Monday, March 27, 2006

Minor changes here

I've cleaned up the right column a little bit, with some deletia (of folks who either haven't posted since early January, or of folks who blog-shunned me) and some additions.

Here are the additions:

My wife's blog has moved so she can have a few bells and whistles.

There's a new officiating blog besides Illegal Screen.

A good buddy of mine, one of the smartest guys I know, has a new blog called SideshowJ that I hope develops into a regular habit. And gee, his first post indicates that I'm one of his inspirations. Sweet, Sideshow Boy. Now lose the Adam Duritz hair.

Check it all out, yo. It's all over on the right.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Time to review tone

From a student paper:

"All of the things Hamlet has done come back and bite him in the ass, so to speak."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Big Stair Climb

One of my students was organizing a team for the Stair Climb for Leukemia. People donate $50 for the privilege (!) of climbing up 69 flights of stairs at Seattle's biggest skyscraper. I wanted to be a good example.

That's how I wound up climbing roughly 1311 steps this morning. 69 flights--from floor 4 to 73.

Of course, the rest of my team were high school boys. I walked in, and they immediately started running up the stairs. about not? I simply said my goodbyes and started walking up. By the tenth floor, I was already in a little trouble. I slowed down and took a big break about floor 20 and again at 28. I took a huge 5-minute break at floor 40. After that, it actually got easier. I only stopped once from there at 63 to gather myself for the final thrust. I could hear the music at the top of the stairwell. Queen's "We Are the Champions." That made life easier.


--I passed a few people and was passed by a few people, but was still happy to be moving. The goal was to not die. I accomplished that goal.

--The Leukemia people could make a lot more money if they announced the number of hardbodied women in sports bras who would be present. Not that I, a newly married man, notice such things in anyone other than my beautiful wife.

--Every few flights, there was a picture of a child with leukemia. We'd lost a few, some had beaten it, and some were in the battle. My problems with the 69 flights were nothing compared theirs. They helped keep my going.

--It's a hell of a long way down.

--There was fog over Lake Washington, which made the view east-bound even more beautiful than the view west-bound.

--Still, I didn't stay up there too long. The observation deck at the top is damn smelly. There's a lot of sweat in there.

--The elevator ride down is even smellier. A packed elevator filled with sweaty people. Ick.

--My time: 30 minutes, 45 seconds, including the big breaks.

--I will be back next year, and I want to do it in 24:36. That would be 80% of this year's time. The high school kids did it in about 20 minutes, so I think 24:36 is reasonable to shoot for.

--I need to get my ass to the gym. (But not today. I've had my workout today.)

A decade

This week marks the 10-year anniversary of my move to Seattle.

I kicked around a little in my early 20s...two years teaching in Leesville, Louisiana (through the Teach For America program), one year working towards an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh. While in Pittsburgh, I realized I missed teaching, and since I (1) hated graduate school and (2) didn't get funded for a second year, I realized it was time to bolt and get back into teaching.

But where? I could literally go anywhere. The only thing limiting me was where I wanted to be.

I had to decide where I wanted to spend my life. No pressure there.

At that point, I had lived West (grew up in Colorado), Midwest (Ohio, Missouri), East-ish (Pittsburgh), South (Louisiana), and overseas (England). I felt like I had enough knowledge to make a decision.

I selected three criterion.

1. I wanted to live west of the Mississippi. I would not enjoy living in New England (I don't remember who wrote about their "right to pursue unhappiness," but I find this often true). In fact, the whole East coast has a "I must get things done quickly" vibe I can't stand. Whenever I visit, I feel like politeness is valued far less. I know...there are exceptions on both ends. But I prefer politeness to brusqueness, and there's a hell of a lot more brusqueness east of the Mississippi than West. Incidentally, the South was out too. I can be friends with people who disagree with me politically, but I don't want those to be the only people I ever hang out with.

2. I wanted to be near some form of family. I'd been on my own for a while at that point, but my sister was having children and my brother, newly married, had them on his horizon. My parents are fun to chill with as well. I want to be around at least one of them.

3. I wanted to be in a city with a major league baseball team. Just because.

At the time, this meant I was either to move to St. Louis (big sister), Denver (parents), or Seattle (brother).

St. Louis was immediately eliminated. My sister lived two hours away in Columbia, and I'd damn near die in those summers.

