Monday, September 25, 2017

On Kneeling, The Flag, and BLM

I realize I'm probably not going to change any minds with this post. I'm not even really sure why I'm writing it, given that knowledge. But, I've seen the same stupid arguments in regards to NFL players kneeling/sitting/stretching, anything but standing, during the anthem before their football games. I'd like to try to explain what's happening using analogies or metaphors (I was never good at figuring out which one was which - I know one uses 'like' or 'as' to compare, but I never remember which one), because I think that makes things easier. Now, if I'm way off-base here, which I very well might be given the fact that I'm as white as you can be, please fill me in on how I am off-base. Seriously, though. Think of all the white stereotypes and you have me: unathletic, owns cargo shorts, privileged, the list goes on.

Okay, first, we're going to start with Black Lives Matter, because people still are saying, "No, ALL lives matter!" Okay, buddy. Yes, all lives matter, but black people are the ones being shown their lives don't matter. You know what happened in Houston with Hurricane Harvey (and a lot of cities in Florida and literally all of Puerto Rico thanks to Hurricane Irma, but for simplicity's sake, we're going to focus on Houston, here)? Pretty awful, right? Lots of people donated time and money to help out, and those that couldn't maybe prayed for Houston, which is great! Saying "All lives matter!" would be like saying, "I'm not going to pray for Houston because ALL cities matter." Doesn't that sound stupid? Like, yeah, all cities matter, but which one needs help right now? The ironic thing about saying all lives matter is that it's the argument to black lives matter. Like, you're actually not including black lives in "all lives." "What about blue lives?" First of all, people aren't blue, but that's pretty nit-picky on my part. Second of all, these ideas don't go hand in hand here. You can truly grieve all of the police officers who lose their lives in the line of duty and still be upset that some officers are racists and not very good at their jobs, and want that to get better. It's not a "love all of 'em or hate all of 'em" kind of deal. Another way of looking at "Black lives matter," is by imagining a ", too," at the end of it, so it reads, "Black lives matter, too." Nowhere do they say "Only black lives matter." I think it's funny that liberals get labeled as "snowflakes" but...nah, I better not.

Okay, now to the kneeling. I've got a couple metagies (that's a combo word comprised of 'metaphor' and 'analogy' in case you were wondering. Yes, I made it up. There's a red line under it right now) for this one. Let's do a football one! You've got your favorite team, right, and let's say they're actually pretty good. They had a good season, going...let's say 10-6. Or maybe they won the division, let's give 'em 11 wins. 11-5. That's a good year! You won the division, made the playoffs! Nice work! But, uh-oh, your team lost in the divisional round. You say, "Man, I love this team! I will always root for this team! But if they could just upgrade at wide receiver, that'd put them over the top! They could win the Super Bowl!" That's a logical statement. Your team has crappy wide receivers and an upgrade would make the team so much better! But then all the other fans of your team say, "No! This team is the greatest team in the league! It's fine the way it is! IF YOU DON'T LIKE THIS TEAM, THEN YOU CAN FIND A NEW TEAM TO ROOT FOR!" Whoa. Wait a minute, that's aggressive. You just want the team to realize it's full potential, right? You love the team, it's a great team, but you know it can be even better, right? You don't hate the team, you're not disrespecting the team, you're just trying to make it better. That's like the players kneeling during the anthem! They don't hate America, or the troops, or the flag. They hate racial inequality. The kneeling was actually a compromise up from sitting to show deference to the troops! Whoa - curveball, right?! Sorry, I'm mixing my sports metagies.

Okay, let's do a parenting one next. This one's a lot shorter and less detailed. You've got a kid. Your kid does something you don't like - something really naughty. Poops on the floor, maybe, or kicks you in the shins. Let's say poops on the floor because that one's funnier. It's a chronic problem. Your kid just keeps pooping on the floor and you don't like it. Are you going to get rid of your kid? What?! Of course not! That's ridiculous! You're going to teach your kid to poop in the toilet!

This one might be more difficult to understand so I'll lay it out for ya:
Your kid = America
You = minority NFL player
Your kid pooping on the floor = police brutality towards minorities and other inequalities
The suggestion to get rid of your kid = The suggestion to live somewhere else
Teaching your kid where to poop = Raising awareness to police brutality and other inequalities

Now to just explain a few things about the protests. First of all, the suggestion that these players are selfish babies, or ungrateful, is probably the dumbest take you can have on this whole situation. The protest isn't about the players. They realize they're getting paid millions to play a game and that can't happen anywhere else except America. Unless they wanted to play a different game, then it could happen in Europe, Asia, South America, Australia...pretty much any where else. The protest is about inequality as a whole, not necessarily towards these players, but to other minorities in the country. And how is Colin Kaepernick selfish? Is he making money off of this? No! This is selfless, not selfish. He lost his job because of this (yeah, I know he opted out of his contract, but SF 49ers GM, John Lynch, has said that Kaepernick would've been cut if he hadn't opted out, AND he still doesn't have a job because of his protesting - don't tell me it's because he's terrible because there's no way you can make a case for each of the 64 rostered quarterbacks in the NFL).
Secondly, it's not an anti-troops, anti-America, anti-police, or even an anti-flag protest. It's an anti-inequality protest. Or just an inequality protest, I'm not sure the correct way to say it...they're protesting because there's inequality. They are against inequality. Again, it's not about them, so don't say, "INEQUALITY?! They get paid millions to play a game!" They'd like to make the country better than it currently is! How is that bad?! You know who else wants to make the country better than it currently is? Donald Trump does, and he doesn't even think it's great right now! He'd like to make it great again, as in, it's not right now. And may I say, he's doing a fine job of that so far. Great work, Mr. President... On that note, how come 45 can say America is not great and be applauded for it, but when NFL players say it's not great, they are "Sons of bitches," and should leave the country? Is it because they're black? Would them leaving the country make America great again? I bet 45 thinks so.

Okay, sorry, I got a little sidetracked there. Now, here's some facts about respecting the flag!
According to the US Flag Code (yes, that's a real thing) Chapter 10, "the flag should never be carried flat or horizontally" like it is during the anthem of many football games. Kneeling during that seems patriotic, then, since they're not acknowledging the disrespected flag. Also in Chapter 10 - which is all about respecting the flag - "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery," and "The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever." Also, "No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform." What you will not find in regards to respect for the flag in the US Flag Code is standing/kneeling/sitting. That is considered a conduct violation, but not disrespectful. the US Flag Code states that you should stand, but you don't have to. So, IF YOU'RE MAD ABOUT DISRESPECTING THE FLAG, FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO BE MAD AT - THESE PLAYERS ARE NOT DISRESPECTING THE FLAG. 

One last thing (I think). "My relatives died for that flag!" Um, were they playing capture the flag? Is this Halo? No, they didn't die for the flag. They didn't even fight for the flag. They fought for the freedoms and rights of the country that flag represents. Or maybe they fought to protect loved ones, instead. I hope it's for one of those reasons, anyway. Here's a hot take for ya: those that are kneeling are actually extremely patriotic because they are exercising these rights in an attempt to make America a better place for black people, too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Why Wolves Fans Don't Need to Stress the Draft

As you may know, the NBA draft is set to take place tomorrow night. Though, with all of the trades and speculation that have taken place this week, one might think that, instead, tomorrow is the trade deadline. Nope. Sources are saying it is, in fact, the draft.

I have a lot of thoughts about the draft. I mean, a lot. I was thinking about running through various scenarios for your future-NBA-champion Minnesota Timberwolves, but I've thought up a lot of scenarios and I think I'd still be writing this by the time the draft is over. I'm not sure how to compose this, so I think I'm just gonna go for it and see what happens. Before I dive on in, though, it should be noted that I'm not going to be speculating on who the Wolves will draft (or trade) based on any inside information. I do not have "sources," outside of Twitter, which, let's be honest, doesn't really count.

First, here's why there's no need for us Wolves faithful to worry: I think, if they keep the pick (which is far from guaranteed), the worst realistic scenario is that they take Lauri Markkanen. Now, to be clear, this isn't a great scenario by any means, and is the worst case scenario for good reason. However, what's the one thing the Wolves need? Er, defense, yeah, but what's the other one thing the Wolves need? Okay, yeah, probably a proven veteran player to provide leadership and also quality minutes. What's the other, other one thing the Wolves need? Shooting! Yes! And what's the one thing Markkanen can do? Yes - shoot! That one was much easier. He does fill a need, but in the draft, sometimes drafting for a need is a dangerous game. Markkanen, I think, has a floor of Andrea Bargnani, which is a pretty low floor, for sure. I think a more accurate comparison, though, is kind of a Channing Frye/Ryan Anderson type guy who's tall and knocks down threes and doesn't do much else, which is pretty "meh," but I'd take a guy like that coming off the bench. Unfortunately, I think this is the most likely scenario for the Wolves, but again, it's not a terrible worst-case scenario as far as worst-case scenarios go.

A much better and only slightly less likely scenario that also fills the need of a shooter would be Malik Monk. Monk would be a little redundant with Zach LaVine on the roster, but he definitely would help with bench scoring. I wouldn't count on him to carry the load off the bench as a rookie, but when the Wolves are ready to contend in a few years, he'd be a great piece who would at least keep the Wolves in games while the starters rest. Monk can score with ease and, I think, much like former Kentucky great/current Timberwolves great, Karl-Anthony Towns, was fitting into a role at Kentucky rather than being able to "be himself." This is scenario 1a. for me; I would be ecstatic with Monk

Scenario 1, of course, is Jonathan Isaac. Isaac is a raw prospect, but would still be able to contribute a bit as a rookie. He's a defensive-minded big who can shoot threes, which sounds fantastic to me. Isaac to the Wolves would be a perfect match, as he would provide much needed support for the defense, as well as being able to help out with the shooting issues, though I don't think I'd exactly call him a sharpshooter. For Isaac, Minnesota would be a great landing spot because he would not need to take on a large role right away, and even when he was ready to take on a large(r) role, he would be the secondary big man on the team.

