Month: January 2015

A Beacon of Stupidity: A COLA Beard Grows

Since the beginning of October, I have been engaged in a self-created protest movement of 2.5 people. Movements of 2.5 people generally don’t get much attention but this movement has garnered a lot of interest because it has turned me into someone who looks like a cross between theUnabomber and Abolitionist John Brown. This look is not going to get me a modeling contract or put me on the cover of GQ, but it could land me on the cover of Guns and Ammo.

I don't own a buckskin jacket or gun, but the rest is pretty accurate.

I don’t own a buckskin jacket or gun, but the rest is pretty accurate.

The rules of this protest movement are simple: You cannot shave until the State of Washington restores the Cost of Living Adjustment passed by voters eight years ago. (That’s right, my day job is teaching. Don’t worry, I take my job very seriously and that is why I never write about it on my blog: A rule that I am currently breaking, so can I be trusted?) The past eight years have been frustrating because we have received the COLA one time in the eight years. (Our insurance company also knew when we got the COLA and raised their rates to eat all of it up.) This frustration as been simmering for a few years and in October I decided to start a moronic protest movement. Two of my colleagues joined me in this social experiment and most of us have followed the rules. (One of the protesters says he didn’t understand that not shaving meant not trimming the beard also. He is now the .5 member of the protest movement. He is also single and lives with a cat. His lack of commitment knows no bounds.)

The grey was added to make me look distinguished.

The grey was added to make me look distinguished.

I have fully committed and have grown a disgusting neck beard that can only be described as good place for Frodo Baggins to hide. The other full-time member of the movement has been ordered by his wife to shave his neck, but he can now curl his mustache like a WW1 German General which gives him a special look of crazy.

The movement has had its difficulties, like last night as I was trying to fall asleep my beard was making it tough for me to find a comfortable spot on the old pillow. I started wondering why the hair on the top of my head could go through life so unnoticed, while the hair on my chinnie-chin-chin does everything possible to remind me that I have ventured off the path of normalcy.

Eating has presented itself with a pile of problems that can only be solved by destroying four napkins at each meal. Even drinking coffee has its challenges, which lead me to my first rule change: It’s okay to trim the old mustache if it gets in the way of drinking coffee. Sometimes the Utilitarian approach to protest is best. Gandhi ate Swedish Fish during his self-imposed fast. (This is a lie.) Martin Luther King Jr. wore orthopedic inserts in his shoes while walking to Selma. (Not true, as far as I know.) Caesar Chavez hitched a ride some of the way on his walk to Sacramento. (Not really.)

Do I really think my beard is going to make a difference? No, but there is a part of me that wishes I had started growing this thing seven years ago so it would be a visual representation of how long it has been since the teachers in this state have been fairly compensated for their work. I won’t go on a rant and list all of the additional expectations the state has placed on teachers in those seven years, but let me just say that my wages have remained exactly the same for seven years while my job has become increasingly difficult. I know my co-workers appreciate my beard. It might be a beacon of stupidity, but it is a beacon.

I love my job. I do think it is my “calling” (at least it got me out of the family profession of Presbyterian minister), and good teachers know the job is not a paycheck. We know that there is no more precious resource than children. We know our jobs hold a special responsibility and we must be good close to 100% of the time. I also know that teaching high school English isn’t about getting all the commas in the right spot (shout out to Holden Caulfield); teaching is about relationships. Students learn best when they feel safe, loved, and valued.

Packing a classroom with 35 kids and one bearded crazy man may not be ideal, but if the crazy man thinks growing a beard can make legislators follow the law, imagine what he can get those 35 kids to believe about themselves.

Keep Hope Alive!

Dear Green Bay Packer Fans,

Hey, how’s it going? I know yesterday was tough for you, well, let’s be honest, pretty much November through April is tough for you. With weather that is either cold wind, or freezing wind, with four hours of sunlight you always have such a positive attitude about everything. Maybe it is that Nordic attitude of low expectations that keeps you going, but yesterday had to be pretty tough.

