Posted: April 22, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Now, I have seen it all.  Before my daughters recent orchestra recital, I was patiently waiting for the doors to open.  I like to get their early, so I can tailgate in the parking lot with other parents before getting a good spot to watch the mad rush for seats when the doors open 20 minutes before the initial warm-up.  Hey, our orchestra is ranked, and we have a talented group of musicians.  There are some future all-america candidates plucking and strumming on our home stage.  I think for district music contest, I might be able to get some of the dads to paint big green letters on their chests to show our school spirit.

On this particular night, my tailgate was not in its normal location.  I was late arriving due to a middle school track meet, so I was by “that” group of parents.  You know who I am talking about.  Their kids are the “best” and they are constantly complaining about things.  As I fired up my grill and got some cello-shaped burgers sizzling for the other guys who would be joining me, I overheard two mothers in a heated discussion about the orchestra.

“I don’t know what the director is thinking,” one mother huffed. “Seriously, my daughter plays much better than the first, second, and third chair viola.”

“I know,” the other mom nodded. “It’s the same thing in the violin section.  My daughter is obviously better but she doesn’t get the solo.  I mean, it’s ridiculous.  What is that director thinking?”

I am sure you have all dealt with this at your own orchestra, band, and choir tailgate parties.  Those parents who aren’t at the rehearsal and aren’t at the practice sessions that think they know who should be where during the performance.  Lately, I have been hearing more and more of this.  It is like a disease spreading through a third world country.

The bad mouthing even continues during the performances.  How many times have you heard things like, “I can’t believe the director keeps that girl as the first chair, did you see that vibrato?” or “That base player must not even get lessons, did you hear those notes?” or “His plucking is killing the chamber group, why doesn’t the director get him out of there?”

It has gotten to the point of ridiculous to hear these things at a concert.  I have even seen parents ripping their child after a performance, rehashing each note on the way home or parents shouting down the director because their daughter didn’t get the solo over another performer.

I know what you are thinking… Why don’t I take my kid out of orchestra?  The parents of my daughter’s school are crazy.  What is wrong with people?  Why would I allow this to happen?

Yeah, I am not talking about orchestra am I?

This is the sports world!  This is what parents do to their coaches, teams, kids when it comes to athletics.  It starts when the teams first get competitive, and the kids are young.  Too many parents think they know because they watch the performance or even sit at a practice.  I am hear to tell you that most parents don’t have a freaking clue.  The older your child is, the more they know and the less informed you are as a parent.

There are four basic roles: coaches coach, players play, officials officiate, and spectators spectate.  That’s you, parents; you are the spectators, so cheer when it’s appropriate, be proud of your kid, and let the coaches coach, the players play, and the officials officiate.  The biggest problem in youth sports are looking back at parent when they look in the mirror.  Quit being part of the problem.

Here are 3 things you can do to make the experience for your athletes better.

1. Wait 24 hours before contacting the coach about something that bothers you.  Too many parents get upset without all the facts and make a rash decision to say something right away.  Coaches are finishing up a game, worked up because coaching is intense, and then a parent drops an unexpected bomb.  Coaches get defensive and the outcome will not be favorable for anyone.  I have been there as a coach, and it is hard to hold my tongue with that parent.

2. Make your athlete talk to the coach if something bothered them.  Our athletes need to practice talking to people in authority in a respectful but sincere way.  It is a great life skill to be able to approach your boss appropriately.  In addition, players know what goes on in practice.  They know their own level of effort.  Parents, your kids don’t tell you the whole story when it comes to the team.  In fact, most of you don’t know as much about the sport as your kid does, let alone what was said in the team meeting, on the practice field, in the dugout, on the sideline, etc.  You don’t have a clue, so make the player be responsible.  Then if they didn’t talk to the coach, you can tell them to quit complaining about it.  I often find that kids don’t ask the coach because they know the truth.  Think about it parents.

3. Don’t ever tear down another player or coach in front of your athlete.  Cheer for everyone to do well, regardless of whether your child is playing or not.  Most infighting on teams is due to parents talking at home and the players taking it with them to the team.  I have seen good kids polluted by parents who don’t know how to keep their mouth shut about something they don’t know much about anyway.  Great teams can be strangled by soured parents.

By the way, my daughter rocks the cello in orchestra, hurdles in track, and babysitting on Sunday mornings in the toddler room.  I think my tailgating idea will catch on sooner or later at the orchestra concerts once the weather warms up..  Now, where did I put those bow shaped brats.


I just don’t get people.

