Friday, July 22, 2005

Hypocrisy 7/22/05

When you tell someone you "hate" all of your friends, but you can't "live without them", that's
When you scream and shout, "It's absolutely wrong," that a show is adding a lesbian character, and then you talk about how you want two of the "hotter female" characters on that show to have, "graphic sex," that's
When you sit there and say that only white people can be racist, and then you call a Hmong student a "chink," that's
When you say that a person has done something so unforgivable that they should be killed or fired, and then you do it too, and say, "Well, this is different," that's
When you complain that society concentrates on looks too much, and then you get a boob job, that's
When you say there is no God, and then you pray to him for help at a sporting event or "time of crisis," that's
When you say, "I'm not a yuppie," and then you refuse to eat somewhere, because it's, "too white trash," that's
When you say you hate a particular actor/actress/athelte/politician, and then you follow their every move saying, "I'm just fascinated by them," that's
When you complain that no one notices the homeless, and then you don't give a dollar, that's
When you say that it's never you causing the trouble, and then you punch someone for no reason, that's
And finally (for today),
When you tell people that there's nothing to worry about, but they should panic anyway, that's
Feel free to drop
me some of your ideas of hypocrisy. I'm always curious to hear. Also, the next post will be my 100th, so look for some crazy story that will (attempt to) make you laugh and for guest stars.
Have a nice weekend!

And, Like a Rollercoaster....

You're up one day, and then the next something happens that just makes you want bang your head on the chalk board over and over and over.
After being happy (though not exuberantly so) yesterday, my students today (and yes, I know it's Friday) really frustrated me. It wasn't so much their behavior in class, as right after. See, on Tuesday, they will all be taking the Basic Standards Test in Reading, and I am working very hard to prepare them. As I have said before, many of them have told me they just don't care about the test, school, or anything.
So today they took a mock test in order to see if what we have been doing for the last four weeks has been sticking. Out of 31 kids, 10 received passing grades. Of those ten, only 4 got higher than 75% (which is considered passing for the BST). Now, I could go off on a rant about this, but that's not what's annoying me. Honestly, I expected these scores. What angered me was what happened after they found out their scores.
One girl in the second period class scored a 90%. Highest grade of all 31 kids. She was really proud of herself, and I honestly was proud of her too, because she had come a really long way in four weeks. Unfortunately, as soon as the kids found out that she had scored so well, they began ruthlessly teasing her. One kid called her "Teacher's Pet." That's not so bad. What made it worse was when they started talking about the sexual favors she must have exchanged and called her a traitor to the other kids as well as not being true to her race. That's right. Because the other kids had scored so low, and she didn't, that meant she wasn't, "black." Once again, I'm not kidding. They kept talking about how white her skin was, etc., etc. With so much being thrown at her, she started to cry. Well, I wasn't going to stand for it. I quickly shut down the kids who were causing the problems, and then I gave them a very evil punishment. I made them go out in the hall, I grabbed a few textbooks off the shelves, and they had to hold out their arms with the textbooks in their hands. If the books droppped, they would go to the office to be punished. If they managed to stand there with the books out for ten minutes, I would only chastise them. What happened, you ask? Two kids dropped the books right away and were sent to the office. As this was their fourth time there, they aren't coming back. One kid made it, and then he apologized to her. Did he mean it? I have no clue.
Yeah, Tuesday is going to be very hard for these kids. Most of them aren't going to get credit for the class, because they haven't been doing to work or showing up. They love to talk to each other all the time, but you can't talk at all during the BST, or you'll be thrown out. Think about that: five weeks of work and sitting in an incredibly hot building only to blow it on the day of the test. The whole reason you're there, gone. All because you couldn't be quiet for two hours.
If none of the numbers change drastically next week, this will be the final tally:
Period 1: 12 kids (lost ten from the first day). 5 kids will get credit for the class. Probably 2 will pass the BST.
Period 2: 19 kids (lost seven from the first day). 3 kids will get credit for the class. Probably 4, maybe 5 will pass the BST.
So, that means out of 31, 8 will get credit and 6 will pass the BST. That's LOW! It makes me feel like a bad teacher. Granted, I can only do so much, but it still frustrates me that it's happening on my watch.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

