Monday, December 7, 2009


Came across this while eating my steel-cut oats this morning. Ya gotta check it out. Really explains what has happened to this 'beacon on the hill."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Found this in my inbox from Borders this morning.

ALREADY??? Jeez, didn't the thing go on sale last week?

Sarah, Sarah, I implore you, PLEASE STFU!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Listened to a great show this morning on Doug Henwood's Behind the News show had Monty Neil (sp?) of talking about the RTTT b.s. and the greater charter school scam. Wish I could provide a link to it, but I was home schooled and we only had a TRS 80 to use! Worth the search, though.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


The rush to privatize everything in this country continues. Every day, some Business Roundtable lunatic or U.S. Chamber of Commerce douche bag screams in the media that business practices should be applied to schools to make them more ‘efficient’. Yeah, like that’s the answer to the ‘problem’ of public schools. When I hear these loons, several words come to mind: Enron, General Motors, Lehman Brothers, and on and on.

Once again, I was confronted with ‘the business model’ in action. I made the mistake of going to the Lowe’s down in Hog Lick Corners last Tuesday. I was in search of a pendant light for my dining room. You know, getting the new place ready for the holidays. Normally, I avoid the big-box stores. I am always amazed at the policy of absolutely no eye contact, and their ability stay at least 30 feet back from their customers. But, oh well . . . anyway.

I started by searching their website, so I knew they had just what I was looking for. I found what I wanted on their shelves and proceeded to the checkout line. Eschewing their wonderful SELF CHECK OUT registers, which NEVER WORK, I actually found a cash register with an actual, live human being working at it! I couldn’t believe my luck. Heck, I’ll be out of this store and back home to install my new festive holiday lighting thingy. WRONG! The light cord (sold separately) rang up without a hitch. Then came the blown glass fixture (on CLEARANCE for $10.98). Of course, there was no bar code on the thing. This brought the entire transaction to a complete halt! I politely told Hortencia, the clerk, that the glass shade was ON CLEARANCE FOR $10.98! That didn’t work. She did not believe me. She called up an ‘expert’ in the lighting dept. She asked Skippy to do a price check. I made it known to Hortencia that I was in somewhat of a hurry, and I would like to get back home! Again I told Hortencia that I was positive the glass was ON CLEARANCE FOR $10.98! Still no response, just that far-off, ‘I hope my date tonight with Zach is gonna be fun’ look in her eyes. After about three minutes of waiting, I just said @$%& it, and left. Hortencia, having another out-of-body experience, didn’t blink an eye. Apparently this is the normal way of doing business at Lowe’s. I’m never going back.


Sunday, November 8, 2009


I figured, “Hey, why try to re-invent the wheel, right?” I came across this on Huffington Post yesterday. It is basically the snarky, smart-ass essay I’ve had in rough-draft form for about eight months now. Well played, Mr. Danzinger!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


This came from the NEA Morning Update thing

Study Shows Merit Pay In Texas Did Not Boost Student Achievement.

The Dallas Morning News (11/4, Stutz) reports that "for the $300 million spent on merit pay for teachers over the last three years, Texas was hoping for a big boost in student achievement. But it didn't happen with the now-defunct" Texas Educator Excellence Grant (TEEG), "according to experts hired by the state." Researchers from Texas A&M University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Missouri studied "flaws in the way the program was designed and did not conclude whether merit pay for teachers in general is a good idea." However, they did say, "There is no systematic evidence that TEEG had an impact on student achievement gains" in Texas. The Dallas Morning News notes that TEEG, "which provided incentive pay for teachers at about 1,000 campuses a year in lower-income neighborhoods, was discontinued by the Legislature after the 2008-09 school year because of design problems."


Monday, November 2, 2009


Damn! Norton Buffalo is gone! We here at the Camp are grieving again! Buffalo was just such a killer harmonica player and musician. I have a bunch of stuff of his on VINYL!!! And it's still PLAYABLE!!! Got one on the turntable now, sipping on a glass of 2006 Sebastiani Zinfandel to pay my respects. I grabbed this from the

Sonoma Valley lost one of its favorite sons on Friday, Oct. 30, when music legend and harmonica virtuoso Norton Buffalo passed away after a brief bout with cancer. According to Michael Hinton, a friend and music associate since 1973, Buffalo was surrounded by family and friends when he slipped into a coma and passed away, with his wife, Lisa Flores, by his side.

Born in Oakland on Sept. 28, 1951, Buffalo spent a good portion of his life living in Sonoma Valley, where he wrote and recorded his first album for Capitol Records in the mid-1970s, "Loving in the Valley of the Moon." Buffalo was a music legend in Sonoma Valley and in the world beyond, spending 32 years as the harmonica player for the Steve Miller Band, his own band, the Knockouts, and with a wide range of musicians, including Roy Rogers, Bonnie Raitt, members of the Grateful Dead, Doobie Brothers and Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. Buffalo also acted and was the harmonica player for Bette Midler in the film "The Rose."

