Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weekend Bites the Dust

I remember a Queen song from the early eighties, it went "Another one bites the dust..." I also remember my cousins running that song backwards and hearing it say something that may have sounded like: Wah-shmoo-schna-Smoke Marijuana, or it could have been Was-smoo-sna-smo-kee-mar-eewa-nana...either way it was spooky shit for a nine year old. Of course, I digress. Yet, the idea of the weekend biting the dust, a phrase usually describing something dying without a spark of hope, totally fits the end of this weekend.

Where did it go? I could tell you what we've done. I could explain in excruciating detail, and yet, you might ask, "why didn't that take longer?" Hell, I'd ask the same question...wait, I AM asking the same question. Where the hell did it go? REALLY!! It doesn't seem like we spent any time on anything!

Cora did the taxes and started the process of renewing our immigration documents and home study...both of those were depressing. Basically: before doing taxes and the home study renewal, we thought we were poor and had no money to spend, but now there's no doubt. Like Cora said, Yea US!

We went to the tri-cities today to return something to a store down there. Also we got to visit with her sister and brother-in-law. I got some time in the book store and she got to walk through the mall with her sis. As usual, the tri-cities was sunny and least compared to our little piece of heaven.

Still, the weekend went WAY too fast. Tomorrow, I get to teach middle-schoolers again. I will be giving out tests tomorrow. I just hope that one of them does eat another's hair. That's what happened Friday. Without getting into specifics, let's just say it was a mildly uncomfortable experience for everyone, except the hair-eating child, who seemed to think there was nothing unusual about that.

In fact, the child indicated that the hair from that particular classmate tasted really good. One assumes the hair-eating child has done some research into who's hair tastes best. I still prefer not to give any credence to this research as it may be use giving support to those without ethics.

On that note, I leave you to ponder the nutrition of human hair.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hero Takes a Fall

I suppose every teacher has a few embarrassing moments. I have had a few. The worst was having to leave the room of fourth graders so I could go to the hall and vomit in a wastebasket.

This morning wasn't much better, though. I was in an art class. The teacher's desk was on a raised dais. Two steps is all I had to descend. Well, the gripper on the step and the tread on my shoes apparently never met, and I ended up rolling my ankle to the side. When that happened, I had been putting most of my weight on it. Needless to say my weight had to go somewhere when the foot/ankle combination stopped supporting it. My other foot, airborne for the moment, could offer no help and down I went. Coffee in one hand and air in the other, I hit the ground.

The class, which had been talking and somewhat noisy, chose to stop everything they were doing to observe the idiot who could not walk. For my part, I struggled to my feet (even the now reluctant problem child left foot), and explained that I was ok, but twisted my ankle. Once they had ascertained that I was still able to carry out anything necessary, they went back to work and talking. I am sure a few looked forward to a teacherless hour momentarily while I was still out of view. I managed to walk around the room with a minimum of wincing and since I ignored it so did they.

That did not stop it from hurting like all get out!

And this is what I don't get: Most times time slows down during moments like that, this time it sped up! I swear, one moment I was up and stepping down and the next a woosh of air and I was flat on the ground trying to brush off the embarrassment! Weird!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I hold to the notion that mathematics in everyday life are patently necessary, but higher order mathematics are a complete waste of my time. With that in mind, I want you to think a moment on how I feel about substituting for math classes. I openly admit that I was somewhat vexed a few months ago when, in a fifth grade classroom, I ventured into a lesson requiring some minor algebraic calculations. I quickly sorted it out and continued, but it brought to mind the question of just how many people actually use the higher order mathematics.

Now, I know a few of you will say, "What about engineers and designers and people who build rocket ships?" I would ask you, "What percentage of the population actually falls into that category?" An overwhelmingly small one, I would guess. So, what do you use your higher math skills for? I mean anything over Algebra.

So, armed with my theory of the Futility of Teaching Mathematics, I enter math classes with a certain mix of dread and disdain. I dread that a kid will ask me a question that I am unable to figure out, especially considering that I cannot remember the difference between an integer and a real number, or if there is a difference at all. The disdain comes from the discovery that, in adult life, I have managed not to need that information. When the kids ask why I don't like math, I say, "That's why I chose History!"

This week, I was in a high school math class. I loved this teacher. My job fell into the category of "start the video"...even though they were not watching movies. All they were doing was working on some worksheets. I hardly even glanced at the worksheets other than to note that I might have chucked them in the bin if some teacher had given them to me. The kids were awesome, though. They had a strange culture among them. They...helped...each other. Yes, those that got it willingly helped those who struggled. I suppose my own classmates might have done that for me in school, but I tended to ignore such things at the time and don't remember such a camaraderie in math class. I was totally impressed.

