Friday, October 31, 2008

I declare victory!

With that last post, I have completed blog-a-day month for the second year in a row. And as Lance proved last year, the person who wins is the person who declares victory first. I declare myself to be the winner in 2008. Join us tomorrow when Haiku-a-day month begins, and have a happy Halloween.

Fixing the hole where the brain gets in

Here are some of my suggestions for revamping education.

1. Eliminate all grades. Even down to first grade - gone. There would be some age appropriate general information classes that would cover some topics other than English and math. But English and math are entirely individualized education. It's not even about having classes put together. You have one skill at a time. You work on it until you master it. Much of the work would be individualized or in very small groups. Small like three or four at the most. That way you can have kids with several different skill sets in one room with one teacher. A lot of the work would be done with interactive materials, especially computers. Many of the basic foundations of learning don't need to be done creatively, to be honest. The kids don't need dynamic lesson plans at that age. They need regular individual attention. Under this idea, brighter kids could finish everything much faster than others. They might master everything in fewer years. So they move on to the next level sooner.

2. At the end of mastery of certain skill sets, which basically would mimic the general expectations we now have of elementary and middle school, you take your tests and decide what you want to do with yourself. Similar idea to other nations. You then go to a career path based high school,whether its college prep, trade school, sports or arts academy, whatever. No more of this "you can all go to college" crap. Let's stop lying to our kids. They aren't all going, and many that do won't survive.

3. Remove most of the barriers for teachers. The credential program is a waste of time and money. Using the changes I described above, classroom management is no longer necessary. If someone isn't on task, you remove them from the room so that they don't slow anyone down. Everyone is on his or her own, so if they miss stuff, it's their problem. Yes, even five and six year olds. Start teaching responsibility then. For training, use a partner or mentor teacher program for the first six months or year or so. Remember there's no such thing as quarters and semesters, so that's irrelevant.

4. If we want the kids to perform, show the teachers that we want them to perform as well. PAY them like they matter.

5. No grades. That's because there are no classes. You either have mastered the skill or you haven't. If you haven't, keep going.

6. Make standards and benchmarks rigid for learning to read and basic mathematics. Allow more flexibility later.

7. Children who continue to be a discipline problem don't get an education. I mentioned above that if they are off task, get rid of them and they will just go slower. if a child hits thirteen and still can't get his or her shit together due to behavior issues, you're done. You are done with public education for minors forever. Parents then have the option of continuing to educate the child at their own expense, getting them a job, or sending them to the military. Off to fight at age 13? Yes.

8. No one is allowed to make any rules regarding education (including determining the standards, testing, pay, time, schedules) unless they have been the teacher of record in a classroom for a minimum of seven years. That doesn't mean administration. That doesn't mean worked in the office. That doesn't mean assistants. Teachers. Seven, though preferably ten years. Everyone else, you don't know what you're talking about yet.

9. Parents are responsible for their children's education. They should be involved in some way in the mastery of every skill.

10. Parents do not know what is best for their child. Parents are often wrong when it comes to their child. The teacher knows what is best for the child when it comes to their education. Shut the fuck up and do what the teacher tells you to do.

I think that's a good start. There need to be more changes too, such as the return of corporal punishment. What would you like to add?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hitting the Road?

I'm getting the desire to drive again. I really had the bug when school ended last year, and as many of you know, I started driving. And I ended up in Minneapolis. I did a pretty sweet job of driving the driving urge right out of me. The problem was that I fulfilled my desire right around the time I arrived in St. Louis. That's a long ways away to be stuck in a Motel 6.

But on that particular trip, it wasn't just the driving urge. I also had some head clearing to do. I had the whole Concord High yearbook crap to purge as well as the EDMS school year. A couple other things as well. Those things finished getting out of my head on the way back from St. Louis. So much of life is seeing the same view over and over again, from getting out of bed, the viewpoint at work, the seat on my couch. It takes a change of viewpoint to clean out your head sometimes.

So I'm kinda there again. I have that desire to just go somewhere. I want to plug in my mp3 player and catch up on podcasts while I watch a different part of the world go by. I don't need a major mental purge like I had a few months ago. We have some vacation time coming up. There's a long weekend next weekend, then Thanksgiving soon after. And Winter Break after that. Assuming I haven't bought a house and I can spend a little money, I need to go somewhere for a night or two. I'm just not sure where I can head for just a couple days that will be different enough, yet still affordable. Suggestions are welcomed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My love/hate relationship with baseball

Another World Series has come and gone. I think I watched about a dozen pitches, if that many. Why? i guess I didn't really care about either team. Baseball is probably the only sport where I'm a homer. I'm probably an A's fan and a Padres fan, as I was in San Diego during their last World Series trip and had the chance to go to many games. My buddy Terry and I even drove out to Phoenix to check out a Spring Training game against the A's. I guess that would be my first of several baseball road trips.

But the thing is that I'm not really a big baseball fan. Let me amend that. I'm not a fan of following baseball. I don't check stats and standings through the season. 162 games is just ridiculous. I don't like watching baseball on TV. I actually prefer listening to it on the radio, but I never do. But I love going to games. I think it's because I'm more a fan of the history and idea of baseball.

I've set a goal to see every MLB team play a home game. I worded it hat way very carefully to avoid saying visit every MLB park. The Yankees are an example, in that I saw them at Yankee Stadium, but that won't be their home next season. So they I couldn't count them. This way I can. And it isn't the Yankees that I make that rule for. It's more about team like the Twins. I saw them in the Metrodome, but they're moving out of there in a couple years. I also spent a day in Minneapolis. I pretty much don't need to go back. So unless the new ball park is crazy amazing unique, do I really want to go there? No, I'm good.

