Saturday, May 19, 2012

"American Teacher" on Netflix

This documentary made me cry.  My thoughts about teaching are definitely emotionally charged.  Here are some reasons, not edited to try to sound humble:

  1. This has been the most... well, maybe second-most difficult year of my life.  It probably would have been the most difficult if I didn't have Heidi.  I don't know if I could survive this year one more time, let alone decades on end.  Teaching is so much more demanding than I imagined.  I've heard that "teaching is only as difficult as you make it," which I now realize is true.  You can be a really crappy teacher, and it's not nearly as difficult as being a good teacher.  But I know I can be a really good teacher, so when I'm a crappy teacher (which means working about 40 hours per week), I feel like... a crappy teacher.
  2. I'm worried about supporting my future family.  I don't just mean surviving.  I mean a house big enough for gathering friends, a yard, sports teams, vacations, etc. etc. etc.
  3. Just this year, I've helped a student avoid suicide, another turn away from drugs, another came to me first when his dad died.  Also, ten are coming with me to Spain this summer, and seven are already signed up for next summer.  Those are all things I don't really get paid for.  In fact, in heartlessly practical terms, all those things mean lots of time NOT spent planning lessons, preparing materials, or assessing/grading assignments.  Yet, these additional expenditures of time are precisely what make me a really good teacher.
  4. Teaching is HARD (see #1).  Five 1-hour lessons (more like 'performances' interlaced with 'activities' in order to keep students' interest) per day, often with a 5-minute passing period between one lesson and the next.  I think that would be enough, but that is the easy part!  Honestly, it's overwhelming just to think of listing all my responsibilities beyond the typical classroom time.  Planning lessons, preparing materials, pacing the course, adjusting for setbacks, catching up absent students ("What did I miss?"  "I have no idea, when were you absent?"), emailing/calling parents, faculty meetings, grading assignments, classroom management, disciplinary issues, written reports about disciplinary issues, attendance errors ("Was Johnny present in your class on this date?"  "Are you kidding me?"), parent/teacher meetings, letters of recommendation, grade checks, updating the gradebook, updating the class website... I'm just going to stop.  Although one funny frustration just came to mind: telling students they can use the hall pass to go to the bathroom when I've been waiting too long for an opportunity to go myself!
Anyway, I am exhausted, and watching this documentary brought my emotions to the surface.  I highly recommend it.  It's occasionally dramatic, but for the most part, I think it's spot on.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Today in Spanish 2

To practice usted commands, my students used Google Docs to post commands to a spreadsheet I put on the projector.  If the sentence was absolutely perfect, and the command was not dangerous, inappropriate, or a copy of someone else's work, I obeyed the command.  Here are some of the best:

- Raise my grade
- Jump crazily
- Do ten abdominal exercises
- Go outside
- Stay outside
- Give me money (I gave him a penny)
- Throw paper
- Eat a snack
- Sing seriously
- Speak quickly
- Speak slowly
- Dance

It was a fun day.  They're probably making fun of me at this very moment, but at least they're thinking about Spanish class!  Best part - it was their idea!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Diving Videos

Whoa... it's been a long time.  So long, the blog post editor is completely different.  I just thought I'd post my diving videos.  Heidi gave me a GoPro for my (very early) birthday present, and I LOVE IT.  I love diving, and I'm so glad I get to show Heidi what I've seen, instead of just tell her about it.  Enjoy!


My first video - Free diving at Kewalo Harbor

2nd video - Scuba at Makaha - This one is my favorite so far.

3rd video - Scuba at Sharks Cove

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thoughts from a Facebook discussion... enjoy.

Sometimes I get into (or stir up) debates on Facebook.  It helps me figure out what I really think and believe. Sometimes it even changes my views.  My friend Jeff Wilbur is a great guy to debate with, because he's very opinionated and always has great rationale for his views.  In fact, he has caused me to reshape my views a time or two.  Still, I tend agree with my own views more (duh, cause they're my views), and so I tend to think my own comments are awesomer, especially in terms of made-up words.

