Vacation Face.


Summer Vacation 2010 is winding down so it’s time to review (before I begin my 87 hour drive back to dreaded civilization).

As noted in a previous blog, I stink at vacation.  That’s the bad news.Me.  If I Were Happier.

The good news is I’m not the only one (actually that’s more bad news… evidently there’s a lot of Type A weirdo’s running amok at resorts near you).

Even though I’m coming to grips with the idea I might have a problem with too much free time, it doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of good things about vacations.

So here they are:

 

10.  I’m not at work.  This one’s pretty self explanatory.

9.  Living in a strangers house is both cool and creepy (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve never stayed in someone else’s house).

8.  No early bedtime.  It’s vacation.  I can stay up as late as I want (which sadly turns out to be right around 10 p.m).

7.  No alarm clocks.  Well, until that last two days… I had to get up early… got things to do (vacations only last so long people… and note to self:  change alarm sound to something besides Jamaican music).

6.  DVD’s to watch.  What else am I going to do at 2:30 in the afternoon when there aren’t meetings to attend?

5.  Unscheduled exercise.  It’s nice when I don’t have to worry about finding 45 minutes before or after work.  Plus, for some odd reason it’s more fun to exercise in a different state (you know I’m right about this one).

4.  Books to read.  Or more truthfully,  1/2 book.  I’m still working on Linchpin (a chapter at a time… it’s good, I just get so sleepy).

3.  Junk food (see #5… if I want more Howie’s Tacos, I just take another walk… it’s not like I don’t have the time).

2.  Golf.  I’ve played more golf in the last 6 days then I have all summer.  Now that I think about it, I’m getting a little sick of golf.

1.  With a doubt, the best thing about vacation is I don’t have to shave! 

 

The happiness I get from not shaving is indescribable.

This is truly as happy as one man can get. 

Since I will never get to experience the joy of childbirth, I will have to remain content with the grand experience I like to call Vacation Face.

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I Stink at Vacation.


Vacation.

You are either good at it or you are me.I'm the One on the Right.

And as usual, that’s not a good thing.

Because I stink at vacation.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the time away from home (code:  work).

I’m just not good at it.

Vacation is everything I despise.

No structure.  No schedule.  No reason to set the alarm to get up early.  No To Do List where I can scratch off my accomplishments in the order of importance. 

Just day after day of sitting around watching time pass by.

It’s unstructured and exhausting.

On the other side of the spectrum, my wife (Tech Queen), daughter (Evil Spawn), and Buddy the Dog are great at vacation.

They have walks to take, books to read, little towns to explore, naps to take, and movies to watch (in the effort of full-disclosure… Buddy isn’t that great of a reader).

This is also exhausting.

Watching them relaxing and accomplishing nothing.

The best part of vacation for me is the anticipation of going.  After that it’s all downhill.

Once I arrive at the chosen vacation spot, my thoughts turn to when we have to leave.

When should we start packing?

What time should we leave so we beat traffic?

Will we get back early enough so I can mow the yard?

A vacation is almost more exhausting than staying home and being in my normal routine.

Actually, it’s more than exhausting.

It’s a little pathetic now that I think about it.

 

Question/snide remark from said “Tech Queen” – A little pathetic?

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Off the Grid.


I’ve been a little lax in my blogging.  The reason… we’re on vacation.

The View From Every Window in Our Cabin.

Well, kind of.

I’m not sure if you can technically call it a vacation when you drive over 19,000 miles with the Evil Spawn and Buddy the Dog in the backseat snoring (if that isn’t bad enough, they both drool while they sleep… and neither one can figure out why the truck seat is wet).

I must admit this obnoxious snoring is better than hearing “Are we there yet?”

To get from our house to the North Shore in Minnesota took approximately 87 hours.

Or at least it seemed like 87 hours (it may have been longer because at one point I passed out).

The trip was so long that I could have sworn we were going in circles.

I kept thinking… I know I’ve seen this “Welcome to Wisconsin” sign at least a dozen times.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is I’ve been able to drop off “The Grid”.

For educators “The Grid” is a triangle.  It goes from your home to school to Wal-mart (feel free to substitute another large mega-billion shopping store of your choice).

It’s a law.  Every teacher and administrator must spend 90% of their time inside their grid (unless school is in session… then it’s 98.5%).

