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Now, instead of what I normally would do, which is bitch about how too many people in my profession buy into wholesome learning; bitch about how high school is slowly turning into an extension of middle school, where rigorous guidelines for … oh, I don’t know, handing in homework, are thrown completely out the door; and proclaim that middle school is the cause of the ills of the educational system, I’m going to have a little more fun.

I remembered that for half of my high school career I was a shy guy who tried to fit, then the last two years of high school I did a complete 180 and found myself in the middle of the fold. And that when I really thought about it, I could name quite a few things I remember from high school.

1. How to type correctly. Blame it on my AP European history course. I was expected to type Every. Single. Assignment. Now, this was way before I even had a laptop, much less a desktop. I had a Brother word processor with a fancy monitor. Call that a digital typewriter. In fact, my father has it now and he still uses it. I typed every single night. Because of this, it’s half the reason that by the end of my college career, I could pump out a 4-page paper in 90 minutes.

2. How to kiss. I remember my first kissing experience with a girl. I’m not talking about a “kissing dare” thing from a summer camp or anything like that. I am talking about a real, romantic kiss. We were on her bed. She had this really cool bedroom, and the lights were dimmed. It was romantic. We had our eyes locked on each other and I was trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything she said in the dimmed room. But what I really remembered is the kiss. It ended too quickly. Both the kiss and the girl. I went to a different high school months later. But what happened that night, I took with me. Oh, I forgot to add, it was already awkward because her mom was in the house too!

3. How to get a black eye. No, I didn’t get into a fight. I got a black eye playing pick-up football. I got myself stuck between the ball and a 6’4″ guy’s elbow. Me: 5’5″ and his elbow several inches above me. Bam. Now I have a misaligned eyebrow because of that black eye.

4. How to stand up for myself. When I was mainstreamed, I was subjected to taunting in the hallways. I would walk past groups of wannabe jocks who would make fun of me. Instead of becoming a gang banger and jumping on anyone who made fun of me, I took heed what my father always told me: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Instead, I learned that these little things in life aren’t worth wasting my breath on. I now know that I’ve made the best out of my experiences. Those guys who made fun of me? I’m pretty sure they’re still stuck at their parent’s house in Boiceville.

5. How cool teachers make your days better. I admit. I was a dork in the classrooms, but on the athletic fields, I removed that label. I made it a precise science to have cool teachers. In fact, I think that’s why I’m a teacher now. All of my cool teachers have been social studies teachers. Mr. Wildermuth and Mrs. McCarthy both made my long seven-classes-a-day worthwhile. I’ve always enjoyed those kind of teachers who nurture the soul. Mr. W and Mrs. McCarthy did that.

6. How to solve the Pythagorean Theorem. A squared plus B squared equals C squared. For some reason, this math phobic person really couldn’t follow algebra but for the life of me, I figured out geometry easily. Even to today, I still recall geometric formulas for areas and volumes in my head.

7. How universal themes exist throughout literature and culture. I don’t think I started to really appreciate literature until college, and even more so, appreciate it much more when I married a bibliophile. Some would gag when they hear which book resonates with me from high school, but A Thousand Acres from my AP English class is still fresh in my mind. Earlier this year, I had a long argument with a friend about why it’s important to read and my argument that so much of what we read and watch comes from the themes, motifs, etc. established in those works fell on the deaf ears (pun intended) of a Twilight fan. Anyway, this is where someone first made that point for me.

8. How NOT to be a dork while driving your first car. I’ll never forget the first day I brought my car to school — which happened to be the last day of school my sophomore year. My parents never knew this story, but I almost got into an accident with three other classmates. I was too excited about having my friends in my first car, and I didn’t properly measure the space between my car and the car stopped in front of me. In the blink of an eye, I smelled burnt rubber and my car had stopped so hard that it stalled. I meekly waved an apology to the woman in front of me and tried to adjust my heart from my stomach. I drove 30 MPH the rest of the way home.

So there you have it. You do learn things in high school.

And yes, I paid attention.