NORTON BUFFALO, Rest in Peace!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009



The staff here at Camp Nickleby always wonders what happens to our graduates. Well, we now know where last year’s valedictorian ended up. Bethalynda Gurd, Class of 2009, managed to get hired on at the local purveyor of breaded and fried protein down in Hog Lick Corners. And of course, being one of Camp Nickleby’s exemplary spellers, she was immediately put in charge of the reader board outside of the ‘restaurant’. As you can see, she has a rather intuitive approach to spelling. Also notice the inventive use of the number 7 and giving double duty to the letter ‘W’. Most people would not have those important outside-of-the-box problem-solving skills so important with American businesses today.

Good on ya, Bethalynda! We are so proud of you!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


We heard that Soupy Sales died last Thursday. The Camp is in mourning. When I was a kid, I don't think I missed one of his shows! I ran home from school everyday and plopped myself in front of the TV. Couldn't wait to see what White Fang was going to do on any given day. Soupy, and for that matter, The Three Stooges, made me the person I am today!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Superintendent Kim Chee has been ragging on many of our staff members recently, claiming that we are out of shape. The nerve! She says we need to lose some weight and look more ‘professional’. WTF? To achieve her goal, she thought it would be a good idea to hire a staff Yoga and Pilates instructor. Yippee! Meet Duane ‘Moondawg’ Thudwiemer, our new Yoga and Pilates teacher. In addition to trying to get our counseling staff in shape, Duane will also be teaching classes in our P.E. department. We wish him luck.

To better introduce Duane to our loyal readers, here is a video of one of his yoga sessions, which he supplied to the interviewing committee last month. Please notice that Duane utilizes many of the classic yoga poses while attempting to purchase a large quantity of brewed adult beverage. Duane starts his routine with the Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog, and then seamlessly flows into the Bhujangasana or Cobra. Next, watch as Duane utilizes the Uttanasana II or Forward Bend, then immediately segues into a perfectly-executed Trikonasana or Triangle pose. To culminate this perfect routine, Duane executes what could possibly be his finest move, the Savasana or Corpse pose.

Duane is a product of one of those new Teaching Credential mills we’ve been reading about. His training lasted a total of five weeks! We are expecting great thing from him. And no, we have no idea why his nickname is Moondawg!


I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m a used-book-store junkie (but in a good way). I like the smell of musty books, I like the fringe clientele, and of course I like the decaying ambiance. My latest find is, To Open Minds, by multiple-intelligences guru Howard Gardner. The subtitle, Chinese Clues to the Dilemma of Contemporary Education, reeled me in and shuttled me to the bookstore cashier. Although written 20 years ago, Gardner discusses the same school reform crap that we are going through now, only the names are different. I’m sure Arne, Newt and Al all have a dog-eared copy of this book on their nightstands. As I was perusing through the pages, I came upon this passage concerning test-taking, with a little bonus by William F. Buckley, thrown in for good measure.

Always a good test taker in school, I had found the Stevens Battery easy enough. My test-taking prowess was to continue when I took standardized tests in high school and college: I had whatever knack it takes to pick out the best answer from a set of four or five. The columnist William F. Buckley has aptly indicated that his own skill at such tests involved not figuring out the correct answer in any absolute sense, but rather figuring out “which was the answer the examiners probably desired me to give.” According to my own analysis, test taking assesses chiefly linguistic and logical intelligence, with some bonus points for speed, flexibility, and superficiality.

Monday, October 19, 2009


When I woke up Sunday morning, I was hoping there was something in the Cedarville Gazette that would make me come to camp this morning. Something to inspire me to teach. Something that would validate me as a teacher and a human being. And there it was! Nicholas D. Kristof, of the New York Times, has all the answers! In a recent opinion column, Kristof suggests that ‘good’ teachers and a ‘good’ education will bring America out of poverty! In his column, he states:

Good schools constitute a far more potent weapon against poverty than welfare, food stamps or housing subsidies. Yet, cowed by teachers' unions, Democrats have too often resisted reform and stood by as generations of disadvantaged children have been cemented into an underclass by third-rate schools.

See? Teachers have the power to end poverty and hunger in the United States, if only we didn’t have those damn unions, and if we were willing to do it all for minimum wage! Thank you, Mr. Kristof, for setting us straight. What a tool!

And here is some interesting night reading that I found on today.

Friday, October 16, 2009


You might have missed this story in the MSM from last week, but apparently there was a moratorium on public school bashing by the wingnut punditry, causing the earth to shift on its axis by thirty degrees! This shift lasted for seventeen minutes. During this time, Vladivostok replaced the North Pole. This lapse in conservative invectives against public education and for union busting school reforms was brought about by President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, which caused many of the lunatics on the right to get their panties all in a bunch. They were so busy foaming at the mouth over Obama’s prize that they forgot to hammer away at public schools.

