Camping?


Snoopy Makes Camping Look Fun.  Of Course, This is a Cartoon.I just don’t get it.

My goal has always been to have a better quality of life, not one that’s worse.

So why do people camp?

To me it seems like detention for adults?

I’m confused why people (wife, mil, and evil spawn this weekend) head outdoors to sleep, eat, and use public showers.

These are the same people who get bit by the one mosquito that is within 60 miles of our house.

So what do they do? The head straight into the woods where there are bugs as big as cats.

Thanks, but no thanks.

I have certain rules in my life that I’m not willing to bend. One is not to use a campground shower because
I prefer to bathe without shoes.

It’s like campers are going out of their way to insult cavemen.

How happy would Carl the CaveGuy be if he was given the opportunity to spend a weekend watching football in a house with central air? I can almost hear him grunting with excitement.

Actually forget the AC. What about running water and flushing toilets?

Even Buddy the Dog knows that napping on his recliner in the garage is good, but sleeping indoors on a bed is great.

Think about that.

A dog with a brain the size of a golf ball has figured out that the concept of camping isn’t the best way to live.

I don’t understand why you would want to trade living in your own house for hanging out in a cramped camper in the middle of the woods.

Most campers are small. Really small. So small you would rather sit in a lawn chair next to the fire.

This isn’t good because it leads to you smelling like a cigarette.

Then if you get tired of smelling like tobacco you have no choice but to put on your shoes and take a shower (again, not good… not good at all).

I’m also not a big fan of my kitchen table and bed being the same piece of furniture.

Call me crazy, but where I sleep and where I eat should be very distinct spaces.

I have no interest in moving the salt shaker so I have a place to put my pillow.

Don’t even get me started on the mini-fridge. That was cool in college, but now I prefer my refrigerators come with more than one ice tray.

Maybe they find camping calming.

Maybe they enjoy the peace and quiet.

Maybe they like the break from their regular routine.

Maybe I should keep my mouth shut because I get all of these when they go camping.

I’m not saying who benefits more when they camp, but at least one of us took a shower in bare feet this weekend.

And as a special bonus, I slept in my own bed… not on the kitchen table.

There is one good thing about camping: smores. If you are not familiar with the delicacy that is the smore here is a quote from the movie The Sandlot:

Ham Porter: Hey, you want a s’more?
Smalls: Some more of what?
Ham Porter: No, do you want a s’more?
Smalls: I haven’t had anything yet… so how can I have some more of nothing?
Ham Porter: You’re killing me, Smalls! These are s’mores stuff. Okay, pay attention. First you take the graham. You stick the chocolate on the graham. Then, you roast the mallow. When the mallow’s flaming, you stick it on the chocolate. Then you cover it with the other end. Then, you stuff.

If you haven’t seen The Sandlot… run… don’t walk to the video store. Or Netflix… whatever (I just about forgot it’s 2009).

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Speeding Ticket: The Prequel.


Last week I got stopped for speeding by a Kid Cop. This little incident got me thinking about my last run in with law.

I remember it like it was 9 and ½ years ago (at my age it’s easier to remember the past then it is the present).

My ex-wife (more on that later) and I were on a date. A date to a basketball game (and you thought I wasn’t romantic).
As we were driving to the game we were running a little late (more on that later).

We weren’t actually running because she was pregnant.I Hope the Police Officer From That Day Doesn't Read This.

And by pregnant, I mean she was due to give birth any minute to at least 7 babies.

Since I’m not a doctor, you might be wondering how I knew she was so close to having a liter.

Fair question.

She was big and she was mean. Mainly mean.

Each morning she stood in front of the mirror and cursed at her pants because they were too small. In the defense of the pants, they were as big as they could be
and still be called pants.

As you read this blog, please know that she has already read the last paragraph. While I’m not positive she is my ex-wife, she did say I would be hearing from her lawyer.

And her mother.

But that is my problem. Now back to the speeding ticket.

At the time we drove a sweet 1957 Toyota Tercel. It seated up to 1 person uncomfortably.

Basically, it was a clown car, but smaller.

It wasn’t the best mode of transportation for a woman in her 14th month of pregnancy, but it’s all we had.

And she was in no shape (round) to be walking.

