Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Scavenger hunts and unfinished classrooms

Pin It As many of you may know, I recently changed schools. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is to those involved. I must be honest when I say that I am finding myself excited for a new year, a new class, new families, new curriculum, and a new staff. But I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say that I was a bit apprehensive as well about the whole "new" ordeal.

You see, in a sense, I am starting all over again as a new teacher; and still have a classroom to finish putting together (however, that’s tomorrow’s project), so today can still be spent on things such as blogging, preparing baseboards to be reattached to kitchen walls, and tonight’s mystery activity. I’d go into attention-grabbing detail; however, it will undoubtedly make for an interesting read at some other time with an element of mystery left to it.

As I type this, I look at the baseboards which still have to be painted and sanded. I must admit, I’m putting this off as long as I possibly can. Why? Mostly so I can punish myself all day with it…it’s like when your parents sent you to clean your room, and the job that should have taken you only twenty minutes you somehow managed to successfully stretch into hours of torturous punishment

The baseboards can wait. Readers cannot.

As I was saying previously, I am feeling a bit leery with the whole new school year thing. Nightmares have already begun, bouts of depressive anxiety are plaguing me with relentless vigor, and a genuine thrill thinking what the new year holds in store is slowly awakening from the ashes—this alone outweighs the others by far.

During the course of the school year I have a website that I use. Some of you may have frequented this site on occasion, while others remain sadly oblivious to the said site existence. I am here to educate you, and hopefully, you are here to help me out.

But what can I do? I live in ________ and you are clear over in __________, teachinfourth. How is it possible that I can help you this year with your classroom?

I am so glad you asked.

You see, I plan on sending out letters (and perhaps doing a few home visits) on Friday of this week; amongst the items in said letters I have a website scavenger hunt. This is a way for students to familiarize themselves with available online resources, as well as a way for them to have a little bit of fun.

If you would like—and have the time—I have provided a link to my newly-updated website as well as to a PDF of the scavenger hunt I plan to give to my newly-arriving class. If you should find yourself bored over the next day or two, please take the time to complete the hunt, or just poke around the site and let me know what you think.

However, remember that this is an invitation and not an expectation.

By the way, I need feedback by tomorrow.

No pressure.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The fly

Pin It The fly buzzed around the room.

It kept landing on my computer, my head, my hands. No matter how often I would swat at it, it continued its annoying behavior. What is up with this? I thought to myself, That stupid fly has a 2,000 square foot house to be in, and yet it still feels the need to be right where I am. I noticed too that if I move to another room, this stupid fly does the same.

Is it lonely?

My dad and I go to this little restaurant whenever I go to Sandpoint; the Hoot Owl. He always jokes about the flies which buzz about the place, and how they are actually trained flies. He told me that they were kept in little cages and all had names. It made me laugh.

But I still hate them.

Chris Rice wrote a song several years ago entitled Deep Enough to Dream which makes me think of this pesky little fly…

Lazy summer afternoon
Screened in porch and nothin’ to do
I just kicked off my tennis shoes
Slouchin’ in a plastic chair
Rakin’ my fingers through my hair
I close my eyes and I leave them there
And I yawn, and sigh, and slowly fade away

Deep enough to dream in brilliant colors
I have never seen
Deep enough to join a billion people
For a wedding feast
Deep enough to reach out and touch
The face of the One who made me
And oh, the love I feel, and oh the peace
Do I ever have to wake up?

Awakened by a familiar sound
A clumsy fly is buzzin’ around
He bumps the screen and he tumbles down
He gathers about his wits and pride
And tries again for the hundredth time
‘Cause freedom calls from the other side
And I smile and nod, and slowly drift away

I like the song; I hate flies.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vacation - Tuesday: The lava tubes

Pin It When I left Hurricane, I decided I’d venture to places I’d never before seen. Hence, I ended up in a little lonely place called Millard County. I was fully expecting grand sights after all of my research of the area, but found myself somewhat disappointed at the difference between the descriptions of said places, and what they actually were like.

