Monday, September 29, 2008

I love this place!

My Architecture babies want to draw these buildings!
"I wanna draw, Mr. Hardage!"
OK. Put shingles on your roof.
"What're shingles?"

" . . . uh . . ." And I launch into how the cedar loggers on the Pacific Northwest coast cut the trees into cants that are cut into standard lengths, then quartered, then independent shingle/shake makers cut shakes with a mallet and froe and either leave them as shakes or resaw them into shingles. And they look at me like calves at a butcher.

So we go outside by the tennis courts, and I show them (asphalt)(for you aggies . . . that is not a birth defect) shingles on a roof across the alley, and I wax prosodic about light and shadow lines on the asphalt shingles, how they're supposed to look like wood shingles . . . and they look at me.

Then I tell them about the brick, how you can see by the intensity of the shadows that the mortar joints are raked with a square tool. I show them how the mortar in the school's walls are raked with a round tool, and you don't have the play of the light there . . .



So I ask an Assistant Principal "Can I take my babies alley crawling tomorrow - there're only a dozen of them - to look at what they're supposed to be drawing?"

"Ask the Principal."

"Oh, Captain, my Captain . . ."


That was all. Just, "yes." No paperwork. Just, "yes."

So I went and told the SRO we'd be out in the world, and he's cool with keeping the good citizens calm about my mob of banditos prowling their streets point at their residences; he's even calling Dispatch ahead of time.

Gawd! I love this place.

Pax, y'all.

Back in the Saddle!

I have found a new route! It's 1.3 miles longer than shooting straight down Josey Lane, but I didn't get honked at once, cut off, or sworn at all morning!

Huzzah. Now I have to see how it works going home.

I'm like the ant and the rubber tree plant. I have high hopes.
High apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes.

Pax, y'all.

More Joys of Quiddler

Check this link!

Oh frabjous day!

It only puts out one puzzle per day, so you can argue with it all you want, you only get one puzzle. So far I have gotten four points higher that the score once. I was proud of myself till I saw that other people had gotten twenty points higher.


So I did it again.

Pax, y'all.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Joys of Quiddler

  • Zak and Lauren were in the area over the weekend for one of Zak's bicycle races. We got to see them for a good part of Monday afternoon and evening. We fell into a couple of rounds of Quiddler, naturally. Doesn't everybody.

    At the beginning of the second round, Zak piped up with this great idea, wherein the co-conspirators at the table agreed. (Kathryn was teaching a student.) Here's how it shakes out.

    Zak, Lauren, Austin, and Dad have to write a short story using each and every one of the words on this list, which were those arrived at in a single round of Quiddler played 22 September 2008. The stories must be completed not later than 6PM, Carrollton time, Monday, 29 September 2008. The stories will be submitted to the family to be judged for "literary merit." Hah! Your ballot will count as
  • most excellent – 4 points
  • merely excellent - 3 points
  • damned good - 2 points
  • hell; I could’ve written that - 1 point

    Points (4,3,2,1) will be awarded as well for shortest story (mercy, indeed) as well.

    The winner has bragging rights --- this time. Till the next game.
  • bah
  • ale
  • this
  • pile
  • clew
  • dud
  • torn
  • them
  • to
  • fid
  • sox
  • the phrase "pile of sock" (don't even ask)
  • bier
  • lax
  • tin
  • cuter
  • on
  • quark
  • ghost
  • weiner
  • ire
  • agave
  • om
  • clingy
  • jug
  • bold
  • hind
  • yid
  • rib
  • is
  • queer
  • fey
  • pew
  • then
  • arse
  • range
  • zoea
  • they
  • doves
  • clank
  • quart
  • mum
  • uv (we allowed this one)
  • gripe
  • unity
  • beard
  • lathe
  • gut
  • nicotine
  • oh
  • if
  • jingled

    The stories will be posted on the Patriarch’s blog:

    Vote Early; Vote Often. (Only once counts.)

    If you want to write your own - you may, of course. All entries must be emailed to the (Senior) Alpha Male of the family in time to be posted. I will put them out simply as numbered pieces - nobody will know for certain-sure who wrote which till the balloting is over.

    Please get your ballot in by Monday, 6 October, for tallying.

    Pax, y'all.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another Haiku Site!

Look at this one . . .
What a treat!

Pax, y'all

The sublime and the ridiculous

Website Kelli found.
Emailed as a shining gift . . .
Treasure from the East.

Pax, y'all.

Friday, September 19, 2008


When paychecks were on paper the Principal of this campus used to have cookies in the office on paydays -- I guess it sweetened the deal. Now paychecks are electronic.

This school still has cookies in the office on paydays.

Loads of cookies. No Cookie Police counting how many you snitch.


Still warm.

Some of them are still sticking together!

OMG! it's classy.

Pax, y'all

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I really want to ride my bike to work. That is important to me on several levels. So, last night Kathryn and I saddled up the truck and noodled around backstreets to/from school.

There is a high, mostly level route on the east side of Josey that is 4.2 miles door-to-door. There is a low, hilly, long pull route on the west side of Josey that is 4.something miles (I didn't pursue this one).

