Thursday, January 31, 2008

mmmkay? mmmkay.

Let's see... it has been 15 months since I last worked in an office environment, but this new job has the weirdest makeup of any office I've worked in. I'll start at the top.


I thought about counting how many times she said "mmmkay" today, but realized it would be both impossible and very, very annoying. Instead, I tuned her out. The woman thinks "mmmkay" has as many definitions as "fuck." Typical conversation with her might go like this:

Boss: "Chris!"
Me: "Yes?"
B: "Mmmkay."
Me: "...?"
B: "Mmmkay, can I ask you for a favor?"
Me: "Sure."
B: "Mmmkay."
Me: "...yes?"
B: "Mmkay, I'll need you to file these loans, but only after I take a look at them, mmmkay?
Me: "OK"
B: "Mmkay. So I'll let you know.
Me: "Alright."
B: "Mmkay."

She is a really great boss so far. As a judger, I'd say her biggest fault is that she is almost too nice to her co-workers. She'll do work for the underwriters if they get behind, which leads her to fall behind on her work. She spends time at the office on the weekend doing her work, and I feel sorry for her, with the amount of time she spends at the office.

I think I've also got a secret admirer. I'm 80% sure that the 50-year old lady who makes frequent visits by my cube, is also the one who stuck a "You're a cutie!" sticker on the chair I sit in at lunch. I'm about 90% sure she is also a swinger. On Monday I had a loan to give her, and I walked it over to her cube and asked her where she wanted me to stick it. "Hmm, where do I want you to stick it? Hmm..."

Gross. Now I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the creepo-stick. I'm tempted to say, 'if you were 30 years younger, I'd hit it.' But I don't think that would go over very well. I'm also tempted to induce sexual harassment for a big payday, but I'm not that kind of guy.

The office also has a "dark side" and a "light side." They joke that one side is better lit than the other, and in some spots it is true, but there is also another aspect. The light side, which I am a part of, does all the work. The dark side goofs off and pretty much does nothing all day long. But they've been working here longer, and have a sense of entitlement. Bitches! OK, they do some work too, but they bitch about the workload and try to think up any reason not to do it. Luckily for the light side, they aren't very smart there over on the dark side. Also, the dark side gathers for lunch in the break room and watches "The People's Court" for an hour and they debate the cases all afternoon.

Yep, The People's Court. Or maybe it is Judge Alex. Whichever one it is where they interview the crowd outside to see what they would do if they were the judge. She shouldn't get a penny, cause' she was a stripper, and strippers are no good! Nah! She should get the money, that bum she was wit stole all her money! He's no good! Also, they interview the plaintiff and defendant. On Wednesday, the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff, promised he'd pay her for the damages, then neglected to pay the $2,000 bill. Not only does he think he shouldn't have to pay, he counter-sues for the $5,000 maximum for "harassment" because she kept calling his house. I wonder why she was calling your house, you idiot. On his exit interview, after being fined the full $2,000, he says, "Man, I was being a good citizen, I stopped and axed her if she was alright. I could have just up and left. But I stayed, doesn't that count for something?"


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Sunday, January 27, 2008

O' What a Glorious Day!

The stars, moons and planets all aligned today to create one hell of a ski day. A foot of fresh powder awaited us at Steven's Pass this morning. I crashed at Tessa and Jared's place Saturday night after a few pints at Pies and Pints, followed by some Rockband.

Jared and I got up to the pass at about 9:15am, and the place was already packed. Plenty of snow on the road and an early-morning snow report of 12" of fresh powder had us giddy to get up and start shredding. While playing Rockband the night before, I finalized plans to meet up with Jeremy on the backside (which is like finding a needle in a haystack). I called Jeremy a few times this morning and didn't get any answers, so imagine my surprise when some douche cuts us in line on the first lift of the day--and guess who it is!

Jeremy made the trek up with three other friends, so the six of us went straight up Big Chief, then Double Diamond to see if we could get some fresh tracks on the backside. We found plenty of fresh snow, and by the end of the day we had hit just about everything Steven's Pass has to offer--which is something I don't think I've ever done before (at least not all in one day). We bombed down the backside a few times, once without stopping. We jumped into Corona Bowl. We hiked up a path I had never hiked before, which led to an oasis of untouched snow. We hit 7th Heaven in the afternoon, hitting both the Bobby and Nancy chutes and Upper and Lower Rock Garden.