When I handed out one sheet, I told a class, "...and if you need any help..." and I chuckled a mirthless chuckle, "good luck, that's why I'm a history teacher." If we had been in an auditorium, I think I may have gotten a standing ovation! The kids all laughed at that. They were great though, and I DID try to help as best I could.

Much of my time was spent relaxing and watching them work. They were surprisingly diligent.

So, yeah, I'm not a big fan of higher order mathematics. I don't do much myself, but I respect those who do, even though I think it's a bit of a joke to teach it writers, historians, and cashiers. I AM a fan of spaceships, bridges, and cellphones, though.

Did I mention I have rarely met a cashier that actually even used lower math? Yeah, well, maybe I'll write about stupid cashiers next time.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Good News and Bad News

Well, I got my computer back last week, but, we were struck again with tragedy. I dropped our camera...and it...well, it still works, but the lens cover, which usually automatically covers the lens is no longer working. So, I will need to take it in to have it fixed. We can't afford a new camera, and really, it isn't broken that badly. Still, it will be rough on both of us to NOT have a camera in the house.

Oh, the good news...well, I suppose it depends on your point of view. It snowed tonight. Not a lot, but enough to remind us how pretty it can be when there is a white blanket covering the crap that is our poor excuse for a lawn in the month of January. Above you see the last picture taken by out beloved camera...I walked out to the car bare foot.

So...we will see how successfully I can get the camera fixed. Let us all hope it will be sooner and cheaper than later and expensively!

Internet Friends!!

I had written a very long and very beautiful post concerning the Computer and Internet revolutions and their similarities to the television revolution. I also cited how they were not bad, even though it is possible they have lead to less personal contact in relationships. They are still good. Here's why: I have found many, many new friends on the internet, some of whom I have never net face to face. As proof I offered a recent gift we received from an internet friend in Australia.

However, none of you will ever see that post, because even though I saved it, BLOGGER ate the damned thing. I can't find it and can't get it back, so after a long bit of cursing, some of which caused a small black cloud to appear over my head complete with lightning and rain (I saved the computer, no worries), I am writing this extremely short post instead. Cora may have become a victim of my tantrum, too...but she will survive.

We got a wonderful package in the mail from Peta Marie. She sent Aiden a stuffed Koala! But, what's best, she sent cool stuff for Cora and me, too! Cora got a couple of very beautiful Australian tea towels(is that the same as a kitchen towel?), and she sent me an Australian Weather Gage, and a neat list of Aussie Slang! So, I wanted to say: Peta, you ROCK!! Which is American for: You're Bonzer! That sheila, Peta, is Ripper! The gifts are grouse! We were RAPT to get them! THANKS!!!

I found the perfect place for the weather least until the weather clears up(hmmm, is that bad? I want to protect my weather gage from the weather?). It was a perfect gift! I was laughing my head off while reading it! Besides, this particular room sometimes has fog issues and I think this might help me.:

Oh, you can't see where it is...let me back off a bit:

Friday, January 22, 2010

I've Been Absent

I have been gone and lots of things have happened.

We had a birthday party for my favorite niece (Still safe to say that). She is six years old now! It's unbelievable! Seems like yesterday (or at least the day before) that we flew up here from California to see my new niece! Now, you can see she is treated like Royalty.
She knew exactly what she wanted. She instructed each family on how they should present their gifts to her.
Cora made my sister a dress for my beloved niece for her birthday. See the results? Cora is a mean dressmaker, seriously, when she's making dresses, she gets all mean. Well, not really...but it sounds good.

That little niece of mine make the dress look pretty fun!
Speaking of dresses, one of the men decided to wear one to the party, but I won't name names (Cough, Scott).
Of course it could be because he won best costume...even though I worked all week on mine. I had the idea to approximate the dress of European royals from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (note the sash and cane)
Cora looked pretty dazzling, too, though. Note the fluffy toes:
My nephew came as "Peetah" from the Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe...couldn't he just double as Prince Charming?
Here is Cora and me after we had stepped through the was raining outside.

The next few photos are from Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This was the view into the Gap.
The fog from our side was spilling into the Lower Valley. It even came over the top of the hills.

I think it looked pretty cool, actually...

Well, those are the pictures you missed. We don't have any big plans for the weekend...probably some cleaning and relaxing with any luck. I hope the rest of you get to relax, too!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ahh, Life!

I get my computer back and then don't post at's that for a fine how d'ya do? I guess I have been busy trying to get what I had on it back on it. Last night I kind of took the night off and played my submarine was nice to get back to it. I still have a couple things to add, but it's getting better.