I think there might be some fine print in NCLB that requires us to stay inside this restricted area.

Rumor has it educators who venture outside the “Grid” too often are never heard from again.

It’s the opposite of tenure.

So it’s a fine line between leaving your grid and going insane (and not a little insane… I’m talking Jack Nicholson in The Shining insane).

Because I don’t see the need in chasing the Tech Queen with an ax, we like to go on vacation at least once a year (unfortunately these never take place during school).

This year we headed for the woods.

A cabin in northern Minnesota.

Frighteningly close to my sworn enemies… the Canadians.

People ask me what I have against the good people of Canada.

Nothing.

I just don’t trust them.

Sooner or later they are going to get sick of the cold and storm our borders with the intent of taking Florida just so they can sit on a beach.

Mark my word, it’s coming.

As I sit here and type this blog, I’m within miles of the US-Canadian border (rest easy, I will keep an eye on them and if I can’t chase them back… Buddy the Dog can… unless of course, he’s napping).

So for the next several days I’m officially off “The Grid”.

No ESPN.  No internet.  No email.  No phone calls. No meetings.

No contact with any other human beings (unless it’s on a golf course… and I do apologize for almost hitting you with my drive off #7).

I’m unreachable.

I’m a ghost.

I don’t exist.

At least that’s what I told everyone at school.

Do you think they will believe I pre-wrote this blog and uploaded it before I left?

I guess I’ll never know since I’m not getting their emails.

Or at least I’m not answering them.

It’s good to be off “The Grid”.

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Hello, Summer.


Sweet, Sweet Vacation. It’s here.

The quiet sounds of empty hallways and classrooms are music to my ears (silence is golden).

No students.

No teachers.

No bus routes.

No athletic events.

No meetings.

No ties.

No troubles.

Happy Summer Everybody!!!

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Vegas Review.


I should have blogged about this earlier, but it has taken me a few days to completely get a handle on our first trip to Vegas (still trying to recover from the bad Easter Karma…).

My blogging schedule has been a little out of sorts.It Looks So Pretty From a Distance.

I can’t explain it, but I just haven’t been sharp.

This is a nice way of saying I’ve been lazier than a two-year old beagle (yes, that beagle).

Looking back, I’m starting to see a pattern.

Nothing makes me tired like a vacation.  This seems odd, but every time I go somewhere I return more exhausted than I left.

In theory, vacations are supposed to be relaxing.  You should return rested and ready to tackle all of life’s challenges.

When I get back, I want a nap.  Much like Buddy the Dog (yes, that beagle).

We’ve been home for 7 days and I’m still on West Coast time.

All I want to do is sleep in and then stay up until 4:00 am playing roulette… I mean watching TV.

In the last few days, I have tried to come to grips with my feelings about Vegas.

The whole experience has left me hurt and a little confused.

Before we left, I thought I had a good understanding on what Las Vegas would be like.

I assumed it would be hot.  I had a feeling the desert would be sandy.  I figured we would see Wayne Newton at a gas station.  And most importantly, everyone would be rich and happy.

I was wrong.

Vegas is a little more complicated than that.

It’s a fun city, but kind of sad.  It’s exciting, but I was concerned about dying in some sort of East Coast/West Coast rapper revenge killing (yes, I think about these things).

It’s rich and poor people gambling side by side (I have my doubts if many of them were that rich). 

It’s the best and the worst of people.

In summary, it’s a giant neon lit mess.

But in a good way.

Basically it’s Disneyworld for adults (without the mouse hats and long lines).

Every time I walked down The Strip I had the same thought.

I need a shower.

And yet, I was fascinated by the lights, attractions, hotels, and the people.

Mostly, the people.

It’s amazing what you see when you get out in the world.

It really does take all kinds.

All different types of people have made their way to Vegas (most with tattoos… call me old fashioned, but I still don’t get the sleeve tattoo look).

My suggestion is one time in your life you need to vacation in Vegas.

I would also add that you should leave your money at home.

Because while I returned (sleepy), my money did not.

I wondered how they paid for those fancy hotels.

Now I know.

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You Are a Worthy Opponent, Karma. Worthy, Indeed.


Karma 1.  Me 0.

I knew it was going to happen, yet I was powerless to stop it (kind of like being a school administrator).