As I pedaled down the highway, I suddenly noticed a police car. Unfortunately, this fun fact didn’t become clear to me until the flashing red lights were following me for about 2 miles.

This didn’t make the police officer happy. In my defense it’s hard to focus on the vehicle behind you when you’re driving 87 miles per hour with your face pressed against the windshield.

As we pulled over to the side of the road, we had a few precious seconds to get our story together.

You might be thinking why not just tell the truth?

Since we were poor, we couldn’t afford the truth. Or the ticket. Or the cost of higher insurance.

So we lied.

I’m not proud of this, but I’m not unproud of it either (is unproud even a word?).

Poverty does funny things to you. Compound this with an angry pregnant woman in tight fitting pants and I knew I had to get out of this ticket.

The policeman approached the clown car and asked why we were in such a hurry.

Another fair question.

My answer… the woman sandwiched next to me in the really tiny vehichle is about to explode babies all over the highway if I don’t get her to the hospital.

This was a bit of a lie. She wasn’t due for 6 more weeks, but who in their right mind would argue with a pregnant woman crammed into a Tercel.

And tight pants.

He asked that we give him a moment. He then walked back to his car.

We had done it. We had gotten out of a ticket we couldn’t afford.

Who cares that we had probably bought ourselves some bad karma. This was a problem for another day.

Except that day came sooner than I expected. It showed up when the officer returned.

He asked me to step out of the car (no easy task if you’ve ever been to a circus).

This couldn’t be good.

Once I was out of the vehichle, he asked my wife if I was abusive.

The only thing I could think of was… don’t answer, don’t answer, give birth right now, give birth right now…

The bad news was she didn’t give birth.

The good news was she said I wasn’t abusive (of course, that was before she read this blog).

When the officer ran our license plates thru the Bad Guy Criminal System my name came up. Evidently, I had a restraining order against me.

From my wife. Because I was abusive.

Thankfully, my wife vouched for me and the officer figured out that it was a case of mistaken identity.

The person in question had the same name, but lived in a county 4 hours away.

What he didn’t figure out was that we were lying.

He even offered to escort us to the hospital.

We declined.

After all, we didn’t want to be a burden on the law enforcement community.

Especially, since she wasn’t having the baby that day. Or month.

Plus we had a basketball game to attend.

Everything worked out except for the bad karma.

I often wonder if my daughter is being punished for our lies that day. You see, she looks exactly like me.

And she would be much better off if she looked like my ex-wife.

Note from wife – not ex-wife…but don’t tempt me. I can only laugh at this because thankfully my pants are no longer tight and I don’t drive a Tercel. As for my daughter…she is perfect just the way she is (most of the time). But I distinctly remember wishing she hadn’t delayed her arrival so many days past her due date. Sigh…Sadly I did outgrow my maternity clothes.

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PrincipalsPage Goes to Washington D.C.


A few pictures from our trip to Washington D.C. in June, 2009. If you want to see more you will have to swing by the house and I will set up the projector for a slide show.

If you haven’t been to our nation’s capital, I highly recommend it.

Jefferson Memorial.

Jefferson Memorial.

The White House.

The White House.

Ford's Theater.

Ford's Theater.

Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln Memorial.

The World War II Memorial.

The World War II Memorial.

Washington Monument.

Washington Monument.

The White House

The White House

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

The Capital from the Steps of the Supreme Court.

The Capital from the Steps of the Supreme Court.

The Capital.

The Capital.

Rotunda at U.S. Capital.

Rotunda at U.S. Capital.

Lincoln's Desk Sat Here in the Capital.

The Exact Spot Abraham Lincoln's Desk Sat When He Was a U.S. Representative.

This Used to be the Center of Washington.  Located in the U.S. Capital.

This Used to be the Center of Washington. Located in the U.S. Capital.

National Cathedral.

National Cathedral.

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If You Think Your Kid is Gifted. Think Again.


This blog post came to me as I stood in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. (I felt a little bit like Nicolas Cage in the movie National Treasure).

It was an epiphany.

It was almost like someone was screaming it in my year.

“Write this blog, write this blog, write this blog… and stop calling them blogs…”

Oh wait. Someone was.The Rotunda at the National Archives.

No, it wasn’t Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin (the voices in my head have stopped… for the most part).

