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Tuesday, August 30, 2005



At first, things started smoothly with these seventeen first graders.

Then, while returning from the first recess one of the girls said she didn’t feel well and wanted to go to the health office. As a second year veteran substitute teacher, I know that the kids are always trying to get out of class to the bathroom, health office or anyplace that’s not in the classroom. Instead, I applied the medicinal cure-all wet paper towel. She was happy with that, but I kept an eye on her just in case.

Ten minutes later I sent her off to the health office with a note. She was back less than ten minutes after that with a note from the school nurse saying she seems fine now and her temperature was 99F. It WAS a hot day and the kids WERE running around at recess.

By the time lunch bell rang she looked a lot worse and was complaining about a headache so I dropped her off at the health office once again on the way to deliver the rest of the kids to the cafeteria. During lunch I got word that she was going home with a temp of 102F

After the lunch recess, the yard duty people informed me that another one of the girls in my class had fallen on her back from the monkey bars and was being sent home.

Back from lunch, yet another girl was staring at the ceiling while pointing to her bloody nose while the boy next to her pulled up his pant leg and promptly picked a scab off his knee that started bleeding.

YIKES! In less than half a day, almost 25% of my class is sick, maimed or injured! Fortunately the wet paper towel cure worked on my last two mini-patients. I closed out the day reporting only a 12% medical emergency loss of students in my report to the teacher.

What a day. I hope I can get through the next class injury free.

Monday, August 29, 2005

BE the Alpha Dog…

Claudette and I spent the weekend visiting my cousin, her sister and their respective mates at their, soon to be, retirement place on the coast in Pacific Grove, Calif. Two pleasantly cool days spent enjoying the soothing sound of Pacific waves crashing the shore line while the home front roasted in 90+F heat.

My cousins are full blooded teachers of what must be many, many, many years of experience (2nd grade and Kindergarten) and cousin-in-law, Tony, is a retired teacher while Terry, the other cousin-in-law, is just an ordinary…..rocket scientist! Really!

What a wealth of minds to pick from for advice in the up coming school year!

Anyway, between glasses of cold beer on the terrace of the restaurant at Spanish Bay and more wine attending Carmel’s outdoor Theater in the Forest presentation of “Beauty and the Beast”, I came away with the following two teaching tips.

#1 Be the “alpha dog”…

When escorting the kids to lunch or the library, always lead the line. Never follow. They should always be behind you and in line. Show them who’s the boss right off otherwise you’ll have them running farther and farther ahead and finally off the leash. Thanks Mary!

#2 It’s OK to cry…

If you have a crying kid demanding attention, just gently let them know it’s ok to cry but to go over in some isolated part of the room until they feel they’d like to come back and join the group. After a while, they’ll see that they are not getting the attention they wanted and are missing out on all that Kindergarten fun. Thanks Connie!

Connie had no advice for me if it was the teacher that needed a good cry…

Thursday, August 25, 2005

And So Begins The Second Year…

Six-Forty-Five AM call. It begins with the automated call system voice. “Hello! This is the OG School District calling. We have an assignment for (insert my name here). Please enter your PIN….”

Seventeen 3rd graders still acting a little like the 2nd graders they were a short time ago. Very concerned about the time when recess and lunch are.

The teacher has a wind chime that dangles from the ceiling in the front of the room at just about 5’ 7” off the floor. I’m 5’ 9”, so the kids had a giggle every time I backed into it getting papers and books for the next lesson. The kids said the other sub yesterday had also threatened to chop it off as he, evidentially, had the same problem.

This is the third day of school and I’m the second sub they’ve had in so many days. Word is that the teacher’s mother is very old and in her last days. This was ON the lesson plan! I can sympathize, but the kids are getting short changed here. The school would probably do better by the kids in hiring a full time sub (not me) to take the class for the indefinite time this teacher needs to be away.

My day ended with a first. I had “yard duty” directing car traffic of parents continuously circling the parking lot trying to pick up their kids after school. What a waste of gas at today’s prices.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


School starts up today. No calls to sub yet and therefore no new “subbing in the classroom” blog material to post about. So I thought I’d venture into a topic that I previously deemed a bit “too snarky” for public review.

The first thing I discovered is that “snarky” is a real word! : “adj. Slang snark·i·er, snark·i·est Irritable or short-tempered; irascible”

I first time I heard this term was from Ginny on her Singing Pigs blog.

After listening to a friend of mine complain of his mail delivery (both too late AND too early), I accused him of being a “happiness vacuum” (thanks again for the term Ginny…). He now, sometimes, calls and leaves what my wife terms “obscene sucking noises” on the answering machine.

Slightly rude and obscene. That’s how we guys are with each other. But you gotta love us anyway, right?

Disclaimer to still new brides: Snarky behavior on our part probably does NOT apply to your newly married beausband. To all new beausbands, I apologize if your wife interrogates you about your sympathies related to this post. (You can blind email me later…)

Anyway, a bunch of us old married “guys” were standing around before church just BS-ing when one of our fellow chuckle heads announced that he’d really like to have a “pause” button once and a while for his wife. She DOES talk a lot, but in order to protect the guilty no names will be mentioned here.

From that simple, single statement we “guys” brainstormed and invented the “TIVO-Wife”!!.

TIVO-Wife feature list:

Pause: Obvious.

Volume: Obvious

Channel: Can we change the topic?

Re-play: For when we finally tune back into the conversation at the phrase “Are you listening to me?”

