Friday, August 31, 2007
I don't know why, but Mrs. Edwards has been on my mind quite a bit lately.
I think it is important to say that I care little for politics or the people involved in politics. I do not think politicians are trustworthy people. They lie, cheat and misrepresent the people they are supposed to serve. I am not a Republican, nor do I consider myself a Democrat. I am an independent person who thinks about the issues and what is best for everyone. I don't think that politicians are capable of this kind of thought process. They want to be elected and then re-elected. How they achieve these goals is really all they consider.
I like Mrs. Edwards. I think she is a genuine person. I know her husband is running for President and simply because she supports him, he may just get my vote, if he is able to make it that far. Certainly, I was pleased when he began to follow me on Twitter, but I am sure that he is not the person who enters his micro-blog, it has to be some sort of low level staff member. There is no way he could even know I exist. However, none of this has influenced my thoughts about Mrs. Edwards at all.
I also like Mrs. Edwards because she is a strong person. I think she always does what she believes to be the right thing to do. She is brave and never backs down from anyone. This is what I want in my President.
Mrs. Edwards lost her oldest son in a car accident. I can't imagine how difficult that was for her and her family, but somehow she survived. I think that I would have folded like a deck chair.
She now has 3 children. I have three children. Emma Claire is as old as my oldest son Calvin. Her son Jack is two years older than my daughter Savannah. I think she completely understands what it is all about being a parent. I bet she is concerned about leaving the world a better place for her kids, too. I don't know what any of the candidates feel about this issue because their only goal is tied to November, 2008.
I know; Mrs. Edwards has cancer. So what. We will all die some day, but she is not going to hide somewhere and fade way. She is going to stand up and do what needs to be done for her family. She is completely selfless that way. Abraham Lincoln was selfless, agonizing over what what was right for our country to the point of damaging his own mental health. Which Presidential candidate would do this? Today it is all about how well you can cover your own behind.
Elizabeth Edwards is an attorney, and normally I would hold this against anyone, but she has also been a substitute teacher. So, in my mind these two career choices cancel each other out and she is back to even again. As a teacher, I respect any substitute. That is hard, stressful work. You walk into the unknown and have to keep it all together until the teacher can return. You want to see what the real world is like? Sign up to be a substitute teacher.
I think she has got to be the most brave person I can think of, not because she has cancer, but because she fears no one. She is like Bruce Lee that way. Don't underestimate her or she will hand you your head in a basket, but in a nice way.
I think that Ann Coulter is a warped and nasty person. I do not know Ann, maybe she is nice in person, but her public persona is kind of scary. From a male perspective, she is an attractive woman. Perhaps that is what has led her to believe that whatever she says is acceptable. Men will do that around good looking women- agree to whatever they say and let them get away with murder. So she feels she always has 51% or so of the population behind her. She strikes me as a fast talking bully.
Elizabeth Edwards tracked down Ann Coulter, and in a very polite way, put Ann in her place. Ann is used to being nasty and saying whatever she pleases. Mrs. Edwards stated her case in a calm way and made Ann look like the fool she really is. Mrs. Edwards is beautiful in a way that Ann Coutler could never achieve.
Recently, a blogger became bold enough to question Mrs. Edwards' parenting choices. A short time later, Mrs. Edwards responded to the blogger. The blogger quickly changed her position realizing that perhaps she should mind her own parenting business. Mrs. Edwards was nice to her as well.
Mrs. Edwards is a diplomat that won't take any mess from anyone. She allows her adversaries to save face but backs down from no one. This is the kind of leader we need. No one would mess with her.
I would like to meet her, and give her a hug. Not out of sympathy, but out of respect. Maybe some of her strength would rub off on me. I wish that all of her remaining days are happy, and that some day her children come to understand her greatness.
Elizabeth Edwards should be the next President of the United States of America.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
A weird thing happened at the Hair Cuttery today. The young lady who cut my hair immediately looked familiar. I am terrible about names, but good at recognizing faces. I knew that she had been a student at my school, and I also knew she wasn't one of my former kindergarten students. Having been a teacher for 17 years you see a lot of students who have grown up, but I didn't want to bring it up because it always makes me feel old.
After the normal small talk, she figured it out and was thrilled to see me. Sharde is her name and she last went to my school about nine years ago. She was completely thrown off by my freaky look. I think she actually enjoyed returning me to my normal state of appearance.
We caught up on all the teachers she remembered and she told me about her friends who were now adults, with children and real life problems. One of her friends is pregnant by a guy who is probably going to be locked up for a long time on an accessory to murder charge. Sad, but life is like that. I often forget that in the protected little world I have worked so hard to create.
I never really knew her as a child, but listening to her tell about her life and her friends made me feel happy for her that she turned out to be such a nice person. It also made me feel sad for all the tough things that life throws at you. I just wanted to run home and hug my kids and force them to stay small and protected forever.
She is now my new favorite hair person. I didn't have one before, but I do now. She is trying to get her first apartment. Turning on the power and the cable today. I remember how hard that was when I first got my own place. I hope she makes herself a happy little place in life.
Funny things about hair;
People treat you differently when you appear to be unkempt. When I am clean cut, people don't try to ignore me as much, and they more easily accept me as an authority figure. I know this is not a new idea, but when you experience this in interactions with people it adds to the impact. I try to always refrain from judging people based on appearances. Clothes, hair, and all the other external things matter little. Except body odor, then I just back up a little when talking to them. Smelly people can be nice too.
My upper lip actually feels lighter without the moustache. Strange.
