Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ramblings for the Evening (03/15/06)

The week is half over.
Great intro, Leab. Oh well, moving on....
So, without further ado: HEY! WHERE'S THE OTHER GUY!?
Brilliant Parody:
For her birthday, I bought my wife an ipod. The more I learn about Apple, it's ideas, and it's marketing, the more impressed I am. Simplicity is the easiest way to market something. That's why I really like
this parody. It's dead on about Microsoft and its marketing tactics. Now, before you think, "Wow! This is really funny. Who could have ever come up with this?", you should know it was created by a guy AT Microsoft (Check out this story for details). I have seen some truly horrible marketing campaigns in my time. For every "" ad, there's the "Travelocity" Roaming Gnome. Now if you like the gnome, that's your thing, but I personally hate those commercials. The gnome is imcompetent, yet he's the mascot for the company. Hmmm, am I to take from these commercials that the company is also incompetent (I mean if there was a person working at the company who was as stupid as the gnome, wouldn't he or she be fired?)
There are others, as well. I can't stand the Empire Carpeting theme anymore (I have heard it WAY too much on the radio and on TV).
Back to the point, however. There are some fantastic parodies out there. One of the aspects of The Simpsons that makes them still funny is the show's use of satire and parody. I saw an episode recently that parodied the opening of Catch Me If You Can. It was brilliant. It's the same reason (dare I say) that I like the Hot Shots movies. Having seen Rambo as a kid, the spoof of the films (down to casting the same actor,
Richard Crenna, from the Rambo films) is brilliant. Watch Rambo II & III, then see Hot Shots II and you'll see what I mean.
Thanks to Dennis for the ipod story.
More Frustration:
I have essentially "volunteered" my services to work on a show at school. I say volunteered, because I was not told until a few days ago that I would not be getting extra pay. Beyond that, there are now two directors, and they cannot agree on where things go (upstage, downstage, upstage, downstage, etc).
You know, if it wasn't for a few key seniors working on this show, I'd walk. I'm serious, that's how pissed off I am right now. I'm trying to put together a set with no money (wait, make that my OWN money), we have only two or three working microphones for a large cast, and seven lights that I'm supposed to hit the whole stage with AND be able to isolate cast members.
The worst part is that I am actually hearing whispers about how MY work is subpar. Sigh.
I hate venting....
Many of my students are sheep. That was the decision I came to earlier today as we made our way halfway through Animal Farm. I love Orwell's story. If you've never read it, I highly recommend you go and pick it up. The fable is an allegory for the Russian Revolution, but it's
also applicable to the world we live in today. I had to explain why being a sheep is a bad thing (you don't think, you just follow), and needed examples to prove it.
"What did Kanye West say about Bush?" I asked.
"George Bush hates black people," I hear in stereo.
"How do you know?"
"Come on," I start. "You just said it's true, so how do you know?"
"Look at New Orleans."
"So that's all Bush's fault?"
"What about the mayor of the town? What about the governor?"
"Ok, beyond New Orleans, are there any other examples you can give me?"
Silence again.
I waited a very long twenty seconds.
"No one can give an example?"
"No," one student tells me, "But we all know it's true."
"Because Kanye West said so."

This is the problem with our teenagers and with this country. Too many people take what pundits say at face value without researching the facts.
Here's an example by me:
Dick Cheney hates old white men. How do I know? He shot one. Accident? There's no such thing as an accident folks. That's what Freud says. Accidents are subconscious desires made real. Therefore Cheney's shooting of a white guy is actually a deep subconscious desire to eliminate the white man.
There you go folks. A convincing argument. Now, if you believe me without actually, oh I don't know, checking the facts, then you're a sheep. You're willing to take everything I say without question. In that case, I'm starting a religion. Yup...send me your money, and I'll tell you the secret of life.
Of course what do I know? I'm just a wolf in sheep's clothing. I could be wrong.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ramblings for the Morning (3/13/06)

