Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Time

Summer is here and I was disappointed to count out the number of weeks I had off and come up with a paltry 6. I know I sound selfish because very few other occupations allow you that much time off, but still I was hoping for more. Besides that, this is the first summer in which having kids is going to use up much of my time. I wrote The Sureshot while watching Madelyn, Sureshot 2 with Madelyn and Elijah around. But with Madelyn, Elijah and Olivia, and them all getting older and more demanding of my time, things might be different. I am not sure what I wrote last summer except for a bunch of lessons for my world history class, but this summer is definitely going to be a struggle. So far we have filled our time with Vacation Bible School, summer reading classes for Madelyn at Fresno State, and karate (both mine and Elijah's). Next week there are swim lessons, and more reading classes. We actually made a calender and posted it in the kitchen so that we could keep up with all the things we needed to do on a daily basis. It is a bit exhausting. Still I have managed to nearly complete the Christmas play and I am way ahead of schedule on that. After that I think I will put a bit more polish on Sureshot 2 then move on to another writing project. Which one is any one's guess. I would love to write the third Sureshot story, but it might serve me well to work on something different. I have loads of stories I summarized and feel I can dive into. Maybe I will create a survey and let people help me decide what to write. That would be fun, let people help me choose the next story. I am passionate about so many things that sometimes I cannot even choose which to pursue. Anyways, I hope you all are enjoying your summer, and hopefully it is not as busy as mine. Ciao.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I don't need to say any more than....I dominated. There was a brief discussion over which game was more impressive to win at. I suggested that monopoly was the best because it represented business smarts. Then Brandi reminded me that I can't spell, so I stopped arguing. Still....dominated.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I suck at scrabble. The other night I suggested that Brandi and I play because I was tired of watching TV. It had been a while and I do not think I have ever defeated her at the game, but if I remembered correctly the last game was surprisingly close so I took my chances. My Scrabble woes are multi faceted. Firstly I am a poor speller. I feel like I am getting better but when I was in the midst of my foreign language studies I could hardly construct an English word properly. This stems from the fact that I was learning to write in other languages, and the fact that Slavic and especially Serbian has an alphabet wherein every letter makes only one sound. It is brilliant really and if there was a vote today on switching to Serbian as a primary language I would vote yeah. I can't stand the letter C for instance. C is the most irrelevant letter in our alphabet in my estimation. It makes either an S or a K sound. When combined with other letters it manages a new sound like CH but we could make a new letter for that sound, or adopt (as in the case of Serbian) C for the CH sound. I digress.

My other problem with Scrabble is that I am creative. When I get a word in my head (and I am apt to create large words) I find a way to make it work. A creative way. I will scramble letters until I find a way to make a word that I want. It may be by dropping a double consonant, or by changing vowels so that the word still sounds the same phonetically. To me that is all I want. I want the word to sound the same, even if it is not technically correct. Brandi disagrees. She insists that I spell the word correct or she penalizes me and makes me remove my word. Harsh I know. So after the third word I had rejected, I gave up, threw a bit of a tantrum and called quit. It was disgraceful really. I should have done the right thing, continued to play even though I was getting smashed, and taken the loss like a man, but I overreacted when my third word was revealed to be a non-word. All my frustration came to a head when I was trying to spell the word ghost. When I typed it just now I had no problem spelling it, but on my board I did not have an "h". So I tried to improvise by spelling it goest. Why not? It sounds right. Ultimately I knew that it was incorrect and Brandi was nice enough to confirm that before I embarrassed myself further by trying to lay goest down as a word. So then I tried to throw down the word geist as in poltergeist. I accidentally switched the center letters however spelling giest, which brought an objection from Brandi. I lost it. At now my third incorrect word I could not handle it and quit after a bit of a tirade. I admit it was childish.

So, I suck at Scrabble. Next time I am going to suggest Monopoly. Now that is a game.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Getting an A

I did a border line unethical thing. Ok it is definitely unethical and I am sorry, but in the grand scheme of things it is much better than having a relationship with a student or being drunk on the job or something like that. I wrote a sonnet for a student. I know! I shouldn't have! It was wrong! If you can find it in you to let me explain, then perhaps you can see your way to forgiving me.