This left it down to Denver or Seattle. I grew up in Denver; therefore, I chose Seattle. That's the whole story...I wanted to mint new episodes of my life rather than risk falling into reruns.

So, I moved into my parents' basement in Denver for 10 months to save up money. I hated being there, but my parents made it easier. When I apologized for my presence, my Dad said something I'll never forget: "You have a job and you have a plan. Stay as long as you need."

I was all set to move in February 1996. Then I had an emergency appendectomy. Pushed it back a month.

March of 1996 I headed north on I-25, west on 80, spent a couple of days with friends in Salt Lake, then a night in Baker City, Oregon, before arriving at my brother's place. "Welcome to this chapter of your life," he said. I knew it was a big deal because my brother rarely speaks like that.

My first aprartment here was scary. I didn't think of it in these terms, but I was living in poverty. A rooming house. I had a toilet next to my refrigerator. The guy across the hall was mentally ill. He came home one day screaming--absolutely screaming--"[Racial epithet]!!! Goddamn [racial epithets]! I hate them! I hate them!" When I'd talk to friends on the phone, I'd be hiding under my covers so crazy guy wouldn't hear me. I had temp jobs that were not discernibly better from the old job selling bets at the dog track. Life felt like it was in an endless phase of transition. I was deeply depressed. I met Swankette, we dated, and we broke up, which was a major blessing because she wasn't in any better a place than I was.

Now...holy cow. My 30s are SO much better than my 20s. In this town, I've gone from there to here. I have a wife, a cat, a condo, and a career. I'm mostly very happy.

10 years in this wonderful town. I love it here...and now, I'm looking at the probability of leaving town in a year or two. We want to procreate, but need a house first. The Seattle housing market is not kind to teachers. Unless we win the lottery or find an incredible deal, we're likely to move down I-5 to Portland next year.

I'm looking forward to it, of course. I feel like I've already got a couple of friends waiting for me down there. I've grown to like the place. I'll still be able to make it to 4-5 Mariner games a year. I'll still see my nephews, niece, brother, sister, and parents, all of whom have reconvened here in the Emerald City. And it'll be fun to mint new episodes in a new place. The Family Chapter of the life will begin.

But still, I've spent far longer here than anywhere except my childhood home. The current address, where I've only lived for 2.5 years, is #3 on places I've lived longest in my life.

I've gotta admit, it'll be hard to say goodbye. Places matter.

Friday, March 17, 2006

It's in the mail.

Oh frabjous day! I have sent my NBPTS essays in! Even if I wanted to, there is now NOTHING I can do to improve them!

Next: The test. June 10.

Wow. Disgusting.

Want to pass the high-stakes graduation test?

It's totally fine to fabricate sources.

The state of Washington says go for it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A quartet of NBPTS observations

1. If one types a bunch of labels with the word "Accomplishment" on the over and over again, one will swear one has misspelled "accomplishment." It just starts to look funny. Don't you think?


2. My plan was to finish up tonight and make copies tomorrow. But dammit, there's college basketball to be enjoyed tomorrow. I will make my copies tonight. Hell or high water, I'll make copies tonight. Then, I take tomorrow off, watch the men's tourney (is Kenyon in it?). My district has set up a professional day for me on Friday to box everything up with my fellow NBPTS-ers.

3. With the exception of asking my wife to look at the most-recently-edited piece (that'd be Entry 1 for AYAELA, those of you who hit this blog by searching on "NBPTS"), I am DONE WRITING. All I have to do now is print, organize, paginate, and copy. Which I estimate will take 4.5 hours from this moment.

4. After Friday's Boxing Day Celebration? I reconnect with my wife and family. Babysit a little. Not think about matters professional for three weeks. Focus on fantasy baseball for a while. Travel to Southern California and Las Vegas for Spring Break.

Then, it's time to think about the Big Test...the other 40% of my fate.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Watching basketball while finishing off NBPTS stuff

The new Nike commercial, where kids' basketball plays are choreographed to look exactly like Michael Jordan's most famous plays, is absolutely gorgeous. Any hoops fan recognizes them...there's Jordan and Craig Ehlo, there's Jordan and Bryon Russell, there's Jordan's 3 in the 1992 Finals. But they're kids, and it looks real.