The likes of Ruben Navarette, Jr., Jonah Goldberg (former 101st Fighting Keyboarder), David Brooks and even Mortimer Zuckerman of U.S. News and World Report took their collective eyes off the prize. During those brief seventeen minutes, we in public education breathed a sigh of relief, but actually weren’t quite sure what to do in the classroom without some ‘expert’ telling us how to do our job.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


The New York Times (10/15, A18, Dillon) reports that new National Assessment of Educational Progress math scores "show that student achievement grew faster during the years before [NCLB], when states were dominant in education policy, than over the years since, when the federal law has become a powerful force in classrooms." According to the Times, NAEP scores "increased only marginally for eighth graders and not at all for fourth graders, continuing a sluggish six-year trend of slowing achievement growth since passage" of NCLB, "which requires schools to bring 100 percent of students to reading and math proficiency by 2014." The New York Times (10/15, A1, Medina) reports in a separate story on its front page, "New York State's fourth and eighth graders made no notable progress" on NAEP "math exams this year, according to test scores released on Wednesday, sharply contradicting the results of state-administered tests that showed record gains."


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Well, I’m just a little bit bummed. After the campers headed back to their cabins today once classes were over, I shuffled over to Spellings Hall, to maybe get the last cup of simmering, afternoon coffee and put my feet up before I headed home.

On the table was a copy of the latest issue of Money magazine. And in it was an article, listing the 100 Best Jobs in America, according to them. Well, I couldn’t wait to see where public school teacher ranked on
the list. I searched the list for ‘high school teacher’. Nothing. I searched for ‘public school teacher’. Nothing. I searched for ‘miracle worker’. Nothing. I even searched for ‘pathetic, delusional sucker’. Still nothing.

I thought for sure the noble profession of public school teacher would rank, oh I don’t know, at least 99, maybe even as high as 95. I feel so dirty.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


We started a new project in 3D Design today. The kiddies are to create a new sport and then make a trophy or award for it. Because of my many years of MUMBO JUMBO instruction, I know how important the anticipatory set is when introducing a new lesson. I showed several slides of famous awards and trophies (Oscar, Americas Cup, Heismann, etc.). When I came to the Davis Cup, I asked if anybody knew what sport this trophy was for. I timid and hesitant reply came from the back of the room. "Cake decorating?" was the response.

Come to think of it, that makes a load of sense!


Last night, as I was filling out my KPFA membership survey, I came across this section! I laughed so hard, I almost dropped my glass of 2006 Australian Shiraz. Last time I checked, there were only TWO GENDERS! What could possibly be considered an ‘OTHER’?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Questions, questions, they’ve got questions!

At the end of every lecture, I hesitantly ask a class, “Any questions?” Usually I receive the glazed looked, signally the fact that they had absolutely no interest in the last fifteen minutes of their life in the classroom. Occasionally, there is the classroom smart-ass who comes up with a question that only he and his minions they is absolutely hilarious. Then I received yesterday’s question.

“Teacher, what’s a yeast infection,” a young lady asked me, her table-mates snickering underneath their breath. Considering that the art lecture preceding this little gem was on color theory, I was hard-pressed to find a connection between the two. Not wanting to fall into her trap and remembering that I forgot to go to medical school, I came up with the only safe answer I could think of. “It is an accident that happens in a bakery,” I proclaimed, dodging another sticky situation.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Most of us in the teaching biz understand that NCLB is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attack on public education or education in general, no matter what the grade, in this country of morons we live in. When one reads that only 39% of the population believes in Darwin’s theory, and the rest believe dinosaurs were on Noah’s big ship, we are in big trouble. The rest of the world must be laughing their collective asses off at us.

My take is that the right-wing lunatics are still pretty much in control, no matter who is in the White House. The march to the middle ages continues. The powers that be continue their plan to create a generation of docile, gullible working class workers, willing to take any scraps that are thrown at them.

I found this gem of an article in the New York Times, written by the appropriately-named Dick Morris, former confidant to the Clintons, and now yet another lunatic, right-wing, overpaid talking head on Fox News. Yeah, Dick, you have all the answers. Blame it on the @%&*ing liberal, bleeding-heart professors. Teachers of all grade levels just make too damn much money!!! Why can’t everybody in the teaching profession be happy working for minimum wage?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Every now and then, in this crazy business, something comes along that just makes you proud to be alive. I had that type of experience this morning.

During studio time in my ceramics class, I noticed 'Robert' working diligently on his coil project. Perhaps a vase for flowers? I asked him what he was making and he said, "It's a present for my mom." I felt the tears welling up in my eyes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Not since Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis or even Reiner and Brooks have I been so entertained by a comedy act. Listening to NPR last Saturday morning, host Scott Simon was interviewing the new comedy team of Gingrich and Sharpton. Never have I laughed so hard. In fact, I laughed so forcefully, I blew approximately three ounces of steel-cut oats out of my nostrils! This dynamic comedy duo is currently on a 50-state tour of the United States to promote their innovative ideas concerning public education. And their innovative ideas consist of MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS! Yep, that's the ticket. Just watch those test scores rise with each new charter school founded.

