of the grimy windows and darkened interior, I instead dug up a photo online of when it was still in its glory days. (image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/girlposse/2935474398/)

I headed to Grey’s Papaya for a dog and guava—the place where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks’ characters partook of a paltry meal after their ‘friendship’ had been formed near the end of the movie.



I even discovered the locale where their paths crossed at the beginning of the film when that song by The Cranberries is playing while the beginning credits are still flashing intermittently here and there on the screen (which, consequently, was only across the street from Grey’s Papaya).

I walked to a trove of other sites from movies including those from Buddy, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Legend, and Ghostbusters. After all, who can visit New York and not take the time to see the infamous firehouse headquarters—who you gonna call? I did try to gain access to the building—I’d loved to have tried the fire pole, but it was locked and a keypad door was the only way into the building. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a code.

Curses.

I walked the flower district, and through various marketplaces; I even found the restaurant storefront used for the taping of Seinfeld.

Brilliant.

Taking to the streets was a great solution, and good friend back home served as tour guide via the Internet, utilizing Mapquest, Google Earth, and various search engines and web pages; together we spent several days combing the city and finding these hidden treasures. However, these treasures did not come without a price on my end; the problem was that I’d completely destroyed the arch supports in my shoes, they having not been constructed for the serious wear and tear I’d been putting them through the past few days—after all, there had just so much to see.

I felt like I was going to die. My feet were aching and my back felt like that of a seventy year-old man.

I was spent.

I called my tour guide and asked directions for one more destination. This one, a bit more off of the beaten path; my friend did not let me down. It wasn’t long before I found myself slipping through the gate of Manhattan’s smallest park—completely alone. Strangers shuffled past the gated entrance, but hardly anyone seemed to notice the existence to my own private sanctuary. I moved to one of the paint-peeled benches and eased my weight off of my burning feet. I opened my water bottle and allowed the cool water, like liquid silver, to run down my parched throat.

The sounds of the city were muffled as I sat alone, slipping into my headphones and allowing myself a moment or two of solace. After being amidst the crushing deluge of people for so long, it was nice to be secreted away—to be a single entity once more. I felt that this park had been constructed solely for me and for me alone.

I allowed the images of my earlier days’ adventures to rise to the surface of memory as the sounds of Sliding Down cascaded all around me, wrapping me in a familiar blanket of remembrance.


I don’t know how long it was that I sat there, but no one came. For as long as I was there, the park was mine.

This was yet another beloved moment of my trip to New York, and one I will not soon forget.

It soon came time to head to the subway. I was to meet up with my brother and sister-in-law. Tonight was to be the night we headed out for Indian food.

As I left the park I closed the gate behind me, looked back at my dear, new friend, and smiled.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Yellow Rooms, distant canyons, & facial hair

Pin It I must preface this post with the message that this experience occurred some four months ago. However, due to other things far more pressing in my life, it became lost—buried in a sea of documents on a laptop—only to be rediscovered again tonight as I was poking around in search of something else.

I present it now—four months late. But as the saying goes, it is better late than never.

So, please imagine that I am down in Hurricane, Utah at the present moment…summer is just beginning and a whole lifetime of adventures await…


The light knock sounded on the door of the ‘yellow room’ this morning; I say the yellow room because that is the color of the room which I’m staying…bright, and cheery. Like a dear friend which eagerly awaits your arrival; I could say the same of the Monk Family—much more like my own family than simply friends, but I digress.

The knock sounded followed by the nervous voice, “Are you awake?”

The door cracked open just a portion; enter ten year-old Tanner, youngest mancub of said ‘family,’ asking if I would be willing to take a hike to the local canyon, ‘Three Falls.’

He’d been asking since yesterday, so within ten minutes said boy and I were hiking along the street, backpacks and water bottles in tow, ready to conquer not just one or two, but all three falls of the valley at road’s end.

As we came to the mouth of the ravine, the sun shone in some places, while not in others. The aqueduct built years before for the overflow of water from the ravine was slightly reminiscent of fortress battlements.


“I sometimes come up here and pretend that this is a castle,” Tanner admitted. “I imagine that I’m defending it from invaders like Orcs.”


We made our way up the steep hillsides littered with loose stones and precarious ledges as we ascended the way to three falls.

“I like it here,” Tanner said as we stopped for a water break sometime later. “It’s quiet.”

As if in reply to his words, the lamenting wind began to blow through the jags of stone and heave a long, melodious sigh—as if hopeful to whisper its secrets to those with ears attuned to listen.

As we climbed higher, the sun rose above us, waxing everything over with its warm rays. When I climbed down to a certain part of two falls to investigate its safety, Tanner waited at the top. As I made the arduous climb back to the promontory where Tanner awaited I made a request, “Tanner…I need some music to help me climb. Give me a soundtrack, boy!”

To this, Tanner promptly started to belt out:

“Right now you can hardly breathe…
But you can do it just.know.that.I.believe…
Then that’s all you really need
So come on, I’ll make you strong…it’s time to turn it up, GAME ON!”

Sung like a true ten year-old who loves High School Musical.

And with that brief harmonious interlude, we continued on our venture up the desolate gorge. As we walked, Tanner asked, “I was wondering, when do people go through puberty?”

Thinking that this was really a subject best broached by parents, I decided to give only the barest of answers to questions he might ask, and deflect the rest of them to his mom and dad.

“It’s different for everybody,” I said. “For some people, it starts when they’re ten or eleven, for others it’s even later like fifteen or sixteen. However, it usually starts somewhere around twelve.”

He quietly mulled this over for a minute or two as we trudged along.

“You know why I’m excited for puberty?”

I had to be honest, I had no idea. I couldn’t remember being excited about anything when it came to puberty when I was a kid; nothing that is unless you counted getting taller.

Tanner leaned in close and whispered, “Sideburns.”

“Sideburns?”

“Yeah,” he rubbed his cheeks with the back of his hand. “I’d like to have some sideburns.”

Once again, the mancub surprises me
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