Thursday, January 29, 2009

Whining, Voting & Blogger Awards

We may just have to briefly suspend the normal operating rules of this blog. Since its creation in September of 2007, Bellringers has proudly been a No Whining blog. OK, so I’ll admit I’ve come mighty close a time or two, but I have always managed to back away from the precipice of Whine Central.

But today, well today, with one toe poised over the edge of the Whining Abyss, I think it’s time to just dive right into that whining pool, get it over with, dry myself off and move on. You see, this voting thing for “Best Blog This” and “Best Blog That” filled my head with those VIB thoughts again. (You know, those Very Important Blogger thoughts.)

Pathetic, I know. I’m such an easy mark.

People’s Exhibit #1-- I used to get excited when I would receive emails from Oprah. My heart would start jumping when I’d see in the subject line: “Carol, Oprah needs your help…” I’d think to myself, “Yep, me and the O are tight, practically sisters.”

That is, of course, until I remembered that I signed up for her newsletter, and that in some dank Chicago basement Hal the computer spews a gazillion of those emails to a gazillion email accounts “personalizing” each and every one.

Now, remember I’ve been honest about this before and have readily admitted that I do have an ego roughly the size of a barn, so you can see how easy it is for me to get carried away when I get nominated for something, anything. Hails Bails, I would get excited for being nominated the The-Non-Fat-Three-Raw Sugar-Latte-Guzzling-Queen.

So when my friend over at Scholastic Scribe tells me about a Best Education Blog nomination, what do I do? I do what any non-self-respecting blogger would do--I cajole friends, acquaintances, strangers and derelicts to vote for me.

Then, flushed with anticipation, I zip to check the vote count on whatever awards site is currently up. Clean my glasses. Re-check the vote count. Re-clean my glasses. Re-check the vote count. Sigh loudly. (OK, so it’s more like a harrumph). After a final re-check of votes, I finally come to terms with the very sad fact that my number barely hovers above the single digits.

Even sadder still, of course, is that of those votes, four come from my family.

But let’s go even a step further beyond the realm of more pathetic. Yep, you’ve probably guessed it by now. Since I have a 17 year old who can hate me on any given day, I hacked into her email and cast her vote for her. I figured at some point in her life she would want something from good ole Mom, find a warm fuzzy feeling for me and cast her ballot in the affirmative.

Yeah, pathetic I know.

On the I-Really-Am-Not-The-Most-Pathetic-Person-On-The-Planet side of all this, at least I resisted the temptation to open an email account for my dog Jack and have him vote for me. (And I don’t care what you say, just thinking about it doesn’t count.)

I know you’re probably feeling just a tad bit sorry for me about now and perhaps just a smidge tired of all this whining… Quite frankly I am too. I’m also pretty sure you’re wondering how in the Sam Hill any of this whining has to do with education. (Jeez Louise, work with me here. I’m getting to all of that.) So, my peeps, I decided that perhaps the best way to get out of this wallowing in self-pity thing was to put on my snazzy tiara and come up with a set up awards that perhaps someone like me (or maybe even you) could actually win…

So here it goes…

Richie’s Top 5 blogger awards

#5…The Oh-No-O Blogger Award… Goes to those bloggers (like me and Mr. Teacher) who believe Oprah will actually read their blog some day, “discover” them and invite them on her show and give them free stuff.

#4…The Have-Some-Whine-With-Your-Cheese-Award…Proudly goes to an educator who whines the best about stuff worthy of whining about. My personal favorite still would have to be Mimi’s post way back in September on “My Kingdom For A Parking Space.”

#3…The Blagojevich Blog Award…Handed out to those who, you know, attempt to control the outcome of things, but fail rather pathetically. (Kind of like that someone who hacked into her daughter’s email and cast that vote.)

#2…The Set-My-Hair-On-Fire Award… Given to those teachers who--when faced with insurmountable odds--may think about setting their hair on fire and run screaming from the building, but instead, reach into their Emergency Chocolate Drawer, clench their teeth, gain five pounds and defy all the Naysaying-Know-Nothing-Nincompoops. (I think Edna Lee would be a good candidate. I still love to read “What do you mean Billy fell off a cliff?”