Plus the directions were very poorly written.

I did, however, find a place which definitely rated up there on the ‘cool meter’ known as the lava fields where the lava tubes were located.

Lava tubes can be formed in a few different ways, one of these is the idea that lava flows over the surface of the ground and then hardens on top. Underneath, however, the lava is cooling much more gradually and continues to flow beneath the protective overcoat of sorts. Because of this flowage, a sort of tunnel is left behind once the lava has completed its journey.

I found some of these tubes and the places where portions of the ceiling had dropped away, revealing the tubes themselves. In some places, the roof had dropped for nearly a quarter mile making it more of a lava trench than a tube.

I decided to explore these tubes, so, attaching both headlamps and grabbing my small flashlight, I headed into the depths of the chasm.

Inside, the sunlight shone down through the ceiling in places, making the place beautiful. Also, the 30 degree drop in temperature was also a welcome addition to the adventure.

Inside some of the tubes, the air was a bit musty (where there was poor ventilation) and some smelled of pigeon droppings (a popular nesting place for birds). I tried to get a few shots of the tubes from the inside by ‘painting’ in the light with a flashlight, but my light was far too weak and the photos are less than desirable. I apologize for these shots on which a flash was used…I didn’t have a diffuser, and they look terrible; however, a terrible shot is better than nothing at all.

Please tell me that I’m right.

I stayed in this area for a couple of hours and did enjoy myself; I even explored a few tubes which went on for quite some time. I must admit, it was just the slightest bit creepy after being alone in those dark places for long enough, but it was awe-inspiring as well.

Finally, it came time for me to head off to explore bigger and better places, and I ended up going off to “The Devil’s Kitchen” which had been promoted as being something pretty amazing, but I found myself somewhat underwhelmed and disappointed with what was offered. Once-again the description of what it was was not what was really there…

Just how much of a letdown was it? Let me put it this way, it was so disappointing that I didn't even bother to take any photos of the place. I did, however, take a few photos of my little hitchhiker who'd stowed on board my hood to save himself a few miles of travel.

He was much more cool than the kitchen...

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Last Lecture

Pin It There are things and people we encounter in life who inspire us… these little wonders grab us, shake us, and refuse to let go. Today I’d like to share one of these people who changed me. By viewing this, I hope it will change you and become a part of your life as much as it has now become a part of mine.

Meet, Professor Randy Pausch, a man who’s made a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of people, a man who lived his childhood dreams of meeting Captain James T. Kirk and experiencing zero gravity, a man who fathered three children, a man who died today of pancreatic cancer.

The wisdom Mr. Pausch…only, he’d want to be called Randy—left behind speaks long after he is physically able to do so.

His message will inspire you.

Randy Pausch - ABC Special.

A condensed version of Randy's Lecture recently given on Oprah.

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture.

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us the chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

- Randy Pausch

Strangely unfamiliar

Pin It I recently ended my hiatus of technology and found myself with dozens of blog entries to catch up on. I’ll admit, it was nice to read over the various and sundry details of your lives before facing the daunting task which lay before me.

My next entry.

What should I blog about this time? Really, the possibilities were endless and I found myself feeling a tad behind the times. I really felt like saying quite a lot, however, each idea which came to mind was quickly pushed out of the way by another which demanded my immediate attention.

Ah, my dilemma.

As a result, Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living may be a bit out of sync and order. I may go back and forward over the past week and the things I learned, or simply the experiences I had while shutting out the world of technology. What a glorious few days…yet, I must be honest.

I missed you.

I know; I’m a needy friend.

I decided to come home on Thursday morning because I had a few fiends who’d planned on coming up to stay with me for a few days. Unfortunately, they were unable to come. However, I still arrived home between 1 and 2 am on Thursday morning and went to sleep for the next seven hours. When I awoke I felt the immediate need to clean my car.

