Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Math Vlog?

I've always been driven by incentives, which I can thank to my wonderful parents and video games... and money. I regret never volunteering much, and whenever I get around to having a munchkin or two, I will attempt to instill a sense of volunteerism in them. This is obviously a lot easier said than done, especially for my lazy and self-centered ass!

Over the past few years, I have become pretty good at using incentives to force me into doing positive things. I've never had good study or work habits, so being a substitute teacher has a chance of really flopping. As long as I don't look up jobs, I don't have to work! This is almost better than Dr. Chako's gig! My excuse today for not taking a job was rain, and not wanting to spend four hours in a car to get to and from school. I can see my excuses getting questionable in a hurry, especially if I get another season's pass to go skiing...

In order to get myself out of the house and working, I have set one rule down so far. If I don't get a sub job, I have to go for a run. This is pretty good incentive to get a job for a non-runner (coupled with the money incentive for working). Also, I am toying with the idea of creating a math YouTube channel, and for each day I don't sub, I have to post a video. I am unsure how exactly the YouTube channel will work, but I follow a few YouTube channels, which update daily. I figure if I post enough videos and check out other math vlogs, I can squeeze in to whatever math teacher vlog community there is.

As far as the math videos go, I've been browsing around different videos, and the boring videos where people stand up and solve a problem on a white board is NOT what I want to do. I'm aiming at math concepts from middle school, which in my experience so far is mainly algebra and geometry, possibly lumped in with integrated math (I'm not sure exactly what "integrated" math is, but I remember taking the class). A lot of the comments on math YouTube videos are "how is this pertinent?" Using this as a base, I think I will try to use middle school math concepts and create pertinent examples as problems to solve.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Last Days of Summer

Today I finally got out riding with Jared and Ben, my friends who purchased Ninja 250 motorcycles earlier this summer. Today is probably one of the last over 70-degree temperature days of the year, and I was immensely happy to be out on my bike. We rode out and around Monroe, WA, spending most of our time on two-lane country roads. We were either flanked by forests, pastures, or fields of corn eight feet high.The roads were winding (my favorite), and the number of rustic and white fences we passed were too many to count.

Ben had his first spill, which occurred trying to turn the bike around on a gravel driveway. His desired tail whip turned into a horizontal bike. Not too much damage to either him or his bike, can't ask for much more than that for your first drop.

A deer darted across the road a few hundred feet in front of me, and somehow managed to make it between two cars coming towards me, which couldn't have been more than 50ft apart, going 35+ mph. The thought of deers or other critters jumping out into the road while I am on my motorcycle scares the poop out of me. I will keep relying on the very low chance of it happening, especially when I keep the engine going nice and loud.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Strip Suicide Spades

If that isn't a sexy blog title, I don't know what is. Kali, one of the many sexy ultimate frisbee ladies from Tacoma, who recently relocated back home to Boston, joined me for some Spades online over at Yahoo this afternoon. Spades is a card game, if you haven't played before, and there is an option to play it on "suicide" mode, which means one person on each team HAS to bid nil each hand. It spices up the game quite a bit, and Kali and I had a strip bet on the side. Unfortunately, we were on the same team and kept winning, so the robots we were playing had to strip, but I think they were clothes-less to begin. Sorry for the let down.

GOOD GOD the Pearl Jam show was amazing. They played all their new songs from Backspacer. My favorite song on the new CD is "Just Breathe", which is an acoustic song by Eddie. He came out for the first encore and played it--it was the perfect setting, coming out after a few minutes back stage. He grabbed his bottle of wine, took a chug, said something insightful, then started in on the song. Erin was with me, and the world felt right. The band also played a few of my favorite older songs, including "Given to Fly" and "Insignificance" and "Alive" and "Even Flow" and "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" and, and, and, and... yeah, it was a good show. I belted out as many lyrics as I could, and was a little surprised I had a voice the next day.

The concert was kind of Erin and my last hurrah. She left Wednesday afternoon, and I took a sub job down in South Seattle on Wednesday. I intended to call her at lunch and wish her a safe trip, as she would be waiting for the plane around noon. I didn't get a lunch, and completely forgot about calling until I checked my phone after school at 4pm. The one-day assignment turned into a 3-day assignment through today, but I chickened out and passed today. I went back on Thursday and it was rough. The commute was terrible, the kids were tough, and the situation sucked.