I have worked all week, well, not Monday, since the schools observe Martin Luther King Day. That gave me time to do some running around and make some calls and things. I took the car in for the oil change. I called the agency to see if they planned on answering an email in the next week or two. I waited around for my computer NOT to show up. all in all it was a sucky day until I picked up my computer.

The rest of the week has been better. I think Cora and I both need a breather, though. A vacation somewhere warm would be nice, but I think we'll have to wait until the warm comes to us.

Today, I worked sped at one of the elementaries. I forgot just how tiring it is to work with some kids. Both physically and mentally. Still, it was a good day! I enjoyed their greetings! Some of these kids I have been around for over two years! Their greetings are often exuberant. I have not been over to that particular school for a couple months. The students there, not just the SPED students, seemed to have missed me...really missed me. Now, I am just a sub, but that kind of reception has a tendency to make a guy feel pretty good. Of course, the ladies I worked with were pretty nice, too!

One little girl, well, she isn't a little girl any more, I think she's in fourth grade now, has moved on from SPED to life skills and I did not see her until the end of the day. She dropped her bag and came and gave me a great big hug...that's the kind of greeting that makes you smile.

Tuesday, I was working at WHS and my phone vibrated. I called the number back and it was the nurse at the El. She answered and said that she was big fan of my art work. I know someone blowing smoke up my...well, I knew I was being charmed. I am, however, inclined to listen to praise of my art work. She said someone close to her was having a birthday and wanted to know if I would make a drawing for her. I told her I would. About 6 feet long? I said yes.

Today, she called again to see if I would. I told her yes. I was actually in the area. So, after work, I dropped by and found a note. She asked that I draw "Maxine" holding onto a rocket...I managed it. It looked pretty darned good. I made her two to choose from...I suspect she will use both. They aren't quite six feet long, but I think she'll like them...and I did manage a pretty good Maxine.

Tomorrow is Friday!!! I will be working with some third graders that I will have for a full week in February. Should be interesting.

This weekend? I think I will wait until it gets here before I make any rash decisions.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

World Rejoice!

I call upon all of you who have ever had your computer in the shop and gone through internet withdrawals to have a cup of coffee with me and say, "Hurrah!" I almost had to detox there for awhile, but Cora lent me her computer a few times a day so I could get a hit. A few times...I even checked my e-mail at school...and the kids saw me! I guess I am just a bad role model. But, I never asked them if they wanted to check their e-mail, so it isn't like I was dealing! Yes, I am addicted to the internet and my e-mail. I admit it. That's the first step, though.

hmmm...never really asked what the second step is. I assume it is simply go back to your daily routine of checking mail and surfing the I can answer all those questions that were rushing to be answered! What did I ever do before the internet? Oh, yeah...encyclopedias. Well, I still have those in a few boxes should I ever need them again. you know, like my secret stash.

Ahh, it feels good to be back! The week and 3 days I was without Voldemort (yes, I named my computer Voldemort, the last one was Toshi) seemed like a very long time indeed! Cora will tell you that I was plaintive and whiny and annoying and, sometimes, morose. She is greatly understating the situation, though, bless her heart.

The last three days were the hardest! It got to Spokane on Saturday and sat there in the FedEx place...just sat there. Finally yesterday morning it moved to Yakima! I took Cora to work so I could change her oil and then I got home and began to wait...but I needed to drop something off for Cora. I called FedEx for an approximate time that they would be here to drop off my Beloved Computer. They said they'd call back. They did not. I was gone for about a half hour.

When I got home there was a note on the door. I called and then jumped in the car to try and find the bastard who took my Precious away! I could not locate him. I had missed him by fifteen minutes! Oh, the humanity! I called and called and begged and pleaded, there was no other way to contact the driver. I cursed and pounded my fists!

Finally, I gave in, I knew I would have to pick it up at the FedEx office. I was downtrodden and listless for the next hour. I had to go get Cora first. I picked her up and then we went to FedEx and picked up my Precious Beloved and came home. Last night I spent the evening reloading all the programs I had put on it originally. Ah, a labor of love! I have a few more programs and then to put all those music CDs back on it and then I will be back where I started...about 19 or 20 days after the first indications of a bad keyboard...which they replaced.

So, now you know! Rejoice and share the feeling of hope with the world you get from this message! You can have your computer back! Never give up!

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's a Hard Knock Life!

I am going to post from the Wife's computer. It will be short. I sent my new computer off to Texas Friday. It should be there today. I hope it is a simple problem that they can fix relatively quickly. Lord knows I have been going through withdrawals. Less Facebook, less e-mail, and less surfing. I miss my submarine game a lot!

