Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ECMOA: Special Snow Day Edition 12-17-08

Happy Snow Day! I live in Vancouver, Washington which is sometimes considered as part of the Portland-Metro area. Something that I’ve learned in my seven years of residence in this fair city is that a tiny bit of snow makes the entire region shut down. I grew up where we got snow every winter, usually around a couple of feet or so. Sometimes we got more (6 feet was the record in my lifetime); sometimes we didn’t get snow at all. However, snow didn’t paralyze the entire community. People know how to drive in the snow in my hometown. Very few people know how to drive in the snow around here. Long story short, we’ve had a dusting of snow. Seriously, I can still count individual snow flakes lying on the ground. And school has been canceled. Full disclosure, I live in Vancouver, and Vancouver School District is open today. I’m sure that the upper elevations in Battle Ground where I work has some decent snow. I’m currently watching news reports of “Arctic Blast 08.” My cat, Baxter, LOVES these kinds of days because he likes to attack the ticker running along the bottom of the screen. He’s a giant cat, so he has not problem standing up on his hind legs to bat at the screen with both paws. He has worn himself out and is sleeping next to me on the couch.

I’m actually kind of glad. I brought home some work to do just incase we didn’t have school today. Plus while I generally like my students, two consecutive days of late start makes them exhausting and nearly unbearable. I have to remind myself that they don’t get snow very often, so it’s a big deal to them. Whenever we get snow around here, and the kids are confident that the two inches accumulated on the ground means that they will be sent home early (for the record, that has never happened in my 7 years in the district), it makes me have one of those “back in my day…” moments.

So, here is my own winter weather tale:

My sophomore year of high school, I had to walk to school because my dad was at an outage with the truck. My dad was branch manager for the White Salmon branch of Klickitat County PUD, so when the weather was nasty, he was usually at work coordinating the restoration of power to the outlying areas. We hadn’t heard of any closures, so I got ready to walk to school in about a foot of snow. The walk wasn’t that far, a little less than a mile and a half, and one that I had done since I was in the 5th grade. The walk to school took me up the road to the top of Strawberry Mountain (a very deceiving name—a hill at best), then down through an orchard to the school. I got all bundled up and headed out to school only to find the doors to the high school locked. I walked around to the front entrance which was open, and saw a sign that said “School is 2 Hours Late.” I decided to go ahead and walk the mile and half back home instead of sitting around at the cold school for two hours. After enjoying some hot chocolate, I trudged back to school. Another sign greeted me: “School is Canceled.” Crap. By the time I made my fourth trek through the orchard it had snowed another few inches. My mom just laughed at me when I got back home. She told me that she had heard on the radio that school had been canceled about 20 minutes after I left home the second time. I thought the whole thing was kind of funny as well, though I was disappointed that I didn’t get to sleep in on the snow day. I believe these kinds of experiences are filed under “Character Building.”

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ECMOA for the Month of November, 2008

November is the 4th best month to be a teacher. June, July, and August getting the top three spots, of course. Why is November so great? Lots of days off. Between Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving Break, I get a random four days off from work. Plus it usually starts on the tail end of a week of half days for parent/teacher conferences. While we do get two weeks off for winter break, the chaos of dealing with amped up teenagers for the first two weeks of December counterbalances the joy of a two-week vacation.

It’s a short installment this month, but it doesn’t make it any less awesome. Enjoy!

Moment 1:
Two students were talking by my desk.
Student 1 (to several students): “Do you like spaghetti? Do you like spaghetti? Am I like the only person who doesn’t like spaghetti?”
Student 2: “Why not?”
Student 1: “Well, I choked on a noodle, just a plain noodle, when I was little.”
Havig: “Were you attacked by a pack of spaghetti as a small child?”
Student 1: “Yeah, spaghetti killed my father and raped my mother.”

The timing was hilarious.

Moment 2:
From a student’s paper regarding parental advice:
“My mother drives me insane. She likes really disgusting things, which is probably why she is a dental hygienist.”

The opening line from another student’s parental advice paper:
“You know nothing of granny squares!”

She later explained what granny squares were, but I still think it is one of the best first lines I have read. I am going to start using it as my “you’re an idiot!” phrase.

Moment 3:
“I’m sure your bladder will make friends some day.”
- student in response to my explanation that I have a very shy bladder, and thus do not like using the restroom when other people are in the restroom. It wasn’t just the comment, it was the really creepy way the student made the comment that made this awesome.

Moment 4:
A conversation with my freshmen about parents:
Student 1: “How old is your dad?”
Student 2: “He’s like 30.”
Student 1: “So he had you when he was 16?”
Student 2 (slightly perplexed): “No, my mom was like 20.”
Havig: “I think you mean that he’s in his 30s.”
Student 2: “Yeah, I didn’t mean he’s 30.”
Havig: “’Cause I’m going to be 30 in a few days, and I don’t feel like I’m old enough to be your parent.”
Student 2: “Yeah, I think you’re old enough.”
Much laughter from the class ensues, and I mock hurt from being called old. Another student explains to Student 2 why what she said was so funny.
Student 2: “Oh, I meant that you’re were old enough to have kids.”

Moment 5:
“Oh, crap! I just killed that hooker!”
- one small child’s parroting comment after watching some teenagers play Grand Theft Auto according to one of my third period kids.

Moment 6:
So, my third period class may have been discussing serial killers. Okay, I was telling them about a great moment in an episode of Criminal Minds where this guy (the un-sub) chops up his victims and puts pieces of them into the chili that he’s serving to the volunteers who are searching for the victims. How messed up is that!? There is this great line from this episode. A priest and one of the investigators is questioning the un-sub about one of the victims whose body has not been found. After way more searching on the World Wide Web than I’d like to admit, I found that the character’s name was Tracey Lambert. Anyway, they keep asking "Where is Tracey Lambert?" The un-sub goes on a tangent about God. The priest states, “God is inside all of us.” To which the un-sub replies, “So is Tracey Lambert.” Then a bunch of clips run showing the volunteers eating the chili con Tracey Lambert. Awesome! As I was telling them about this episode--which had everything to do with what we were discussing in class at the time, I swear--the following exchange occurred:

Havig: “So this serial killer was hacking up bodies, as serial killers sometimes do.”
Student: “Hacking, like (cough, cough)?

It took me a few minutes to regain my composure after that one. I guess from this day forward, I must differentiate between the hacking that serial killers do with knives and the hacking that my cats do to get rid of hairballs.