Archive for January, 2011

International Baccalaureate

31 January, 2011

(…continuing the saga of my schooling and my friends…)

Eventually, through no fault of my own, it was time for me to go to high school. I picked Foss, primarily because of the International Baccalaureate Program (IB). Later, when people would ask, I would explain, “It’s sorta like Advanced Placement (AP),  only based in Geneva. And no colleges around here have heard of it.”  And even later, I wouldn’t even talk about it, and just say, “I went to school in South Tacoma,” and nobody would ask any more questions. Ah, Sweet Home South Tacoma.

How did they sell it to me?…my Jr High English teacher who I loved, really was a big fan of IB, and gave them access to us for proselytizing …they talked about the international prestige…that it was a complete integrated program…sounded better than AP to me. (Though, in hind sight, Stadium HS, with their super strong music programs might have been a better fit for my personality. Except for their stoopid track! That mutant track offends me to this day!)  Many of my friends went to Foss, because of IB.

And when we got there, the teachers involved with the program basically told us we were the shit, and we believed them. They promised us we were the future leaders of America, blah, blah, …and with that self serving propaganda, I may have looked down on other kids who weren’t in the IB, who weren’t part of the intelligentsia. Luckily, I still had exposure to non-IB folks in orchestra, cross-country, German, music, neighborhood friends, church friends. So I still had some connection with reality. But, me, being lazy, eventually dropped from the full program, because I would rather take orchestra than calculus my senior year. (A good move, of which I’m proud.)

(And funny enuff, reality hit some of us again, when we got to college, and were surrounded by others who had been told they were the best and the brightest. I hear from a co-worker, that reality will hit others, when they get to med-school or grad school. Life is rough at the top, ain’t it? )

And since we were the alleged best & brightest, we were allowed to get away with things a bit more than other kids could. One thing that was bad, for the other kids, we in IB had good teachers. When I dropped out, I got in a regular math class, and the teacher was HORRIBLE. She would stand in front of the class, and read straight from the text. If anyone had a question, she would get belligerent, and re-read the text out loud to the class. Since the class was easy for me, I started to skip and show up late, and if asked, I would say I was with an IB teacher talking about some esoteric subject, which was usually true. The horrible math teacher didn’t care, I was one less kid, and I actually was doing pretty good on the exams. Yeah, that’s why smart kids excel, as I’m sure Malcom Gladwell has pointed out, because they get the best teachers. In hindsight, had they given the smart kids (me not included) the calculus text and said “here are your goals by the end of the year”, and assigned Horrible-teacher to simply take roll, and the good math teachers could get the normal kids, it would have been better for society.

Was it worth they hype and the tax dollars? Sure, I think I got a good HS education, which I promptly frittered away once I got to college. I can count a professor of philosophy and a professor medicine from my IB class. I’m not implying that job is worth, it’s just that to the tax payer, you have to justify expenses.   And friends from Foss that didn’t go through program, still got a good education, one turned out to be TV big-wig, NFL receiver, public health big-wig. And many of my friends, like me, didn’t complete the entire program, they too seem to have turned out to be productive members of society.

Though, in fairness, had I gone to Stadium, I’d count a professor of music, professional conductor, and professional musicians as HS classmates.

And I see, that 20 years later, colleges round these parts are treating IB equal to AP.

I should note, that IB at Foss had a wide geographic range, we were pulling in kids from Gig Harbor, Kitsap County, Vashon Island, Puyallup.  So Foss, in the middle of Tacoma, was swiping kids from neighboring school districts.

paperback writer

30 January, 2011

Let me state, for the record, “Paperback Writer” is the best song by the Beatles. Opens with Beatles a capella, killer riff, Motown-esque background vocals, awesome Paul McCartney bass fills. And, I think the song put the idea in my head of being a writer when I was a young boy. And every since, I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

Well…I declare that  I am a writer. Not a good one, not an original one, heck, probably not even competent. But, I’ll say it, “I am a writer”. I would like to thank the Filthy Critic, my favorite movie critic, for introducing me to NaNoWriMo, that helps a lot. Just getting pixels on the screen, or ink on paper.