With my hair cut and no goatee, my eyebrows now look completely out of control. Like funky caterpillars that fell asleep over my eyes. Straight fuzzy dashes. But really, what can a man do about eyebrows? Wax them? I don't think so.
Why does hair grow on your ears? I hate that. I will yank those things out as soon as they pop up. Cutting them never helps. When I rip them out I hope I might get lucky and destroy the root. Every time I see really old guys with super hairy ears it freaks me out. I can barely maintain eye contact, I get paranoid and I have to check at the first private mirror I cross and make sure I am not sprouting any "curb feelers." I don't think I have a weird ear hair fixation or anything, but I might be a bad judge of my own idiosyncrasies.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
So, in June I heard that Office Depot was giving a $3 off coupon for each ink cartridge turned in, that can then be combined for total of $75 off any single purchase in a day. I thought this is too good to be true. But it was true!
I gathered up my 250+ cartridges (I am still not sure how many I turned in, I just kept pulling them out of a big box) and dropped them off 25 at a time collecting coupons the whole way. It only took me about two weeks to turn them all in.
I wasn't sure at first what all I wanted to get for the school, so I started spending them slowly thinking that after school started up I would have a better idea of what to purchase. I did know that we needed mouse pads. I bought all the cheap red ones in all three stores located within a 7 mile radius of my house (@$4 a pop). Then I bought all the, blue, gray and green mouse pads in all three stores (@$5+ a pop). I cleared out three stores of all the cheapest mouse pads they had to sell. By the way, they don't restock very quickly. It took almost a month before I saw any of these mouse pads in any store near me. Total mouse pads purchased- 60. It was important for my school to get these because kids wear out mouse pads. Sure, the two computer labs I run have no uniform mouse pads, but clean mouse pads that don't match are far better that all matching trashing looking ones, right? And I refuse to blow my tech budget buying expensive ones.
During this time, I realized that I was not a popular person at Office Depot. I followed their rules and tried to use coupons that they gave to me to purchase items. Every chance they got they questioned me and made me feel like I was doing something wrong but they did continue to take cartridges and give me coupons.
I was forced to point out the wording on the coupons that gave me the right to do what I was doing. I understand that I was not the normal customer. Nobody else was exchanging such a large quantity of cartridges for coupons and then buying stuff with coupons. I think it is also important to note that I had to use my own money during my spending sprees. You can't zero out using coupons. You must go over at least a little bit to buy things this way. So you buy $78.50 in merchandise and use $75 in coupons. There is no way I am going to nickel and dime my bookkeeper. I want to try to keep her as a friend. Bringing her 12 receipts for a total of $40 is not going to make her happy. She has to get audited and that is going to bring in some closer examination because the school has to then write me a check.
Around the 12th of July I went in for a drop off/purchase and saw a memorandum from Office Depot (OD) headquarters about the ink for $3 off coupons. I don't know if I was supposed to have been able to see it, but see it I did. I read it through quickly, then reread it to make sure I remembered it, before someone took it away. I should have demanded to copy it, because after July 15th OD was only giving out three coupons a day and allowing the customer to use three for purchases in a day. EXCEPT for those coupons given out before the July 15th cut off-which would expire August 31st. This meant me- I was immune to the policy change, but not the hassle involved in trying to turn them in.
I decided that it wouldn't be a problem. I mean I am naive by nature, believing this would still work out fine. I was wrong. Things got worse- much worse.
I had to nail down the managers in two stores, forcing them to read the memo that I had already read thoroughly. When I refused to accept what an assistant manger told me, the new rule- three coupons a day for any purchase, and I insisted that she was mistaken about her interpretation, she yelled at me, and stomped off saying, "You can argue all you want about memos, but you ain't getting any more than 3 coupons for this purchase." I refused, politely, to move from my place in line until I spoke with the manager. At least he was nice to me. He immediately understood that he had to go back and read the memo, and after he did he said that I could do what I had insisted all along that they let me do. The assistant manager never came near me, apologized for being rude, or even made eye contact with me.
I promise at no time did I ever raise my voice or say all the the wonderfully colorful expressions that were tickling the tip of my tongue. I had my small crew of Doss' with me and I don't want them to look back and remember that I once created a huge scene at OD when they were young. I only politely, but firmly insisted that they were not following their own guidelines.
I had a small group of other employees come and watch from a safe distance while I was told that I could use no more than 5 coupons at time for a purchase. The assistant manager was polite but refused to budge. He did call his manager who ok'ed the the 5 coupon rule modification, but after that, he insisted he could do no more or risk getting in trouble with his manager. Snickering employees nearly brought me to the edge, but what could I do? Knowing you are right is little solace when you feel humiliated by an ignorant pimple covered pack of 19 and 20 year-olds.
There was nothing I could do but return to the previous store the following day where the assistant manger hated me, but the manager knew I was right. At this point I am so dreading returning to OD that I had to force myself to do it. With $120 left to spend, I just couldn't throw it away.
Luckily, as we walked in we saw the nice cashier who rung us up the time before when the manager read the memo, and my wife and I begged her to please tell the cashier on duty that we were on the level and not trying to do anything out of whack. Thank God she did. All I could picture was me having a breakdown in the middle of the store and the guys in the white suits dragging me away while I scream, "Read the memo! My coupons are good!"
I finished up by getting 6 camera cases, a laser pointer/pen, and a 5 port switch. Total cost to me $16 and a few dirty looks. Nearly a complete success. I felt like kissing the cashier who passed on the good word.