You might think it's strange that I'm not such a big fan of baseball but I have this goal. And I kinda agree. So where does it come from? I think it started on my first major road trip. I reached Cleveland on the way out to the east coast. My plan was to check out the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame that night, since it was its free night and it was open late. It turned out that everyone wanted to go that night since it was the free night and open late. So while it was open late, it had already closed to additional people. So I was stuck in Cleveland. What is there to do in Cleveland? Go to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. That's about it. But there's also the Cleveland Indians. So I decided to go to a game. That was back in 1999 when they sold out every game. I had to stand around waiting for scalpers who were riding around on their bicycles to finally decide to sell a single ticket for under $50. I made it in before the game started with a $20.00 ticket, top row. VERY top row. (And I went to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame the next morning, which was incredible, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton that afternoon. Excellent day.)

Since then, I've found going to ball parks to be an excellent activity in many of these cities. Ever been to Detroit? There's about as much to do there as there is in Minneapolis and Cleveland. But it's a major city, so I went there to see what I was missing. Well, White Castle and the Detroit Lions. And that's a great park. It's lots of fun to plan the road trips using the MLB schedule as a starting point. Here's a list of the teams I've seen in alpha order:

1. Atlanta Braves
2. Baltimore Orioles
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Cincinnati Red
5. Cleveland Indians
6. Detroit Tigers
7. Houston Astros
8. Kansas City Royals
9. LA Angels of Anaheim
10. LA Dodgers
11. Milwaukee Brewers
12. Minnesota Twins
13. New York Yankees
14. Oakland A’s
15. Philadelphia Phillies
16. Pittsburgh Pirates
17. San Diego Padres
18. San Francisco Giants
19. St. Louis Cardinals

And the ones I haven't been to see:

1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Colorado Rockies
5. Florida Marlins
6. New York Mets
7. Seattle Mariners
8. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
9. Texas Rangers
10. Toronto Blue Jays
11. Washington Nationals

And since I know that I'll reach the goal before I die, I'm going to live a long, long life. Who wants to go to Tampa? Though I'm looking forward to Boston. I tried, but they were sold out and the scalper tickets were ridiculous. I have a plan to see a Red Sox game, but it will be a few years.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New stuff?

I like stuff. That's just the way I am. And when it comes to stuff, I also like new stuff. New stuff is shinier and newer than just regular old stuff. I also like movies and TV. So allow me to talk about new TV shows and new movies. With the new TV season, I only tried to watch one new show, Fringe. I wasn't into it. The first episode went on too long for me. So I'm not watching any new shows. While that should be disappointing, I think it's actually a good thing. There are some other shows that I know are good that I want to catch up on using the magic of Netflix. I really need to keep watching Battlestar Galactica. So no new TV shows? That's aight. But new movies - there aren't any coming up that I'm excited for. It seems like we have a bunch of years in a row with some fun movies to look forward to. The new Star Wars movies were coming out. Even if they didn't totally live up to the expectations, i still enjoyed them and enjoyed the anticipation. For three years the Lord of the Rings movies were coming out, and to me they far exceeded my expectations. Pixar always had something cool in the works,and the teast of good superhero movies were becoming real. Even Kill Bill II was worth the wait, and I looked forward to seeing it. But right now? There's nothing long term. There are movies that I'll want to see the few days before they come out. For example, we have three Harry Potter movies left to watch. Marvel will have more franchises. I'm sure Batman will be back again, and there are always tons of Superman rumors. But as I check out the list of movies coming out over the next few months and into next year, there's nothing that I'm ready to buy my ticket for. i guess I'll have to get out and see the real world. Who wants that shit?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Voting fever -catch it!

I've started to take some time this evening to do my civic duty and research the California ballot measures. For those of you who want to do the same but don't want to spend time searching through dozens of websites and literature, I found an excellent starting point called ballotpedia. Yes, it's a wiki, so all the warnings that go with wikipedia go along with it. However it seems to nicely summarize both sides of each measure as well as give plenty of links in case you need more. From what I can tell so far, for most voters, this is the best resource ever. And I mean every syllable of that hyperbole. The reason why we are a republic and not a true democracy is that our founding fathers rightfully realizes that individuals don't have the time, capabilities, or desire to research every issue. That's why the Federal government does not have any system of public referendum. This internet thing gives us something like ballotpedia, which is a much better resource than the mailed voter's guide. I still have plenty of decisions to make this weekend. But for now, here's the Handy Harris voters guide:

Prop 4 - No.
Prop 8 - No.
For the other props, I'm leaning toward NO on just about all of them. I'll have to read something amazing about them to vote YES.

McCain/Palin - No. If I believed that my endorsements influenced anybody, I would encourage a Yes for Obama/Biden. But vote for anyone that isn't McCain/Dipshit

April Treece - No.
Jeff Adams - No.
Gary Eberhart - Yes.
Sherry Whitmarsh - Yes.

And for those last two, you can check their website to see that my "endorsement" is actually a real endorsement. Exciting stuff.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


When I need a good laugh, there are a few websites I can go to that I know will be hilarious. One of these is Ray Comfort's blog. For those of you who don't know who he is, he is actually one of the most horrible people on the planet. He is a Christian writer who likes to prove the existence of God and fight evolution with things like bananas. And he is dumber than a banana. A recent blog post had the following paragraph. It's in response to a movement in Britain where signs state that there probably isn't a God. In it, he proves that not only is he an idiot but his wife is even dumber.

This can do nothing but remind people about God, and promote the gospel as it gives Christians another reason to share their faith. I do a similar thing when I want my wife to drive carefully. I know that if I say, "Drive carefully," it will be like water off a duck’s back. So I instead say, "Drive dangerously." That makes her think more about driving carefully. It’s human nature to do that.

Moral of the story? It's human nature to be an idiot. And I don't know if I can really argue with Mr. Comfort. For further evidence of idiots, watch Kirk Cameron in the video linked above. And just in case you, even for a split second, get caught up in Comfort's banana argument, remember that the banana was domesticated.

Could it be... Satan?