And I did…85 consecutive days, Oct 31st, 2010 – January 23rd, 2011. I wrote every day. Granted, some days were very, very minimal. (Like the eight words on January 1st.) But during that time, it  averaged more than 900 words per day, blogged every day of November, and did NaNoWriMo in 29 days.  I know how to put words on paper. Now, I gotta learn how to put the right words in the right places*.

And, of course, all good things must come to an end. I was looking at “tips for writers” on, and lost track of time, and thus didn’t blog on January 24th. Which kinda bummed me out, and so I took some more days off. But, I’m back on the writer wagon, and my new streak is now, two days.

The other day, I was looking back at some old fiction stuff I had written. And there  were a few moments that I was happy with what I had written. And I guess that’s the reward, and that’s the reason I write, for me. My stories for me. And this blog so that I can look back and remember the wonderful stories of my babies growing up.

* J.S. Bach, “Music is easy, all you have to do is play the right note, at the right time.”

I’m a bad parent

29 January, 2011

Previously, because I did not want to be screamed at, I left their room, and MyBetterHalf in it to put the childrens to sleep. Feeling slight guilty, I went to the kitchen to make no-bake chocolate chip cookies. Yup, prove my love with chocolate.

The next morning, MrGrunty was awake first, and wanted to know what I was doing. I was watching a video of army helicopters in action to “Thunder Struck” by AC/DC. He was amazed at the helicopters flying in formation, and then blowing up stuff. When is it that boys get interested in war?


23 January, 2011


MrGrunty helped me pick up lava rocks yard.

MrCuddles demonstrated jumping with two feet.

MsSqueaky and MrCuddles were scolded at 10:30pm for keeping each other awake.

six M&Ms

22 January, 2011

Today, at swim class, both MrGrunty & MsSqueaky refused to get into the pool. So, I resorted to bribing them, I offered six M&Ms if they got into the water. (The usual bribe is three M&Ms for getting into the car in a timely fashion.) That got MrG into the pool, and he had fun as he was assisted “floating” and later playing with an float tube. MsS did not get in. Yes, she screamed when her brother got six M&Ms.

At lunch we heard MsS say, “You did it Cuddles! Good job!” I went to go see, she had taught him how to climb up onto his crib, and stand on the bottom rail.

Tonight, MrCuddles said something to me, and it ended in “cars”. He went over to the neatly stacked cars, and I asked, “How many cars are there?” and then thought that was silly, he doesn’t know. But he started counting, pointing to each car, “one, two, one, two, one, two”.


21 January, 2011

The other day, someone at the bus stop said they liked my backpack. “Uh…thanks” I said. Although, immediately I thought, am I about to get mugged? is stuff hanging out of it? and of course, the “back-pack” theme song from Dora. Note, the back pack is purple.

Then, the next day, some asked me if I had a cigarette. Uh…because I have a trench coat and a black beat up cowboy hat and haven’t shaved in days?

Long ago, in the wilds of Lake City, I learned, don’t wear a shirt that might encourage some one to talk to you. Some dude was sitting next to me, all bus trip, talking about the great concert we both went to.


20 January, 2011

Our little girl is  sick tonight.

And that’s my post.

today stories

19 January, 2011

quote of morning, from MrGrunty, “Papa, only I said goodbye to mommy at the window today.” Because the rest of us were still in bed, and MrG got up in the middle of the night to join us, but MsSqueaky was already in Mommy & Papa’s bed, so I asked MrG if he would like to sleep on the sofa. He did. And it’s better that way. When ever he’s in our bed I get kicked in the back, and whacked in the head.