The idea came to me from my mother-in-law. She came up with this observation as my Evil Spawn (her Evil GrandSpawn) was getting reading to look at the great American Historical Documents.

Included were the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Louisiana Purchase.

And I almost forgot. Elvis’s Letter to President Nixon (the one where Elvis wanted to lead the war on drugs… although we didn’t actually see this letter, I would have liked to…).

Actually we didn’t really “see” any of the documents clearly. Walking into the National Archives is live walking into a cave. It’s 42 degrees and dark. Really dark.

It’s like being locked in the trunk of a car (this is a whole different blog).

When we walked into the archives, I felt like a spelunker (Google it if you don’t know).

The good people at the government keep the National Archives like this to preserve “the original documents.” (Yeah, like the ones they let you see are the “originals”.)

They couldn’t fool Nicolas Cage and they can’t fool me (Copies I say! … and yes, I do expect to be audited at any moment).

During my time as a school administrator (6 years… or 42 years in getting treated like a dog years…), I have learned many things.

One of those things is that the majority of parents who are proud owners of a smart student believe their child is gifted.

To parents… Straight A’s = Gifted.

No it doesn’t.

Have you seen the Honor Roll lately? Every kid in school is on it.

C’s used to mean average. Now they mean possible IEP (but this is a rant for another blog…).

Truly gifted isn’t being in the top 20% of the class. It’s more like 1/20th of the top 1% of the class.

I have met a ton of really smart, bright, successful students and I can count on one hand the number of students who have really been truly gifted.

In my opinion public schools need to spend more time and money on the top 20% of students (or “gifted students” as mom and dad call them).

Realistically, this probably isn’t going to happen.

But the good news is gifted education is everywhere.

And this is what my mother-in-law was pointing out. The best gifted education comes from parents.

Through travel, the library, extra work on the internet, camps, and other experiences that families can provide.

Gifted education in schools is needed, but if it’s not, it can still be provided by those proud parents.

And if you think those parents are a little delusional on their child’s abilities… you should meet Grandma.

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Technology is Only as Good as the Idiot Using It. Even in Schools.


The following story is true. As far as you know.

I wish it weren’t, but it is.

In my estimation, the story is also borderline sad. Actually there is nothing borderline about it. It’s just sad.

It’s not sad like a lost puppy, but close.

Or sad like a player on the opposing basketball team during the Regional Championship Game hitting a shot in overtime to beat your team with 3 seconds left.

Did I mention the shot was from behind the backboard as the player fell out of bounds (I can’t make this stuff up… because I really wish this hadn’t happened)?

It’s not even sad like the creepy guy at the gas station who says your lottery tickets are all losers, than sticks an actual winning ticket into his pocket. This causes you to get into a screaming match with him and throw a pack of Twinkies right at his Aerosmith baseball cap wearing head.

Before you know it, the police have to get “involved”.

Alright, maybe I made the last one up. Notice I said maybe.

But back to the main sad story. road-in-woods

In fact, sad may not be a strong enough word. But since this is a family blog, I can’t use the word that best describes it. Or phrase. A really long bad phrase with lots of adjectives and verbs (my next New Year’s Resolution really needs to address my language…)

A couple of years ago, some genius had the idea to drive to a neighboring state to watch my niece play high school basketball.

Since I conveniently don’t remember who the genius was, I will continue to assume it wasn’t me.

At first, the trip seamed harmless enough.

Just get in my truck and drive to Missouri. What could possibly go wrong? It’s not like we were going to Kentucky (please keep in mind that I delete all emails that directly insult or threaten me in the subject line).

This trip had all the makings of being a real winner.

Life on the road. Eating out. High school girls’ basketball. Missouri.

It’s like I’d won the lottery and got to keep the ticket (turns out possession is 90% of ownership).

Oh, it gets better.

My traveling party consisted of the wife, my very young evil spawn, and the in-laws.

I anticipated smooth sailing (this should not be construed as sarcasm if you were on the trip… if you weren’t on the trip, it is dripping with sarcasm).

The trip had to go well because I had just purchased a brand new GPS. This was a mortal lock that I would never be lost again.

If you don’t have a GPS, you need one. You also need to make sure it is set so the very attractive British woman’s voice is bossing you around by telling you where to go.