In looking out for my students at my school, I was yelled at, humiliated and basically treated like a criminal. I don't much care for OD any longer. Ironically, guess where I have been ordering ink from, for my school, for the past few years? OFFICE DEPOT. We have a business account with them. I think that I am going to send my $5000+ worth of ink business this year to Electronic Systems Inc. (ESI). They are slower (no next day drop off), but they have never treated me badly.
I think that I will also do my best to share this story with as many of the other computer resource specialists at the other 80+ locations in my school system. Perhaps some will choose to use ESI instead. Maybe, but I am naive after all.
As soon as I can locate the proper addresses of people who run OD, I think I will be sending a letter sharing my personal experiences with OD customer service.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Before I can go any further, I have to set up the scene. Over the past couple of years I have been engaged in a battle over my health. I went to the Doctor and he said I had high cholesterol. So, I ignored him for over a year, probably more like 3 years before my wife forced me to return. I had stayed away from him for so long that they filed my patient information in the vault. So, I had to redo all of my paperwork and take the annoying blood test again. But because of my age, 40, he felt that it was necessary to perform other tests as well. Tests that violated my manhood.
My Doctor is a kind little Pakistani gentleman. A very nice guy, and I like him as a person, but I reserve the right to dislike all Doctors as a profession, but that is another story. His nationality is only important because it is much funnier to imagine him saying this to me with his accent as I was huddled in the fetal position on the examining table, "Do not worry. My fingers are small." Those are the exact words he used. It did not make me feel any better, and as far as I could tell he might have been using a broom.
I tried to avoid returning to my Doctor to discuss the results of my blood test, mostly because I don't want to take any pills (and I didn't want another probing). I don't trust pharmaceutical companies or the FDA and I have visions of me taking some sort Alli like drug and being forced to live with the side effects (warning- link is descriptive and bodily functions are discussed using vulgar words, less offensive link here). After a good 6 months, my wife made the appointment for me.
When I finally visit my Doctor, he says that I have to diet and exercise. Diet? What is that? I eat what I want, when I want. I always have. My weight has not really changed since I was in college, but I must admit the distribution of my weight has been altered.
I have decided to attempt to play along with this, "Healthy Eating," routine. One of the things that I am supposed to do, is eat three good meals a day. I normally only eat one time a day, dinner time, and I consume large amounts of caffeine to keep going. I work harder this way and I've been doing it like this for years. But I haven't adopted the new way quite yet. There is too much work- physical work, that has to be done. If I eat I get sluggish, so no lunch for me.
My wife is too good to me. She has not let up on me doing the healthy eating thing. Everyday she reminds me of what I should be doing, and it seems that my three children have been listening. They are all aware that I am hungry when I get home.
We are almost to the best sandwich ever.
I come home Friday afternoon and my baby girl meets me at the door with two sandwiches in her hand. Savannah is 5 getting ready to go to kindergarten. She says,"Daddy, I made you some sandwiches," and she hands me two sandwiches. It was such a beautiful moment that I teared up and almost full-out cried.
Amy, my wife, says, "Tell Daddy what you put on the sandwiches." At this point I don't care what is on them. I have already decided that I am going to eat them no matter what. So I speak up and say, "I bet it is everything I like, isn't it baby?" I am questioning the wisdom of eating the sandwiches, but there is no way I can hurt Savannah's feelings. I convince her that I want to take everyone to dinner and that I will eat them for lunch on Saturday. I need the time to mentally prepare for my performance.
Saturday, lunch time. I sit down to eat my thoughtfully prepared meal. Two sandwiches.
Ingredients; white bread, turkey, mayo, sweet and spicy mustard, peanut butter and honey (and a ten inch long sandy brown hair). It doesn't sound that bad, and truthfully the first sandwich was nearly tolerable, but you have to remember children don't acquire the ability to smooth the ingredients evenly until about 12 years of age.
The second sandwich I took 3 bites from and I could not continue. The whole time I had been smiling and making yummy sounds, and telling Savannah how wonderful the meal was. When I put my sandwich down, Amy mercifully said, "Are you getting full?"
Savannah says, "Well, you can save it and finish it later." I jumped at the opportunity, and slipped the sandwich back into the plastic bag before carefully placing into the refrigerator. It was decided that I would finish it as a midnight snack.
As I placed the remainder of the sandwich in the garbage, I did cry. Savannah will be making all of my sandwiches from now on. And I will eat them. I just might need to guide her a little during the creation time...
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Pornography is such a sensitive subject. It seems that you are either for it and some sort of degenerate, or against it and super self-righteous. I have very mixed feelings about the subject. I do not own any porn. I guess I should say I do have some, but it is not truly mine. It is the purest form of porn ownership. The hand me down porn. When my wife's father died, my brother-in-law and I came across his collection. We decided that it was not something that should just be thrown away, so we divided up the booty. Now I have a couple of artsy type porn books and some videos. I know they are in the house, but I couldn't tell you where. I am pretty sure that I have not even looked at the majority of it.
Does this make me a degenerate? I don't buy any porn. There is not a Playboy in the house, although I did ask my wife about getting a subscription because of the highly informative articles. She said no. That's OK, I didn't really want the magazine, I just wanted to get a rise out of her. My point is, if I was a pornography purchaser does this make me a bad person? Does it make me a bad person to have some porn from the 70's and 80's that I can't even find in my own house?
Sex is the most basic of human drives. There is nothing more beautiful than two people showing their love for one another. Certainly, there is some weird stuff out there, but I think much of it has grown out of society's suppression of this basic human compulsion. If people are told that something is wrong, they get a thrill out of being naughty, and as the excitement lessens they then look for something more on the edge.
