Math Tests

I have been in a high speed wobble between parent teacher conferences, kids in crisis, new animals and a pretty important test this Saturday. This time, I think I got it because it’s English, but it is three hours so I’ve been trying to fit in studying whenever I have free time which has been rare. So enjoy this one from last summer and expect some serious posts coming from me soon!

More White Stripes brother….they truly do rock and I hope they get back together because I missed them last time they were in Maine

I am getting closer to getting a real job in my field and one thing I have to do is pass a test early Saturday morning to become highly qualified in middle school mathematics. I have never taken a math course at the college level, majored in History and got my Masters in Teaching Social Studies to grades seven through twelve. Thus, on paper, I am inept at math and this becomes reality as I slog through the Cliff’s Notes study guide I broke down and bought.

I mean, I’ve tutored in this subject for years and thought I knew it well because I‘m often telling other teachers little tips on math stuff. I may be able to teach remedial math to students and adults alike, but my actual grasp of formulas, tangents and so on is weak. I’m freaking out.

Hopefully this isn’t me at the test.

I am supposed to be also finishing up my Female Artists part 2 right now which I’m also not doing because I keep starting to write then going back to studying math and realizing more that I don’t know. It’s my own fault for waiting so long to study. See, my whole academic life, I really did not do a bunch of studying. Sure, for big history finals and the like, I’d copy my notes over once and read them a bunch of times. Most of the time, it worked.

In grad school, I never took tests and have a pretty good track record with projects/papers because I like to write and to see a final product that took a lot of organization and time to complete. Math is not like this, at least math the middle school level. It’s knowing what all of the formulas are, how to identify curves in graphs and what discrete math mathematics actually means. It’s discrete goddammit, aren’t we not supposed to know what it means?

Now if this song was just about adding 46 and 2, I could certainly handle that. However, it’s actually about a theory Carl Jung had about the human genome chain. It is currently at 44 autosomes and  2 sex chromosomes with our evolution, by Jung’s ideas, moving to 46 and 2 to get out of what he perceived as humans disharmonious state. The cool part of this song for me is how the unbelievable drummer Danny Carey will be playing in a 7/8 beat while the rest of the band is in 4/4 and then bringing it back all together on the downbeat. This is math I can get into.  The song also talks about Jung’s “shadow” theory, the “shadow” being the part of ourselves we fear and hate. Can my “shadow” take my test for me?

Best case scenario, I pass this test and become highly qualified in a subject I’m probably not standard qualified in as of right now. Worst case, I fail miserably and have to take the test again. Of further significance would be the realization that I do need to study for subjects that I am not so familiar with and am a moron for again procrastinating. I could tell how the extreme heat and working outside has sapped me of my strength and required literal hours of watering my vegetables, how I am very close to getting a new job through networking, how my band played two gigs last weekend after weeks of a show every week, and on and on.

It’s all bullshit because the Elder J is busier than I am and way better at time management. I have what he always loves to call “hubris” or tragic pride in thinking I can get everything done I need to and well. I can’t and I just may end up feeling like this song. Wish me luck!

I can just take it again and put hours of time in and really learn this stuff so it will probably be a good life lesson if I do fail. I prefer lessons I choose to take but who doesn’t?

First Days of School fo Real

People think I’m crazy for teaching Middle School. They don’t know any better and I feel pretty fearless about it. Give me three weeks.

After almost half a year of planning and gradually working more and more with identified students, my co-teacher and I have moved into our own space away from the mainstream middle school. It’s as exciting as it is scary with all of our curriculum and research now needing to be turned into action. As you can imagine, I’m running at a high-speed wobble. I’m actually writing this while my students do their daily journal writing because I intend to keep my promise of writing more while my brother’s life gets a little crazier.

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Last Day of Landscaping ever.

1. “The Grid”- Mike Gordon and Leo Kottke

I loved this song from the moment I heard it back in college. Even if I don’t love Phish, I do love the bass player and this whole album is great. Kottke is also the man and the two times I saw him were awesome. You never hear this song on the radio, although I did the other day on the same station where I heard Lordes for the first time. Adult Alternative is really heating up. Lastly, I instantly liked this song when I heard it in college because “living off the grid” was a term I heard my hippie neighbor and his cronies use frequently to describe the life they worked so hard at out in the woods. The neighbor has been my boss landscaping for many years and its fitting I hear this song for the first and probably only time on the radio as I finish up my tenure in the business.

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They Fly Solo with Wiz

My students played this song a lot, especially while we played basketball. It was one of the few I really liked that they played and I can’t stop thinking about how they will turn out next year. Lastly, when the one student refused to jump out of a tree while we were at a ropes course the second to last week of school, I totally yelled up “Fly solo Dude!” Ultimately, I also had to jump out of the tree to set an example and the video displayed me looking like a fish on a hook, but I got my point across.

