Thursday, August 30, 2007

illiterate. slogans.

Today on my way to work I saw a panel truck with the following: "faster. internet."

Something that has driven me crazy for a while now is the practice of making slogans that are neither capitalized nor puncutated correctly. My own school system's website was one of the first ones I noticed. "
inspiring. excellence." Aaaaaaargh! What is wrong with people? Neither one of those is a sentence, so there shouldn't be a period behind either one. If they are supposed to be sentences, they should begin with capital letters! Why do people insist on separating adjectives and the nouns they describe with periods?

ridiculous. practice.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How Do They Do It?

Got home about an hour and a half ago from school. Today I had to run the clock and scoreboard at the football game. We have to do three after school duties like that as part of our contract. I don't mind doing stuff like that and doing my part, but I only got to see Sera for 20 minutes before she needed to go to bed. How do the other people do that?

One of the coaches at the game today just had a baby with his wife last spring, so I know he doesn't get to see his son and it has to be almost every day. He has practice until at least five. By the time he gets home it has to be nearly bedtime for an infant. How do principals and athletic directors manage? Sometimes they are at school until 8 PM. They must go days without seeing their kids.

I'm glad it's not me.

Friday, August 24, 2007

We've Become Those People!

I fully intended to blog last night about the greatness of "300," but I fell fast asleep an hour in, while sitting upright with my glasses still on. We had had thunderstorms in the middle of the night for the previous three nights straight and uninterrupted sleep was not to be had. I'll try again tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I haven't posted in a couple of days because I have been incredibly busy.

Data Teams

With school back in session, we are struggling to keep up with the new demands placed on us. Data teams are used to make data-driven decisions about education. Each teacher who teaches a specific subject is part of a team that produceds a pre-assessment, which is given to all students taking the course. Based on the results of the pre-assessment, the data team makes judgments about how much time needs to be spent teaching each of the Indiana standards that were covered in the pre-assessment. Strengths and weaknesses are analyzed and included in the planning of the unit.

After we lay out the next several days's worth of lessons, sharing resources, teaching tips, and experiences, the teaching (and hopefully learning) takes place. At the end of the agreed upon time, a post-assessment is given and results are analyzed. We reflect on the results and determine how successful the teaching has been.

Reports are made and minutes of meetings kept. And since I am the data coordinator for the entire building, I have to review the process for each team to make sure that everyone is clear on what is expected of them.

The Secret Project

As I have alluded to before, I am working on a project. I am creating a resource for teachers and students that I hope will be successful and profitable. My progress over the summer stalled out, as I just plain ran out of gas. But now that we are back in school, I see things every day in my teaching that need to be added. This has stirred my creative juices again, and I am hard at work on new art and pages. And my notes pile up with the things that I'm not fast enough to include.


Sera continues to be an absolute wonder. Not only can I not believe I'm a father, but I can't believe how much this child loves me and I, her. Every day when I pick her up she gives me the biggest toothy smile her face can hold. When I put her to bed at night, I feel like I need a few more hours with her because she runs and then squats and hides in the corner behind her crib so that Daddy can't find her to put her in. This past weekend went by entirely too quickly. Every time she learns something new that I teach her, it's like a piece of me becomes immortal, and a piece of my father and grandmother is forever preserved in her.


Since we've been back at work I've been trying to do my share of the cooking. While Magi and Sera were away in Alabama visiting family, I rediscovered how much I enjoy doing it. And the pleasure is doubled when cooking for others. I made spaghetti tonight, and while that doesn't sound very exciting, I tried to make it differently. I browned ground sirloin in a cast iron skillet with diced onions, as usual. But I added green peppers and chopped pepperoni to the mix before adding sauce. Back in the 80s when I worked at Pizza Hut, we reheated pre-cooked spaghetti with a slice of pepperoni in the basket to give the pasta a little extra spice.

Magi sure liked it. She commented that I had outdone myself and said it a couple of times. Sera found it a little spicy, however, and fell back on the mac and cheese that I made yesterday.

So basically, I haven't been able to blog as much lately because I've been living life. Since the death of Mike Wieringo a week ago Sunday, I've been trying to enjoy it as much as possible. You just never know.

I'll try to get back to an every-other-day schedule this week.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Big Moves for the Tigers

The Detroit Tigers have promoted 20-year old Cameron Maybin to the major leagues. He is starting tonight in New York against the Yankees in left field. I went to Maybin's first professional game in Grand Rapids last year and he looks like a great baseball player in the making. He played for the low-A West Michigan Whitecaps all season last year and spent the first part of this season at high-A Lakeland. After a brief six-game stop in double-A Erie, he's in the Show. Here is a picture of his very first at bat.

The tradeoff for bringing the youngster up is that the Tigers designated Craig Monroe for assignment. This essentially ends Craig's time with the Tigers. He either has to agree to go to the minor leagues (unlikely) or they have to trade him or release him outright. He was one of Magi's favorite Tigers, just for the fact that he took so much of his time to sign autographs for little kids. He was one of my favorites last season because he always seemed to come through in the later innings. He hit a very dramatic home run when we were at the American League Division Series last year. We were sitting in the left field stands when it happened and when he returned to his position in left field in the top of the
next inning, we all gave him a rousing standing ovation, to which he reacted by patting his hand over his heart. I wish him all the success in the world with whichever team he ends up with. Okay, except if it's the White Sox. I hate the White Sox.

Here's Craig's home run from my camera. You can see the ball against the background of the stairs.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

So Very Tired!