Over here in the Mighty Pacific Northwest it was quiet for most of the day. That probably made you happy. There were probably a lot of tweets with stuff like, “That’ll shut you up Seahawks fans.” You may not ever remember how it all happened because you had already sloshed down six or seven beers and started planning your trip to Arizona for the SuperBowl. Hey, there were Seahawks fans at the game in Seattle who left the stadium early because they thought the game was over too. They got in their Subarus (if you live in the PNW you must own at least one Subaru) and started driving home to Linwood and missed the greatest comeback in Seattle sports history.

I was sitting in a friend’s man cave watching the game on a ridiculously large television screen and it was quiet. I mean really quiet. The detached quiet of the Emergency Room. There was one guy who kept saying, “I believe we’re gonna win.” I didn’t. I assumed the guy was drunk and not Nostradamus, but it turned out he was drunk Nostradamus. It turned out the Packers and Governor Scott Walker share the same finishing power. Walker almost got that college degree and the Packers almost won. (Cheap shot? Sure, but I’m okay kicking a state when they’re down if they’ve voted to eliminate collective bargaining rights.)

This happened first.

This happened first.

I don’t even remember how it all started. We were really happy when our punter (notice how much of a Seahawks fan I am today with all of this “our/we” stuff) made that pass for a touchdown, but then nothing went right for a long time. The bars of Wisconsin were probably flowing with beer and happiness. The Seahawks looked dead and flights from Green Bay to Phoenix were about to take a $200 bump up in price when everything went crazy. The Seahawks scored twice in less than 50 seconds. The man cave in the MightyPNW went from silent to high-five city. There were still some tense moments. Aaron Rodgers was still clutch moving the team down the field for the tying field goal and then there was the coin toss. We all remember the last time that happened with you guys. (For those of you who don’t remember, or don’t follow sports but have somehow read to this part of the blog, here is a brief summary. The Seahawks won the coin toss, the quarterback said, “We’re taking the ball and we are going to win.” He then threw an interception that was run back for a touchdown. WORST SMACK TALK IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS.) This time there was no smack talk in overtime. The Seahawks got the ball, made a couple plays, and then it was over. Russell Wilson was crying, there were guys in the man cave crying (not me, I only cry at movies, and when watching CBS Sunday Morning), and all of Wisconsin tossed their cheese heads at their pet penguins.

Then this.

Then this.

I’m certain there will be talk in the local papers and on Wisconsin sports radio about how the rules for overtime need to be changed. You guys should get together with the Cowboys and Lions, I’ll bet they have some ideas about rules that need to be reexamined.

Then this.

Then this.

Keep your heads up. It was a good year. It was a tough loss, but be thankful, you could have Jake Cutler at quarterback. Go ride a snowmobile. Do some ice fishing. Shovel the walk. Two weeks from now watch the SuperBowl and don’t think about how close it was. Instead, think about the lengthening days, the hope of an early spring, and the possibility of a long summer.

For those of us in the PNW there is one more game. Go Hawks!

And then, this.

And then, this.

Seahawk Fever: It’s like the Flu

About halfway through this year’s NFL season I bought a Seahawks t-shirt. Each time I wore the shirt the Seahawks lost. I’m not saying I am the primary cause of their losses, but I stopped wearing the shirt and they have been on a six game win streak. As they say, “It’s only stupid if it doesn’t work.” Here’s the thing, I have never really been a Seahawks fan. I am a Bandwagoner. Longtime Seahawk fans want people like me to go away. They have endured years of pain and now those dark winters have turned into a spring of football championships. Not me, I haven’t really cared about the Seahawks until last year when they won it all. I understand. I support teams who lose every year and if they ever did win, I would…hold on…I’m a Cubs fan…that isn’t going to happen, so I’m not even going to entertain the thought.

The 12th man is everywhere.

The 12th man is everywhere.