On our second-to-last run of the day, we cockily decided to hit Schim's Meadow, even though Jeremy and I have both been in there before, and both had to jump 10ft cliffs to get down into the bowl. We were feeling lucky and Jeremy, Jared and I got lucky, finding a way down that didn't involve jumping (or sliding) over rocks. Gabe wasn't so lucky. He found himself stuck in a tree, looking down at a 10ft wall of rock. If I were him, I would have climbed back up and around to where the rest of us came down, but Gabe decided to do it a little differently (see the video below!). He cuts the 10ft cliff in half, by hugging a tree and inching his board down onto one of the rocks... eventually he decided to reach his board down as far as it can go (while still holding onto the tree), and his only option is to let go of the tree and hope he doesn't scrape his back and head on the rocks on his way down. Degree of difficulty: 9.7. On the video, the whole situation looks rather tame, but the ending could have been so much worse--I think the rest of us were more excited that he didn't get seriously hurt than anything else. I had visions of a stretcher, a broken ski or bones--and the next thing I know he's sitting in the snow right next to me, fine except for a little ass-scratch.

I am going to be extremely sore tomorrow, but I got a few video gems on my camera, and I decided to play with MS Paint and spray-painted our routes on the Steven's Pass Trail Maps. From the sound of my giddy voice, I'd say we had a good day!

1) Hiking

2) Gabe's got skills, so does Jared!

3) Gabe... you're insane.

Trail Map Back Side

Trail Map Front Side

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Whoa, Consistency! Unh! Get Down!

A post a day keeps the doctor away. That, and Guinness. Running low on Guinness though, luckily a Costco run is coming up this weekend. Parents are leaving on Tuesday, and I'll have the house (and hot tub) to myself for six weeks. I'm going to miss the company, but I might manage to have some fun without their presence. Super Bowl party in HD, ho ho ho! And I can pick up hot chicks and bring them back home for the next six weeks!

Anyone know any hot chicks? Anyone?

Ah hah! But yeah, having a bit more structure in my life (i.e. a job), has changed my actions quite a bit. Last week I was playing Guitar Hero, poker, Team Fortress 2, and just generally bumming it up until 2am. I haven't played any Guitar Hero or TF2 since Sunday, and I've only played a few short sessions of poker. I've been waking up at 7am, and going to bed around 11pm, so I've had to cut out the long jam sessions or TF2 killing sprees.

I'm happy to say that I have stuck to my plan of working up a sweat at least every other day. Tuesday and today I got home from work and lounged for a bit, had dinner, caught up on the blogosphere and my scrabulous matches, then ran on the treadmill while listening to James Brown and wearing a sweat band (to keep the ear buds in my misshapen ears).

That James Brown is one funky guy. I feel kind of sorry for him in a way, because he reminds me of Slurms McKenzie (Futurama). Slurms gets paid to party non-stop, and he ends up happily sacrificing himself to save Fry and the crew. If Futurama isn't your thing I hope you die 1000 deaths, Duff-man of the Simpsons might be an equal reference--but Duff-man is OK with partying and seems to be a conservative. I haven't done any research on James Brown, but from the YouTube clips I've seen, he seems to be enjoying his fame, even if it means partying, dancing and tweaking himself to death.

You can't argue he didn't have funk though. If you haven't seen the following YouTube video yet, hopefully it'll make you smile. I imagine a rich, married lady having James Brown over for private dance lessons and before the lessons begin, he's already in her pants.

"Oh James, *swoon* let me film you dancing in my studio~"

"Alright, baby! Unh! Get down!"

Of course, it was probably just his agent saying:

"James, do this video and there will be a kilo in your loft when you get home."


Oh, and you better believe I'm pulling out the Soul Train and Funky Chicken dances the next time I get a strike bowling.

Mashed Potata's, see ya lata!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers

Found a wallet today.

What do you do when you find a wallet? That's right, take all the money! No... you turn it in to the Lost & Found. What did I do? We'll get to that in a minute.

I sat in the bleachers watching my very own North Seattle Community College STORM battle the Olympic Butchers. OK, I have no idea what mascot the Olympics have, and I don't think many people do--seeing how there were only about two dozen people in the gym. Anyways, I'm sitting there, watching the game, after ducking out of my math class early, when I spy a little black object in my row.

