Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dr. Seuss' Grinch Who Stole Christmas ....Tie #2

This was Thursday's tie. Name the three most important characters from "the Grinch." Well, there''s the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who, and ... and.... ah, the dog. The dog's name is Max. What a great character! He doesn't say a word, but is observed throughout with his telling expressions and mannerisms. He associates with the Grinch, but in his heart he sees the good of something obviously malevolent.

I recently read an article posted on Yahoo about the fact that our movies and popular culture were "graying" the line between what is bad and good. More specifically, who is the bad guy and who is just a good hearted character that's made some bad decisions leading up to the story at hand. Think Despicable Me. (Spoiler Alert!) The bad guy at the beginning takes in three orphans to use for his evil deeds, only to decide that he must go legit for the sake of his new family. (Is there a need for a Godfather reference here?) Same with the Grinch. His heart grew magically with his understanding of the Spirit of Christmas. I myself, will forgive him. He just needs some kind-hearted guidance... and a hug. That attitude aligns with the Spirit of Christmas and with my interpretation of what Mr. Geisel had in mind.

So, can kids tell the difference between who is the bad guy and who is not? I think it is all in the spirit of the issue at hand. My son, Joshua is about as evil as they come in the eyes of his sister when he throws her stuffed (previously I had left out the word "stuffed" -that would be evil) cat across the room. But Alea writes a note about how much she loves him half an hour later. We encourage and foster this emotional flip-flop noting that just because a person does some bad things doesn't make them a bad person. Perhaps we should focus more on the consequences of those individual actions. That's where the stories and movies should take the criticism. What was the consequence the Grinch had to endure for breaking and entering, larceny, theft, public endangerment, and an attack on a community's religious beliefs? He was made a hero and got to carve the roast beast. Same thing in Despicable Me, and A Christmas Carol for that matter.

... and then of course, there's the fact that these are both just stories created for the entertainment of children. Over- analysis not needed.
I still think that The Grinch who Stole Christmas is one of the greatest Christmas stories of all time. A Christmas Story (Ralphie) is the best, hands down.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My first Christmas Tie

My mom got me this tie for the first Christmas I was a teacher. Despite all the other cool novelty Christmas ties, this is my favorite. I have worn it every Christmas as a teacher. That's 13 Christmas seasons.

A few things have changed since then:
No kids to 2 wonderful little people hanging around.
Baby face to badly needing a trim of my goatee.
I owned three pair of slacks to a rack of pants.
I used a PowerMac 5200 desktop to a sleek new MacBook Pro.
Renting a little house with no A/C to owning a project house.

SPEAKING of project house:
My wife wanted to finish up our Christmas shopping last night and so I decided to accompany her and the kids to Wal-Mart. I am not a fan of Wal-Mart (for various reasons, but mostly personal). Wal-Mart at Christmas times scares the heck out of me. So, please understand that I did not make the decision to go there lightly.
We spent nearly an hour and a half buying mostly things we could live without. Then back home for a relaxing evening playing a game with the boy and catching up on the computer (and writing this blog).
After the kids went to bed, I sat down on the couch and watched some Star Trek while working with the laptop. My wife complained about being cold, so I got up to turn up the heater.
Now, we have a lot of fun with the static created by the combination of the dry air, the carpet and fabric couch. I like to shock Joshua on the ear or Alea on the top of the head. My wife grabs my arm to ground herself every time I approach her. For some reason, the cat avoids me like the plague.
I went over to the thermostat and hit the up button to turn up the heat. Instantly a spark jumped nearly an inch between me and the thermostat. The digital display blinked out and wouldn't come back on. Nothing I did could revive it. I could turn on the fan, but not the heater. I replaced the batteries in the unit and hit the reset half a dozen times. I went to the company website and called the 1-800 number. Nothing. It was already getting cold, but it kept getting colder.
The choice was sleep on the living room floor in front of the gas fireplace or go get a new thermostat. Since nothing is open in Pratt at 10:30 except for Wal-Mart, I had to head back. I have not stepped in Wal-Mart since this summer. Twice in one day was just oddly improbable. Even so, I saw a Skyline patron there that had been there during my earlier trip as well. He too had a funny story. His wife was baking and since he was excited about the baking being done, he had to go after supplies for her. The things we do for our wives!
I finally got the new thermostat installed with a little help from the instruction manual and my wife. She was loyal though and I was really excited when I tested it out and it worked -first time. Surprised even. I finally crawled into bed about 1:30. I was very empathetic of the college kids pulling all-nighters before their finals. I sleep-walked through the morning routine and made it to work okay, but the day wasn't too bad. It sure seemed long though.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 25th Music Tie

This one's paired with my fine "Technology Specialist" Super Shirts. This was another one that former Pratt administrator and Dick McCall gave me. It was like brand new and of course, I was glad to get it.