According to THIS story, man first made fire almost 800,000 years ago. Clearly, this story is the work of Satan. Since the world is barely 6000 years old, there's no way that this story could be true. In class last week, we talked about how Benjamin Franklin was 81-years-old at the time of the Constitution convention. I told them how his age was relatively older than it would be now, since life expectancy has gone up. But a student said that she thought people used to live to be 200 years old. Clearly when I corrected her, I was doing the work of Satan. While I was prepping for tomorrow, I turned on The 40-Year-Old Virgin in the background. Just a few minutes ago, they played a commercial for some Christian Music. Whose idea was the selection of this particular time slot for that commercial? Clearly, once again, Satan. The end times must be near. Just like they have been for the past 2000 years.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Blog Post

It's official. I've got nothing. I've had the laptop on my laptop for a couple hours how with the blogger page open. I've caught up on a little TiVo while waiting for inspiration. I've surfed the web a bit. Sure, I've found tons of things that I could blog about. Big epic blogs. I could even continue going through the list of issues that I started last week. I can blog about some local politics. I have a blog about music that I want to write. But I don't want to sit here and type for so long. I know that whatever I pick to blog about, I'll either type forever or not do it the justice it deserves. So this blog is about nothing. Take nothing from it. Do not comment. On myspace, give it no kudos. In fact, if you read it, go build yourself a time machine and go back to moments before you started reading this blog and tell yourself not to bother. Please disperse. Nothing to see here. And yet, I still rule.

Friday, October 24, 2008


So there's this blog that I want to write. It has to do with going to Concord High's homecoming. I would like to write about how split my mind and heart was, as Concord High played against Clayton Valley. You see, I went to Clayton Valley. Class of '92. I want to write about how my loyalty to my alma mater made me want to root for the Ugly Eagles. The memories that it brought back of football games when I attended. I spent those games in my marching band uniform waiting for halftime to perform the halftime show. And then in the second half the rally band members came back out to make more noise. And I want to write about how I have this sense of loyalty to Concord now, too. I worked there for four years. The vast majority of my former students went to and graduated from Concord. So which side would I root for? Clayton Valley or Concord? That's the blog I want to write. But as it turns out, I don't care. I probably watched four plays total. Mostly I had fun talking to former students, from freshmen through seniors, and a few in college as well. But the rivalry? Two shits.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Adventures of Kindergartner Stool

The first quarter of the school year ends tomorrow. So far it has been moving pretty quickly. Of 197 students, about 120 have A's and 20 have F's. That's a significant improvement over last year, I must say. Those with F's have tried really, really hard to get those F's. I explained in class today that most of my students seem to be at least smarter than the stool in my classroom. Also, I expressed my belief that a kindergarten student would get higher grades on the notebooks than some of my students. That's because I'm basically giving a lot of points for taking the work we do in class and pasting it into the notebook. A kindergarten student can paste things. Many 8th graders cannot. So for the second quarter, I'm going to start putting a new student into my gradebook. It's name is Kindergartner Stool. I will assign quiz grades a score that I believe someone can receive by randomly filling out the quiz. For the notebooks, I'll give it the grade that someone would receive for doing the work in class and pasting it into the notebook. For participation, I will take points away every time the stool interrupts me in class. I think that Kindergartner Stool will score higher than at least 10 students.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm a republican! And I'm against prop 8!

All right, so first I thought this ad was interesting. Is it possible that the Yes and No camps for prop 8 aren't partisan? Interesting:

So then I wanted to take a quick look at the website for Republicans Against 8. Seeing the faces, I didn't recognize most of them. A quick hover reveals the names.

On the far right, second from the bottom, is this guy:

A hover shows his name to be - Scott Harris! You can click on his picture to read what he has to say - and it's exactly what I believe. Which is,something that shouldnt' be a surprise to my readers, that this is a RIGHTS issue. You don't take away rights!

I wonder if these people who have the Yes on 8 signs in their yards and on their cars (and possibly on their magic underwear, ifyaknowwhatimean) actually think that this is so different from the issues faced in the 60s. Their supposedly non-religious arguments mirror those against interracial marriage.
(And for those who aren't regular readers, no, I'm NOT a Republican)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Potty talk

Taking a break from the issues today to talk about... bathrooms. More specifically, my bathroom. Since I'm going to be renting out my condo, my bathroom had some little problems that needed to be fixed. The linoleum floor needed to be replaced and the sink faucets needed to be replaced. I decided that if those things were going to be replaced, then I might as well put in a new vanity. And then a new toilet would be good. And of course, fresh paint to go with all of them. I stopped at the bathtub. I kept that. And instead of just putting down a nice simple floor, I decided that I would learn to tile. And most importantly, I wanted to do the whole thing by myself. I watched some HGTV, read some books, browsed the internet, and talk to some people with experience. But I did it all myself. And now it's almost done. I just need a couple dabs of caulk and to polace to new toilet. I was going to do that tonight, but I'm dead tired. So tomorrow night, it's all done. Exhausting process, but I feel like i've accomplished something. It's a good feeling. Now it's time to find a house so that I can get out of here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Issues - Part III

Not a lot of time, so just two today.

9. Should we end (or reduce the use of) the death penalty?

From what I've read, the death penalty isn't a deterrent. And it just doesn't seem like our government should be killing people. And then there's the racial inequality involved. And if they are wrong, you can't go back. So I guess if it were totally and completely up to me, with no other ramifications, I guess I would end it. Maybe. I wouldn't vote for a candidate based on this opinion. I'm not going to miss anyone who receives the death penalty.

10. Should there be a higher minimum wage?

No. Minimum wage is a short term solution to a long term problem. Raising minimum wage raises the price of everything else, making people working for minimum wage again receiving a lower wage than necessary. Seems like a bad cycle. And working in education, I have to emphasize the point that the people who need minimum wage beyond their teen years are the ones who don't have an education. Don't plan to live off of a minimum wage job and you shouldn't need to.

To be continued...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Issues- Part II

Continuing from yesterday...