Someone at work told me they thought a Dell was better than my new HP...I don't argue with that, but unless that particular person would like to pony up a few extra hundred dollars, I just go with the nifty little computer I bought in November for about 300. It is still LIGHTYEARS ahead of my old Toshiba which has all but died. So much so that I decided to do surgery last night. I figured there was nothing to was already acting more like a paperweight than a computer.

So, I took it apart. Here you may see the guts of a Toshiba Laptop...who knew things were so darned small! I was amazed! Oh, and just ignore the beads and ribbons...those are separate projects.
There was a surprising amount of dust and dirt and dog hair in the damned thing! In places you wouldn't expect to see it. It was just strange! I unhooked everything. Blew it out. Wiggled and pressed and pried and tapped. I guess I was hoping to find a battery for the battery was found. I did break a few screw locations and some other bits...but I put it back together and it worked the same as it did before...I mean, it turned on! See below, I wanted to prove it.
You can tell it was AFTER surgery because of the bare items under the screen...that piece of plastic covering that area was a casualty during surgery and needed to be removed. It doesn't work any better, but it isn't any worse. It came out a wash.

I work Music at the El all week! I am a lucky guy. Good kids, great co-workers, and I am close to home. On the other hand, I DO have the words to Annie's Hard Knock Life bouncing around in my head...

Now, let's all hope my computer comes home to me soon!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

May Not Post A Lot

My computer will leave for a fix for two weeks or so. Probably will not post a lot.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to the Old Routine

As a substitute teacher without a job for today yet, I am sitting here in my chair sucking down coffee and watching the job site for a job to come up. Even though it is unlikely that most teachers will take the first day back off, there is a chance and I am hoping to snag that one job that is bound to come out of two districts (That said, I can, with a fair amount of certainty, say I would not take this day off unless I was coughing up a lung). Of course, right now, I am beginning to lose hope, but until 7am there is still a chance.

Cora took down the tree yesterday. While it gives us more room behind our chairs, it does seem a little chillier in it possible that the fake tree was providing insulation from the window? Yeah, must be psychosomatic.

We went shopping yesterday. We got groceries and managed to stay with the list. We thought we'd try something this month and try to avoid buying unnecessary things. Maybe we can save a little more money that way. Alas, that means no books for me. It also means no Starbucks and no eating out...but then, we have cut down on most of those in the past year anyway. We used to eat out A LOT! So, I will try to check back in and mention how much we managed to save at the end of the month...but, I make no guarantee.

What does today hold for me? Subbing for one of the school districts or mopping the floors at home? Preferably the former.

I would like to make a model ship in the near future. Of course most people's idea of a model ship might be anywhere from 10 inches long to a few feet. NO. Mine take up a good deal LESS space. My model ship would only take up 5 inches if it were the Queen Mary. The scale I enjoy is 1/2400, which means for every foot (12 inches) of model the is 2400 feet of subject matter. So something that is 1200 feet long in real life, the model would only be 6 inches long. I built an airplane a few years ago of the biggest production bomber ever. It had a wing span of 230 feet. The model was just over an inch in wing span. I don't write names on grains of rice, but I built a train engine that was smaller than one. So, maybe I will find room to build something in the near future.

Well, 630am and still no job...crap another day of dishes and laundry.

HEY! I get to work in the afternoon!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wild Things

Around here you must always be prepared to play fetch late at night. And early in the morning.
Gypsy, while not as bouncy, in-your-face, play-with-me-now as Toby, does get into the act. She especially wants to look at you and chuff or whatever you call that coughing/laugh thing that she does.

Toby still loves his monkey. I put it in the wash last week, and because he had a new toy he did not notice that it was gone, but when we gave it back to him, you would have thought it had been gone forever. He was SOOO excited to have it back.

The other night he was being annoying late at night. I faked throwing his monkey and then ushered them both outside. While they were outside I put the monkey away. When he came back in he spent the next 15 minutes searching for his monkey...finally Cora said I should give it back to him. I sneaked in, put the monkey in my breast pocket, and came out again. He continued to search until Cora pointed at the monkey on my chest. You could totally see the light and recognition in his eyes when he finally realized where it was. Once he got it back he was tossing it around in the air and catching it and in general showing his extreme pleasure...dogs.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Notch One Up For the Skipper!

So, I jumped in the USS Plunger today and crossed the Pacific. I found this Japanese freighter. Note the smoke at the stern. I just managed to hit his very end. I think he was going faster than I calculated...nonetheless, another torpedo was all it took.
the last one did the trip. See the stern is at a different angle than the bow? Right after the photo the mast/post on the bow collapsed and the stack fell into the water.
It sank...needless to say.

