Sunday, September 16, 2018

A School Chuckle

Spending most of my life at school with little kids means I experience chuckles, giggles, eye rolls, and belly laughs on quite a regular basis.  Some are funny enough to share...
Last year, the state of California passed a new Ed Code law that went into effect this school year requiring Title I (low income) public schools to provide feminine hygiene products in at least 50% of the restrooms on campus.  Research has shown that girls who come from low-income homes are likely to miss school several days each month due to their family's inability to afford these products.  The state will reimburse schools for these products.  While this is not something I have experience with since I teach the little kids, I have several colleagues in the upper grades who purchase these products, along with other hygiene products like deodorant to help out their students who need them.  So while this requirement may seem trivial, there certainly is a need for it, hoping to keep kids in school.
As with most things in public education, passing the law seems like the easy part.  Actually implementing the plan isn't always easy.  Our facilities department was tasked with putting the storage containers with the product into the restrooms.  Facilities is known for showing up to work on a project and leaving before anyone ever sees them, but the project isn't always executed correctly.  We have three multi-stall girls' restrooms on campus.  There is one in the main building, one in the breezeway between the main building and the playground, and one in the new building.  Facilities put those containers in the main building and the breezeway restrooms.  The only problem is the upper grade students don't use the restroom in the main building.  The main building houses kindergarten and first grade classes only, and therefore the restroom in there is for those kids.  The new building houses all the 3rd-6th grade classes, and that building's restroom didn't get any containers.  And since the teachers are always the last to know about anything, the only reason we were aware of the new products was because the first graders found them.  Upon the daily cleaning by the custodian, it would seem the little girls thought of them as good wall decor items as he found them stuck all over the walls.  A work colleague of mine recounted when a couple of his first grade girls came back from a restroom trip with them stuck to their hands and clothes, proudly announcing to the class that there were "stickers in there!".  Their innocence is so cute!  Imagine going through your life thinking they are stickers and then finding out what they are really for.
Anyhow, since then, the product has been removed from the main building's restroom and put into the new building and a quick information meeting between the district nurse and the upper grade girls has been scheduled.  Both good plans, but thankfully they were put in the wrong place to start or we never would have been able to laugh about the 'stickers".  

Thursday, September 13, 2018

No Way!

Yesterday, the results of the 2018 Harris Poll were released.  The Harris Poll is a national poll that identifies the brands which consumers most identify with and consider the "best".  Because it is a national poll, regional or local brands aren't really included.  Some might question the "best" label on these brands when there might be local or regional brands that are better.  But it would make sense that the ones most commercial and most widely known would be chosen.  It would make sense except for one category...BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT.

I would have to STRONGLY disagree with that claim, as would our local TV station.  Having lived my life in Southern California, my experience with Mexican food is based on really good, homemade, authentic (minus the lengua or tripas) Mexican food.  In my travels across country, the norm is that the further away I get from home, the less authentic and the more "Taco Bell" the Mexican food becomes.  In fact, when I lived in New England, Taco Bell WAS where most people got their Mexican food.
While this is not a knock on anyone who likes Taco Bell.  Fast food is fast, convenient, and has its place.  But to claim it's the best Mexican food is insane.  It is barely Mexican food at all, let alone the best.

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Coast, Part 2

After leaving Astoria, we spent the next couple of days in Seaside and Cannon Beach.  This was by far my favorite area visited on the trip.
Seaside is a fun boardwalk town known for its sunsets.  We were in between Seaside and Cannon Beach and mostly Seaside in the evening so I have only a couple of pictures from there.  We had one of the best meals at an Italian restaurant in Seaside, but sadly (or not) no pictures.  Sunset was beautiful, even with the clouds that rolled in.
Along the boardwalk, these street lights have sea life decor like this starfish.  They are so pretty.
While Seaside is a lot of fun, Cannon Beach was the town I enjoyed the most.  It is so quaint and pretty and quite different than the other beach towns in Oregon. 
Cannon Beach's beach is well known due to its Haystack rock.  
 The beach is just beautiful!
 One thing I loved about the Oregon Coast was that you'd be in the forest surrounded by trees, and just on the other side the cliffs drop to the ocean.  It is much different than the Southern California Coast which is mostly flat with very few trees.
Cannon Beach was the only town in which I could see myself living.  Who knows, maybe some day.  

