After Work Giving

Blood Donor

My boycott of the Red Cross is over.

I’ve had a rough relationship with the Red Cross in recent years. I like donating at the local Elks club as it is convenient for me. Frequently, I am kept waiting even with a reservation. I’ve been told they take people in the order of their reservations despite when they arrive. I was told because I was 10 minutes late once, I would have about a two-hour wait. There have been other issues. I just stopped donating as I wasn’t up for the hassle.

I am in a giving mood these days. The reality is that donating blood is one way I actually feel proud of my contribution. Once again I signed up to donate at the Elks. I was in and out within a half hour. They did call a guy who had a later reservation and arrived after me first. I was prepared to walk out if the lady was called before me. But I was soon called over and everything went rather smoothly.

I noted there is a new crew working here now. I think that is the difference. This was my 37th donation.


I’ve been in my current classroom for 15 years. When I moved in, as it were, we were instructed to have a word wall. I still have it and populate it with the vocabulary from the stories we read.

But I felt that was insufficient for my students. While those terms were good words, they also needed sight words available to them. I did some research and produced a list of age-appropriate vocabulary for the students. I posted those words as well but not on the word wall. Instead, I posted them on the wall above the chalkboard/white boards in the front of the room.

Over time, reading strategies, mathematics strategies, science terms, and social studies vocabulary also was hung.

One day I sat in my room and noted that indeed I am a text-based learner. The room was replete with words.

There are far fewer today. A couple years ago when I was out for my bunion surgery, the substitute took down all the words that were not on the word wall for the state test. I decided not to put them back up.

I watch a lot of decluttering, minimalism, and simple living videos. The trend these days is to have text in one’s home. A sign proclaiming Laundry or Home or Family or perhaps a pithy saying are the backdrops in many videos. To each his own, but these do not appeal to me at all.

While I find text quite appropriate in the classroom, at home it just feels like virtue signaling. Oh, I’ll buy this sign from Hobby Lobby to display how with0it I am! Bah! To me, those things are merely clutter.

Looking around my apartment, I have bare walls. I struggle to think what is worthy to hang on the wall. I can’t imagine settling on a word or a phrase that would meet any kind of standard in my life.

While not a rule, I don’t think I’ll ever have words adorning my abode.


One makes a plan. He has a vision of how it is to be. As he enacts it, he encounters an obstacle. Dealing with that obstacle reveals that his plan will not come to fruition as he planned. He modifies the plan to accommodate the change.

He rationalizes that this is actually better than the initial plan. This will be better for him because he couldn’t do whatever the obstacle prevents.

Then, through a stroke of magic, the obstacle is removed and the original plan can commence as planned.

How is the man to deal with that? He has moved off that approach and has reasoned the modified approach is better for him. But the original plan is sitting there for the taking.

What should the man do?

Reflecting on 2013-14

Presently, I am tackling the academic year 2013-14 as I re-build the blog. As I have gone through the posts, it is evident that things were not going well with me that year.

I don’t recall the group of students being particularly bad. I think I felt they were low, shiftless, and otherwise not producing.

On top of that, it is quite evident that Toastmasters was an area of great stress for me. I was stretched thin, bothered that I perceived few others contributing, found lack of leadership everywhere, etc.

And it was also obvious that things were not going well at home. I suspect that was the source of the other areas too. I had picked up the pace on my journey to simplicity during this time. While it seems natural that I would, it also seems natural that I was stymied at home for it too. From the posts an photographs I have of that era, I was displeased with the situation.

Interestingly, none of those things are not a concern nine years later. What struck mee this morning, however, is that the uptick in the negativity is exactly how we explain outbursts in the classroom. When a child is in despair, having no outlet for the situation he is mired in, he lashes out. What other recourse does he have?

That was me. I had (still do not) no support system. I felt attacked, picked on, and alone. That showed up in my writing.

Growing a Reader

Growing a Reader

For my entire career, I have counseled parents to encourage their children to become readers. My spiel advises that parents purchase books that the child is interested in. Like dolls, buy doll books. Like sports, buy sports books. Like comics, buy comic books.

Over the years, I recounted this to many people. Like much in my life, I suspect that my colleagues think I am nuts. Hell, at this point, I think I even relish the idea that they think so. Whatever.

But it works.

Fritz is a typical boy. The tales he tells about high school are alarming. Yet, he is a reader.

It began more than six years ago when I first took him to Crossroad Comics. Since then, he has read comic books. Then he read series of books. Then he backed off a bit before picking up comic books again.

As I am fond of saying, I’ll fund a reading habit.

Last evening he texted me asking what I was doing today. Work, I replied. He asked if we could go to Crossroad to pick up the new comic book that was released today. Of course!

Y’see, a reader is eager to read. Why wait 10 days until he is next at my place to get the comic? No, read it now!

I am proud of this boy. He knows story structure. He knows literary devices. He knows words. He is a reader!

My boy is confirmation that my advice works. Reading, I feel, is a great gift to bestow upon someone.



My school hosted a fundraiser at Chick-fil-A tonight. I have fond memories from early in my career of attending Burger King nights.

Things have changed since then . . . as have I. No longer do teachers work the counter or sit for hours in the restaurant. Nope, I went through the drive-thru and took my food home with me.

Different, but I still supported the event. No one dines in any longer.

Puzzle Man! (Not)

My fantasy self says I am a puzzle man. I like puzzles. Sometimes I engross myself mightily into puzzles.

The reality, however, is I am not a puzzle guy. Y’know, the guy who sits there with a physical puzzle and work through it. I won’t be making box puzzles let alone spending days on end solving one.

Puzzle man is not the baseball player, teacher of the year, longed for guy of other fantasies. Nope. This is the guy who subtly thought a Yuu Asaka puzzle would be what I should have on my side table.

Not that guy or the Games Magazine pencil puzzler nerd that I once thought I was.

As I strip down my things, it’s amazing how many layers I have placed atop myself. I do not need to be the higher-level thinker.

Yeah, I know. Who would have thunk it?

I Am No Superhero

Sometimes one needs to confirm what he knows.

The last month or two has had me revisiting comic books, specifically, superhero comics. Fritz and I hashed out a plan at Friendly’s in Glassboro one day. We then returned to Crossroads Comics and subscribed to the Dark Crisis run and all the tie-ins. This was going to be my big foray into the DC Universe.

It has been frustrating.

I want to have something to bond with my boy. The thing is, superheroes just aren’t my thing. I like comic books, but I like the non-superhero titles.

And going issue-to-issue isn’t for me. I know this too. I forget too much of the story month to month. And with so many characters I am unfamiliar with playing a part in a story that is not welcoming to a new reader, I am just not digging this.

And it is okay that I am not. While I would like this to be something that spurs a lot of interest, it doesn’t and there’s nothing wrong with that. I recognize that this isn’t me. I’ll finish the story, but I am cutting my losses, as it were, with this pursuit.

my verse

© 2003-22 | RDOwens | Privacy Policy