Let Me Tell You a Little Story About the Grossest Hotel Room Ever.


Actually, it’s not a story about a seedy hotel, but that doesn’t matter.Much Cleaner.  I Mean Much Cleaner.

You are here for the gross part and I’m not about to disappoint.

Let me start at the beginning.

The Evil Spawn was wrapping up her summer season of softball, so we had one final trip. 

I say summer season, because next year starts in about 8 minutes because June 2013 is just around the corner and we’ve got to get these girls practicing (sarcasm alert!).

Since we had this one last tournament and we were tired of living in No Tell Motels, we had the ingenious idea to rent a house.

It would be fun.

It would be close to Lake Michigan.

The whole family together.

It would be like a vacation, except for the fact that 14 hours a day we would be sitting in lawn chairs at some faceless softball field in 197 degree heat.

Actually, it’s fun.  Except for the part where your underwear starts sweating.  I hate that.

One would think a person’s underwear would dry out in extreme heat, but it’s just the opposite.

But, I digress.  We rent this house and it seems like a great idea.

I probably wouldn’t have done this 10 years ago, but now with the interweb it’s just so simple.

Pictures online.  Reviews by other God fearing kind-hearted folks.

What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out a lot.

The pictures didn’t exactly reflect the level of disgusting that wrapped itself around the house like a thick winter coat on a chubby 4-year old.

Turns out people who rent their homes for money don’t use the word "filthy" or the phrase "should be condemened" when they are trying to make a buck.

I should have realized we had a problem when cockroaches met us at the front door.  And they were on their way out.

The look on my wife’s face as she was sentenced… I mean walked in to this rental property was disturbing.  She looked like a teenage girl in a horror movie when the phone rings and the call is coming from inside the house.

She was scared.  And rightfully so.

The highlights were as follows:  old food in the refrigerator, a mysterious hair attached to the TV remote, enough trash hidden under the raised cabinets to start your own dump, and a cat in the corner of the bedroom.

Actually, it wasn’t a cat.

It was a dust bunny in the shape of a 47 pound cat.  I swear it growled at me when I reached down to pet it.

I was afraid to turn on the lights.  Not because I didn’t want to see more dirt, but because I was frightened to touch the light switch.  There was a layer of something on it that reminded me of a petri dish.

I could go on and on, but it gives me the willies and I feel like I need to save part of this story for my therapist.

And as a favor to all of my loyal readers, I’m not even going to tell you my theory on the mystery hair.

My wife tried in vain to find a hotel room for us to stay in, but they were all booked.  Turns out Priceline and William Shatner couldn’t save me on this night.

So I went with Plan B.

I slept in my clothes.

I did survive the night, but then I had to use the restroom and shower.

Honestly, in my 44 years on this Earth, I don’t recall feeling dirtier after a shower than before.  And I grew up in an era where you showered after high school PE.

Something positive did come out of this experience (besides the partial refund).

I have a whole new respect for my wife’s fear of portapotties (she can’t be the only one who would rather explode than take one step into these plastic boxes of infection).

Actually, now that I think about it, I would have been better off sleeping in a portapotty.

As an added bonus it was our wedding anniversary.

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NASSP Principal Leadership Magazine: My School Tested for a TV Pilot.


Another month.My First TV Was Way Older Than This One.

Another magazine.

Another article.

To summarize:  I’m very grateful.

It’s been a fun year for me reading about me in such a great publication.

Thank you NASSP.  And thank you to everyone at Principal Leadership Magazine.

Just to update my literally ones of fans.  We haven’t heard if we are getting the tv show.  I’m assuming no news is… a big fat no.

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My School Tested for a TV Pilot.


This blog has given me a lot of unexpected benefits.Sadly, I Remember TV's Like This.

Free trips.  Fame for Buddy the Dog.  A cool nickname for the Evil Spawn.

The occasional free t-shirt (maybe the greatest benefit of all).

But this week may have been the oddest experience of all and I have this mediocre blog to thank for it (or blame).

My school interviewed for a TV show.

Yes, a TV reality show.

This goes against everything I hold sacred and pure.

I am the last remaining person in America who does not want to be on television.

I’ve never understood why people feel the need to be on tv.  I find the need for fame a little disturbing.

People (especially young adults) seem willing to do anything and everything to get themselves on television.

I don’t get it, but realize I’m probably in the minority.

But as luck (good and bad) would have it, people seem to stumble upon me when they Google for educators.

A production company did just that a couple of weeks ago.

They contacted me and asked if we would be interested to going through some pre-interviews with the possibility of being on a reality show about high schools.