Now, this is all provided they keep the pick. If they don't keep the pick, the worst-case scenario would be trading it for a turd, like former Laker great, Sasha Vujacic (how long has Vujacic been out of the league? That's how long the NBA has been great). Of course, the best-case scenario would be packaging it to get Kristaps Porzingis. Another, more realistic option, of course, would be to trade down. Trading up, technically, is also an option, but I really don't anticipate that happening. If the Wolves were to trade down, I think a great target would be OG Anunoby, an even more defensive-minded big than Isaac, minus all the offensive skills. According to wikipedia, OG has an eight-freaking-foot wingspan, which is just...Jesus...eight feet, huh? I'm not sure how accurate that is, but I'd take him just because he might have something close to an eight foot wingspan. Another trade-down target could be Gonzaga big man, Zach Collins. That'd be...okay. I wouldn't get excited about it, and, actually, would be a little disappointed. Collins is kind of a jack-of-all trades, master of none type of big guy. He'd be a safe pick and a solid rotational big, which, like Markkanen, is definitely not a terrible option. I would prefer Collins to Markkanen, just for the record.

I'm not even going to throw out any trades that the Wolves might make, because my only NBA trading experience is on 2k, and I can hardly throw together a trade that's accepted on there. I will say that Ricky Rubio is my favorite player, and I'd hate to see him go. But, if he were to be part of a package that would net Jimmy Butler or, dare I say, Kristaps Porzingis, and then the Wolves go ahead and sign a Jeff Teague/George Hill/Jrue Holiday (though maybe not Jrue because if he gets injured one more time he'll get put down; I'm pretty sure that's how that works), as they are rumored to be exploring, well, I think I just might be fine with that. However, I really don't think the Wolves will be adding a star.

Whatever happens, even if it's taking Markkanen or trading Rubio for not-Butler or not-Porzingis, we'll still have free agency to look forward to, as this is going to be the most pivotal off-season in franchise history. But, hey, no pressure.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Freelance Educating

Hello! Long time, no you-read-what-I-write! That's my bad. I haven't written anything in quite some time. I'm not sure why.

Anyway, I recently became a substitute teacher. In fact, I've been a substitute teacher for about a month and a half now, which means I am an expert freelance educator and can pass on my wisdom. I've taught every level from preschool to fourth grade, which, admittedly, are not exactly opposite ends of the possible teaching spectrum. This is a brief breakdown of what teaching at each grade level is like, based on my in-class experience.

Okay, I've only technically subbed as an assistant teacher in preschool, so I may not be an expert here. Subbing as an assistant preschool teacher basically means you're going to clean the tables and do the art project. I'm not sure if you know this about me, but art is not a strength of mine. If there was some contest between teachers for best art project, and there were two captains that got to pick teams, I would be picked last. I'm not afraid to play the gender stereotype card and say that might be because odds are that I would be the only guy teacher and, stereotypically, guys are worse at art than girls. You know, unless you count, like, Michelangelo, Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and many other very famous, successful, male painters/sculptors as "art-doers." My own mother did not display my art from school, and I don't blame her because it was awful. I guess you could say I'm not even an expert at being an assistant preschool teacher, but I fit in the chair and am a great supervisor, so I get a pass.

No experience; please give me a job.

1st Grade:
I think I've only had half a day as a 1st grade sub, but that was more than enough of a sample size for me. I'm not sure if you're aware, but 1st graders are only one year removed from kindergarten, which is only one year passed preschool. These are some young folks. Tattling is very much a big part of first graders' lives as well as a lack of knowledge of how to get someone to stop something. Here's an example based on a true story:
1st grader: Mr....
Me: Russell.
1G: Mr. Russell!
Me: *Stares at 1st grader*
1G: *Stares back*
Me: ....Yes?
1G: Um, [other 1st grade student] keeps putting [his/her] hand on my desk!
Me: Did you ask [other 1st grade student] to stop doing that, or say that you didn't like it?
1G: No...
Me: Let's go do that together...
*Problem is solved*
I had to ask the, "Did you ask [other 1st grade student] to stop?" question many times in just half a day. One nice thing about 1st graders, though, is that recess is the ultimate bargaining chip. For example, the class was quite disruptive (I was later informed by the classroom teacher that's just the way the class is). I told them, as they were all lined up and dressed for recess, that I needed a minute of absolute silence with no talking, laughing, stomping, clapping, and no touching, and that I would start the minute of silence over if it was disruptive. It took one minute and I was pleased. And they were, too, because they actually got to go to recess a couple minutes early - I had budgeted for two start overs.

2nd Grade:
There, surprisingly, is not much to report about 2nd grade. Off the top of my head, I have somewhere between one and two days of 2nd grade experience. Reading quietly to oneself is not an area in which 2nd graders excel, I do know that. Even if you were to take out either "quietly" or "to oneself," it'd still be a little questionable.

3rd Grade:
This is where the kiddos start to get a little sly. Perhaps you remember the old, "This sub has no idea about anything; I'm going to keep asking to go to the bathroom because s/he'll keep saying yes"? Well, this is now obsolete. The new, "I have to go to the bathroom," is "I need to go to the nurse." Apparently, these schools are giving acting classes, too, because almost all of these requests have come with tears. I let one kid go, skeptically, and peeked into the hall to see her dancing and singing down to the office. I've had to bring so many ice packs down to the office at the end of the day from "headaches."

Also, let me just tell you about my first day subbing, which was in third grade:
I had recently sent in my application to be a substitute teacher in the local school district and had not heard back. I had the day off from work, so I was lounging around my apartment in my robe, sipping coffee, when my phone rang. "Ah! The district office saying I've been approved to sub!" I thought. Nope. It was a local elementary school.
"We need an all-day 3rd grade sub today."
"...Uh, okay..."
"Have you not been told you've been approved to sub yet?"
"Um, no."
"Oh! Well, you're approved! Can you come in today?"
"Uh, sure! Yeah, I can do that!"
So that was exciting. I got in about 10 minutes before the kids did and was shown around the school by a neighboring teacher. The day was going well and I made it to the point in the day where the kids went to specials. The paraprofessional that was in the room came up to me and mentioned that one kid has anger issues. "Oh, okay," I said, kind of brushing it off.
"No, I mean like, we've had to evacuate the room for the rest of the kids' safety, he's hit a teacher a few times..."
She then went on to tell me that he'll probably have a tough time with a transition occurring later in the day and, when that happens, to lock the door and open the closet door so that the window is covered, and don't let anyone leave. Well, sure enough, the transition came and little buddy was not pleased. They got him out of the room without much problem, though, so I just passed out the Scholastic Kids magazine and jumped in. A few minutes in, I hear the door shut, and I see the little guy in the window and he is not happy. Another kid jumps up and opens the closet door. This, apparently, is a much more common thing than I thought. The kids, though, kept getting up to see if he was still at the door. He was. Every time. This made Scholastic Kids time go longer than it was supposed to go. At the end of the Scholastic Kids time was a scheduled bathroom break, but since we were not allowed out of the room, the bathroom break was put on hold. I was trying to draw out the Scholastic Kids because I didn't want to interrupt the next thing with a bathroom break. Kids would come up to me as I was reading asking to go to the bathroom. "No, we can't go because [kid] is in the hallway." This was not the desired answer, but my logic was sound. However, kids kept coming up and asking. About half the class had asked to go to the bathroom, when one kid all of a sudden realizes someone is missing, and not the angry fella.
"Wait! Where's [kid]?!"
"Hmmm...that's a good question. Anyone know?"
"You said he could go to the bathroom before we started the Scholastic News!"
Uh oh. There's a kid out there in an apparent war zone and he has no idea what's going on. I'm uncomfortable and nervous, just like the kids with full bladders, but for a different reason. Thankfully, the lost kid made it back, which prompted everyone swarming him asking if he was okay and where the angry child is. Despite how much time we spent on the Scholastic Kids, we did not cover much. Since the hallway was apparently safe, though, we had our bathroom break. I had never seen a stampede of kids with that much excitement that was not for recess or the end of school. Poor kids.
At the end of the day, the neighboring teacher came over and said she was impressed because this was easily the toughest 3rd grade class in the school, which made me feel better about my subbing skills.

4th Grade
I have a day and a half of 4th grade experience and they were my favorite so far. I got to do actual writing stuff with discussion, which was awesome, and the kids learned a bunch. However, I also had to do division. I'm good at division, but only at one way. This was the intro to division, so I had to teach three methods. It did not go well. I apologized many times and asked, "Does that make any sense?" a lot. I blame the teacher's manual. On the half day, I didn't have to teach anything. It was pretty great. We had indoor recess, though, which was not great. I was supposed to have the room where kids did missed assignments while a neighboring teacher took the kids outside. Well, with inside recess, you don't go outside. I didn't know what to do in that scenario, because 1.75 classes seemed like a lot of kids to leave in one room. I was going to ask the other teacher what to do, because she'd probably know, but she had a sub, too. We ended up doing the 1.75 classes in the other classroom, and I got the quiet, .25 classes doing homework. I was okay with this compromise.

And there you have a brief synopsis of my subbing career, because I know you were very interested.

You're welcome.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What's OTP?

I just got home from my fourth summer at camp (I'M CRAZY) and, while I realize that campers tend to ask a million and one questions, my cabin that I had this past week was ridiculous. Since they asked so many questions, I feel inspired to make a list of questions that are most commonly asked at Shores of St. Andrew - or at least, questions that I tend to hear often.

