Saturday, March 14, 2009

Miracle in Room 16

An interesting thing happened mid-way through the day on Friday. At the end of a study group, all the students had filed out but two.

One of the two, a 6th grade girl, approached me and asked if she could talk to the other student, a boy. She has a history of alienating others, so I asked, "What do you want to talk to him about?"

"I want to apologize to him."

(Earlier in the week she had said some hurtful words. I was made aware of the exchange -- it went both ways -- but mostly I had told the boy involved to ignore the girl.)

I called the boy over and mediated the conversation. She apologized to him, and then, surprisingly, he apologized to her for being mean to her -- for the last year and a half! There was an awkward handshake, and he left.

"Who made you do that?" I asked the girl.

"No one," she replied. "I just wanted to do it." A few minutes later, she left too.

* * * *

Seems normal enough, but for this girl, this may have been one of the first times in her life that she had felt remorse and self-initiated an apology. In return, she won an apology, and perhaps laid the groundwork for a future friendship. (The boy too learned how to resolve a long standing conflict.)

This is why I teach. Some students are academically delayed, some are socially delayed. But if we as teachers persist in modeling good citizenship, and we foster it in our students, eventually miracles happen. Not always, but sometimes. And when they do, boy is it sweet.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao-tzu

What are you doing to foster the journey of another? or, Is there a first step in front of you? Be a miracle-worker! or Begin a journey.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Unplanned Fun!

Today is Friday the 13th. The important thing is not the 13th, it's the Friday!

I like my work, but I also like my weekends. Twice today people asked me if I had anything fun planned for the weekend. I replied, "No," and I felt like I was letting them down.

But now I'm home, relaxed, and enjoying the weekend. I've also discovered there is something I like better than planned fun; and that is -- unplanned fun. I like not having any appointments, commitments, or gotta-do's this weekend. I can just enjoy the yard, the pets, the house, my favorite rooms, the company of my wife, and the quiet serenity of the suburb I call home.

Unplanned fun: it's under-rated.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Micophonic Mishaps

Watching a DVRd "Whose Line is it Anyway?" tonight, a sub-theme developed as the cast repeatedly made fun of the host, Drew Carey, for wrongly stating that Africa was a country.

One of the potential dangers of having a microphone in your hand is the potential to say something stupid, or unintentionally funny. Here's two recent real-life examples:

At a recent all-school assembly, I was called up to read a list of about 100 student names. (It was a loooonnnngggg list.) Usually I know this ahead of time, and I practice.

I was told ahead of time, but it slipped my mind until they called me up to read. Since we have many Hispanic students, I used my best Spanish accent to properly read their names; however, it seems I got a bit carried away and began to read even non-Hispanic names with a Spanish accent. To make matters worse, I occasionally threw out a name with a nice Scottish accent: names like Riley!

I thought I was doing a great job, but what I was really doing was butchering some names and putting the staff in stitches, because they couldn't figure out if I was doing it on purpose or not. (Only later did I find out how funny it was... to them.)

The second example was a recent set of morning announcements. The principal consistently starts out with a "Good Morning School! Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Ready, begin... I pledge allegiance..."

But one day it went like this: "Good Morning School! Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Ready, begin... Good Morning School... oops... I pledge allegiance..."

Watch out for the microphone! It can make you say the darn'dest things.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The minor perils of pruning...

Plumbing, pruning, and working on a car engine: what do they have in common?

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that each of these activities are controlled by some minor deity that requires a blood sacrifice. Usually it's only a bloody knuckle, but never-the-less it's annoying and somewhat painful.

Case in point: This Sunday I undertook the second and final backyard spring pruning job - the pink tabebuia. As anticipated, it was easier than last week's project which was the 50' liquid amber. But two thirds through the project, I somehow rapped myself soundly on a knuckle with a pruning saw. I did not hit the knuckle with the flat part of the saw, no, I managed to deliver a sound blow to my knuckle with the saw-toothed edge of the saw.


After the infraction I inspected the pain-site expecting to see blood, but I was surprised to see it blood-free: for about 20 seconds.

What I had done was give myself a bone bruise and two puncture wounds. Puncture wounds can take a bit longer to get going, but then... look out!

Fifteen minutes later after some occasional blood-sucking, the flow stopped leaving a nice patch of dried blood.

This evidently was enough for the evil god of pruning, and I finished the chore without further mishap.

Two days later, I still have the remnants of the bruise and two tiny scabs bearing witness to a job well-done and some minor tree-pruning deity appeased.

I no longer work on my own cars and my plumbing is holding up, so until I decide to prune something in the front yard, I'm safe.

(Maybe I should try work gloves?)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Biker Dude, or... a Bike! Dude.

I'm not even close to being a biker dude, but dude, I got a "new" bike. It's a 21 speed street bike that I'm storing for my youngest daughter. She recently inherited it from her grand-dad who passed away this summer. Ken, my former father-in-law, was an amazing guy: retired teacher, photographer, wood worker, volunteer, dog lover, and bike rider.

Well, I've lost my racquetball partner to injury, and I've been looking for a way to burn some fat calories and still have fun. I've discovered I can do a 15 minute "lap" around the neighborhood without crossing any major streets. It's fun, safe of the joints, cheap, easy on the schedule, and invigorating. It also burns 15 calories per minute. (Yowza!)

I live in a flat area, but on the "home stretch" of my route, I get cranking at 30 mph for about 5 seconds, then I warm down for the last five minutes of my "trek."

I've been riding for about a week, once a day during the week, and twice a day on the weekends. Just enough to burn a few calories, get the metabolism up, and have a bit of fun in the process. (I also get to see what "wind chill" feels like. Brrrr.)

And although I've lived in this tract of homes for 25 years, I've traveled on a few streets last week that I never have before.
I even studied Google Maps to find the longest route. Having fun in my own "backyard." Who knew?

(Actually, my youngest daughter, she knew. Yeah, she did.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Animal Lovers and God

I married an animal lover, and I’m glad I did. Animal lovers make great companions. (They treat you as nice or better than their pets!)

I was reminded of this as I read a fellow blogger’s post about her day spent at a rabies clinic: Reggie Girl.

But this is Sunday, and I’m aiming for a Sunday post, so here’s what I’ve got for you animal lovers out there: the story of Jonah. Most of us know that Jonah was swallowed by… a large fish. The story of Jonah not only features a large fish in an important role, but the book ends with a lovely comment from God, who also cares about animals.

Here’s the final verse from the book of Jonah where God is explaining to Jonah why it is reasonable for Him to spare the city Jonah wants destroyed: “And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”

“… and also much cattle.” Who cares? God. End of story.