Let’s review, shall we, what fine gentlemen these two are, not to mention experts on public education.

Being a family-values kind of Republican, Gingrich has been married three times. He married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old! (I wonder what he got on the SAT) She was seven years his senior! They divorced in 1981. Jackie Battley Gingrich was wife No. 2 and supported him through graduate school and two unsuccessful congressional campaigns. She had undergone uterine cancer surgery during the successful 1978 campaign. Eighteen months later, they separated. While in the hospital recovering from another uterine operation, according to the legend of Newt Gingrich, he visited his wife in the hospital with a list of things on how the divorce was going to be handled. He wanted her to sign it. She was still recovering from surgery! Nice guy!

In 1981, six months after his divorce was final, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther. He remained married to Ginther until 2000, when they divorced. Shortly thereafter, Gingrich then married Callista Bisek, with whom he was conducting an extra-marital affair at approximately the same time he was leading the Congressional investigation into allegations that Bill Clinton lied under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky You could not make this stuff up!

Al Sharpton is a former boy preacher (oh, good!). But he was caught on an FBI surveillance tape discussing a cocaine Deal. The television show HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel showed a 1983 FBI videotape in which Al Sharpton is seen talking about laundering drug money with former mobster Michael Franzese, a Mafioso-turned-undercover-FBI informant posing as a cocaine dealer. Now, to be fair, no indictments were issued and the sting operation was never completed. Sharpton got into this mess through his friendship with boxing promoter Don King, a longtime friend of his. Oh yeah, and there’s that whole Tawana Brawley thing, but we don’t wanna go there, do we?


I found the above graphic on somebody's blog and loved it. Hope I don't get busted for it!

Friday, September 11, 2009


While cleaning up some old files last weekend, I came across this card from a former student. I remember her, from about seven years ago when I taught special ed. She was a tough one. But she made it through. I ran into her about five years ago. She had a job, working at the local K-Mart. It is always great to hear the success stories. Puts all the rest of the NCLB crap into perspective.

My scanner at Camp Nick is junk. Just hit the graphic above to get a more readable image.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


No good deed goes unpunished. This old adage pretty much sums up the Camp Nickleby Booster Club’s fundraiser car wash.

Labor Day promised to be a beautiful one, up here in the pines. The air was clean and crisp, with an assortment of puffy white clouds meandering through a clear, blue sky. The ladies from the Booster Club arrived and 7:00 a.m., equipped with buckets, sponges, car-washing soap, and even several bottles of Turtle Wax for those customers who might want to go the extra mile. Several student volunteers from the Camp Nickleby Motor Sports Club were even on hand to help out. Cars started trickling in as soon as church let out at 9:00 a.m. By 11:00 a.m., only eight cars had come through the car wash. Things were looking fairly dismal. The feeling of disappointment was palpable. The ladies of the club started second guessing the whole concept of the car wash and were wondering if they would be better off just sticking with bingo games on Monday nights. Then everything turned a corner.

The girls from the Kit Kat Gentlemen’s Club a block down from Kmart went
on their morning smoke break. They noticed the car wash and decided to volunteer their services. In fact, Candy, one of the dancers, has a daughter enrolled at Camp Nickleby. As is the traditional up here in the mountains, Candy is only twice her 16-year-old’s age, so it worked for everybody concerned. Well, Candy and her friend Tiger, stripped down to their car-washing attire, and began to get busy. It didn’t take too long before word got out on every cell phone in the pines. Tiger, spying a tetherball pole at the nearby elementary school, performed an impromptu performance for customers waiting their turn. Cars were backed up thirteen miles on Road 39.

Consumed with the spirit of the day, one of the fathers joined the car washers. Dale Fernwood, father of the Fernwood twins, Mack and Darnell, showed up wearing a lovely little two-piece number, energetically waving a CAR WASH sign to attract even more customers. The ladies decided to extend the closing time of the car wash to 5:00 p.m.

Overwhelmed with the spectacle of the day, Booster Club President Era Mae Bullard is seriously considering going into Cedarville tomorrow and getting a tramp stamp at the Big Butterfly Tattoo Parlor. The other ladies tried to talk her out of it. Oh yeah, the club raised $17,549!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


While driving through Hog Lick Corners last Saturday, I came upon this sign outside of the Eye of the Needle Baptist Church, and I figured, oh, what the hell! I'm sure there will be a huge turnout. I just hope they don't yell at the people in wheelchairs. I hate it when that happens, don't you? But then again, maybe those people are in wheelchairs for a reason? Hmmmmmmmm, one of the many unanswered questions of the universe.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


The Camp Nickleby Booster Club will be conducting their first annual Fundraiser Car Wash this coming Monday, Labor Day, in the K Mart parking lot in Cedarville, from nine in the morning to two in the afternoon. The ladies of the booster club, known primarily for putting on a damn fine bingo game each Monday night at the Grange Hall, decided to try something just a little bit different. With the recent budget cuts that all schools in California are facing, the gals just thought it would be the right thing to do, and add some much-needed money into the club’s coffers.