I have a few addictions and one of them is sports. I realized this while I was traveling through New Zealand. I started watching the World Championship of Lawn Bowling. If you can get excited about lawn bowling…enough said. (NASCAR is not a sport. You couldn’t pay me $100 to watch an entire NASCAR race.) Betting on the games I watch is a threshold I know not to step over because it wouldn’t be long before I was selling my extra kidney to get some spare cash. There was one time I put money ($20) on a game and it killed me to watch it. I was screaming at the television like I do when watching Dick Cheney interviewed about why the US invaded Iraq.

Seattle has Seahawk fever. Walk around downtown and 50% of the people will be wearing some form of Seahawk gear, cars are flying 12th man flags, and every business is trying to get in on the Seahawks thing. The Burke Museum has brought the tribal mask that inspired the Seahawks logo to town so people who spend their weekends screaming at large men in tight shorts and padded shoulders might venture into a museum and learn something other than which Seahawks have expiring contracts.

Yep, you can really see this in the Burke Museum.

Yep, you can really see this in the Burke Museum.

The funny thing about catching Seahawks fever is that you don’t realize how obnoxious it is to anyone living outside of the infected area. I am certain that people living in Denver don’t think that Russell Wilson is one of the nicest, most humble, and awesome humans ever to walk the surface of this planet. People in San Francisco are not enamored with Richard Sherman’s swagger. People in Boston are not in love with Marshawn Lynch’s one word answers to the media. But, if you live within 300 miles of Seattle, there is nothing Seahawks can do wrong. This band of brothers, these few, these special young men are the best and brightest America has to offer.

And on the 8th day God created Russell Wilson.  (Photo stolen off the internet.)

And on the 8th day God created Russell Wilson. (Photo stolen off the internet.)

On the cool side of the pillow reality waits for Seahawks fans. If the team loses this weekend the entire Pacific Northwest will go into a deep depression that will last until May (traditionally known around here as “when the sun comes out”). I will be disappointed for about four hours and then get on with my life, which will annoy true Seahawks fans even more than me joining the bandwagon as the team crossed the finish line.  If the team wins this week I won’t be surprised if the entire PNW shuts down for the two weeks leading up to the SuperBowl. It really is that crazy here.

For me a SuperBowl victory will mean one thing, I can take my $12 Seahawks T-shirt out of the closet and wear it without fearing my actions will cause the mighty Seahawks to lose a game.

Seattle= Rain, Cold, Stay Away!

I live in a remote area of the nation in an underground bunker designed by the NSA. (Some of this is not true, but some of it is.) Every now and again, I like to venture out of my bunker and see what is happening in the closest metropolitan area. (I actually live closer to Victoria, BC, but Canadian cities are subsidized by the government so they don’t really count as real cities like the ones in the mighty USA.)

In a non-scientific poll conducted by the person writing this blog, Seattle, Washington, USA, was voted the most beautiful city in the world on a nice day, and the fifth most beautiful city when the weather is terrible. There are some nice other cities out there, but Seattle’s combination of mountains and water set it apart from the pretend pretty cities.

Today, through the magic of the inter-webs, I will be taking you on a quick trip to Seattle to see the touristy areas in the downtown. You don’t even need a raincoat (don’t ever, ever, ever bring an umbrella to this city) to enjoy your trip. So, sit back and have a sip of coffee while we visit the most beautiful city in the world. (Think of the blurry photos as “artistic.”)

We will be leaving from Bainbridge Island. Park your car and walk onboard. There is no charge for foot traffic heading into Seattle, don't worry they'll stick it to you on the way back.

We will be leaving from Bainbridge Island. Park your car and walk onboard. There is no charge for foot traffic heading into Seattle, don’t worry they’ll stick it to you on the way back.

If you want to visit more of Seattle than the downtown area, take your car and drive it on the boat. It isn't cheap and parking is outrageous, but you can get around Seattle pretty easily.

