Friday, May 21, 2010

I know you are, but what am I?

Names are funny to me. Whether an appellation or eponym; moniker or sobriquet. Names make me smile.

For example: Eudora Jones Wafflesniffer. Or Jasmine Harbinger McTickelburger. Jo-Jo Blue Toes. Even Magnus "Love Letters" Thunderbucket brings a satisfying chuckle to my day.

So, right around the end of 3rd qtr I start allowing my students to call me something other than "Mr. Herbert" or "Mr. H." Now, before anyone goes all, "Teacher's shouldn't be friends with their students and let them call you by your first name!" on me, I do put a few caveats with it.

Rule 1. No first names.
Rule 2. Nothing mean, rude, or derogatory.
Rule 3. Creativity impresses me, so if they can come up with something I haven't heard before, the better their grade in class (just kidding...making sure you're actually reading!)

Here's a sampling of the most common names I've gotten in the past:
- Herbalicious
- Herbie
- Herb
- MC Herb

Not bad. This year, I laid out the same rules and one student took the creativity challenge to heart. Here's what he came up with.

- Herbizzle
- H-Dawg
- H-McGravy
- Herbcream
- H-Lights
- Herbwhite
- H-Grizzay
- Herb-e-que
- Herben Turk
- H-Sully
- Herbie Mike
- DC Herb
- H Cap
- Bumpy Bear
- Techman Herb
- Gear Guy H
- Ferry Fish
- Tall Man Waters
- Holy Herb

{sniff} I'm so proud!


Monday, May 10, 2010

Wonders and One Liners from CS Lewis.

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose that you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it? ... Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.

Nothing is yet in it's true form.

Enough had been thought, and said, and felt, and imagined. It was about time that something should be done.

This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

I need Christ, not something that resembles Him.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

10 Things to Know About Me

Here are some things you may (or may not) know (or care to know) about me:

1. I hate it when people make me feel stupid. I hated when I was a kid, I hated it in high school, and after getting really experienced with it, I hate it even more as an adult. I know I say dumb/silly/inane things...that should be no surprise, but for the love of Pete, everything I say doesn't have to be responded to with, "That's awkward...", or "On that note...". Those sayings are funny the first time...after that it gets offensive.

2. Rolling ones socks together when putting them in a drawer is an abomination.

3. A selfish, self-centered person, on my list of people I despise, comes right after Satan, Hitler, Jim Morrison, Pol Pot, and Bill Maher. The world is filled with enough pain and need and hurt. A selfish person is someone who is not alive enough to notice or care. I know this sounds harsh but it's, truthfully, because I'm selfish beyond all reason and I hate it.

4. The busier I am, the better I feel.

5. There is an audiobiographical playlist and soundtrack in my head that I've been composing since I was 7. There's a blog series that I've wanted to start about it, but, meh, I'm not there yet.

6. Little things don't matter to me and little things do matter to me.

7. I have two reoccurring dreams: One is about my teeth falling out (that's a bad dream) and the other is where I'm in the mountains in Switzerland, with blue skies and my family (that's a good dream). The teeth dreams happen more frequently...what in the world for?!?

8. Being an educator I know this might sound odd, but I value wisdom and understanding more than education. Education is a process that guarantees no results. Wisdom and knowledge are both means to something greater and ends in themselves. To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan (and Neil Postman): The Medium is the Message and Metaphor. I don't know if that makes sense or even applies in the right way, but it makes me sound smart.

9. I anthropomorphise numbers. "9" is a greedy and mean older grandma-ish character. "10" is a kind and gentle grandfather figure. "5" is the mother of the younger numbers and the daughter of "10". Yeah, I don't know where this comes from, either.

10. Above all, I value in others (and want for myself) a teachable heart.


Friday, February 26, 2010


One of the most common questions I hear while I'm supervising the hallways at school (you can never really trust a hallway, can you?) is, "Did you watch Idol last night?!?"

My first reaction is to point at said questioner and, in my best, most thunderous Moses voice, proclaim various damnation's, from the plague of inflatable toes to turning their energy drinks into harmless and healthy water.

Actually, this is done primarily through a change in my body language as my shoulders ratchet up to my ears and my face contorts much like an astronaut going through a g-force simulator. One time a concerned student saw my reaction and cautiously approached me, put a hand on my shoulder and genuinely asked, "Mr. H? You okay?"

Yeah, I don't like American Idol. No, really. There is nothing in my soul that cares a wisp of monkey fodder for this juggernaut of entertainment. "But," you may ask, "what's wrong with people wanting to pursue their passions? To follow their dreams?" Well, nothing. Except if everyone were to follow their dreams then I would currently be trying to get a baby elephant to swim around in my bowl of tomato soup...seeing as how that was one of my most recent dreams.

"Don't be stupid," you might rightly say, "I'm talking about real dreams." Well, me too. The difference is that I know when my dreams should never, ever, see the light of day, let alone be projected via satellite to every boobtube in the world. I'm sorry but that's where I draw my line.

"Oh, come on. Now you're being difficult. Besides, some people go on Idol just to make fun of themselves. That's why I watch it; to see how bad some of the people are."

Granted, but I have a problem with that.

I watched Idol once and I immediately got the feeling that I was watching "rush week" at Fox Beta Moo (or some such frat/sorority). People were doing anything, literally anything, to get the approval of the senior(!) brothers and sisters.

And this is how I think Simon Cowell really got the idea for the show: One night, while sitting on the porch of his frat house, Simon and a few of his cronies (who may or may not have been Paula and Randy) started heckling, rating, criticising, and ogling every freshman wishing/wanting/nay hoping to get to hear the phrase shouted at them, "Welcome to Hollywood, baby!"

Nobody wants that. Correction: nobody should want that. If people really thought happiness and dream-coming-true-ness was found on a stage in front of caustic Beta males and an intoxicated(?) puma...then, well, maybe they should rethink their dreams.

Dreams and happiness are too important to leave up to a panel of judges and a nation of tweens and teens with a cellphone and nothing better to do.