My first thought… of course not.  What type of idiot wants to be on tv?

But then I thought, what the heck.  Maybe this is my entry into movies. 

Or maybe even better.  Maybe, just maybe, my dream of remaking Three’s Company will actually happen (if you are under 40… click the link).

So several members of our staff were interviewed by producers.

And it was odd.

Really odd.

There is no chance they will be making a tv show about us.

Why?

I think we are way too normal.  And we are far from normal.

But "reality" tv is exactly what I expected.  I don’t think it is "real" at all.

I think they want people who they can mold in to characters.

They are looking for big personalities that can be encouraged to be even bigger on tv.

I’m okay with that.  I’m just not that.  And my school isn’t that.

I still think there is a tv show about schools that needs to be made.

But it’s not about fights.  Or gangs.  Or wacky teachers.

It’s about good students.  And committed teachers.  And all the good things that happen in schools every day in small towns all across this country.

It would be about kids and families who are doing the right thing in a world that gets more complicated by the day.

I would watch this.  But once again, I realize I’m in the minority.

One benefit to not getting a TV Pilot… I now consider myself an out of work actor.  So if you need me, I will be waiting tables at Applebees’s.

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Television Shows Should Be 9 Minutes Long.


So Sleepy.  So Old.I don’t mean to brag, but there was a time when I could watch 17 straight hours of television and never leave the couch (not to eat or… well you know).

During my youth, I could easily watch 3 movies back to back to back and not even blink.

Now?

Now I can’t look at a TV screen without being overcome with the feeling that I’ve just ingested a 72 oz glass of anesthesia (which would be smaller than the mega gigantic sodas they sell kids at convenience stores… can we make these illegal already?).

There’s something about life after the age of 40 (if you can call it a life). People warned me unexplainable aches and pains would show up when I reached this advanced age.

They were right.

What they didn’t tell me was that I would doze off after watching half a commercial.

People ask me what my favorite show is and I tell them I have no idea. I haven’t seen an entire television program in at least a decade (is Happy Days still on?).

My life can be broken down into two distinct eras. The years of my youth when I was alert and focused and on top of my game.

I call those The Golden Years (I just made that up).

And now my life is a pathetic existence where I spend my days just waiting for an opportunity to rest my eyes for only a quick second.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t like where this is headed (life never seems to end well).

I’m turning into an old person who eats dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon so they can be in bed by 6.

Of course this means I will be awake at 2 o’clock in the morning so I can sit at the kitchen table and wait for the newspaper to arrive.

The newspaper that no longer exists.

Sad.

Not about the newspapers.

Me.

During the course of writing(?) this blog, I took two naps. Seriously.

Even sadder, school will start soon and the kids in each grade will be the exact same age they were last year. Me on the other hand

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We All Get Way Too Much Information.


Snow is bad.  Ice is worse (I just cancelled school… again).

That’s the bad news.No School.  One Year.

The good news is we’ve known this pre-apocalyptic storm has been coming for about a week (if you are reading this someplace warm… please know the rest of us hate you).

That’s more bad news.

One would think receiving updated updates on the weather every 4 seconds would be a good thing.  It’s not.

Society is on overload.

We have so much information at our fingertips it’s consuming our every thought.

Ten years ago, the only weather information came from the local news station.

You watched it at 6 pm, then you had to wait until 10 o’clock to get the next update.

There was time to let things soak in.

Now, the interweb has allowed us to update ourselves.

And we do.  Every few seconds (hello, Twitter).

But this also allows us to blow regular everyday happenings completely out of proportion.

As we share information, too often over exaggeration and hyperbole take the place of common sense.

One person says they’ve heard there is 3 inches of snow on the way, and the next says it’s 4-6.

Before you know it everyone has heard 27 inches and there is only one conclusion to make.

We are all going to DIE!

After a bazillion years (approximately), life as we know it will cease to exist.

You would think the more information we receive would allow us to make more informed decisions.

I think the opposite is happening.

FOX News isn’t making us smarter politically.

MSNBC isn’t helping us elect better representatives.

The local news isn’t calming our fears about crimes and accidents.

Websites are available 24 hours a day.  Some even tell us the truth.

It’s so much that it’s becoming just noise.

It’s almost like the more we know, the dumber we get.

Lots and lots of information.  But so much noise.

I need to know it’s going to snow.

But I also need to know society is going to survive once it stops.

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No Tenure for You. Come Back One Year (or Not).


I’ve steered clear of the following blog topic for the last three years (how time flies when you are blogging).