I have this friend who is adamant that her car remain clean, and I find that I agree with her. A clean car runs so much more smoothly and just feels better to be in. After a much-needed wash, a vacuuming took place, interior scrub, and washage of the windows. Needless to say, my car ran so much better!

(Brilliantly-clean car seen through equally striking front windows)

I went to meet said friend for lunch and, upon driving the streets to which I should be familiar, I felt strangely foreign. I was now looking at these roads with new eyes and noticing—for the first time in a long time—just how everything really looked. I had become used to Hurricane, Utah and the home I’d stayed in; my own little world felt out of the ordinary. I looked around and saw nothing but nameless people. Even buildings I’d seen thousands of times looked vastly unusual to me now.

Would this place ever feel like home again?

I arrived at Café Rio early. I discretely took an outside table, and began rifling through my thoughts, one-by-one. I would glance up occasionally, still to sights which seemed far too unfamiliar to me until the moment my friend arrived.

Suddenly, I was home again.

Found it

Pin It This song, though one I love, ends incorrectly.

I found it. Perhaps one day I'll elaborate, however, now is not that time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Vacation - Monday: Rain and goodbyes

Pin It As I sat on the porch swing, it started to rain. Not merely a sprinkle or was hard. The rain was coming down in sheets, and there were occasional flashes of lighting which ignited the darkened skies, like flashbulbs of a vintage camera. I sat there, enjoying it all when suddenly, the entire Monk family rushed outside to take pleasure in the downpour along with me.

As we were sitting there watching, the smell of moisture washed over us all like the aroma of freshly-baked cookies on a cold, wintery day. Splays of water would blow over the deck, showering us all with a fine, refreshing mist.

I noticed my friend’s grandson (I’ll call him Raymond); he was looking out longingly at the rain for quite some time. Suddenly, he stood and announced, “I’m going to go put on my swimsuit and play.”

Within minutes, Raymond was outside in the peltering storm, and enjoying all of the glories it afforded. As this little boy ran back and forth through the large puddles in the driveway (or small lakes) I noticed adults on the street who quickly made their way back to their homes, trying to avoid getting wet during their afternoon walks. They cowered under umbrellas, or ran quickly down the street taking shelter under trees; none of them strolled along, enjoying this magnificent gift from heaven.

As I watched Raymond frolic about as he scampered I took out my camera and began to shoot. There is nothing more innocent and inspiring to me as watching the simple pleasures of life around us…these free little moments in time we are given each day. The wealthiest king and the lowliest of peasants can enjoy these glorious moments in time. To us all they cost the same…nothing.

We, as adults, need to relearn some of the simple joys in life…things like playing in the rain; blowing dandelion seeds to the winds; walking barefoot on thick carpets of gnarled grass.

We once knew all of these simple joys in life, why is it that we have allowed ourselves to forget them? Why do we ground ourselves for so long?

To help myself re-remember these more simple of joys, I have decided to start a fast of sorts from technology. I have decided that, at least for a few days, I will not use the computer, Internet, or cell phone.

I have somebody I need to find.

I know what you’re thinking… “Hey, what about your camera?” No, the camera is good, after all, there is somebody Im looking for...

See you in a few days.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vacation - Sunday: The Hitchhiker

Pin It I drove past the man sitting on the guard railing; it was along a sparingly-traveled road some thirty miles south of St. George. As I passed, the words to Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, Heartbeat of Heaven, flashed through my mind.

I pulled up to the stop sign and I saw him standing there
The cardboard sign he held said he was hungry
I looked the other way and waited for the light to change
As if to say, “I'd help, but I'm in such a hurry.”
These are the moments of truth
What would love have me do?

Oh, heartbeat of heaven, I want you to be my own
Oh, heartbeat of heaven, I want my life to show
The kind of love that comes and goes
With the heartbeat of heaven

I promptly turned my car and drove back.