The booster club ladies work mighty hard during the year, raising funds that are used for items such as No. 2 pencils, lined notebook paper, staples, paper clips and those little wooden coffee stirrers thingies for the faculty lounge. We don’t know what we’d do without their cheerful spirit around here.

The ladies are hoping to get a few volunteers to help out with the car washing. They promise to use biodegradable soap and 100% cotton towels for drying the automobiles. The price will be $5 for a car and $8 for a regular-size pickup, $20 for a cattle truck. They will also be offering a 25% discount to anyone who brings in a car recently purchased through the Cash for Clunkers program! I know there are a lot of them out there.

The Booster Club ladies look forward to your support this coming Monday. The ladies, pictured from left to right, are Anna Pannell, Katie Parker, Arvilla Coker, Mattie Robinson, Pearl Sanders, Dramita Pannell and Era Mae Bullard. The shadow is that of Fontina Merriweather.

See you at the car wash!

Monday, August 31, 2009


Well, we’re into week number two of a new school year here at Camp Nickleby. The hills are alive with the sounds of the little dry sponges. All are eager to soak up as much knowledge as possible! Yeah, right. It will take some time for all of us to get back into the groove.

A week before camp started, the counseling staff was here, getting ready for the new year. We worked on vision and mission statements (no, serious), got our rooms ready, and sat through a lecture by Super
intendent Kim Chee, berating us for not being better teachers. “All of you are sooooo lazy,” she screamed. “I get here everyday at 5:30 a.m. and stay until 8:00 p.m.! If you were really serious about teaching, you would do the same, instead of taking off at 4:00 to get back to your cabins and nap. I could replace you all with those fine young people from Teach For America! How are we going to close the cheese mint gap?” Just made you feel all warm and fuzzy.

Dr. Chee let us know that she wants to tie our pay with student performance, starting this year. Since we are a non-union charter school, we just have to bend over and take it. Not sure how this will affect me.
Do I not get a raise if my kiddies can’t make a decent pinch pot? If they can’t mix the color orange? Do I depend on our math and English counselors to raise the test scores? Can’t wait! This Race To The Top crap is really getting to be a pain in the arse!

Speaking of test scores, we received our state API scores from last spring, and it doesn’t look good. Chee really went through the roof! After several years of scores creeping upward, they came crashing down again. We lost about 47 points from last year! A large number of math scores were uncharacteristically low. Apparently, a substitute teacher during math testing allowed the kids to talk her into letting them use crayons to fill in the answer sheets! Of course, there was the usual number of math wizards who turned the ans
wer sheets into connect-the-dots and made bunnies and hearts, which didn’t help either. To compound the problem, the error was not discovered at the ETS scoring facility in Sacramento until it was too late. The oily crayon residue gummed up the scoring machines and altered other schools’ test results, including our cross-mountain rival, Cruz Bustamante Preparatory Academy Strip Mall Charter High School. We’re still waiting for the other shoe to drop on this one.

The first project of the year always sets the tone for the rest of the year. This year, we’ll be m
aking Chia Pet Heads of members of the Obama administration! All the kids seem to be quite excited about this project and can’t wait to get started. Each kid picked a member of the administration to model. No two alike. Unfortunately, three boys wanted to do White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel heads, and I had to intervene. Not really sure what this means, but I think it will be a good project.

And that’s the news from Camp Nickleby, where every youngster enjoys the great outdoors, clean fresh air, daily mountain hikes and NO CHILD'S LEFT BEHIND!

Friday, August 28, 2009


As I recall, these young ladies were writing little missives to each other last semester during my wonderful lecture on pueblo pottery. They both recieved an 'F' on the test, but received an 'A' for note writing under the radar. Once again, doing our part here at Camp Nick to close that all-important achievement gap! Thanks kids!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Finally, a cause I can get behind! The rest of this stuff just makes my head hurt!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Call me a whambulance ! ! !

Can't believe the summer is almost over! Staff is back at Camp, writing Vision Statements and Mission Statements. Oh dear God!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


It’s hard to believe that the 40th anniversary of Woodstock is upon us! Where did the time go? For two of our Camp Nickleby staffers, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, as it was originally called, has a very special place in their hearts. Maurice and Charmaine Thibodaux were actually there, rolling around nekkid in the mud at Yasgur’s farm. As some of our loyal readers may recall, Maurice works as our maintenance man, but insists on being referred to as our ‘Viceroy of Camp Operations’. Charmaine works as our cook in the cafeteria, but she constantly refers to her work in the ‘film industry’, in her younger days. Both came to us from New Orleans after losing their house and all of their belongings during Hurricane Katrina.

