Chicken On The Stick

I had a wonderful lunch with Homercles yesterday. He even treated. Thanks again H. I'm finding that I don't eat nearly as much as I used to be able to when I go to buffets. Maybe my dieting this summer reduced the amount of food that I am used to eating at any given meal. Or, perhaps it's now that I am older, and make more money than I used to years ago, that I don't feel the need to get the most food that I possibly can for my dining dollar. It's nice to be able to leave a buffet now being full, perhaps a bit too full, but not to the extent that I feel like I am going to be sick.


Dead Pool

After reading Greenman's posting about submitting a list of names for The Dead Pool, I decided to join in as well. I will be sharing with everyone the list of names of 15 celebrities whom I expect to die in 2005. Writing that last sentence really gave me a remorseful feeling, but what the heck, it's all in good fun.

I've Been Sick

I have been sick for the past few days. It all began after going out to dinner on Monday night. At first I thought it was food poisoning, but that probably wouldn't have lasted this long. I had to push back my lunch with a friend until tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be feeling better for that.

I did get an encouraging phone call. While I am waiting to hear back from the interview I had last week, I got a call from another company that does similar work about a job. I interviewed for a job with this company last spring, but I did not get the job. They have another opening now, and they would like to interview me again. It would be really nice to have two job offers to choose between.


Enjoying Vacation

I am really enjoying my vacation. It's giving me a change to catch up on my TV court shows. As I am writing this, I am watching Judge Hatchet. My girlfriend is upstairs with a friend of hers from college who is visiting for a couple of days. She, my girlfriend that is, thinks my interest in court shows is odd, but I really enjoy them. I'd watch a DVD, except Jeopardy! starts in just 15 minutes.

Yesterday we braved the mall and some other stores to do some shopping and to return some gifts. I had to return one of the three copies of the Clue DVD that I received to Best Buy. I now have a credit there of a little over $10. At Target, I returned one of the two copies of Ed Wood that I received. I have a credit of a little over $20 there. I was going to buy the first season of Home Movies on DVD, but they were out. I'll probably check Target in Cedar Rapids when I'm there on Wednesday. The lines for returns were not bad at all. I was expecting them to be a lot worse.

I did buy a few things while we were out. I got a pair of Dockers at JCPenney. I got a couple for Christmas, but I needed one more. I'm getting rid of most of my older pairs of pants since during this summer I went from a size 40 down to a size 36. The 40s are way too big! If I loosen my belt, they drop to the floor. I'll be taking those to Goodwill some time this week. I also bought a few calendars on sale.

Speaking of weight loss, Christmas was not good to me. Last Sunday when I weighed myself, I weighed 210 pounds. Yesterday morning when I weighed in, I weighed 217 pounds. I really should not be going to a buffet with Homercles on Wednesday, but oh it's so good. Besides, it's not like we go there all the time. After Wednesday, I'll have to resume watching what I eat. I'd really like to drop another 10 pounds.


Happy Festivus

Homercles beat me to the punch on this one, but I too would like to wish a happy Festivus to everyone. In the spirit of Festivus, someone put up a sign next to a Nativity scene located on public property in Bartow, Florida, to commemorate Festivus. The town said, that when they approved a Nativity scene on public property, they'd have to allow similar other religious, and non-religious, displays.

Public Education

In a letter in yesterday's Des Moines Register, Edward Moses of Knoxville states is writing about the problem of too many sources of funding for public schools in Iowa, with money coming from the federal government, state government, property taxes, state income tax surcharges, and local option sales taxes, the last two of which only apply to some school districts in the state, not all of them, although he neglects to mention that. Anyway, in part of his rant, he criticizes teachers for wanting to make a decent salary. He writes:

The "greatest generation" was usually taught in one-room schoolhouses, and generally by a high school graduate or even an eighth-grade graduate. How did they accomplish so much with so little? The teachers used to put the students first instead of crying where they rank in salaries around the country. And nowadays it would appear that home-schoolers are outshining the public school students.

Mr. Moses asks how members of the "greatest generation" could accomplish so much when being taught by teachers who were merely high school graduates. I admit that I was not educated at that time, so I have no firsthand experience of what went on in schools then, but at that time, not as much education was necessary to get by in the world. Students in these one-room schoolhouses were not taking classes as advanced as many that students today have the option of taking. Were high school students better educated back in the 1920s than they are today? According to the National Association of School Boards, since 1920, literacy rates, graduation rates, and college attendance rates have all increased greatly.