As I neared the man, visions of axe murders flitted through my mind. However, as I pulled over to the side of the road and the aged man shuffled up to my car, cane in hand, I smiled. An elderly axe murderer? Please.

Enter the vehicle, John. Age: 72.

As John climbed into my car, he smiled warmly. “Thanks for stopping.” He folded up the sign on which he’d written:

St. George

As I pulled back on the road, and aimed the car in the direction of the freeway and St. George, I asked John about himself. This little old man promptly began to do so. Telling me of the life he’d lived, and his tales of woebegone adventures. I listened as he told me all about his first and second marriages, all the jobs he’s had since 1950, and about his health, which has steadily been on the decline since 1979. He had plenty to say, and there wasn’t but a moment or two that we were in want of conversation.

“So, where you from?” he finally asked, after telling me about all the different places he’d lived.

“Originally I’m from Washington State.”

John nodded knowingly, “Ah, lots of rain up thars.”

“Actually, I’m from the dry side of the state, luckily, the Cascade Mountains divide the state in two and the coastal area gets most of the rain.”

He paused, considering what I’d said. After a moment or two of silence he asked, “You ever seen a Sasquatch?”

“Uh…actually no.”

He leaned in conspiratorially, “I have.” He whispered with a nod.


At this point, John launched into a tale which quickly spread into two separate accounts of Bigfoot sightings. One of which was when he and a few of his kids were driving someplace up in Washington one night back in the late seventies, and he saw two Bigfoot on the side of the road.

“They were HUGE. They stood there, staring at us with their red eyes,” John recalled. “They just stood there like they were hitchhiking or sompin’. At first we passed by ‘em, when I got the car turned around so I could shine the headlights on them for another look, they were gone.”

John waited a moment then launched into his second sighting which occurred when John was out on a deer hunt in 1978. He’d been out pretty deep in the mountains near a large clearing. He said he’d been there for a little while when, at the other end of the clearing, he noticed commotion. He quickly turned and was surprised when he saw a fight ensuing between two large animals. “One of those animals was a deer…or maybe it was a deer, I don’t know really, it COULD have been a deer. I just know that it had these big ‘ole antlers…could’da been a elk though.” He held out his hands to show that the antlers were big. “And that deer was fighting this huge Sasquatch. It wan’t black or brown like a bear, but it was whitish. It also had these huge eyes and I knew it wan’t a bear ‘cause of that face…one that was almost humanish.”

John leaned back in his seat and fixed me with his intently-staring eyes, hand gripping his cane a little tighter.

“Well, that Bigfoot grabbed the deer by hit antlers and threw him up against a tree!” John said with a flourish. “I watched that deer…maybe it was a elk. Anyhow, it fell to the ground and didn’t move after that.”

I was trying hard not to smile, and instead endeavored to maintain a look of mesmerized awe, “Wow, what happened next?”

“Well, that there Sasquatch dragged that deer into the trees, leaving a bloody trail the whole way…I think he musta been hungry.”

“What did you do?”

“Me? I just sit there, watching. Some other hunters started shooting at it. I don’t know why they’d want to do that, it was just gettin’ its dinner. They probably didn’t have tags for a Sasquatch anyway.” He blew out a breath, and looked again at the freeway stretched out before us. “I never did find out what happened to that Bigfoot…or that deer neither.”

He looked longingly out at the horizon, as if watching something only he could see.
Before long, we arrived at John’s destination, and he climbed out of the car. “Thanks for the ride here, sonny.”

I waved a hasty goodbye as he ambled toward his home.

I am still speechless.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vacation - Saturday: Photos I Took...

Pin It

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vacation - Friday: Mac, Cheese, and Help

Pin It

Ever have one of those times when some completely mundane food sounds absolutely delicious? Well, this is one of those times for me, and I do have to say that I was not disappointed with the end product.

I made Mac & Cheese—all by myself. AND I didn’t even have to read over the directions more than one time. Yes, it really is that easy…that and I’m simply amazing! I even ‘shook things up’ a bit and added in hotdogs and black pepper—two items NOT listed on the instructions.

