Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Am I Bid for This Lovely . . .

Children never cease to amaze. Recently, the staff here heard a rumor that one of our senior girls decided to auction off her virginity to the highest bidder. Apparently, you can buy anything on E-Bay these days.

Tawanda Margarine (mar-jah-REEN) Schintagg figured the only way she could afford going to the Hog Lick Institute of Cosmetology was to create her own scholarship fund by selling her most precious commodity. She posted herself on E-Bay two weeks ago. As of this morning at 10:30 a.m., the bidding was up to $7.37.

She is more than willing to prove that she is indeed ‘pure and untouched’, and has asked a local gynecologist in Cedarville to attest to her claim. There are still no takers in the surrounding medical community.

Happy Birthday to Us!

Today, the Camp Nickleby blog has been around for a whole year! I started doing this dopey thing last January 29th, in order to maintain what little sanity I had after teaching for a mere ten years!

By all accounts, readership has been soaring. We are currently at seven active readers! It might be a little premature to start thinking about setting up that PayPal account though.

Keep those cards, letters and comments coming.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I usually read the warning labels on bottles of ceramic glazes before I use them. Mainly I look for health-related issues or firing temperatures to prevent any mishaps in the kiln. But nothing could prepare me for this.

A student in my afternoon ceramics class decided to apply a clear, low-fire glaze to her mask project, to bring out the color of the underglazes she decorated it with. I told her to only apply one or two coats of the glaze. She proceeded to apply 27 coats. I fired it anyway, just to see what would happen. The people at Duncan Ceramics should place a warning on the label, stating that if clear glaze is applied too thickly, it turns somewhat 'milky'. I have a feeling I saw this same thing happen in a movie once.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

In the beginning . . .

I have often wondered how far back in time the assault on public education started. A recent discovery by archeologists in the caves of Lascaux, France, may provide the answer to my question. These caves are located near the village of Montignac. They contain some of the most well-known Upper Paleolithic art. These paintings are estimated to be at least 16,000 years old.

In a section of the cave overlooked when first discovered by four teenagers in 1940, Professor Henri d’Escargot, from the nearby University of Fromage, stumbled upon this remarkable cave drawing during a recent field trip with his class. Apparently, it depicts what might well be the first math teacher at work, being visited by what may very well be the first educational ‘reformer’.

In an article in Le Monde, Professor d’Escargot opines, “Apparently, the urge to ‘reform’ education on a continual, never-ending basis rests deep within our collective DNA. Everybody seems to think they know more about teaching than the teachers do. It seems to have been this way since the beginning of time.”

Monday, January 26, 2009

Going, going, gone

Against my better judgment, I went down the mountain into Hog Lick Corners this Saturday to check out the action at the Circuit City store there. Maybe pick up a great deal on a new set of speakers for my stereo. OMG! It was like a shark feeding frenzy! People were taking away large-screen TVs and stuffing them in the back of their F150s. Inside the store was total chaos. People were buying stuff just to be buying stuff. Oddly enough, there still was a mountain of Miley Cyrus guitar games still available. I passed.

It got me to thinking that maybe this economic recession might be self-induced. I know that I have stopped buying stuff at brick-and-mortar stores and just purchase things online. It’s faster, easier and, when my computer is actually working, it is way less stressful than dealing with store personnel. Perhaps a lot of other people are like me. I’m just tired of:
• Helping a cashier make change, even with an automated cash register
• Guessing how much an unpriced item costs or looking for a price scanner to check an unpriced item
• Asking to see my identification, over and over and over and over again, within the same credit transaction
• Asking a non-existent store employee to retrieve a wanted item from the uppermost shelf
• Assisting a store employee to locate an advertised item
• Listening in on employees’ intimate conversations during a transaction
• Being ignored or treated like a nuisance by store employees during a sales transaction
And so it goes.

Although it is really sad to see the Circuit City employees still working, making the best of a bad situation and waiting for the other shoe to drop, the people hired to hold the GOING OUT OF BUSINESS signs outside of the store are really at the bottom of the retail food chain. I think I even recognized one of our Camp Nickleby dropouts working the corner.

NCLB in a Nutshell

If anybody out there still doesn’t understand what NCLB is all about, check this out from Schools Matter. This really spells it out quite well, I think.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Being reminded we're losers again!

Well, our NCLB-mandated letter from our wonderful Superintendent went out today to all parents of Camp Nickleby students. The letter informs parents that their child goes to an underperforming school and their kid doesn't have a chance at a great education because they attend a public school and the teachers are worthless losers! It is just such a warm and fuzzy. Ya know, that barista job at Starbucks down in Cedarville is starting to look better and better.

Here is the content of the letter:

Dear Parents/Guardians of Students at Camp Nickleby:

In accordance with the No Child Left Behind act, I am required to inform you that Camp Nickleby is an underperforming school. It has been and underperforming school for a long time. Let’s be real, it will probably remain an underperforming school until Arne Duncan closes it. In fact, I have been trying to close it since I started as Viceroy Superintendent here. This place is a mess!

