Saturday, January 29, 2011


 I don’t know why it takes me so long to see movies that everyone else has seen.  Oh yeah, I’m lazy.  Some will consider being too lazy to participate in an activity where you just sit there and let people act out a story for your entertainment the epitome of laziness.  To them I say that I can fit nine Ho-Hos in my mouth at one time.  That takes time and dedication in order to perform that feat, proving that I am capable of hard work and focus.

When the temperature is 20 below and wind gusts to 40mph, I find it a bit daunting to spend time outside.  Last weekend I stayed home and watched The Shawshank Redemption for the first time.  I am a bit troubled that it took so long for me to finally get around to watching that movie.  It was a great movie.  It also got me thinking about other movies made from Steven King books.  Then I stopped, because I don’t think watching a Steven King marathon in the middle of the dark winter here would have positive affects on one’s mental health.  Plus all of that work, just sitting there, watching movies.

We had a slight cold snap this past week, with only one frozen water pipe at the school that broke.  All of the teacher’s houses pipes were ok, with the exception of one, which was frozen for a short time.  The wind will find nooks and crannies and freeze pipes that had been safe for years.   Our houses sit on stilts so I am glad I have good slippers.  I haven’t had many problems this winter except for one frozen pipe last month.  The furnace may be old, but it keeps the house warm. 

We had a community meeting at the school last week, as we do a few times during the school year.  This meeting is for the community to hear about what we’re doing at the school, and it gives them a chance to talk with the staff and tour the classrooms.  Notes are sent home with the students and placards are posted at the post office and laundry mat.  The meeting was to start at 6pm and at 6:30 we shut the doors after nobody showed up.  This was a disappointment to us, but it does point out the disconnect between the community and the school.  The turnout at our parent/teacher conferences was also disappointing.  I know that at other schools in our district the turnout is much higher, so I know it can be done. 

These kids are tough out here.  Last week it was 20 below zero and kids were still outside playing.  These same kids make it to school on time almost everyday.  I think my attendance rate is around 95%.  Since most of the students don’t have satellite TV, or video games to play at home, they must find school more enjoyable than staying at home.  We’ve had days when it has been a blizzard outside, but the kids are lined up at the outside door, waiting for the 8am opening.  It sure makes my job much easier when they are in school daily and I don’t have to try to catch them up.  I have enough trouble myself keeping up.

I’ve been spared strange dreams this week, so I haven’t had that on my mind.  It is stormy this weekend, so my TV reception is out.  This will give me time to catch up on my podcasts and maybe read a little.  But, I did see that there is a new movie about Navy jet pilots I want to watch.  I think it’s called Top Gun.  If my signal returns I might watch that tonight.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


            Sigmund Freud said that dreams are subconscious wishes to be interpreted.  Dreams of achievement I can see; but what about dreams that I have that are disturbing?  And what if your dream of achievement is also disturbing?  That kind of dream has got to be rough.  Luckily, I don’t have too many disturbing dreams.  Similarly, I don’t have dreams of achievement either; they’re mostly about food.  And me eating it. 
            The other night I had a disturbing dream.  The dream was about myself and a guy who I don’t know.  Oh yeah, and we were fighting two midgets.  I don’t know why we were fighting them, but I was sure angry with one of them.  Maybe he stole a pie I was eating.  He would just keep mocking me and staying just out of me reach.  I remember yelling at him just before I woke up: “Get over here you *&%$#ing midget!”  When I woke up, I was appalled at myself for calling someone a midget.  Not that I was trying to beat him up, but I called him a midget.  I’m not sure why I would have a dream like that, since I don’t find them menacing in any way.  Nor have I met anyone who is a little person.  I did watch Elf recently and I think that might be the root of it all.
            Luckily this dream doesn’t correlate to my job of teaching people who are short in stature and sometimes mock me.  Oh wait….  This was brought up by one of my coworkers.  I scoffed at her hypothesis but was interrupted when I had to chase after a student who took one of my cookies from my desk.  Ok, that scenario didn’t happen, but one of my coworkers did wonder if my dreams were related to my job.  I don’t subscribe to Freud’s school of thought on dreams, so I scoffed her.  I enjoy a good scoffing once in a while. 
            Other than the weird dream, my week went smoothly.  We had parent/teacher conferences this week.  I did not get the turn out I was hoping for, but the kids still keep coming to school, so that is the most important part.  Report cards were sent out and none came back with angry comments.  Since we use a standards based system, our report cards have no grades, but show actual progress in their level standards.
            I’m also starting my schooling again.  I’m taking two classes from UAF to complete my teacher certification in the state of Alaska.  These are both done online, so I don’t have to do any traveling to complete them.  And unlike last time I went to college, I won’t get angry looks for learning in my underwear.  A downside to the classes is that I won’t be able to watch The Biggest Loser.  But as TV programming geniuses would have it, I can watch back-to-back episodes of Man Vs Food instead, so I think it’s a good trade off.  Plus, I won’t feel guilty eating food that some would consider bad for me.  Adam Richmond does not judge, he enjoys.
            Well, I’ve awkwardly tied together a bizarre dream with my uneventful week.  I think my new goal here should be to ramble on about topics that have nothing in common, while pretending that they do.  I have been doing that in my classroom, so I see no problem doing it here.  I don’t think I will bring up my bizarre dream to the class, just in case some of them subscribe to Freud’s thoughts on dreams.  And luckily we won’t have to watch Elf until next year.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


The time has come to fill out report cards again.  The first time I did this, I was haunted by memories of my own childhood.  This time as I fill out report cards, I’m anticipate getting to the card of the turd who called me “bald head”.  I applaud his bravado, but I may write something about his lack of effort in his insult. .  I wondered, as a child, if the teachers felt a sense of responsibility about the trauma some of us received after we handed the report card to our parents. 