Since 1990, 66% of teams that start the season 6-4 have made the playoffs.

With that statistic in mind, you can count on the chances of the following teams making the playoffs at 66%:

Indianapolis, Cincinnati, New England, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Denver, Dallas, New Orleans, Minnesota, Arizona, New York Giants, Philadelphia, and Green Bay.

Of the teams above, only a handful gave a worthy performance today. New England, San Diego, Minnesota, and Green Bay.

The rest either did not live up to their potential or did not deserve their night in the spotlight. Take the following things into mind.

Dallas continues to exhibit an offensive brain fart. I don’t know which coach is worse: Charlie Weis or Wade Phillips. How can you justify barely winning at home against a 3-7 team, scoring only one touchdown. As one of my old college co-workers stated on Twitter, the Mayor of Dallas should be giving a key to the city to Redskins kicker Shawn Suisham. Thanks to Suisham, Dallas narrowly defeated the Redskins, 7-6.

Grit wins games, as Indianapolis learned today. How can you justify going into an hostile environment today (M & T Bank Stadium) and winning by two? It was all about making the correct plays. Peyton Manning was outgunned by his younger brother today, but yet still led Indianapolis to its 19th straight win, two shy of the NFL record set by the Patriots several seasons ago.

Speaking of the Mannings, what a game Eli had today! Eli set career highs in passing yardage with 384 yards on 25 for 39, with three touchdowns and one interception. If not for Matt Stafford (read below) or Brett Favre, I’d call it the Offensive Performance of the Week. Eli willed the Jints to their sixth win of the season, snapping a four-game losing streak.

Boy did San Diego send a statement today. A win at Mile High over the reeling Broncos to claim first in the AFC West. Sure, Denver’s been off the last two games since Kyle Orton went down, but that’s not an excuse. Denver defeated Dallas, so they were legit. Something’s wrong with the Broncos, and something’s going right for the Chargers.

Detroit may have saved their season with that game today. Defeating the Browns with no time on the clock, and Matt Stafford throwing his fifth touchdown of the day? Amazing. Detroit has totaled their win-total from the past two seasons already this year. That’s good news for the Motor City.

Big Ben was knocked out, and the Steelers lost. Roethlisberger had 398 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INT on 32 for 42 passing. That is a good game if anything, but Kansas City won their first game at Arrowhead Stadium today behind an overtime field goal.

Is Favre Human? How can a 40-year old man have a passer rating of near-perfect? 141.8? in the 10 games this season, Favre has had only three games of sub-100 passer ratings. He has 21 touchdowns against three interceptions. The way the Vikes are playing, they will probably meet New Orleans in the NFC Championship game in January.

After the 4th and 2 dilemma last week, New England delivered today.The Pats scored on three straight drives in the end of the first and in the early minutes of the second quarter, to put the game out of reach of their divisional rivals.

Vince Young’s going back to the state of Texas, but he won’t win. This is Houston, This is Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. No way will they let the Titans win. The Texans will win. On Monday Night Football.

It’s not football, but…congratulations to Jimmie Johnson on his fourth straight Sprint Cup title.

Game of the week for next week that I can’t wait to see: New England at New Orleans. There’s also Pittsburgh at Baltimore on Sunday night and the Giants at Denver on Thanksgiving. My brother better have the NFL Network…or else.

 

It’s November 21 and today was the first day I actually watched more than two games in the college football season. Blame the Deaflympics in Taiwan. Blame new commitments in life. Blame so many things happening. All of these had something to do with my not being able to watch a full day’s schedule of games. Heck, I have not even watched the New York Giants play a game since their victory in Arlington, TX (over the Dallas Cowboys).

