Arizona Desert

Southwest from out My Car Window
The American Southwest from out My Car Window

Arizona. Phoenix. Hot. Very hot. I just checked the temperature: 101 degrees.

Fortunately our car has a strong air conditioner. Even though the air temperature in the vehicle is cool, my skin still feels like it is crawling. It must be the radiant heat. UV rays. My face feels flushed and my arms are becoming sun burnt.

Interestingly, many businesses here are named after something related with the sun. I saw a Sun Mart gas station. Phoenix is in the Sun Valley. T-Shirts in the airport souvenir shops had emblems of the sun on them. Including the one I bought. Which I’m currently wearing. Which the back of is already soaked with sweat.

So how about the scenery? We’ve been driving West from Phoenix several hours now and Luke just commented that it was kind of demoralizing. Mile after mile of sage brush, dirt, and cactus. Did I mention the sun?

This would be a bad place to have car problems. Fortunately every mile along the side of the highway are nifty kiosk “call boxes”. I have never seen these before.

For some reason – which I can’t seem to recall at the present moment – we had previously made plans to spend tonight tent camping in this forbidding waste land. Joshua Tree National Park had sounded like a quaint and attractive place to camp. At least from the comfort of my air conditioned apartment. The rules are that primitive camping is allowed so long as the brave soul is at least one mile from any roads or trails. Peering out the dust tinted window I wonder if walking one mile from my vehicle into this cauldron of desolation is somehow ominously synonymous to a death wish.

Update #1: Later

yeah, we survived

Update #2: October 2010

This poor hiker got lost in Joshua Tree Park for 6 days, but fortunately was finally rescued.

However, this hiker from Georgia did not make it. He went to Josua Tree hiking alone and never came back… His car was found, but he never was.

Did I Just Eat an Entire Pizza?

An Entire Pizza

Let me share with you something quite personal… for the last week or two I have had an incredible craving for pizza.

Yesterday morning I left for work before 7am and didn’t return to my apartment until 10pm. Driving home I had the bright idea to order a pizza from Papa Johns. Being the type of person to act on my ideas, that’s what I did.

When I got back to my apartment I ate the entire Medium Green Pepper pizza in one sitting. It was quite good. 1600 calories and 64 grams of fat good. Plus 150% of my sodium intake for the day… not to mention I added salt to every slice. (Wonder what my blood pressure was afterwards?)

Anyways, it got me thinking I should do with Papa Johns like what Jared did for Subway. How much weight would I lose if I only ate one medium green pepper pizza per day?

And just think, all those green peppers would be giving me a steady intake of vegetables. In fact, I’d be getting something from all the main food groups: Dairy, Carbs, Veggies, and Grease. That’s all of them, right?

No, I missed the Dessert food group. But I could supplement that.

Photo Credit: A Landry

Is Teaching Supposed to be This Hard?

delinquent police deptSome of my students are very difficult to deal with (er… instruct).

Since I haven’t been a teacher long my first reaction is, “Well, this all must be because of me, I must be the problem.” So I try to be nicer, more accomadating, more helpful, and more patient.

And then I find out they’re having problems in other classes too. Or in some cases, with the law. For instance, one of my more difficult students just got incarcerated. And another – who was also quite trying – just got expelled for gang fighting.

So I guess I’m learning maybe it’s not all my fault. I’m just not used to working with kids who “act out” to the extent some of these do.

Does that mean I should be less patient or less kind with these “problem” kids? Naw, of course not. But it does make me less likely to cut them slack. They need discipline somewhere in their lives and my classroom is a good place to start.

Also… I’ve been amazed at how quickly and dramatically a few rough characters can bring down their peers. The negative influence of even one rebellious student is highly infectious. I never would have believed how poisionous to a classroom a rotten attitude is if I hadn’t seen it first hand.

I’m learning you can’t accomadate their behaviour, you have to CRACK DOWN on it. It’s best for everyone.

Like Dr. Seuss says, “Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me!”

Photo Credit: Juvenile Delinquent

Am I Ready to Die?

Coffin

I was just reminded I have to be prepared to die anytime.

A woman in her 20s was killed in an auto accident about fifteen minutes after I drove by the exact same spot this morning.

One person was killed this morning in a three-vehicle crash on I-135 by the First St exit, emergency dispatchers said.

The crash occurred at 7:47 a.m. in the northbound lanes of the freeway.

Two SUVs and a red car were involved in the crash. A woman in her 20s was killed.

I need to be lifting up her family in prayer.

Dying is a shock. I feel like there are a million things I need to get done today that are important (and there are). However, if I knew that tomorrow morning I was going to die they wouldn’t seem near so important to me today.

Photo Credit: J Frazier

I’ve Really Gotta Go!

Earlier this week in one of my classes a student suddenly out of the blue loudly blurted out,
“Can I get a bathroom pass? I’ve really gotta go!”
“No.” This is my characteristic response. It’s easy for students to ask for hall passes and special privileges but it’s equally easy for me to say no. Which I do. The word “no” is such a wonderful word.

The situation escalated. Wailing. Pleading. Begging. Mercy, just a little mercy, PLEASE!
“If I can’t go to the bathroom right now…! I’m gonna pee all over the floor, right HERE!

Really? Right there? Uh-oh, this was becoming serious. Perhaps even alarming.

“Ok,” I back pedaled. “I’ll give you a bathroom pass. On one condition.”
“Yeah, what’s that?”
“The length of time you’re gone from class to the bathroom is the length of time you get to stay in here after class.”

You know what this girl did when she heard that? I’ll tell you. She let out an agonized cry* and I can’t describe it any other way.

Isn’t the drama in these classrooms amazing?

“So, do you still want a bathroom pass?” I asked.
“No,” she answered, with surprising calm and composure.
That wonderful word “no” again. See? the students like it too.

And she didn’t even pee right there.

*Some elements of this tale have been exaggerated for the sake of a good story