5. Does the US need a system of universal health care?

The question is whether health care is a right or not. If it is, then yes. If not, then no. I think it's partially yes. I definitely favor universal health care for kids. Specifically, conception through three months after graduating high school. I see it as something totally different, though. It should be part of the educational system. It's focus should be on prevention and health education. Seems to me that if you can make it through the important developmental years with health care, it's going to solve a lot of problems down the road. Two rules - you drop out of school, it's done. Second rule - you get pregnant, your health care ends so that the child's begins. While the child is in your womb, you will be covered only in ways that help the child.

6. Should marijuana be legalized?

For those over 18, yes. I have not heard a good reason why it shouldn't be. Legalize it, tax it. Seems to me that a lot of problems are solved right there. And for those people who face problems because of abusing it? They're on their own.

7. Should we repeal [or substantially change] the Patriot Act?

r heaYou do NOT touch my rights. Terrorism is not the problem that the administration would like you to think it is. Should we be taking steps to stop terrorism? Yes. Should we touch any rights in order to do so? No. Does that mean that maybe a terrorist attack happens and people die? Yes. It does. People might die. People are going to die anyway. Rights can live forever. Screw you if you think your life is worth more than anyone's rights, you selfish prick.

8. Does the US have a right to stop countries we do not trust from getting weapons?

Just like the Iran question, we lost that right when we prematurely, incorrectly, and irresponsibly invaded Iraq. This is what the UN was made for. The current rules of the UN, with a single veto Security Council, doesn't work. Fix it. Because clearly, the US government is currently too incompetant to make this kind of decision (could be a problem that disappears sometime around Januray 20th of next year, though).

To be continued...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Issues - PART I

In my class, we're looking at 24 political issues. I pulled these from a website called It's an another online quiz to see whether you more closely align yourself with Democrats or Republicans. If you would like to take the quiz yourself before you continue reading, go ahead. I'll still be here when you return. I figure it's a good thing for the students to find out, but it also gives us a chance to go through these issues. And now, more importantly for you the reader, it gives me a good list of topics to blog about for a few days. If you need blog topics yourself, feel free to copy. So I'm going to go through these and give my particular slanted point of view on all of these. It should show you exactly why I will never be elected president.

1. Are our gun control laws too strict?

Just like Christians going straight to their fairy tale book, I go straight to the Constitution. Second Amendment. As a history teacher, it's easy to point out the whole militia part of it and dismiss gun rights all together for those who aren't part of the militia. It's lots more fun to say that we're going to ship all the gun owners to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Constitution is a living document, so this Amendment has changed with time. This is something that I've changed my mind on over the years. While I still don't see a point in me owning a gun, I have no reason to take away anyone else's right to have one. I do support waiting periods and background checks. I don't think that average people especially need a gun more powerful than a handgun or rifle, but I don't know if they government is any more qualified than I am to make that judgement call. But I wouldn't want to add more restrictions to gun laws. I would want to see a stronger enforcement of existing laws and harsher sentences for those that abuse the laws. I won't join the NRA, but I won't say anything harsh about the organization in general. So are they too strict? No.

2. Should gay marriage be legalized?

Prop 8 here. No surprises, since I've talked about this one. It's a freedom issue. You DON'T take rights away from people. However, the entire idea of marriage is lame anyway. Governments shouldn't recognize marriage, gay or not. I'm not even a fan of civil unions as far as the government is concerned. Legally, marriage should mean nothing. If you choose to live together, you sign a legal document beforehand, just like a prenup but without the nup. Tax households instead of people. This eliminates divorce. If you want to be married, great. But why do you want the government to have anything to do with it?

3. Should we consider invading Iran?

We lost any such right, whether they need to be invaded or not, with our blunder in Iraq. Also, any threat from Iran is due to the elimination of Iran's enemy, Iraq. Good job, W. You fuck knob.

4. Should intelligent design be taught in public schools alongside evolution?

No. Why? Because people not all people are retarded. Science belongs in science class, fairy tales belong in church. Even beyond that, which intelligent design theory are you going to teach? The Christian one? Hindu? Norse? This is something that I would like to blog about more often, but Lance does a better job of saying what I want to say in his.

To Be Continued...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Next summer

I just figured out, in the last few days, what's been bugging me for the past year or so. Sure, eighth graders. That's a given. But something else just hasn't felt quite right. And then I finally decided that I needed to make sure that I sign up for a summer vacation for next year. And there it is. As soon as I clicked the "send" button on the final page, I felt better. I thought I would feel worry about where the money is coming from, but not at all. Everything's good. I need to travel, and now I have an awesome vacation to look forward to.
I'm off to Scandinavia. You can see the details of the tour here:
Why Scandinavia? I really want to go back to Europe. I've loved all of the Rick Steves tours. This was one of the choices. Sure, there are three or four other awesome tours that I would also really like. But something about this one drew me in a couple years ago. I decided at that time to go with the Eastern European trip. And that was the right decision. That trip was beyond amazing. But since this Scandanivia trip had been the runner up then, it wins this time. Now I know that I won't have an empty summer next year, it all feels right. So Norway, Sweden, Denmark. My life is better than yours.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Giant Ego

I've decided that I need to develop an even bigger ego. Some of you might already be wondering how that can be possible. We're taking this blog back to Scrubs once again. There was an episode where Dr. Cox was trying to teach Turk that a big ego is a good thing. And I've decided that I agree, so I need to push my confidence and arrogance far beyond what I already display. Now for everyone that I know read my blog - I already know that I'm better than all of you at everything, with the exception of being good at the negative things. For example, many of you are proficient at sucking. I cannot match that skill, and I choose not to. There are also many lesser things that some might not consider negative. I might begin to emulate sports figures who display massive confidence while showing a lack of intelligence. The lack of intelligence is deceptive. If you are confident, the rules of grammar fo the word "myself" no longer matter. In the previous sentence, I typed "fo" instead of "of." I don't need to change it because in that instance, it was right. Why? Because I rule. So from this point on, be careful if we're in the same room. There might not be room for you, me, and my ego.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just a quickie today

This has been a rather busy day, with trying to deal with PowerPoint 2007 not wanting to create slide transitions, putting together a log of hours for my class units, dealing with the insurance crap from the lame ass lady who backed into my car, doing laundry when I still don't have a laundry room, making an appointment to sign papers to buy a house so that I can have a laundry room, keeping tabs on the debate, and a few other things. So I'm resorting to an oldie, but goodie.

