Today we left Buffalo and drove four hours east to Cooperstown NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. It better than I expected, but exactly the same. Located in practically the middle of nowhere, the Hall of Fame was kept rather simplistic, as it should be. There was a mini-museum filled with baseball artifacts, but otherwise the Hall was kept clean to honor the 100+ inductees over the past 80 years. Was it life-changing? No...but definitely worth seeing. It was a great mix of nostalgia and tourism and once.
I did some investigative reporting yesterday (i.e. logging in to Skyward) and was able to figure out my schedule for next year. It turns out that while my schedule is mainly unchanged (I still have English 11 and CP English 12)...the ratio is a little different next year. Instead of 4 12's and 1 11, I'm now at 3 12's and 2 11's. It might not seem like a big deal (and it probably isn't compared to others' changes) but in a way in changes my whole "identity". Currently, and for the past three school years, when people asked what I teach, I could say "senior English" without a thought. Some years I'd have to clarify "well technically I have one section of 11" but I thought of myself as a Senior English teacher. Now...while the Seniors are still the majority, they're only making up 60% of my course-load. It's going to be slightly different having to simultaneously support two grade levels at once.
While growing up we all tend to think that teachers are assigned grade levels based on ability (the first grade teacher must not be as smart as the fifth grade teacher, right), it turns out that's not the case when you're an adult. Still, the grade you teach, especially in high school, dramatically effects how you see the kids. Are the young and energetic? Are the odd and cranky? Are the hard working and stressed? Are they cynical but almost mature? It's not the content that changes, but high school is a very different place when you're only halfway through vs. when you have only 182 days left to go. How will this new course balance affect my teaching personality this year? Only time will tell...
I've been watching a lot of political news over the past few months and I've come to the conclusion...that most people either no longer understand what sarcasm is...or have completely lost a sense of humor. Sadly, this confusion seems to manifest itself on party lines. Two days ago, the Republican nominee, in an obvious joke, asked the Russian if, perhaps, they had uncovered the Democratic nominees missing emails and, if so, if they could send them back. The media (and the rest of the political left) freaked out, calling the nominee a traitor, and claiming he was working in conjunction with Russian hackers to win the election. He ultimately had to clarify he was joking...though it was obvious from the start.
Now that's just one example, and I'm sure similar things have happened with the political parties reversed...but this lack of humor-identification is striking. Is it because the two sides are so eager to look for flaws that they ignore obvious jokes and assume the candidate is serious....or do they truly not understand sarcasm anymore. This election seems to have gained more vitriol than ever, primarily because one candidate uses lots of humor, sarcasm, and obvious hyperbole...and everyone on the opposing side thinks the candidate is serious. I suppose you could argue that a run for president should be taken with more seriousness...but really? There's no room for humor anymore?
All this really tells me is that word-play is important as ever and I need to make sure to double my efforts in the coming school year. As long as students continue to hear my jokes and watch them fly over their heads...I still have a lot of work to do.
I had a large tree branch fall on my head two days ago...which has led me to wonder if I'm "concussed" or not. After seeing many of my students and co-workers taken out of commission for days if not week and months with concussions over the past few years, I've been paranoid about being on alert for symptoms for the past couple of days. My still still (slightly) hurts, my vision is (slightly) blurry when looking at bright screens, I feel (slightly) more tired than normal and I feel (slightly) zoned out. But honestly...that describes how (and lots of people) feel most of the time anyway. A concussion? Who knows...and even if it was, there's nothing to be done but sit and wait.
Of course the problem with concussions...is that it's either all in my head, or it's all in my head. There's no easy way to distinguish between the concussion being in my head...or just in my head. It's led to some confusing conversations over the past few days.
Hopefully this blog entry made sense. It took longer to write than it seems, and longer than it should have been. But then again, that's how most of them are. Maybe the "concussion" is just in my head after all...
If you watch the DNC at all yesterday, you saw a lot of placards about "history". With Hillary Rodham Clinton earning the Democratic Nomination for the Presidency, she's the first female (or is it woman?) candidate for a major party for the nation's highest office. Even if you dislike her policies, it's a big deal. I mean, it's history. Right? Right?
If there's one phrase that's stood out in the political spectrum over the past few years, it's "be on the right side of history". The saying, of course, is meant to shame everyone who disagrees with a particular viewpoint with the notion that, one day, when history looks back, that view point will be as archaic as slavery. It has the added effect of presuming that one's current views will not only be vindicated by the coming generations, but celebrated as prophetic genius. (I'm declining to bring up the particular issues in question, mainly because this isn't a political blog nor do I think the internet, via text, is a great way to have these debates or conversations. What I am more interested in talking about, however, is the modern notion that our lives are "historical".)