LOVE it. One of the best ads I've seen in a long, long time. Just joyous.

A new way of picking the NCAAs.

I'm too busy to do any real homework, and this will be more fun anyway...

Rather than actually making predictions based on merit, or even waiting for the brackets to be announced, I've decided that this year I will predict the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament based solely on seedings, and without so much as a second thought. I predict I do better in the pool than I have in the past.

I will make real predictions later this week based on actual teams. I like Northern Iowa.

Here are my iron-clad predictions.

UPPER LEFT REGION (based on the CBS Sportsline bracket):

Seeds winning by round:
1, 9, 7, 4, 3, 6, 5, 2
1, 7, 3, 2
1, 3

1, 8, 10, 4, 3, 11, 5, 2
1, 4, 3, 5
4, 3

1, 8, 7, 13, 3, 6, 5, 2
1, 7, 6, 5
1, 6

1, 8, 7, 4, 3, 11, 12, 2
8, 4, 3, 2
4, 2

Upper Left 1 vs. Lower Right 2 in the finals

Upper Left 1 will be the winner!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I never thought this stuff could actually happen...

Once there was an official--a good friend of mine, I guy I work with often--called BloggingRef.

He wrote lots of good stuff that sports fans should enjoy.

One day, after his season ended, he got a comment.

From a guy at Referee Magazine.

He wanted to print one of his entries.

Now, it wasn't like BloggingRef had been discovered exclusively on the strength of his blog. He actually had sent his URL in to Referee, but not to be discovered. He'd thought that, if Referee ever did a piece about officiating stuff on-line, that he would manage to get his URL published so he could maybe know...readers.

But what he got was publication in a real-live glossy paper magazine.

And there's more.

When BloggingRef sent in his article, he sent in five ideas for stories he'd always thought he'd like to see and/or he thought he was uniquely positioned to write.

A few days later, they asked him to write two of them.

That'd be two more publications, two more checks.

I'm kind of jealous of BloggingRef--I feel like I can write just as well as he can, but it's not like any niche magazines with large readerships are coming after me. But still, I'm pleasantly surprised that, indeed...

a writer actually can get work from a blog. That totally blows my mind. There might be something to these internets.

(By the way, BloggingRef doesn't want to brag about his accomplishment, since it would call attention to himself and risk his anonymity. He's funny that way. So don't post about this over there or he'll kick my butt.)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

What scares does nothing scare us worse than?

I noticed somebody reached my blog by searchign on "nothing scares me worse than." This searcher did it without quotes, however.

A Google search on "Nothing scares me worse than" with quotes, however, should say something about our world.

With a nod to Matt/BFOP, who does this often (albeit in the news), I present...

What does nothing scare people worse than?

1. A comic book adaptation.

2. Members of our government, elected or not, telling me they want to help me.

3. The thought of going to war. (But, this DC intern adds in a 9/18/2001 article, "it's payback time.")

4. A horse jigging about when you're trying to get up and sorted.

5. (on a horn being sold on Ebay).

6. A runaway brush fire.

7. Doctors and dentists.

8. Electrical gremlins.

9. To be behind another rider and his bike is dancing all over the place.

10. Shipping a set of wings, or waiting for some to arrive.
11. A ghost with *gasp* POWERS!!!

12. A centipede.

13. An OLD moly chassis (except Chinese parts).

14. A ventriloquist doll!

15. The possibility of losing my vision.

16. A dreamer!!!!!!!!!!!11

17. an 80s flash Back!

18. Depression.

19. Herps. (I suspect a misspelling here.)

20. DKA (a feline disease).

And, strangely, in LAST place is the scariest one of all:

21. A world without right angles.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


My parents said something nice today.

I said I was worried about not getting NBPTS certification, as only 40% get it nationwide and 60% in Washington. My dad said:

"When was the last time you were in the lower 60% of anything?"

Well, let's not count fitness tests...I tend to think of the Presidential Physical Fitness tests, a yearly humiliation for me. Other than that...

well, my parents are very nice.

And I have a minor lull right now while I wait for the last assignment I need to write about to come in...but about 14 days hence, I could be totally done with my portfolio. Wow. That's the plan, anyway, since I hope to pack it up with my cohort-mates on March 17th. And party like a freakin' jumping frog on acid that night.