One of the best things about this tie is that it makes music. It has one of those little music inserts that when pressed plays Christmas music. I had another like it for awhile. I removed the music insert because it drew kids like a magnet. The problem is that the kept poking me in the belly! (yes, I do have a doughboy tie). That tie had to be disabled. This one is a lot nicer and since I am not teaching kids all day, it hardly is noticed. There really wasn't too much interest in the tie today, except that my daughter really liked it. She kept grabbing at it and experimented to see if it would stop if she pressed it again or start over.

I did set it off accidentally a few times today. Twice I hit it getting out of the truck. Once it happened during Mrs. Hampel's first hour class. For those that aren't aware of my office/classroom situation, I share a space with an actual classroom. My area is a corner that takes on about a third of the space. It is divided from the rest of the room by tall bookcases and cabinets .

Mrs. Hampel is the Publications (among others) teacher. Her first hour is 8th grade keyboarding. She has a timer set for about 5 minutes before the bell so that the students have time to log out and put their computers away. I thought that was going off as I opened a box at my desk. It didn't take me long to realize what the music was, but the class didn't know where it originated. They got very quiet and Mrs. Hampel asked "Is that someone's phone?" I was afraid someone was going to get in trouble. So, I kept as quiet as possible...

Yeah, I 'fessed up. I really didn't think of the humor in it until later. Now I need to find that particular music for my ring tone and play it during class.

Looney Toons Christmas Tie

The Looney Toons tie. My wife has taken most of these pictures with my Droid phone. I haven't been very impressed with the camera on the Droid. However, I like how this one turned out. It's kind of an optical illusion. My SuperShirt paired with the visually impressive water mark of the Looney Tunes tie messes with the eyes.

So is it obvious I don't have too much to say about this one?

My first novelty tie was a Looney Toon one. I am sure I will blog about it as well.

You also get a nice shot of my black felt tip pen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Simpsons Tie

The Simpsons. Remember the controversy when The Simpsons first came on the air? It was a cartoon with too much bad humor. The kid was a punk, the adults were dumb, and the references were too sarcastic. Apparently America could relate. As a teenage kid, I could relate well with Bart. I was not much of a rebel myself, but I lived vicariously through the "Eat my shorts" antics of Bart and the "so intelligent I'm misunderstood" situations that Lisa had to endure. My favorite character was Homer, but my favorite secondary character was Ralph. He was so hilariously naive. Incidentally, Nelson the bully was one of my least favorite.

I watched from the first season. I think it was on the same night as Beverly Hills 90210 on Fox. I only watched a season of that, but I watched every night The Simpsons was on for years. My favorites were the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes. I know I saw every episode of the first 7 0r 8 years. After that, I 'm not sure why I quit watching it. Perhaps, I grew out of the immature, cartoon watching phase. Yeah, probably not that.

I have another Simpsons tie that I wear sparingly. My nephews gave me that one and I like it, but I wasn't so sure about wearing it to school. In fact, the first time I wore it at Skyline, the former superintendent Mr. Boland asked me if Bart Simpson was a good role model for our students. My answer? "No, I don't suppose so." My thoughts? "Most of these little snots act just like Bart." - oh not really! It is interesting though, that the kids really relate to the Simpsons' ties. It seems to be among the most commented on by the kids.

As I have gotten older I tend to relate more and more with Homer (not to mention I'm starting to look more and more like Homer). He gets odd ideas, is always too sure of himself, and makes some stupid decisions. We both love donuts and sitting on the couch to watch TV. Today, in the midst of South Park, Family Guy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and all the similar over the line cartoons, The Simpsons seems pretty mild. I do kind of miss it. There might be a need for a Netflix marathon over Christmas break. Or maybe I'll wait until the kids are a little older.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tie and Cookies, Naughty and Nice

It's another Disney tie. Naughty and Nice. I was always nice before Christmas, weren't you? I might of harassed my big sister, annoyed my parents, and bullied my little brother -BUT, that one good deed of cleaning my room had to offset all of that. IT HAD TO! Come on Santa, please understand.