How do I know she is attractive? Trust me, she is.

But enough about my love of accents.

The trip was going just fine until we got close to the school. At least we thought we were close to the school.

Being the new owner of a GPS when it (she) said to turn, I did.

This was a mistake. Soon I would find out how big of a mistake.

If there is one thing I do well, it is follow directions (it is possible this sentence contains just a hint of sarcasm).

The GPS kept telling me to turn and turn and turn.

So I did and did and did.

Before I knew it we were on the side of a mountain. Or as much of a mountain that you can find in rural Missouri.

The GPS had led us down what appeared to be some sort of “road”.

It was more of a muddy path used by wild animals. The last time I saw a road/path like this, Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty were running down it in the movie Deliverance.

And Ned was squealing. Not in a good way.

It was obvious we were lost. To everyone but us.

I had put my faith in the very attractive British GPS woman and she had failed me. She had led us off the beaten path. And then we went another 8 miles. Straight up.

We were so far astray that I couldn’t even turn around. The hunting path had gotten too narrow. And muddy.

You know what happens when you can’t turn around?

You got it. We had to back down the mountain.

Except, I couldn’t. You see, we were stuck.

And the British woman had gone surprisingly quiet.

Wild animals were walking by shaking their heads in disgust.

This story could go on for another hour and 15 minutes (which is about how long it took to back down the mountain), but I don’t want to relive it.

At the time I said, “One day in the future, this will all be funny.”

That day hasn’t arrived.

When we eventually made our way to a main road (at this point with everyone in dead silence), I drove about 1 mile and there was the school.

We had driven right past it. On the way up the hill.

But the British lady didn’t bother to point this out. And I didn’t notice because I had technology on my side.

And there were a total of 4 teachers in the car. All with Master’s Degrees. And close to 100 years of teaching experience.

But yet, none of us were smart enough to recognize a school building that had a huge electronic sign in front that said “Girls Basketball Game Today!”

We followed the British GPS lady. Like lambs to the slaughter. Like idiots. Like Ned Beatty to… well you know (and if you don’t… and are male… take my advice and avoid watching Deliverance as it will haunt your dreams… or should I say nightmares).

I think you see this same type of behavior in schools.

No, not Ned Beatty’s.

The blind use of technology.

It’s purchased. Then it’s dropped in a classroom. With absolutely no training. Much like me with the GPS (as I look back, reading the directions might have been helpful).

Before you know it, the teacher is lost. Maybe not on a dirt road on top of a hill after driving right by their destination 2 hours earlier, but none the less… lost.

So how can we avoid this “lost” feeling when it comes to technology?

It takes more than just buying computers, SMARTBoards, etc. It takes assistance, mentoring, training, and maybe even hand-holding.

But I am begging administrators and schools everywhere, please don’t let your teachers end up like me.

Or even worse. Like Ned.

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Guest Blog (We are in Charge Now!) – The Secret to Better Technology in Schools.


If You Need Technology Workshops for Your Teachers... You Need RecessTec.After editing 200 blogs of PrincipalsPage ramblings, I have decided that the Wife/Mother-In-Law Team needs a chance to speak. I mean come on…
Don’t I get a reward for constantly correcting semicolons and the incorrect use of to, too, and two?

Honestly, how can a man rise from coach/teacher to administrator in a few short years with only one opinion on the use of the English language?
I quote, “The semi-colon is by far the coolest of all punctuation!”
I mean seriously, who ranks punctuation by coolness?
Note from PrincipalsPage:
(I do not apologize for my love of the semi-colon… and I might add… I am a huge fan of the asterisk***)

Of course, we shouldn’t judge. One of us married him.

So, with that being said…

We present Recess TEC as the first official “Guest bloggers“.
(Note from PrincipalsPage… quite possibly the last

In the struggle between the TECH GEEKS VS. THE SUITS, another adversary needs to be included.
This adversary could be the one to bring peace to the land…
with an “and they all lived happily ever after” ending.
This adversary is (insert drum roll and “dah-da da da”)…
IT.

We would define “The Suits” as (in some cases add “dearly beloved, but ignorant of all things technology”) the administration.
We would define “Tech Geeks” as the teachers and students who want to include technology in the curriculum, use as much technology as possible in their everyday lives,
and see it as a highly motivating factor to enhance teaching and learning.