I drove the eastern route in the truck this morning to school, watching the traffic with a more educated eye. Mucha mas calma, gracias a dios. (Are the adjectives right, Holmie?) It took twenty peaceful minutes on four wheels; therefore, dividing the wheels by two multiplies the time by a factor of 1.5 - rule of thumb - to estimate time to bike it.

It will be infinitely more satisfying to arrive at school able to walk, rather than being wheeled in on a gurney.

It's 62 degrees Fahrenheit outside this morning.

Pax, y'all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Working in a Museum . . .

I know my teaching buds out there will appreciate this . . .

I am still - four weeks into the school year - shoveling out the flotsam of earlier teachers in this CADD labb (It giggles me much to double the "b" in "labb").

I learned from my neighbors that the reason my teacher computer workstation is where it is is because the last guy to have the labb originally had it on the drafting board at the front of the classroom. He just kept piling papers up, and he kept moving the computer to the top of the pile. When it became too unstable, he cadged another desk and moved the computer there. Today I finally got to the surface - uh, the original surface of that drawing board. I felt like Lord Carnarvon when, opening Tutankhamon's tomb, who said . . . "I see things . . . wonderful things."

There, taped to the working surface of the board, preserved for the ages in vinyl sheet protectors, was a complete six period set of seating charts for school year 2003-2004. God, I love this place.

In cabinets and lockers and drawers at the back of the room (the west wall --- of the Temple?? ---) I have unearthed drafting tools from an earlier age. I'm planning to box these up and see if anyone in the Third World can use the donation. These are in semi-pristine condition; it's just that no office around this town uses them any more. Everyone's gone electronic. Back to Lord Carnarvon . . .

I have found hand-rendered and -lettered drawings of machine parts that should be framed and mounted on walls for public display. Oh! the humanity! These are, honestly, artwork -- from the late eighties, early nineties. They're too big to scan, and, were I do do so, it's impossible to appreciate them at monitor-scale.

Pax, y'all.

OK; You Scared Me

I got up this morning and realized I don't intend to ride my bicycle to school in the mornings any more. It's not scary. It's terrifying.

People honk at me because I'm in their way.
They honk at me from the next lane so I won't suddenly swerve in front of them.
They honk at me to let me know they see me or to give me an attaboy.

People try to squeeze past me without getting out of their lane . . . even when there's no traffice in the next lane.
People cut in front of me when they pass - I guess to let me know I shouldn't be taking up road space.

As scary as it is on the street, the sidewalk is worse . . .
g the little loopies where the walk meanders around utility poles . . .
g the branches of trees down at eye level . . .
g the ledges where the subsoil has heaved the sidewalk up four inches . . .
g the guy wires that stay the utility poles where they anchor through the sidewalk . . .
g where the sidewalk goes away altogether for shopping center landscaping, forcing me into the roadway when the motorist isn't expecting me . . .
gthe 90-degree bends in the sidewalk that pedestrians have no problem with . . .

I'm too young and pretty to become a traffic statistic. I don't get to contribute to reducing my carbon footprint this way. I don't get to reduce my country's dependence on foreign petroleum.

I wonder how long it takes to walk the three miles?

For now, I'll just burn the oil, I guess.

But I am going to petition the City Council for a bike lane.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I feel so pumped!

I don't have a clue which Saturday morning cartoon I watched as a kid, but there was a recurring line: "The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the sea is a smooth as glass."

Well, that pretty well describes today.

I am pumped to be standing in this classroom working with these children sharing what I am about the nature of how incredibly valuable each one of them is and how to express that glory that each of them is with lines on the page.

I just want to shout. I want to jump up and down. If I could bottle this and sell it, Bill Gates would borrow money from me.

I worked like a horse this summer figuring this stuff (engineering graphics) out. It was work. My joy came when I was able to draw a model of Ray Haroun's 1911 Marmon Wasp in which he won the first Indianapolis 500. After my class do the assigned exercise I have cobbed together, we can have "guided dork-around-with-it time" or "free-dork." Today in freedork, Julio drew Pacman eating a snake (thoroughly segmented), and Adrian drew a pirahna (all teeth and eyeballs). There'll be time for work after while. Right now I just want them to get comfortable with the tools.

My architectural graphics class, al otro mano, is harder . . .

There goes the bell . . .


Monday, September 15, 2008

New Books

One of the most challenging skillsets to master is to eat a nectarine, either crisp or mooshy, while blogging . . . I can do that and read - no prob - but keyboarding . . .

UPS just delivered my latest treasure, Robert Battlestone's Odysseus Unbound. This gentleman posits that Odysseus' Ithaka is today's Cephalonia, not the island currently so identified. He offers over five hundred pages, including maps, satellite photos, images, and appendices to make his point. Oh, Joy! Multimedic argument. I love it. I have my highlighters and pencils handy. Plus half a dozen translations of the Odyssey, of course, just for cross-checking. This gives me shivers.