- What's OTP?
- What's after this?
- Then what?
- When's Free Time?
- When do we get to go swimming?
- What's OTP?
- How old are you?
- What game are we going to play?
- Did we eat lunch yet?
- Will we get to play gaga ball?
- Will we get to play carpet ball?
- What's OTP?
- What's cabin time?
- What do we do during quiet time?
- Can we play carpet ball for quiet time?
- What are we having for dinner?
- Why don't you know what we're having for dinner?
- Where are you from?
- Are you in college?
- What's OTP?
- Were you here last year?
- Are we gonna raid the kitchen?
- What's campfire prep?
- Do we have to take showers every night?
- Do we have to take showers ever?
- What time do we have to wake up?
- Why do we have to wake up so early?
- What happens if I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night?
- What happens if I wake up before everyone else?
- Are we gonna play Bonkers?
- What's that game called where we find the tiles and all the counselors tag us and yell, 'Whoop whoop!'?
- What time is it?
- What's OTP?
- What are we doing tomorrow?
- Is tomorrow the last day?
- What's the Christ Hike?
- What's Hymn Sing?
- Is the canteen gonna be open?
- What's Campers' Choice?
- Can we play gaga ball during Campers' Choice?
- What do we do during Bible Study?
- Do we need our bibles for Bible Study?
- What's Morning Worship?
- What's OTP?
- Did they call seconds yet?
- Are they gonna call seconds?
- Can I get seconds?
- Do you get paid here?
- How much?
- Can I go to the bathroom?
- Can I get a drink?
- Can you help me roll up my sleeping bag?
- Why do we have to brush our teeth every night?
- Why do we have to brush our teeth at night AND in the morning?
- What do we do during Cabin Cleanup?
- What's OTP?
- What time do we leave?
- What day is it?
- Can I do a flip off the water trampoline?
- Can we go on the...(Counselor fills in blank of 'water trike') yeah! Can we go on that?
- Can I get a second dessert?
- Can we have a splash party?
- Do we get to have s'mores at campfire?
- Do we get to have s'mores at all?
- Are you gonna be back next year?
- Wait, what was OTP again?

This is a standard breakfast at camp - minus a few questions that obviously are not applicable to breakfast (like the 'splash party' question, for example). I've become very adept at answering rapid fire questions over the years.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Re: South Dakotans Can't Drive

I just want to say that if you're reading this, you're South Dakotan, and you actually can drive, mad props, bro. You're one of the few. Keep on doin' you.

I've written a post about South Dakotans and their inability to function appropriately behind the wheel of a vehicle before. I didn't, however, offer ways for South Dakotans to better themselves as drivers. It's understandable, then, that they still can't drive. I'm going to try to remedy that.

First, though, I have a question. I don't really understand the process that people go through in South Dakota to get their license. Is there actually a process? Does the State Government just send everyone their driver's license regardless of qualifications? Like, "Oh, it's your 12th birthday today*? Here's your driver's license! Good luck out there!" I honestly think that's how it works here. That's now how it should work. I feel like before someone tries to do something that could potentially lead to the death of his/herself and other people, that person should probably learn how to do said thing. There are very basic things that less than 5% of the state's population is capable of doing in a vehicle. I'll give you guys the rundown.

1. Turning, Part 1: Lanes, Part 1
When you turn, there's usually something called a "turning lane." The lane, itself, does not turn. Rather, you are to navigate yourself and your vehicle into this lane to get out of the way of people who are not turning. If you don't move into the turning lane, you're kind of just being a jerk because you're blocking people from going straight by coming to a complete stop to wait for oncoming traffic, and then turning.

2. Turning, Part 1: Lanes, Part 2
When turning onto a street that has multiple lanes in one direction, always turn into the lane closest to you. For example, if you're turning right onto a 4-lane street (two going in each direction), turn into the lane that is most on the right, or "closest to the curb," if you don't know directions. If you're not from South Dakota and you think about it, it makes sense. If you are from South Dakota, I'll explain. If you turn right and turn into the correct lane, a person who is turning onto the same road from the opposite direction can turn into his or her lane at the same time, and nobody will die. If you turn into the wrong lane, you will probably hit the other person turning and everyone involved will die.

3. Turning, Part 2: Blinkers
Literally every single vehicle that can be legally driven in towns (towns are where people live) has a blinker. A blinker, also known as a "turn signal," signals to other drivers that you are going to turn. Wait, what?! Crazy, right? You can actually tell other people that you're going to turn without actually telling them. This way, people (me) won't get mad when they're waiting for you to drive past so they can turn onto a street, only to realize that you're actually turning and not stopping them from turning at all or when you slow down for seemingly no reason and then turn. You see, it seems like there's no reason to your slowing down because you aren't signaling that you're going to turn.

4. Street Signs
These fun things are actually helpful. The point of their existence is to help you as a driver. For example, the sign that says no left turns isn't just saying that to inconvenience you. It's telling you not to make a left turn because you're going to wait there forever, because traffic is ridiculous all the time. However, when you, South Dakotan, inevitably disregard that helpful tip, you keep everyone else from properly making a right turn. And we (I) hate you for it.

5. Speed Limits
Okay, I acknowledge this one isn't just for South Dakotans, but they still need help here. Acceptable speed is +/- 5 mph of the speed limit. That's just kind of a general rule. However, a lot of times people do not adhere to his rule. One time I was literally passed in town because I was going 30 mph in a 25 mph zone, which is a HUGE no-no. Guys, passing in town (remember, towns are where the people live) is a horrible idea BECAUSE TOWNS ARE WHERE THE PEOPLE LIVE. Do you understand this? Your odds of killing someone are way higher in a town because, you know, people live there. Conversely, if you're driving 15 mph in a 35 mph zone (WHICH HAS HAPPENED AN INFURIATING AMOUNT OF TIMES) does not make you any friends. You actually lose friends when you do this, because everyone hates when you do this.

*Today I swear I saw a 12-year-old child driving a truck, which is horrifying on so many levels. Sadly, I wasn't even surprised because, I mean, South Dakota.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


The other day I took a test. It was a test that I needed to pass in order to become a teacher. Since I signed a waiver saying I wouldn't talk about what was on this test, let's call this test the CRAXIS.

In the weeks leading up to the CRAXIS, I was trying to gain some knowledge on this test. I asked people who had taken it if it was comparable at all to the ACT. They said it was. I did pretty well on the ACT; I got a 30, not to brag or anything (that is completely to brag. I probably did better than you). I also didn't study for the ACT. Therefore, I decided I didn't need to study for the CRAXIS.

However, I was informed that there would be questions about theories and theorists, and if there's an area in teaching with which I am not confident, it is theories and theorists. I decided to go online to take a practice CRAXIS, mostly just to see how I would do, not to see what I should study. Unfortunately, there wasn't a practice test for the kind of CRAXIS I was taking. There was a "study companion," though. I figured this study companion could just study for me, since, if it were a person and was my study companion, that's what would happen. It didn't work that way, though. It wasn't even really a study thing. It just told me what would be on the CRAXIS. This was extremely convenient because that's all I really wanted to know, and I certainly did not want to study. On top of that, this study companion told me that the CRAXIS would consist of 90 multiple choice questions, none of which dealing with theories or theorists, and nothing else. That's right - only multiple choice questions. I could probably guess my way to passing it! I wouldn't need to, though, because everything not related to theories or theorists has now become a part of my very being.

The day of the CRAXIS finally came, and I didn't know where it was. I mean, I did, but I didn't. I had the address, but it was in Sioux Falls and I don't know how to navigate Sioux Falls. The fact that I didn't know where it was made me nervous - much more nervous than I was for the actual test because that was just going to be 90 multiple choice questions, none of which regarding theories or theorists.

Another thing about having the CRAXIS in Sioux Falls is that Sioux Falls has a Taco Bell. Now, I've been heard saying that I hate Taco Bell, but that was in my youth, when I was young and foolish. At this point in my life, I love Taco Bell. Eating at Taco Bell was second on my daily goals list, behind finding the place where the CRAXIS was going to be taken.

I found the CRAXIS place (Taco Bell was right on the way!) and walked up to the desk to check in. The lady gave me a waiver to sign saying I wouldn't reveal what was on the test. This was by far the hardest part of the CRAXIS because I had to copy an entire paragraph in cursive. I've written a post on cursive writing before, but I don't think it's on here, which is too bad because it was really good. Anyway, yeah, I can't remember how to write in cursive very well. The study companion said nothing about writing in cursive.

It only took me about 20 minutes to copy the paragraph with inventive cursive. I handed the lady the waiver and finished checking in. I was walked to my computer (this CRAXIS was online) and then left to complete the CRAXIS. There were a few screens of instructions, the last one told me what would be on the test. It said there would be 90 multiple choice questions, AS WELL AS THREE CONSTRUCTED-ANSWER QUESTIONS! "Constructed-answer" is just a fancy way of saying "essay," in case you were wondering. I figured I'd worry about those questions when I got to them. I got through the first few multiple choice questions pretty easily. I was working my way through the CRAXIS, thinking to myself, "Hey, at least there aren't any questions about theories and theor-OH COME ON!" A question near the beginning dealt with a theorist and his theory. There were a few others scattered throughout the test as well. What was the point of that study companion even existing? Do they want people to fail the CRAXIS? Who are they, even? THIS IS WHY I NEVER STUDY! It turned out, though, that the constructed-answer questions were the easiest, so the joke's on YOU, study companion.

After the CRAXIS, I indulged in the deliciousness of Taco Bell, and crossed everything off of my daily goals list.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What I Learned in Preschool

Today was the last day of preschool and I am in a glass case of emotion right now. Okay, I'm not, but I will cry myself to sleep tonight. Okay, I won't, but I'm just really sad about it. Granted, I am completely neglecting the memories of stressful nights completing children's portfolios, 12 hour days in the preschool, and all of the times we had a behavior issue in the classroom...

I started out this semester of preschool with much trepidation, frustration, and doubt; I didn't want to be a preschool teacher, so what's the point of me student teaching preschool? I had just done my practicum in a second grade classroom and I loved it; I wanted to be a second grade teacher. I didn't know how to handle 4-5 year olds.

I am ending this semester, however, with fond memories and a full heart. Here are 15 things that I learned from a semester of teaching preschool:

1. "Getting sprayed" in Chicago is different than "getting sprayed" in South Dakota.
Our mentor teacher lived in Chicago before living in South Dakota. One day she told a story of a time when a kid rode up to the school her husband worked at, pulled out a gun, and "started spraying." One of the student teachers didn't know what this meant, and assumed that it meant the kid pulled out a water gun and was spraying everyone with water.

2. If I ever have a daughter, she will be the most spoiled child in the world.
There were some adorable kids in my preschool class. Most of them were girls, and most of them would melt my heart on the daily. They wouldn't even do excessively adorable things. It'd be something like saying hi to me and I'd just melt. Now imagine what will happen if I ever have a daughter...