The news broadcast tonight on the local affiliate in Omaha gave me a gem to contemplate tonight.  Cameron Mayfield, according to the report, committed what prosecutors are calling a felony arson because it falls under the category of “Hate Crime.”  What was this hate crime he committed?

He burned a rainbow flag that he grabbed off of  Ariann Anderson’s and Jessica Meadows Anderson’s front porch at 12:30 in the morning after going out drinking.  The Andersons witnessed the entire event.  Mayfield and the Andersons don’t know each other.  The article is actually comical because a normal human being who spent any time on a college campus gets what happened. (article)

Okay, the dude is 23 years old.  I sort of remember 23, but it is a little hazy.  Now, the following is all speculation.  Guy is walking home from a local pub because he doesn’t want to get a DUI.  Dude sees a rainbow flag next to a Husker flag.  “What the heck?” he says to himself.  “Who puts a Hawaii flag next to the SKERS?!”  It makes perfect sense when you have been drinking.

In no way do I condone the actions of Mr. Mayfield.  He was wrong to burn the flag, but is it a hate crime?  No freaking way!!

The guy made a mistake.  The guy did something stupid.  The guy needs to pay restitution.  The guy needs to be cited.  The guy probably had a rough week and was blowing off steam.  It wasn’t right, but it wasn’t a hate crime.

Now, the Anderson couple, they are priceless.  Listen to what they said.

“What became so clear to us after Saturday night, is that the intent really does make a difference. Seeing him waving that burning symbol of a controversial, and inherent part of our being(s) as a minority, in front of our house as a clear message, made it scary. It made it an attack as opposed to a prank.”

They have filed for a protection order against Mayfield.  Again, here is what probably happened (total speculation):  Dude lights the flag on fire in the street and then he imagines he is in a war movie because the guys at the bar were probably talking about their favorite scenes before he left.  I can picture him waving the burning rainbow flag while yelling “Bring the rain!” (which is a line from one of the Transformers movies, a favorite of mine that I will say to my kids or the neighbor kids in the back yard when I am beating them into submission in a game we are playing.)

No, I am not literally pounding on them so child protective services calls do not need to be made.  Again, let me point out that I don’t condone this action by Mayfield… I feel like if I don’t restate this, the LGBTQ community may retaliate against me, which by the way, probably would not be considered a Hate Crime.

The real question here is this… WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD?

Yes, Mayfield did something dumb.  I don’t condone it, but not a hate crime.

Try having a Nebraska flag on your front porch in Boulder, Colorado.  You want to hear hate; they don’t like us much out there.  I would be a minority in Boulder.  If they burn my flag, is it a hate crime?  Nope.

You ever see how fans treat officials.  Being an umpire isn’t easy.  I have had a few slurs thrown my way, and umpires are definitely in the minority.  They hated me at times, but it wouldn’t be a hate crime.

Hypothetically, I have Christmas decorations in my yard.  Some drunk high school kids who are part of the LGBTQ community come by and trash my Nativity scene by kicking the crap out of my wise men.  That’s right, not a hate crime.  Hate crime doesn’t apply to Christians who have property destroyed.  I don’t hear an outcry of hate rhetoric for Christians who are targeted.

Aren’t all crimes committed out of some form of hate.  The real issue here is this, dude was dumb, dude pays up, life should go on.  Don’t kill the guy for it, don’t ruin his life, don’t grow this into something it isn’t.

You want to talk about hate crimes… what our government did to the Autobots in Transformers: Age of Extinction is a hate crime by our government.

If you don’t appreciate watching the Transformers, that is a crime…

but not a hate crime.  Now, when you are up against a real threat to humanity, that’s when you “Bring the Rain!”

Ice cream has been an important part of my life, and it still helps my family cope with the weight of daily stresses.  I made a trip to the local grocery store over the weekend and found a sale on Breyers, a tried and true family favorite.  I grabbed two containers of natural vanilla (because we can mix it with our own choice candy for our personalized flavoring), a mint chocolate chip, and coffee.

Last night, following the NCAA basketball game, I settled in to tangle with the evening news and some Breyer’s Coffee Ice Cream (personal favorite of mine).  I can’t really say what it was that made me check the label.  It may have been a flavor that was slightly off, or perhaps it was a different texture I noticed, or maybe it’s because the food industry keeps looking to make more money by screwing the consumer with “healthy” labeling that actually turns out to cause cancer, zombie outbreaks, or sharknadoes.