Next, Mr. Moses implies that today's teachers are complaining about where their pay ranks nationally instead of putting students' education first. Now most teachers who I know personally do but their students first. Many of these teachers are spending some of their own money to make sure they have the supplies that they need to teach. They also work longer hours than required by their contract to ensure that students have every opportunity. One of my coworkers is regularly at school before 7:00 although we don't have to be there until 7:30, she, as well as many others, is there routinely past 3:00, when out contract time is over. Just because public school teachers perform a service that is intended to help people doesn't mean that they have to sit silently when their salaries start to decline in comparison to teachers in other states. Teachers deserve to make a decent living too.

Finally, Mr. Moses ends the paragraph quoted above by stating that home-schoolers appear to be "outshining public school students." I don't know if home schooled students are doing that much better than public school students as a whole. Certainly there is a large part of the home-schooled population that does do better than a great number of their public-schooled counterparts. News reports often show home-schooled students winning spelling bees, geography bees, and other academic competitions. Some of these students spend a significant amount of their time preparing for these competitions. Also, I'd be willing to bet that most of my students could do a lot better if I had the opportunity to work with them in groups of four or fewer instead of teaching 20 to 30 of them at a time.

I was going to just let this letter go without comment, but I am just tired of people unfairly criticizing public school teachers. Now I know that the author of the letter most likely won't see this, I could write a letter to the paper instead, but I'd have to edit it down some as I'm sure it's too long. Besides, my main point in writing this was just to blow off some steam from frequently reading letters in which my profession is criticized.


The Interview

I hope I didn't get my hopes up too high regarding the job I interviewed for today. Overall I think the interview went pretty well. I think I came off well to at least the first three of the people with whom I interviewed, one of them being the person who has the final decision in the matter. I think I did alright with the fourth person who interviewed me, although I could have done a little better. The part of the whole process where I think that I maybe didn't perform up to par would be in providing a work sample. I had one hour to complete a writing assignment for them, and was told that I may not complete it, and that it was alright if I didn't. I didn't quite get done, and I think I could have done better. Maybe that's just my quality of never thinking that I did my best that's coming through. I've felt that way before after completing reports or presentations in my graduate classes, but except for one A- that I received, I've gotten an A in each graduate course that I have taken. Alright, that's out of a total of four classes, but still, that's not too bad. Now I just have to wait, oh, and fill out and mail in the application form. I'll be working on that tomorrow.

That Darn Cat

It looks like my girlfriend and I have a problem with one of the cats. Monday, my girlfriend caught one of the cats pissing on the carpet at the edge of the living room. She had previously had this problem with the cat when she still lived in her apartment. I don't want to get rid of this cat--it's my favorite of the two cats--but we may have to if we can't stop this. She solved the problem before by putting a box for the cat in the area where he was peeing. We don't really want to do that now however. Besides just not wanting a litter box in the living room, if I get the job in Iowa City for which I am interviewing today, I don't think having a litter box in the living room will be all that helpful when it comes to selling the house. Hopefully we can figure out something.


Violent Games Can Be Good

Whoever said that violent video games were bad. From FOXNews.com, here's an article about some armed robbers who were scared away from a house by the video game Grand Theft Auto. Apparently, after they broke into the house, they heard a loud voice saying "This is the police! You're surrounded!" They fled, thinking it was really the police, but instead, the voice came from the video game.


The Christmas Celebration Begins

This weekend, my Christmas gatherings began at my girlfriend's parents' house. I had a good weekend. We had some good food, and I got some decent presents already. Although, I did get two copies of the same DVD, Clue, and I found out from my mother that I'm going to be getting another copy of it this weekend. I guess I'll be taking two of them back. I also got DVDs of Ed Wood, Amadeus, and ALF Season 1. Now I just need to get through one more day of school and a job interview on Wednesday, then it's time for my vacation to begin.


A Long Night

I had a long evening last night at work. The school district I work for requires each of its teachers to work three extra duties outside of the normal school day during the school year. This does not include conferences that are held in the evening as on those days, we don't have to go into work as early, so the total number of hours we work in the building that day are the same as any other day. These extra duties are without any extra pay. This is one area in which our association, or union, as some may refer to it, could negotiate with the school district. It would be nice if I could get a little extra compensation for spending an extra four hours at school for announcing at a wrestling meet. It's not like I was actually doing something that is related to my job, teaching! Any schmo of the street, well maybe not anyone, but most anyone could speak the names of those who are wrestling and name the winners into a microphone. Now I have been told that I am quite good at this. I guess I have an excellent voice for it, and I do try to do it with some flair, but if I had my way, I would not have spent practically my entire day at work. Anyway, I got someone to work the wrestling meet I was assigned to work this Saturday since that's when we are doing Christmas at my girlfriend's parents' house. My other extra work duty isn't until April, when I get to take tickets at a soccer game. That shouldn't as long, especially since they usually let the ticket-taker leave when the game is a little over half over.