After just completing the Oregon v. Arizona game, here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Rich Rodriguez sucks. How can he go from being a good coach in West Virginia to a bust in Michigan? It’s all about the Conferences, babe.
  • Florida gets their 21st straight win. I can’t wait for Florida v. Alabama, part two.
  • Is Michigan really that bad? They’ve lost six straight against the Buckeyes. And even the Buckeyes weren’t that smooth today. They’re just lucky Iowa lost and they got into the Rose Bowl. I’d have preferred Penn State.
  • Colt McCoy has my vote for Heisman this year, with Tim Tebow a close second. The conference championships in two weeks will tell me who deserves it outright.
  • Both Boise State and TCU both should earn FBS bowl bids. No ifs, ands, or buts.
  • I have praise for Jimmy Clausen from Notre Dame. He goes out and throws for 329 yards and two touchdowns. It’s not him. It’s the ND defense.
  • For all the fumbles Jeremiah Masoli has, he still electrifies. He gave Oregon the win over Arizona tonight.
  • Who’s the bigger fool? Charlie Weis or Rodriguez? Right now my money’s on Weis, and it’s because he has the better talent than R-Rod.
  • Les Miles, what were you thinking? You let nearly 14 seconds burn off the clock. That was bad clock management. What, are you trying to compete with Weis and R-Rod?
  • That makes it the second year in a row the Ole Miss Rebels have knocked off a big SEC team. Last year being Florida.
  • The Civil War this coming weekend will be outright nasty. And in a good way. I want Oregon. And it’s only because of Masoli.
  • Alabama v. Auburn on Friday, FSU v. Florida on Saturday. It’ll be two 12-0 teams in the SEC championships.

 

A year ago, I’d have laughed in your face if you told me I’d be using Twitter on a frequent basis.

Heck, I would have asked you “what is a twitter?”

Now it is a big part of my daily activities — from finding out what friends are up to or hearing about hot topics, it has become the tool that the developers intended it to be — a microblog.

When my mom ranted a couple of months ago about where I find all this time to do Facebook, blogging, and tweeting, I just didn’t bother answering. Part of me knew she wouldn’t understand what I would explain to her. The bottom line…it doesn’t take much time or effort.

I recently wrote a new column for my regular place at i711.com and this column will focus on how these multimedia tools have replaced several mainstays in the deaf community — particularly deaf periodicals. (When I get the URL of the article, I’ll post it.) In that column, I explained how tweeting and updating one’s status on Facebook has replaced the way we receive news.

Remember how when Michael Jackson died, he nearly brought the Internet with him. We, as society, crave instant results. Instant gratification. As a high school teacher, I see that all the time now. My students want to know their grades now, now and now.

Jared Evans recently presented at the DCARA vlog symposium and was gracious enough to allow his followers to view his PowerPoint presentation. One story from his presentation stood out for me.

Just how powerful Twitter can be in the Deaf community.

Remember the Netflix dilemma?

Jared illustrated that in the days after the furor started, Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin joined the bandwagon with her Twitter following. Because of the ability to do searches in Twitter (#Netflix) and RT (retweeting), word of what Netflix said flew through space like the Millennium Falcon. In a week, Matlin doubled the number of followers from 5,000 to nearly 10,000. All because of RT’ing.

While we may have lost our ability to be patient and wait for news to come via TTY or from house visits from our deaf friends, we have gained a powerful tool that can be used to measure how news gets to us.

Heck, even now, I just got a tweet from a friend who’s at the National airport waiting for a flight to Oregon. *snickers*

Abandoned Cats

Last week I got a text message from my brother simply telling me to “check my email!”

I just checked that off as a silly thing. A couple of hours later, I opened my email and found this picture:

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Two widdle, cutie, little kittens! But there was nothing with the email. Just the photo. I replied to my brother asking what the heck that was. He never replied back.

Then he had the nerve to post 9 more pictures on Facebook of the kittens. I still didn’t know why.

Did my brother and sister in law go ahead and get two more cats? I had no clue.

Turns out they were abandoned by the mother cat under the steps of their townhouse! They don’t look to be more than 8 weeks old, and they’re cute.

The one on the left is called Lefty. And no, it’s not because of where he is sitting. It’s cuz of an eye problem the cat had (since fixed). The one on the right is called Spunky. He says it’s self-explanatory.