"Looks like a wallet. I can't pick it up, those people behind me will see. I wonder if there's money in it. Probably, most wallets have money. I can see how the wallet slid right out of the guy's pocket onto these bleachers. Flopped down under his own seat, he'd never see it. Shoot, I better check for my own wallet!

Still there, zipped up in my bag, duh. Sucks for that guy though. I bet someone else already checked the wallet for money, too, damn. Ah, I wouldn't take the money out anyways. Would I? Of course not. Yeah... "

I watched the game for a bit longer, scoping out the scene, and decided to grab the wallet and take it down to the Lost & Found. In the empty, well-lit stairwell, I couldn't resist. I opened the wallet and checked to see if there was any money.

I saw some green, and quickly closed it.

"You aren't going to take it... I wonder if that was a twenty?"

Re-opened the wallet and took a closer look. Ah man, it is a twenty, and wrapped tightly with a few other bills.

"I bet those are 20's too. Yeah. Shit. That'd be like a day's work. Shut up, turn it in. The good karma is worth more than $100. Alright, alright."

Closed up the wallet and went up to the counter on my way out.

"...oh yeah, that shit was tight! Hey, hold on one sec, I'm at work." Dude behind the counter says.

"Hey, I found this wallet up in the bleachers at the game, it has got some money in it. *pause* Recognize the guy?" I say, as I flip it open and show him the driver's license. Black guy in his 30's or 40's, average build, from what I can see.

Dude studies the picture for a few seconds.

"Nah, I don't know him."

"Alright, well, just stick it in the Lost & Found then, thanks" I say on my way out.

By the time the cold air hits me, I'm feeling better. I don't think I've ever taken money out of a wallet I've found before, but I always think about it whenever I find one. On the ride home I went through dozens of possibilities of what might have happened, how I (and others) might have handled the situation differently.

Are you any more or less likely to take money from a wallet if you know the guy will or won't miss it? What if you suspect the guy at the register will take take the money out of it?

It almost seems stupid not to take the money then, eh? If I lose my wallet, unless it has an enormous amount of money in it, I could care less about the money, as long as I get back my wallet with the driver's license and credit cards all still there. I might think, 'ah, no money... that sucks, but at least I found everything else.'

I'd like to say I'd always turn in the wallet, money in tact, but who knows? I can envision some scenarios where I might take the money, if I'm dead broke and I don' t think the money will be missed terribly. Sort of like a "finder's fee" or "karma dollars" for turning in the wallet (albeit money-less). What would you do? Where is your breaking point?


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bad Radio

The first day on a job is always crazy, and yesterday was no different. Of all the information flung at me, most of it stuck, some of it missed, and the rest hit and slid right off. The biggest lesson I learned yesterday is that KISS 106.1 blows. After listening to KISS in my co-worker's cube all day long yesterday, I jumped at the chance to "feel free to change the station" when she departed for a meeting.

Yesterday, the same song played five times from 1pm to 4:30pm. That is just ridiculous. It was one of those popular songs from Justin Timberlake, Fergie, Hanson or the Olson Twins--I can't keep them all straight. KISS literally plays the "top ten" most popular songs over and over again, I couldn't wait to get out of there yesterday.

Today, I flipped the script, and put on 107.7 THE END. And it rocked my socks off. Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, Bush. Sadly, that will probably be classified as "oldies" in a few years *cry.

Towards the end of the day, I heard one of the ladies across the office say Heath Ledger was found dead. I was a bit bummed, because I thought he was a really good actor in Big Fish and Moulon Rouge. I just saw a little video about him making a documentary motorcycling through Africa with his brother, and I was really looking forward to seeing it.

It wasn't until I got home and realized I was thinking of Ewan McGregor. There's an odd feeling... Hey! At least it wasn't Ewan! But... yeah, that still sort of sucks, especially the part about no Dad anymore for the two-year old daughter.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Time for Change (not political!)

Sweat pants. Fleece. Comfy socks. Glass of wine.

Post-work bliss~

I hadn't worked a 9-5 job in over a year, and it felt good to break that amazing streak today. I'm building up my college bankroll, and this job looks like it could net me quite a bit of overtime, which works for me. I've saved up quite a bit of energy from my lack of full-time work over the last year, and although the office tasks I'll be doing at this new job are brain-numbing, I know this job won't last forever.