And, drum-roll pah-leese… the Number 1 Blogger Award of All Time is…

#1…The Big-Fat-Stupid-Head Award…(Jeez Louise, you were expecting something different? And, no this does not stop the BFSH timer. Remember all rules were suspended for this particular post.) Now, I know some of you think you can win this award, but surely, on any given day, I’ve got this one pretty much covered.

I bet my vote count would soar into the triple digits, and I wouldn’t even need Jack’s vote.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

208th Carnival of Education

Well Peeperoos, (I just love making up words, don’t you? The 208th Carnival of Education is out and running over at the Reading Workshop. We have an ice day here in the good ole Lone Star State, so I’m really looking forward to drinking some green tea and reading a bunch of fab-u-lous posts today. Jim McGuire did a great job hosting. My post “Deadline Survivor, Things That Will Get You Fired & Global Warming,” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here (or you can just scroll on down).

But everyone who is in-the-know just knows that you have to go there to be up on everything happening in the EduSphere. You don’t want to be a Know-Nothing-Ninny, do you? So what are you waiting for? Hop on over there speedy quick and get ya some learnin’!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Deadline Survivor, Things That Will Get You Fired & Global Warming

One of these days I think I’ll make up a little ribbon pin or a button of some sort that says “Newspaper Deadline Survivor” or “Yearbook Deadline Survivor” –except I don’t know if anyone ever really truly survives a publications deadline.

Perhaps a better version would be…“Newspaper Deadline–No one gets out of here alive,” but then again, we’d probably have some copyright issues to deal with since there’s a book floating around by that name. So much for my cleverness.

Regardless, I am again a Newspaper Deadline Survivor, and that, dear friends, is always cause for the Dance of Joy, so let’s just briefly recap some of the high points of the week. Or uh, perhaps we should call them low points? Hails bails, I think we’ll just call them points of the week. Yep, that’s probably the most politically correct phraseology (and no, I’m not making up words, although I could if I wanted to). I’ll just throw three things out there for you to ruminate about. (Yes siree, Missy, we’ve got that SAT word thing going on again.)

Item #1…One of the kids asked this week if the Super Bowl was Super Bowl Number 4. I guess all those Roman numerals threw them off.

Item #2…I quietly slipped something into my “Things That Will Get You Fired” folder. I would elaborate, but then this would become a “thing that will get you fired,” and we all know how I feel about those things.

Item #3…I sent Mikey the Extraordinaire to the library to check out the Rolling Stone movie “Shine A Light” for me because, well, everyone knows how much I love the Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band of All Time. (Besides, one look at Keith Richards, and I don’t feel so old anymore. Sorry, Keith.)

Well, someone asked Mr. Mikey if the DVD was for my “personal” use or if I was going to show it to my students because we aren’t allowed to show movies with a PG-13 rating or higher. This, of course, was from the same library that handed me a great DVD about photographer Annie Leibovitz but nonetheless contained lots of naked folks. In case you were wondering, naked folks (you know, people sans clothing) are exactly the kind of things that immediately get stashed in the “Things That Will Get You Fired” folder (which btw is starting to get just a tad bit overcrowded).

But golly geewillikers, all of that got me to thinking (and we all know what happens when that happens). I’m still rather shocked at the question. Did they really think someone would show Mick and the boys to a class? Well, I got to thinking, and now I’m still stuck at wondering just how one would justify showing “Shine A Light” to one’s class, you know, if one actually wanted to. Common sense would tell one that if one wished to continue to remain employed that Mick and the boys should immediately get stuffed into the Things folder. Don’t you think?

And speaking of things, I do have one more thing…One of my editors wrote a great line in her column that I intend to purloin (ah, another SAT word alert!). Poor thing said she was going to be grounded for her grades until global warming ended.

I think Mick’s going to stay in the Things folder along with Annie until, you guessed it, global warming ends.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Carnival of Education & Get Out The Vote!