The New Computer's Here!

My new computer arrived today! But, before I write about that, let me say that my phone interview went quite well. The interviewer, who I actually had met before, told me that I met all of the qualifications for the job, and my previous experience in test item writing really helped to make me an ideal candidate for the job. Also, the fact that I have taught science, as well as math, helps some as well. I'm sure my interviews next Wednesday will go just as well.

Now to the fun news. As I have already stated, my new computer arrived today! While at work, I checked online and was disappointed that FedEx had stopped by around 2:00, before I got home from work. So, I planned on going to their location in town to pick up my new computer after 5:00, when the note they left indicated it would be back. Just as I was about to leave, the FedEx truck pulled up in the driveway and off came my computer! UPS attempted to deliver the new printer today, but I'll worry about getting that tomorrow. Anyway, I'd write more now, but I need to get back to installing software and transferring my documents to my new computer.


More Interviewing

Tomorrow my job interview continues. I am going to have another phone interview with the test writing company with which I am seeking a job. This time I will be speaking with someone involved in the position that I would be working in. The remainder of my interview is going to be at their facility next Wednesday. I think I will feel fairly comfortable at that interview as I have worked with, or at least met, most of the people with whom I'll be interviewing then. I hate to say it, but I believe that I may be setting myself up for a big disappointment by getting my hopes up so high about this job. At least if I don't get the job, I still have my teaching job. For the most part it's not all that bad. It would be better though if I didn't have to teach four sections of Algebra 1. I wouldn't mind having two sections of that and maybe two sections of Algebra 2, or possibly Pre-Calculus. Those classes, along with the AP Calculus and Computer Programming that I currently teach, would make for a pretty good schedule.

Tomorrow is also the day that my new computer is supposed to arrive. According to the tracking information online, the three boxes containing the CPU, the monitor, and the speakers, should all arrive by 4:30 tomorrow. As I'll be at work with my phone interview until around 3:30, I'll probably end up having to pick it up at FedEx. The printer, which I don't really need, but it was free so I took it anyway, was shipped today. I'll figure out something to do with it. I'll either give it to my parents, whose ink jet printer isn't working well, or I'll give it to a friend of mine who could use a printer.


Movie Weekend

My girlfriend and I saw three movies this weekend. Last night we went to a sneak preview of Spanglish, the new Adam Sandler movie, which was followed by Christmas with the Kranks. Spanglish was alright, not necessarily a movie I would buy, but it was good, although it was a bit long and it kind of dragged on at points. Christmas with the Kranks was funny. Once again, I don't think it's a movie I'll rush out to buy when it comes out on DVD, but it was good. This afternoon, we rented Badder Santa, the unrated version of Bad Santa. It was quite funny. I am wondering what was in it that was not in the R rated version. There were quite a few uses of the F word, so maybe that was reduced.


No Big Surprise Here

I just took an quiz to determine what my dominant intelligence is and the result was no surprise.

Your Dominant Intelligence is Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

You are great at finding patterns and relationships between things.
Always curious about how things work, you love to set up experiments.
You need for the world to make sense - and are good at making sense of it.
You have a head for numbers and math ... and you can solve almost any logic puzzle.

You would make a great scientist, engineer, computer programmer, researcher, accountant, or mathematician.

How Libra Am I?

Thanks to Matt, I found a quiz to see how much I match my zodiac sign. It looks like I'm a bit out of balance with my fellow Libras.

You are 53% Libra


Dude, I'm Getting a Dell

My computer problem is solved, or at least it will be within a week or so when my new computer arrives. I've been looking at getting a new computer for a while now. My old computer had been acting up quite a bit. And quite frankly, I was looking for an excuse to buy a new computer. The problem with ordering one online is the wait for it to arrive. Plus, I have to be home when it comes to sign for it, or else I'll have to go pick it up from UPS. Now I'll have to figure out what to do with the free printer that they are including. I meant to select "no printer," but I forgot to do so. Well, it's free, and so is the shipping, so at least it isn't costing me anything.