The other book I'm working on/playing with right now is Deepak Chopra's Peace is the Way. We're hosting a seven-week book study in our living room, in amongst the piano, keyboards, and plethora of stringed instruments, and I've decided to augment the dozen or so guiding questions presented in the facilitator training manual for the event. "Little did they know, heh heh, " snorkled I in my best Snidley Whiplash imitation. I'm on my third page of referents - so far only twenty-two questions, and I'm only on page (4) of the actual text. It's something of a dense read, with a lot of author-assumed knowledge and vocabulary in it. I don't know yet whether I'll put in my EnglishIsNotForSissies website or start another one.

Speaking of that website, I'm about halfway through A.M.Smith's The Good Husband of Zebra Drive.

The nectarine is history, along with its guard detail of a dozen sesame-peanuts. Oh, the privation.

Last night I ordered Kage Baker's Sky Coyote, book two in her The Company series. Time travel, enlightened(?) science, ultimate responsibilities, humanity in immortality. Delicious sets of interlocking questions to consider. Then on a whim, I googled, the lady, and paged through her website. Very tasty, indeed. You really should read her The Garden of Iden. She'll set the hook way deep in your jaw. You'll have to get it on Amazon or eBay.


We have tickets!

We have tickets to Garrison Keillor's book signing 10/20 here in Dallas.
I love listening to this man. I feel like he's this generation's Mark Twain.
So, let's all sing the Powdermilk Biscuit jingle . . .

Has your family tried 'em,
Powdermilk . . .
Has your family tried 'em,
Powdermilk . . .
If your family's tried 'em,
you know you satisfied 'em,
They're a real hot item . .

Powdermilk biscuits in the bright blue box; they give shy people the strength to do what must be done.

Made of all natural ingredients by Norwegian bachelor farmers.

Heavens, they're tasty.

Life is Good.

Lemme start a list of good things in my job . . .

1. I have almost all really good kids . . . a couple of slackers - one's already dropped; another just won't last long (that's his option).

2. The kids want to be in here.

3. I'm teaching this through a sense of play. Once we've been playing through the material - the commands, the views, the drawing layers . . . THEN we'll do the "serious" stuff, the stuff you can make money with by working for the man . . . or yourself.

4. There is a restroom - lockable - forty-seven steps from my desk. (I counted them when I wasn't in a hurry just now.)

5. The two other guys teaching adjacent to my cadd-labb are seasoned old horses, and nothing much excites them.

6. There is very often the smell of fresh southern yellow pine sawdust coming from the construction skills lab next door. Dios mio! that is a wonderous aroma.

7. My gradebook is caught up; my grades are exported; my lesson plans for the week are turned in. Schweeeet.

8. The two periods a day I am in Plato Lab (computer-driven academic credit recovery) the aide who really runs the lab always has truly fine jazz playing in the background, and my soul often soars beyond the metes and bounds of this mortal coil.

9. I get to help kids one-on-one learn stuff; therefore, I get to learn stuff. Today, among other things I learnt what cnidaria were. Sounds like something right out of Star Trek. Actually, these might be the inspiration for the survey 'droids in Star Wars.

Other manifestations of good . . .

10. We have moved our shop and studio out of the storefront and back into the house. This lets us refocus our efforts into a tighter beam, not having to go through all manner of machination to fund/justify/make happen one aspect of our lives.

11. We are hosting a book study of Deepak Chopra's book Peace is the Way on Wednesday nights at our home.

a. this keeps mental stimulation at elevated levels
b. this gets new people into our home
c. we met new people at the training/organization meeting

12. A wonderful story I heard at the meeting (11.c.) . . .

A tall, slender, beautiful woman there grew up on a ranch outside Kress, Texas, out in the big, wide emptiness between Amarillo and Lubbock. (God, is it ever pretty out there!). When she was a girl, the family had a pump handle in the kitchen for water and oil lanterns for light. When daddy wired the house as part of the rural electrification program, he loaded everybody into the truck and drove them into town, saying repeatedly, "Don't look back." "Don't look back." They motored into town, bought groceries and a treat. When they drove back to the place after dark . . .

. . . she saw her two-story house lit up like a castle in a book of fairy tales . . .

I think her daddy was a magician. What a glorious gift to give his wife and kids.

Other manifestations of good . . .

13. Ike roared through DFW rather like a lamb . . . we had strong breezes - not what you'd call winds, even, and some light rain. It was all rather pleasant. Good sleeping weather.

14. Found a Polish deli/grocery on Forest at I-75 that has a delightful selection of sardines. I bought Porguguese, Croatian, Spanish, and Moroccan sardines . . . twenty-eight dollars' worth. You really ought to track down the Angelo Parodi brand (I've savored these before) - lightly smoked, skinless, boneless . . . "heavens, they're tasty." And we bought two tins of a Spanish (Roland brand) antipasto . . . sardines, carrots, peppers, olives, onions, spices . . . and mixed them up with a bowl of white rice . . . I had a small bowl, Kathryn had a small bowl, Morgan didn't get any, Jenni came by and got a taste . . . and Austin snarfed almost of the dish.

Life is good.