Anyway, Jeff helped me realize that my point of view on gay marriage is definitely founded in the gospel, and that's why it's so easy to ridicule: I can't prove the gospel.  It is pretty presumptuous of me to tell someone else, "You can't do that" when I have no proof that it's actually harmful.  Nevertheless, it is harmful, especially in an eternal sense.  Well, okay, fine then, let them "harm" themselves.  God gave us agency!  And so the debate goes.

Eventually I came up with this summary/explanation of why I would vote against gay marriage.  My rationale is based upon eternal principles that I know to be true, but cannot prove.  Sigh.  Now I'm going to be called names.  "Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad."  I'll try.

Undermining or changing societal norms hinders self-determination in that a person's moral views are greatly influenced by their environment, and we are constantly shaping the next generation's environment. Thus, we are manipulating the next generation's point of view and self-determination by actively (or idly) shaping our society.

Sending a memory-wiped spirit to a society that views the commandments as optional (or laughable) would greatly hinder God's children from determining to follow Him. By standing idly by as morals are generally ignored, we neglect the environment wherein God's children will begin their mortal lives.

I'm not saying it's up to me to tell people how to raise their children. We can teach our kids whatever we want in our homes. But if there's an item on the ballot that can either make our society more conducive to the acceptance of the gospel (including the commandments), or make the gospel seem outdated (including the commandments), I'll go with the one that will be more likely to have positive eternal effects on the next generation, even if my neighbor (or I, for that matter) wants to break the commandments anyway.

As an analogy, children in Utah are free to be Sacramento Kings fans, but that is rarely the case because of popular opinion in their environment. If being a Kings fan could bring eternal happiness, then I would want to raise my kids in Sacramento, even though I can teach them about the Kings myself.

Monday, October 10, 2011

An email to my dad.

My dad emailed me some wicked shots of my littlest brother Brian playing football today! YAY!!! I miss going to my brothers games so much. It was something we did all the time as a family. So I responded with the following email. ...The weather here is starting to get rainy again. It was WAY rainy in March and then stopped and hardly ever rained in July or August. Now we have had two rainy days in a row WOOT! WOOT! (which means I don't die of heat) Right now I am at a girls house in our ward. She had a baby about 7 weeks ago and is suffering really bad from post pardom depression. She also has been getting panic attacks on top of the depression so she does not sleep at all. The Relief Society sent around a sign up sheet to have women come and help her while her husband is at work. Poor thing. I can relate to the depression part, but on top of is she is dealing with just having had a baby! YIKES. But I'm grateful to have a new friend and to be able to help out how I can.

We just had our YW in excellence last week. (where we celebrate the girls working toward their YW medallion and look at the Personal Progress Projects completed this year. It was really cool to see what the girls have been up to. We have two girls in my class (Beehives) who are non-members but who come to church with their neighbors. Everything is so new to them. Kathy is 12 and is really shy, but she will try anything. Kayla, (her sister) turns 12 this month, but she has been coming to our Tuesday night activities. Kayla is way outgoing and lots of fun. They both were kind of confused by the whole Personal progress event, but we have had a few activities to explain what it is and how it works. When Kathy got up to talk about what she had done that year for PP (all the girls had to talk about one project they completed) she just froze. I was standing right by her and helped her out a bit. She said she was so nervous. I told her not to stress and that it will get loads easier in time. I am just starting to understand how the church teaches us to be public speakers and to take initiative in leadership.