I have to admit that I had an awful lot of fun cooking the elbow macaroni, and even though the water I strained made both the sink and spoon feel slimy, it was fun to make something I hadn’t made since…well, to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I had this tasty dish my friends and I had at one time surnamed, “The Yellow Death.”

Now that I’ve celebrated my amazing accomplishment with you, I now plead for help on a topic which is TOTALLY unrelated.

“So, Teachinfourth, what do you need?”

I’m so glad you asked.

I have need of someone with a little more web development skill than I have at the present time to work a bit of magic. To be specific, I need someone who can do the following on my website:

  1. Display images on a page and available sizes which can be selected at the click of a button.
  2. Can show a page of small thumbnails images which can be dragged into a space below where they can be manipulated…meaning the order can be changed around. They also need the ability to ‘submit’ the order of images they’ve selected; also picking a size.
  3. The ability to have a person enter some information: (address, name, credit card numbers) and have this information sent to me to fill an order, and the payment to go directly into a Paypal account.

I also don’t want to spend more than I have to…not that I’m unwilling to pay for services rendered by someone else…I’m more than willing to do this, however, I’ve already developed a website, and now I wonder if I will need to redo the whole thing for the capabilities mentioned above.

I’m fighting a war here, a struggle against time…if you know what I mean.

Any help is appreciated; especially if you have connections to someone/place which can work aforementioned magic.

Thanks, in advance.

Please don’t let my gratitude be in vain.

Vacation - Thursday's Photoshoot

Pin It My friend wanted pictures taken of her sons. As I was taking a few, her oldest (I’ll call him Raymond) had a friend who’d been playing with him one day, and anther friend the next. He asked me, “Would you take some pictures with my friend, too?”

So I did.

I thought they turned out pretty good. It is funny, however, when Raymond’s friend (I’ll call him Jackson) tried to give Raymond a ride on his back, he couldn’t quite hold up his friend’s weight (being over three times heavier than he was).

It made me laugh.

By the way, I think that I don't enjoy taking photos of babies too much. Kids are so much easier; at least they listen to you...well, sometimes.

Vacation - Thursday Night: "I had a dream."

Pin It It was about school.

Only, I was not the teacher for the first day. I had a friend who was doing it; it was so difficult to sit on the sidelines and watch somebody else teaching my class…especially at the start of the year when the first week or two sets the stage for the remainder of the year.

I wonder if this dream has anything to do with an email I got from an individual at my new school (you know, the fact that I was thinking about school, that is)…

“Well I have heard from everyone and it sounds like there are a lot of changes in the numbers for enrollment. “Lana” was saying that we won’t have lists until August. “Morgan” said that we might be getting another 5th grade teacher.”

I changed the names so you wouldn’t know who these people are, even though you probably wouldn’t have known them anyway.

Originally, we were going to have 2 fifth grade teachers and then one split-level classroom (or so I heard). Now, it appears that there might actually be need of another 5th grade class from the numbers of transferring students.

I don’t mean to sound prideful, but I wonder if these transfers have to do with my relocation to said new school.

I hope it is.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Vacation - Wednesday "What happened yesterday"

Pin It

The trip yesterday was fun, but it was a long drive as well. I was just reading over the entry I made somewhere between late-thirty and quarter-to-early and I was amazed just how eloquent I can be when it is late enough in the evening. However, don’t expect this one to be chalked full of large vocabulary and creative wordings.

The first few hours went well, there was a lot of joking around and time went quickly. I was amazed to see the vast expanses of beautiful skies in Arizona and couldn’t help but marvel at the sublime beauty before me.

Yes, I did take some photos.

We arrived at the town of Snowflake around 12:30 yesterday afternoon, and proceeded to La Cocina de Eva (which translates to ‘The Kitchen of Eva’) for lunch. It was a delicious meal and, well worth the wait; however, since we were all starving by this time, we could probably have been subjected to mouse droppings and enjoyed them thoroughly.