Saturday, August 18, 2018

There Ain't No Tired Like First Week of School Tired

This week, I began my 19th year of teaching.  After two years of chaos and unprofessionalism on the part of our "leader", the calm manner in which we started this school year has me cautiously optimistic over the 2018-19 school year.  I am still in 3rd grade, a high-stakes testing grade, which doesn't make me thrilled, but since I am better prepared with what to expect from the kids and myself adds some stability to my thoughts on that as well.
I am EXHAUSTED this weekend.  All I want to do is lay low today, but if I do, the piles of work that I brought home to work on will somehow multiply.  That's the thing about the beginning of the year.  In addition to the teaching part, there is more to create, do, write, think about, sort, color, prep, etc. than there are hours in the day.  I tell myself every year to not make those things "everything", to stop at the end of the school day and not worry about it, to not let it take up ALL my time.  But if it's not done, others will be let down - teammates, administrators, and most importantly the kids.  Things settle a bit as far as work load in a couple of months, but right now there doesn't seem to be an end to that tunnel.
I brought a teacher bag of work home with the plan of hammering it out last night, just to get it over with so Saturday and Sunday weren't about school. I only got through about half of the bag in between falling asleep twice.  While I write this, I'm having my coffee, trying to revive myself after a hard sleep.  I think I have a couple of hours left of school work to do...that is if I can stay awake.  Two days down...only 178 days to go!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Coast

The main purpose of this summer's road trip was to spend some time along the Oregon Coast.  I'd heard nothing but good things about it so the bulk of our trip was spent traveling North to South on the 101 (aka Highway 101 if you aren't from California where we put "the" in front of the freeway/highway numbers - ha ha!).
We departed Portland, heading west to Warrenton where we met up with some friends.
 The view of the pond out in the back of their house.
 The Clatsop County Beach is a "driving beach".  A ten mile strip of this beach allows for passenger cars and trucks.
But we had to watch out for jellyfish.
This area is also where the Columbia River (right) and the Pacific Ocean (left) meet.  
 I was amazed to learn how important the Columbia is to the Northwest.  Not living near a river (well I live near two that never have any water) it was just fascinating to see and understand how much it is used
 Standing on the bank of the river, looking at Astoria.
 Huge cargo ships and tugboats go up an down the river hourly.  The river is only deep enough in this section right down the middle, so they can only come through one at a time and often have to have special drivers sent in just for the this stretch.
 We call seagulls ocean rats, but these two were quite photogenic.
The foxglove was in bloom everywhere...swoon.
 That evening, we crossed over the bridges to Astoria for the night.  Astoria was the setting in the 80's movie "The Goonies", and I ALWAYS thought the story took place along the ocean.  Astoria actually overlooks the Columbia River, NOT the ocean.
 The view from our room.
Some sites along the river/old railroad tracks.
I was a little bit starstruck over being in The Goonies' hometown so we researched some of the sites to find them, but mostly ran into this...
However the jailhouse (Oregon Film Museum) and the Courthouse were available for pictures.
Next stop - Seaside and Cannon Beach

Friday, August 3, 2018

Gas Tanks

This past weekend, I made a trip to Lowes in order to exchange my bbq's propane tank.  They have a cool program (like most big box hardware stores do) where you can exchange empty tanks for full tanks.  While I waited for the clerk to unlock the cage and exchange my tank, a man arrived to the front of the store to load up propane tanks into his truck.  He had purchased 3 empty ones of his own.  As I watched him drive away, I chuckled remembering a time my dad had done something similar.
My dad loved to grill on the bbq.  He cooked a lot of our family meals and many of them were made on the grill.  When my parents moved from California to Hawaii he bought a new grill for the backyard.  Shortly after, their local Costco had empty propane tanks on sale.  As an avid griller, he wanted a few on hand.  On a side note, this was a common theme with my dad.  Why have one extra when you can have 3 extra because you bought them inexpensively at Costco? Now the Costco in Kona happens to be on the way to the Kona airport from my parents' house, and during that sale I was was flying into Kona for a visit.  They decided to make a stop at Costco before coming to pick me up at the airport.  That was a logical plan in order to not make the trip two times, however it wasn't all that smart of plan.  You see, 9/11 had happened less than two years before and the airports, even the teeny island ones, were on high alert.  The Kona airport had police at their one and only entrance in order to check ALL cars that came into the airport.  My parents had driven their Jeep Cherokee that day to accommodate three propane gas tanks AND my luggage.  As you can imagine, the police were not thrilled to see those gas tanks.
My parents explained the tanks and after demonstrating they were empty, the police let my mom meet me at baggage and sent my dad and the car off into parking lot exile.  When I got off the plane and said my hellos to my mom, I asked where my dad was.  She explained their mistake and detainment as we walked across the airport to where my dad was waiting with his propane tanks.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Test Roses

While I have been to the Portland Airport and spent some time just over the river in Vancouver, Washington, I had never visited Portland before our road trip.  It's a fun city.  Since we were there such a short time, we visited all the touristy things like Powell Books, Voodoo Donuts, the Saturday Market, the Sunnyside neighborhood, and the "Keep Portland Weird" sign.  But my most favorite attraction in the city was at Washington Park - The International Rose Test Garden.  The garden's main purpose is to test new varieties of roses.  It is one of the oldest test gardens in the United States.  Here's a little bit of information and history.  The park is stunningly beautiful and smelled so good.
 Even though this is the rose garden, when you first walk in these hydrangeas are at the entrance gate.  Kind of funny, but they were amazing - the size of my head.
We only had a couple of hours to visit, but I could have spent all day there taking pictures and literally smelling the roses.