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.

THE END OF MOLASSES CLASSES by Ron Clark

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.

HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED by Paul Tough

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.

Allergies!

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!

https://dailymotion.com/video/x8m5d0

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.

A 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.

THINGS I HATE TO READ IN BLOGS.

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.

GUEST POST: An Obituary

This will be the final post of this blog.  It will sit here until entropy arrives to disassemble its ones and zeros and vanish them into the ether.  I write this as the great-great grandson of Matthew Abel and his mind has finally left us.  Some called him a hero, others a villain, but to me he was a nuisance.  After four long years of spreading raw onion around the threshold of our den, my great-great grandfather has finally let his spirit dissolve into mist.

How does someone describe the titan that was Matthew Abel?  He was seventeen feet tall at his tallest, following the incident with the taffy stretcher.  The size of a thimble during (his words) “The Adventure of the Coldest Water.”  He had fifty-six children, counting the clones, which most people do, had saved four-billion seventy-three thousand and six individuals from death, was responsible for the destruction of the Tandy galaxy four galaxies over and unwittingly influenced the 2056 Secret Presidential elections with his book “Why Uncracked Sidewalk Pavement Matters.”

In short, he changed the world.

You are no doubt aware of the time he single-handledly pulled a steamship out of danger using a long rope, his teeth, and gumption.  With his wife, celebrated model Samantha, they created the “Food Slingshot” which showered poor nations of Africa and South America with danishes and cans of beans.  His eldest son Zachary went on to discover no less than fifty-three planets Earthens could populate, and only daughter, Lucy, invented the Dark Light Engine which solved the energy crisis across the universe.

Yes, he was a great man, or so he told me.  Well, his ghost told me.

In retrospect, those may have been lies.  I’ve never actually corroborated anything he told me.

Come to think on it, I’m not even sure it was the right ghost.

31: My Love Affair

Confession time.  There’s been a love affair I’ve been a part of for many, many years.  No need for worry.  Sam has been well aware of it throughout its entirety.  She had little choice as it started before we met.

Pie.

God help me, I love pie.  There are very few pies I will refuse (citrus pies – I’m not a fan of citrus in baked goods – and coconut cream on occasion).  For a long time I’ve been alarmed by the level of pie intake in our household, but I’ve had about fifteen pies in the past few days (editor’s note:  it was really five slices) and I crave far, far more.

And that’s all you are going to get from me today.  It is my day with my wife and it is my day for pie and I love you all, America, but there is little you have to offer me in this electronic wilderness today.

31: Spanish!

It’s that time of year again.  The time is rarely scheduled and honestly happens every few months, but I am learning Spanish again.  Spanish is a language I’ve been trying to learn for six years and I am terrible at it mainly because I don’t apply myself.  There’s little extra income for formal lessons (I’m not very interested, truth be told) and I don’t know too many people fluent.  Sam speaks it but rarely uses it, so what is a guy to do?

Thankfully there is a meetup every other Saturday.  The last time I went the kids were with me which made it challenging to focus, but this week I am alone and it was very rewarding.  There were advanced speakers all around me so I did little but listen.

Why Spanish?  Many, many parents in my school district speak it.  Many, many people speak it and it is important to have communication within this world of our.  Spanish has a lovely sound to it.

Honestly, I would say I haven’t an ear for languages but I don’t really know as I’ve rarely taken the time learn.  Kicking myself is my refrain when speaking on it as I certainly could have taken  high school or college Spanish.  My own children will learn it – ideally we would enroll them in an immersion program but we don’t live in that area right now.  One year to go since Zachary starts Kindergarten next year.

Unsurprisingly, the area I showed the most focus at this meeting was a discussion on food.  It was exciting – I showed my love of eating, I suppose.  There’s not much to comment on that, but I am learning Spanish again and hope it goes well.