And Now...Master Leab

Well, I'm done. That's right. As of 8:15 tonight, I finished my final Master's class. Done, finito, no mas, das Ende. I will only have to walk on to the St. Thomas campus one more time in order to pick up my diploma. After that, I'm gone.
After all the money I've sunk into that school, and after all the crap I've put up with from them, I cannot tell you the relief that I am feeling now that I am done. It's very strange to me that I now have a Master's Degree. I can remember the day I received my Bachelor's Degree. That, to me, was the proudest day of my life and it happened with such pomp and circumstance (no pun intended). Today, however, I don't feel like I've done something special. No, I just feel like I've completed a walk down the street and back. There has been some pretty scenery, but nothing really special.
It's weird.
I do admit that right now I feel really tired. That's because all the pressure I've been under to finish has passed.
So, here's a toast to myself and anyone else that finished their Master's today at St. Thomas. Congratulations. Now go get a job.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Natural Selection at Work (7/20/05)

Sometimes you can just see natural selection about to work. As I drove home from work today, I stopped at a red light on Dowling Ave. The day turned out to be nice, so I was looking around at how the newly found sunshine was pouring down on the wonderful green (and brown) Earth. It was at this moment that I saw Darwin's theory at work. (Note: I REALLY wish I had a camera for this.) I saw a man on a bicycle. He was traveling quite fast and was wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. He had no helmet on. His neck was tilted so that he could talk on a cell phone. His hand kept moving back and forth from the handle bar to the phone. It was what was in his right hand that was interesting. As this man traveled with phone in hand, he had a baby in the other. I'm not kidding. He was cradling an infant in his other hand. The baby was wearing a jumper and that was about it. Can you imagine what this guy was thinking?
I need to get to Roy's house, but I have the baby. Ok, I'll take the baby with me and ride over. Hmm, I should make sure he's there, though. Sooo I'll call him as we go.
Yup, natural selection. With the choice of road, the choice of transportation, and a squirming baby, something bad is bound to happen. I'll need to check the paper tomorrow...
The other moment occured at school today during a break between classes. One of the students was waiting outside the nurse's office, because she said she didn't "feel right." As I sat there for my lunch duty, I watched this student stare at a electrical socket. I didn't understand why. She then pulled out a metal clip from her hair and started to put it in the socket. Now a very quick dialogue shot through my head, and it went like this:
Dude, she's going to hurt herself. Stop her!
But if I don't stop her, then she'll learn a valuable lesson.
Yes, but if she remembers that you were here, you could get sued.
She can't see me....Besides I could a good laugh.
No! Now tell that girl to stop before she turns extra crispy.
And with that, I yelled down the hall, "Hey! Get that clip away from the socket before you hurt yourself!"
She just turned looked at me and said, "Huh? How could this hurt me?" Luckily the nurse came out at that point, because I just didn't have it in me to explain it to her. It was obvious that Darwin would have loved this girl.
So there you go folks. You want ways to balance out the ever-growing population of this planet? Believe me, somehow people will get themselves to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Mistaken Identity