No, not the discussion on whether or not Seinfeld is the best TV show of all-time ( it is… BJ and the Bear comes in a close second).

Tenure.

This seems to be the hottest of all education topics.

Hotter than testing, the perceived worthlessness of administrators (I said perceived… because all of us are worth our weight in… well, in something), or the lack of parental support.The Soup Nazi (Seinfeld).

Tenure trumps them all.

Just saying the word can provoke a heated discussion (and get you beaten up in a Teacher’s Lounge near you…).

You are either for it, or against it.

It’s hard to find someone who rides the fence on this issue (much like Dancing With the Stars… some love it and some find it as enjoyable as abdominal cramps).

To me that’s the problem.

Those of us with tenure (yes, I am a proud owner (or not) of what could be construed as a lifetime teaching job) absolutely love the idea.

And what’s not to love.

Tenured teachers have jobs (very important in this day and age).  If that wasn’t enough, they (evil administrators) can’t fire those tenured teachers.

And as an added bonus, our raises are based on the number of years we have taught and has nothing to do with productivity.

It’s a little piece of heaven.

I’m not saying this is right.  I’m not saying it’s wrong.

I’m just saying it’s our system.

Then there is the anti-tenure crowd.

This is a rather large and angry group which includes pretty much everyone else in the free world (and most people in Cuba).

Anyone who doesn’t have tenure (99.999999% of all humans) believes it is the dumbest idea since New Coke (which incidentally, I enjoyed).

These people think far too many teachers who attain tenure end up going through the motions while cashing an ever increasing paycheck.

I’m not saying they are right.

I’m not saying they are wrong.

I am saying tenure is woven into the fabric of our educational system.

Some states are considering passing No Tenure Laws (way to be a leader Florida… and I’m crossing my fingers you don’t send us another Bush for The White House…).

Tenure has never seemed very American to me.

I’ve always thought our country was built on the idea that if you work hard and pay your dues (figure of speech… not Union) it’s possible to make your fortune and climb the ladder of success.

If you think like I do (and for your sake, I pray you don’t), tenure may be holding good teachers back.

They aren’t granted the opportunity to be judged financially on the great work they do.

They are lumped in with all teachers, good and bad. 

Those who work 12 hour days and those who hardly work at all.

I think that’s a shame.

Tenure doesn’t help our best and brightest.

It doesn’t promote working harder, thinking outside the box (which is the dumbest phrase since… Where’s the Beef?), or going above and beyond.

Unfortunately, it’s major purpose seems to be protecting older teachers from vindictive administrators and school boards.

This is important, but is it reason enough to keep tenure in 2010?

The title of this blog comes from The Soup Nazi.  My hero.  My mentor.  My compadre (at least he will be after I learn Spanish).

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10 Years Ago: I Was Younger and an Idiot.


A single meeting can drag on for hours.  Days last forever.  And weeks seem like they will never end.

How is it that a decade can fly by so quickly?

By my estimation decades are about 10 years long (feel free to double-check my math).  That means the last ten years accounts for approximately 1/8 of my life (if all goes well).

I’m starting to get the feeling that I’m living on borrowed time (my life is half over… I hope it wasn’t the good half).Time Flies.

Before the inevitable happens (I’m crossing my fingers that my Evil Spawn doesn’t put me in a nursing home… or a crate), I want to acknowledge how things have changed for me since the good old days (the year 2000).

Back then:

I was a punk teacher who thought I had all the answers.  Now I’m a punk school administrator who realizes that I don’t have any answers (and barely know all of the questions).

I coached a high school varsity boys basketball team.  Now, I coach 3rd and 4th grade girls.

In 2000, I didn’t own my house, truck, a suit, or have any investments.

I believed athletes were honest (steroids), hard-working, and good people (sorry Tiger, but I’m still heart broken).

I trusted politicians.

Buddy the Dog didn’t rule my house (that I didn’t own).

I was a year away from meeting the Evil Spawn.

And hearing my wife curse like a sailor during childbirth.

I didn’t have a Master’s or Specialist’s Degree.

I had never been to Florida, Texas, California, Colorado or basically anywhere.  Mainly because I had never been on an airplane, in a cab, or on a train.

I didn’t have a passport.

Or a cell phone.

We had a computer (that was huge), but it was slower than the phone I now carry around in my pocket.

I used to read the newspaper and look forward to the mail arriving.

Google, Twitter, Posterous, and thousands of other technology things were yet to be discovered.

I was newly-married (and yet my wife hasn’t aged a day in the last 10 years… yes, she reads the blog).