There are things available for viewing on the Internet that are so disgusting (pictures of people viewing a disgusting picture- Safe For Work) that I don't even consider it to be porn. Anything that makes me want to throw up on my keyboard is not erotic viewing. This disturbs me.
A friend of mine works in web developing. He and all of his coworkers used to look for the grossest pictures out there and then set a co worker's desktop to the offensive picture while he away from his cubicle. Then the unsuspecting guy would return and everyone would wait until they heard a, "Ahhhhh!" and fall out laughing. So from their combined research they accumulated a library of offensive URLs that my friend would share with me, with the object being to make me ill. The conversation would begin innocently enough, "Hey, Al you have got to see this website." After the second time, I knew what was coming, but curiosity can be a terrible thing- and I always looked. Just when you think you have seen it all, remember- there is always something more disgusting than you can imagine around the corner. There really are sick people out there. People are born good and then turn into freaks.
I remember a few years ago when Janet Jackson's boob popped out (no pictures- Safe For Work), you would have thought the world was coming to an end. I don't even remember who was playing in that Super Bowl and I watch football religiously because the boob became the most memorable thing that year. I guess this means that a sport that is viewed by millions that is based on violence is acceptable, but a boob on TV for 3 seconds is offensive. That one boob peaking out changed they way live television is viewed by the world.
Meanwhile, the use of foul language is OK with everyone. The lord's name can be taken in vain, the B-word can used, and Bono can drop the F-bomb (no curse words) on live TV. But if a boob pops out everything must change to prevent it from ever happening again. Do I cuss? Yes, I have the skills of a veteran sailor, but I have 3 children and I am a teacher. I do not cuss in front of my children, or any children- even when I hurt myself. Apparently this gives me a skill, an internal censor, that over 90% of the general population has not acquired. But if a boob made an appearance at the mall, the owner would be arrested. Am I the only one who feels this is warped?
I am not sure exactly what the answer is but I know that I am offended by violence, cursing, and hate that can be found out in public and at home on my TV at any time of the day. The nude body I am OK with. The expression of love between two people is not so bad. All of the horrors that humans inflict on one another is offensive. Images that make me want to destroy my keyboard with my latest meal, this bothers me. Expressions of love, I don't think this should bother anyone.
I don't want my children to see all the ugliness in the world. I know it will happen, but I want to protect them as long as possible and keep them innocent. Once that innocence is lost, it is gone forever. Is a boob, or God forbid, even two going to ruin them for life? I don't think so. But if they learn the F-bomb because a friend of mine can't control his language, or someone is watching a baseball game on TV (Not Safe for Work-video link with F-bomb on live TV), or we are waiting in line in Walmart and another customer is talking on his cell phone- I am going to be stuck with a lot of un-teaching to do with my children. Not just because I find it unacceptable for them to use expletives before the age of 18, but because society frowns upon it. If they were to use this new found vocabulary word in school, I would get a call and have quite a bit of explaining to do. But foul language is everywhere. I fight it everyday and I am losing this battle.
I don't have all the answers. The world is full of contradictions and most of what is out there just doesn't make sense. Hold on, I have to change the channel because the "Girls gone Wild" infomercial is on... I don't want my baby girl to see this and think that is acceptable behavior.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I hate injustice.
Being a Libra, it is important for me to feel balance in all things. I am outraged by injustice. Inequality sends me off the deep end. Some people strive to get ahead by any means. I, on the other hand, feel guilty if there is some sort of favoritism involved if it benefits me. I have the need to protect the innocent and weak. Children and small animals must be protected from the ugliness of the world and it just doesn't seem to be happening like it should. Somebody needs to step up and take charge of this mess.
I fight authority.
I always question authority. There are times when I am in agreement with what I am told, but other times I am simply upset by what seems to make absolutely no sense at all. The people in charge don't often offer explanations to justify what is going on. They don't have to, they are in charge. This seems wrong to me, almost as if it flies in the face of what democracy means. Motive is important for me to understand. I ask, "Why," a lot. Some people lose the ability to ask this after the age of 21.
This type of thing never sits well with Superman, either. If you are in charge you better OK whatever you want to do with Superman because if you don't, he will do what he thinks is right, and that means wrecking you plans. And breaking stuff, he is always good about that. Superman is not the only superhero who fights authority. It almost seems to be a "must have" quality about Superheros in general.
I am imperfect.
All Superheros are imperfect with some kind of personality or equipment flaws. Even the most perfect of all Superheros, Wonder Woman was flawed. Why in the world would you want an invisible plane? You can hear the plane, and see her sitting on something while she moves moves. How does she find it when she is not in it? Stupid. Although, I would never tell her this because she is totally hot and can kick butt.
I have tons of flaws! I am bullheaded, cranky, and I won't watch"Old Yeller," because I know it will make me cry. In fact, I have more than enough flaws to qualify to be a Superhero. Would that make me overqualified for the position?
I have special powers.
-I have the ability to annoy anyone. If I can't figure out what really gets under someone's skin, I can use, "the most annoying sound in the world." It is a special sound that I have developed- kind of a cross between a whale call and a bird screech. I can vary the pitch and volume to create a wonderfully annoying effect. The ability to annoy others can also be used as a distraction tactic while I work for my true goals. Simply annoying someone is good for nothing, there must be another goal in mind. Otherwise you have just made someone angry. That is never nice.
-I have the power of sarcasm. I am able to detect sarcasm as well as use it to accomplish my goals. Some people do not have this ability. This is a vicious weapon that I use the most restraint with because the misuse of this power is cruel. A Superhero should never be mean. Mean is purposefully hurting someone else for no good reason.