I hate the teachers. They are always whining about something, whether it is their lousy salary or not having enough money for photocopies. So? They should be happy just to have a job. If I had my way, they would be standing in a soup line somewhere. In the days of our glorious ex-President Bush and our illustrious former Secretary of Education Spellings, I thought I would be able to trash the union here and force everybody to work for minimum wage. But Arne Duncan does look promising. He likes to close underperforming schools. I like to close underperforming schools. Since all schools are underperforming, I see good times ahead.

I am supposed to inform you that we are doing everything we can to close the Cheese Mint Gap, but let’s not kid ourselves, it ain’t gonna happen. These kids are not the brightest bulbs in the marquee. It might help if you fed your kids a decent breakfast in the morning and get them to bed at a proper hour each night. But hey, you don’t have time for that, working three jobs to make up for investments lost in some Wall Street Ponzi scheme.

If you don’t want to have your child going to school here, you have the option of sending them somewhere else. But hey, let’s face it, all public schools are a joke. All the teachers are bleeding-heart liberals and really lazy. They just went into teaching because they wanted to have their summers off! Best thing to do is to home school them. That always works!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tchotchky, lots and lots of tchotchky . . .

We are into week two of the spring semester here at camp. With schedule changes and new students coming into class during the past week, it seems like the dust is finally starting to settle. After a three-week break during the holidays, it always takes some time to get up to speed. Some of our campers are still in the motherland, visiting family and friends south of the border. They keep trickling in on a daily basis.

I spent my break moving. I took advantage of someone else’s misfortune and purchased a foreclosure house in nearby Cedarville. Got it for a song! And I have only 30 years to pay it off!

Moving, after being at the same place for twelve years, was a nightmare! Books and books and book, plus a bunch of ceramic studio stuff. But what really took up room in the old U-Haul van was the tchotchky. Lots and lots of tchotchky! Going through boxes and boxes of worthless nonsense, purchased at flea markets and junk shops over the years, proved to be very telling. There was definitely a pathology being exhibited, right before my very eyes! I have been searching for a 12-step program I may enroll in to help me with my tchotchky addiction. Tchotchky Buyers Anonymous or something? So far, no luck.

And I really don’t understand the underlying physics of moving from one home to another. I moved from a two-bedroom apartment into a three-bedroom house. How could all of the stuff in the old place NOT fit into the larger place? It was like one of those sponge dinosaurs that you throw into a glass of water. It grows 600%, although in my case, the stuff grew about 2000%!

The unpacking continues.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let your voice be heard! Yeah, right . . .

Have you visited the Citizen’s Briefing Book yet? You gotta check this out! Play close attention as to where the importance of NCLB is on the list.

Not everything comes with a spell-checker

We are always so proud when one of our campers finds employment. Thandra Lou Breckenridge, Class of 2008, was recently hired at a fast-food establishment in neighboring Cedarville. Because of her high score on the CAHSEE (351), she was immediately put in charge of messages on the reader board outside the eatery. Good job Thandra Lou!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today's Classroom Theme Music


Is he gone yet? Really, are you sure?

I had a nightmare last night! Bush refused to leave the White House. Obama went into the Oval Office and found Dubya chained to that big desk! It took five Marines to remove him and throw his butt on Air Force One and send him back to Texas, where he can cut switch grass ‘til he bleeds!

We almost didn’t get to see the inauguration at Camp Nickleby today. Superintendent Kim Chee, announced with a last-minute memo to all staff, refused to let us show our students this historic moment, telling us to, “Keep teaching them how to fill in bubbles! That’s what’s most important! We don’t care about Obama!” A few of us decided to take a chance and watch what we could during morning break. We huddled in the boat house and watch most of Obama’s speech on my little 10” black and white, battery-powered RCA television. We asked Coach Shrewsbury, loyal McCain/Palin supporter, if he would like to join us. He adamantly refused and has been crying all morning. He will probably remain inconsolable the entire week.

We watched the MSNBC live feed, but about five minutes into the speech, we decided, just for the hell of it, to see what was going on at FOX News. Much to our surprise, they were actually televising the event. We tuned in just in time to see Sean Hannity’s head explode! Literally! Poor Brian Kilmeade, who was co-hosting with El Douché. A big chunk of Hannity’s medulla oblongata landed on Kilmeade head, and slowly inched its way down the side of his face! Unbelievably, Hannity continued pontificating about Obama’s plan to turn the United States into a liberal-homosexual-communist country, even with half of his head missing! What a masterful journalist he has become.

Can’t wait to see what Arne Duncan, Margaret’s successor has in store. By all accounts, it doesn’t look good. I came across this article on over the weekend. Read it if you want to cry yourself to sleep tonight. Sounds like we’re in for more of the same on the NCLB front. To the barricades!!!

And with some sense of melancholy, I retire my George W. Bush Countdown Calendar today. It has been a good friend to me this past year. I am in the process of papering the walls of my office with the little squares, to remind me of the wonderful gifts we have received over the past eight, glorious years. Can’t wait to find out what they decide his legacy is going to be.