I just knew Las Vegas at Easter was a bad idea.

Some would call that paranoia.  I call it good common sense when you know everyone is out to get you (again, kind of like being a school administrator).Ouch.

We arrived in Vegas (no one says “Las Vegas” here).  It’s overwhelming to see this much neon and advertising.

It’s like no place I’ve ever seen.  It’s rich people, poor people, tattoos, sunshine, marble, fake grass, entertainers on the downhill portion of their career all combined with the smell of cigarette smoke.

When we go on vacation, I always think about what it would be like to move there.

That streak is over.

The first morning we decided we were hungry (sinners need to eat too…).

So we went to breakfast.  And made an investment.

A bad investment (aren’t they all in this economy?).

So much for the Evil Spawn going to college on our dime.  If she wants a degree it looks like she needs a job, some scholarships, and a loan (don’t feel badly for her… it worked for her parents).

Long story short… we got hosed.

I fired up the email machine to find someplace to eat.

Low and behold The Buffet at the Wynn came highly recommended.  Lucky for us, we are staying at the Wynn.

Turns out we weren’t that lucky (is anybody in Vegas?).

As we approached the cashier, I heard her tell my wife it was $36.95.

I thought that was a little pricey for two people, but it was their Easter Brunch (3 days early… that should have been my first clue).

Plus, who knows if we will ever be back so might as well live a little.

Then she rang us up and said “That’s $79.89 with tax.”

What???

$79.89 for a breakfast buffet?

What are they serving?  Gold?

Nope.

Eggs.  And bacon.

You heard me… bacon for $79.89.

I felt violated.

And hurt.  And confused.

I’ve never been to prison, but now I know the feeling.

Well done, Karma.  Well, done.

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Hello, Easter. Goodbye, Heaven.


We are going to Las Vegas this weekend.  By “we” I don’t mean the Evil Spawn who lives in our guest room (we don’t want her to think this little arrangement is permanent).

This is Easter weekend (Happy Easter Everybody!)

A time to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection.  Also, it’s when we look for plastic eggs in the backyard and eat the ears off of hollow chocolate rabbits (I’m pretty sure this isn’t WJWD). I Hope This Trip Doesn't Turn Out Like the Movie... The Hangover.

Evidently, it’s also the time to take our first trip to Sin City (I don’t know which Mobster came up with the idea for Vegas… but on behalf of millions of visitors each year… I would like to say, Thank You).

While this sounds like fun, I have a feeling we may have angered our old friend Karma.

A weekend in Las Vegas during Easter may not be the best idea we’ve ever had.

There is wrong and then there is WAY WRONG.

This is undoubtedly the later.

But don’t blame us.  We need to make some money because we have bills to pay (or not… time will tell).

Our lives just wouldn’t be complete without seeing Penn & Teller (magicians and one of them doesn’t talk… HILARIOUS!).

Only in America can two educators take their hard earned money (thank you taxpayers) and fly across the country to enjoy an all you can eat $2.50 buffet (now that’s a good steak).

And you wonder why I love this country?

You may have noticed I didn’t mention anything about the Evil Spawn participating in this latest trip.

She’s banned.

This is a bit of a “sore subject” at our house.

Not so much for us, but for her.

She has no tolerance for anything that involves hotels and eating out without her being included.

When we told her (by “we”, I mean my wife) about the trip, her response (after a long pause) was “You two better be kidding me.”

We weren’t.

She gets a fun-filled weekend with the grandparents (who will also be hosting their favorite grandchild… Buddy the Dog).

This is a classic win-win-win.

We get Las Vegas.

The casinos get the Evil Spawn’s college fund.

And she gets to be the one member of the family who has a better than 4 to 1 shot of getting into Heaven.

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It’s a Small World. With a Rather Long Line.


It’s time.

Who am I kidding.  It’s past time.They Are Happy Because They Aren't Waiting in Line.

This has been weighing on me for nearly 3 weeks.

I need to get this off my chest.  I’m tired of feeling like Mark McGwire (no, not juiced up with the strength of 7 men… sick to my stomach from the constant avoidance of the subject).

It’s time to discuss our “vacation” to Disney World.

I put the word “vacation” in quotes because it was no vacation.   There was nothing “vacationey” about it.  It was work. 