Looking out at the sunny skies from the office, I wondered how and why I wasted all those hours this past year. Why wasn't I outside hiking all the time, or playing basketball, or making the most of my relaxing schedule? Then it occurred to me that I really, really enjoyed the way I spent my time. I did go on a few hikes, I played plenty of basketball, but I also rested, drank, played games, thought, and wrote. I led a very balanced life, minus the whole working thing.

And actually, the absence of work was a noticeable hole in my life. When I have all the free time in the world, nothing stops me from sleeping in until noon, because nothing needs to be accomplished within a strict deadline. Working 8-10 hours a day cuts that free time in half, and mathematically makes my free time twice as important to me. Sitting down and writing a post, while sipping wine and petting the cat on my lap, is the most enjoyable thing I can think of after my first full work day, and here I am. I've sat here in this same position a dozen times in the last five months, Ichi and all, but it just isn't the same without a full day of work behind me.

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm spoiled. I'm savoring my spoiled time, like I have over the past year, because I realize this whole "do whatever pleases me the most" period in my life won't last forever. It doesn't mix well with my other goals, but it'll be interesting to see what happens when this period ends, and what effects those changes will have on me as a person. There are aspects of myself that I would like to change, but I haven't figured out how that change is going to occur. I'd like to be more open and friendly, but whenever I start acting more open and friendly I secretly mutter to myself, "that was gay" or "awwwkward!"

(that was gay)

Again, a lot of this reaching out for change has to do with the possibility of becoming a teacher in the future. I began to write something up along those lines, but I'll save that for another post. Suffice to say, it has to do with what kind of image I want to have in the classroom, and what changes and skills I need to learn before I get there.

Getting tired at 8pm is awesome. I sure hope I don't ever re-read this post if I have children. I'd go Terminator on my spoiled ass.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bald Eagle Hunting

My parents went up to the cabin on Wednesday. They only spent a few minutes at the cabin proper, to make sure the place is still standing. For the rest of the day, they went bald eagle hunting. Endangered, smangered.

Although once a member of the NRA, my Dad has traded in his guns for cameras, and got a pretty snazzy Canon Rebel Digital SLR for Christmas, and then for his birthday in early January he got one of those really nice big zoom lenses to mount onto his new camera.

No Chance

Piercing Eyes

Ruffled Feathers

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Communal, Anonymous Blog?

First a quick, dirty and non-creative weekend recap:

Friday night. Saw "Juno" in a completely packed Pacific Place theater with Tyler and Renee. We ended up sitting in the 3rd row because that was the only place with three consecutive seats available. I love me some front-row viewing, but girls don't for some reason. Girls suck. Great movie though, this movie has it all--and as Jeremy pointed out on Saturday, if you see movies with the wife or a girlfriend, it counts as a "chick flick," so you get to see a good movie and pick the next movie you guys get to see, too--boo-yah!

Saturday, watched the Seahawks get decimated at the frozen tundra. I'm not happy the Seahawks lost, but if they had to lose in the playoffs, losing to Green Bay in a blizzard is a good way to go out. Gotta root for the Packers from here on out! Got some more Magic in at Jeremy's after the Hawks game, then headed out bowling with Tyler, Nene and friends. The wait-list for lanes was like two hours long, so we had a few drinks then left without bowling and headed back to T's place and played his board game, I got decimated.

Sunday, I had planned on going on an early morning moto-ride with Leia, but we called it off the night before and I had a nice hangover until noon. Josh H. came up from Tacoma and we watched the Cowboys/Giants game at the RAM at U-Village, then headed up to Tessa and Jared's for some Rockband. It was my first time playing, and I can see the addiction. Much like Guitar Hero, but more cooperative. So not only are you addicted to the game itself, but you want to do good and play more so your friends can get better and want to play more... it is a vicious cycle.

Today, I had an interview at US Bank near Northgate, and I start either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on when I can get fingerprinting done. Lots of busy work, office stuff, but I'm just looking to build up the college bankroll, so lots of work is what I'm after. Northgate is also a pretty ideal spot for me to work, as it is less than 10 minutes away and less than a mile from NSCC for my Monday/Wednesday night classes. Get off work, grab a bite to eat, get a little workout in, then go to class.