3. Daily reflections should be done daily, not weekly.
We had daily reflections that were due at the end of each week. Consequently, I would wait until the end of the week to do all of the reflections. Sometimes (most times), I would forget what happened on Monday (and Tuesday (and Wednesday)), and it was a struggle.

4. Snack is the most important meal of the day.
When you have to be at preschool by noon and don't wake up until 10, you don't really have time for breakfast and lunch. Consequently, I would eat at around 10:30 or 11:00 each day. By the time 2:15 rolled around (which is snack time) I would be starving. Unfortunately, on many days, I didn't get to finish my snack (sometimes I didn't get any snack (like one day when we had english muffin pizzas and I had to take a kid out into the hallway because of a behavior issue. English muffin pizzas are a top-three preschool snack, behind only sweet potato fries and fruit pizza. I was upset)). This made for a very hungry and very sad Teacher Joe.

5. Literally anything is capable of being made into a mess.
I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory...

6. If you sing songs from the movie Frozen, kids will love you.
One day, we played the Frozen soundtrack during centers time. The kids skipped my favorite song, which is "Reindeer(s) are Better Than People." I did not stand for this, and decided to just sing it if they weren't going to play it. I was interrupted by my favorite kid leaping into my arms to hug me.

7. Teachers have favorites.
Well, I have favorites. I felt bad about it, but then I realized that I was never told, in any of my classes, that teachers are not allowed to have favorites. It might be because it's common sense, but then again it might not be. I'm pretty sure there isn't any legislation stating teachers can't have favorites. And it's not like I treated them differently. I just liked them more. ...I'm a horrible teacher.

8. Kids are smart.
I realize that it's concerning that I just learned that kids are smart, but it's true. I mean, like, they're really really smart. Some of the things my preschoolers said were very insightful, and I couldn't have been more proud.

9. If you have crayons and paper, you're gonna have a good time.
Honestly, for most of my small groups, I just gave my kids crayons and paper and let them draw. They loved it. And I could pull out helpful information from them, too, such as what they wanted to learn, what their interests were, and what a monster needs to scare the freaks out of somebody.

10. Kids say the darndest things.
In conjunction with the insightful things that children said would be some pretty bizarre and/or hilarious things. For example, one time a kid told me that he thought I was turning into a monkey because I'm so hairy.

11. Small chairs are inconvenient for me.
All of the chairs in the classroom are itty-bitty. During snack time, it was a struggle to sit. Consequently, snack time was really the only time I'd sit in a chair, except for teacher meetings at the end of the day because I could lean back in them.

12. If I get a job as a preschool teacher, it won't be so bad.
My outlook on teaching preschool has drastically changed over this semester. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have worked with these children and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

13. Teaching is a lot easier when there are 5 other teachers.
To my co-teaching ladies, thank you and stay awesome. I would have lost what little sanity I have long ago if it weren't for you guys. This goes to all the teachers, not just the teachers in my class (but to them, especially).

14. I make a difference.
This semester made me realize just how much of a difference I can make in the life of a child. One child in particular comes to mind for me. This child has made tremendous strides in development and absolutely adored me. Even kids that I didn't interact with as much as I did with others would surprise me on a daily basis in various ways. I'm not sure how, but I am confident that I have impacted every child in that classroom in some way.

15. Kids make a difference.
Whether it be by a smile, a "hello," a hug, or just something I overheard them say, these kids could instantly make my day better. I don't know how successful I'll be as a teacher, but I know I'll get some enjoyment out of every single day.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lil' Hands/Extra Credit Rap

I'm lucky enough to have extra credit opportunities for my preschool teaching class. Normally, I wouldn't take advantage of these because I'm arrogant enough to think that I don't need extra credit, because I should get an A regardless of extra credit. However, I was invited by some of my fellow student teachers to attend one recently, so I obliged. The extra credit opportunity was a "rap battle" of sorts. Not your typical rap battle, where people rap at each other and then people vote on who's better. Rather, this is a tournament-style rap battle, where a bunch of rappers have been placed in a bracket (like March Madness!) and then people listen to a song by each rapper and vote on which one was better. It's a pretty interesting concept, and I actually think it's pretty cool.

Anyway, I went to one of these, and let me tell you, it gets pretty heated. The one matchup we had was 50 Cent v. Young Jeezy. I've actually heard of both of these guys, which is saying something considering just how white I am. I don't remember the names of the songs we listened to, but the vote went to triple overtime because it was tied for the first two rounds. I had opinions on why 50 Cent should win, but I kept them to myself. You know, since I'm super white and there were people who actually liked rap and understood/appreciated it present. My reasoning for voting for 50 Cent was, and I quote, "........." That's what I voiced, anyway. Inside, though, I was screaming my opinions. "Well, the samples from both rappers were narratives, but I feel like 50 Cent's was also a message, and more meaningful and personal than Young Jeezy's. Jeezy is more of the typical and mainstream rapper of "Oh, look at me, I get all da ladies and do all da crimes and do all da drugs, which makes me awesome," while 50 Cent is real, ya know? And it sounds like he's sending a message to other rappers/people who are kind of fake (i.e. Young Jeezy) to stop being fake." I didn't say that, though, because I know nothing about rap and didn't want to get called out in that regard.

I would like to point out, though, some of the things in which I was disappointed. First of all, Andre 3000 lost his first round matchup. I don't know against whom it was, and frankly, I don't care. Andre 3000 should've won and the whole bracket lost credibility when he lost. Also, I didn't see rappers such as 50 Tyson, Supa Hot Fire, or Lil Hands anywhere on the bracket (However, I didn't see Lil Wayne, either, so credibility was restored). Lil Hands (who is actually me) wrote such hits as "Rap Sucks" and "Unnamed Rap." If you're wondering, they go as such, respectively:

My name's Joe Russell
Not jacked with muscle
But the hustle and bustle of speech is a beach. 
Now that was kind of a reach
But I'd sell my soul for some rhymes
Get paid in gold or in dimes
Or in nothing at all
That's why I'm here in Hanson Hall
And I'm in no position
To be chargin' admission
So you can sit in and listen
To the Joe Russell show
Cuz I spit it and flow
All the way to the top
Cuz I'm the cream of the crop
I'm the best under the sun
Yeah, I'm Joe Russell
And I'm numbah one.

I'm Lil Hands
I'm the man with the plan
If you need to find me
You know where I am
I'm at the Shores of S-A
Almost everyday
Workin' real hard to get my pay
And I got this gangsta tune
That makes the ladies swoon
And I grab my delight in the afternoon
Too smelly to nap
Too tired to shower
This is my dilemma during power hour
Why not do both
I don't have time
So instead I sit down and I Busta Rhyme
I'm GI Joe cuz I spit it and flow
I'm the Energizer Bunny cuz I go go go
I won't stop til you know
It's the Lil Hands show
I'll give you some
Make you want some mo'.

The first one I wrote and performed for my speech class my sophomore year. Obviously, I got an A on that speech. The premise of the speech was that mainstream rap sucks. What I wrote was the exaggerate the narcisism that mainstream rappers have and how their rhymes are whack, yo. The second one I wrote at camp, as a member of Komik Sanz, the all-camp rap group featuring Lil Hands (that's me), Dub FD (that's Kris, who was the waterfront directer (waterfront directer, Dub FD...get it?) and Young Medic (that's Drew, who was the health aide). We never performed, but we could've, and it would've been glorious.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Joe Russell: Crazy Cat Lady

A sad realization that I've recently had is that no woman will ever love me as much as one of my cats does. Granted, this cat loves me an insane amount. When I go to visit my mom (which is where this cat lives), this cat is the happiest animal alive. It is because of this, though, that I've decided to become a crazy cat lady.* Cats are just such loving creatures. "Joe, if you want a pet that will love you, you should get a dog," is what you may or not may not be thinking. Well, dear reader, let me tell you something. I have a dog and, while she doesn't hate me, she only loves me when nobody is home. Sometimes. Actually, most times when nobody else is home, she just lays on the couch, all depressed and lethargic. I feel like she does that because it's either that or hang out with me. When I realize she's moping because I'm the only one available, I say, "Wow, Lucy - that's a great impression of...most people I know." Then she lets out a huge sigh and I say, "Okay, now it's just uncanny!"

There are 4 cats that my family owns, 1 at my dad's house (along with the dog that loves me when it's convenient for her) and 3 at my mom's. Out of these 4 cats, 3 of them love me and the other has a mental disability. I'm not just saying that because she doesn't love me. Her preferred toy is a nail (or a pin, or a needle. Really, anything that is sharp and shiny), she forgets who people are, meows constantly for no reason, is afraid of everything, and doesn't realize that she enjoys being petted. If she could remember me, I'm sure she'd love me, though. Because I am a cat person. Not just a cat person, though - I am a crazy cat lady.

*I feel like, in order to be a crazy cat lady, you need to have a minimum of 5 cats in your house at all times. That means having at least 5 cats, but they have to be all indoor cats. If you have like 8 cats, but they're outside cats (or even outside/inside cats) then you might not be a crazy cat lady, because you probably won't have 5 inside at all times. Yes, I have put way too much thought into this, but only because it is my future, and I want to do it right. My new year's resolution is to become closer to crazy cat lady status. I'm starting out strong by spending New Year's Eve with 3 cats. I'm 60% crazy cat lady. Yes, the future is bright.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ajar/A Jar

A few nights ago, it was really cold. That is to be expected, since it's December, and I'm in South Dakota, which, contrary to what the name suggests, is very much in the Northern part of the country. It's kind of ironic, if you don't think about it. Anyway, I have no qualms with the cold until it messes stuff up. The stuff it messed up, I think, is the rear driver's side door on Maxwell (Maxwell is my car, for those of you just joining us). I'm not sure if the cold is the problem, but the problem just started happening when it got cold. So, there's a direct correlation between the temperature being cold and Maxwell's door acting up. Though, it's important to remember that correlation does not equal causation (see the "decrease in pirates caused global warming" graph). The problem is that the door won't shut. Or it won't latch. I'm not 100% sure on what the problem is, but I am 100% sure that it's a problem. This is the door I use to put pizzas into my car when I deliver them, but if it's not going to shut, I'm not going to use that door, which is unfortunate, because that is the most convenient door to use. So, here's what happened:

I was just about to go out on a delivery. I had the pizzas, I signed out, and I left the store. I went up to Maxwell, opened his door, put the pizzas in, and shut the door. Except it didn't shut. It was open just a tiny bit. I thought maybe the seat belt was stuck in the door, since that happens with the driver's (or "my") door. But that wasn't the case. I looked all over the door and the...doorway? Is it called a doorway on a car? It would make sense, but is that what it's called? Anyway, the answer was not there, either. It wasn't a huge deal, though. It wasn't going to fly open, but it was going to let cold air in. Also I wasn't really sure it wasn't going to fly open, so this was actually pretty nerve-racking for me. I decided to shut it as best as I could and then lock it. It made sense to me that locking it would keep it shut, even if it wasn't actually shut. This works for a few deliveries: I use the rear passenger door instead and do nothing with the broken one. But then, after delivering a pizza, I went back to my car and the door was ajar!* "Oh, man," I thought, disheartened. "Maxwell, you're broken." Defeated, I shut the door one last time. And it actually shut. I had fixed Maxwell! I didn't use that door for the rest of the night, but I have since then and it is definitely fixed! "I am a mechanic!" I proudly exclaimed, and then was embarrassed that I had proudly exclaimed that.