Enter the IT. “Dr. No” if you will.
(Notice, we did not say “Dr. Evil”.)
IT’s #1 priority is to keep the server alive and well to handle the administration’s email.
Priority #2 is to NOT lose any file stored there.
And finally, #3 – NO VIRUS…EVER!

Nobody and nothing is allowed to slow down the server.
We mean NOBODY and NOTHING
Don’t even get us started on bandwidth.

Anything Google slows it down.
Anything Skype slows it down.
Anything that involves long distance collaboration slows it down.
Anything that includes the word “streaming” slows it down.

We believe that the more things slowing it down, the more the students benefit…which in turn means the server space and bandwidth needs to be “supersized”.
We know…now we are talking money.
We would be willing to give up the chalk and dry eraser marker budget in exchange for a little more server space.
Anyone else?

Things we hear from the IT:

“Google Earth? You don’t need it. You have maps.”
“SmartBoards? Why? You have white-boards and all you will use it for is to show movies on a big screen.”
“Pandora.com? (Add indignant tone.) The teacher’s desk is the first place we see it. You can’t control what is being played…a song with inappropriate content might pop-up.”
“I don’t want my teachers to have wikis/blogs/podcasts/webpages (insert any other web 2.0 tool here) because I can’t control the content.”
“It slows down the bandwidth.”
“It takes up server space.”

Enter “Recess TEC” to the rescue.
Now it is time to bring to reality “Why can’t we just all get along?”
Pull up a chair and sit down. (Coffee, anyone?)
We need all of you in the same room together. (Even if it means providing chocolate or a continental breakfast or a steak dinner with mixed cocktails ;) )
Teachers.
Suits.
Tech-geeks.
IT.
Possibly even a few tech-geeky students. (“Ixnay on the ixedmay ocktailscay…”)

It is time to watch, listen, and talk.

Google everything.
We mean EVERYTHING!

And SMARTBoards in every single classroom.
YES! Even the music and art rooms!

And tons of bandwidth.
And HUGE servers.

And finally.
Teach the teachers.
Let them do what they have been trained to do.
Teach.
Teach them to teach with technology.
And let them be the filters and decide what is best for their students and their curriculum.
Help them understand that technology is not an addition to the curriculum.
It is not the time to take the students to the lab where their students log on, work individually on a website, while teachers grade papers.
Teach teachers to integrate, collaborate, and to become proactive.
After all,
that is what they were hired to do in the first place.
and finally,
trust them.
Trust them to do no harm.

Which means…

No Internet Filters on computers when TEACHERS are logged in. That’s right. No filters.

Teachers are the BEST filters (if they are engaged with students… which means stand up and walk around the room).
And if they prove NOT TO BE…
then slam that filter right back into place.
Abuse it = lose it.
Show teachers how to use sites like Flickr and You Tube SAFELY.
We are not saying, turn the kids loose on whatever site they want.
We want to protect kids, but we also want to motivate and engage them!

Communication together is the key to solving all of these issues.
We need to be in the same room to see what is out there and how it best can be used.
And it should never be Suits Vs. Geeks.
Or ANYONE VS. ANYONE.
Let’s work together and put the puzzle together piece by piece.
Let the teachers show the IT department (especially the ones that may have never taught) HOW the technology is being used in the classroom.
Let the IT department show the teachers why things are structured as they are.
Most teachers know very little behind what it takes to do your job.

The dialogue should include,
“We didn’t know you wanted that.”
“I can do that for you.”
“I didn’t know that was out there.”
“Will you help me with that?”

Inservice.
Inservice.
Inservice.

Share.
Share.
Share.

And finally, show by example.

(Recess TEC is also known as Recess Web Design…but doing more and more Technology Educational Consulting and less and less Web Design.)

**Note: This blog was collaborated over a 60 mile distance and written using Google Docs without filters.

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NECC is Over; Just as My Two Worlds Came Crashing Together.


Two Worlds Colliding... an Asteroid... Whatever...If you are not an avid reader of this blog (like there are any), this entry may make more sense if you first read TRAVEL DOES STINK, BUT ALAN NOVEMBER WAS GREAT and FAMOUS PEOPLE READ THIS BLOG. OR MORE LIKELY; HE LOST A BET.