-I have the ability to hypercaffeinate. Super speed and energy mode makes me feel nearly indestructible. This mode doesn't last long, but I can always recharge.
-My wife would say that I have another power, the disgusting ability of creating a funky odor on command. I disagree, I don't believe that is a super power for me. That is only because the smell doesn't bother me, and I can't do it whenever I want. This is a myth.
I would love to have a secret identity.
I could work on my Irish accent, because I can't remember any Superhero that uses an accent while in disguise. I say Irish accent because every time I attempt to use some kind of foreign accent, my wife says something like, "I didn't know that Bob Marley was Irish." You have to go with what works. No one would ever think that I was a superhero. "Al, a super hero in disguise? No way, Super Annoying Guy doesn't sound like a disturbed Leprechaun."
I would also have some sort of fake moustache and a sombrero. This would completely fool anyone. Who in the world would consider a guy with a moustache and a sombrero that speaks with an Irish accent to be a superhero in hiding? It is ridiculous. They might think I was a mental defect, but never a Superhero. Mission accomplished.
Look at Superman's secret identity. A pair of glasses? Give me a break. What kind of real world disguise is that where the entire population is thrown off by a pair of wire rims? My disguise would work in the real world.
I have one true vulnerability.
The people I care about- that is where it hurts me. My family and friends are my weakness, and my strength. I can't stand the thought that anything bad could happen to those people that I love. I wish no harm to anyone, but I would protect the people I love with my last breath at the expense of any who would harm them. Even without special powers this is true.
I don't believe in a no win situation.
Just like Kirk and "The Kobayashi Maru," I don't believe in a no win situation. I know Captain Kirk is not a traditional Superhero, but he has always been one to me. Anyway, I believe that this is important because it is a never give up mentality. Even if you have to cheat to win. This idea would seem to be in direct conflict with my fighting injustice stance, but it is not. When one fights evil, there is no cheating. Remember this is only if I was a Superhero. In real life there are no win situations everyday, I just don't call them that. They are just pebbles in the stream. Unless they are really big, and then they are,"Damns!"
And finally, I should have been a superhero because I believe that there should be theme music whenever I enter the room. I am not really sure why, but I think it would be great to have your own theme music. Whenever this happens on TV, you always know the bad guy is going to get it, and everything will be OK.
Maybe that is what I really want, to make everything OK, for everyone...
Normally, it is the later for me each year. I change my strategy from every year, but I always seem to have no true keeper controversy when the next season rolls around. I am praying for a good draft. It will be one less thing that I will have to worry about every week.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
We had a great time at the concert last night. We rolled into the Amphitheater about 6:30 so we could go backstage. Jay and I met a guy who asked us to wait a few minutes and then we could go in and meet Def Leppard. We were pretty cranked up about it. I was just excited to meet someone famous, and Jay was itching to meet one of his rock idols, Joe Elliott.
The guy who was taking all of the people backstage tells us that there will be no drinking or smoking backstage. I figure that this is not going to be an issue because we were supposed to go backstage in a few minutes. Well it was 2 hours. We were asked not to drink anything because if the tour manager suspected we had been drinking he would kick us out. Jay and I ended up drinking two beers.
During the wait Foreigner was playing. We missed their entire performance. I was kind of bummed about that because Foreigner was the second concert that I ever went to as a kid and I haven't seen them since.
So finally we go backstage. The tour manager tells us the group was late because they were stuck in traffic going through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. Living in Virginia Beach for the last 17 years, this does not surprise me. VDOT and their constant construction on I64 make the highway a parking lot 18 hours of every day. If it is not the "cone people," that's what I call the road workers, it is the out of towners who freak out trying to go through a tunnel and slow down to 25 miles per hour.
So, now we are faced backwards and in comes Rick Savage and Rick Allen, and they begin signing things and posing for photographs. Jennifer is not happy, and hear her say, "That's not fair." I understand what she was saying but what can you do? I guess if you go to all of the trouble of forming a line that you are at the front of, it is going to make you angry when that order is ignored. I didn't care because we were in the middle of the line anyway. Back or front it all looked the same to me.
Jay is like, "Where is Joe?" I can tell he is not pleased by this unexpected absence, but he keeps his cool and we get our Def Leppard bandannas signed. I thought it was great meeting Rick Allen. How many times do you get to meet the world's greatest one armed drummer?
Back to Jennifer Roberts for a second... Before the concert, my mother in law said that one of her coworkers was going backstage and that I should look out for her. So I asked her to describe her to me. She really needs to learn to describe people better, because when she was done, I had the vague description of a tall, attractive woman. Jennifer Roberts was the closest person matching that description waiting to go backstage. So I go up to her and ask her if her name is Sandy, she says no her name is Jennifer. I apologize for the mistake and go back over to Jay. Jay then tells me who she is, because I had no idea. A little while later Jennifer's husband (I assume) Matt comes up to her and they are looking at me like I have suddenly grown horns. He keeps looking at me like I was trying to pick up his wife with that whole male posturing thing. So I try to casually flash my wedding band in an attempt to appease him somehow. It doesn't work. Later I see him in the VIP area and he is still giving me that look. I am like whatever, it was an innocent mistake, but if I tried to explain it to him it would sound like a totally weak story.
Jay and I then headed over to the VIP area where we begin to consume in mass quantities after we meet up with our wives. Amy and Dee have been at the bar for the whole time we have been gone making friends with the bartenders. From here the story starts to get a little fuzzy. We watched Styx on the TVs in the VIP lounge and left for the lawn area shortly after Def Leppard came on.The show was great. We sang and danced and I took pictures and videos. I don't think that I was supposed to be doing that but no one stopped me so I kept on doing it. Someone wrote on me with a silver sharpie. I think it was Dee.