I had this fantastic chicken enchilada which was perfect. The beans were warm and cheesy, and the rice was moist and had just the right amount of zip to them. Overall, it was a fine dining experience and I was glad that Michelle had chosen this as our lunching destination.

After a quick visit to Michelle’s doctor, we proceeded to drive around the town and found gas, amazingly, at a mere $3.96 per gallon (odd that I would say ‘mere’ when I can remember gas being priced at about a dollar per gallon). We filled up and drove around town, the girls in search of thrift stores with vintage clothes, and myself longing for that photograph which was just waiting for me to take it.

Unfortunately I was the only one in luck that day. Vintage clothing stores were few and even farther between, and the girls were finally appeased by several stops into these horrible tourist traps. They were awful! I couldn’t help but snap some shots of the interior of said shops where everything was overpriced, trashy, and it smelled reminiscently of old people.

I was plunged back into memories of times when I’d loved to go into these places and had to emerge with something I purchased…often something as fantastic as a shot glass which proclaimed, “Seattle, Washington…I’m only a small drinker.” And beaded Indian pouch necklaces which would undoubtedly break once any type of pressure was put on it.

We went into ‘Geronimo” which claimed fame from the fact that they had—in their possession—he largest piece of petrified wood.

Hold me back.

We went in and immediately found ourselves surrounded by shelves burgeoning with knick-knack-patty-crap. As my good friend, Melanie, would say, “It looked like the knick-knack fairy had thrown up all over the shelves.”

I couldn’t wait to leave, and upon arriving outside, pictures were taken at the tepees and I even assisted a family in their shootage of photos. Of course, I took a quick photo of them with my camera as I was walking away just to post here…ah, we Americans and our fixations with the tacky.

We went to “Here it Is.” I call it that because I don’t know the name of the store, only the name on the billboard drawing one’s eyes to said shop. The interior of this store was slightly less crowded with junk, but it was of the same caliber…only cheaper.

I opted to purchase nothing (shows how far I’ve come since my prepubescent days) and we made for the freeway and the last six hours of our journey back to Hurricane. That’s when it the sound started…ka klink, ka klink, ka klink…

The faster we drove, the quicker the clinks. I pulled over and examined the back tire. Well, to what to my wondering eyes should appear?

A fork.

I was bewildered…how in the name of all that is holy did we manage to get one of those imbedded in the tire? I pulled off on a section of roadway where we could change to the spare and, before I could take the photo, the handle of the fork had fallen off.

Well, amidst jokes of “We decided to take the fork in the road” and other such mundane and witless humor, we changed the tire and then headed back to the freeway and our still awaiting journey home.

I won’t go into sordid detail of the conversations, sights we saw, and various whatnot, but suffice it to say that after several dozen photos, super gulps of Dr. Pepper, and hours of driving we all felt the urgent need for…

Well, you know.

Unfortunately, restrooms are scarce in the great outdoors, but after a time we were finally able to reach Fredonia. Unfortunately, all gas stations, as well as their restrooms—had closed up for the night. I thought the girls were going to explode, and laughter was kept to a minimum so that nobody would have an unfortunate accident.

We did find a port-o-bathroom next to a laundromat. While Michelle raced into the small, blue cubicle, I walked the laundromat door and pulled the handle. It was open. AND it had a bathroom.

Needs were met, and we were soon again on the road. It came to be about 12:30 that we rolled into the driveway, our journey finally complete four tanks of gas and seventeen hours since our initial departure.

It felt good to be home.

So, what course will now my journey take me? This, I know not. I may stay another day or two, just because I might be able to…or I might head out. Know that if I do, I will be out in the desert, and despite the allusions I made in an earlier post about wi-fi cacti, they sadly do not exist and postings will be postphoned.

Have a good Wednesday, and, if you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to finish reading my mini-novel.

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