I hadn’t written a blog, read a blog, or heard of a blog.

My big concern back then was Y2K, not the Swine Flu.

Gas was cheap, but I never thought about it.

I spent my evenings watching TV, not working on a laptop.

I had a credit card, but no money to pay it off (because every cent went to student loans).

Any maybe the biggest thing… in 2000 I had absolutely no concept of time.  I didn’t think about the future.  I didn’t think about anything. 

Oh, how life has changed.  So quickly, in such a short time.

It makes me wonder what I’m about to face in the next decade.  What we are all going to face.

In the world.  At school.  In our personal lives.

For me, the next 10 years means I will celebrate my 50th birthday (how is that possible?), my 25th anniversary (what was she thinking?), and my daughter’s high school graduation.

My biggest hope for the next decade is it goes a little slower than the last one.

And I don’t end it in a crate.


Note from wife… Newly married?  We got married in 1995.  A half a decade prior to 2000.  Does that still qualify as “newly married”?

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Oprah and Snow Shovels.


I spent the last few days in Chicago at an education conference.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is as soon as I arrived (late by the way… thanks Amtrak), I turned on the TV just in time to hear that Oprah Winfrey is leaving town.I Could Also Use This Snow Shovel to Smack People.

Evidently, Chicago isn’t big enough for the both of us.

I know I shouldn’t take this personally, but this hurts.  I’ve always felt like Oprah and I got along fairly well.

Sure, we had our disagreements about Gayle (Oprah loves her… I find her annoying) but for the most part we saw eye to eye.

I should admit that Dr. Phil strikes me as a little odd, but who am I to judge.  Good enough for Oprah, good enough for me.  Even though he seems like the creepy uncle your parents told you to avoid at family reunions.

But now she is leaving the Windy City.

Off to make her fame and fortune in Los Angeles.

Wait a second.  Doesn’t she already have fame and a little bit of fortune (by a little… I mean she bleeds gold bullion).

Why does she need her own television network?

More importantly, why is she starting her own television network.

She is worth about 8,000 billion dollars (when the market is down), so why doesn’t she just buy one of the crappy 700 channels I get (and don’t watch).

Then all she would have to do is move it to Chicago and rename it Oprah Land, OTV, or Oprah Classic (I would be very nervous TV Land, HGTV, and ESPN Classic… very nervous indeed).

But no, she has to wait until I arrive in Chicago to announce she is getting out.

To the uninformed, it looks like I drove her out.

That hurts Oprah.  That really hurts.

I have to admit that while the conference was excellent, Oprah’s little announcement put a damper on the whole weekend.

I found myself getting angry as I walked the streets of Chicago.

Then I realized I wasn’t upset with Oprah.  She has her life.  I have mine.

Even though we don’t always agree, I think it’s important that we continue to support each other (after all… we both do it for the kids…).

Who am I to say that she shouldn’t move for a job.  Tough times mean tough decisions.  Like all of us, poor Oprah has bills to pay (by poor… I don’t mean poor).

My anger was actually coming from the fact that people don’t know how to walk down the street.

Where has common courtesy gone?

Large groups of idiots would stop directly in the middle of a sidewalk.  Right smack in the middle of a pedestrian walkway on Michigan Avenue.

Why did they stop?  Who knows.  I’m guessing inbreeding, but don’t quote me on that.

I’ve had it with people who seem oblivious to the rest of society and what is going on around them.

So I’m here to ask for your permission…the permission of well-educated, hard-working PrincipalsPage.com readers.

I need permission to carry a large snow shovel around  so I can smack people in the face when they become a bother to the rest of us (mostly when they bug me… if they bother you it doesn’t really effect me).

No questions asked.  No legal liability.  No second-guessing.

Just me, smacking people upside the head to make the world a better place (not my idea… I have to give credit to Mr. Tony on my favorite podcasted radio show).

I’m going to start with people who stop short on busy sidewalks.

In the future, the snow shovel may come into play with people who text while driving, anyone who honks .05 seconds after a stoplight turns green, smokers, loud talkers in movie theaters, people who burn leaves when their city prohibits it, and weathermen.

I’m also going to need permission to add to my list as I see fit.

Thank you for listening.

If you need me I will be in the garage looking for my snow shovel and wondering how my relationship went so wrong, so quickly with Oprah.

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As God as my Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly.


Thanksgiving has arrived.

This is my effort at writing the annual Thanksgiving themed blog (and of course by annual, I mean just this once).

The title of the blog comes from one of my favorite episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati (it was good to be raised by the television). If you haven’t seen it, you should. Note to Self:  Turkeys Can't Fly.

