Monday, November 13, 2006

Caution: Use Microwave for Heating Baby

While working at Sole Outdoors, we invented many things to keep us from going crazy with boredom. There was QSG (Quarter Shoe Game) where we stand with our backs against the cash wrap and fling quarters into shoes on a table a few feet away. Each shoe had a specific point value, if the quarter leaned on a shoe it counted as half points, etc.

Even earlier than that, T.J. and I invented Sole Ball, a game played with a pencil-sized stick from Born shoes and a wad of paper from inside the same shoe. It was basically baseball on a smaller and much harder to hit scale.

Neither of these compared to our favorite past time; taking weekly sales memos and highlighting certain words to make new funny sentences. Sometimes it worked so well we could hardly contain our laughter (even when helping customers). Sometimes they made no sense. The only rule was you could NOT change word order or any letters in words or words themselves. We had to work with what we had in front of us. It forced us to be a lot more creative.

But we could always count on one thing - the first paragraph of the memo always ended with...

S. W. A. T.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

An acronym used here to mean Sell What's Available Today! S.W.A.T.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! became a store motto for us. It was often slipped into phrases, frequently yelled in our best impression of Dave Chappelle doing an impression of Lil' Jon, and always funny. S.W.A.T.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! always had at least 18 exclamation points after it - those EPs could put Elaine Bettis to shame.

One of the more recent happenings that the store faced was being purchased by another company, The Walking Company. I'm now an employee of The Walking Company and it's not much different. Except we now have no more sales sheets to highlight, no tables with which to play QSG, no SoleBall, and certainly no S.W.A.T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

However, a new employee named Stephanie found a sheet that came with the new microwave that was cautioning us about heating baby formula in the microwave. Do's and don'ts, etc. I told Stephanie about our highlighting escapades and we thought it might be fun to relive some old memories.

So here's what we came up with...

The microwave is for heating baby. Always heat baby. When using an infant, follow the steps below:
  1. Contain and stir before heating.
  2. Pour liquid into baby and shake thoroughly.
  3. Always test the temperature of any infants to be sure they are too hot.
  4. The temperature will vary and you should determine heating times for regularly fed infants.
  5. Keep foods out of children.
  6. Keep child in microwave oven.

It's currently taped to the microwave door.

Friday, November 10, 2006

$129 oil change

I went in for an oil change today at Car-X. Actually, I had them check out a leak in my car. The passenger front side of my car leaks when it rains hard. (Looking out the window now, it is raining hard. Damn it!!)

The drive belt was also cracked. That cost another $90 + $15 labor or something like that. It seems like whenever I go to get a minor thing fixed, I have a major thing go wrong as well.

This aforementioned leak sucks, by the way. Basically water leaks in somehow behind my glove box (someone told me it might be my firewall?) Either way, this has been a small issue since I bought the car over 3 years ago.

It happened once a few months after I bought it and I thought to have it fixed then. But I didn't. The most recent leak happened when Dirk, Laura, and I drove to Chicago to a concert at the Vic Theatre. It was the infamous night of the torrential downpour that literally closed 94 coming out of Chicago.

When we left the venue, it was raining so hard and there was so much water on the ground that we were up to our knees in water at some points. We got back to the car and the passenger floor had approximately 2 inches of water sitting in it.

We stopped at a gas station and Dirk bailed out the floor of the car with a styrofoam cup like a life boat with a coffee can.

Driving home, I knew it was a good time to get it fixed. I had a date at the end of the week.

I told my date about it and she had a good laugh. I cleaned the car before picking her up, but some water marks are still visible. We both had a good laugh about it that night.

I told myself I'd get it fixed after that, but of course I didn't.

And that brings us to today. The last time I checked my car was around 2:30. I parked so the nose of it is downhill, maybe that'll help.

If not, I'll have to call Dirk to bring his cup over.

If I was 22

So I'm tutoring a first grader again. He's a little behind in reading, so I help him out every day. We work together from 9-9:30 each day. Keep in mind, this is a 7 year old boy I'm chatting with.

We talked on November 7th (election day) about the election. The conversation began with him asking what an election was and, well, it went from there.

Tyler: "What's an election?"

Mr. Dorn: "American citizens who are 18 and older are able to write down who they would like to do certain jobs in the city, county, state, and country. Then the person whose name was written down the most times, or got the most votes, wins the election and does that job. How do you know about elections?"

Tyler: "I saw Doyle and Green on the news."

Mr. Dorn: "Did you understand what they had to say?"

Tyler: "I don't know, but if I was 22 right now, I'd vote for Doyle. I would vote for Mark Green, but it's hard. I don't know who to pick. Maybe I'll pick Green."

Mr. Dorn: "Why is that?"

Tyler: "I think he's a better governor. Plus, Doyle said we have to sit in booster seats. (But I don't have one)."

Mr. Dorn: "Will you get in trouble?"