Working full days is going to be rough for a while as I try to get caught up on preparations for my classes. In the meantime, follow my teaching blog over at to see what we're up to.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mike Wieringo

As I mentioned in this post, my ideal artist for an all-ages comic book is Mike Wieringo. Sadly, Mike passed away yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 44. I feel like I have lost a close friend. Mike blogged every other day at his own website, and posted a sketch of whatever character he felt like warming up with. He described his art with such humility and love that you just couldn't help loving it too. Just last week, I scoured the back issue bins at our local comic book store for back issues of Robin that Mike had drawn. This week I had used one of his Fantastic Four images (at right) to make a worksheet. He had grown so much as an artist in such a short time as a mainstream professional. I wish he'd had thirty more years to draw. But you know what, it still wouldn't have been enough for me.

I already miss him.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ben 10

There’s a show that’s been around for a couple of years that I have recently discovered and really enjoy. It’s called Ben 10 and it’s on Cartoon Network.

Ben 10 is about 10-year old Ben Tennyson, a normal kid who discovers an amazing machine called the Omnitrix, a wristwatch-shaped device that can turn him into any of 10 superpowered aliens when the need arises. The
theme song says it all:

“It started when an alien device did what it did
And stuck itself upon his wrist with secrets that it hid

Now he’s got super powers, he’s no ordinary kid

He’s Ben 10.

So if you see him you might be in for a big surprise,
He’ll turn into an alien before your very eyes
He’s slimy, freaky, fast and strong,
he’s every shape and size

He’s Ben 10.

Armed with powers, he’s on the case
Fighting off evil from Earth or space
He’ll never stop till he makes them pay
‘Cause he’s the baddest kid to ever save the day
Ben 10.
I just love theme songs that describe the premise of the show. That’s not done enough these days.

Accompanied by his cousin Gwen and their grandfather Max, a former plumber (but not the kind you might expect) who travels in a motor home, Ben finds trouble and sometimes trouble finds him.
This series had to have been inspired by one of my favorite comic book concepts, Dial H for Hero. In Dial H for Hero, Robby Reed discovers a dial with the letters H-E-R-O and when the letters are dialed in that order, he is transformed into a different superhero, and those heroes in later stories were devised and contributed by readers.

Ben 10’s characters were designed by a guy whose artwork I have followed for a while.
Dave “Cornelius” Johnson had previously designed vehicles and characters for Justice League, and his work here is most definitely inspired by Jack Kirby. Even the logo has “Kirby crackle,” a shorthand way of illustrating intense energy, as seen here on the cover of Fantastic Four #72.

When you think about this show as having appeal to kids, the merchandising nearly took care of itself. The more forms Ben can take, the more action figures there are to sell. Kids can even buy their own full-sized Omnitrix. This is truly brilliant work. Even Gwen gets in on the superhero action in an episode so it isn’t just a boy’s show.

Since today is August 10th, there’s a Ben 10 marathon on Cartoon Network and tonight at 7 PM Eastern, there is a Ben 10 movie, “The Secret of the Omnitrix.”

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Just Wrong!

For breakfast this morning I made pancakes with a Snickers Dark chopped up and mixed into the batter. If you haven't had one, it's just a Snickers bar with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. When it melted into the batter in the pan, you could just smell the rich flavor. Don't you just love vacation?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sera's First Tigers Game

Yesterday was a very special day for my daughter. She attended her very first Detroit Tigers game.

Thanks to Uncle Doug and Aunt Laura, who provided the tickets, we were able to go this weekend after all. We were planning on having a larger gathering on Sunday, but work requirements changed all that. We turned a long weekend into a day trip, returning home a scant 12 hours after we left.

I'm not going to say that Sera enjoyed it overly much. She cried right after the picture you see at the right, taken with Paws, the Tigers' mascot. In fact, she squirmed throughout the game like she did at her first trip to the drive-in. But I hope that this will be the first trip of many. If you are a regular reader of this blog, or if you know me at all, you know that the Detroit Tigers are very important to me. They are a family tradition that goes as far back as the Detroit Tigers do. My grandmother listened to them along with her father.

Sera's squirming led me to take her to the souvenir store just when the Tigers had their only rally of the whole night. But you know what, watching her run around like a crazy girl, burning off all of her nervous energy was better than watching the game. Four months ago you could have never convinced me that this was a remote possibility.

Here's a picture of us both with Paws, the Tigers mascot.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The End is Nigh!

Not quite, Walter. But it's coming. We return to work on August 13. Yes, that lengthy summer vacation that people always talk about is about to come to an end. What's that, you say? I've been working all summer? Nonsense. Teachers only work part-time. We work six hours a day for nine months out of the year. At least that's what I've always read in the newspaper opinion sections.

This is not going to be a rant about teachers' low pay, etc. I don't buy that argument, ever. Every one of us knew going in how much the job paid. What gets me is the public perception that we only work part time. In the 20 years that I have been a teacher, I have taken two summers off. Two. After my first year of teaching full time I took the summer off because I had worked the previous two years without so much as two days off in a row. Then I took the summer of 1993 off. That's it. Other than those two years, I have taught summer school and Jump Start and written curriculum in my spare time. This summer I did both sessions of summer school and am now at work on writing 60 problem-solving questions (with scoring rubrics) for the different departments in our school.

I don't know about the other teachers in our school, but in twelve days I could use a vacation. Too bad I have to start work.