The trip back home was a bit ridiculous because we rode bikes. Not motorcycles, bicycles. We live very close to the amphitheater so this was easy for us to do because there are wide paths almost the entire way. Well, on the way in it was easy, not on the way out. Jay strapped a bamboo tree to his bike for the ride home. It looked like a big bike flag- we were very concerned about safety. I only fell off my bike 3 times, and I watched Jay steer directly into a tree. He was OK, it was a little tree. We all made it home and we pretended to be sober in front of the babysitter. I don't think we fooled her.
I had really started to believe that I was there was something wrong with and the way I interact with others. Socially, I am far from being the best adapted human being, but over the past few years I have noticed that people don't treat me the same as when I was a kindergarten teacher. I thought it was because of my complete lack of interpersonal skills, but it is it is because they see me differently.
Now, according to people around me, I am the all knowing computer expert. This a complete falsehood. I claim no extraordinary talents with computers. I do have some skills, but I have never studied computers for any kind of a degree. Everything that I have learned, I did it the hard way, by making lots of mistakes, and never reading the manual, but I kept with it, and I guess some things stuck.
Somehow, now I am no longer just an ordinary coworker. Normally, when the teachers come back from summer break they congregate in the hall and chit chat about what they did over the summer and complain about whatever is irritating them at the moment. If I show up, the conversation changes instantly. It might start like this, "Question. I can't get my email at home. Can you fix that?" There are about 8 to 10 people at my school who start every conversation with me by saying, "Question." I am not kidding. I do get a few hellos every now and then and some people do attempt small talk before a technology question comes up, but as a rule people react to me differently than they do to other teachers.
Some people alter the opening a little and say,"Quick question." Basically it is the same idea though. They are saying, "I am going to skip the basic small talk, I just need an answer from you so that I can quickly get away." I don't think that anyone realizes how this makes me feel.
I am really not complaining about the people I work with, I love them all like family. I have known many of them for years, and quite a few of them were at my wedding 12 years ago, but I have never really understood why their interaction with me has changed. At first, I was honored to have people asking me questions about technology, it made me feel important and smart. Now I feel more like a reference book- "lets flip to the index and get right to the answer."
The main thing that bothers me is that it doesn't stop. I like to help people. It feels good to know that I can make someone happy with some small thing that I know, but there are no boundaries. Work questions can come at any time. Personal computer questions can come at any time. I discovered when I first began this job that I could not eat with the other teachers because it was a constant stream of questions. I was not allowed a half hour of lunch and normal conversation. So, I eat alone, if I eat at all.
For example, I went to the Def Leppard concert on Saturday. I saw a couple of teachers that I work with and so I went up them asking them how they were doing and telling them about my backstage pass. One of them says, "Oh, you're in a good mood. Maybe now is a good time to ask you about my email. I can't get into my account." I thought about it for a second, and then threw my head back in gigantic laugh, and said, "That's a good one. You must be kidding right?" She wasn't kidding. I checked after I got back to work on Monday, and she had some sort of problem in active directory that I requested to be fixed. Is it just me that thinks this is more than just a tad out of line?
I have been called at home, grilled by family members, I have visited coworkers' houses, fixed computers that were not broken, and some that were, I have worked on personal projects, graduate projects, teacher's side businesses, made copies of things that clearly violate copyright laws, printed personal pictures, recommended personal technology purchases, and I am certain I have done many other things that I can no longer remember but do not fit into any of the above categories. For the most part I don't mind doing these things. I like to make people happy, and I often have a real problem saying, "No," to anyone. So, I am sure that I am at least partially to blame for where I have found myself.
Anyhow, I was very pleased to find that I was not the only person who had experienced this phenomenon. Now that I can see what is going on, perhaps I can take charge of the situation. Maybe, maybe not , but it feels like someone has turned on the light. Just knowing what is happening makes me feel better.
I do know that I am no longer going to accept anyone begining a conversation with me with the word, "Question," or skipping over the normal pleasantries of polite conversation. This much I am sure I can control.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
The concert tonight will also have Foreigner, and Styx as well as Def Leppard. I never told anyone, but I wanted to see this concert the moment I heard it was happening. I guess I just got incredibly lucky. And having a cool friend like Jay certainly didn't hurt at all.
Foreigner was the second concert I was ever able to go to when I was 15. It was the 4 tour. I have always loved Styx, although I was very confused by the Mr. Roboto song, but if they play it tonight I will be doing the "robot dance," the whole time. I have always like Def Leppard and I just can't believe the stars aligned is such a good way for me.
This is so awesome! I have never met any Rockstars before and I am really looking forward to it. I have even practiced what I will say. If someone asks me, "What's your favorite Def Leppard song?" My reply will be, "Pour Some Sugar on Me, but every time I sing it my wife tells me, 'Shut up, it isn't happening.' " I am hoping for a laugh, but at least I have something to say and I won't just lock up, drool, and giggle like a school girl.
It is important for me to practice what I am going to say because I have a history of being ill prepared for social engagements. One time I went to a Bruce Smith golf tournament and met Bernie Kosar and made a complete idiot out of myself. He was kind enough to pose for a picture with my wife and I and just before the picture was taken I lost the ability to think rationally, and was mesmerized by his Super Bowl ring. I reached for it like a fish chasing a shiny spinner through the water. Bernie jerked his hand back and said , "What are you doing there? I'll take a picture with you but I am not holding your hand." I felt like a jerk.