Hard work.

With just a dash of stress and a pinch of exhaustion thrown in for good measure.

In this age of full-disclosure, I think it’s important to say that nobody does theme parks like Disney.  Nobody.

The food, cleanliness, employees, fireworks, parades, and did I mention the food… all were great.

It is a wonderful place to take your kids.

I have to say this because I don’t want the Mickey Mouse Mob after me.

These people are crazy.

They are the ones who return to the park year after year.  They never ever vacation anywhere else.

Disney is their shrine.

The whole situation is very cult-like.

You can always recognize them because they wear those goofy mouse ear hats (who pays good money for those things and do they wear them at home?).

Actually all of their clothes have Mickey Mouse on them.

T-shirts, jackets, sunglasses, panties… you name it (don’t ask how I know about the panties because I’m still working through those issues).

Some even have Mickey tattoos.  Disturbing, I know.

The Mickey Mob Members are constantly talking about how things have changed over the years at the “Happiest Place on Earth”.  As in “On our first trip to Disney back in 1979…”.

They are so misinformed.

The “Happiest Place on Earth” isn’t a theme park built around two mice living together in sin.  It’s the empty hallways of a school on a summer day.

Actually that’s not true.

It’s the empty hallway and an empty lounge.

Now that’s happy (at least for a school administrator in June).

Disney wasn’t the problem (again, I don’t want to anger the Mob).

But there were some other issues.  Mostly brought on by our poor planning or total lack of planning in general.

 

1.  We went to Disney the day after school got out.  Get home, pack, catch a plane.  Bad idea.  I had forgotten how tired one gets at the end of the first semester.

2.  We flew over the Christmas break.  Why didn’t someone tell us the airports were busy during this time of year.

3.  We flew during the time some genius tried to make a bomb in his underpants.  Bad idea for him.  Added stress to us (although sadly security was NO different).

4.  We went to Florida to enjoy the warm weather.  I spent most of the time in a heavy coat (but not heavy enough) and a stocking cap.

5.  We had tickets for 6 straight days of non-stop fun at the various Disney theme parks.  The fun stopped about day 3.5.

 

Now I know people from the Mickey Mob will email me and say I just don’t get it.  And they will be right.

I don’t get it.

I just don’t get why it’s so much fun to stand in line for 90 minutes to ride a ride for 90 seconds.

I don’t get why adults run across the park to get the autograph from a 20 year old intern dressed up as a mouse.

I don’t get why parents take their 8 month old to a theme park when all they want to do is cry and sleep.

I don’t get why a bottled water costs $48.

And I’m tired of arguing with the Evil Spawn about whether Goofy is a dog or not.

It’s all very confusing to me.

I need a vacation.

If you have kids (over the age of 5) you should go once.  ONCE.

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Going to Disneyworld. And Yet, We Hate Mice.


As I slop down this blog, it occurs to me that we only have two more days until the end of our semester.

I would celebrate this fact, but exhaustion prevents me from doing anything more than breathing and blinking.

If the stars align a little later, I’m going to take blinking out of the equation during what I believe is a well-deserved nap (which I’ve noticed Buddy the Dog is doing… for the last 4 1/2 hours… straight… hasn’t moved… may be dead for all I know…).

Once school is out I won’t have time to celebrate or nap.Since When Do Humans Like Mice?

You see (or read), we are going on a Griswold Family Vacation.  But not to Walley World.

Worse.

Disneyworld.

Yeah, you heard me.  Disneyworld and I’m not happy about it.

Why my disgust?

I don’t know.  Maybe you should ask the Tech Queen.  She doesn’t want to go either.

I’m assuming after typing the last 3 sentences that we qualify for the “Worst Parents Ever Award”.  Hopefully, the trophy presentation will be held next week so I won’t have to go to Disney.

Neither of us has ever been to Disneyworld or Disneyland.

Actually, we don’t even know which is which.  As Chevy Chase as my witness, I don’t know which one is in Orlando but I’m about to find out.

“The Happiest Place on Earth”.  Really?

I don’t think so.

I think the Happiest Place on Earth is the Teacher’s Lounge 45 seconds after the bell rings the day Winter or Summer Vacation begins.

All of those stale left-over treats (why can’t teachers put the lid back on the Tupperware container???) and no kids within 500 feet.