Record: Remember when I said “I Love You”? Just play the recording again when you feel neglected.

Erase: Remember that time I (…fill in your own worst foot in mouth event here…)

Fast Forward: We don’t want the long story. Get to the point!

Thumbs-Up: To train the TIVO-Wife what conversations we like.

Thumbs-Down: To train the TIVO-Wife what conversations we don’t.

This is as far as we got before the wives came out and we hastily changed the subject…

Too snarky? Leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Teaching Makes You Sick?...

And you just thought all you had to worry about was kid boogers...
Full story here

by Amy Norton Thu Aug 18,
1:31 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A wide range of occupations, from farming to teaching, may be potential risk factors for degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, research findings suggest.

In a study of more than 2.6 million U.S. death records, researchers found that a variety of jobs were associated with an increased risk of death from several forms of brain degeneration, namely Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, early-onset dementia and motor neuron disease

Many of the associations had been seen in earlier research and could potentially be explained by on-the-job exposures to the chemicals that farmers, welders and hairdressers routinely use or inhale.

Other findings, however, such as the elevated disease risks among teachers, clergy and bank tellers, are not easily explained, according to the researchers, led by Robert M. Park of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Studies such as this, where death certificates are used to find associations between occupation and disease risk, have their limits. For one, death records are a less-than-ideal measure of a person's work history, Park told Reuters Health.

"At best," he noted, such research can tease out general patterns that can then be studied further.

In their analysis, Park and his colleagues found that the bank tellers, clergy, aircraft mechanics and hairdressers had highest odds of dying from Alzheimer's disease. For Parkinson's disease, the highest risks were among biological scientists, teachers, clergy members and other religious workers.

SOURCE: American Journal of Industrial Medicine, July 2005.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Goofy Boys...

I haven’t experienced the notion of a “long summer vacation” since I last attended high school many moons ago.

College, jobs to pay for college, marriage, parent at 22, 30 plus year career, grand-pa to two granddaughters at 57 pretty much dictated the end of long stretches of free summer time idleness.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Given the choice to do it over again, I’d do it the same way except, maybe, for buying that new 1971 baby dew-dew yellow Volvo station wagon.

With this substitute teacher gig, I’m off during the summer again and it’s a new experience. I like it!

My usual afternoon includes the mile long walk down to the air conditioned McLibrary to read my book and partake of fine dining from the $1 menu. It’s also a good place to people watch.

So yesterday, as I was having my third, free refill of the senior diet cola drink, when six junior high aged boys snagged the window booth in front of mine along the drive through lane.

Boy #1: Look, dude. There’s your mom coming. Everybody wave!

(…Boys waving frantically at the silver SUV, as “mom” obliviously drives on through.)

Boy #2: Hey, I think that’s your sister! Everybody wave!

(…Boys waving frantically at the Lexus sports car, as “sister” on cell phone and digging in her McDonalds treasure lunch bag coasts on by)

Boy #3: Hey, isn’t that your uncle! Everybody wave!

(…Boys waving frantically at the confused guy in the pickup truck who’s returning a low two finger wave back while trying to figure out who these kids are)

All the boys: Laughing hysterically, high fiveing each other.

Ok, after a few more rounds of this, I’m starting to figure out that this isn’t a mass drive-thru family reunion and these are just a group of goofy boys having some fun trying to get people to wave at them.

Honestly now, can you think of anything more useless to do on a nice summer day?

When I was their age, way back in the nineteen-ought-sixties, me and the guys would ride our bikes down to the highway and watch for the eighteen wheelers. When we saw one coming, we’d all pump our fists in the air hoping to get the driver to give us a blast on the air horn as he went by. We’d all cheer when we got one.

Now THAT was something to do on a nice summer day!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

M/F Differences...

Nothing pithy for today.

I did run across following clever video by Bruno Bozzetto, illustrating the differences between men and women. Enjoy!

Female .vs. Male

Sunday, August 07, 2005

She Left Me...

Well…Claudette and her Ya-Ya sisterhood of five friends left this morning for their annual “Quilt Camp” excursion in Cayucos Calif.

Two van loads of sewing machines, fabric, cutters, sergers, cutting boards, cutise work lamps and enough clothes for an invading army to survive a month.

She claims that they are busy the whole week working on projects. If it was me and a bunch of the Yo-Yo brotherhood guys attempting the same thing, I know we’d end up at the beach with a cooler of beer and BBQ the entire week.

She’s leaving me ALL alone for the entire week. ALL alone. Just me and the cats. What to do, what to do.

Maybe I’ll take a cue from the cats? I’ll sleep in late. Take long afternoon naps. Pretty much just hang out all day and veg. Yea, that’s the ticket!

You’ll have to excuse me now. I need to go check and see if anyone put some dinner in my food bowl.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I Think I've Had This Nightmare...

Yea! You in the back row! I'm looking at you. The answer is???

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Back To School Thoughts For Today...

"There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't..."

"Alcohol and calculus don't mix. Never drink and derive..."

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate..."

If you don't "get" these, then it’s just about time to go back to school!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Got A Pay Cut…

I got my Substitute Teaching Certificate in the mail last week. Made the rounds to the two school districts I plan to substitute with. Classes resume the last week in August.

One district that was paying $125/day last year is now paying $115/day this year but increased the half day pay from $62.50/day to $65/day.

Now if I could only figure out a way to finagle two half day substitute jobs each day…