I haven't really planned any further than that one question, so I am going to have to work on a few alternates just in case.
One really great aspect of the evening is that the Amphitheater is close enough to my house that we will be riding our bikes there. No designated driver issues tonight. That doesn't mean that I will get out of hand, but tonight I can almost relive the 80's. Almost is the key word, my body is no longer up for that kind of abuse. I rarely go anywhere without my three children so I don't have practice at acting like a grown up anymore. Or is that a teenager? Whatever!
The timing of the show is perfect, I haven't cut my hair in 6 months and it looks very much like it did in the 80's. It is going to be like using a time machine!
Tomorrow I will have pictures and details...
Friday, August 17, 2007
I started playing in the early 90's and quickly became addicted. The mix of skill and luck is intoxicating. The smartest football person you know can look like a complete idiot, and the guy who falls asleep in the draft can stumble into a Super Bowl victory. The game is based on player stats and has been known to make a grown man cry.
It used to be a difficult game to manage. When we first started we used a revolutionary software package during my first year as commissioner, Terry Bradshaw's Fantasy Football. You had to buy the CD and then pay for the weekly stat download from the Internet. Chaos would follow with any glitches that might happen (they often did) and the entire league would be in an uproar. We used things called newspapers to check the stats and make sure everything was accurate. It took about 20 hours to manage and play every week.
For our League draft we would all meet at one guys house, drink beer and mock every player that was chosen. It was a confidence breaker when 7 guys would laugh at you and question the intelligence of your picks. It was great fun.
Now, everything is done online. Drafting players, lineup changes and trash talking is all digital. Most of us aren't even in the same city much less the same room. I will be lucky to draft with one other guy at my house. One of our team owners this year will be drafting live from Iraq eight hours ahead of us (I am in the EST zone). Amazing, but this was not even possible a few years ago.
Drafting is always a complete crap shoot, I don't care what anyone says. In the beginning, I created complete lists of each position, even having mock drafts based on what I thought the guys in the league might do. That was all before I had kids, when time was plentiful and I thought a League Super Bowl victory was all about proper planning. Now the web does all the work for me. I can get my hands on a positional ranking chart in no time- that is all you really need.
I have relaxed now because I have realized that when I win it is directly related to the good karma that I exude, and my lucky underwear. Sure, I haven't won in a couple of years, but last year I was 11 points short of a Super Bowl victory. So, the lucky underwear stays, and I will continue to try to be a better person.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
When I first got my Mac LCII in 1993 for $2000 I was so excited. I remember a couple of years later going into a chat room after waiting for 10 minutes to connect to AOL via a 28K modem, and trying to chat with someone across the country. I was very upset to immediately get flammed. That was it. No more chat rooms, ever!
I allowed that one flame to turn me off to all chat rooms. I think I may have really missed out over the last decade or more.
The new web offers connectivity I could only have dreamed of back then. I have recently decided to embrace everything. Maybe that is too big a label, but everything that I find useful in even the smallest ways.
I was lucky enough to get to hear Will Richardson last week at my school district's educational technology conference. He is great. I loved to hear him discuss how the Internet is changing education and and the way we interact (here is the wiki of his keynote address). I would like to give him the credit for my recent interest in expanding my technology tool repertoire, but that would not be fair.
The one person who deserves the most credit for my new technology adoptions is my coordinator, Janene. She has been patient with me and that is hard to do because I am a bit difficult. Encouraging me but not forcing me to try new things. That is a tough line to walk because I can react badly when I feel pressured.
I have always read about the new things that come out and one of my favorite places to go has been Clicked. I have known about these social tools, and if asked could explain them to you, but the difference is reading about it, and living with it.
One of my goals as a computer resource person should always be to adopt new things as quickly as I can handle it. I have not been doing this, I have only relied on email for communications. My question has always been why try this "new thing." When the question should have been, why not try this "new thing?" Normally, I am always interested in all things technology, but I guess I was in a rut. Besides, how do you know you won't like something before you try it? There are a lot of cool things out there to try, and they are fun!
Here are some of the things I have been playing with;
Google pages is a free personal website with a web interface that is super easy to use. I started one over a year ago but sort of fell of that wagon for a while, but that is another story. I am back, and I will be adding to my page much more frequently. I can do anything I want, and I like that feeling of control.
This blog is another cool thing that I have been trying. Blogger.com, of course, is the main page where anyone can sign up for a free blog of their own. The best part is that blogger is tied to Google so you can use them both under the same account. Once again, I like the freedom I have, but I will most likely keep it clean and stick to my interests and professional life. I would appreciate it if people who commented (if there ever is one) keep it clean also, but I do believe in freedom of speech... So far it seems that I have plenty to share and not enough time in the day to get to my blog. It is like a journal but also like a mass email. Anyone who knows about it, or stumbles across it can read what I am thinking about. Kind of scary, but that is why this will be clean. Maybe not G rated, but something I would not be afraid to share with my grandmother.
Twitter is like a mini blog. You have a limited amount of space and you can write whatever you would like and share it with others, or if you don't want to, you can ignore them. Very simple idea, and easy to do 5-6 times a day without thinking about it. I was so excited that John Edwards, the Presidential candidate, wanted to follow my Twitter account. Yes, I know he is vote hunting, and that it is probably someone else who is actually doing his twitter thing, but with seven followers, you get excited about them all. Now if I can just get my few friends to join I might feel like I am still a part of their lives.
Del.icio.us is another cool tool, because I can share websites that I like with other people. Right now there are only few links in my list of links but that will be changing.