Their original teacher was ill, and had been gone all week, and left no sub plan. I tried to appeal to the kids' fun side, which got me steam-rolled in the classroom. Kids were doing what they wanted with little regard for learning. I tried to get control Thursday, but it never really happened. We had some fun in the afternoon, but I had given up on trying to get them to learn math concepts or literacy. I had made up my mind that I wouldn't be coming back Friday, in attempt to give another sub a shot at establishing better behavior standards than I did. Lesson learned, hopefully. It felt horrible to realize that only a few kids were on task and learning over the past two days. I think I made 25 new fourth grade friends, because of how easy I was on them, but I'm not in the business of making friends.

On the plus side, I used my day off today to interview at two school districts for subbing positions closer to home. The added frustration of rush hour commutes both to and from South Seattle, coupled with the tough kids and crappy subbing situation were all just too much to keep my head on straight. I longed for a beer when I got home the last two days. I don't want to dislike teaching like I did the last few days. I'm glad I've been able to reflect on the experience and I know a few things I will try and do differently next time I am in a similar situation, to focus more on learning, which will keep my guilty conscious at bay.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Times Are A Changin'

Taking up most of my waking and sleeping moments over the past week have been substitute teaching, my lady friend moving to Jordan for 10 months in a few days, and Pearl Jam.

Here is a track called "The Fixer", which has been out on the radio waves for a month or two:

There is also a making of the CD YouTube clip, but embedding was disabled by the band:


A big reason why Pearl Jam has been taking up my thoughts is that I broke down and bought two tickets to the Monday show at Key Arena. The show on Monday kicks off their world tour for the new CD. I've only seen them once live before, and it is far and away the best concert I have ever been to. When I first heard of the Seattle show at Key Arena, I was a bit disappointed in the venue, but like my housemate says, "If my favorite band was playing a show in Seattle, I'd go see them."

Jordan lady friend is joining me for the show. We're in a pretty weird spot right now. About a month ago, we finally discussed her move to Jordan for 10 months, and we decided to break things off. A big weight was lifted from the relationship, as things were starting to get a little serious, as she was tossing around three words that I did not reciprocate. With a foreseeable end of the relationship in sight (her move), we have started having more fun, but there is some hollowness to it. I think everything will work out for the best, but breaking up amiably is hard to do, and I'm not sure I'll ever get used to it.

Ironically, my housemate looks to be starting his first relationship since I have known him. There was a bounce in his step today, and the two of them are both in his room right now with a mumble of laughter here and there. Beginnings are so much fun. I love where the two of them are at right now. In the first few days of a relationship, where the two of you can literally be in a room for an entire day and have no desire to be anywhere else. All of your attention and all of your desire is confined within a 10'x10' room, yet the room doesn't seem confining because there is so much to learn about each other.

Substitute teaching last week was a lot of fun. I am struggling on whether I should write anonymously about my teaching experience, or if I should start a very public blog to join the online teaching community of teacher-bloggers. I am leaning towards doing both. Writing about the juicy details of subbing seems like a lot more fun, and might be fodder for this blog. I could also start a professional-style blog concerning more of the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching, and not the unprofessional juicy details.

My Friday assignment was canceled at the school when I showed up. The secretary said sorry about the mix up and called the substitute office and got me paid 4 hours for my trouble. I moto'd back home and got paid to play WoW Friday morning, then housemate and I hiked Lake Serene and jumped in the often snowed over lake. On the way back home we stopped at this Reptile BBQ along US-2 and it was amazing, I'll definitely be stopping there again either this winter or next summer--hopefully sooner than later.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Beginning

Yesterday marked my first day as a teacher. The "real" path to teacherdom started two years ago June, and yesterday it felt great to be in a school helping students and getting paid to do so. It wasn't a classroom of my own, I substituted, but it felt right. If I had my own classroom right now I would love it, but I would be very unprepared. Substituting for a year, or a part of a year, seems like a great way to learn the ropes.

