Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cereal Love

One Christmas tradition in our home is to have extra selection of breakfast cereals. This usually causes us all to think of a cereal we haven't had in a while, and which we would love most for Christmas morning. I plan to start a poll in a week or two about this subject. My ideas for the best cereal of all time are currently Cracklin Oat Bran, Crispix, Kix, Count Chocula, and Cocoa Crispies. If I have missed a contender for this poll, please comment on this post.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Arctic Blast

We have had record low temperatures, and snow has been accumulating over the last few days such that schools, roads, and businesses have been closing. Last night it snowed about 4-5 inches, and I chained up on the ambulance. We were able to take someone to the hospital who had been on another ambulance that got stuck. On my way home from work, however, I didn't make it up our hill and had to abandon my car and walk part of the way. Brrr. And it appears this weather is going to be around for at least a few more days.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Today I was teaching high school PE. It was wonderfully simple. All you do is sort of watch the kids play basketball and make sure they don't hurt themselves. Once in a while you throw in a "no kicking" or "pull up your shorts." At the end of the day you whistle everybody out. If I wore sunglasses and had a tan, I think I could have passed for a pool lifeguard. It reminded me of a quote an old friend of mine shared with me: "Good times are had when you're having fun."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blagojevich Scores Big

I just got fined $60 for skipping the toll booth 3 times in Illinois back in November in a rental car. But here is the best part: "Failure to satisfy any fines or penalties...for 5 or more violations shall result in...suspension of...driver's license and possible...collection action." Guess what that means - I get off scott free. But then I remembered that my integrity is worth more than $60, so I paid the money. The rental car company also billed me $15 because they had to look up my information to give to the state of Illinois (a tattle-tale fee). It seems like big brother keeps a good eye on you on the roads of Illinois. So pay your tolls.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Superhero Poll

Comic book enthusiasts have been stumped by this question for years: who is the greatest superhero of all time? Unfortunately, I can't answer that question at this time. The poll was designed for such a purpose, but one voter (or possibly 2) hacked into the system and cast multiple ballots, which compromises the accuracy of the data. What I can say for sure is that the greatest superhero is not Spiderman, or anyone who would fall in the "other" category, i.e. Wolverine, Edward Cullen, or Captain America.
There may also have been some confusion regarding Chuck Norris' status as a superhero. Wikipedia defines superhero as a fictional character "of unprecedented physical prowess dedicated to acts of derring-do in the public interest". While Chuck Norris is not fictional, he does have unprecedented physical prowess (holding the title of world karate champion pretty much since he was 10 years old,) he does brave acts in the public interest (endorsing unpopular political candidates,) and he has a fictional alter ego (Walker Texas Ranger,) so he still qualifies.

Monday, December 8, 2008

High School

Substitute teaching a 10th grade English class is a sweet deal. The kids are great - not nearly as much trouble as junior high kids. And the money is great compared to EMT work. All you do is stand up at the beginning of class, take roll, announce what the kids have to do, and be open for questions. One drawback to substitute teaching is that you're more of a babysitter than a teacher. But on the plus side, you don't have to know the subject, no grading involved, nothing to work on at home, and you get the same money as if you were the real teacher.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Smoke Alarms

I believe smoke alarms save lives. And, in general, safety first. But last night I didn't sleep well because a smoke alarm had a low battery, and beeped every 30 seconds until I got up and pulled out the battery at 2am. I can remember 3 or 4 times this has happened to me in the past, and am wondering whether I might lead a better life without smoke alarms. Here's my analysis:
First, you have the cost of the alarm and batteries (about $50 over my lifetime).
Next, there is maybe a 1/1000 chance my home will ever catch fire (this is generous for Seattle).
Third, I'm a non-smoker, so divide that by 2.
Fourth, there is only a 1/3 chance I will be asleep at the time and need the detector to alert me of danger.
Next, let's say there is a 50/50 chance that I could have survived without the detector - maybe I had a dog to wake me up instead of the shrill beeping.
Now - the factor that I think may be overlooked sometimes - losing about 20 good nights of sleep over the course of my lifetime.
Finally, once every 2-3 years a smoke detector will tell me something I already know, i.e. I just burned some toast. That just bugs me. I guess, to be fair, I should add that there is potential comedic value in smoke detectors - you might use one in a practical joke.
So, the bottom line is you probably would win the lottery before a smoke detector saves your life. But we must put up with them to meet fire codes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Stay In School

I taught 6 periods of language arts and math at a middle school today. Teaching wears me out. Most of the kids are great - quiet and patient - while others look for any excuse to get out of their seats and mess around. We had enough material to cover to keep them busy for most of the period, but the last 5 minutes for most of the classes was pandemonium. I need to pace my lessons better so I don't run out of material. Also, when the ruckus starts I need a way to regulate. Two ideas for that: 1 - make kids do jumping jacks if they get out of their seats (drain their energy), or 2 - send half the class to the principal's office. Any other ideas out there?