These two crazy kids actually met at Woodstock. In 1969, both were recent graduates of Tulane University, but never ‘hooked up’ during college. Maurice earned a B.S. degree in chemical ‘engineering’, and Charmaine received a B.F.A. in interpretive dance (every father’s nightmare). When they heard about this music and art festival happening up in New York State, each of them decided to head north. Maurice packed his 1967 green and white VW microbus with a sleeping bag, a box of granola, half a case of Mateus Rosé, some weed and a couple of bongs, and headed north on a hot, muggy Louisiana morning in August of 1969. Charmaine decided to ‘borrow’ her brother’s aging Citroën deux chevaux and hit the road too. Packed with a cooler filled with organic bean sprouts, a loaf of wheat bread, several tie-dyed blouses, and her four-stringed dulcimer, she was ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Their meeting at Woodstock was the proverbial case of love at first sight! It was, one would call, a whirlwind romance. Both being devout Catholics, they eschewed any type of birth control (and also because they were both #@&%ed up on windowpane acid) their love was consummated on the rotting remnants of Yasgur’s beet crop. Little Muffaletta Zydeco Thibodaux was conceived on August 15, 1969, at approximately 5:37 in the afternoon! Unfortunately, right after the climactic moment occurred, Maurice’s left foot was accidentally run over by Max Yasgur’s grandson, Skippy, taking a joy ride on his grandpa’s vintage 1957 Massey-Ferguson. Little Skippy was apparently suffering from a contact high and didn't see Maurice down on the ground in his Coleman sleeping bag. Maurice shrugged off the injury, but still walks with a slight limp. With that limp, he is constantly reminded of that special day 40 years ago. And little Muffaletta? Well she grew into a fine young woman, went to law school at Tulane and became a civil rights attorney and community organizer in Atlanta, Georgia. She is now currently an attorney, working with ACORN.

I asked Maurice what he remembers about the Woodstock experience. He said, “Not much, man. I was pretty stoned most of the time. But it took a long time to get Ritchie Haven’s music out of my head. Man, the dude played for two hours straight and he only knew one, friggin’ chord!”

While going through some old papers, I came upon this aging advertisement in Ramparts Magazine for an unassuming art and music festival in the summer of ’69. CHECK OUT THOSE PRICES!!!


As I was cleaning up the art studio today at Camp Nickleby, getting ready for the start of another glorious, standards-based school year, I came across this lovely missive, hiding under the overhead project. It was accompanied by an empty box of gum, several broken drawing pencils, some used mucous management tissues (yuk) and seventeen cents in change! Wonderful penmanship and spelling skills too!

It's going to be a good year!

Friday, August 14, 2009


I think I deserve a big refund! I spent a lot of money and a lot of time, back in the day, learning a bunch of librul, teacher mumbo-jumbo, going through hoops and hurdles, to get a teaching credential. If I waited thirty years until the dumbing down of America was in full swing, I could have saved myself a load of money and time and just spend less than a buck for a teaching certificate! What a maroon!

In the July 31, 2009 issue of The Washington Post, an article explained these new-fangled ways to become a teacher in NCLB America. Heck, you don’t even need none of them there fancy how-to-teach classes. Just pays your money and sit in a chair for a few weeks and, presto, you’re a teacher! You can even do it from home, on-line! Ain’t that great! It just gets better and better, don’t it?

Here are some of the more memorable moments culled from the article:

Many reformers say a fast track is the best way to capture potential teachers. "If you get rid of the hoops and hurdles, you can get some fantastic people to come into teaching," said Michael J. Petrilli, vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a District-based education think tank. (Problem is, they don’t stay)

Some initiatives seek to avoid traditional education school curricula (mumbo-jumbo) completely. The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence approves teachers in nine states through online training and tests. In the District and in Maryland, the New Teacher Project has authority to certify its teachers with a practical, year-long seminar series led by D.C. public school teachers. (Year-long!??? Think of how much partying time I lost while studying teacher edgumacation in collitch!)

Linda Darling-Hammond, an education professor at Stanford University, said accelerated training programs that put teachers in charge of classes right away can lead to higher burnout rates because teachers become quickly overwhelmed. Her research shows that teachers with more comprehensive training are less likely to leave within a few years.

Until a few years ago, many positions, particularly in urban schools, were filled by teachers with emergency credentials. The 2002 No Child Left Behind law outlawed the practice, and alternative programs sprouted up to give under-prepared teachers a clear path through state-required coursework. (but, but, I thought we all had to be highly-qualified!)

But here’s my favorite . . .

Career-changers are considered desirable because they bring maturity and outside experiences into classrooms. They also help solve a perennial problem in public education, particularly in math and science: Too few teachers have a solid grasp of the subject they teach. (This, ladies and gentlemen, is just some damn fine journalism! WTF? According to whom? Did the writer pull this out of a monkey’s butt? Oh yeah, she probably did!)