The Carnival of Education is out and up and running at Teacher in a Strange Land. With a very clever inauguaration theme, you’ll really want to dance your way over there to see what’s going on in the EduSphere. My post “Fatsos, Lockdowns & Stella” was included. Our gracious host Nancy Flanagan even said it “will make you laugh out loud,” but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

In other news, here’s a bit of shameless self-promotion. Yesterday I stumbled upon my nomination for Best Educational Blog, Best Humor Blog and Best Blog of All Time over at the Blogger’s Choice Awards. If you are a fan of this site, then I ask you to beebop over there and cast your vote or votes. You can vote in all categories. You have to register first, but registration is free. After you register, they will send you an email to confirm your registration. By clicking on the link, it will take you back to their site where you can vote. You can find my ballot by searching for Bellringers.

So let’s vote early and let’s vote often. Oh wait, I think that was in another state… for another election… So let’s just say, vote!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fatsos, Lockdowns & Stella

Just in case anyone out there was even a smidgen concerned about whether I survived the end of the semester hoopdedoo, well dear peeps, the answer is obviously a resounding and unequivocal “yes.”

But more importantly, I even survived the teacher in-service lockdown re-enactment extravaganza.

And trust me, the fact that my head didn’t implode on its own or a gaggle of crazed teachers didn’t throttle me with their hall passes probably isn’t nothing short of a miracle. I probably have Saint Jude to thank for that.

Last week, administrators and the regional SWAT team decided it would be a nifty neat-o idea to run us through a man-with-a-gun-lockdown-re-enactment extravaganza after the kids left for the day. Normally I would have been just a smidge put out about the whole thing seeing as how I had papers to grade and another 47 yearbook pages to wade through. And, oh yeah, let’s not forget the entire next semester to plan educational stuff for as well as the upcoming newspaper deadline. And then, of course, there’s my desk to tidy up (OK, OK, OK, so that’s probably not going to happen in my lifetime).

Still, I wasn’t annoyed by the teacher in-service lockdown re-enactment extravaganza because, quite frankly, my eyes were beginning to glaze over, and I needed a break. Besides, running around with the SWAT guys seemed a tad more fun than looking through those 47 yearbook pages or doing any of those other things.

So with that in mind, I punctually joined my compadres in the auditorium to receive our instructions. It went something like this:

“Blah, blah, blah, blah…and there will be loud noises…blah blah blah…blanks…blah blah blah …sounding like gunfire… blah blah blah…yelling…blah blah blah…we don’t want any pregnant teachers participating… blah blah blah…”

Before I could stop myself, the words just rolled out of my mouth…“How about old and fat teachers? Can they still participate?” I quipped.

More than a few beady eyes glared my way.

“Me,” I said, “me… I was talking about me! I’m old…I’m fat…”

Oh my, I thought, it’s a good thing my Starbucks-guzzlin’-hall-monitor-compadre is thin. (She was the only one who walked with me down to our assigned classroom for the re-enactment.)

After we all selected one of the designated classrooms with our “teacher.” The lockdown commenced. Doors locked. Lights off. Flash. Bang. Boom. Yelling. Yelling a lot. Someone yelling loudly for Mary over and over and over again. (I thought it would be much more amusing if our bad guy yelled “Stella” and said so… Below is a video clip of a Stella yelling contest or there’s a big blank spot if your school blocks such things…)

About that time, teachers in my room started turning over tables, barricaded the locked door and hid behind the tables.

I, however, remained in my chair and whispered to my compadres hiding behind the tables, “You do know that bullets can go through tables, don’t you? You do know that, don’t you?”

“Oh,” they said.

Jeez Louise, what movies have they been watching?

Later, we reconvened in the auditorium to discuss our “feelings.” Now, those of you who know me, know that’s about the point where my head wanted to implode. Still, it was rather a bit fascinating to hear my peers talk about how scared they were etc.