Here we are, day 15 of blog-a-day month.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Harris discusses nipples and erections

Three nights in a row of TV commentary. That's good times. I'mtrying to do some other work,but i usually prefer sound to silence. So I have an episode of Scrubs on right now, since it's on 500 times a night. On this particular episode, there's a patient who took a Viagra type medication. And his particular situation has lasted longer than four hours. As the commercials mention, when the erection lasts longer than four hours, you should notify your doctor. (Also remember that the ad stating that were played over and over again during the Superbowl where Janet Jackson showed her hardly covered nipple, but yet "four hour erection" was less noticable that a flash of what may or may not have been a nipple. I'm still convinced that the outrage wasn't from conservatives or uptight but from the nippleless. Yes, those people with no nipples who were upset that it was finally revealed to the world on national TV that most people have nipples. Yep.) So, of course, during this episode of Scrubs, which commercial did they show? Yep, the same one that they're using for that particular plot line. I'm pretty sure it's coincidental, but if it weren't would that be bad advertising or brilliant? Be sure to tune in tomorrow when I discuss vaginas and buttholes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What is bitch and moan?

First a disclaimer for this and all future blogs. My spacebar doesn't work correctly.

I really wanted to rant on here tonight. While preparing my dinner, which is now slowly cooking in the oven, I was thinking about a great blog about the meaning of respect and tying it in with how your crappy religion is wrong. It was a great thing, with themes, plotlines, and character development. But I have something much more important that needs some griping. Jeopardy.

The first problem is the KGO 7 channel that shows it starts the show before the start time of 7 o'clock. I usually set the cable box timer to switch to Jeopardy at 7, but it has already started. I miss about two or three questions. Not acceptable.

The second problem is that with the new season, they got rid of a sound effect. It's the beeping while they show the numbers on the board immediately before Trebek reads the categories. It's the sound that plays while he's telling us how many Daily Doubles are in that round. And that sound is gone. Luckily, as I mentioned in the first complaint, I usually miss it for the first round. But I'm there for Double Jeopardy. Lame.

And finally, the newest orchestration of the Final Jeopardy is too much. It smacks of effort. Scale back and let me think about the question. When I get it right and the contestants all get it wrong, my night is complete. I don't want to be distracted by the new crappy arrangement. Not that it will stop me. I will still win because I rule.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Amazing Race

I guess I've lost interest in the Amazing Race over the past few years. It used to be one of the reality shows I watched, mostly because I like to travel so much. I used to think that if there were one reality show that I would actually go on, it would be that one. And I think I would do really well. I generally have a good sense of direction and the decent ability to adapt in foreign countries. Though I do have to say that the only two continents I have been to are North America and Europe, so physically blending in hasn't been too difficult.

The problem I would have is that it's a two person game. I think that might frustrate me too much. I tend to be a "if you want something done do it yourself" kind of person. I don't really like leaving things in other people's hands that I think have to be done a certain way. In preparation for the spring break DC trip, the only thing I let anyone else do is arrange the car pools. I do that since it's a lot of calling, which I don't like to do. Also, it has always been the car pools home from the airport. If that got messed up, someone would end up getting stuck at the airport, and I have to believe that no adults would leave them alone. But the error wouldn't delay the trip. This year we will be carpooling both ways to the airport, so I'm going to have to have someone take care of that. But I'll definitely have them take care of it early, and then very carefully go over their work.

That was more of an aside than I intended. The Amazing Race requires that the two people work together at times (which I could handle) and then trusting the other person to do something (which I couldn't). I would also spend all of the time checking the other person's work. If they read the clue, I would want to read it over again. I wouldn't be able to do it without someone I could trust like that. Too tough for me, especially since as I was watching and as I typed this, the people who were eliminated lost because they didn't follow directions properly. I almost want to show that clip in class to show kids, "See? This is what happens when you don't read the directions!" But I won't.

But I will show you a clip. This is one of the most racist sounding (but actually isn't) clips from the Amazing Race. It's from the family season. And they had one black family.

(Though if you do want some recent real racist clips, there are dozens available from the Palin rally today. Sick stuff.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I'm not wrong about anything in particular at this moment. And while I don't like to be wrong, and sure, like anyone else don't like to admit it, I can when I am. As an example, just yesterday I returned tests. I corrected three or four errors that I had made in correcting them.

I stopped by Longs tonight for a couple quick purchases, and I paid with my debit card. That means I swipe it and follow the commands on the screen. After going through the pin number, declining cash-back, promising to kneel before Zod, and whatever else it wanted me to do, I was told to "Wait for the cashier." At that point, the cashier, a teenage boy, is looking around the store instead of at the register. I wait. I look at him, and back and forth to the message that still states, "Wait for the cashier." I continue to wait with a short cough. He looks at me. He looks down to pad where I entered my information. He looks to his register. Quickly, he reaches up and pushes a button with one hand, and with the other starts reaching toward my pad, telling me that "You have to push the button." At the instant he had pushed his button, mine had changed, asking for confirmation.

So he spaced out for about five seconds. So what? Why does he have to do this little display to make it look like we were waiting for ME? How about a quick "Sorry." I would even accept a phrase that I hate, "My bad." (That reminds me that my hatred for that phrase needs to be a blog for another day.) Or even still, don't say anything. Just push your little button and then wait for me. Nobody cares - I just wanted to get on with my little transaction and be on with it.

The thing is, I don't care if he needed to admit that his little space out was wrong. It's that suddenly he tried to deflect it to me. What is this guy going to do when something does go really wrong? Looks like this is a kid that learned well from the Bush administration.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Best lines...

One of my favorite lines from a student this week was, "Is anyone here absent?" He did try to talk his way out of that statement soon after.

