Sunday, May 1, 2011

Substitute Gym Teacher

This fall I realized that retirement can actually get boring. So, having taught math on a volunteer basis at my old high school for several years, I looked into getting my teaching license.  I discovered that, at least in Nebraska, a substitute teaching license requires little more than a few hours of undergraduate study and a background check devoid of child sex crimes.  Having falsified my record on both counts, I received my conditional permit in a matter of days. 

It started out well, filling in for my former math teachers several times a month.  They let me teach their normal lesson plan, and the kids listened because I know what I'm talking about.  I also now have the power to issue demerits, which each count as a fifth of a detention. 

Soon, though, I started getting calls about substituting for other teachers.  I even got a call at 6 AM one day wondering if I could be an English teacher.  A few weeks ago, I taught Spanish to lower and middle school students, which was pretty awesome; it reminded me of the song on the Adam Sandler comedy CD about high school Spanish teachers.  I've been a music teacher, which requires extensive knowledge of DVD and CD technology.  The best class by far has been gym.  A sample day in the life of a substitute gym teacher:

Show up at 8:45, just in time for my second period class, because no one has gym first period.  The fifth graders rush into the locker room and change into their gray gym outfits.  They all ask if they are swimming.  When I tell them they are playing badminton, they go nuts, especially the Asian kids.  They either hate swimming, love badminton, or both.

12 kids play badminton while the other eight roughhouse on the mats.  My main job is preventing death, which in a normal gym would not be a concern.  However, there is a pile of mats six feet high on one side of the gym, and the children seem to enjoy crawling over, under, and through the mats.  The image of a missing fifth grader found weeks later in a pile of mats flashes before my eyes and I make them do pushups instead.  One of them tries a backflip off the mats and I just lose it, blowing my whistle and sounding as mad as I'm able.

In the locker room, the fifth graders are changing when the next class of high school boys come in.  They repeatedly try to slap the younger children's hands and give them a "high-five".  I get the feeling it's an inside joke privy to which I am not.

3rd period I have sixth graders.  They are calm and organized and it seems like someone has fed them a collective chunk of Xanax and Adderall at the same time.  They do their stretches silently and without a leader and I worry that they are a communist youth group plotting the bourgeious teacher's downfall.

Back in the locker room, I wait for seventh graders.  I mistakenly order a sophomore to get ready for gym class.  He seems offended, but he's really small, so he should understand.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's Been Awhile!

Hello blog followers!  It's been awhile and I promise I'll explain.  I have not blogged for almost 9 months but there is a reason for this.  I was applying to join the Air Force and felt like it would be best to lay low for awhile since you get investigated by the FBI.  Due to a hiring freeze at my position (flight surgeon) I was not hired. I realize many of you may think I'm not the military type.  You're right! 

In the interim, I've made some major changes in my life.  I earned my Nebraska Teachers' License and I now substitute teach at my former high school, Omaha Brownell-Talbot College Preparatory School. It's great.  Last week I was a substitute middle school gym teacher which is probably the best job ever.  Schedule: 9-11 AM, play badminton with fifth and sixth grade boys.  12-1, cardio with fourth graders.  If you think you know disarray try putting elementary school kids on treadmills with inclines. 1-3, watch school musical, which was hilariously funny.

I have also acquired a girlfriend and not via the usual online route from South America.  She's a dental student in Omaha and we met on a yellow bus.   Other than losing her purse and keys every 5-7 days she keeps it pretty real.  She has lots of friends, which is nice, since I only have 3 in Omaha not including family, pets, and family pets.  My oral hygiene has improved dramatically since meeting her.

Regarding jobs, I'm now only semi-retired.  I tutor high school kids in math on weekday afternoons, and I was just asked to come on board at a local acute care center in Omaha.  Soon I will have to change the blog name!  I had one really funny experience when I applied for a job in Oregon, thinking I might leave town and move to the Pacific Northwest.  The woman who owns the clinic to which I applied e-mailed me back.  I don't think she's a big fan of technology.  Here's the email. Really. (names/numbers edited)



Needless to say I require my employers to have verbal skills exceeding the average for fifth graders, so to her dismay I did not follow through with the application.  Second of all, who uses hotmail?  Answer: The same people who search for employees on myspace.