Tyler: "My dad probably will."

Then I tried to get back on track with him. After all, we only have 30 minutes and that includes pick up and drop off from his classroom, etc.

Mr. Dorn: "Are you ready to get down to business?"

Tyler: "Nope! I'm ready to go home!"

9:15 and he's ready to go home already. I remember those days. Elementary school is all about recess. Ok, and milk break - 2 chocolates, please!

School is such a fun environment. I know I've said it before, but it really is a great job. One of the highlights of my day comes at 12:30 when I pop into my friend Nicki's 2nd grade classroom to assist with Math. She's got a habit of calling me "Digiorno" after the pizza, of course. Her kids hear this and love it. I've been called "Mr. Digiorno" many times in that class.

Another 2nd grade teacher called me that yesterday as well. Must be a catchy nickname.

The last couple of weeks have been kind of boring though. I've been 'proctoring' the WKCE standard tests in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. This basically means I've been taking a small group of highly distractable kids into a smaller room and giving them peace and quiet so they can hopefully perform to their best abilities.

The boring part comes when they are taking the test. 30 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes. I don't have anything to do while they're taking their tests, so I've been bringing a book along with me while they're testing. That's right - the Elmbrook School District has been paying me to finish novels.

Only 30-60 minutes at a time, though.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Theater!

Megan and her friend/colleague Dan work for First Stage Theater Academy in Milwaukee. Megan asked me in the beginning of July if I'd like to work as a TA with them for the last 2 weeks of July.

I jumped at the chance! As you might know, I'm into theater a bit and love to be goofy, have fun and be around kids. What a great chance to do all of these things!

I was house sitting in Hartland at the time, so the drive to Hartford was 20 minutes less each way than it would have been from Waukesha. I drove to Hartford's Shauer Center each day, listening to NPR and hearing people complain and discuss everything from President Bush to Kevin Barrett.

The camp was set up nicely...9-3:30 each day, usually about 1 hour per activity. Movement first thing in the morning, followed by voice (a nice way to warm the entire body up!), followed by scene work.

Lunch from 12-12:30 and recess (yes, recess!) from 12:30 - 1.

At 1pm we did something called "Creative Drama". I wasn't around for the first 2 days of this, but the kids, Dan and Megan were playing explorers who were setting out to explore a tropical jungle in the middle of Antarctica (a geographical anamoly). Each child thought of their own part to play in the exploring group, how their character would work with the group and what their character could bring to the group.

It was, admittedly, a lot of fun.

Next was more scene work followed by improv at the end of the day. The kids really enjoyed improv - they really enjoyed everything, actually.

The improv was set up using a lot of games from "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Lots of fun, always a lot of laughs.

This was such a fun experience - it brought my interest back into the theater and maybe, just maybe, you'll see me up on a stage again soon.


The Runs

Call me crazy, but I've started this habit of running 4(ish) times a week. Usually 2-3 miles followed by 2-3 miles of walking. It feels great.

Running is something I did almost exclusively when I was a kid. When I was outside as a kid, I was always running. Then I joined the track team and sprinted to my heart's content. I was on the middle school track team from 4th-8th grade. Sprinter. I was always worried about competing and losing a longer race.

When I moved up to high school I decided to focus my after school energy on plays, musicals, band, and choir.

So the running stopped. In 1994, the running stopped.

And now, 12 years later, the running has started again. Believe me, it wasn't an easy transition. To go from - oh - not ever exercising to running 4 times a week.

But I'm feeling good about it. It's a great feeling to run (jog) for a few miles and know that I accomplished that. I did that. Me!

Getting sappy in here, Dorn.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Summer School (part 2)

Amy and I taught together this summer - a class called "Pre-First Grade Concepts". The class was meant for students who needed a little extra assistance in preparation for first grade.

All together we had 22 students in the class. Most of the time a very nice class.

Some students had some concerns that needed addressing - including a youngster named Sylvia (names have been changed to protect the pants wetters).

Sylvia came to school approximately every other day. She was one of the students I taught at Swanson this year and she was receiving special ed services.

I asked her why her sandals were off at recess one day, she said, "They're wet."

It hadn't rained in at least a week.

She then said that she had gone potty in them. We found them at the bottom of a slide. I asked her to pick them up and then asked Amy to take her inside to help her out.

"I went potty all the way down the slide," she told Amy on their way in the building.

Note to self...don't ever use slides at playgrounds again. Ever.

At recess two days later she came up to me and pouted, "I did it again!"

You poor thing, I thought. Amy walked her inside again and took care of everything. Good thing Sylvia brought a change of clothes every day. I had wondered what they were for.

Then there was little Benvenuto. Benvenuto had a pretty severe speech impediment. A hard worker most of the time, but very immature...easily the most immature child I'd worked with yet.

He loved to push boundaries. And children.

Benvenuto spent a lot of time missing recess.