One of my favorite lines from a news story this week wasn't from a debate, but from sports/music story. That has to be a good combo, right? Two good things, for sure. But one of those things is hockey (not that I have anything against hockey - I'll root for the Sharks, I guess - but I didn't miss it at all when it was on strike, and wouldn't if it totally disappeared). And the second of those things is Def Leppard. Def Leppard is possibly one of the stinkiest, steamy turds that people will try to tell you smells like roses. People have tried really hard to convince me that Def Leppard does, in fact, rock. Don't pour that sugar on me. They don't. They, like love, bite. So in the story, Def Leppard's lead singer, who I believe is named Crappy McShitcrap, messed up and put the Stanley Cup upside down. My favorite line was in that story. "If only someone on stage had helped him. Why couldn't the drummer have lent a ... bit of moral support?" Because he only has.... Yeah. Funny, says me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Challenging myself

I promised those who would start blog-a-day month that it would be a tough endeavor. A couple weeks in, topics become very difficult to come by. I argue that you can write about pretty much anything. So I'm now going to look around the room, find something, and write about it. Be back in 10 seconds...

My remote control.

Well crap. That wasn't the most exciting choice ever, but here goes. My remote control is actually the sweetest remote control ever. I won't, however, reveal how much I spent on it, since it's more than anyone ever should. But I plan to have this remote for many years to come. This is one of those super all-in-one remotes. I plug it into my computer, which then sends all the controls to the remote. I need that thing because I have my big ass TV, surround sound, and then a half a dozen different setups, including one for cable, one for TiVo, one for DVD, and one for each game system. Each one needs the TV to have a different setting and the surround sound to have a different setting, and then to control the device. It's quite a bit to remember, but now I just have to click a button while it's still facing the TV. Pretty sweet. OK, I'm playing again. Look around the room...

Can of paint

For those who don't know, I'm remodeling my bathroom. Do I know how to do such a thing? No. But that hasn't stopped me. Any day now, I'll finish. But it's been torn up for about two months now. That doesn't really mean that it has taken me that long. It's just that I need a tile cutter to finish, so I haven't done anything since school started. I think I've found one to borrow, so I'll finish it as soon as I get that into my hands. It has been an extremely interesting, educational, and humbling experience. And of course, one little or medium thing has gone wrong as just about every step. Nothing super major, though. The closest was when the outside valve to my water broke with the water turned off to my whole place, requiring a call to the homeowners association to get that fixed. As soon as I get this thing finished, which I actually hope to do in the next week, I'm going to start the house search. That should be lots of fun.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You say you want a blog about Revolution?

Let's take a moment to add to yesterday's post of brilliant El Dorado student answers

QUESTION: What did Columbus do and why did he do it?
ANSWER: Columbus wrote the Declaration of Independence

QUESTION: Who was the main author of the Declaration of Independence?
ANSWER: King George III

QUESTION:What was the first permanent British Settlement?
ANSWER: France

In spite of these answers, I think this year I took a big step in getting closer to teaching the prelude to the United States (discovery, colonies, Revolution) much better than I have in the last five years. Before then, we weren't sticklers for the standards. By that, I mean that we didn't have a real reason to get all the way through it. We would try to end the year with the Civil War, and if we were lucky, get beyond that. The standards for eighth grade don't really have a unit for the Revolution. We're supposed to teach it, as I called it before, as a prelude. It's more of an introduction until we get to the parts that we're supposed to. So I really need to condense it into about six weeks, all while getting the students used to my class, procedures, grading, and all that fun beginning of the year stuff. But how can you possibly learn anything about America without having a basic understanding of the Declaration of Independence? "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." That's probaby the most important sentence written, like, ever. The reason it's hard to teach it is because we already know it. Kids today understand that they have freedom. They know that basic idea of having rights. So the hard part isn't telling them, "Hey! You have rights!" It's getting them to understand that before this, people DIDN'T and what that meant. There are lots of facts about the colonies and the Revolution that I pretty much ignore at this point. The actual WAR for Independence? It's a side note. It's the radical idea of rights that was most important, and what leads us into the Constitution. We're in heavy Preamble mode this week. Probably the second most important sentence ever written. (The third? First Amendment. The fourth. This sentence is the fourth most important sentence EVER written.) But don't take my word for why the Preamble is important. I'll let this guy explain it to you. Why? Because there's nothing quite as fascinating as a bad Canadian actor reciting the Preamble.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Good times here:


Question: What did Columbus do and why did he do it (as discussed in class)?

Actual student in the El Dorado class of 2009 answer: Columbus made a land bridge to cross to get to asia to trade.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"We don't have to accept this!"

I just saw an ad for Yes on Prop 8. It's the only one I've seen, I think. They show Gavin Newsom with his "Whether they like it or not!" quote. One of the things that the hate mongers narrators mention is that if 8 doesn't pass, churches could lose their tax exempt status. So wait - they WANT me to vote no? Even if I was opposed to gay marriage, I would still see this as a positive. Churches should not have tax exemptions. I think this is an out of date idea whose time has come. Of course, there's no way in this Christain dominated country that it will change. The commercial states that "We don't have to accept this!" And I agree. Church tax exemptions are wrong.

A few months ago, I said that I hoped this would come to a vote since I think that the climate in California has changed enough. I still believe that it has changed, and I there's still an advantage in that people are less willing to change the law. But I just haven't seen a lot of No on 8 propaganda. I have gotten a phoner from the Yes people, and one of my former subs sent out the Yes emailer to everyone since he was, I guess, concerned that gay marriage will ruin his LDS marriage of 50+ years. But I haven't heard at all yet from the No people or seen any commercials. In something like this, I think most people have made up their minds anyway at this point. It's not like too many people are going to read Prop 8 and then say, "Hmmmm.. I need to go read about this "marriage" thing before making an informed choice.