Now, before you decide to join the Richie Hata’s Club and/or start sending me nasty posts or emails, please note that I do understand the need to take these drills seriously and do what you’re supposed to do, but you also need to understand that I’m not much of a scaredycat either and tend to handle stress with a rather warped sense of humor. You see, I spent too much time as a police reporter covering crime and too many years married to my accident-prone husband.

Back in the day, I interviewed criminals, trained with a SWAT team for a story and even witnessed a police shooting. So you can see why I didn’t flinch once when my husband inadvertently blew up my flower bed (although I did hit the deck) or why a man-with-a-gun-lockdown-re-enactment extravaganza left me slightly unfazed. I am just a tad jaded. Real life scares me enough–pretending doesn’t.

I will tell you, though, what did scare the bejeebers out of me that day.

Right before the touchy-feely session, my principal got on the mic and said in a very, very serious tone something about how I needed to remain after the meeting.

I almost broke into a cold sweat–almost–wondering what in the Sam Hill I had done.

“Apparently Carol said something about putting a wig on Tim, tossing him out in the hall and calling him ‘Mary,’” he said.

“Well,” I said, “I thought someone should take it for the team.”

Everyone laughed.

Perhaps there won’t be rush to join the Richie Hata’s Club after all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Carnival of Education--Seasons of Change Edition

Woo-hoo for Wednesday and, of course, the Carnival of Education! This week’s Education Carnival is being hosted over at the Examiner. It has a nifty little theme--Seasons of Education. My post, “Semester Exams, Snarkiness & Ring Tones,” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. But, you know that if you want to be in-the-know, you need to go there to see what else is being blogged about in the EduSphere.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Semester Exams, Snarkiness & Ring Tones

Try as I might I must confess that I am having some level of difficulty finding anything amusing/funny/witty about the end of the semester.

Yep, next week we have final exams, and come Monday, I need to tell all the DIs (Darling Inspirations) whether they are exempt from my final. I’ve discussed the whole procedure before. You might as well ask me to find the square root of a gazillion two, multiply by eight, recite the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, and then do the hokey pokey and turn myself around.

Although I’m fairly sure I’d come out OK on the hokey pokey part, the rest of it all is enough to make me a poster child for that $100-plus-a-pill migraine medicine. And, of course, don’t get me started about newspaper and yearbook deadlines.

All of it just makes me rather snarky (sort of like this snarky photo of Jack, my German Shepherd) which is why I am having difficulty finding anything amusing/funny/witty about the end of the semester.

And, of course, all of this is exacerbated (don’t you just love SAT words?) by the fact that I am 800 or so miles away from the epicenter of my stress. Yep, I left town Wednesday to take care of some family business and will return to ground zero (my school) on Monday.

It all rather makes me feel rather smallish like Dante standing at the gates of hell and reading the inscription…

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here

OK, OK, OK so I’m a tad bit more melodramatic and a smidgen more snarkier than I thought. And while I was pondering just exactly how unfunny things have gotten, I started to think about Dante standing there with his guide Virgil. And you know, it’s just never, ever, ever a good thing when a journalism adviser starts to ponder classic literature--particularly, you know, writings from back in the day.

I wondered if Dante had written the Inferno today whether Virgil would have had to tell Dante to turn his cell phone off or to “please put it on silent.” And, then of course, all of that got me to thinking about what ring tones Dante or Virgil might have had, you know, if they had that sort of thing. I was going to come up with “Richie’s Top Ring Tones for Dante’s Journey Through The Inferno,” but I ran into a few problems…

Problem Number 1--That’s an awfully long title for a list, don’t ya think?

Problem Number 2--Although my ring tone list had the obvious standbys (“Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones and “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC), much of the list became rather too eclectic and a bit eccentric (i.e. “Stealing” by Uriah Heep--does anyone even know who that is anymore?--or “Dope Show” by Marilyn Manson) that I feared no one would know what in the world I was talking about.

Problem Number 3--Of course, some of the selections just might be the type of songs that belong in the “things that will get you fired” folder. And if that were the case, why then, some of those songs might actually get me moved up speedy quick to the head of that going-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket line.