So, Cora says I have become obsessive over this game. I only spent part of the day playing it. If I was REALLY obsessive I would paint one of the bathrooms gray/green, replace the white lights with red ones. Every time I decided to play my new game I would call,"Battle stations, Torpedo!! All hands man your battle station!!"

There are numerous ways you could tell that I have gone too far, but I will leave it to you to decide. Carry on.

Cap'n Jim

Cora let me buy a submarine game I have been looking for for some time yesterday. I played it a bit today and am getting the hang of it. I have captained it across the Pacific and caused plenty of damage to the ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Conversely, they have caused me plenty of damage too.

I am getting the hang of it, though. I discovered that I can emulate both O'kane and Fluckey by attacking the enemy in his own harbors. It is pretty cool sneaking into a harbor and targeting enemy ships laying at anchor. Then, once you have a solution, letting fly with torpedoes and running for open water. This post will probably bore most of you, so if you want to skip down to the end(last paragraph) it's ok.

One way to keep the shore guns from firing, or the patrol vessels, is to flood down to the deck and you sneak in slowly on the surface, just like they did in WWII. The only thing that shows above the surface is the conning tower which apparently resembles a small fishing vessel and is harder to see.

Another thing I was able to do was to sink some medium sized junks/ fishing vessels with the deck gun. One of them put survivors in the water in a small boat. Then, because I was curious and it happened on a few occasions in WWII, I used the 20mm cannon on them...the lifeboat sank. An amazing amount of realism, though, thankfully, there were no bodies to be seen.

At one point I had sunk a small destroyer type with my deck was a regular gun fight. I went on to sink another couple merchant ships at their moorings. My patrol area was just off Honshu. I loitered around the mouth of Tokyo Bay, but it was December of 1941 and the seas were atrocious! The swells were a good 20 feet and when they did fall to a decent heighth, the enemy send a batch of destroyers out to sink me. I managed through luck and remembering what O'kane did, to lose them and wander back up the coast. (Mind you there were numerous times today where I could not get away, more often than not)

At one point, after working my way up the southern coast of Honshu I was going to attack the coast of Hokkaido, but I had misjudged the time of day and surfaced at twilight. I figured that since I was still about 30 miles from land I would be fine, but a Kawanishi H6K Mavis attacked. He dropped his bombs just beyond my ship, but continued to make machine gun passes. I figured two could play that game. I got on our 20mm and began firing back. On the second pass I made a hit. But the bastard kept making runs. On the fifth pass I hit him again. STILL he made more passes. Occasionally he hit us with his machine gun, but not significant damage to a ship. I even opened up with the 4 inch gun, but the firing rate was too slow. Finally I made some good hits open about his 8th pass and just held the trigger down. That did the trick because a wing fell off and he dropped into the sea trailing flames and smoke.

If you attack a convoy at night, the escorts can light you up with search lights. It is such a remarkable program. Apart from the fact that I am in front of a computer, it is very realistic. The designers thought of almost everything! I am afraid I could find this game addicting. Something few games have done for me. Among them are Halo, Far Cry, and Microsoft Flight Simulator, air combat additions. So, if you know anything about submarine warfare and wish to give it a go for yourself, just go out and pick up Silent Hunter, Wolves of the Pacific! I am crazy about this game! I would have gotten it before now, but my computer was not capable of running such programs.

We had a Ham today. It was scrumptious and we should have plenty of left overs to feed us for awhile. Cora and I played Wii and enjoyed the day off. She even got to go shopping with her sisters today. So, the first day of 2010 was actually very nice!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome 2010, but Maybe Dick Clark Should Retire

We watched some movies, played Wii, and relaxed for the New Years Eve evening. At about 11:40pm we turned on the Times Square celebration and there was the old man, Dick Clark. I have to hand it to him for still going to work at his age, which must now be 156, but, come on. He was having issues enunciating. I could hardly understand the poor guy. It was fortunate he could pronounce "Wyan." so they could take the camera to Ryan Secrest. Dick, you are a role model for all, but please stop!

I bought a game for my computer. As if I don't spend enough time on it. I remember mentioning a game concerning WWI battleships early in December. it sucked in comparison to this one. Fortunately, I did not have to buy the Battleship game to find that out. The ease of control on this new game is excellent. It is a submarine simulation, but dang, they have worked hard to make it believable. I am totally satisfied with Silent Hunter, Wolves of the Pacific. Go out an buy it if you can find it. Well worth it!

Happy New Years to all. And I hope the day treats you well, too!