My Computer's Dead

I think it is anyway. Earlier this week, I started up my computer when I got home from work and it started making a strange whirring sound. It did that a couple of times, so I opened up the machine and blew out the dust using a can of compressed air. After that, it sounded just fine, however, the computer suggested that I start it up in safe mode. When it did that, it ran some diagnostic which said that I'd have to reinstall Windows. Well, instead I shut it down and restarted it without reinstalling Windows, and it seemed to work. Not being a complete fool, I decided that I had better back up all of the files on the computer that would be impossible to replace. I spoke with my girlfriend's brother, who works with computers for his job, about what my computer was doing. He said that it could possibly be the hard drive going out, especially since the machine is almost four years old.

Anyway, it worked fine the next day, but yesterday morning when I went to start up the computer, it told me that there was a registry/configuration error and that I would need to run SCANREG to correct it. Well, safe mode of Windows Me wouldn't start up, and when I put in the emergency recovery CD, it didn't run. It started running the CD, but the restore program did not run. I think I may try a few more things before I give up entirely, although I would really like to get a new computer. The only thing is that I really don't want any extra debt showing up on my credit report, since I may be looking at buying a new house in the next few months.


House Hunting

I know it's a little too early to start looking for a new house in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area, as only today did I hear from the company with which I had a phone interview that they wanted to see me for an interview in person. However, last night I was looking at houses on Realtor.com just to see what is out there, and what should appear but the house in which I lived for almost the first 17 years of my life until my family moved to another house in the same city. While I have considered the possibility of moving back into the house when I've seen it up for sale in the past, I don't think I'd want to live there. The neighborhood's nice and all, but it would be a little strange living there again. Besides, the house is a little small; it's about a hundred square feet smaller than my current house. Also, there is only one bathroom, and I'd like to have at least one and a half. Although I wouldn't want to buy the place, it would be fun to take a look inside if there should be an open house there.



At just 43 degrees, it was a little cold outside, but I decided to go for a bike ride anyway. This was the first time I was out on my bike since August 23. It was a pretty good ride, although a bit of the trail I rode on was pretty rough. As I did earlier, and copying Homercles, I am including the data from my bike ride here:

December 4
Distance: 6.81 mi
Time: 0:31:08
Average Speed: 12.9 mi/h
Maximum Speed: 21.5 mi/h

Totals for 2004
Distance: 829.78 mi
Time: 62:02:26

Strange Dream

I had a somewhat bizarre dream last night. It wasn't so much that the dream itself was strange, but it took place somewhere that I haven't dreamt about for quite some time. I was dreaming that I was working at the drive-thru window at the Hardee's restaurant that I used to work at in Cedar Rapids. The funny thing is that I haven't worked at that Hardee's restaurant since the summer of 1995. I had worked at that particular location during the summers of 1990 through 1995. While I was in college, I worked as a shift leader of the Hardee's located in the Maucker Union on the University of Northern Iowa campus. I worked there from 1992 through 1997, when I left campus to student teach. I then worked there during the summers of 1998 and 1999 when I was between teaching jobs and staying at my parents' house for the summer.

When I worked at Hardee's I occasionally had nightmares about work. Usually it was about a continuous onslaught of customers. They just kept coming and wouldn't stop! Even after closing the restaurant, they just kept coming in! Since I've began teaching, I've had scary dreams about students who just wouldn't leave at the end of the school day. I wanted to go home, but they just wouldn't leave! Anyway, this dream, which included the manager I worked with in Cedar Rapids until 1994 when she moved to Hawaii and a few of my current students who were, in the dream, fellow employees, simply involved me taking orders at the drive-thru and dealing with a couple of complaining customers. I wonder if this dream has any deep meaning to it. Oh by the way, the Hardee's I was working at in the dream had the old menu, not the new Thickburgers.


Back to Working Out

I've started working out again on the Bowflex. I had intended to start working out a month or so ago, but I got really busy the rest of the week, and I didn't continue. Right now I am planning on using the Bowflex every other day. I hope to get some type of aerobic exercise on the alternate days. Tomorrow I am hoping to get out on my bike. I haven't ridden it since August, I think. It should be warm enough. I think the temperatures are supposed to be in the 40s.


An Excellent Interview

This afternoon I had a telephone interview with the company I worked for this past summer in Iowa City. I think that the interview went quite well. The interviewer said that she would like to meet me for an in-person interview some time. She has to set it up however with the person in charge of the department for which I would be working. I am really excited about this career possibility. If you have read my blog, you would know that I have been frustrated with my current career quite a bit recently. I really think that a major change like this may be just what I need. Well, I don't have the job yet, but that won't stop me from being optimistic, and it hasn't stopped me from starting to look at houses for sale in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas.