Friday, November 23, 2012


Thanksgiving 2012 is in the books and the refrigerator is full of leftovers. Which is surprising because of the amount of food I ate. I guess it is a bit ridiculous when I look up to ask someone to pass the gravy and find myself alone at the table. Then I have to decide if the effort is worth it. I quickly decide that it is, and poured that liquid meat over my third plate. Really, I knew all along that I’d be using that Gravy, so it was not too smart to allow the bowl to be placed so far from my seat.

This is our group in Nunam. Guess which one is me.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving here with our Alaska family. We had the usual fare: turkey, potatoes, stuffing, Gravy, green bean casserole, rolls, and other stuff I didn’t have room for on my plate. As we sat down to dinner, our guests spoke of the things they claim to be thankful for. I was looking down on our turkey and wondered that if Ben Franklin had his way, would we be eating eagle for dinner? When it was my turn I said I was thankful that eagles were protected. With that, there was a collective “Shut up Clay” and everyone started eating.

Our Alaskan family includes mostly other teachers. Essie is our special education teacher, and this year her boyfriend, Daniel, from Arkansas came to visit. Brittnay teaches language arts for the high school. And Bethany is our science and math teacher. We share many meals together, but not as big as this one. We all pitched in and made different dishes for the meal, so I didn’t get stuck with all of the cooking.  And it was all delicious.

There wasn’t much conversation at the table, mostly just the sounds of forks going from plate to mouth. From time to time people would ask someone to pass a plate or to ask Monica if I was really going to eat all of that. I did hear someone, whom I won’t name because it might embarrass his girlfriend, say that he stopped eating because he didn’t want to unbutton his pants. The way he said it made it sound like it was something to be ashamed of. I let it go because I was wearing my fleece pants with elastic in the waist (stretchy pants). But to be fair, I wear those pants most of the time around the house. 

The dessert choices were so much I could not sample all of them. For six of us, we had apple pie, two peanut butter pies, pecan pie, and carrot cake. By the time I got to dessert, I was only able to sample three of them. I’ll get to the rest later; that is what Black Friday is for.


Black Friday is for eating leftovers and repeating the words, "I ate too much... again." For some, Black Friday is for standing in lines to buy more things to be thankful for. I have made a list of things that I’d rather do than participate in Black Friday shopping:
1. Everything else.

I suppose I could   go  on  about  the  downside  of   feeling compelled to purchase things we don’t need, but I’ll let it pass. I’ll instead think of the things that I am thankful for: My almost perfect wife, many good friends, a great family, a job I love, and a warm house. I’m also thankful that our plumbing is working better. We had some troubles with our sewer system at the house, but it seems to be working close to normal. Which means I don’t have to make the one-mile walk to and from the school every morning during our break. And this is especially comforting knowing the amount of food that will be eaten on this four-day weekend. With that, I’ll wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and let you back to your leftovers. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Sunset on Swan Lake.
We are standing in the middle of the lake.
Well, the elections are over for this cycle and the voice of the people was heard through the vote: the theme on our bulletin board will change.  The chant in our class wasn’t, “Four more years!” but “Change that board!”. At least our election wasn’t filled with fear mongering and distortions of the truth like a couple of adults I’ve heard about.

I’m not sure if I’m more proud of the fact that my students behaved better than the adults or disappointed in the behavior of the adults during this election. Good God, those commercials were driving me crazy. Each one tried to paint their opponent as some evil monster, hell-bent on destroying our country for no other reason than their pure evilness. And those were the pizza commercials. The campaign commercials were worse. One of my students found out that “Obama don’t allow gum!” I didn’t watch all of the debates, but I’m sure that was put out there. 

But we are changing the out board. I do believe that it has only been changed once since school started in Aug. One of my many shortcomings as a teacher is my inability to offer more art projects for my students. I know the kids enjoy it but it is difficult for me since I have no artistic talent. My creative process usually involves bacon somehow. And I won’t waste bacon by hanging it on the wall.

The board will be changed to turkeys this week. We are involved in a project with another class in Wichita, Kansas through video teleconferencing. I went to Seward earlier this fall for training on how to work and use this equipment, so now we’ll see how we do. I know the kids are excited about talking with students in Kansas. I hope to use the VTC more this year, connecting with other schools in the country. 

Working hard in Mr. Clay's class.
We are also going to start using our VTC to receive Yupik instruction this year. We will start this on Tuesday, so we’ll be getting a lot of use with this VTC. I am excited about doing this because I am much worse at teaching Yupik language to Yupik kids than attempting to instruct art class. The Yupik language is difficult for a non-Yupik speaker because of the sounds of the language. I could be totally fluent in Yupik and still not be understood by the elders. The instructor is a Yupik speaking teacher at another school in our district. This makes more sense than having me attempt it. I fear I would totally screw up these kids’ ability to ever learn their language. 

Now with the elections over for a while, we can be bombarded with Christmas commercials. I am already sick of the jewelry commercials where a man spends way too much money to impress his wife/girlfriend/mistress. And here I look like a schmuck because I gave my wife a new bakeware set with explicit instructions on when to make Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. We call them delicious rolls. 

I want to thank all of our veterans for their service. And I want to give a shout-out to all of my shipmates. Thanks for what you did/do and thanks for the memories. Some memories are still fuzzy, some are embarrassing, and some are confusing. But most were a blast. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I was looking through my blog stats and saw that this was my 100th blog posting. For me this is a big deal because I haven’t done many things 100 times. Here is a sampling of some of the things I’ve done 100 times: Said the words,”I’ll never eat that much at one time again!” I’ve even said this more than once in one day. “I’ll never drink that much at one time again!” Sadly, I’ve said this more than once in a day too. “I think I’ll just sit here and watch football on TV all day today”. This sometimes leads to the eating and drinking things mentioned above. 

I even had a student dress up as me.
Yes, the big kid in the Homer mask is me.
I have not read through my blogs yet, except to see check a date of an event from the past. This should be apparent because I don’t know if I repeat something that I blogged about the year before. Or last week for that matter, because sometimes while watching a movie I think of something and think that just made it up. Then Monica will roll her eyes and point out that I said that last time I saw that movie. And the time before. So I apologize if I ever repeat from an old post.

Halloween went well this year. I believe that Halloween should always land on a Friday, like they have some federal holidays always on Mondays. I didn’t really think about this until I was a teacher and Halloween fell on a stupid Wednesday. This is worse than the 4th of July falling on a Wednesday. The only thing on the kids’ minds that day was holding a bag full of candy. Then eating that full bag of candy. We did send a note home asking parents to have their kids stop trick-or-treating (or as looked upon by some as demanding candy while concealing their identity) by 9pm so their teachers could go to bed. When I reminded my class of this, they asked what time I went to bed. I told them that by 9:30 I was asleep in my bed. They laughed. Not the  polite laugh sometimes used to protect other’s feelings. They laughed like they just watched someone slip and fall on the ice with their arms full of groceries. They even pointed at me while laughing. But to their credit, nobody came to the house after 8:30.

Last night we had our Halloween/Fall carnival at the school. We had most of the kids come and play games and try to win cakes in the cakewalk. Monica and I set up our X-box with kinect. (It’s a video game system.) Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, even us teachers who spent 6 hours setting the gym up. We don’t have many entertainment opportunities in our village, so even a game of beanbag toss is fun. 

Our carnival last night.
Now that Halloween is over, all of our attention can turn to whining about the lack of snow. We have very little snow yet this year. Usually we have a white Halloween, which had been Bing Crosby’s original wish. This year it is a brownish color from the dead grass. But it has been cold, so that will help with freezing the ponds and especially the Yukon, which we use as our winter road for our snowmobiles. The lack of snow will allow the water to freeze deeper without the blanket of insulation. 

So in honor of my 100th post, I challenge you to think of something that you’ve done at least 100 times. And then think of something you’ve done at least 100 times that wouldn’t get you arrested if you did it in public. I’ll share one last one:“It smells kind of funny, but it’s only been out of the fridge a couple of hours, I’m sure it’s ok.” There is another activity that goes with that, but I'll not share that one.