*I never miss an opportunity to teach, and this is one of those opportunities. Notice how the word "ajar" is just that - one word. This is different from "a jar" which means...well, it means a jar. "Ajar" means slightly open, which is what my door was. My door was not a jar. That would've completely thrown me off and I don't think I'd have been able to fix Maxwell. Likewise, the word "apart" is very different from "a part." In fact, those two are actually opposites. If you were "apart" of something, you weren't involved in it. At all. And actually you would have been apart from that something. Now, if you were "a part" of something, you were a part...of it... It's really not that difficult. I get furious every time I see something like, "What a great group of people. I'm so glad I could be apart of it!" on Facebook. It's actually more infuriating than the comment that says, "Me to!" and the other one that says, "Aww, I wish I was their!"

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Awkward Family Photos

On Black Friday, the big thing is shopping the sales, yes? And it's usually crazy busy at stores on this day, yes? Yes. To both of those. However, my family decided it would be a good idea to get some family photos taken. At J.C. Penney's. When I learned this, I wasn't so sure how good of an idea that was, since it was probably going to be pretty busy. You know, with all the people shopping. Since it's a store. And it's Black Friday. In my step-mom's defense, though, she made the appointment a few months ago and didn't realize it was going to be Black Friday. She just knew it was around Thanksgiving and that the whole family would be home.

Turns out, though, that it was, indeed, pretty busy, but it wasn't hectic since our appointment wasn't until like 1:00 or something. We got there pretty early, like at 12:15, so we decided to shop a little bit. And good thing we did! I found some awesome slippers that were originally $30 but were on sale for $20. That's not all, though. When they were rung up, they came up as only $15! Crazy, right?! I know. That was the highlight of my day, for sure. Fortunately, that is not the highlight of this post.

Anyway, the photos, and the awkwardness that accompanied them. The family was my dad, my step-mom, my brothers, my sister, and me. So, it's our turn for pictures. The photographer takes us into the room, looks at my dad and step-mom and says, "So...grandma and grandpa?" Oh. Oh no. Oh, please, no. My dad and step-mom quickly and simultaneously informed her that they were dad and mom, respectively. There was a palpable sense of awkwardness throughout the whole photo shoot after that.

I was also a little offended, because, just continuing on down this photographer's perception of our family tree, I would be married to my sister. Last time I checked, this J.C. Penney's wasn't in Alabama. It's always a little unfortunate when that is assumed, and I feel like it's assumed every time I go anywhere with my sister. I mean, we're both pretty attractive people relatively close in age, so I understand why it happens. But still. My sister is pretty much the worst wingman ever, and she doesn't even know it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fixing Tim Tebow

I want to be a coach someday, and, as a coach, it will be my job to figure out why a player isn't performing well. Granted, I will, ideally, be a basketball coach, and therefore have no business assessing football players (especially NFL players). However, I believe I have identified Tim Tebow's problem, and it has a very easy fix.

First of all, for those of you who may not know who Tim Tebow is (my sister is really the only person I can think of who may not know who Tim Tebow is), let me fill you in. Tim Tebow is a current (for now. He might get cut on Saturday), left-handed, NFL quarterback for the New England Patriots. He went to college at Florida and was wildly successful there. He even won the Heisman Trophy in 2007, which is kind of like the Most Valuable Player of college football. However, his throwing mechanics are poor. That means he looks goofy when he throws the ball compared to people who do it right. NFL scouts said he'd be a mid-round draft pick, and probably wouldn't succeed in the NFL. Former (at the time, current) Denver Broncos head coach, Josh McDaniels, however, really liked Tim Tebow. Enough to make him the 25th overall selection in the 2010 NFL draft.

In his rookie season, Tebow started a few games and came off the bench to play in a few games, as well. He didn't throw very well, but he ran the ball very effectively. The following year, Tebow, again, began as the backup. The Broncos started out 1-4, though, and had very bad quarterback play from Kyle Orton. Head Coach John Fox (Josh McDaniels accepted a job with a different team, which was kind of a jerk move - he wasted a first round pick on an awful quarterback and then just left) announced that Tim Tebow would start the 6th game of the season after almost leading a comeback the previous week. Thus began a stretch of comebacks led by Tebow. The term "Tebow Time" was widely used to describe the second half of the fourth quarter. Tebow and his magical left arm led the Broncos into the playoffs in 2011, and they even won a playoff game. Not only that, but it was thanks to Tebow, as he threw the game winning touchdown pass on the first play in overtime.

The following offseason, though, the Broncos signed future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning, to be their new quarterback. They, then, traded away Tebow to the incompetent New York Jets for a fourth round pick and a sixth round pick (the Jets also got a seventh round pick), which is way more than what he is worth as far as a player. Tebow struggled to find playing time, despite the fact that the Jets' quarterback was Mark Sanchez, who is also horrible. After the season, the Jets released Tebow, and the Patriots signed him. Now, on the verge of NFL extinction, Tebow needs some help, and I am the one to offer it to him. But first, a story:

The other day, I was playing baseball with my brother, Liam. I was pitching him balls and he was hitting. Then, just to mix things up, I threw a pitch left-handed. It was awful. It didn't go anywhere near where I wanted it to go. I looked really goofy compared to people who throw correctly, too. Just like Tim Tebow. Then it dawned on me: TIM TEBOW IS RIGHT HANDED!

That's right. Tim Tebow is actually right handed. He just doesn't know it. Tim, if you're reading this, just try throwing right handed. I'll accept $1,000,000 as thanks for saving your career. You're welcome, buddy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Not Just Ordinary-Special: Thoughts of a Liam

Oh, Lordy. Little kids are my favorite people. About ten minutes ago, Liam, my seven year old brother, was talking to me. We were having a little conversation about football, which mostly consisted of him asking questions and me answering them in very simplified ways. When he ran out of football questions, he paused. Then said, quite randomly, "I wonder why He gave me a gap."

"Who gave you what gap?" I was confused. I mean, we were just talking about football, so I was thinking maybe a gap in zone coverage, or a gap as in a hole for the running back. But Liam didn't have either of those things.

"God, and the gap in my teeth."

"Oh, well, prob-"

"Oh I think I know why! He wanted to make me special. Well, super-special. Not just ordinary-special, like everyone else."

"That's right! He made you super-special instead of regular special by giving you a gap in your teeth."

"Wow. He wanted to give someone a gap in their teeth, and He chose ME...that's COOL!"

"Yeah, that is pretty cool."

"Yeah. And He gave Sam a peeing problem*, so he's special, too."

I was literally crying. I was trying my hardest to not laugh. I was half successful, so I had a huge smile on my face and was exerting a great amount of effort in my chortles and titters. Conversations with Liam are some of my favorite conversations. They are always both hilarious and adorable. Well, not always. Sometimes he taunts me, but I take care of that.

*Sam wets the bed. But he's only nine. That's hardly a peeing problem. For two reasons: 1. That's normal. Well, I'm no expert on children's bladder evacuation habits, but I'd assume it's not really a "problem." And 2. When I think of a "peeing problem," which is almost never (I'm not some sort of weirdo), I think of having a problem peeing. Which makes me mildly uncomfortable for some reason. Now seems like a good time to stop writing.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Maxwell Strikes Again

You guys remember my car, Maxwell, yes? How he tried to kill me while simultaneously committing suicide? Well, I'm beginning think that Maxwell doesn't like me very much because he struck again today. Here's how it happened.