More later as there have been plenty of entertaining times in the last few months.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of the Double Down

If you don't know about KFC's Double Down by now you must be living in a cave or in Berkeley or something.  You've certainly never lived in a red state, and by red state I mean Republican even though I think it should mean communist.  The Double Down-- a masterpiece from the Colonel-- consists of two pieces of bacon and two pieces of pepper jack and Monterey Jack cheese sandwiched between two pieces of chicken.  As the official ad states, "this product (?) is so meaty, there's no room for a bun!"

First of all, who advertises their ultimate comfort food as "product"?  Second of all, who says there's no room for a bun?  I beg to differ, and I will return to my plan to foil their bunless sandwich later.

But I was traveling back from Wyoming to Nebraska when my search for a Double Down began.  I figured I should stop at the first KFC I found, since I might love it so much that I need another one down the road.  I was first confounded in Kearney, Nebraska, where the Taco Bell does not include a KFC. At my next stop in Grand Island, I found that the nearest KFC was ten miles down the road, so I just stopped at Bosselman's Travel Plaza (see early January blog on this topic) to inspect and determine if they'd made any of the changes I requested.  I felt a bit depressed when I learned that the aliens were still present and Little Caesar was still not hot and ready. 

So I pressed on to York, Nebraska, where a Taco Bell/KFC sign loomed large on the interstate.  Seeing a storm up ahead, I knew that I was destined to taste the savory Double Down within minutes.  I pulled in to see an open sign at 9:05.  I jumped out and tried the door, slobbering a bit on the door as I thought about the prize (or two) awaiting me inside.  The door was locked. I tried the other door.  I tried the employee entrance and I'm pretty sure they were about to summon the local immigration authorities (I was rocking a pretty out-of-control beard) when I saw the sign stipulated that ONLY Taco Bell was open.  I lost it, then counted to three to calm down, then lost it again.  My car nearly filled with tears. 

But this sad incident only steeled my resolve to dominate a Double Down sandwich.  It's only 500 calories so I think that I need to add something to it.  Right now, this is my working recipe (see blog entry "recipes for a new millenium" for more similar ideas:

Double Down 9000
1 Double Down Sandwich, Original Recipe
2 KFC Biscuits
1 Double Whopper with Cheese
2 Eggs
3 Mozzarella Sticks
1 Avocado
Whole Lotta Mayo (Light Mayo only)
Pickles (optional)
BBQ sauce (optional)

1.  Seperate Double Whopper into top and bottom halves.
2.  Cook eggs over easy.
3.  Place Eggs, Mozzarella Sticks, Avocado, and entire Double Down sandwich on lower half of Whopper.
4.  Remove Whopper buns and replace with biscuits, or simply put the biscuits outside the bun.
5.  Add Mayo and Pickles to taste.
6.  Dip in BBQ sauce and enjoy it.
7.  No one lives forever but this may hasten the end.
8.  If you doubt that I will really do this check back after the weekend for pictures.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Two New Hats and Lots of Random Stuff

Some of you may know that I have a thing for hats, especially funny costume ones. I have at least 20 different funny hats, a number that grows or shrinks every time I wear one out. And I'm not even including my Burger King crown in that number.

So Saturday I was driving into Centennial to get the daily paper when I saw a garage sale sign in the neighborhood. Usually with garage sales, the older the proprieters the better, and these people were really old. So they had some old stuff; I first picked out a 1950's style grey leather suitcase for 50 cents. Moving on the hat section, I was pleased to find that, like me, this gentleman has quite a noggin on him. In fact, his size 7.5 hats fit me perfectly! I first picked out a brown felt cowboy hat. Here's a picture:

Please note the black-and-white Bruce Lee print in the background. Anyway, I will go ahead and tell you that I am a full seven feet tall with this hat on and if I were to put it on too tight a door could decapitate me. But honestly, hat+mustache+semi-western shirt*Bruce Lee=amazing. I don't wear much else anymore. Sale price, $1.