We just had a planning meeting for the November activities (the Beehives are in charge that month). I gave a short lesson in individual worth and then the planning began! My lesson was pretty cool. Brett gave me the idea. I took a $5 bill out of my pocket and said,"Who wants this?" They all raised their hands. Next, I crumpled it up in my hand and said, "Now who wants it?" Again, every girls raised her hand. Then I marked it up with a pen and threw it on the floor and mashed it with my foot. I asked, "Anyone want it now?" The girls started to go crazy, "Yeah we want it!" Then I said, "Nope, it's garbage now, it belongs in the trash." So I threw it in the trash. Ha ha they starting to go after it in the trash can.
I said, "Hey! You don't want that! It's garbage! It's in the trash where it belongs!"
Ariane (one of my girls) said, "Well, it may be in the garbage but I still want it."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because it's still worth five bucks!"
"Exactly!" I said.

It was really cool to talk about how no matter what happens to us in our lives, we are always of worth to God, and we are all worth the same to God. Then we went to Moses chapter 1 and talked about how God knew Moses and spoke to him face to face. God knew Moses's name and called him His son and told him He had a work for Moses to do. It was a really cool lesson.

The girls had to come up with activities that focused on the YW value Individual Worth. They decided to do blind make-overs where the person putting on the makeup and styling the hair has a blindfold on! Ha ha then we will take "glamor shots" and have treats. Then, they decided to so some sort of activity where we make others feel good about themselves.. TBD. :)

Well, that is about all that is new in my life this week. OH WAIT! I launched Body Pump 79 this weekend with our director of group fitness Shelley Moore. She asked me to team teach with her when we "launched" the new set of choreography sent out by Les Mills. I LOVE TEACHING BODY PUMP! I am upping my lifting weight and getting stronger every time. I am also learning how to cue my class so that they can know what move is coming next and how many sets and so on. It is such a hard thing to be a motivating and technically accurate teacher. It's not hard to be accurate, but it is hard to know when to say what and how to help them have fun. Les Mills (the company that makes Body Pump) is great at making mock classes for us to watch on DVD so we get how they want us to teach, but it is still daunting. When I watch them, I think, "oh ya, I can do that, that's easy." But then I try to recreate it and I fail epically! So practice practice practice for me and also learning how to say more with less words. It is an art.

Well, I love you dad. Brett and I are getting REALLY excited to see you and the rest of the family in just 2 MONTHS!!!

Talk to you soon.

Love forever and ever,


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday is a special day...


It is too funny that out of all the times in this past week I would choose to blog NOW. I have a "to do" list as long as my arm and at lest 3 hours of homework ahead of me.

But then I got to thinking about our plans for today (Saturday) and many silly comments Brett and I receive come to mind.

Something like...

"Oh yeah, it's so tough living in paradise."
"But guys, you live in HAWAII"
"Ya, but you live in Hawaii?"
"Everyday is a beach party cause you live in Hawaii!"
Ok so this last one not so much, but you get the idea.


Just wanted to fill you in on a
typical day in paradise. Looks super fun huh?
I know, I know try to hold back the shock of how
average and "just like yours" our life really is. We are in Brett's classroom doing homework and work on a
beautiful SATURDAY afternoon.

Brett is up to eyelids in work
these days. His only night off is Friday, and we have been going to St. Louis football games to cheer on his students. However, our plan may be backfiring because the games we attend are the games St. Louis ends up losing. Hmmmm...

BUT! We have lots of fun and I get to meet many of his students so I REALLY LIKE IT!
In Hawaiian culture, instead of shaking hands, the formal greeting is to give a kiss on the cheek. It's been interesting to get kisses from Brett's students, but I'm not complaining :)

So now it is Saturday and it is time for him to grade papers, answer parent emails ( oh how silly can some parents be), make lesson plans, and then maybe get in some studying of his own. I am studying now too, but I do have a bit more time on my hands than Brett. But don't fret! I'm not letting him have all the fun of being CRAZY busy by himself. :) Next week I start work as a substitute teacher for private schools. It is great part time work since Brett's job gives us insurance, and it gives me some time to actually try out Hawaii! (which I really could not do while working at Chicos) Oh Chicos... I. Don't. Miss. You. AT. ALL.

Well, I best be getting back to histology slides and memorizing 100 parts of the human body for my quiz next Thursday.