Please keep in mind that I said it may make more sense. I wouldn’t get your hopes up that any of them make complete sense.

The National Education Computing Conference, which I sort of attended, has now concluded. Our time in San Antonio, Texas has come to an end.

And I almost made it out of town before something bad happened. Almost is the operative word here.

It was a good trip other than one terribly awkward incident.

We enjoyed the city, Sea World, the zoo, the movies, the Riverwalk, and our 27 trips to and by The Alamo/Mall. Oh, I nearly forgot. The conference was great (so I have been told).

It was an enjoyable few days. The chance to visit a new city and not be at work is always appreciated.

Things were going smoothly until my two worlds clashed.

Note to self (and everyone): always, and I mean always, keep your worlds separate. This means work from home life; spouse’s family from yours; old prison friends from your kids; and especially your wife from the man who claims not to be your father.

Sadly, I was unable to do this.

You see, my wife decided it would be a good idea to walk right up to Mr. Alan November and introduce herself to the man who claims not to be my father.

She did this right before a presentation by Mr. November (as you can see, I still refuse to call him “Dad”). In the past, I have highly recommended that she (and everyone) attend one of his sessions on technology.

But, I had no idea she would make it personal.

She walked right up to him and said (and I am paraphrasing), “I am your daughter-in-law. Are you rich?” (Note from wife…I did not say that!).

Note from me: it was implied.

When she told me this story, I was mortified.

Not with her asking him if he is rich because that is a given (good speakers don’t come cheap).

It was more the fact that she made contact with a man who refuses to accept the responsibility that comes with being a parent.

Sure, he “claims” he was in junior high when I was conceived and that he has never met my mother. In addition to this web of lies, he says he was several states away in 1967 (like his 7th grade report card won’t tell a different story… your permanent record always contains a detailed list of unexcused absences).

Of course, he continues to deny any responsibility, but I am still waiting on the tests to come back from the lab.

I see this all of the time at school, especially with young men. They struggle when their fathers won’t step up and take responsibility. With proper guidance, some will put their shattered lives back together.

But worst case, they end up like me. Spending their free time writing slightly angry and incoherent blogs.

It’s sad.

The good news out of this most tragic situation is that my wife and mother-in-law thoroughly enjoyed his presentation. They said it was the best one at the entire conference.

They should know because they went to roughly 167 different ones over the course of 3 days (they are overachievers).

You would think they would be everything Mr. November would want out of a second family, but I guess not.

He was kind enough to take a picture with my wife and record a message for me on her camera.

Unfortunately, I can’t show their faces or share what he said in the message because of the possibility that this may become evidence in a future court case (the legal department at PrincipalsPage.com is top notch… especially for what I pay them).

But until then, I am going to take the high road and thank Mr. November for the excellent presentation (so I heard… I was at Sea World trying to get my daughter’s life on the right track).

I would also like to thank him for taking the time to visit with his daughter-in-law (or alleged daughter-in-law… depends which side of the courtroom you are sitting).

Although it is a shame he hasn’t met his granddaughter (next time you visit a theme park where fish are doing tricks, Mr. November, just think that it could be her training them… or more likely she was the cab driver who got you there).

I also appreciate the fact that he hasn’t filed the paperwork for that restraining order (as of yet).

Maybe one day, he and I can meet and put this ugliness behind us.

Let’s just hope it is at a technology conference and not in front of a judge.

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NECC, Here I Come. Sort of.


The Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas.This Sunday I will be leaving for a very important computer conference. As a school administrator it is essential that I keep abreast of the latest developments in educational technology.

On a side note. I found the word essential on my new favorite website Synonym.com. Eventually, a monkey will be able to write this blog (or as some have insinuated, maybe a monkey already is writing this blog).

Personally, I find this last comment offensive. It is insulting to writing monkeys everywhere. They obviously are not writing this blog because the content would be of a much higher quality.

But, back to my trip/educational journey (sure I could be watching TV, mowing my yard, playing Wii, or going to play golf, but am willing to put in the extra time for the kids).

Since I am attempting to stay current with technology, I will be in San Antonio, Texas next week during the National Educational Computing Conference.