School is out and I am back in the city landscaping. I keep cruising the channels of my FM radio to find this song but it is never on. I finally Googled the lyrics and really saw how much the kids actually identified with this song because of them. It seems to be mostly about a failed relationships but, like any good song, it could mean whatever you want. Wiz is one of the few rappers who has a truly unique voice in today’s hip hop and seems to be a generally good guy beyond the whole constant references to his rampant marijuana use. He was an Army Rat kid who moved a lot so didn’t have a lot of friends, like my students, and then really made his way in the city of Pittsburgh. I digress. The song above hits me.

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Spring Sunday Morning: A Quick One

It’s too bad Ray wasn’t from Maine originally because then I could say he was our greatest musical export ever. Granted, there a few other really good bands to come out of my beloved home state, but Ray is just awesome in everyway from his blue eyed soulful voice to the super tasty production. This a Sunday morning staple for me right now.

It has been a crazy couple of months. Between things with the band getting way more busy, my new job, my old jobs, fixing the old homestead up for spring and trying to expand my social scene, I am pretty scattered right now. Granted, I have a pension for procrastination which is infamous and a continual point of contention with my brother so I am trying harder to write stuff more regularly amongst the chaos of my life. I know the Elder J is also  incredibly busy so he doesn’t notice my slackery as much which actually works against me because the guilt I feel when he give me shit actually forces me to write more.  I am sure he is not sitting around waiting for me to post stuff as he tries to move his growing family into a new home and all the other crazy stuff in his life, but I thought of this song anyway.

Love the Kinks and this song is so classic of that sound in the mid 60’s. I someday want to write a series of posts of why bands like The Kinks never got as big as the Beatles when they could of or a good one too would be how come Ten Years After never even approached the greatness of Led Zeppelin. More on that later.

I had my first day off in roughly two weeks yesterday and I spent much of it mowing my lawn and clearing out beds for my vegetables which I need to plant next weekend. I woke up painfully early after going out and seeing my lead guitar player’s sister play a songwriter’s round gig at a way too classy for me bar in the largest city of my homestate in Portland, Maine. The music was sick and the beer was expensive but good so I really relished the first sip of the West Coast IPA I ordered as soon as I could get to the bar.

Like five minutes later, in walks a school superviser and his wife in a completely out there coincidence. I guess all of our principals hang out at this specific spot so I did what I thought was necessary and got them a round. It turned into a great networking scene and I ended up being out later than I expected yet still woke up on teacher time at roughly 5:30 am. I realize I was blowing off steam from two weeks of stress, but it felt pretty whack.

Probably self explanatory.

Our first big show of the season is next Saturday afternoon. I am pretty excited since it is an afternoon show to raise money for breast cancer. It’s a bike run that has a bunch of motorcyclists pay to ride between a few different locations before meeting up at the end to eat food, have a beer, and watch our band play some tunes. A bunch of people who would never come to a show at night because of familial obligations, puritanical values or an early bed time. It will hopefully raise some more money for a good cause while introducing a bunch of my friends and acquaintances to my band. The whole biker thing is not new to us as a band, I just hope it doesn’t scare anyone who is not so familiar like my teen age cousins. Lastly, I think we can all support breasts and the saving of them.

I could not stop singing this song yesterday and the Saturday before in unison with a dude I met at my old job of banquet serving/bartending whose name is Levon and he is from South Carolina. This guy was quite a bit older than me but busted ass carrying trays while telling me some hilarous stories about living down south.

Chicago is actually an incredibly good band which is why we will end out this post with a double shot. I always saw them as this cheeey band but now I can’t really see why I would ever think this. Ok some of it is a little sharp in the cheese department, but come on, this jam right here is gold. The piano make me think of Carole King and the horn section is like funky Phil Spector production. I guess they are only behind the Beach Boys in American bands in most charting singles and albums which is a brand new fact for me. They still tour and apparently are not bad. The former lead singer/guitarist Terry Kath shot himself in the head accidentily in 1978 playing Russian Roulette with a semi automatic pistol. The man can wail but seriously, what is the thought process there? Clearly he did not grow up around firearms.

This  is the late Terry Kath tearing it apart on an extended solo which sounds like it’s got a bunch of wah-wah pedal on it which is never a bad thing for me, as much as it annoys so many others. I have to attend an adult chorus concert tonight, do you think I have any chance of hearing this bad boy getting performed?

So now it is Sunday morning and I am going to finish writing this, maybe do a little fishing before attending my mother’s adult chorus concert at three and then being home in time for band practice at six which will hopefully end by nine so I can see the new Game of Thrones episode or at least finish watching the episode from last week that I still haven’t finished. Wore me out just writing that sentence but I ultimately feel blessed that I have so many things going on that I am interested in and passionate about. I know a lot of people who waste a lot of their time from my outsider’s perspective and one day we all figure out that time is finite and you better spend it well. So on that note, spend a solid few minutes listening to this amazing cover of a an amazing song and contemplate.

Obviously really into Ray right now, again. He’s the man.