About to leave quite pleased with my purchases, I spotted a natty (not nasty, natty) green felt fedora on the corner of the shelf. The owner related to me that it was bought in Munich during the 1936 Olympics! I don't know if that's true, but it is German. Here's another pic:

Pop quiz: Which popular R&B singer do I look most like:
A. Ne-Yo
B. Ne-Yo
C. Ne-Yo

We're pretty much dead ringers for each other. And I wish I could sleep wearing my green fedora.

So the rest of this has nothing to do with hats, and everything to do with funny stuff that happens while I'm working at the bar. The first one has to do with backhanded compliments. Though I am a master of the empty compliment myself, I'll let it be known that I think backhanded compliments are low and despicable. Here's a really good one:

Person 1: "Rehab at 14 was the worst possible thing for him. I mean, he just isn't at all equipped for the pursuit of life. He really is practically useless at everything."


Person 1: "He's a nice guy though, I've always liked him."

This anecdote serves to reinforce the widely-held, probably incorrect notion that saying "he's a nice guy, though" immediately negates ANYTHING negative you just said about the third person. Example:

Person 1: "He's a total hebephile and a huge racist. Hates Puerto Ricans and Buddhists with a passion. Kills baby seals for fun and throws their pelts away because he just likes the sight of a dying, clubbed, peltless seal. You'll never meet a nicer guy, though."

Next: I was poking around the kitchen at work for some food one evening, when I saw a big tub of generic sour cream from Sysco. It said on the label: "CULTURED SOUR CREAM". I started thinking about what uncultured sour cream would be like.... boorish, insensitive. Unable to respond to the needs of my taco.

My "Check Engine" light has now been flickering on and off for over three years. I take it as a sign of good craftsmanship that the light is able to last that long, and I know check engine lights are just swindles to get you to go to the repair store, usually so they can check your check engine light and fix that instead of your engine, putting you into an unending cycle of worry that your engine is broken alternating with worry that your engine is broken but you don't even know because your check engine light is malfunctioning. It's dizzying thinking about this, so I covered up my check engine light with black tape.

But what I really don't like about check engine lights is the fact that they're completely unnecessary. I have a VERY good idea if my engine is not working correctly, because the CAR DOESN'T TURN ON. Does this seem self-evident to anyone else? I'm out.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Thesmokinggun presents the police report from "The Mohammed Incident"

Crazy rock lady strikes again. Most recently, she called our local sheriff, the one who responded to her initial call, to request that he file an official police report concerning the incident, which I will remind you occurred over 7 months ago. Luckily, the sheriff stopped in while I was working and let me know about the existence of this document, so I rushed to the county sheriff's office the next morning (on the clock for the Census, obviously) to get my copy. It is the hottest document in town now. Here's the dope (it has been edited for content and formatted to fit your screen):

Civil matters- complaints
Reporting officer: Clyde Harris
Report date: 8/15/09 8:42 Date dispatched: 8/15/09 8:45
Case number: 2-09-001611

Complainant information #1.... will be omitted in this version due to litigous nature of the complainant.

Suspect/Arrestee Information- #1:
Prompt valid in: Costello, Joseph K

Narrative by Harris: On 8-15-09 at approxiamately 0842 hours I was dispatched to __ North Fork Road. The call was in regards to a possible trespassing violation. The complainant was identified as _________.

Upon arrival I met with ___ and she stated that the North Fork Homeowner's Asssociation had bladed and widened North Fork Road onto her property. ____ stated the she had her land surveyed about two years ago and the survey markers were probably bladed over. I asked ___ if she would show me approximately where on her land that the survey markers would be. ___ and I both spotted three different survey markers that showed the eastern boundary of her land. All three of the boundary markers were well off of the west side of North Fork Road. Appproximately eight feet west of the road (sic). ___ then showed me a map of her property and the boundary markers coincided with the map. I explained to ____ that there was nothing I could do for her as North Fork Road did not touch her property line and that this call was really a civil call in nature.


On 3-16-10 at approximately 1715 hours, I received a phone call from _____. The phone call was in regards to events that happened a week prior to the original call on 8-15-09, _____ asked me if I would document her continued complaint from that incident, AS THE ALLEDGED SUSPECT IN THE MATTER, JOSEPH COSTELLO, WAS STILL LIVING AND WORKING IN THE AREA AND CREEPED HER OUT. (CAPS provided by me for emphasis, but this is the real text of the report.)

