Monthly Archives: August 2013

State of the Matthew, August 2013

Well, Summer is coming to a close, at least it should be, but I’m still laid off.  The worst bit of being laid off is the fear that the human resources department has the wrong phone number for me.  That’s a silly thing to worry about, but it’s there.  Everyone tells me I’ll most likely be called back in a few weeks, but that’s not a whole lot of fun, waiting.  Plus, then I’ll have another class that started after the year started – that can make things challenging.

As a fall-back I’ve registered to sub and I have plenty of friends who are still in the district so I can probably keep busy at GRPS, as well as being able to spread out a bit.  (I’d still rather be recalled)

In the meantime, I’m starting school!  That’s right.  Much to my father’s glee I’m enrolled in Western’s Science Education program to earn my Master’s.  It’s exciting.  It will be interesting to see how the Master’s plays into things down the line, but everyone seems to need science teachers.

So, the kids start day care and I start subbing and that’s how it is.  It’s frustrating, the unknown.  It’s been a bit of a rough summer because of it but at least things are moving forward.

Reading List

Heyo.  Next Tuesday I start school again!  I’m getting my masters in Science Education, a bold move since I don’t currently have A job.  But, whatevs.  Science is cool.

Lately, I’ve been kind of bored with reading.  There’s books I’ve been burning through like a madman, but I’ve been having a hard time staying engaged or feeling like my time reading was worth it.  2013 has been one of my most productive years of reading – but it’s been almost all Fiction – mainly sci-fi/fantasy.

Of course! I thought the other day.  I used to alternate books fairly regularly fiction/non-fiction and it kept me out of such trouble.  So, the past week I’ve been digging into some great non-fiction.


I’ve been a fan of Ron Clark since reading “The Essential 55.”  He is a man of boundless energy I would enjoy meeting and he loves what he does.  This book brings forth the usual Teacher Advice you find in books like “Teach Like a Champion.”  Mr. Clark has a great gift for anecdotes and it is easy to see his true love of his students.

Of course, he has critics, too.  There are certain rules of his, as well, as anecdotes in this book, that don’t paint him all to positively.  There’s been a few details (dress codes; retaking tests) I don’t agree with him on.  But I agree with him about loving the students being important and taking time to engage with them.

His time commitment is amazing.  My main wondering is if he is married with children of his own – making time for my own family is challenging during the teaching season, even when not volunteering and its not an area I’m willing to ignore.


This is a book about grit and “soft skills” that we need to give our children.  It raises a lot of internal eyebrows for me – I get so frustrated during the school year how much emphasis is given on certain content areas, but we ignore the so-called soft skills.  School really needs to be a place where we celebrate tenacity and efficacy (which Ron Clark seems to agree with!) instead of fact factories.

There’s not much new stuff in this book for me, since a lot of the same ground was covered in NUTURESHOCK, but it’s a good book.

GOOD TO GREAT by Jim Collins

This book was recommended to me many years ago by an old boss (hi, Bruce!) and I’ve been listening to it in my car.  What a great book.  Research mixed with revelation mixed with really well told stories.  What gets me is how many of the mistakes described in the book I see my school district making.  Too many attempts at big miracle moments.

It’s a great book for normal people, too, with awesome lessons for any organization.  I might buy it – though I’ve loved listening to Jim Collins dulcet tones.

There’s a few more I’m just getting into, but these are the three main I’m reading now to supplement my Sandman Slim reading.  I’m also reading Ophiuchi Hotline for book club, and not diggin’ it thus far.


It’s allergy season.  I’m suffering.  Are you suffering?  I am.  My eyes, nose, throat – it’s all blowing up!  Why on earth do we have allergies?  This is a question I ask.  They make little sense at all.

Allergies are pointless and I’m sick of having them.

Everything is Going to Be Okay

Cynicism runs rampant, my friends.  Too many people I talk to (people younger than me!) complain that things aren’t “like they used to be!”  Well, some of that is good and some of that is bad.  Things certainly aren’t like they used to be.  For example, I don’t have to be terrified Zachary is going to die of polio which is pretty awesome.  Likewise, Lucy is going to have a lower risk of certain cancers thanks to vaccines she’ll receive when the time is right.

Everything is amazing.  But no one is happy!

Crime rates are massively lower!  Almost everyone can vote!  (that’s probably my only area of concern, but I think we’ll get over that hump as well).  There are some unfortunate scare-mongers who are trying to turn back the clock, but the pendulum will swing back.  There’s a tidal wave of sleeping giants waiting to take on the stubborn.

(I am at a loss for the right word – I want to say “old,” but I’ve met incredibly open-minded old people and terribly stubborn, short-sighted young people, and none of them are stupid so I can’t use that word, and stubborn lacks the impact I want)

Everyone needs to stop freaking out.  We’ve got this amazing society we’ve created and all anyone cares about is how awful things used to be, but pretending that’s right now.

I’ve been reading books again.  That’s what prompted this.  Everyone wants to ignore the real, fixable problems so they can all complain about how awful everything is:  “No one has any respect for family.  There’s no religion anymore.  In my day, people had the decency to [be scared of old people].”  BAH!

Crime is down, there’s scarcely any real danger on most streets these days and yet we ignore the people who still need help.  A lot of people only need some resilience and stress relief and some knowledge of life and they’d be okay.  People need to learn to be happy with what they have and learn how to really find the things they need.

Stop looking for the bad – if you can’t find a living, breathing victim – someone actually being injured – then leave it be.  No more phantoms, please.

31: A Poem

I am supposed to write a poem.

Here is my poem.


We were promised peace as a wall came down
And our hopes evaporated as walls fell
Because a hornet’s nest was kicked

We were promised in our youth a shiny world
We were promised life would be “post-”
(but it isn’t)

And we have instead given the world
To the stubborn and old-minded
(your age is not your age)

Our kind must bridge that gap that forgot
The dusty and depressed.
We must reach and grab those hands
And share that knowledge
Slow down.
Look up.
Look forward.

The minds will open
Love will survive
Your hatred will burn brightly
And flame out
And our hope will burn brighter
Consuming and sharing
And earning our birthright

We were promised peace
And we will have it.

31: Lists!

Here is a list that I wrote.


1)  “Hello.  I have been missing and have not updated in a while.”

This is obnoxious and self-pitying.  No one cares.  I don’t even care when I do this – I space out and all of sudden the blog is updated and I’m all “how did that happen?”

2)  My Name.  How did they find that?  Usually it’s one of the other “Matthew Abels” out there and while many of them are pretty cool, a lot of them are terrible.  You have to really filter out the good from the bad.

3)  Lists.

What an outmoded and trite form of communication.  Can we move beyond the lists, please?  I understand as humanity we want to categorize and tabulate but its very frustrating.  Lists are the reason we had the lame Pluto controversy and I’ve had it with them completely.

4)  Self-Referential Humor

We get it.  You’re aware you’re being hypocritical or meta or whatever.  Dude.

5)  Complaints about trash disposals.

Just take the bull by the balls and clean it out yourself.  You don’t need a plumber for it.