The short version of the story is the radio station gives away turkeys by throwing them out of a helicopter. Needless to say, they plummeted to their deaths.

As we head towards the holiday season, I continue to be perplexed on how time flies by so quickly (especially on weekends). I think the only way to get the world to slow down is have the principal place the worst kid in school in your class.

Then time stops.

If fact, time may actually go backwards depending on the student in question’s level of obnoxiousness.

And by student I mean future felon. Why is it teachers always think the worst kid in school is going to end up in prison? They can’t all end up doing hard time.

But that is a discussion for another blog. Back to the time issue.

My memory isn’t what it used to be, but the last thing I knew it was August 10th.

Summer was winding down and we were getting ready for the start of school. It’s easy to remember the date because each summer there is a certain sense of dread that overcomes me right around that time.

As usual, school began, then I glanced up and we were dismissing early on the day before Thanksgiving break.

Yet another school year is flying by. This always happens, but this year seems to be moving at an unusually fast pace.

Maybe it is my advancing age.

This little fun fact was pointed out to me the other day when a junior high student asked me if I would still be working at the school when he graduated from high school.

I said sure. As far as I know, I am not planning on leaving (unless of course you have heard something, and in that case please email me).

He responded by saying no, he meant would I retire before he graduated?

I am 41.

Or in junior high years… evidently 107.

Whatever. One day, if all goes well, he will need me to sign his diploma. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.

But I don’t want to get bogged down with the challenges of trying to evade the Grim Reaper in the hallway.

It is the holiday season and I think it is important to stop and take a moment (and maybe a nap) to recognize the things I am thankful for.

Here is my list (feel free to add your own):

Summers off
No school on Saturdays (unless you are bad)
Holidays
Early dismissal on the day before a holiday break
Food in the lounge
The fact that teachers can’t smoke in the lounge
Juniors and Seniors (mainly, because the students in question are no longer Freshman or Sophomores)
Copy machines
Graduation (see: Seniors)
NCLB (before this, what did we complain… I mean talk… about? The lounge must have been awfully quiet in those days)
Kindergarten students and their tiny little desks and chairs
Free t-shirts (coaches and ex-coaches never grow tired of getting the free t-shirts), Recess
Snow days (the occasional one, not too many)
Lunch (particularly corn dogs or chili)
A paycheck/job (in these times we all need to be appreciative)
And technology of any kind

There you have it. Everything that I am thankful for.

Oh yeah. And students, teachers, staff, and families.

And the fact that certain students give me at least a 50/50 chance of living until their graduation… which may happen in 5 years (I haven’t decided if I will let them or not).

Which are better odds than I would give a turkey to seeing Friday.

At least I have that going for me.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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Famous People Read This Blog. Or More Likely; He Lost a Bet.


Another Opportunity to Post About Mike Rowe.Today, I am proud to announce that the PrincipalsPage.com Blog had its most famous visitor (that I know of… there could be others… but probably not).

Alan November was kind enough to stop by and leave a comment on “Travel Does Stink, But Alan November Was Great” (and no, I didn’t pay him… not that I wouldn’t, I just can’t afford it).

He qualifies as our most famous visitor because he has his own website, people pay to hear him speak, and it’s my blog so I get to decide who is famous and who isn’t. Please don’t confuse Mr. November with Alan Rickman, Alan Thicke, Alan Keyes, Alan Arkin or Alan Jackson (pretty much all of the famous people with the first name of Alan that I could think of).

As I mentioned before, if you get a chance to hear him speak; run don’t walk. You will learn more about technology in education than you could have ever imagined.

I have no idea why he picked that particular blog on which to leave a omment, but I am assuming he lost some sort of bet and was forced to read it (and possibly because his name was in the title).

You would think that he would be too busy to read this meaningless drivel, but life continues to surprise me.

Since I have officially named Mr. November our most famous guest, I want to thank him. And just as importantly, whoever forced him to read the blog.

Hopefully, he has opened the floodgates and the blog will be flooded by even more famous people.

Actually, I have never understood the fascination with famous people. Aren’t they just like us; only with nicer cars and better hair?

I have always been dumbfounded by the paparazzi following them and taking their picture coming out of Starbucks; or people hounding them for their autograph; and especially the fact that they need to thank God for their latest award (isn’t God too busy to worry about this year’s Best Supporting Actress?).

I usually find famous people odd and a little sad.

But if Mike Rowe stopped by and left a comment, that’s another story. Quick, someone bet him.

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Disclaimer

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.