For almost three decades, NECC has been the premier forum in which to learn, exchange, and survey the field of educational technology. This annual conference “presented by ISTE and keyed to the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)” features hands-on workshops, lecture-format and interactive concurrent sessions, discussions with key industry leaders, and the largest educational technology exhibit in the nation.

I didn’t write that last paragraph. As if you hadn’t already figured that out (Synonym.com can do only so much). It was quoted (stolen… whatever) from the NECC website.

It sounds like a wonderful event.

While I will be in San Antonio, I won’t exactly be attending the conference.

But the good news is my wife and mother-in-law will be.

Actually, it is good for them and great for me. You see they will go to the conference and attend about 297 sessions and then come back and tell me everything I need to know. In addition, they will come to my school and present their newly acquired information to my teaching staff.

Then I can facilitate in the application of the technology within my school district (remember, it is always about the kids).

This may sound like I am lazy, but that’s just not the case. I am actually being quite helpful.

During the conference I will be acting as babysitter, entertainer, tour guide, and tax write off.

My job will be to keep my daughter and I entertained and more importantly, out of trouble and out of the way. Our official title “Mooches”.

It really is a win/win. We get several days in San Antonio and my wife gets a tax break for her ever growing technology workshop business.

Plus, I get more knowledge about computer related stuff (granted, through osmosis… again, whatever it takes for the kids).

So, if you are going to NECC please keep in mind that I will be there (sort of). I will be at Sea World, or the Alamo, or on the River Walk, or at the Children’s Museum, or maybe on top of the Tower of the Americas.

If you have a moment and want to visit, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

So you can pick me out of the crowd, I will be wearing a t-shirt, khaki shorts, tennis shoes, and sunglasses.

I should jump right out at you.

See you at NECC. Or around NECC.

If you are running a small business and need a tax break (or two), please don’t hesitate to contact me at micsmith@principalspage.com. I am more than willing to help. Especially, if it is for the kids.

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Sunburns are Bad for You, Who Knew?


As I concluded my visit to the doctor, he asked if there was anything else that I wanted him to take a look at (read this before moving on).

My first thought was he had seen enough of me to last us both a lifetime, and what else could he possibly want to see?

Then I remembered the red spot on the side of my nose. It had popped up last fall and had never gotten around to leaving (I had been thinking about naming it Mother-in-Law).

He touched it (thankfully, after washing his hands) and said it was a type of cancer. Not malignant, but cancer none the less.Don't Ask Me Why the Giant Sun is Wearing Gloves.

This type evidently pops up on people’s skin, often in their early forties (I am so looking forward to my entire body breaking down over the course of the next 30 years… good times… good times).

The mysterious red spot was most likely caused by too many sunburns during my misspent youth.

He said it needed to be treated, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I wasn’t overly impressed with his diagnosis, because moments before he told me the same thing… “It’s not a big deal.” And it wasn’t, but his hands sure were.

The good (evil) doctor said I had two options. One, let him freeze it off with liquid nitrogen. Or two, I could make an appointment with a dermatologist and get a second opinion.

Since I knew where my doctor’s hands had been recently, I decided I could live without him touching my face so I went with option number 2. Plus, while I trusted him to work on one end of me, my face was another story.

So I was off to the dermatologist.

Nice man. He is Indian I believe (country, not from the old west).

He confirmed Dr. Big Hand’s diagnosis. Cancer, but not serious. And the cause was too many sunburns.

He asked me to estimate how many sunburns I had gotten as a child. My best guess… 2,456.

He said pale, white people should wear a hat. Even when inside (he is a hardliner).

I tried to explain that it wasn’t my fault. My parents had a rule when I was a kid. Don’t come in the house during daylight hours. Ever.

No exceptions; including broken bones, bleeding, or death. I was told that all of these things could wait until after dark. And if they couldn’t, tough.

Of course this is not completely true. Sometimes they would let us in for dinner before dark. Sometimes. Usually, they just sat our lunch on the porch and went back inside.

As I look back, we were treated just the opposite of convicts. They can’t get out and we couldn’t get in.

My parent’s thoughts on sunburns were that a really good one would set us up for the entire summer.

Get that first good monkey butt red burn in June, let it peel, and you were good to go until school started (during this same time I also received a head shaving in the front yard… bald all summer. My hair would grow back just in time for school pictures).