Someone's little girl is lobbying for the nice side.

See below.

She has been meeting with Mrs. Fortkamp and two other first graders twice a week afterschool. Alea always has fun and always has some interesting stories to bring home. Today she brought home something tasty. I love the note, it added so much. The best part is the half of cookie. You can start to see the Naughty peeking through now, can't you? This is from the little princess that picks up the M & M from the floor and says, "Joshua gets this one." Need more evidence? This last one, I laughed at for hours and still chuckle as I write. This particular transcript reads,

"Josh wants dipeers (diapers). I like Michell (Mitchell). Dad and Mom are spical to me. Josh Dus to. Dad is a Dorywck."

The fact that she writes "Dork" exactly as she pronounces it, is especially hilarious. She's such an odd child... I'm not sure the cookies are enough to override these malevolent deeds. Except that even if I was to give her a rock for Christmas, she'd love it -probably just to spite me : )

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

An Odd Santa

This is a pretty odd tie. What's up with Santa? I am pretty sure his nose isn't really that big. Is he telling the reindeer to get up on the roof? Yeah, I know... It's just a tie. I think I got it in the bundle of ebay ties. On the tag on the back of the tie is the Hallmark brand. I thought it might be a The Far Side drawing, but there is no evidence of that on the tie.

Here's my favorite Gary Larson's The Far Side Comic with Santa:

Goofy: Bonus materials

Did you know Goofy is from Pratt, KS? Pretty impressive and inspirational:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Very Goofy Tie

Quick, name your favorite Disney character! I'll have to experiment with polls later... not tonight. My favorite character is Goofy. I always liked Goofy. He makes me laugh with that great animated physical comedy. He's always so happy and jolly -even when he is bent in half backwards falling down the stairs. This picture didn't come out very well, but is clear enough to see that the Disney gang is hauling a Christmas tree in for decorating.

Pat Aubley, Skyline's Speech Teacher gave me this tie. Just yesterday! Cool tie! My daughter loved it. In fact she loved it so much, I can't find it now. She'll bring it to me tomorrow wrapped around some stuffed animal. She loves going to Mrs. Aubley's class. Mrs. Aubley finds some really cool ways for Alea to practice her speech. The other day, I stopped in and they were decorating a metal tree with what looked like Happy Meal toys and action figures. Alea asked me what the name of one of the Animaniac figures was (Yakko) and then got to put it on the tree. Two things I now need for this blog: a picture of Mrs. Aubley's tree and an Animanics tie.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kermit the Frog Tie

This tie came from Dick McCall. Dick is the current President of the Pratt Kiwanis club, to which I belong. Just as all the members of this wonderful organization, he has welcomed me to be part of the community. There are some great people that are part of the Pratt Kiwanis and I will have to post more about the club later. Dick McCall brought me a tie hangar with a bunch of ties this summer. There were some great ties! I'm not sure why there were so many green ones with frogs...

Kermit the Frog is a pretty cool fellow. Have you ever seen Kermit, or as Miss Piggy affectionately calls him, "Kermmie" lose his cool? Okay there are times when Animal is eating the drums, Gonzo is freaking out, or Fozzie Bear just won't stop telling those horrible jokes. Even then he just yells "Quiet!" and things calm down so he can give his heart-felt monologue and go back to normal. Kermit is the leader without being obvious about it. A frog as a leader? When we moved to Pratt, I thought that the mascot of a Greenback was very odd. However, if they are talking about Kermit, I can understand it. My favorite Kermit segments are when he is the "Action News" reporter. Okay, so maybe even Kermit can lose his cool once in a while. Enjoy:

Friday, December 3, 2010

"Technology Specialist"

Specialist. Technology Specialist. I went to the monthly Kansas Technology Integrators Group meeting today, which is failry casual, so I didn't wear a tie. Rather than skip the blog for tonight (which will happen too often soon enough), I thought I would share the shirt I wore instead. This is a "super shirt" -that blog comes later.
One of the reasons I got into teaching was to work with kids. That seemed to be one of my strengths. It was a major concern of mine when I took the job as Technology Coordinator. I would now be working with adults. Turns out it wasn't too bad.