I had an appointment with a new doctor last Thursday. I asked him where he went to school for his medical training. He told me he attended Big Bob’s School of Doctorin’ in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Took him seven months and only cost him $485. I got the hell out of there fast!

Friday, August 7, 2009


Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana

As the Bushobama Department of Education’s anti-public school juggernaut continues careening down the hill, it is always comforting to know that there are folks in high places who really care about teachers and public education. Ironically, they are usually people who have never taught in a school!

Most recently, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana knows what’s best for schools and teacher education. Thanks Mitch, for setting us straight on this issue! Let’s hear what Mitch has to say on the subject, shall we?

“Arne Duncan could not be superintendent or principal in Indiana,” Daniels said of Obama’s education chief and former superintendent of Chicago schools. “He doesn’t have the right credentials.” The governor enunciated “credentials.”

Asked about how the Ball State University teachers college will have to adapt, Daniels explained, “When the Professional Licensing Board begins starting next week to redefine what is required to get a teaching license in Indiana, the schools of education are going to have to make some major changes of their own. They are not going to need as many people teaching what to me is mumbo jumbo. We’re going to expect students who want to teach spending much more of their time studying the subject they are going to be teaching in the schools.”


As I recall, I spent a lot of money, back in the day, to learn a lot of MUMBO JUMBO so I could get a teaching job? I FEEL SO DIRTY.

EDUCATIONAL TOOL OF THE MONTH is a copyrighted feature of Thank you very much!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fruitstand Signs as an English Lesson

During the summer months, the Valley is flooded with fresh fruit and veggies. Roadside stands pop up, seemingly, on every corner. And
with those stands come hand-made signs to attract potential buyers. Unfortunately, many of the sign makers apparently are products of the public education system in the United States. Surely students of private schools would have better spelling skills than this. Are could they be home-schooled? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . .

If I am only able to teach the kiddies just one thing, JUST ONE THING, I hope it is how to create the plural form of a word. I don't think it is that tough!!!

Hey, they got one correct, although that "W" in GROWN is a tad bit suspicious!

And then there is this one.
Hey, you make plum plural by adding an 'S', why not peach, right?

Here's a little poem about plurals I found when I used "The Google"

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;
but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice;
yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet,
and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
and the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
but though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
but imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


What do some high school students and a certain, bouncy, right-wing radio personality have in common?

I went in to Camp today to work a bit in my classroom and start to get things cleaned up for the new school year. While going through some boxes of student work from several years ago, I came upon this lovely treasure in a young lady’s pile of drawings.

I do appreciate the fact that this student did attempt to use her 'word attack skills' in figuring out how to spell Vicodin. She did get close. Hooked on phonics, perhaps? These are some of the little treasures that make teaching such a rewarding experience. Gee, I wonder how Vicodin usage affects test scores??? And for those who don’t know about Vicodin . . . here is a bit of information from Wiki.

Vicodin is a potentially addictive drug, specifically due to the hydrocodone in it. People who are using Vicodin for non-medicinal purposes (the above students) are typically using it to get the euphoric effects sometimes associated with it. Ten percent of American high school seniors have abused Vicodin; 4.7 percent report abusing Oxycontin in the past year.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

But, I did all the work . . .

Well, the report cards have hit home, and much wailing and gnashing of teeth continues. My e-mail is filled with missives from the wee ones, wondering why their grade isn’t what it should be. After all, they did all the work! Somewhere in their educational careers, they learned that just turning something, anything in, garners them a good grade. Mmmmmm, not so much.

At the end of the school year, I was amazed at some of the really dumb questions I was being asked, many of these concerned procedural stuff that somehow they were able to filter out from their hearing. Even after numerous repetition and reminders, they still didn’t know what was expected of them. I came to the conclusion that they don’t read and they only hear every fifth word that I said! This couldn’t possibly be true.

And yet my theory has been proven. A recent study by the Make Teachers Do Good Institute in Washington, D.C. proves that students actually only are capable of hearing every fifth word. All the rest of the words are totally wasted. They never enter their little melons. Dr. Arnold R. Ziffle, head of the institute, studied approximately 4,500 high schools students in twenty-five states. This four-month long study concluded that the minds of high school students become overloaded with too much information. Their brains, as a function of self-preservation, filter out approximately 75% of the input that we try to pump into them.

The studies finding have been compiled into a new book, Only Every Five, written by Dr. Ziffle. The book also contains a foreword by educational guru Robert Marzano and can be found at for $24.95. It also comes with a software program on CD that teachers may use to edit down their lectures and handouts to a more manageable size. I decided to try this program, so just for the hell of it, I filtered the Gettysburg Address through it, and this is what I got. I can’t wait to start using this in the fall.