I'm a bit rusty from a summer of fun, and I quickly remembered that I'm too much of a pushover. I picked up another substitute assignment for tomorrow, and I intend to lay the hammer down if necessary. I'll be subbing at an elementary school, which means I get to deprive students of recess if they act up! ha ha! My only leverage in middle school is writing a positive or negative note for their regular teacher, which did not seem to hold nearly the sway of recess for elementary schoolers. The second I say "no recess" it gets awfully quiet.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hood River, Walking Man Brewery and Bumbershoot

Quick and dirty, the weekend was a lot of fun. I rode down to Portland late Thursday night, arriving in Portland to Andrew on the porch at 2am drinking a bedtime beer. He informed me that we would be leaving at 7am to pick up his buddy and make our 8:36am tee time. I passed out.

Woke up early the next morning and cracked open my first beer at 8:45am on the course. Andrew's friend, Tim, shot a 49 on the front, while Andrew and I shot 53's. I had a really good back nine and won with a 99 to Andrew's 103 and Tim's 107. Sixteen of the eighteen holes had water on them, and we lost a ball on nearly every hole between the three of us, good times!

We drove the Samurai Suzuki out to BAM's family farm north of Hood River, and just so happened to pass through Stevenson on the way, which is home to my favorite brewery in the world, Walking Man Brewery. Andrew and I each had a sampler, chatted with the cute bartender, and got free home-brew Belgian White from on of the brew masters at the pub who just so happened to be sitting at the bar with us. It was goooood. I also found a Falstaff beer in their collection of beer cans, and I also found a Schaefer Beer emblem at a different pub later in the weekend, glad to see that guy blogging again:

We met up with the rest of the crew at the farm and I passed out on the living room floor for a few hours until we gathered up our stuff and headed down to BAM's shack on the river (not sure which river). I think I rode on top of the Samurai, but that seems improbable.

We played some Munchkin Quest, Citadels, Cribbage and Asshole all weekend long, including another round of golf in the pouring rain of the Columbia River Gorge. Did not play well. We also made another trip to the Walking Man Brewery on Sunday, which included another sampler and another few hours passed out on the living room floor with the dogs. Then another late night trip up to Seattle and an arrival at 2am in time to get some sleep and make it to Bumbershoot on Monday.

I left my phone in Ryan's car after getting back to Seattle, so I woke him up at 3pm on Monday, grabbed the phone and made for Bumbershoot. The first band I saw was Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. They were amazing, and I just purchased their CD on iTunes. Probably my second-favorite show at the festival. I met up with Josh there, and we walked around a lot trying to find the best show at the time. Not a ton of great music between Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears (3pm) and Metric (9:30pm). My favorite was the Portland Cello Project, ten cellists playing their own songs and covers of other songs, including "Hey Ya!" by Outkast. They were fun.

We caught a few songs of the Franz Ferdinan show on the main stage at Memorial Stadium, but neither of us were really into it, and wanted to save ourselves for the Metric show, so we headed to a pub and each had two Old Seattle Lagers, which were yummy. Raced to Metric, and were about 20-25ft from the stage. I jumped around like a baby on crack the whole show, and was in full motorcycle regalia. Four songs in the girls behind me finally asked me to take off my helmet, because they couldn't see. Josh donned the helmet and they didn't complain about it (maybe because he is a tad bit shorter?). Metric's show at the Showbox in June was a lot more electric and had a better crowd than last night's show, but the band still put on a great show and there were quite a few people dancing, it just didn't feel as intimate or dance-inducing being outside with no lights hitting me in the face (light in the face means jump!).


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Stick and Move, Stick and Move

What originally was intended to be a few month stay at the parents house, back in August of 2007, turned into two full years. I moved up to North Bothell / South Mill Creek area yesterday to live with a friend from my teaching program. The two years with my parents went by incredibly fast, and I figure time will only speed up the older I get:

(you can ignore the video, but this version of "Landslide" is amazing)

I can't thank my parents enough for allowing me to live rent-free for the past two years. The teaching program would not have been possible, or at least I would be up to my neck in debt. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

I'm excited to be living "on my own" again, but the perks of living with the rents' will be hard to give up (hot tub, free, pool close by, in Seattle). I'm closer to some friends and further away from others now that I'm up in Bothell. I also think there are more schools around this area, at least more school districts, but on the downside I don't have any experience working around here, and the connections that come with work experience.

My plan for the next few weeks is to sell myself as a math tutor to the schools in the area and volunteer as a math tutor to get the ball rolling. Hopefully a subbing job will fall my way if I have an active presence in multiple schools.

In weekly update news, I camped at Baker Lake last week, and attended a Mariner's game on Saturday night in some pretty nice seats:

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