Thanks for taking the time to see how our Saturdays look :)

ps. IF you come to visit us, we PROMISE not to be this boring :)
We may even stop working on our computers long enough to take you to the beach!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Diving - Corsair and Koko Craters

WAHOO!  Oops, I mean, O WAHOO!  I recently joined the Waikiki Divers Association.  Today was my first dive as a member, although it wasn't a "club activity" - I just get a huge discount on boat dives.  I met some really nice people that came on the boat, including an LDS mom and daughters from Missouri.  An underwater camera is still somewhere beyond the horizon for me, but I found some pictures online.  I tried to choose the pictures that most closely represented what my eyeballs actually saw, rather than the most amazing pictures I could find of things that I saw.  SO...  here's the story...

Heidi drove me to the dive shop at 7:15am (thank you!!).  Next time I'll go later, because most of the setup involves people getting gear, and I already have mine!  Although I did use a shorty wetsuit from the shop.  I'm glad I did, cause I was cold by the end of the second dive.  So all the gear and the people went in the van and we drove to Hawaii Kai, where we transferred gear to the boat and headed out.  Our guides were great: Marco and Eric.  Eric was hilarious, singing his head off and talking about how "cited" he was to dive.

The first dive is called "Corsair" because of the crash-landed F4U Corsair airplane.  It was flown by a US pilot whose fuel gauge apparently malfunctioned during a routine flight.  He ran out of gas, ditched the plane, and floated in his life jacket until he got picked up... so that makes it a fun dive site, knowing nobody died there.

Here are some pictures of the plane:

It was awesome!!  My dive computer says my max depth was 108'.  That's the deepest I've gone.  We used the boat's mooring line to descend and ascend, which was nice because 1) it's easy, especially at the safety stops on the way up, and 2) there was a decent current, so it was nice to not have to fight it.

On the way down, I finally saw pennant butterflyfish!  There were tons of them, along with other fish.  It was amazing to see so many fish in the middle of the blue.  Usually there's a reef backdrop, but this was just blue, blue, blue, and fish.  Here's a great picture of a pennant butterflyfish, and then one that more closely resembles the view I had (if there was no reef in the background):

There are also a lot of Hawaiian Garden Eels near the corsair:

I LOVED exploring around the plane.  It's amazing to me how trash, generally, is bad for the ocean, but if it's something like an entire boat or airplane, it serves as a foundation for so much life!  There are lots of different fish around and inside the plane.  In fact, the first thing our guide (Marco) pointed out to us when we got to the plane was TWO Commerson's frogfish sitting on the horizontal part of the plane's tail.  One was yellow, and the other was red, kind of like these two, but brighter red and, obviously, the non-red one in this picture isn't yellow at all.  Both of the ones we saw today were very bright.

Here's a better picture of a bright red frogfish:

They sit perfectly still and wait for prey to come near, then they shoot their jaw open and the prey gets sucked in instantly.  They're so determined to stay camouflaged that they'll let you pet them!  Their dorsal "fins" (more like lumps) stand up as if to show their annoyance, but they don't move!  I was so happy to see (and pet) these frogfish.  I'm so glad Marco pointed them out... I don't know if I would have spotted them on my own.

Here's a funny picture I found of someone sitting in the cockpit of the corsair:

Marco warned us that there's a big yellowmargin moray eel that lives in the plane, so none of us got in the cockpit, but I definitely poked my head in, and peeked through a lot of holes in the fuselage.  There were lots of yellowfin goatfish in there.

After two slow circles around the plane, we went back to the mooring line and started ascending.  It was the first time I've had two safety stops on the way up.  We stopped at 50 feet for 1 minute, and then the usual 3 minutes at 15 feet.  When we got to the surface, the swells had grown big time!  One guy just about got thrown up the ladder feet-first!  As he was holding onto the ladder, a big swell came.  He held on with his hands, and his feet got above him.  Then the water (and his feet) went back down, and he started climbing again.  The crew had a good system where a diver would approach the ladder underwater, hold on with their hands in superman position while a crew member behind them took off their fins, and then the diver would climb the ladder while the crew member handed the fins up to someone on the boat.