On a more creative note, I'm jonesing to write more, and I've been thinking about writing a lot over this past week. Story ideas pop in and out of my head, but I never actually start writing. Everything from epic novels to classroom lesson plans pop into my head while walking somewhere or trying to get to sleep. Most of it is garbage, but there have been a few good ideas in there, and I've failed to follow through on any of them--so that is frustrating.

This blog is pretty much just a journal/recap for me to look back on in the future, which lends itself to some pretty mundane writing. I remember writing about it a while ago, but one day in Tahoe I sat down and went through some of Pauly's old blog posts and some of his very first posts have the same feel as a lot of my blog entries--i.e. blah and mundane--but then somewhere he decides to stop just recapping, and he actually starts writing. Sort of like a singer singing as opposed to just speaking the words of a song. Pauly still does his share of recapping, but I've noticed he doesn't just write, "and then Josh and I went up to Tessa and Jared's to play Rock Band." He'll mention a funny tidbit about the trip, or something memorable from the afternoon, instead of just stating the fact that a trip was made.

Speaking of... I sang. And it was bad. Real bad. I felt like I was playing 15-16 year old basketball again, the number of times my voice cracked trying to sing Radiohead's "Creep." The song starts out nice and soft, and relatively low--but in the middle somewhere, the lead singer just starts to WAIL. I'm not good at wailing. I'm not great at singing soft and low either, but trying to hit high notes on Rock Band is about as easy as telling red and green apart for my colorblind ass.

That said, I had a blast. I was sort of glad it was just Josh, Jared, Tessa and I, because if there were people I didn't know hanging out, I'd probably pull up the shell and turn into shy-guy Chris and stick to drumming and guitaring. With just the four of us, we all sang, all played the GEE-tar, and I'm pretty sure everyone got to bash the drum kit for a few songs. There was wine, plenty of laughs at ourselves and each other, and at American Dad toward the end of the night--good times.

I'm not quite sure if I want to turn this blog into a more writing-focused journal, and less stating of the obvious, but I do want to fill my creative writing somehow. I've tossed the idea of an anonymous collaborative blog around with a few friends, but they all want to have different topics. Ranging from anonymous erotic stories to an exclusive poetry blog. I like poetry and an erotic story from time to time, but I'm not sure I could do one or another for an extended period.

Is anyone else interested in starting up a communal anonymous blog? I think the interest is probably out there, but I need help nailing down a subject for the blog. I guess if there was enough interest, the subject could just be "Things I would feel safer posting anonymously." As I was reading through a lot of fellow bloggers' New Years Resolutions, one resolution kept re-appearing, which was "Tell it like it is."

Waffles was one of the first, and he mentioned how he wanted to be the guy to speak up when a douche or douchette cuts in line. Now... online, at least... Waffles is quite the outspoken dude, but I can see how he wants to let a little of his online persona make its way into his real life. The bluntness is obviously there, he just has to figure out what line (if any) he isn't willing to cross.

For all of us, I think the line gets drawn in different places. My grandmother's Swedish Baptist line was probably much more defined and closer to home than the line I'd draw. And certain things I'm not willing to do or say in public, other people just laugh at and say without a care in the world. A communal anonymous blog is just a baby step in the direction of "telling it like it is," but it might just be the step a few of us need to get started on that goal.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back to Work

What's the worst that could happen? *chuckle*

I love that line.

I started a short-term temp assignment at Children's Hospital today, working with "Chef Walter" in the cafeteria. My job is to get all the menus set up for the coming year. They have a weekly rotating system every five weeks, with different foods served in different cycles for each week. There are four different mediums the menus need to be updated with, including a plain word document, to post every week. There is a Powerpoint version for the TV-screens in the cafeteria and presumably other areas of the hospital. There is a MICROS system that syncs up with the cafeteria cash registers, and there is also an Excel document that needed to be upgraded with the changes.

Changes to the menu didn't include any food alterations, but plenty of price hikes. Pretty simple stuff, and my years of online gaming have honed my mind-numbing button-mashing skills to near perfection. By lunch, I had finished with about 75% of the work that was supposed to last me until the end of tomorrow. I thought about slowing way down, but decided a good recommendation from the chef would probably be worth more than an extra day's pay.