I was watching some basketball on TV when, suddenly, I realized I had to poop. I got up and walked over to the bathroom only to realize that there was no toilet paper! Welp, that settled that - I had to go to Walmart to buy some toilet paper. I also had a paycheck to deposit, so I decided to make an outing of it. I put on some pants and a coat, went out to my car and started him up. Maxwell hesitated a bit, but eventually we were on our way. I went to the bank first, then to Walmart. As I was getting back into my car I thought to myself, "I'm so freaking good at going to the store, especially when I get to use the self-checkout, because I go so fast! This was such a quick stop!" Well, as I was pulling out of the parking lot, Maxwell sputtered and died. Again. I didn't really know what to do. I was stuck in the left turn lane. I decided to pop the hood so people could see I wasn't just being a jerk and not moving, but rather that something was clearly wrong with my car and I needed help. Nobody stopped. I called my roommate, Ryan, and he came to help me out. We pushed (with the help of one other guy. One other guy. I was there for like ten minutes and only one person stopped to ask if I needed help. Brookings...people (Brookians? Brookinginians?) are jerks) Maxwell to the side of the road, and Ryan tried to give him a jump. That didn't help. I called my dad. He suggested I check the oil. Good thing, because there wasn't much oil. Conveniently, I was in a Walmart parking lot. Even more conveniently, I was right behind an Advance Auto Parts store. I picked the auto store as the best place to buy some oil. I bought two quarts, at the instruction of my dad, and poured the first one in. That didn't work. I poured the second quart in. That didn't work either. I called my dad again to tell him that oil was not the problem (though it probably would've been, eventually, since there was very little of it in my car). Ryan suggested we go ask the guys at Advance if they could look at it to figure out the problem. Pretty solid idea, so we tried that. Unfortunately, there were no mechanics in at that time, but the guy behind the counter suggested that maybe I was out of gas. If you remember, Maxwell's gas gauge is broken so I guess it was possible that I ran out of gas, but I have a system. I reset the odometer after filling up every time, and I don't let it get to 300 miles. I was at 252 miles, so I was close, but I still had a ways to go. But, I had tried all the other suggestions, so I figured I might as well try this one, too. The guy said I should buy the 5 gallon gas can because something with something else...I don't know. I trusted him, though. Of course, since the 5 gallon one is the biggest one, it's also the most complicated one. Ryan took me to go fill up the gas can, but I couldn't figure out how to put the cap on. It's a two part cap where the spout goes inside the cap, then the cap goes on. It wasn't actually that hard to figure out. However, figuring out how to get the gas from the can to my tank was incredibly hard to figure out. The instructions were something like: 1. Twist green ring to the right to unlock. 2. Pump the spout. 3. Twist green ring to the right again until it locks. I don't remember what 4 was because I didn't make it that far. The green ring would not lock. Step 3 was impossible. Eventually I yelled at the gas can, "Today suuuuuuuuucks!" Conveniently, someone was walking to their car, which was next to mine, at that exact moment and asked if I needed help with something. "Ummm, yeah, actually. Do you think you can figure out how this gas can works?" I wonder how stupid that guy thought I was at that time. However, he couldn't figure it out, either, so now he probably doesn't think I'm that stupid. Ryan eventually figured it out, we got the gas in my car, and I tried starting it. It started. It was gas the whole time. I drove to the gas station, filled up, and went home. It was 4:30. I had to work at 5:00. I DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO POOP. The only reason I drove anywhere was so that I could get toilet paper to poop, and I couldn't poop until I got done with work.

Maxwell's sleeping outside tonight.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wagon Wheel and Chicken Poppers. Naked.

I'm a delivery guy for Papa John's here in Brookings. It's not usually a super exciting job, but tonight was a little different. There were two deliveries I made that really stood out, and here's why:

My second delivery of the night was to 617 Wagon Wheel Circle 1, which means that 617 Wagon Wheel Circle is an apartment, and this person lives in apartment 1. Wagon Wheel Circle is in an area known as Western Estates. In Western Estates, each area has a name. For instance, all the 700 houses are Morgan's Run, so all of the houses in Western Estates whose house number is in the 700's will be in Morgan's Run. I drove to Western Estates and went to the 600's, since the apartment was 617. I quickly realized that there are no apartments in Western Estates but, for some reason, still assumed the address was correct, just the person was a little confused. I found the 600's, but the sign said that it was Morgan's Pass. "Ha, apparently this person is really confused - his house isn't on Wagon Wheel Circle." I looked for 617, but the 600's only went to 610. Okay. Well, I figured I should probably go to Wagon Wheel Circle, then. When I found Wagon Wheel Circle, I found that it was the 100's of Western Estate. "Oh, okay! He must've meant 117! That's a realistic mistake." Except Wagon Wheel Circle only goes up to 116. "Alright, I gotta call this dude and see what's up here." I pulled over and took out my phone, but I didn't have any service in Western Estates. Of course I didn't. I had to drive farther away from where I wanted to be, but I called the guy. "Hi, is this (name)?"

"Yup it is."

"Hi, this is Joe from Papa John's. I have your order, but I'm having a little trouble finding your place."

"Oh, you just drove right past me!"

"Oh, really?"


"Could you tell me your house number?" He could, and he did.

"Ooooooooookay. I'll be there in less than a minute."

And I was. When I got there I apologized and explained what happened.

"The address I have says 617 Wagon Wheel, so..."

"What? That's not right."

"I know. That's not even a real place."

"Yeah, I was gonna say..."

"Welp, have a good night!"

The other notable delivery I made tonight almost didn't happen. I had just gotten back from delivering to campus (which I hate. Our campus is dumb as far as dorms and parking available) and my boss said, "Well, Joe, you wanna do one more or are you ready to go home?" I figured I could do one more. I mean, more money, and there weren't any other drivers in the store at that time, so I kind of had to take it. This one was an apartment. An actual apartment. I've been to this apartment quite a few times this weekend with deliveries. Actually, I'd been to this same room this weekend. The guy who lives there is cool! I was excited. I drove there, went in, and knocked on the guy's door. No answer. I knocked again. No answer. This went on for probably five minutes, which is a long time for knocking. I started to chuckle to myself because I thought, "Heh, he's probably doing it with some chick. Heh." I decided I should call. Of course, though, I had no service in this apartment building. I went outside. As I was walking towards my car, I looked over my shoulder because I knew that this guy's apartment had a window facing the street. As I looked, a woman walked into the room. She was naked. She was also large. "Gross," I thought. But then I thought, "Hey! Someone will answer the door now!" so I went back in and knocked. No answer. I knocked again. I heard a weird yelping noise, then the door opened a tiny bit and a guy stuck his head out. He handed me some money and said, "You can keep all of it!" and I handed him his chicken poppers." Then I thought, "Heh, I was totally right. He totally was doing it," but I felt a little awkward because, since I delivered to this guy's apartment the other night, I felt like I knew him a little.

For some reason, as I was walking to my car, I looked over my shoulder again and into the window. There they both were. Just sitting on some bar stools at the counter eating some chicken poppers. Naked.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm Not A Girl: ECE 362 (And 371)

This semester, I am the only guy in all of my classes. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it's a little hard to relate to the examples my teachers will use to try to emphasize a point. Usually they'll use an example clearly aimed at all the ladies (last week a teacher made a comment regarding periods and pregnancy), but they'll backtrack and make the example relatable for me, as well (nothing was added to the period comment to make it relatable for me, though).

Today, in one of my classes, we were discussing the behaviorist theory of child development. Part of the theory is that internal feelings don't affect behaviors, which is stupid, but whatever. The teacher then said something along the lines of, "So, if you step in a puddle, you don't get your homework done, or if your boyfriend broke up with you, that doesn't affect your behavior," but she didn't backtrack. This caught me off guard. I had to reassess my life. "Wait a minute, my boyfriend just broke up with me? What's wrong with me - I'm not even upset about it. Maybe I'm not gay. Wait...I'm gay?"

Then the whole reassessment of my life started again.

"I'm gay? But I have a girlfriend about whom I care very much. So I'm not gay. But then why did I have a boyfriend?"

I must have had a look on my face suggesting I was reassessing my life, because one of the girls at my table said "Or girlfriend for you, Joe." Phew. That was a relief. Everything made sense, then, except the fact that the teacher disregarded me as a member of the class.*

*I'm not really upset about it. But still - that's kind of what happened, right? Whatevs, yo.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Yeah! iPhone!

I don't have an iPhone and, realistically, never will. Partly because I will be forever poor, but mostly because I don't like them. I've never even used an iPhone, but that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to dislike them. I really hate their commercials. That's really the only reason why I don't like iPhones. It seems like Apple is marketing a phone with basic features and calling them innovative and new. They're not. They're old and dumb. For instance:

I just set my phone to vibrate
The most recent iPhone commercial is a dream that an iPhone owner is having. In said dream, he is single-handedly battling Serena and Venus Williams in a ping-pong match. In the commercial, he says it would be a pity if this dream was interrupted by a phone call. Luckily, the new iPhone has a setting where you can not receive phone calls. Whoa. That is innovative. Oh wait, no it's not. When I don't want to receive phone calls, I turn my phone off. If I want to receive phone calls but don't want to hear my phone ring, I set it to vibrate or silent. Vibrate? Silent? Power button? Now that's innovative.

My thumb does not go from here to here
In another commercial for the iPhone, Apple states that your thumb "goes from here to here," and that the new, bigger screen "goes from here to here," the same "here to here" as your thumb! Pretty cool, eh? Yeah, not if you're me. I have freakishly small hands, and, statistically speaking, your thumb probably doesn't go the exact length as the commercial's actor's thumb does, either. Apple describes this feature as a "dazzling display of common sense." No. It's not. It's assuming we're all dumb. Also, most people I know, including myself, use both hands when operating a phone. My phone is tiny and I still use both hands. Granted, my hands are also tiny, but they're not that tiny.

I'm sorry, this orchestra is making it so I can't hear you
This commercial had a feature that is new and, actually, is pretty neat. Still not flawless, though, or even helpful, really. This is the commercial where there's an orchestra playing, and the commercial narrator asks the maestro to turn it down. He then goes on to state that the new iPhone has a microphone that will turn down the volume of sounds around you. I'm assuming this means that the person to whom you are speaking can't hear the background noise, in this case the orchestra. That's nice. However, you can still hear the orchestra! You have two ears, yes? Your iPhone's only being shoved into one of them. That other ear will pick up the sound of the orchestra, or whatever the background noise is, making the conversation difficult for you to hear.

Headphones* were never round
This one doesn't really deal with the iPhone, but it's an Apple commercial. I guess Apple came out with some new headphones. Their marketing pitch was that your ears aren't round, so why should your headphones be round? These headphones are not round. You know what? My headphones are not round, either. I've had them for five years. This is not even close to a new concept. Actually, the only round headphones I've ever seen in my life were the original iPod headphones.

*By "headphones" I mean earbuds. Apple uses the term "headphones" in the commercial.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Late Night Coke and A Happy New Year

This post is a product of poor choices. It was actually one choice, but it was poor on two accounts. The choice was to crack open a can of Diet Coke at 1 in the morning. It was poor because it's pop and it's 1 in the morning. It was also poor because what I wanted was Coke, but all we had was diet, and I figured it couldn't be too different. It totally is, and whoever prefers Diet Coke over actual Coke is lamesauce.

Since I'm disgusted by this pop and not tired at all, I figured I should write something, but listing my poor life choices seems depressing, especially considering it's a new year and everything is going to change! That's a bunch of bologna if you ask me. I don't think you'll make more money at your job just because it's 2013, or that you'll lose 20 pounds, or whatever you're expecting to happen. The only thing that's going to change for me is that I'll mess up writing checks for a few days. All right, all right, realistically it'll be a few months before I get the date right, but whatever. If your life sucked yesterday, it probably sucked today, too. And it'll probably suck tomorrow.