If you want to visit more of Seattle than the downtown area, take your car and drive it on the boat. It isn’t cheap and parking is outrageous, but you can get around Seattle pretty easily.

Now find a place to sit. I like to sit upfront so I can pretend to drive the ferry.

Now find a place to sit. I like to sit upfront so I can pretend to drive the ferry.

On a nice day, this is what it looks like before leaving Bainbridge. On a not nice day it looks like a grey blanket.

On a nice day, this is what it looks like before leaving Bainbridge. On a not nice day it looks like a grey blanket.

As we leave the dock there are lots of things to see: Water, people, mountains. This is on the upper deck, which is usually less crowded.

As we leave the dock there are lots of things to see: Water, people, mountains. This is on the upper deck, which is usually less crowded. That is Seattle in the distance. Those are the Cascade mountains. The water is the Puget Sound. 

This is Mount Adams. It is up near Canada to the north. On a clear day you can see Adams and...

This is Mount Adams. It is up near Canada to the north. On a clear day you can see Adams and…

Mount Rainer! Rainer is named for some stupid white guy who nobody really knows about and why they don't call it Tahoma is a mystery to me, but at one point in my life I walked all the way around Mount Rainer. (The Wonderland Trail is pretty awesome if you like backpacking and smelling like BO.)

Mount Rainer! Rainer is named for some stupid white guy who nobody really knows about and why they don’t call it Tahoma is a mystery to me, but at one point in my life I walked all the way around Mount Rainer. (The Wonderland Trail is pretty awesome if you like backpacking and smelling like BO.)

Now, turn around and see the Olympic Mountains. This is near my underground bunker.

Now, turn around and see the Olympic Mountains. This is near my underground bunker. Those are the Bainbridge ferry docks. Yeah, I live in a pretty awesome place. 

Okay, now take in the full panorama. There is a lot to see even if it looks tiny. If it looks too small you need a bigger computer.

Okay, now take in the full panorama. There is a lot to see. If it looks too small you need a bigger computer.

Find a nice seat and watch the city get bigger.

Find a nice seat and watch the city get bigger. To the left of center is the Space Needle, to the far right are where the Seahawks, Mariners, and Sounders play. The Sonics play in some terrible city in Oklahoma. 

As we get closer, stay seated. It is a rookie mistake to line up with everyone to disembark. (I would rant here about the word disembark, but there isn't enough room for me to really get into a froth.)

As we get closer, stay seated. It is a rookie mistake to line up with everyone to disembark. (I would rant here about the word disembark, but there isn’t enough room for me to really get into a froth.)

See? Here they are all lining up like lemmings. YOU CAN'T GET OFF UNTIL THE BOAT IS CONNECTED TO THE LAND!

See? Here they are all lining up like lemmings. YOU CAN’T GET OFF UNTIL THE BOAT IS CONNECTED TO THE LAND!

Okay, now follow the lemmings.

Okay, now follow the lemmings.

Keep following them. (Yes, I was taking a lot of pictures. Each time I said, "This is the last one.")

Keep following them. (Yes, I was taking a lot of pictures. Each time I said, “This is the last one.”)

Look north to see the waterfront. There are lots of great little touristy places to visit there, but you can't get to any of it right now because they are digging a tunnel that is supposed to be done in March...or November.

Look north to see the waterfront. There are lots of great little touristy places to visit there, but you can’t get to any of it now because they are digging a tunnel that is supposed to be done in March…or November.

That's where we started. Keep moving or somebody will ask you for change. That's a joke, you're going to get asked for change at least five times on this trip.

That’s where we started. Keep moving or somebody will ask you for change. That’s a joke, you’re going to get asked for change at least five times on this trip.

Keep following the lemmings until you come to   1st Ave and then hang a left.

Keep following the lemmings until you come to 1st Ave and then hang a left. Walk a few blocks and then you’ll be at our first stop…

The Seattle Art Museum. The Hammering Man swings his little hammer 24/7 and never gets anything done. SAM has undergone a pretty significant renovation and is turning into a decent museum.