The kids settled into school pretty quickly from their winter break.  It took me longer to acclimate to the routine of having to put pants on before noon.  None of my students left the village during break, so there were no stories to be told.  They just marched into the classroom and quietly laid their heads on their desks.  I anticipated being a referee to their excitement of being back.  Instead I had to try to keep them from falling asleep. 

One of the students asked me the question everyone was waiting for: “What did you bring us?”  As a teacher, it is my duty to help all of them learn about life.  These young, impressionable minds need to see what life holds for them.  So I confidently stood before them and said, “Nothing”.  They didn’t take it as well as I’d hoped.  Actually, they all kind of turned on me.  I tried to calm them down by explaining that I needed all of my suitcase space for cheese, butter, and meat.  They didn’t care.  Then I tried the tactic of turning it around on them.  I asked them “What did you get me?”  It didn’t work.  I started to panic, because all I saw were 14 wolverines glaring at me, waiting for one more lame excuse.  I inhaled, smiled and bravely said, “We’re going to have popcorn!”  They were fooled by the diversion and I lived to teach another day.

We lost one of our teachers over the winter break.  Well, we didn’t lose him; he just went to Montana and never came back.  This is something that is common out here.  First year teachers will sometimes decide it isn’t worth it and decide to stay home instead of returning.  One of our teachers has been here for 6 years and he said this is the 5th teacher here to quit during the school year.  It doesn’t take long to climb up the seniority ladder here.

Well, back to the report cards.  I do feel some responsibility about consequences from what I write on the report cards.  Whatever is written on the card is a reflection of how I did my job the last quarter.  If the student didn’t do very well, I have to take some of the responsibility for that.  So I’ll work harder on developing creativity in the classroom, because “bald-head” is just too obvious.  When I was called “Stink-butt” by a kindergartener, I know their teacher swelled with pride.  I just hope Stink-butt wasn’t too obvious.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011


averse or disinclined to work, activity, or exertion; indolent.
causing idleness or indolence: a hot, lazy afternoon.
slow-moving; sluggish: a lazy stream.
(of a livestock brand) placed on its side instead of upright.

Just to set the record straight, I cut and pasted from  Well, I didn’t. I had a student do it for me.  I was going to have him also paste the word ‘apathy’, but it was……  Anyways, my vacation is over and it’s time I get back to whatever this is.

Flying in and out of here can be tricky.  When I flew out of here before Christmas, I barley made it out.  Flights were grounded because of weather, but there was a chartered flight bringing some students home from a boarding school.  My principal was also trying to get to Anchorage, so he was able to get us on the flight by knowing who to call.  One of the teachers was supposed to leave the next day for Hawaii.  She was delayed for three days, so now Aloha has yet another meaning.  But I don’t think they’ll use this one for their new brochures.

I arrived in Anchorage at 9:53pm and arrived at the first airport lounge at 9:58.  Without a word, the bartender pulled the lever and let the amber liquid flow.  Then without a word, he handed it to the waitress who walked to the other end of the room and gave it to some duffus wearing a Yankee’s cap.  Once I remembered how to order a beer (10:01), I was reacquainted with an old friend after 126 days.  At 10:09pm I had to pee.

The trip from Nunam Iqua to Wenatchee took me just under 22 hours, which included circling Wenatchee for an hour waiting for a weather window.  I do understand how lucky I was to leave on time and arrive within one hour of what my ticket said.  Monica recognized me, which made me happy.  I hadn’t had a haircut or shaved since I left, so I was looking a bit unkempt.  And I mean unkempt in a refined way. 

I had a great time during my two weeks home.  The only complaint was that the time seemed to flash by.  And that there were too many people at the Wal-Marts.  And traffic was a problem.  And I ate too much.  Wait, that’s not a complaint, that’s just normal.  I was able to see my family and friends, which is why I came down.  Everyone seemed to agree that two weeks was enough, and that I should head north. 

The trip back to Alaska was very uneventful.  I would even go as far as to say it was pleasant.  I never had more than 1 ½ hours between my three airplane changes, which is something I’ll never see again.  I also had the great fortune to sit in first class from Seattle to Bethel.  A teacher in first class is very unusual, so I thought I’d be out of place.  Turns out that crab boat people enjoy more legroom too.  Scruffy beards and flannel shirts were everywhere, sipping champagne and laughing at the poor people in coach.  Ok, we didn’t have champagne, but I did feel superior because of my proximity to the door.  For once, I got to be the jackass holding everyone up while I put my coat on and struggled to pull my oversized carryon out of the overhead.  I think I can get used to first class, if I didn’t have to pay for it.  I lucked out and only paid an $80 extra fee to upgrade.  Who knew 80 bucks could make a guy feel better than others?

The second half of my first year here is started and it will probably move at the same pace as the first half did: quickly.  It’s hard to believe that the first half is done and no students have been injured.  At least not by me.  I told those kids not to stand that close to the shore.

verb (used with object), -solved, -solv·ing.
to free from guilt or blame or their consequences: The court absolved her of guilt in his death.
to set free or release, as from some duty, obligation, or responsibility (usually fol. by from ): to be absolved from one's oath.
to grant pardon for.
Ecclesiastical .
to grant or pronounce remission of sins to.
to remit (a sin) by absolution.
to declare (censure, as excommunication) removed.