I think my resolution should be becoming less negative. Or more positive! (it's already working!)

Actually, I think I'm just grumpy because this Diet Coke is so disappointing. It keeps getting worse and worse with every sip. A sip is all I can handle at one time, too. It feels like the can is getting heavier every time I pick it up. Every time I take a sip my stomach makes an angry/sad noise. I just nod in understanding. I think the Diet Coke is disintegrating my mouth because my mouth feels burnt, and I taste what I imagine to be dying taste buds. This is worse than eating Ramen Noodles. I'd rather drink gravy. Or corn syrup. I just burped and it was the worst burp I ever did burp. Diet Coke is the reason I never go on diets. I need to brush my teeth for an hour just so I can breathe without fear of tasting Diet Coke. I'm just going to drink the tears that this sad excuse for a pop has made me cry.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fun With 9-1-1

There haven't been many interesting things that I've seen lately, but I wanted to write something. More accurately, my girlfriend wanted me to write something, so, I'm writing something. I also wanted to write something, though.

I was a pretty mischievous child when I was younger, though that's not saying much because I feel like every child is mischievous. My mischief took place mainly in calling 9-1-1 unnecessarily. There were three instances that I can recall, two of them with details. The one that I remember the most happened at my mom's house. I have no idea how old I was, but I was pretty young. My mom and I were outside. I think she was gardening, and I was probably goonin' all over the place. My mom went inside for something, and I stayed outside. A little while later, I ran inside. I had to tell my mom something. "Mom!" I yelled as I entered my house. She didn't answer. "Mom!" I yelled again. Still no answer. "MOOOOOOOOM! MOM! ...Mom? ...Mom?! MOM?! MOM!" I was in a panic. Where was my mom? Someone came and stole my mom! This was an emergency, and I learned to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. I frantically picked up the phone and dialed.

"9-1-1, what is your emergency?"

"Hello? Um, I can't find my mom."


"I don't know where my mom is!"

"Okay, what is your name?"

"Um, Joe?"

"Okay, Joe, where did you last see your mom?"

"Well, we were outside, and then she came inside, and then I came inside, and I don't know where she is!" Just then my mom came in through the back door. "Oh! Never mind, I found her. Bye!" and I hung up on 9-1-1. "Mom! Where were you?!"

"I went next door to give something to Jan." Jan was our neighbor. After she said that, the phone rang. I answered. It was 9-1-1.

"Um, mom? It's for you."

The next incident that I remember was before my dad and my step-mom got married. My step-mom worked at the school in Becker, and one day my dad, sister, and I went to visit her. It was in the evening, so there was no one else at the school. I quickly got bored as my dad and step-mom talked, so I wandered off to explore the school. Whilst exploring, I came across a pay phone. "Hmm, I wonder if I don't pay for the call and dial 9-1-1, it'll go through." I tried it, and it rang. I hung up after the first ring. "Huh. I guess it does work," I thought, and that was that. About ten minutes later, a police officer arrived at the school. Since we were the only people there, he talked to us.

"Did any of you dial 9-1-1?" Everyone said no. I was terrified. I thought I'd be in so much trouble if it were to be discovered that I had dialed 9-1-1. "Huh. That's weird. We received a call from one of the phones here." Everyone thought it was weird except for me, but I played along. The four of us and the police officer investigated. We found footprints, actually, which was weird because the floors had been cleaned by the janitor before he left. The mystery was never solved, but I like to think I helped almost catch a bad guy.

The third incident I don't really remember, but it's a lot like the second one, but without the excitement. My dad, sister and I were at Central Park in Litchfield. I came across a pay phone. "Hmm, I wonder if I don't pay for the call and dial 9-1-1, it'll go through." I don't remember if this was before or after the Becker school incident, but regardless of which one came first, apparently I didn't learn anything from it. The same thing happened - it rang once, I hung up, police came. This time there were multiple officers though, but I think they showed up as we were leaving. I'm not sure. This is one is more of a blur in my head.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Food On Sticks

A few weeks ago (that seems to be a theme in my recent posts) a bunch of camp friends and I were going to go to the Minnesota State Fair. I was really excited because I haven't been there in six years, and I really love food on sticks, especially if it's deep fried. However, my involvement in the plan hit a snag.

Since this was near the end of August and school was right around the corner, I decided I should probably check my school email. I hadn't done that since shortly after Summer had started. Sure enough, I had a decent amount of emails, though most of them weren't important. There was one, however, with a bunch of medical stuff that I needed to get done before classes started. Fortunately, I had gotten a physical before Summer started and I was up to date on all my immunizations. However, it said I needed to get a TB test. I had not had one of those ever. For a TB test, you get a little shot right under the surface of your skin. Between 48 and 72 hours later, you go back and get it checked. If there are no bumps around the area you got the shot, you're good to go. The 48-72 hour thing was the major setback, because I read this email on Wednesday, and the State Fair outing was to be on Friday. I set up an appointment for 2:00 on Wednesday, meaning I'd have to wait until 2:00 on Friday to get it checked. We were meeting at 11:00 at the Fair on Friday. Clearly, I would be late, especially considering my appointment was in Litchfield, which is an hour and a half away from the Fairgrounds in the cities. "Oh well," I thought. "At least I'll get to be there for a few hours."

When I got to the doctor's office on Friday, I was told to sit in the waiting room, as is the standard protocol for doctor's office visits. It turned out that they forgot about me, apparently, because I waited for over an hour, which is really fun at the doctor's office because they, magazines! So I read the "ESPN The Magazine" magazine all the way through, then read the longest article over again. I also sat and listened to the old people talk. It is a fact that over 80% of people in a doctor's office at any given time are old. I mean like "over 70" old. One old lady also had to wait for a while, apparently, because she was upset. A nurse finally came for her, and I could hear the lady as she walked back to the room: "I am very upset. I have been waiting and waiting. I am very upset."

"I know, I understand. We're sorry for the inconvenience. Now if you could just step on the scale and we'll measure your height and weight..."

"I came in two days ago and I had to do that. I won't do it. I will. Not. Do it."

"Okay, well, we'll just get your weight then."

After starting that really long magazine article (which was about Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, so I wasn't even that interested in it) for a third time, I decided I should probably see what was going on with my wait. I went up to the receptionist and said, "Excuse me, I've been waiting for over an hour, and all I need is to get my TB test checked."

"You're still here?! I told the nurses three different times that you were ready! I'll take care of this." She left, and I went back to sit. I felt like I handled that really well considering I was furious because I just wanted to eat food on sticks. About a minute later, a nurse hurried in and called my name. The appointment literally took one minute. I held out my arm, she ran her hand over it and said, "Okay, you're good," and I left. It was about 3:30 when I finally left. I pulled out my directions to the Fairgrounds and began my journey. Unfortunately, my directions were from google. You'd think I'd have learned by now. I followed them perfectly until it was literally impossible to do that. They told me to turn left on some street South, but follow the signs for some street North. I couldn't even...I didn't...I had no idea what google was trying to pull, so I just turned left. I drove past the Fairgrounds and ended up parked in some cul-de-sac. I called some camp folk and asked how much longer they would be there. They were just getting ready to leave, which was fine because then I didn't have to pay for parking. They said they were looking for some place to meet up and just hang out, though, which was perfect because I really wanted to see them. We met at a Perkins and ate. Me more so than everyone else because I had anticipated eating a ton of food on sticks and, thanks to the ACMC in Litchfield, MN, I was unable to do that.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Belated Posts #4: Deidra's Coffee

I feel like I just can't catch up. Belated Post #4 is about a simple coffee date turning into quite the journey. Actually, it was only simple in the planning stages. As soon as the plans were put into motion, it became an unnecessarily difficult task.

During the quilt auction (an auction where quilts are sold. We have one every year at camp), I had won a game called "Heads or Tails." It's a simple game, really. The auctioneers had a quarter and they would flip it. Before each flip, every person at the auction (including camp folk such as myself), would have to commit to either heads or tails. I guessed correctly every time, making me the victor. As my prize, I was given a $20 gift card to Deidra's Coffee, which, as I hope you've guessed, is a coffee shop. I don't like coffee, but I do like someone who likes coffee: my now-girlfriend, Erika Meierding. I asked her if she'd like to go to Deidra's with me, and she obliged (I know, I know, what kind of guy uses a gift card on a date? I have no excuse for that one. But you know what? It worked out. So there).

Erika and I decided that the last day of camp would work best for our coffee date at Deidra's. On the last day of camp, though, we at Shores have to clean the camp. Erika did not work at Shores. Nor did she have a working phone, which made arranging the whole thing pretty difficult. On top of that, I wanted to say goodbye to everyone at Shores, since, sadly, I probably won't see some of them ever again. I ended up going over to Green Lake (which is where Erika worked) around 1:00. I think. I'm not entirely sure because I've taken too long to write this. Anyway, when I got to Green Lake, I saw that I had a voicemail. I listened to it, and it was Erika using Drew's (the guy from "Belated Posts #3: The Final Cabin" saga) phone. Some people had gone out to eat, including those two. Unfortunately, I don't have service at Shores, which is why that was a voicemail instead of having been a phone call that I answered. The fact that I didn't have service at the time of the call also meant that my phone wouldn't show me the number from which the call was. So, when I heard Erika leaving the voicemail, I assumed that she had gotten her phone fixed. I tried calling her, but it went right to voicemail. This is because her phone was not fixed. I listened to the voicemail again (and again and again and again) and realized that at the end of the message, Erika said she was using Drew's phone and that I should call him. However, I didn't have Drew's number. So, I texted Emily Stets and Mic-Mac from Shores to see if they had Drew's number. They both did, gave it to me, and I called it. It went to voicemail. Defeated, I sat on a bench, watching a wedding party take pictures. After about a minute, my phone started ringing, and it was Drew! Except it wasn't Drew - it was Erika! And they were going to Dairy Queen! And I could come, too! So I did! I got to Dairy Queen, Drew, Jeremy, and Bethany left, and Erika and I went to find Deidra's.