Pageflakes is a fun little page that pulls stuff from the Internet into nice little boxes for you sort, add or delete. It is very much like iGoogle or live.com but cooler looking.
Here is a strange story about Pageflakes. Last week when Bill Richardson was doing a hands on experience for us, he was showing us pageflakes. I had heard about pageflakes from Clicked probably 2 months before, but I had never visited the site. I typed in the URL and up it popped- with me logged in already. I had never been there on any computer before and the laptop that I was using at the time was a randomly picked laptop off of a laptop cart. I rarely ever use any of these laptops, ever. So I log out, and tried to log back in and it took the password that I typed.
I am not that smart, and I don't remember everything clearly in my life, but I swear I had never been there before. So I spoke up and explained what had happened, and all of my peers made fun of me and thought, "He's an idiot." In most instances they are probably right, but I have proof!
Pageflakes emailed me with an account confirmation page later that day. How could I already be logged in with my email address if I have never been there before? And then how could I get a confirmation page that very same day if I had been there? They do have some serious scripting going on there, but I have no explanation about that incident.
Back to the topic- Web 2.0 has the ability to connect people like never before. Sharing ideas and everything about themselves. I hope that I can use these tools to reconnect with friends I have lost track of, and maybe even find some that I haven't met yet.
Well, that is enough for today, but there are still some other Web 2.0 tools that I want to share- another time...
Monday, August 13, 2007
Having children is the most important thing that I have ever done, or will do in this life, but when you have children you give up a large part of what you used to be and morph into a new person. I gladly made that sacrifice and would do it again, but it made me think of how things have changed. Sacrifice is the most important step in self improvement and I know I am a better person for it.
Anyway, this is what the night looked like for me. I should probably share why I had to try to take a picture of a meteorite.
During the summer my oldest son invited a friend over for a sleep over. I got the bright idea to explore the chemical reaction involved when you mix Diet Coke with Mentos. Safe, interesting and something we can do in the street at night because no cars would interrupt us. I was exploring using a new camera that the school system gave to us, and really wanted to take some night photos. The first picture came out really cool with me looking like a ghost with a ghost geyser shooting out of the bottle. Diet coke shot up higher than the basketball backboard. Very impressive.
Just to make sure that I had everything I needed, I had purchased seven 2 liter bottles of Diet Coke so that we could all have 2 turns with one spare - just in case. While I was taking pictures of each attempt, my son's friend couldn't get the Mentos to drop in the bottle. In his excitement he pinched the sleeve I made and it seemed that the picture was a loss. Later that night, I checked the photos and was very excited to see what appeared to be a meteorite in the the supposedly bad picture.
The picture that I linked to is smaller than the original, but I zoomed in on the original picture to try and see if it was a plane, or something else. I have a good eye and did not see, or hear, a plane during the Mentos session, and felt it was a lock as a meteorite photo.
So, the following day I checked it again, to make absolutely sure that is what I thought it was, and then sent it off to a planetarium for a professional point of view. The guy who responded was nice, but he shot me down. I was ticked and underestimated the difficulty in pulling off a good meteorite photo. Not his fault, it was mine for getting overexcited.
That is why I felt compelled to sit in a chair until 3am last night.
I still want to take a picture of a meteorite, but I am going to have plan better and have some luck. Maybe in November...
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I am pretty well versed in The Original Series, and The Next Generation, but I am reluctant to call myself a Trekkie. Probably because some of those people are pretty freaky.
Ok, so I have a Captain Kirk uniform shirt, and a Klingon outfit, but that's ok because they were just Halloween costumes, right? Yes, I have a Klingon to English dictionary, but it was only to get into my Kilngon role. I also have a bunch of Star Trek Christmas orniments (and by a bunch I mean at least one tree full), but that was an effort by my wife to get me into celebrating Christmas. It worked, but all of my favorites get the best spots on tree, or I pout and refuse to help decorate.
But I am not a Trekkie.
In college a bunch of my fraternity brothers and I would crowd into a small dorm room everynight at 11:30 to watch Star Trek. When the show would begin it was a race to figure out what show it was before anyone else. "It's the Tribbles!" And then someone would have to say, "That's a good one." When the theme song (the woman singing) started everyone would scream the song so that you could hear us up and down the hall and probably over a couple of floors. That was awesome. But I don't think I have to be labeled with "Trekkie."
When my wife was pregnant and refused to carry on my family name and make our first born son the fifth (I can't really blame her for that), I lobbied heavily for the name James Tiberious Doss for about two weeks. I don't think I was serious, I was using it as a negotiation ploy.
I don't know, maybe I shouldn't deny who I am, but don't call me a "Trekkie" or I'll have to give you the "Vulcan Nerve Pinch."
It is now time to set up for the meteor shower. I hope I get at least one good picture.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
So, I am beginning.
I often worry about spelling and grammar whenever I send out communications, but these normal restrictions are more relaxed in this atmosphere, so I will try a balancing act with my thoughts and my desire to appear to be an intellegent (I did misspell this on purpose, but I don't think anyone noticed) adult.
I am 40 years old and have a variety of interests, probably coming from what is now called ADD. I am a computer resource teacher at a elementary school in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I have always worried that putting identifying information on the web could lead to bad things, but the world has changed and if someone really wants to find you they can. I will still not put anything out there more specific than that about myself, but in starting a blog I am attempting to suspend my normal paranoia.
Sometimes, I will share my educational experiences as in try to incorporate technology into the curriculum at my school. At other times, I am sure it will be a complete mixed bag of whatever is on my mind at that particular time.
Welcome to my world.