But what worries me is the "Bradley Effect," but with gay marriage instead of black people. For those who haven't heard of the Bradley Effect, it comes from the 1982 California Governor race. All the polls showed Tom Bradley, a black man, leading the race until the end. Even exit polls showed the same thing. But Bradley lost. It is credited to people not wanting to say that they weren't voting for the black guy. That's one big reason why I think Obama needs a cushion in the polls before you can start thinking about him winning. But does liberal California put enough pressure on its people to say in public that they're voting "no" but then they'll turn around and do the opposite in the polling booth? I couldn't imagine it happening in Mississippi, for example. But California, maybe?

And before any Christians try to respond by talking about the sanctity of marriage and how God doesn't accept gay marriage, just remember this: Your religion isn't real.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I am a PC...

...and I don't wear headbands. But seriously, though, I use a PC, and I have no interest whatsoever in a Mac.

I do have to admit that it's been many years since I've used a Mac, and even then they weren't the most up-to-date. It used to be that you needed a Mac if you were doing any sort of art thing, whether it was music or drawing/painting/photo stuff. But now, with USB, your MIDI devices work just as well with a PC and with Adobe's Creative Suite being released for both platforms (and nearly identically), those reasons are out.

I hear about the crashing. Since Windows 2000, crashing hasn't been a problem. Oh, I would never say that it never crashes. But it isn't worth the discussion when comparing the two. Back at SDSU when I was using a Mac while working in the dorms, those these crashed CONSTANTLY.

When I "taught" computers for a year, we were in an iMac lab. That lab SUCKED. They did crash regularly. And it was incredibly difficult to get the computers working together, much less working alone. For awhile, all we wanted was for the computers to run Word. Nope. Too difficult. Now you Mac folks (of which - I don't even think I know any - are you a Mac?) might argue that the OS has gotten better. I keep hearing about all these roman numeraled-cat named OS's for the Mac that are supposed to be stable. The thing is, as I mentioned earlier, so is Windows.

I'm actually not a huge fan of Vista. I have it on my laptop but I'm not going to bother on my desktop. It's not that Vista isn't great, it's just that its improvements don't excite or interes me that much. The Windows Switcher LOOKS cool but is completely worthless. But that doesn't change the fact that my laptop usually runs nicely.

But if I do have problems with my computers, and this includes my school computers, there is a big reason why I am a PC. Here's the reason: I can fix them. Macs are meant for people that don't know computers at all. They want something they can plug in and start playing. When it breaks, send it away to get it fixed. I don't like that. I want to pull it apart and put in the parts I want. That's something that frustrates me a bit about my laptop, since I can't really do it in the same way as I can with my desktop, which I built myself. With a Mac? When it's broken, you're stuck.

As nerdy as this post makes me, I always feel like my nerd credentials are in jeopardy because I don't really know too much at all about Linux. Shouldn't I be using an alternate OS, or at least know how to?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Late night incoherant rambling

I title this post "late night" even though it's before midnight. Crazy, crazy. I don't regularly go to bed too much before midnight, either, but it always feels so late. It's tough being a night person in a world that values getting up early. I blame Benjamin Franklin and his early to bed early to rise crap. We need two kinds of schools. The kind that we currently has that starts early and is done by or around 3, for those who want to do after school activities. And then we need the other kind for people like me who don't really wake until afternoon gets going. And the other teacher who ready this blog might not be night people, but you know the kids who are. They function better in the afternoon. They are more alert. And I can tell you from experience that it's not always that they're just staying up late. Some of us just don't fall asleep until well after midnight. I can wake up at six every morning for months in a row. Last year I did just that. I disciplined myself to get my butt out of bed on the weekends. I always read about the consistency being the key. It didn't do much. Sleep was still hard to come by. So that's just one of the school changes I make when I have the power to totally wipe out the entire educational system and start from scratch. And that shouldn't just be some silly blog - we need to do just that.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Why I'm right and you're wrong - reason #742.

I figure that while I sit here in the bar waiting for teachers to show up (since teachers are the biggest drinkers - you already knew that, though), I might as well fulfill some blogging duties.

I want to clarify a couple things about me politically while still leaving things vague (mostly so that I still have things to complain about). I don't think this first statement is a shocker if you have read anything of mine: I'm not a Republican. I'll let you collect your jaws from the ground. But I'm also not a Democrat. I pretty much subscribe to the theory that it's corporatations and the military-industrial complex that are running the country. I am, however, currently registered as a Democrat so that I could vote in the primary. I have been registered as a Republican before just so that I could vote in that primary, too.

A lot of where I'm coming from in my comments about this election aren't because I'm a Democrat. It's that I dislike the Republicans much more than the Democrats. There are three reasons to be a Republican. 1 - you're rich. This is the best reason to be a Republican. And by rich, I'm going to define that not with a dollar amount but owning more than one house or having the means to do so. In that case, you should be a Republican if you are more concerned with your money than anything else. If your fiscal concerns outweigh your social concerns AND you are rich, you should be a Republican. 2 - you think you're going to be rich. Guess what? Lots of people think that. Lame. 3 - you hate people. For any reason, whether it is gender, race, orientation, poverty level. With my logic here, I should be a Republican since I dislike the Republicans.

But seriously, though, if you agree with me and yet you think the Democrats are going to save the day, you can't be too bright. Obama isn't going to change very much. There's only one or two decisions he can make that really matter and that's in appointing a Supreme Court justice or two. Beyond that? Not so much. But that doesn't mean I don't support him or will or won't vote for him. But that's a different blog, different day...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This was my dinner.


The VP debates. Who cares?

I was prepared to do a "follow the debate" type blog tonight, but I didn't get home until 6:30. I did catch a bit at the bowling alley and on the radio on the way home, so I've seen most of it. I seriously need to keep myself from jamming a pencil deeply into my ear.

Palin seemed to be holding her own for the first hour, but the debate might have been too long for her. Biden's brief choke up clearly threw off Palin. She wasn't quite sure what to do with it. Her next couple sentences were thrown off. And since all of her answers are one long sentence, that means her next few responses. It took her off script for a bit, though she did jump back a little at the end. She is probably going to look ok simply because of low expectations.