There is an English teacher on campus with a reputation for being hard. He teaches seniors only and gives them a lot of work. One day a student in my Econ class was complaining because she felt like there was no way she could write a sonnet. I dismissed her complaint by stating that sonnets are not all that difficult and that I had written several. She persisted and explained how there was a pattern to them and that each line had to be 10 syllables. I reiterated my position that there were not that hard, but she did not back down and we were at an impasse.

To settle the dispute she issued a challenge. She said that if I was so good, I could write a sonnet for her. I, being a writer and confident in my sonnet writing skills, did not back down. I said that I could do it no problem. Having accepted the challenge I asked the class for topics. Hotdogs, spam, and pirates, were among the topics that made the list. I chose pirates as my topic.

I assigned my students their work for the day which involved them reading then responding to some questions about trade or something, and sat down to write a pirate sonnet. Armed with the Shakespearian sonnet pattern I began. In fifteen minutes or so I was finished. I grinned confident that I had won the challenge. I feel as though I wrote an excellent sonnet and announced to the class that I had finished. Many did not believe that I had actually created one in such a short time span having spent hours on their own. I then read it to the class. There was applause and I smiled widely brimming with pride. The girl who issued the challenge asked repeatedly if each line was indeed ten syllables so I gave it to her to verify. She did so and the sonnet was intact. There was more adoration. Then I was put in an awkward position that I myself walked into. The student wanted the sonnet.

I did not intend to actually do work for a student, but she had challenged me to write her a sonnet with the implied intention of turning in the work I produced. I did not want to allow it however finding it unethical and to complicate the situation further there were more students who then wanted me to write them a sonnet. Students were petitioning me for sonnets immediately and shouting out topics while my head spun. In the end I chose a middle ground. I gave the student the pirate sonnet and declined to write any more.

I was then anxious to know what I got on the sonnet. It had been ten years since a poem of mine had been submitted for evaluation. Eventually she told me that it received an A, but to make things more uncomfortable, the teacher took her aside to compliment her pirate sonnet. I debated telling the teacher, but did not want to put everyone involved in an embarrassing position. The student would likely have her work erased, I would have to explain the whole situation and risk damaging a relationship with a respected colleague, and the teacher would potentially be embarrassed for praising her, or rather, my work. So I kept quiet.

It was wrong, I know, but I am still rather proud to have received an A. It was like being in senior English all over again. Here is the controversial sonnet for your judgement.


Pirates swinging in the rigging up high

I'm deafened by the loud booming of guns

Cannon balls and debris falls from the sky

Battle raging on, had only begun


Swords clinging and clanging, wanting to run

All around the ship, is nothing but sea

Death all around me my body is numb

My efforts are vain with nowhere to flee


Brave sailors all dying shown no mercy

The ship over taken, the battle lost

The pirates laugh and cheer with evil glee

One handsome and tall, apparently boss


Captured and made a pirate captain's queen

Together we sail the oceans wide and green

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Getting Older

May was a busy month. My daughter turned 5, I turned 29, my wife turned...well...she had a birthday. I was rejected by another agent (3 total), we suffered two plagues (swine flu, and bubonic plague) and I guess I worked somewhere in there. I managed to do some writing. Mostly I continued to polish Sureshot 2, but I also worked on a new project.

As I get closer to thirty I take stock on what I have accomplished and I am not ashamed. I have done a lot in 29 years. I would love to add best selling author to the list, but so far that remains on my list of things to do. Still I have studied 3 foreign languages while serving 5 years in the army. I have been married 7 years (nearly 8), and helped create 3 beautiful children. I have had a book published and written another. I finished a bachelors in arts, and the teaching credential program. I have taught history and economics for two years, as well as Sunday school. I have written 3 Christmas/Easter plays, and am working on 4 and 5. I have served as a deacon, and brought a few people to Christ. Over all, not bad for 29 years of life. I have more to do, but I am trying to be patient and keep things in perspective.

Here's a toast to life, more birthdays, and more accomplishments. Prost!