____ asked me if I remembered her complaint about a subject identified as Joseph COSTELLO. I told _____ I remembered her complaining about Costello, as he was moving rocks along her property line and North Fork Road. _____ told me that when she made contact with COSTELLO and asked him what his name and business was along her property line, COSTELLO would only give the name MOHOMMAD (sic). ____ stated to me that this had really upset her and asked me if I would talk to COSTELLO about the situation, which I did. I made contact with COSTELLO on the morning of 8-15-09 at his parent's residence on North Fork Road, of which I can t remember the address.

When I asked COSTELLO why he had given ___ the name of MOHOMMAD. he said that ____ was being a royal pain, moving big rocks onto North Fork Road and he had stopped to move the rocks out of the road when she made contact with him. COSTELLO told me he was just being ornery and joking when he told her his name was MOHOMMAD. When I asked COSTELLO if he would not bother ____ any more, he said that he would leave her alone.

This supplemental report was completed at the complainant's request, and there is still no basis for any criminal investigation.

No further action.

Just a few comments on this. First, since when has "living and working in the area and creeping her out" an investigable offense?? Second, a trespassing complaint seven months post facto is not likely to have much merit.

Also, I found out the real reason behind this request. A few days later, my boss at the Census took me aside and asked if I'd had an incident with a "crazy-sounding woman" (those were his exact words) in Centennial. I stated that once, seven months ago I was involved in a minor incident and that I believed this woman had called my boss trying to get me fired, and was using the written police report as ammunition for this character assassination. Then, after my boss told me to skip her house while delivering the Census, she called him back to report that I had skipped her house and she had not received her Census. So you see what I'm dealing with: a devious, duplicitous, anxious crazy old lady with nothing better to do than try to get me fired.

But I'm still somewhat of a folk hero in my subdivision and many people know me only as Mohammed; I got several friendly handshakes from neighbors of hers recognizing my service to the community.

In another random thought, is there anyone else that thinks Duke's Coach K has really pulled the wool over America's eyes by convincing us that his name is pronounced with an "S"?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Circletalking the shoesaleswoman. Further news from the crazy rock lady!

On my first payday for the census, I decided to splurge on something I've wanted and needed for quite awhile: a nice pair of boots I can use for work and walking. So I went to the most natural place to buy boots: the World Wide Web. Not finding any crazy deals, and being wary of buying something as intimate as steel-toed word boots from a computer screen, I went to the next-best place for boots: Boot Barn. I realize this sounds like a store out of a bad movie like "Did You Hear About the Morgans," but it's actually TOTALLY REAL. And they do stock lots of boots indeed.

Minus blue makeup, this ad pretty much applies to me.

First off, the lady arranging the boots won me over with her good-girl country-western good looks. So I was going to buy something no matter what. She ignored me just enough that I had to seek her out and ask her questions once in awhile, that boot vixen! But anyway, I tried on many boots. That's not the funny part but yes, if you must know, I fall over alot while I'm trying boots and it's got to be pretty funny to the store security cameras and the people that may watch them. Because I'm tall and my balance is poor.
So I go to buy the boots, waiting for a moment behind a couple junior high school girls buying a very distasteful pink leather cowgirl jacket that may or may not be reversible despite its cowgirl nature. When I get to the front of the line, I note I'm buying from the manager; I cringe because I figure this means she's going to hit me up for upgrades and warranties galore. And sure as Asian people love mashed potatoes, she does.

The T in the middle is quite unnecessary, especially because if you read it phonetically it says "boot-T barn"

Manager: "Now, the first thing you're going to want to get with these boots is a good waterproofing agent."

RetiredJK (I show her a tag on my shoes that states they are "WATERPROOF"): It says they're waterproof already."

Manager: "You should still add some more waterproofing to make them that more waterproofed."

RetiredJK: "Waterproof is an all-or-nothing deal to me, and these boots claim to be waterproof. Are they waterproof or do I need a "more-waterproof" boot?"

Manager (hastily): "They certainly are."
Evidently, I am not the only person who finds Boot Barn funny enough to blog about.