The second dive site is called "Koko Craters."  I guess they were crater-ish, but it was more like a few curved ledges with flat surfaces above and below.  Our max depth on this dive was 40', so it was just a nice, relaxing dive.  We saw about five turtles, and three of them had barnacles ON an eye!  How does that happen?  I've seen a turtle being cleaned by fish, and when one came to his eye, he jerked his head away.  So how does a barnacle latch on?  Weird.

(By the way, I saw a turtle being cleaned last Monday when I went freediving with Brian Rugen, one of my professors.  It looked very much like this, but there were no yellow tangs.)

So... it was a nice dive, and we saw a very active snowflake eel.  It was swimming in and out of holes and cracks in the reef, frequently stopping with his head poking out (as eels do), only to start swimming around again.  It was fun to watch, and as one of my fellow divers said, "I think that was the most beautiful eel I've ever seen."

There were also a few statues down there.  I forgot to ask our guides if they know why there are statues.  Here are a couple of them:

I rubbed his belly for good luck.

I also identified three more fish on this dive!  Let's start with the least exciting (no offense, manybar goatfish... you're just not all that pretty).

Goatfish are common, so I've procrastinated trying to tell them apart (except for the yellowfin goatfish, which I really like).  Manybar goatfish, check.

I also saw a couple of potters angelfish.  These ones are really beautiful:

I also saw a lizardfish.  It was near the active snowflake eel, so I was a little bit wary as I tried to get a good look.  I was hoping to see an orange mouth, but no dice.  It was one of three very similar lizardfish, not an orangemouth.  After a bit of research, I think it was a Hawaiian lizardfish.  It was about a foot long.

As we were heading back to the mooring line (we used it for ascent/descent again), Marco pointed out a leaf scorpionfish!  It was small - about 3 or 4 inches long.

Overall, these were two fantastic dives!  The second one was a little boring in terms of topography or "wow" factor, but that's probably because I had just done my first wreck dive and my deepest dive.  My previous max depth was 60 feet, so 110 feet was pretty exciting for me, not to mention the airplane, frogfish, garden eels... WOW.  Definite "wow" factor on that dive!  The second was great as well, with the turtles, fish identification, the active eel, statues... geez, now that I think about it, I was definitely spoiled by the first dive to think the second lacked anything!

There was one moment on the second dive that I was lagging behind and above my 2 buddies and our guide, and I had a strong sensation of flying.  That was the first thing that appealed to me about scuba diving - the weightlessness.  It was such an amazing feeling!  I was up above those guys, belly down, and flying.  I stayed a good 10 feet above the bottom for a while, enjoying the feeling.

Man... I really, really love diving.  It's actually a bit spiritual for me, in addition to being just plain fun and exciting.  I remember talking with Brady Statham one time about how incredible it would be to be able to fly.  His mom heard us and said, "I think Heavenly Father knew what would make us most happy."  I heard that and thought, "Yyyeeeaaahhh... buuuuuut... it would be REALLY cool to be able to fly."  Well guess what?  Now I can!  At least that's what it feels like to me.  I think Heavenly Father really does know what will make us most happy.  And I don't just fly over streets and grass and trees, I fly over (and under, and through) this alien world full of incredibly diverse, strange, and beautiful creatures.  It's such an awe-inspiring part of our planet that relatively few people get to explore like I do.  It makes me feel very thankful for this earth, and for my wonderful wife urging me to put some money into a "diving" category in our budget so that I can develop this aptitude and explore this passion while we live in such a wonderful place for it.

Goodness gracious I LOVE IT!!!

(Edit: I just found two pictures of frogfish at the Corsair on the Waikiki Dive Center's facebook page... this is probably one of the frogfish I saw today.  So cool!)