The Seattle Art Museum. The Hammering Man swings his little hammer 24/7 and never gets anything done. SAM has undergone a pretty significant renovation and is turning into a decent museum.

Get your tickets under the suspended cars. Don't worry no one has had a car fall on them inside SAM yet.

Get your tickets under the suspended cars. Don’t worry no one has had a car fall on them inside SAM yet.

This is the only picture from inside the SAM because the POP Exhibit did not allow any photography. I don't break these rules because I am not an animal. Oh, this is a statue of a red Ghandi with an iPod...

This is the only picture from inside the SAM because the POP Exhibit did not allow any photography. I don’t break these rules because I am not an animal. Oh, this is a statue of a red Ghandi with an iPod…

Oh, I lied. I took this picture too. It is a motor scooter made out of gold buttons.

Oh, I lied. I took this picture too. It is a motor scooter made out of gold buttons.

Okay, now cut back across 1st and go into Pike's Market. The far end, by the Pike's Brewery, is usually pretty empty and it is inside so you don't have to walk in the rain, or sunshine.

Okay, now cut back across 1st and go into Pike’s Market. The far end, by the Pike’s Brewery, is usually pretty empty and it is inside so you don’t have to walk in the rain, or sunshine.

Walk by all the fish throwing nonsense and walk in the road. If people drive down this road they are tourists and deserve to drive at walking speed. The sidewalks are always crazy crowded so my walk in the street thing isn't rude, it is just good advice.

Walk by all the fish throwing nonsense and walk in the road. If people drive down this road they are tourists and deserve to drive at walking speed. The sidewalks are always crazy crowded so my walk in the street thing isn’t rude, it is just good advice.

Cut through Pike's Alley.

Cut through Pike’s Post Alley.

Keep walking.

Keep walking.

Look for this pink door on your left. Open the door and go in. If you show up at an odd time (2, 3, 4) you can probably get a seat.

Look for this pink door on your left. Open the door and go in. If you show up at an odd time (2, 3, 4) you can probably get a seat.

This is what is inside the Pink Door.

This is what is inside the Pink Door.

The Pink Door is an Italian restaurant. It is okay to drink the olive oil.

The Pink Door is an Italian restaurant. It is okay to drink the olive oil.

Deluxe cheese plate? Thank you very much.

Deluxe cheese plate? Thank you very much. I didn’t take a photo of my main course because I was too busy eating it. 

When you are done with dinner walk by these clowns. This is the first Starbucks and there is ALWAYS a line, so if you want to stand in line to get a drink you can get in 105% of the world, knock yourself out.

When you are done with dinner walk by these clowns. This is the first Starbucks and there is ALWAYS a line, so if you want to stand in line to get a drink you can get in 105% of the world, knock yourself out.

This is where we are going...the French bakery on the corner to get...

This is where we are going…the French bakery on the corner to get…

This.

This. 

Head back to the ferry dock filled with sugar, coffee and pasta.

Head back to the ferry dock filled with sugar, coffee and pasta.

Take one last picture of the ferris wheel thing and head to the boat.

Take one last picture of the ferris wheel thing and head to the boat.

The waterfront is a mess of construction right now, but someday all this traffic will go underground and the waterfront will be a walking paradise. This is a joke. On one who lives here thinks the construction will ever be finished.

The waterfront is a mess of construction right now, but someday all this traffic will go underground and the waterfront will be a walking paradise. This is a joke. No one who lives here thinks the construction will ever be finished.

Sit back on the ferry, you'll have to pay to get on this time, and remember how awesome the vanilla macaron was... Hey, it was a great day to visit. Thanks for coming along.

Sit back on the ferry, you’ll have to pay to get on this time, and remember how awesome the vanilla macaron was…
Hey, it was a great day to visit. Thanks for coming along.

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