We drove all around Spicer, which isn't really that big, so it took a little more than five minutes. However, we didn't find it, so we went back to Green Lake to utilize their internet and google the location of Deidra's. My hatred for google maps is well documented, but we used it anyway. Guess what - it was wrong. It told us to take a left at a certain intersection when, in reality, we were supposed to do the exact opposite of that (which is to take a right). We went back to winging it, and eventually, we found it. We arrived at about 2:45, and it closes at 3:00 on Saturdays, which is what day it was. I think those times are right. Maybe not. Regardless, we got there fifteen minutes before it closed. Consequently, the espresso machine was turned off, which was actually fine because neither of us wanted anything that required an espresso machine. However, when I presented my gift card, the lady (Deidra?) said, "You know what? This is on the house. You guys are so great. Thank you for understanding about the espresso machine. I'm sorry again about that, so this is free."

Whelp. Alright, then. I feel like that was the universe's way of showing that it felt bad for me for not being able to find Deidra's, and for using a gift card on a date.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Belated Posts #3: The Final Cabin, Part 3 - My Least Favorite, Favorite

So, the last week of camp I had really dumb kids and a sick kid. Now I'm going to tell about the most dramatic change in favoritism I've ever experienced.

The youngest and smallest kid in my cabin started out as my favorite kid in my cabin. He was so sweet and cute, I couldn't help but make him my favorite. He'd give me hugs for no reason, hold my hand whenever we walked anywhere, and he even had a cute little voice. But then things went south real fast, and it all started when I decided to bring my cabin on a pontoon ride.

It was a windy day and, consequently, there were some waves. Once in a while, some globules of water would splatter on us in the pontoon. When the first one hit my lil' favie, he dropped the f-bomb, as in, "What the (f-bomb)?" Kris, the waterfront director, called him out on it.

"Did you just drop the f-bomb?"


"I'm pretty sure I heard you drop the f-bomb."

"No, I said, "What the...frick."

"No, I heard the f-bomb."

"I said-"

"You know what - I don't care. Just don't say any more things that start with "What the," okay?"

"But I didn't-"

"I don't care! Just don't do it!"

After that, he quickly descended my rankings of favorite camper. By the end of the week, the only time he would talk to me was when he was tattling on someone, and he talked to me a lot. He'd tattle on anyone for anything. One night for devotions, Drew and I integrated our cabins and did bro-tips. Being very bro-ish in nature, both of us had a good amount of combined bro-knowledge. I feel like we passed on a lot of useful tips such as, but not limited to, always lift the seat when you pee, respect the ladies, call girls 'pretty.' 'beautiful,' or 'cute' instead of 'hot,' be nice to your friends' parents, etc. After we ran out of tips, Drew took his kids back to their cabin. As they were leaving, I gave them all high-fives. Once the last of Drew's kids were in their cabin, my lil' no-longer-favie came up to me.

"Um, Joe?"


"Um, you know that kid you just high-fived?"


"Um, the one with the red hair?"

"Yeah. What about him?"

"Um, well, he steals things from other kids."

"(To myself, in my head) 'Ohhhh my goodness. No he doesn't. You need to stop tattling.' Sigh...Okay. Thanks for telling me that. Now go to bed."

And yes, he did start every sentence with "Um."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Belated Posts #3: The Final Cabin, Part 2 - Smells Like Teen Spirit. No Wait, That's Vomit

This post could very well be #3 in the short "Worst Night of Camp" series, but it's already part of another series. Posts can only be a part of one series. That's common knowledge. Therefore, it is not part of the "Worst Night of Camp" series. Just know that it could've been, though.

This particular night did not necessarily start out nice. It started out pretty bad. It escalated to something much worse, however. Let's start at where I want the beginning to be. I had just finished the nightly devotional, which was probably "highs and lows," where each camper shares what their favorite and least favorite part of the day was. That's a go-to devo for me, because it takes no planning, and planning is an area in which I do not excel. We finished earlier than I had anticipated, so I did the one thing I swore I would never do: I gave the kids flashlight time. I feel as though I am the strictest counselor when it comes to flashlight privileges in that my kids don't have any. I always explain to them that there is no need for a flashlight at camp and, really, there isn't. There are lights on the outside of cabins if they have to go to the bathroom at night, and that's the only scenario in which they would be outside when it's dark. However, flashlights are on the list of things to bring to camp that is sent to the parents, so every kid brings one. For flashlight time, I turned off the lights in the cabin and they all shined their lights spastically on the walls and ceiling. For some reason, that's fun. Then I thought of something else we could do, so I abruptly ended flashlight time and explained the new thing. Unfortunately, I can't remember what the new thing was, but I do remember that they were not participating. Consequently, I ended the new thing abruptly, too, and declared a premature lights out. The kids were surprisingly quiet for the first five minutes or so, but then a couple of flashlights were turned on. I confiscated them. Quiet for a few more minutes, then whispers. Whispers gave way to laughter and soft talking, which birthed normal talking. I told them to be quiet a number of times. Each time, the level of anger in my voice was more notable than the previous time. I was on the verge of using my angry-dad voice (which is quite terrifying) when the talking was reduced to only a few whispers. I drifted in and out of sleep for about an hour before finally activating full-sleep mode. That's when the trouble started.

I was awoken by the sound of someone pouring water out of a bottle onto the floor. "Why? Just...why?" I thought. "Eh, it's only water; I'll worry about it in the morning." Three seconds later, the worst smell ever to enter my nasal cavity entered my nasal cavity. "Oh. Oh no. That's not water." And it wasn't water. It was vomit. The kid was on the top bunk, just leaning his head over the side and letting it rip. I turned on one of the flashlights I confiscated earlier and caught the eyes of the kid. I simply pointed at him and did the finger motion for "come here."

"Can't I just get a drink of water or something?"

"Nope, we're going to see the health aid."

"Why can't I just get a drink of water?"

"Because you just threw up! Let's go!" For a second, I thought about just going next door and waking up Drew since, like I said in the first installment of "The Final Cabin," Drew was the health aid for the whole summer. I decided against it, though, since he had his own cabin to worry about, firstly, and secondly, we'd still have to go to the health aid office. I walked with the kid to the health aid office, making a short pit stop at the dining hall so he could rinse his mouth out. I explained to Haley, the interim health aid, what had happened and she took over from there. At this time, I realized that I still had eight kids in a hot room with the stinkiest puke puddled on the floor. I decided I should relocate my kids and then clean the puke. Luckily (and I do mean luckily), I ran into Katie, AKA Katie Dubs, AKA K-Dub Money, a service staff and tie-dye extraordinaire, on my way back to the cabin.

"Joe? What are you doing out?"

"Oh, one of my kids threw up and I had to bring him to Haley. And now I have to move my kids and clean the puke."

"Do you want me to clean the puke?"

"...Yes? If you could, that would be awesome."

"Okay! I'll clean the puke!"

I got back to the cabin and woke up all my kids and told them we were moving to a different cabin, because this cabin stinks. This took about twenty minutes because when I woke up one kid and went to the next, the first kid would fall back asleep. Paul, a counselor who was working Family Camp (which means he was not responsible for any kids), came to lead the kids to our new cabin, since he was staying in the other side of it. As I was grabbing my stuff, Katie Dubs came in with puke cleaner and went to work.

Then everybody slept and we all lived happily ever after. The end.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Belated Posts #3: The Final Cabin, Part 1 - Power Hour

During the last week of camp, I was lucky enough to be counseling. It's always a blessing to be on site during the last week because, well, it's the last week and it'd be nice to actually be there for it. I was also lucky enough to have Drew Boraas as my co-counselor for the week. Drew was the health aid for the summer so, obviously, this was his first week counseling. You may be thinking, "Why was it lucky you had a first time counselor as your co-counselor?" Valid question, and the answer is simply that Drew is a pretty cool guy; it has nothing to do with his counseling experience.

Anyway, none of that is relevant, really. For the last week of camp, I had third graders in my cabin, which is pretty ideal, considering I'm going to have a career working with second graders. However, these third graders didn't have very good memory. I don't know if there was like, a virus in the cabin that spread from kid to kid to cause a coding/storage/recall deficiency or something, but they just could not remember anything. For instance, every day we have something called "Power Hour," which is when the counselors get an hour without kids. During that hour, the kids go play games with the Assistant Program Directors. I never know what games they're playing because it doesn't concern me. However, my kids always thought I knew.


"Joe, what are we doing for Power Hour?"

"Playing a game with Stever and Annie."

"What game?"

"I don't know."

"Why not?"

"I don't participate in the game, so I don't ask what it is. I'm not even there for it, so I don't know."


"Joe, what are we doing for Power Hour?"

"Remember what you did yesterday for Power Hour?"

"...Carpet ball?"

"Nope. You guys played a game with Stever and Annie, right?"

"Oh, yeah!"

"You're doing that again."

"What game?"

"I don't know."

"Is it 'Everybody's It Tag'?"

"Did you play that yesterday?"


"Then no."


"Joe, what are we doing for Power Hour?"

"I'm gonna go way out on a limb here and guess that you're going to play a game, and that it'll probably be with Stever and Annie."

"What game?"

"When was the last time I answered that question for you?"

"Umm...I don't know."

"I don't know what game you're playing."


"Joe, what are we doing for Power Hour?"

"I'm curious - what do you think you're doing for Power Hour today?"

"I don't know."

"Well, what did you do yesterday?"

"Play games with Stever and Annie?"

"Right! And what did you do the day before that?"

"Play games with Stever and Annie...?"

"Right again! And do you remember what you did the day before that?"

"Play games with Stever and Annie..."

"Exactly! So, if you were to just venture a guess as to what you are doing for Power Hour today, what would you guess?"

"...What game are we playing?"

"Sigh...Have I ever known what game you're playing for Power Hour?"


"Right. And today is no different. I do not know what game you are playing."

There are a few more scenarios that are similar to this one, but I used up a ton of space with dialogue and I think it would be cruel to continue. Just believe me when I tell you that this cabin tested my patience more than any other cabin I have had. It was fun, though.