On a completely random and coincidental side note, I ran into my ex Sara while I was finishing up my lunch. Last I heard, she was off to Montana to work on her Residency. I knew she was coming back to Seattle in January sometime, but I didn't know she'd be working at Children's. I actually thought about giving her a call the other day, seeing when she'd be back in town. It was almost as crazy as meeting her randomly at Greenlake back in August/September.

I get back from lunch and start entering data into MICROs, which I can only do from the chef's computer. Ten minutes later, I'm all finished with my work for two days. I head back to my little conference room computer that I had been working on in the morning, to check over my work and add some time to the clock... when I get a knock on the door.

It's the chef.

"You didn't change any prices in MICROS, did you?!?"

"Me? No..." I can't tell if he is joking or not, I'm pretty sure he is just messing with me.

"If not you, then who?! The cashiers are yelling about price changes on the system. You didn't change the items for today, did you?"

Uh oh.

"Umm, I made all the changes to MICROS like you told me to."

"You were only supposed to do the changes to weeks 1, 4 and 5! Get back to my computer and fix it!"



Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I am

I am a unique, beautiful flower--just like you.


Monday, January 07, 2008

What type of student were you?

I ask, because of my conversation with Tyler on our way home from watching the Seahawks game up at Marc's house. Tyler is one of the smartest people I know, but he also only went to college for a few quarters before dropping out. In high school, he usually understood all the information, but refused to do any homework. He made a game of out seeing how little work he could do, and still pass the class.

He was saying how he looks back on it now and realizes how silly and stupid it was. When I asked him what, if anything, teachers could have done to "get through to him," he didn't think anyone could have made him do homework. He went to school every day, paid attention in class, but flat out refused to do homework, which got him plenty of C's and D's in school.

School for me was a bit different, but I think Tyler and I share plenty of similarities. Instead of doing the least I could to pass, I did the least I could to get an A or a B. I settled for lots of B's, because the work I needed to do for a B was 5x less than shooting for an A. I showed up, participated, did the homework, and didn't fail every test. I didn't do much extra credit, nor did I strive to achieve A's in every course. The first few years of high school I slept though a lot of my classes, but still did the homework. I wasn't necessarily a bad student, but I wasn't a good one either.

I don't think there is anything a teacher could have said to change my values or outlook towards school either. I didn't want to be a doctor, so as long as I got a 3.2 or higher, I didn't worry too much about getting into college. I had a couple of teachers try to "light fires" under my feet and get me motivated to try and maximize my ability, but I mostly just laughed at them.

So then, as a teacher, how would you handle these two different types of students? I'm thinking middle school for my teaching, but what would I do if a kid continually drifts off to sleep in my class, or refuses to do the homework? If I fail the kid, that doesn't help anything, and puts a black mark on my record as a teacher. I wouldn't allow sleeping in my classroom (and I wonder why Ms. Oas let me get away with it), but if I send the kid to the principal's office and the student continues to sleep in my classroom, what would the next step be?

I think a more difficult situation is the student who refuses to do homework. If the kid shows signs of understanding the material and does alright on tests--but just refuses to do the homework, do you pass them and reinforce a bad habit? Sure, it is OK to never do any homework, you'll still pass! Presumably, the kid would test right into the next class anyways. Do you just stick to the syllabus and give him a zero in the homework section, which drops a perfect A+ grade down 30% do a D+?

I think a very well written and easy to read syllabus, outlining the various expectations and grading rubric, goes a long ways towards relieving some of these issues, but it wouldn't change the outcome. The student knows he or she is going to get a D, but doesn't care.

So, what type of student were you? Did any teachers get through to you, or have an effect on your in-class or study habits?

I remember enjoying math in middle school, and pretty much hating it in high school. Almost entirely due to the teachers. I had some nut cases in high school.

Tyler said that his favorite teacher was Mr. Grosskopf, because he challenged the students to think for themselves and he had various projects that Tyler spent hours on at home--something he had never really done before. Tyler's most memorable project in Grosskopf's class was the "Create your own Utopia" project. What Tyler thought would be a quick and fun project, turned into hours upon hours of thinking about what it would take to create a utopian society and if that society would in fact be a utopia or not. Precisely what Mr. Grosskopf had in mind for the students to conclude.