You gotta admit, they’re cute. They’re going to keep one of the kittens. I’m counting on them keeping Lefty. After all, gotta have a lefty in the family.

Farewell, Frank

Yesterday while I was driving home from the movies with a friend, she told me that Frank McCourt had died.

Instantly, my mind raced back to the picture of the little boy on the cover of the book he published, Angela’s Ashes. angelas_ashes

Frank McCourt was known for his wit and his prose. And he should be. After all, he taught creative writing in Stuyvesant High School for nearly 30 years. McCourt was not an immigrant. He was born in the boroughs of NYC but moved with his family to Ireland — the native land of his parents — during the Great Depression.

I clicked with his writing mainly for two reasons: his words glued my eyes to the page, and he grew up in squalor in the area of Limerick, Ireland — the birthplace of my maternal grandfather and half of my genes come from the green land.

After Frank’s book was published, his older brother Malachy wrote his own memoirs. His first, A Monk Swimming, was a play on words that I did not get until I read the book. The title itself is the mispronunciation of Malachy’s efforts to say “among women” from the Catholic prayer, Hail Mary.

One of my favorite quotes from Ashes is this:

I’m on deck the dawn we sail into New York. I’m sure I’m in a film, that it will end and lights will come up in the Lyric Cinema. . . . Rich Americans in top hats white ties and tails must be going home to bed with the gorgeous women with white teeth. The rest are going to work in warm comfortable offices and no one has a care in the world.

While there’s no “fancy” words here, this resonates with the common man and how they perceived the world and the obvious rift between the rich and poor during the years post-Great Depression.

Frank won the Pulitzer Prize for Angela’s Ashes, and his subsequent sequels, ‘Tis and Teacher Man carry on the literary prowess that Frank started with Ashes.

Yesterday, the literary world lost a nice old bloke.

Goodbye, Frank. Have a pint on me.

Indianapolis!

Last weekend my good friend Travis and I made a 1,100 mile weekend trip to Indianapolis to visit the King Tutankhamun exhibit that will only tour the United States once before returning permanently back to Egypt.

No, we didn’t see King Tut’s mummified body. We did see a lot of exhibits about his family and his tomb. We were forbidden from taking photos in the exhibit, but we did see the following:

  • King Tut’s canopic coffinette (where his insides were embalmed and stored for the voyage to the afterlife)
  • Tut’s golden sandals that he worn in his tomb
  • earrings (and other jewelry)
  • HUGE bust of Pharaoh Akhenaten (more on that later)
  • Funerary mask of Psusennes I
  • Coffin of Ahmose
  • Tut’s royal bed (made of wood and still intact after 4,000+ years)

Much more! About Akenaten — he was suspected to have been King Tut’s father, and he believed in monotheism — the practice of worshipping one god. That was against traditional Egyptian practice. After his death, his legacy was shattered from the records and he was “swept under the rug.” That’s one of the main reasons why experts believe King Tut’s tomb was intact — he was unknown because of his association with Akenaten. Fascinating story.

In the Children’s Museum, we also saw some other exhibits — namely the Star Wars: The Clone Wars props, and the 43-foot tall glass tower made by famed glass sculptor/artist Dale Chihuly. See pictures:

Glass Tower

see-thru floor(this was the see-through floor that you could view from the bottom. Every piece of color is made from glass.)

dinosaurs at entranceDinosaurs at the entrance of the museum.

AnubisHuge statue of Egypt god Anubis on the outside of the museum

clockPendulum clock operated solely on water (it’s dyed blue in the photo) — vacuum operated that pushes water up and down to count the minutes and hours.

travisnmeTravis and me on the rotating seat looking up at the glass ceiling.

We didn’t get to see much of Indianapolis — but I saw Lucas Oil Stadium — where the Indianapolis Colts play football. It looks nice and clean from the outside.

We ate at two nice restaurants in downtown Indy, and I added 4 shot glasses to my ever-growing collection.

It was definitely a good weekend. If you ever want to see King Tut — go see him before October!