Oh wait, I think I’m there already. Guess I better change my ring tone to…

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Woo-hoo Wednesday, Carnival of Education and Voting

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means! It’s time to Woo-hoo and time to head on over to the Carnival of Education hosted this week by Right Wing Nation. So zip on over there to see what’s going on in the EduSphere. You know the drill. My post “Holiday Endings, Soreheads & Billboards” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

Also, before I forget, if you get a chance, I wish you would head on over to two locations and cast a vote for my sister M.H. Bonham and her two books–one is an anthology, WolfSongs and the other is her novel, Lachlei. If you haven’t had a chance to read them, Jeez Louise what in the world are you waiting for? I can vouch for Lachlei. WolfSongs is in my ever-growing “to read” pile.

So vote for Lachlei by zipping on over here and vote for WolfSongs by beebopping over there. The instruction are easy. Hails Bails, even I could do it!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Holiday Endings, Soreheads & Billboards

We all knew it would happen. The end of Christmas Break.

Or, if one were to be politically correct, the end of Winter Break. But even being politically correct doesn’t take the sting out of starting back up, now does it?

I don’t know about you, but somehow I managed to not manage my time well. Not only did I not accomplish anything on the education front (you know, lesson plans, grading, planning), I didn’t even get to scratch off anything from my ever growing to-do list.

I’m absolutely certain my yearbook rep will be thrilled to discover that only Batch #3 of my page proofs got proofed. Oh, and my yearbook plant rep? I can hear her sigh rolling across those plains.

Now it’s not that I didn’t appreciate the cute little notes with a drawing of Frosty the Snowman at one of end of a maze and page proofs at the other end of the maze admonishing, “Help Frosty find the proofs!…Keep us busy this holiday season by submitting all your completed pages and returning corrected proofs…”

They sent it all on politically correct blue paper (no Christmas red or green, no siree, Missy, we’ll have none of that.)

Yep, I bet they’re all doing a dance of joy about now. I probably got marked off the “Send-That Fab-u-lous Adviser a Starbucks Gift Card” list. (Hmmm, come to think of it, I didn’t get a Starbucks card this year. Ah, well, maybe, just maybe, if I had had a tasty Starbucks Grande non-fat three raw sugar latte, I just might have cranked out Proof Batch #4, Mister Yearbook Rep.)

But I did not intend for this post to digress into the shortcomings of Richie, no siree, Missy. Rather, I wanted to chat about billboards. Yep, that’s right, billboards.

While driving home through the great state of Texas after visiting family over my Christmas break, I initially was alarmed that the Chamber of Commerce for the town of Dumas removed its wonderful billboard. My heart palpitations stopped only when my husband pointed out that the old billboard merely had been replaced by a newer version. My favorite phrase (although noticeably smaller) remained intact…“Home of the Ding Dong Daddies, 14,000 Friendly Folks and a Few Old Soreheads!”

I love that sorehead line. It’s so, you know, politically incorrect to acknowledge that everything isn’t 100 percent perfect and everyone isn’t 100 percent great.

Well naturally, all of that got me to thinking (and we all know what happens when that happens), and I thought about how schools might want to jump on that sort of politically incorrect billboard bandwagon. It might go something like this…

Welcome to Anytown High School! Home of the Tigers, 16 kids driven to succeed and 5 driven to a parole hearing!

Welcome to Yourtown High School! Home of the Eagles, 1 national merit scholar and 1 local hot dog eating champion!

Welcome to Everyonetown High School! Home of the Falcons, 1,150 exceptional students and 17 teachers who are borderline bat crack crazy!

Welcome to Ourtown High School! Home of the Bears, average test scores and administrators who mismanage your taxpayer dollars!

The billboard for my school would read…

Welcome to Mytown High School… Home of the Panthers, 2,168 fab-u-lous kiddos, 4 card-carrying Richie hatas and 1 very, very, very tired and politically incorrect adviser!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 1, 2009

Woo-hoo! A very, very, very Happy New Year to you!

“And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last…” –Counting Crows