That’s right!  My Breyer’s Ice Cream has gone to the dark side.  I thought I was buying the good old ice cream of my youth only to find that I had been duped.  What the hell is Frozen Dairy Dessert?  And why is it in my freezer?  I thought I was buying ice cream.  It was time to dig deeper into this new dairy dessert item, because I could feel my stomach did not like this wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Upon closer inspection, frozen dairy dessert appears to have all the markings and labeling of ice cream.  In fact, the pictures on the frozen dairy dessert carton look identical to the ice cream carton, but then I looked closer.  The “All Natural Ice Cream” label I am accustomed to seeing has been replaced by “Quality since 1866.”  Okay,  I know one thing for sure, my definition of quality and the Food and Drug Adminstration’s definition of quality are two different things.  School cafeterias serve “quality” food, and have you been in a school lunch line lately?  In addition, I know frozen dairy dessert hasn’t been around since 1866.

I searched for the vanilla ice cream container my daughter had been licking clean before bed (Don’t judge, my girls care about not wasting their ice cream).  I found it in the recycling and looked at the ingredients.  Milk, cream, sugar, natural vanilla flavor.  I grabbed the frozen dairy dessert container from the fridge. Corn syrup and High fructose corn syrup and monoglycerides and diglycerides.

Regardless of what the corn growers association says about corn syrup, it is not good for you, and to this day, I am a huge fan of explosions so I have heard of glycerine (add nitro for dynamite), which I assume is like glycerides.  I mean, you only change one letter, and spell check recommended glycerine as the only replacement for glyceride, so it can’t be good for you if it is related in some way to an explosive compound, which by this time was eating its way into my intestines.

I searched on-line for others who had discovered this shell game by Breyers, and what I found was scary.  This new concoction does NOT fall into accordance with the FDA’s product requirements for ice cream.  Why did Breyers do this?  Their spokesperson said, “People were telling us they wanted a smoother texture.”  So… it’s our fault.  Consumers wanted smoother texture.  Frankly, I don’t buy that.  How do you get smoother than ice cream?  The spokesperson didn’t mention anything about how it is much cheaper, which I found all over the interwebs about how frozen dairy dessert ingredients reduce costs.

Basically, it costs less to produce (but costs consumers the same to purchase) and it is more harmful, but it is a “Quality” kind of harmful according to the label.

Frozen Dairy Dessert? More like Frozen Diarrhea Dessert! Which is exactly what I got out of the whole experience.

There are idiots among us.  I was reading through some recent news and came across an item that really just left me perplexed.  How can someone be this dumb?

Indiana state Representative Vanessa Summers went after a colleague for racism.  That’s right, she saw racism and she called it out.  I am all for equality, and I am going to treat Representative Summers like I would anyone else.  You, Representative Summers, are a complete MORON!  Summers, who is black, called an 18 MONTH-old a racist.  That’s right, the 18 MONTH-old son of Jud McMillin, another Reprepresentative, is a blatant racist, according to Representative Summers.  Summers said, “I love his little son, but he’s scared of me because of my color – and that’s horrible.”

Perhaps he is afraid of you because you are a crazy woman.  I wonder if Representative Summers has ever been around children.  A child shying away from a stranger is not racism; it’s normal.  Summers wants Representative McMillin to introduce the child to some people of color so the child won’t live a life as a prejudice person.

Are you freaking kidding me?  So if a young boy is shying away from a female adult, is that gender bias?  Quick, call PETA, my neighbor has a fear of dogs.  What is wrong with people?

Is there prejudice in our country? Yes, but that doesn’t mean we have to go looking for it and labeling everything racism.  Shame on you Representative Summers!

Well, let’s get it all on the table.  I don’t like to read love stores, I don’t eat Nutella, and I can’t stand to watch the NBA.  Am I prejudice?  Representative Summers, if I met you, I would probably shy away from you and avoid conversation… I like talking to intelligent people not crazies.  It isn’t about the color of your skin; it’s about the character of your heart.

How silly of me to think that the end would arrive in the form of a zombie apocalypse like I have been preparing for!  THEY’RE COMING according to the Omaha World Herald (March 12), and THEY are Emerald Ash Borers.  No, not a group of US Senators dressed in green for St. Patrick’s Day.  The Emerald Ash Borer is a metallic green beetle about a half inch long that will kill everything on the planet.  I know, I didn’t realize there were metal bugs, either, but it said “metallic green” in the article.

Of course, I didn’t read the entire article; who has time to do that with bell-to-bell instruction and data team meetings at school and my busy schedule at home? But I did read the title and at least a portion of a paragraph, oh, and the captions, so I get the gist.  In our state alone, the damage is expected to be close to a billion dollars when the inevitable attack by these cyborg insects is launched later this year.  I think North Korea is probably behind it.  Imagine, billions of these little genetic wonders infesting our “Good Life” in Nebraska.