I am happy that MsSqueaky & MrG both willingly went pee before they watched their show. I think they are catching on, no need to argue with papa, just go sit on the potty, and then you will get to watch Dora. Or Diego. Or Driver Dan. Dino Dan. We like the letter “D” in the morning.
MrCuddles slept in, and then needed to be held. Eventually, when he was further awake, he picked out his shirt, but when I put him down, and we took off his PJs, he ran away from me, turned, and gave me a cute smile.

The game of the morning, MsS (“mommy”) and MrG (“baby”) took a train (the sofa) to the pumpkin patch. Then it was baby’s birthday, so they had cake. (Cake was HUGE, because cake was their blankets spread out on the floor!!)  Srsly, I caught “baby” kneeling on the blanket, “eating” the “cake” saying, “mmmmm….cake….nom-nom-nom”.

I set timer, and announced to them “we need to be ready to go, or we don’t get M&Ms” and that got us moving quicker. I had to extend…so MsS would get M&M. She was making progress, but had organizational issues, and I just couldn’t be a hard-ass. But at some point, I suspect I will have to say, “you weren’t ready in time, you don’t get an M&M”.  Oh wait, I have done that a time or two.

At school, MrCuddles was OK with me leaving, because he was playing with a puzzle. He was sitting away from a friend, because soon after she said “hi Swkeek” and gave MsS a hug, she went and pushed MrCuddles down.

MrG & MsS  waved bye to me from the window, and waited for me to turn car around and wave from car.

math class – Jr High

18 January, 2011

Pity the poor math teacher…so many, are so unqualified. It must be tough, getting a bunch of kids, most who dread their time in the math class, all of different levels of capability.

One of my first math classes, was taught by a home-ec teacher. And one day, when she was sick, the sub just wanted us to be quiet. So my stoner friend from orchestra and I played chess on a piece of paper, erasing the piece and redrawing it for each move.

Now, there was this weird teacher who had LOTS of school spirit, and who was even more enthusiastic about math. He would give out extra credit for reports, and toss JollyRancher-candies to the kids who finished a problem quickly. To this day, I can not stand Jolly Rancher. And with the extra credit, there was a Wall of Fame, and one of my classmates was on it, and quickly moving up the ranks, by spring term she earned more than anyone else ever, and she kept going.

As for if I belonged in the advanced classes, I’m still not sure, but I was invited to be on the math team. I certainly wasn’t the star, and possibly they just needed to fill out the team, but I hope that’s proof I wasn’t completely unqualified. I remember the teacher taking me home after a competion, and I remember wandering around Stadium High School, which is an amazing beautiful school, and still I wonder why I didn’t go there. (Oh yeah, maybe because their track was wrong size and shape!)

I gotta say, chess competition, way more interesting & intense than math competition.

The Girl Who Played with Fire

17 January, 2011

after two evenings, MyBetterHalf and I have just finished a movie.

Tonight, MrGrunty was very upset, and did not want to go to bed, luckily,  MyBetterHalf was able to sooth him, get him back in his bed, and by softly talking to him, whilst running her hand over his hair, got him to fall asleep.

Tonight, MrCuddles and I got to hang out a bit because his siblings were off playing with out him. My favorite part, he grabbed my hand, pulled me, “comb papa, danse!”

Tonight, MsSqueaky wanted a pink flosser, but we needed to use the other ones first. She was about to throw a fit, but I told her to close her eyes and try to guess what type of flosser I had. She looked at me like I was being silly. I was flossing her teeth, and asked, “does it taste like grass? … does it taste like broccoli?  It does! Well what color is broccoli? And what color is your flosser?”  She was happy to have guessed the color, but still thought her papa was being silly.

Today, we all went to Tacoma to visit my family. MrG remembered that grandma has blocks, and asked to play with them. They had lots of fruit and veggies for their lunch. (Whew, they didn’t demand chocolate.)

The movie, we watched in Swedish, was alright. I liked this one better than the first, because the subject matter was slightly less disgusting and depressing.