For me, I think the teacher that stands out the most in my mind is Mr. Sarmiento. While most of my friends took AP History, or Honors history, for some reason I decided to take regular history for my junior year at Roosevelt. Mr. Sarmiento was a 20-something guy who had some very fresh ideas and also loved to play basketball. We had an in-class project about the Pilgrims and Mr. Sarmiento turned it into a game where we were split up into teams and had to make choices along the way for our party of Pilgrims. From where we started the colony to our interactions with the Natives and expansion, there were always a wide variety of choices to choose from, each with pros and cons. In reality, the Pilgrims landed and settled in Jamestown, but most everyone died off to diseases, because Jamestown is a marsh. I think we picked a hill along the coast, for disease purposes and defense--but we got less food than the groups who chose to live in the grasslands.

Mr. Sarmiento incorporated lots of other games into the class, including Jeopardy for study sessions. All in all, he taught me that there can be balance, and he pushed everyone to do the homework and get A's, but he also understood that high school included other things besides spending all our time on homework. If we got a B, he was happy for us, knowing that we put effort into his class, but at the same time we were enjoying our lives as high schoolers.

I also played basketball with him a few times at these very run down courts underneath the freeway by my house. The exhaust from the freeway was a killer, and after just one game, you'd be sucking wind. After I went off to college, Mr. Sarmiento ended up taking the head basketball coaching job at the school, before moving to Chicago with his wife. Being in his position is something I'm striving for. Showing students that they can have a lot of fun with school, and hopefully having the students enjoy themselves while they learn.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Story of the Light-Green Nalgene

What a weird start to 2008.

As the final hours ticked away on 2007, I still wasn't sure what I was going to do to finish off the year. I hung out with Tyler for a bit in the afternoon, and made plans to go to Caitlin's with Jeremy, Sam and Marc for New Years Eve. Tacoma was also an option, as was hanging out with Tyler and Renee wherever they went.

8pm rolls around, and Marc calls me, saying Sarah isn't going out and he probably isn't either. I eventually give Jeremy and Sam a call, and it sounds like the party is happening, so at 10pm I finally decide sitting at home alone probably isn't the best way to ring in the New Year.

I arrive at Caitlin's house around 10:30pm and Jeremy, Tanya, Sam, Jimmy and Greg are all there, so at least I know a few people. The party itself was a mostly a mix of ultimate players I had run into in the past either through the Sockeye guys or through the various Hat tournaments in the area. I met an old Moho guy I won naties with, Sam, and he was playing Beirut--good times. Jeremy and I actually played a game of Beirut earlier in the night, and it reminded me of Tahoe. Short table and all. I sunk a few, and blocked plenty of their bounce-shots, but I went cold and after the opposition's successful rebuttal, we eventually lost.

I hadn't really experienced a New Years House party like this before. Tons of good-looking people I didn't know, some ladies giving me long looks which I interpreted to be, "Come stand by me as the clock strikes midnight" looks. I didn't bite, but I probably should have. The entire house was packed with people, straight out of a movie like "Can't Hardly Wait."

Shortly after the countdown, I decided to make a break for it, along with quite a few other people. I'm sure a lot of folks are still raging, but I did enough raging this summer to last a lifetime. I rode home on my motorcycle and encountered an odd situation.

The ride home wasn't out of the ordinary, until I hit my home street. I rode on the freeway, took my normal exit and rode on 65th for a mile and a half before turning off on my home street. I am so used to the road, I know I'm home once I've turned onto the last block before my house.

This time was different though.

There was a group of I'd say six or seven guys walking on the sidewalk, coming towards me. I slowed down and watched one guy get the attention of a few other guys and point at me. I wasn't sure what this action meant. Were they checking out my bike? I didn't know. I cruised by them, then was about to hit the gas when I saw a little movement up ahead along the right side of the road, behind a parked car.

I slowed again and saw a girl, probably in high school or college, all dressed up and sitting behind a parked car. I didn't stop, but crazy scenarios whirled through my mind. Why on earth would a girl be all dazzled up and sitting behind a parked car in the street? Why would a band of guys be walking away from her and specifically pointing me out?

It smelled fishy to me. I wasn't really sure what to do, but I knew I had to do something. I couldn't just park my motorcycle and pretend that everything was alright. I circled back around and slowly approached the girl, eventually idling in front of her and asking, "Is everything alright?"