Strategically speaking, before any major attack, an enemy army will send scouts ahead.  I knew that if I could intimidate the scouts in my neighborhood, perhaps I could stave off the destruction to come.  I needed the early troops to see that I meant business.  My first thought was what would former Husker football coach, Bo Pelini, do in this situation, so I quickly ran outside this morning and began cussing like a sailor while yelling at the small tree in my front yard.  This is war; bullying and intimidation was needed. When I finished, I turned red-faced to go inside.  Mrs. Johnson, the elderly woman who lives next door, stared at me in disbelief with her mouth gaping.

“Just saving the world this morning,” I called to her. “It was good to see you in church Sunday morning.”

She did not respond.  I am sure she was speechless that I was already doing my part to thwart the robot insect horde that was heading our way.  I tried not to speak of the impending doom with my daughter on the way to school this morning.  There was no need to worry her about the end of the world… at least not until after spring break. It could wait.

As I entered the school in the morning, I wondered what emergency plan was being put in place, just in case the Borers attacked sooner than later.  I sought out my principal, Mr. Alfrey.

He directed me to Mr. Kerns, our assistant principal, saying, “Jeffrey is better suited for emergency preparation procedures like this one.”

I was impressed at how easily my principal passed on this important issue to Mr. Kerns.  That is trust.

“I still can’t believe he goes by Jeffrey,” I commented. “You would think he would grow out of that at some point. I mean, the guy is going to be a doctor soon.”

“Glad I’m not sick,” I heard Mr. Alfrey mutter as he went back into his office.

I found Jeffrey chatting about data with a group of teachers sitting around him in the library.  He had the teachers mesmerized.   Their expressions showed just how engrossed they were in what he was saying.   It looked like the teachers were actually looking straight through Mr. Kerns, like he had them in a trance… blank, expressionless, unmoving.  They were totally dialed in, and I hated to interrupt the master at work.

But this was important!  The Terminator-like army being sent by Skynet to destroy Nebraska was practically going to maybe sometime probably going to enter our borders.  This student data Jeffrey was speaking about would matter no more if the Emerald Ash Borer made it to my school.

“Do you need something?” Jeffrey asked.

“Yes, defender of student achievement and Jedi Master of data, I need a moment of your time,” I responded reverently.

“Sounds important,” Mr. Eastridge said. “We will give you guys some privacy.”

As if shot out of a cannon, the entire group of teachers bolted for the library doors, clearing out in a matter of seconds.  I am always impressed by the dedication of our teachers to get to their classrooms.  I knew their meeting was supposed to go another 20 minutes, but I teach with so many devoted professionals; it is quite humbling sometimes.

I explained to Jeffrey about the article I had read about the Emerald Ash Borers and showed him the front page of the newspaper.  Then Jeffrey got a serious look on his face.  You probably have seen the look I am talking about on the face of your boss at one point or another.  His face looked like he smelled something nasty and he wanted to figure out who the perpetrator was without giving away that he was trying to figure out who it was.  I could tell he was serious.

He listened and nodded.  When I was finished, he told me he would look into it and contact the district about what they were doing to prepare for it.  He is so smart.  I didn’t even think to contact the district.  I should have tweeted our district’s superintendent right away this morning.

When I mentioned to Jeffrey that I would contact the superintendent for him, he said, “Oh, I don’t think you need to contact him.  Why don’t you let me take care of that?”

Jeffrey is such a great guy, so willing to take on the leadership role on this important and possibly deadly issue.  The guy really is like Batman, you know.  They both are technology savvy.  Batman wears tights and a cape, and Jeffrey dresses in clothing that would look silly on most people, too. (Really, who wears sweater vests?)  Most importantly, both Jeffrey and Batman have smooth tops of their heads.

Well, I adjusted my lesson plans to let the students know about the coming invasion, but I have also told the students not to worry because our principals are on top of it and are working on a plan to protect us all.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Talk to your bosses about their plans to thwart the coming invasion.  To quote the philosophical musical, High School Musical, “We are all in this together.”


I spent the day at Kiewit Middle School in Millard. We explored using dialogue in stories and the students were creative and entertaining.  Their ideas were awesome!  I even ran into a fan who wanted a picture to send his dad.  #FoxRocks

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Special Delivery 

Posted: March 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

Spring is right around the corner and instead of thinking about flowers, bunnies and seasonal allergies we are looking forward to that one special week a year when Chris can visit schools to share The Phenomenon Trilogy…SPRING BREAK! 

Our first spring break delivery arrived today.  Get ready for an adventure Lyons, Nebraska. See you soon.