But while I thought she stumbled at that point, it won't matter. Remember back to the VP debate of 1988. In that was the "You're no Jack Kennedy" line delivered to Dan Quayle. Didn't matter that Quayle looked like an idiot - Bush the elder still won pretty easily. The VP debates really don't matter. I don't think the VP decision in general matters too much either. The only thing that might make this different is the historical potential for a female VP. The deciding factor is going to be Obama v McCain. So nice diversion, but the real debates will be back next week. I did enjoy her "[John McCain's] the man we need to leave" gaff. Good times.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Known Blog-a-dayers

The following people have reported that they intend to or might just become blog-a-dayers:

Lance Christian Johnson


Brian C

Mr. Haley

Pools of Sorrow, Waves of Joy


The Kizzlar"


Let me know if your name should be added to the list.

And for those just starting, there are rules. You don't actually have to follow them but here they are just in case:

Blog with the rules

Blog-a-day, DAY 1!

So I had a fight with a vampire.

Allow me back up a bit.

I tell ya, there's nothing better to ease getting pissed by something than to switch to something else and to get pissed even more at that. I decided to take a quick blogging break and instead grade history notebook. The first was a 90. Out of 200. And then next three got lower, until the fourth was 25. Again, out of 200. Good times! I'm back to blog.

A couple weeks ago I finally went ahead and picked up an Xbox 360. I spent 25 minutes earlier typing up the long history behind this purchase. I typed Part I of this tale, with Part II set to come this weekend. For now, this is what was meant to be Part III, so someday perhaps I'll go back and retype the prequel.

As I CLEARLY explained in Part II, I only own a few games at this point. You now TOTALLY know why. One of the games is Oblivion. Several years ago, I picked up Morrowind for the PC. Morrowind was the game in the Elder Scrolls series before Oblivion. I had trouble getting into the game, but I appreciated it. Looking back after playing Oblivion, I think I now know why. There were some things that I must have missed which diminished how I enjoyed the game. So when Oblivion came out for the PC, I still gave it a try (in highly illegal torrent form). And I liked it, but things got busy and I forgot the game. So when I got the 360, I purchased it. (See? The torrent process works! I never would have bought it if I hadn't bought it! Suck on that, Metallica!)

Oblivion is a fantasy world type role player game. Think World of Warcraft but single player. Or if you have no clue what WoW is, think Orcs and Elves and swords and Nerds. It's a pretty involved game. There are tons and tons of quests, and nothing that is too impossible that you'll get stuck somewhere in the game. Or so I thought. Back to that in a moment.

What was it that started this sexification of Vampires? Was it Inteview With a Vampire? Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Or something earlier that I don't even know about? It seems like those blood suckers went from horrible monster to sexy beast. While I had an appreciation for Buffy and watched many episodes, I never caught on, or even understood, this Vampire lust thing. i tried out a couple episodes of the new HBO show about Vampires because of the Alan Ball & Six Feet Under connection. It didn't stick.

But this love of vampires trickled into Oblivion. Some designer thought that he or she or they would put vampires into the game. I can get behind that. There's even the possibility that your character can turn into a vampire. OK, still cool. But this sucked. Sucked ASS.

So I had a fight with a vampire. Of course, I kicked its ass, because I rule. But apparently I was bit during the battle. It flashed some message about how I might be infected. I checked my stats, and no sign of any problems. So I continued on my questing way. After saving and coming back to the game a few days later, I had forgotten about said message. There was another clue or two about the bite, but it didn't really register with me that my character was, in fact, turning into a vampire. once it got to the last part, though, where it actually became obvious, I ignored it. "Cool. I'll be a vampire for awhile." As it turns out, it sucks. And not just literally.

The designers of this game decided to throw their full vampire lust into the game. Obviously, you can't go outside at night. Slightly inconvenient. Even worse, the people won't talk to you since you're a vampire. Those two things mean that you can't really keep playing the normal game anymore until you're cured. The problem is that the cure quest is extremely long and tedious. And since you can't go outside at night or talk to people, nearly impossible.

Here's how frustrating it is. I had a save point from when I pretty much started that day many hours earlier. I played as a vampire for three hours, and the save point was three hours before that. I decided that it would be MORE FUN to go back to the save point from six hours ago and replay many of the quests INSTEAD of continuing and trying to finish the cure quest. Does that seem like good game design? Since the game auto-saves regularly, I don't even set save points that often, so I was lucky to have the point I did. Lousy game design. Should I protest and stop playing? No. Parts I and II clearly state why I won't, don't you think?

Harris promises to discuss his current hatred of Vampires.

Here's the deal. I just spent the last 25 minutes typing out my first Blog-a-day entry and then when I went to search for a nice picture to put inside, I missed and clicked the back arrow. Shitty Myspace blog entry poster shit doesn't save anything in the window. so now I'm pissed and don't want to type anymore right now. I will be back before midnight to fullfill my blog-a-day duties, but i'm only typing in the blogger window from now on because it saves stuff. Fuck shit on a pissing stick. But it saves the subject. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Blog-a-day month!

It's blog-a-day month! I hope you have either submitted your first blog already or that something is brewing in your head. If you aren't planning to participate in the festivities because you think it might be too hard, then consider this: life is hard. Deal with it and blog-a-day, for crying out loud. It does get tough, especially twenty days in when you realize that your brilliant mind has blogged all that there is to blog. But how are you going to feel at the end of October if you don't? First of all, Johnson is going to be declaring victory. And those of us who DO blog-a-day will look at him and his blog and think, "But 25 of those days were complaints about the same thing," and you'll say to him, "Good job, Lance, you are victorious," but you'll know in your heart that everyone who tries to get through it is just as victorious. And you who didn't try at all? You'll know that the only people who weren't victorious were those that didn't try. So yeah. Don't be a loser. Blog-a-day. It's the right thing to do. Next year I'm making bumper stickers, posters, and banners.
Tonight I'll officially start with my blog about why I'm angry with vampires. Those bastards.