Four years brought continent, conceived, dedicated that created are great whether and long met battlefield. We dedicate that final those their nation is proper do a can, can, can ground. Living struggled it, poor or will long say can they is living. Dedicated unfinished who thus advanced. For here great us honored increased cause gave measure we that not vain under a freedom of the people from.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Life outside of Camp Nickleby started out with a musical bang! My lady and I shot down to Santa Monica a weekend ago to take in the L.A. Acoustic Music Festival. The first one. Judging by the unfortunately sparse crowd, it might be the only one. Weather was perfect, no diving-bombing terns, and the beer was cold, if a tad bit overpriced.

Best part about the festival . . . I got to cross something off my bucket list; seeing Eliza Gilkyson play live. BUY HER MUSIC!!! She should be a Living National Treasure.

Also in the lineup for the day was The Kingston Trio (yep!) , Natalie MacMaster and Bruce Cockburn (a little too electrified for my taste).

Big laugh of the day was the large banner for the California Acoustic Music Project, which would be befitting from any proceeds from the festival. Perhaps they should invest a few bucks in a proofreader! No doubt a product of a liberal/communist/homosexual public education. SCREW THOSE UNIONIZED TEACHERS AND THEIR EVIL WAYS!!!

On whining mothers, groveling coaches and the Christian-Charity D-

Well, the camp is quiet now. All of the campers have been picked up by their parents or their guardians. Finals have been scored, grades have been turned in, and we are outta here! Most of us have cleaned out our rooms and have packed up our personal property to take home for the summer. I’m glad the year is over.

The final month is always the most difficult. It is like a three-ring circus that has gone terribly awry. The seniors start melting around mid-April. The little snowflakes (some of them) actually start worrying about their finals grades at the beginning of May. And oy, the kvetching, the kvetching . . .

As Bush’s third term towards educational ‘reform’ gathers steam, we in the profession constantly are hammered with the term ‘accountability’ by parents and ‘experts’ not in the profession. That is, until it hits their own backyard. During the end of the semester, I was visited by many who asked for a waiver for their special little interest.

I had a crying Mother asking why her little loser cherub’s grade was so low and why I was preventing him from graduating. Somehow it was all my fault that he did absolutely nothing in class expect make ceramic pipes and bongs on the rare days that he actually did show up for class.

And then there was the groveling coach, coming into my room, begging to raise the score of his little knuckle-dragging Neanderthal star athlete so he could play on next year’s football team.

And then there are the Special Ed kids! What to do with them. Most managed to just take up space the entire year. Being outside their protective environment of the special ed classroom, they floundered. Not being able to understand what was expected of them, they just flailed around, hoping somebody else would do the work for them. It’s like trying to teach rocks. If you fail them, even though they deserve it, you are the bad guy. They just need more “scaffolding” or their “learning modalities” weren't accessed properly, or some other buzzword-infected rationale is used.

Little Christine is sitting at 27% of the work completed for the year. She did almost nothing. Her test scores were abysmal. All of the projects that she actually did complete were pathetic and sad. She took up space. But I don’t want to be the bad guy. I end up giving them the Christian-Charity D-, everybody is happy, and I can get the hell out of Dodge!


Thursday, June 4, 2009


Well, we’re winding down here at Camp Nickleby. The year is almost over. We are in the middle of finals, and our little senior snowflakes will be graduating tomorrow night. This should be a time of joy and celebration. But not for me.

My very best buddy is gone. I have been on this planet long enough now to have known many dogs. But Moe was the best! An Aussie-Lab mix, Moe had more personality than a whole kennel full of dogs. I’m not sure what he liked most, going to the beach or making Moe-angels in the snow.

Moe was twelve, as of last February, and was starting to develop health problems. He was starting to move a little slower, and he could no longer jump up into the car. We had to scoop him up. Not an easy feat. He weighed in at 100 lbs. We took him in to the vet and it was discovered that he had an enlarged spleen, and other complications. Surgery and recovery would have been too painful and cruel. We decided to make that dreaded decision.

Moe was our 'seeing art dog'. We would take him into galleries, when allowed, and he would check out the artwork. Abstract Expressionism was his favorite style. Color-field painting, not so much. His last art excursion was up to Davis, to take part in a ceramic sculpture conference. We would walk him around town, and he truly enjoyed all of the attention passers-by bestowed upon him. I'd like to think he's up there now, hanging out with Voulkos and Arneson, begging for some treats.

His constant smile was infectious. He was a joy to have around. I still remember how he crossed his front legs when relaxing. I can still hear him shaking his collar in the middle of the night. It will take me a long, long time to really understand that he is truly gone. Moe, you will be missed. Damn!

First Moe, then Koko Taylor, and now David Carradine! Wow, what a crappy week!

But with dogs, we do have "bad dog." Bad dog exists. "Bad dog! Bad dog! Stole a biscuit, bad dog!" The dog is saying, "Who are you to judge me? You human beings who've had genocide, war against people of different creeds, colors, religions, and I stole a biscuit?! Is that a crime? People of the world!""Well, if you put it that way, I think you've got a point. Have another biscuit, sorry."
---Eddie Izzard

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
- - - Groucho Marx