At first, she pretended not to hear me, but the street was dead and I was on a freaking motorcycle (which doesn't idle softly). I asked again, and she shook her head up and down and waved me on. Obviously everything wasn't alright, but I didn't have the first clue what to do. I looked up the street and spotted a few guys standing out in the street, looking at me. I didn't feel safe, and I know she couldn't have either. Had they mugged her or somehow taken advantage of her? I decided to bend to the out-of-her mind girl and take off, but I just took a left and circled around, parking at the intersection with a good view of the scene.

Moments later, a gaggle of four or five dolled up girls come out of a house (I didn't know there were any party houses on my block...). They hop in their car and then one of them shrieks, "Hannah? Oh My god! Hannah! Are you alright?" I watched them race over to her, and I eventually decided to take a little trek around the block and look for the guys to try and get a good look at them, in case something sinister had occurred. Silly, probably, but I wasn't sure what else I could do.

I didn't find the guys, but on my way back down the block five minutes later, I saw a couple guys on the block still, and a parked car with its lights on. The girls had moved "Hannah" to the car and she was passed out in the back seat. I saw all this at a glance as I rode past them, and decided to park the motorcycle at my house and grab my Nalgene. I filled it with water and walked up the street and the parked car was still there.

"Is everything OK?" I asked.

There was one girl in the passenger seat and two girls and Hannah in the back seats.

They said, "Yeah... well..."


"I rode by on my motorcycle and saw her sitting in the street, is she OK, does she need anything?" I said.

"Oh, I think she'll be OK," one of the girls in the backseat said.

"I brought water," I said.

"Oh! That would be great!"

Unfortunately, Hannah was passed out, and the blonde in the backseat kept trying to get Hannah to drink water--but she was passed the fuck out--so it didn't work out too hot. Hannah's phone rang, and one of the other girl's grabbed it.

"It's her Dad. He's coming to get her, what street are we on?"

None of the girls knew.

"30th" I said.

A minute later, an SUV pulls up and Hannah's Mom hops out.

"OK, what did she have to drink? Vodka and what else?"

"We don't know, she was fine one minute, then next thing we know she is out on the street," one of the blondes says.

"I was a high school teacher for 20 years, just give it to me straight, what happened?"

"We honestly don't know, we just saw her on the street."

Hannah was passed out, but breathing, so I walked up to the parked SUV, to Hannah's father and handed him my Nalgene of water.

"I live down the street and saw her sitting behind a car on the street. I think she is just passed out, but here is some water if she needs it."

He said thanks, and I can only imagine what punishment lies in wait for Hannah. I sort of assume it was just a New Years party where she got drunk and stumbled out into the street. I hope that is the case and nothing crappy happened to the girl, but that group of six or seven guys up the street has me wondering.

One of the weirdest things about the whole thing is that the Nalgene I gave to Hannah's father I actually found on an equally unlikely journey. On my hike up to the top of a mountain behind Angora Lake one day in Tahoe, to be precise. I was walking around the lake and decided "What the hay?" and climbed the high peak just behind the lake. The hike up took about 45 minutes, and I hiked down the opposite side I hiked up, and quickly lost the trail.

Most of the hike down was through loose gravel and brush, which obviously wasn't meant to be the trail. I tried not to alter the habitat too much, jumping from rock to rock, but sometimes I just had to plow through the thick brush to continue back down to the lake. I ran into a cliff once and hand to climb back up and around, but finally made my way back down to the lake. It was a very memorable experience, as it was only me up there, and if I had fallen off of the cliff, I probably wouldn't be here today writing this. It would have taken a long time before anyone found me out there.

As I was nearing the lake, I was in the middle of thick brush when I spotted something light-green. As I got closer, it turned out to be a Nalgene, complete with stickers and everything. There is no way anyone else had been on the same path I had been recently--because it wasn't a path! I'm sure there was a path close by that led to the top, but I was tromping through 3ft high bushes just trying to make my way back down to the lake. My theory about the Nalgene is that some skier in the winter lost it, and it stuck around undiscovered until I stumbled upon it in the middle of summer, in an area I shouldn't have been. In the winter, it would have been a marvelous ski route to those who like to hike in and ski out--which a few of my house mates had done earlier in the year.

So the light-green nalgene I've had since June, found on a solo hike in a place I should have never been, has now been handed off to the Dad of a teenage girl who I should have never met.

I hope the Nalgene keeps moving.

Does anyone have a spare Nalgene??