While the "right side of history" line is an excellent combination of rhetorical devices (straw-man, allegory, bandwagon, etc.), it also as the added effect of elevating modern events to historical proportions. By comparing our modern political debates with the Civil War, or the Civil Rights era, it's as though we imagine ourselves as heroic and transformative as the leaders during those events. After growing up in the 90's (with relatively little global conflict) and the 2000's (with a post 9/11 anger combined with a decade of war-fatigue and economic stagnation), it's clear that recent events haven't been nearly as "good vs. evil" or "change the world important" as they're been seemingly portrayed in the past. As a result, the "right side of history" line neatly solves these problems. Now our political struggles are instantly right on par with the American Revolution, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Forest Gump. We too get to be important just like the Greatest Generation and the Founding Fathers...all within the safe, comfortable confines of a Twitter hashtag.
Now yes, every event every single day is "history", but it's often not clear what's important, or what will be long lasting until years later. The stories still have to be written by the actions and legacies of what follows. Unfortunately, there's a huge push to be "on the right side of history" before history has a chance to write the story. The result is a political debate where everything becomes of vital historical importance...and therefore nothing is. Rarely do things reveal themselves as "right side vs. wrong side" unless it's a new Star Wars film; if you're debating because you want to look like a hero historical, you're probably in the wrong field.
So Hillary Rodham Clinton "made history" yesterday. Only time will tell if she ends up being the equivelent Geraldine Ferraro, Jackie Robinson, or James Buchanan...
The Pirates blew a very winnable game last night due to two small mistakes. Despite the final score reading 7-4, it could have easily been much closer if it wasn't for a botched a few botched home runs and some blow changes allowed the doors to open for unearned runs and a Mariners victory. I was pretty annoyed last night, but when I woke up today, I realized it was just a few small mistakes that held them back. Surely they can get right back in the swing of things today and win.
And yet...when it comes to professional sports, the difference between winning and losing is really small in any game. The talent level is so high that the smallest advantage is enough to put one team over another. It might make me feel better to say "eh, the Pirates just made one mistake too many..." but that's the whole point!! The entire premise of sports is that one team makes fewer mistakes than the other.
Thankfully for the rest of us, most of life isn't like that. In a general non-competitive sense, we have a built in "screw up" buffer when it comes to getting through the rest of the day. Maybe that's why sports appeal to so many people: we vicariously live through athletes as they "out-perfect" each other. By choosing the "correct" side, we can feel like we were a part of the magic.
With my show complete and the Pirates off until tomorrow night, it's time to relax...which is turns out is a lot more difficult than I thought. Between working on curriculum (and wasting time online) in the morning, and needing to get some running in in the afternoon, we were barely able to get ready, drive to Sandcastle, find a spot to put our stuff...before it finally got too hot and we had to head home. Just sitting around the house doing nothing sounds great in theory, but it rarely ever happens, and suddenly the whole day is gone.
I think that's probably the reason I don't really like vacations. Much like eating ribs, it's a lot of work and you don't really get much meat out of it. At least for the ribs; not so much the vacation. I wonder if its always been this hard to relax. Are we just more stressed out now today than in years past...or is this a first-world problem at its finest?
It's getting into the upper 90s today, which for this region is only seen a few times a year...which means its a perfect excuse to hide inside. For some reason, stepping outside into the ridiculous heat seems just as bad as the winters when it hits single digits and its far too cold to venture outdoors at all. Once again, just a few extra degrees can make all the different.
While summer still has four weeks left, today feels like the beginning of the end. It's now time to shift away from relaxing and start thinking about what comes next when the students walk in the door at the end of August. This year, despite not getting too many new classes, will be a much bigger change due to all the curriculum updates. Let's hope its worth it.
After three weeks of rehearsal, and three weeks of performances, we finally reach the end of Anna in the Tropics at the little lake theater. It's been a fun run through the rehearsals, and the first couple of performances weren't bad either, but after three weeks I'm ready to go ahead and move on. Despite my initial hesitance to miss some pirate games to do this, glad I was able to get back into it and meet a lot of great new people that of been involved in theater all along.
I suppose the only downside now… is how to make this continued fits in my routine going forward. The past few years have been jam-packed between school activities, running, and classes and other professional work. If I go ahead and add theater into the mix… Something is going to have to go. I suppose time will tell as far as what makes the cut. There are really only so many hours in the day and days in the week.
At the end of it though, that's really all you can do. Pick one or two things that you want to do for a time and go for it. It always feel guilty eating trying to things, you don't have enough time, but no sense in stretching yourself too thin. After all, if you get lucky, you have many seasons in life to try just about all of them before the final bow.
English Teacher | Instructional Technology Specialist | 2014-15 PBS Digital Innovator | Gamification Researcher | Marathon Runner | Ph.D RMU 2015