I'm not a happy camper right now.
Yes, it's Monday, and there should be mail, but the mail sent to me was mostly...pathetic (I won't talk about certain former morning anchors anymore, and hatemail is BORING).
So, you get Ramblings instead. How is it that I can ramble at almost ten in the morning...on a school day? Well, this is my prep. Instead of grading, which I need to do, I'm writing. I'm too angry to grade right now. I might write something I regret.
Snow Daze:
I get it. It snows up here in Minnesota. Yes, it's true that I am from the East Coast, and we get snow as well, but not like this.
Let me cover a few things here, folks, that are just really angering me today.
1. The plows. I should have taken a picture the other day, because it is covered now, but ONCE AGAIN, the plows hit my lawn and DESTROYED the front. They even took out a sprinkler head.
2. Driving. You would think Minnesotans would be used to this kind of weather. I've been here only five years, and I have no problem, but it took me an hour and ten minutes to go from my home to school. Normally, even on the worst days, it's only 30-40 minutes. People spun out in front of me, people slammed on their brakes when a car merged two lanes over. It was ridiculous, and quite dangerous. Why isn't there more done in driving schools to prepare Minnesotans for this?
3. My school district. Sigh. We're open today. So is Minneapolis. That's it. EVERYONE else is closed. We had many buses just not show up today. In my first hour class, which usually has 30 kids, I had 12. 12!!! Those kids went through the lesson with me, but inevitably I am going to have to re-teach it tomorrow, because 18 kids were missing. Nevermind the fact that teachers are missing (mysteriously the guy who lives across the street is unable to get out of his house...sigh), and nevermind that I was almost run over walking across my parking lot. Oh, and it was by a bus. I saw the headline flash through my mind as the yellow came closer. "High school teacher run over by bus. 'Ironic death,' proclaimed the AP."
With more snow on the way and more buses telling us they don't feel safe enough to drive, why are we still here?
It's not fair to the kids or the teachers.
Ok, rant over.
Panera Follies:
When you go to a restaurant, you get to see the things about life that both fascinate and frustrate. My wife and I went for brunch at Panera yesterday (and finally went grocery shopping for the first time in three weeks following) and saw a plethora of social faux pas (I can't spell. Michele, is this right?). Let's start with our entrance. Upon entering the lovely restaurant, we got in line to order. As we were about to step to the counter, a woman, who had been looking over the pastries like a hawk seeing a chick, stepped in front of me and started ordering. Now, the clerk behind the counter said, "Ma'am, they were here first." The response?
"Oh, well, they don't mind. Now, I want...."
"Actually, I do mind," I replied.
"Yeah, get in line, lady," my wife said.
At this point the four people behind my wife and I start chirping as well. "What are you doing, come on, etc." The woman just stares at us.
"Why do you hate me?" she asks. At this point, my wife and I turn and lock eyes knowing full well that this lady is crazy. If you cut people off, and then ask why people are angry, you're either totally oblivious, or damn crazy. I picked crazy. She turned around and started ordering again. Luckily, the other clerk beckoned us over. All five couple/people were done ordering before this lady. She then sat on the floor and waited for her food. Not a table, the floor.
My next favorite part came with the lady behind me. As I waited for my wife's hot chocolate, I listened as this woman tried to talk on her cell phone and order food.
"So Darren then said it was wasteful. Yeah, I'll have a Fandango salad. Wait...Oh not you (indicating the clerk) I was talking to her (indicating the phone)." This went on for a while. I could see the veins in the clerk's neck starting to swell with anger. Have we truly become a society where manners are totally forgotten in place of convenience? How hard is it to just say, "Hey, I'll call you back in a minute after I order," or something like that? This woman never got off her phone. She talked to the other person on the line for over a half an hour at least (the amount of time my wife and I were there). It's rude. I understand that people get lonely, but it's so rude. I get pissed when my students text in my class. Why? They aren't paying attention. They are disrespectful then and that's how I felt about this woman on the phone.
The final fun part of this societal observation came when I took our trays to the trash. As I walked across the place, a man in a nice suit was turning circles. I was unsure what he was looking for at the time. It turned he couldn't find the trash can, but more on that later. So, I'm walking by, and he puts his fork and plate on my tray and says, "Here, you can take this for me."
Let me reiterate something. The last time I checked, I'm a teacher. Maybe not the best teacher, but a teacher. I don't work at Panera Bread (or St. Louis Bread Co, which is how I know it). Now, when I learned that this guy was unable to find the trash, I still was pissed. Rather than say, "Excuse me, I cannot find the trash can, can you help me?" This guy says, "Here, you can take this for me." I REALLY wanted to smack him. He had this smug smile that was close to a shit-eating grin and just pissed me off. Instead, I took his fork and plate and went over to the trash can. Then I said, "The plate goes here, and the fork goes here," quite loudly. I noticed he was ignoring me and was back with his dining party (or it what you will). So, I walked over to him, coughed, and held out my hand. "What do you want?" he asked.

"My tip," I responded. "I mean, I did just take your plate and fork over for you. I deserve compensation now."
He just stared at me. My wife, who saw this happening, called me over in order to avoid trouble.
"I guess," she said, "I can't take you anywhere." That's about right.
UPDATE! (8:05 PM)
When I got home from work today, I could not get into my driveway. The plow had come around again and was either not paying attention or reads my blog. My driveway was completely blocked by (and I measured it) a four foot tall snow bank. Starting at 4:30, I shoveled my driveway until my neighbor could get the snow blower working, then I did the rest of the driveway, cut off about half of the snow bank so we could get in and out, cleaned my other neighbor's driveway, cleared a path for my mailman, and then cleaned the machine. The best part? I feel down the edge of my driveway TWICE. The second time I hit the back of my head. I still hear a ringing, and my vision is slightly blurry.
Oh, and I found out that Minneapolis canceled school as well leaving St. Paul as the ONLY district in school today. Sigh.
I need to get off the computer now. My eyes are starting to hurt.