So my younger years consisted of not being allowed inside, sporting a bad haircut, and burning my skin to a crisp.

My parents didn’t know any better. After all, those were the days of talking to strangers, jumping off the garage roof, swimming in disease infested ponds, scraping up your entire body on a Slip ‘n Slide, and never applying sunscreen.

But know I am forty and the bill is coming due.

Is it possible that I am doing something to my daughter that will haunt her later on? Will I discover in 30 years that we were bad parents?

Time will tell.

In the meantime, I am going to buy her a Slip ‘n Slide. That is the most fun a kid can have while bruising over 97% of their body.

I look forward to watching her run at full speed, jump on it, slide through the grass at 107 miles per hour, and crash into the nearest shrub.

If she needs me, I will be watching from inside the house. And yes, I will be wearing a hat.

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Do You Need a Good Memory to Work at a School? I Hope Not.


I Hear Elephants Have Good Memories.My memory is getting worse by the day. Actually, by the minute but I don’t want to sound too pathetic.

Getting older is not everything that it is cracked up to be (although as I have mentioned earlier, it is bound to be better than the alternative).

When I was younger, I could remember everything. I was as sharp as a tack. Nothing escaped me.

Names, faces, baseball statistics, all the Presidents in order, state capitals, and dates (well, not so much dates); they were all filed in the old memory bank ready to be recalled at a moment’s notice.

I really don’t think men have the “date memory” gene. At least I don’t. And why is it important for me to know the capital of Vermont?

My lack of memory on dates was pointed out to me recently by my wife (at least I think she is my wife, I can’t really remember but she looks awfully familiar) at dinner (or it might have been lunch… that also escapes me at the moment).

When we got married, we eloped. Easy… not because we had to… it was more of a we had no money for a wedding thing. The good news – we didn’t know how poor we were.

When you have no money, a little ignorance comes in handy.

My wife (or maybe it was someone else, I can’t remember that either) decided we should head east and get married in a small town in Connecticut.

So that’s what we did. We had a very nice, small wedding at a lovely bed and breakfast. I would give them a free plug, but I honestly can’t recall the place we stayed or the town where it was located.

A couple of years ago, I realized that our anniversary was sneaking up on me (and no I don’t know the exact date… although I think it was on a Wednesday, or maybe a Thursday?).

While my memory is shot, I am smart enough to double-check these things before I get myself in trouble.

I had the brainstorm to check a newspaper article that was written about us when we eloped and got married. I don’t mind saying, that I considered this to be a stroke of genius.

The article was written about the usual small town Midwestern kids who are really poor drive all the way to Connecticut to get married much to the delight (or horror… it was hard to tell at the time) of their parents. I am sure everyone has read this type of story a thousand times.

When we first returned from our wedding we had the article framed (after we saved up the $50, which took about two years). It hangs in our living room as a monument to our love (that sentence is for the wife).

All I had to do was check the date on the paper, and I would know our anniversary.

I must admit as a man, husband, father, and an educator; I was very proud of myself for thinking of this fool-proof plan.

And as you know, my fool-proof plans seldom go wrong.

After glancing at the paper, I had the date; July 27. Armed with this tidbit of information I went out and purchased a card and ordered some flowers to be delivered the morning of the 27th.

I was extremely proud of myself at this point. My wife would be proud to have married such a considerate man.

The day before, on July 26, my wife walked up to me and said, “Happy Anniversary.” I was stunned and a little insulted by her not being able to remember the first day of our wedded bliss.

Quickly, I pointed out that our anniversary was the next day. After all, I have a memory like a steel trap. And I checked the newspaper.

She replied something to the effect of, “It isn’t tomorrow you blithering idiot and my mom warned me about marrying you.”

Now I was insulted. Not about her mom’s warning (because her judgment is impeccable), but more the fact that my wife uses words I don’t understand; like blithering.

I assured her that our anniversary was definitely on the 27th; as I had thoughtfully checked the newspaper article a few days before.

Her reply; the newspaper was published the day after we got married.

As I look back on that day, I have realized two things.

One, as usual, her mom was right. And two, that was the day I realized my memory was failing me.

Or maybe it was another day. I forget. If I don’t write these things down on a Post-It Note, I’m lost.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.