Later, she tries to sneak in a rewards card:

Manager: "Would you like to sign up for a Boot Barn frequent shopper card?"

Retired JK (kind of cutting her off): "I don't want anything that won't save me money today."

Manager: "This can save you ten percent!"

RJK: "Today!?"
Manager"... No."
RJK: "Just stop now."

I just ate a chicken pot pie for the first time in like ten years, and they sure seemed alot bigger when we were kids!

Apostasy and the search for truth from the Census main office

Anyway, I have had some good times the last few weeks! In this series of humorous anecdotes, I milk my census position for every possible funny moment. Let's get down to brass tacks. I got a text from a fellow census worker today and at the bottom it said, almost like a formal closing, "apostasy." In the interest of you not going to an online dictionary to remind you what this means, it is defined as "total desertion of one's principles, morals, or religious beliefs." I can't really think of a better non sequitur to a Census bureau text message.

So in my response (which I'm sure was equally confusing) I asked faux-naively: "Is that like ecstasy? Isn't there a book or something called 'apostasy and ecstasy'?" I haven't heard back from this co-worker yet, so I'm interested in getting his (or her, I'm not actually sure which co-worker it is) version of this story.

In further Census news, I knocked on the door of a house that I thought was unoccupied. As I was preparing to leave a baggie containing the questionnaire on the doorknob, the subject answered the door. She was about sixty, and probably still is consdering it just happened three hours ago. But I hope I'm this cool when I'm sixty, and I hope this wasn't just a demented lady rhyming to me. But seriously, she spits hot fire.

RetiredJK: "Hello my name is JK and I work for the US Census."

Subject: "The consensus is... (pause)... you're with the Census!"

RJK: "Oh yeah when did you start freestyling?"

Also, I had a pretty amazing chat with a woman at our district office. I needed to get a TPS report from her including the emails of all the people in my group of ten enumerators, for I planned (in a stunning show of efficiency, decentralization, and direction of workflow) to start an "e-mail list" and a "Google document" which could allow us all to update the all-important spreadsheet. We'll start with my phone call being transferred to the target phone-answerer:

(Me singing along with elevator music)

Census: "Hello this is "Rhonda" how may I assist you today?" (names changed for protection)

RetiredJK: "Hello. My name is JK and I work for the Census-- I'm an assistant crew leader in fact. I need to get a list of the email addresses for the group I trained last week."

Census: "Oh my, I don't know if we have that information. I mean I'm not sure if that's even possible. I... I just don't know."

RJK: "Could you find out please."

Census: "I just don't think we have that information."

RJK: "You have my email address and everyone who took my training class last week."

Census: "Well.... give me their names and I'll ask my supervisor."

(On hold, I throw down half a K.C. and JoJo song)

Census: "You can't have that information because it's confidential. You'll have to get it from your workers each individually."

RJK: "You realize you sent me a list of all their names, telephone numbers and addresses previously."

Census: "I don't know. I'm just not in a position to give out any of that information."

We now go by code names in our Census group so that we don't give out any identifying information. This is totally real, one person goes by IB BrakenBonez, I am J-Tiger, someone else is Carlos, and we are really the only three people keeping it up, but it's pretty cool. I'm kind of sticking it to the man but in a funny way.

In yet another entertaining snippet, one of many in a seemingly neverending series, I called the main office to get a boss lady's email address to email her the master spreadsheet. I talked to the boss lady and it became increasingly obvious that she had an aversion to electronic music:

RetiredJK: "So I have this spreadsheet in Excel format and I'd like to send it over there."

Census: "So... you're gonna fax that to me?"

RJK: "Well, you see, excel files are most often e-mailed."

"I don't have an e-mail address."

(Pause for me to laugh)

"You poor thing. I am speaking to someone at the Census bureau right?"


"You know you can get email on the Web for FREE, right?"

"Is that so? Well, I do have an email address, but I'm not important enough to use it."

I told her not to be so hard on herself, but I eventually realized that she just meant she didn't have a secure census email address, which again led to the following exchange:

Me: "So... it is OK to fax something to an office of forty people but I can't send it to you privately via email?

Census: "I'm just not qualified for that."

It's funny, because the more they waste my time, the more time I waste discovering out just how much time they waste.