I know this doesn't just happen to me or my family, but I swear it happens to us more than anyone else I know.
Once a week, at least, I am stopped by people who ask me if I am someone "famous." I'm not kidding. It doesn't just happen to me either. Let's start with my father.
A long time ago, when I was a young, cynical boy with promise, I was walking down Broadway with my father and one of my sisters. At the time, Burger King was running a promotion (yes, I have probably talked about this before) to find "Herb". If you saw Herb in a Burger King restaurant, you could win money. Now, Herb was a man with glasses, bald, and wore garish 80's sportcoats. Well, my father fit that same description, so as we walked by the BK, a man shoots out of the store and grabs my father. At the top of his lungs, he is screaming, "I've got Herb! I've got Herb," and he is attempting to drag my father into Burger King. Now my sister and I are young at this point, so when a rather large guy is dragging your father away, you can't really do much except scream or kick. We did both. My father, who I am still convinced is part of a super secret agency, managed to whip the guy off of him and into the door. Standing there ready to fight with his eyes blazing, my father asked, "what the hell is going on?!" The man, slightly dazed, said, "Aren't you Herb, man?" Within seconds, the manager of the BK came out and explained everything. Old Man Leab just looked at the manager and said, "That's preposterous. I'm not this Herb guy." And on our merry way we went...until it happened again ten blocks later. I'm not kidding. Another guy saw my father and screamed, "It's Herb! Hey man, I need the money. Come here, come here." It was at that point that my father realized, "we need to take a cab."
He's not alone in mistaken identity. At my college graduation, several of my classmates thought that my oldest sister was Winona Ryder. I'm sitting there in my department (Performing Arts), and several Psychology majors behind me are pointing at my sister and saying, "Dude, Winona Ryder is AT OUR GRADUATION!!!!" I tried to explain that the woman they were pointing to was my sister, but then it turned into, "Dude! This guy's sister is Winona Ryder!" And then the questions began:
"What was Johnny Depp like?"
"Is she working on any films now?"
And on and on it went. No matter how much I explained that my sister was NOT Winona Ryder, they just keep thinking I was lying.

And my mother and other sister have been mistaken for famous people. It's insane.
So why bring up these examples? Because I get mistaken for people at least once a week. For the last few weeks, I have been asked if I was one of the following people: either
Greg Grunberg or, oddly enough, Kevin Smith. Obviously, I am now extremely self concious about how I look. Today had to be the weirdest experience of it. I was in a Richfield-based Electronics store (Ok, it was Best Buy), and the guy at the counter starts to ring me up and then looks at me. He stops, puts the scanner down, and says, "Hey, are you that guy?" You have to understand, I'm used to this at this point. I get it alot:
"Did we go to school together?" No.
"Are you that guy on TV?" No.
"Did you used to be blond?" God, NO!
"Wait, wait, wait. How do I know you?" Um, I don't know.
Anyway, as soon as he said "guy," everyone turned and looked. "Um, who do you think I am?" I asked. As the guy at the counter is about to ask, two women in the next lane, switch to my lane to be closer to me. At the same time, two other employees walk over. Now there is a crowd as the guy says, "That guy on Alias. He was also on that other show...uh...Lost. Played the pilot."
"Do you mean Greg Grunberg?" I put forward.
At this point, the women next to me are pulling pens and some sort of paper products out of their purses. I'm really not kidding. They are preparing to ask me for an autograph if I am Mr. Grunberg. More employees come over. Now, I don't really get embarrassed. I make a mistake, I laugh it off. Some confronts me, I stand my ground. It takes alot to make me get blush. And yet, as I try to explain to Counter Guy that I am not him, more people are arriving. Out loud, I say, "Folks, I'm not him. I'm sorry. I may look like him, but I'm not him." My embarrassment is not for me, but rather for the people who started toward me, because they thought I was a celebrity.
If people aren't mistaking me for some random celebrity (and I am not ripping on those two gentlemen), then they forget who I am immediately. I have a friend who tells me all the time that I would, "make a great terrorist." (Welcome to my blog, American Government. I hope you enjoy your viewing.) That's right. Apparently, according to him, I look like everybody else. Brown hair, brown eyes, regular height, regular build, nothing that makes me special.
We created a test when we were in college. A bunch of us went to a bar in very similar clothing. We waited until a gaggle (yes, like geese) of single women came in and sat down. Then I would go over and talk to them and buy drinks. After a few minutes, I would leave and go to the other side of the bar, but be in plain sight of the table. If you had met me or seen me, then you couldn't miss me. So, the guys would spread out around the bar. One of them would then go over and ask the ladies, "Hey, where's the guy you were just speaking with." Now, 4 out of 5 times (and the even occasionally five out five times), they would point at someone else. They even pointed at a blond guy once. A BLOND GUY! I have dark brown hair, people, and they pointed at a blond guy. And before you ask, no, the lighting wasn't bad.
So, there you have it. Either I am completely anonymous and forgotten (and thus ready for covert work), or people think that I am some random celebrity (and I just can't imagine hanging out in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota).
So, if you thought you saw someone in the corner of your eye, watch out! It just might be me. Now, back to my anonymity.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Speed Racer in Site B