I’ve noticed people come out of the woodwork when I say we don’t want to go to Disney.

It’s the same people who bugged me about “When are you getting married?” and “When are  you starting a family?” and “When are you going to take some anger management classes?”

I hate those people.

I’m not overly enthusiastic about spending Christmas standing in line for a ride on which I could die.  I get enough experience with vomiting at work.

Plus, I’m assuming these rides are run and maintained by disillusioned carnie workers.

Don’t misunderstand me.  The carnie workers are my people.

I’m a big fan of anyone with a combined total of 17 tattoos and piercings (there goes my readership from county fair employees and tattoo shops…).

I just don’t want them double-checking (or not) all of the bolts on a thrill ride seconds before my untimely death.

I want to go out like Buddy.  In my sleep (he’s not really dead… just tired from… all of his previous naps).

As an added bonus, I’m assuming there will be other children at Disney.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like kids.

I love mine.

I just don’t like other people’s kids when I’m on vacation.

I only like other kids when I’m at school.

Maybe that’s because I can’t control them when I’m not working at school.

Or more likely, it’s because their parents can’t control them.

We will have to make sure we pack our “Teacher’s Looks”.  I love firing those off in public when parents aren’t looking.

I guess it doesn’t matter.  I will be spending 7 days getting my picture taken with Mickey, dining with princesses, and purchasing $14 dollar bottled-waters.

Maybe we will like it.  And if we don’t, at least I’ll have something to blog about.

So next Wednesday we will be flying to Disneyworld (I think that’s the one in Florida).

Unless of course, the park is closed when we arrive.

And just like Clark Griswold, that would make me angry.

I mean angrier.


“Sorry folks, park’s closed. Moose (or Mouse) out front shoulda told ya.”

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Holiday Stress.


It’s December.  Which means we are in the middle of another jam-packed holiday season.

This sounds like a good thing.I Need a Vacation.  And Not to Disney.

It’s not.

I’m not saying the holidays are bad, just busy.  Way too busy.

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving and Christmas constituted the most exciting time of the year.

The anticipation.  The gifts (even the socks and underwear).  Snow.  Time off from school.

It was great.

It was a nice change of pace from the rest of the hectic year.

Today, holidays mean a lack of sleep and not enough room on my Google calendar (I don’t really have a Google calendar but I’m trying to make a point and promote technology use in schools all at the same time).

Each year, around the 20th of November I know my time is no longer my time.

It is merely a block of minutes in which I’m required to be somewhere doing something with some people.

These people come in all shapes and sizes.  Friends, co-workers, relatives, and acquaintances.

And other people you may want to rain blows down upon (everyone who emails me an explanation of this line wins… nothing).

Now before you email me about my Bah, Humbug spirit (with the word Scrooge in the subject line), hear me out.

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is filled with the following:
 

Thanksgiving dinners (2)

Christmas Parties (1… I’m really not that popular)

Christmas Parade

Winter Concerts (2)

Christmas Program at church (2)

Christmas Gift Openings (3)

Christmas dinner

Girl Scouts (2)

Requests for Fundraising Donations (1 gazillion)

School board meeting

Basketball practice (2)

Basketball games (5 or more)

Wife’s workshops (5)

Vacation to Disneyland or world (thankfully only 1… I just don’t know which one we are visiting)

A 5k

Piano Lessons (7)

Dog walks (75… Buddy drinks way too much water)

Presentations (4)

Meetings (more than I can count)

Interviews (1 … again, not that popular)

Blogs (10 at least)

Naps (0… or 1 if I’m lucky)

Holiday lunches at school (2)

Emails (over 1,000… really)

Shopping (actually I don’t shop, so scratch this one)

 

These are just the things I could remember without looking at my non-Google calendar.  I didn’t even mention the getting fat from too much food and too little exercise.

If I get a free second and I sit down to watch TV, all I see are commercials where beautiful people are giving each other gifts that I know they can’t afford in real life.

My point is the holidays aren’t really holidays.

At least they aren’t as peaceful and restful as I think they should be.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but there has to be a better way.

**Note from “the wife”…  I DO have a Google calendar and promote technology use in the schools.  I am what you call the real deal… and according to that aforementioned calendar, I too am overbooked!

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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.