Adults know how to show their appreciation, kids struggle. I do feel appreciated at school and am glad to be needed. My job now is to serve the teachers and support what they think is the best way to reach their students with technology. One particular teacher has been using technology for years. Mrs. Brant is our Family and Consumer Science teacher. It's hard to recognize, but when I think about it, it's pretty amazing the technology she has to deal with. Sewing machines, stoves, microwaves, mixers. On top of that, in one room she has a mobile computer lab of Macbooks, LCD projector, MacBook Pro, Flat Screen TV, DVD/VCR player, Apple airport access point, color printer, black and white network printer, scanner, and a PC with card reader for her automatic embroidery sewing machine. That's a lot of technology in one room and it is not uncommon to have trouble. I spent quite a bit of time at the beginning of this year in her room working on issues that seemed to keep popping up. Mrs. Brant was very appreciative each time something was back in working order. She made me a plate of cookies, gave me one of her experimental cheesecakes, etc. Wonderful, amazing, stuff, but I told her she had to quit doing those for me. Did you notice the last picture where the tie is pretty much convex? Yeah, there's a reason it rounds out towards the camera. Anyway, I asked Mrs. Brant about the possibility of using the sewing machine to put a design on a few of my shirts. Mr. McPherson found us a t-bird and Mrs. Brant put the rest together. This picture shows the end result. I was afraid that "Technology Specialist" was a bit arrogant, but Mrs. Brant insisted and convinced me it was alright. I think it turned out and she made me a couple more. That proved the sewing machine card reader worked and I got a nice benefit from it. I'm pretty proud of my shirts and they look pretty spiffy with a tie.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Look at all the great snow people! This is one flashy tie. That's about all I can say about the tie.

Here's one of those "It'll come back to haunt you" moments:

I taught 6th grade Social Studies for several years. It scared me at first, but I warmed up to as I found there really is some interesting stuff in ancient world history. At some point in the class we had to discuss South American geography. So, the highest lake in the world comes up as a topic. Lake Titicaca. Great name for a lake, but it is difficult for middle school students to handle. We discuss how it really doesn't mean anything and I give them permission to "giggle and get over it." We have even practiced saying it and not losing control. I had forgotten all about those moments, until tonight.

This evening Skyline High School hosted a Scholar's Bowl meet. I volunteered to be a moderator. I imagine you see where this is going. One of the questions started with, "Lake Titicaca is the largest..." (or something like that). It happened to be a match with Skyline students -kids that I taught when they were 6th grade Social Studies students. Needless to say their reaction was to laugh and giggle. One young lady was in tears. There was no way they could answer the question. As soon as the words Lake Titicaca came out of my mouth, they missed everything else. I about couldn't finish the question myself. I can only imagine what the other team was thinking. It's probably a good thing I don't have my own classroom anymore...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This story has to be told: My favorite front office secretarial staffers were having fun teasing me about the new blog. So as they giggled, Amy brought up the post of the talking, juggling snowman. It wouldn't play. Wendy cranked up the volume and the button was pushed again. We talked a little bit about why it wasn't working at school and then I walked off to do some real work - I have to do that too, you know.

A short while longer their conversation with the superintendent was interrupted by my snowman's voice yelling, "Hello ladies, watch me juggle these snowballs!" Man, it's good thing we work in a place where people appreciate a "unique" sense of humor.

The Grinch Who Stole ... my Tie.

This one is pretty self explanatory. I've admired our principal's Dr. Seuss tie, and always wanted one of mine own. Now I have two. Last year, I bought a bunch of ties for a good price on eBay and there were some Grinch ties in there. Nice Surprise. I'll wear another one in the next two weeks.

I enjoyed wearing this one today and my favorite comment was from my daughter's teacher. She asked if I was feeling like that today. Then she asked Alea if I ever acted grumpy. Of course, Alea was honest...and said I am always the nicest guy- always. OK, actually she just nodded yes. I was waiting for her to say, "Usually only at Joshua."

Alea had to come home early today with her mother. She has enlarged tonsils and a fever. The doctor prescribed her some medicine, so hopefully she will recover quickly. Poor little girl, she's been lethargic and tired all evening. There was a silver lining, however. She got to sit on my lap and snuggle while we watched ... guess what? Yep, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (with Jim Carey). We watched the first half tonight and the second half will have to be tomorrow. I do still prefer the original animated version. Snuggling on the couch watching a movie, that's a pretty good way to end the day.