I know that I've been overly grim/down/depressing in my last few posts, so I thought I would throw in a quick post that might (or hopefully will) make you laugh.
So you might
remember I mentioned that when I was working at the Tobacco Document Depository that it had a "Site B". If the main site was the warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark, then Site B was like Santa's workshop. A huge space that had only two rows of boxes and the rest was open space. That space was good for two things: driving (either golf balls or frisbees) and racing (mostly chairs).
When I went over to Site B, I usually was sent over with Randy (not his real name), who would usually be on the same wavelength with me about mischief. After returning the boxes that had been requested, Randy and I would often grab the chairs at the desks there and create an obstacle course. Next, using the two chairs with wheels, we would race to see who could get through the course faster. You have to understand: this job was incredibly boring and tedious. Cockroaches would die from boredom, and we're talking about the things that will inherit the Earth after the nuclear war. Anyway, I can remember one particular nasty race, Randy and I bumped each other alot. We were taking the corner around the second shelf and slammed into each other. The resulting bump sent both of us into the shelf and almost tipped it over. Luckily we caught it. After that, we set up on one side and then would run as fast as we could, jump into the chair, and ride it until it stopped. Then we measured the distance. Whoever went farther won.
I was setting up for my third run. I needed to go one foot farther than my second run in order to best Randy. As I took off running, I knew something wasn't right, but I ignored the feeling. I leapt into the chair at top speed. The chair swung around and...tipped over with me in it. Have you ever gone on a Slip N Slide? Now imagine that, but remove the plastic and the water, replace them both with hard concrete floor, and that was what I slid on. As my face slid along the concrete floor, I kept thinking about two things:
1. Is this going to leave a visible mark? Yup.
2. Am I still going to go further than Randy? Uh, nope.
I was close to beating him, but my face just slowed me down (it could have been the beard). There's something about when you are in the middle of an accident or some sort of pain experience that time slows down and you realize certain things. As I slid on my face, I was able to ask those two questions, but I was also able to think about the world.
"Is it time for me to get a new job? I mean I like the freedom of working here, but I think I need more. Is that a bolt in the floor? That's going to hurt (and it SO did. It left the mark). Is Randy laughing already? I guess this is funny in a morbid way. My wife would laugh. Here comes the bolt."
After that day, we stopped the chair distance trials, but continued the obstacle races. Other times, we would bring the driver or a frisbee golf disc over and just plug away. One time, however, Randy shanked the ball and somehow hit it juuuusst right so it ricocheted off the wall, off a pipe, and back at him. He didn't duck fast enough, so it plowed right into his chest and knocked him over. If you've ever been hit by a golf ball, it hurts. I admit, however, that I did laugh.
There are times that I do miss the cavernous emptiness of Site B. If I was sent over there to work on any documents, I was happily alone. No one to bug me with their blissful ignorance, no one to comment on my musical tastes, and no one to sit there and try to use me as free therapy.
Of course, just because I'm teaching summer school now doesn't mean that I'm not having fun every once in a while. A few of us teachers wait until the students leave and play a version of Bocci Ball in the halls (so as not to damage the lockers, we do have rules about heights, etc). It's not the same as chair races, but it sure is a good way to blow off steam.