Then there was little Sparkles. Sparkles was an interesting girl. When reading with her in reading groups, she wouldn't really look at the words. When she did, she could read them pretty well, but most of the time she'd stare into space.

It didn't matter what the print on the page was. It could have said, "I like toys," but if the picture was of a doll with long beautiful hair she would say something like, "This doll has long beautiful hair."

Her 1-to-1 match was poor (touching each word as you read it) so she would frequently add or subtract words from sentences.

She was a tough girl to get through to.

Plus she was the hottie in class that every 6 year old was in love with.

Honestly, she's going to be trouble. If she can learn to put her shoes on the right feet.

Little Phillip also was a handful. He had a tough time reading well and would constantly call himself stupid and say that he couldn't do any work. By the end of the 4 weeks, he was reading well and trying harder.

It's tough to get through to kids sometimes, but with the right guidance (you're sure I'm the right guy for this?) most of them will be ok.

Where to begin again

So I may have neglected to write anything for the past 3 months...

Oh well.

I did become quite busy while being ignored by Angela, going out with Michelle 3 times in a month, teaching summer school, teaching theater camp, house/pool/dog sitting, interviewing for a 1st/2nd grade multi age classroom in Muskego, running...

Wait, what's that you say? You don't know anything about those things??

Well, I'll have to start from the beginning...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Life Pursuit

I hadn't heard of Belle and Sebastian until just recently. I listened to clips of most of their albums at Barnes and Noble and enjoyed what I heard.

Then I remembered that I had seen that they were coming to The Riverside. "Please be there this weekend" I thought. They were and I bought 2 tickets.

Abbey and I went to see them and The New Pornographers (opening act) on Saturday night. Let me first say that I had a great time.

The New Pornographers were quite good. I am very impressed with their sound and constant ability to keep me interested in what will happen next. They're not afraid to jam on stage and that's usually a good thing (and was in this case) and they seem to be very grateful for performing and for the audience.

Belle and Sebastian was great also. I only have their newest album, The Life Pursuit, but from listening to that a ton and the clips of the other albums I've heard, I'll be getting more of their music. They put on a great show including the awesome background/harmony singer Sarah Martin kicking some serious ass.

She honestly has one of the sweetest voices I've ever heard. She's always in tune and never lets me down. I think I'm love.

Maybe the next time they're in Milwaukee I'll take her to Alterra...

Oh and in case you couldn't tell from the pic above, Abbey and I met the lead singer of Belle and Sebastian after the show, chatted and took a picture with him.

I knew that the performers generally left the stage door on the riverwalk behind the Riverside 30-40 minutes after a show. I learned this when my family inadvertantly stumbled upon Harry Connick Jr. signing autographs after his show we had just seen in May of 2002.

That was friggin' sweet.

"They brought me here for Mother's Day!" said my ecstaticly starstruck mother.

"Oh, that's real cool." said the man himself.

I was pretty pumped to meet him. I mean, I had been listening to his records for the better part of 5 years at that point and he was and is somewhat of a musical idol/legend to me.

But back to Belle and Sebastian.

Abbey and I were checking out the stage door when a small man with a black pushed back fedora walked out of the door and headed toward Mo's. We waited for a moment and followed.

Our quest led us to Stuart Murdoch, the chief songwriter and lead singer of Belle and Sebastian. He was chatting with a few fans and we were next in line. Luckily we didn't have to make much of an introduction.

The crowd parted and there stood this man. A very softspoken, yet confident man, he greeted us at once and asked our names.

We told him and he immediately commented on our buttons (purchased approximately 15 minutes before we met him). They say "Scotland's for me!" and have a logo that is on the latest album artwork.

He chuckled about the buttons and then said that he wished he had more time to spend in Milwaukee. He liked the layout and the look of it.

I assured him he'd have a good time here.

They had to get going to Minneapolis to make a gig the next day.

Abbey asked if he'd take a picture with us and voila! The rest is history.

(This post goes out to Andrew Aschenbrenner. Thanks for the introduction to the great band!)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lunch Lady Land

As some of you know, I eat school lunch nearly every day. This school lunch preference has to do with 4 factors, each on a very deep personal level.

1) It's $2.10/meal without milk. $2.40 with. Done.

2) I'm way too lazy to pack a lunch every day.

3) It reminds me of eating school lunch as a kid.

4) I actually eat a balanced meal once a day.

Some of the lunches are much worse than others, it's true. For example; I love to eat cold meat sandwiches. Pretty much any type of meat on some bread is always a good option. But school lunch meat is different. The roast beef seems pickled and the ham is pink and shiny.

The turkey, however, is not bad. So today I will be trying a Turkey wrap.

What is this Turkey wrap, you might ask. Well it's turkey cold cuts on a tortilla with a little ranch dressing, lettuce and tomato inside. It's tasty. It's good. It's cheap!

The lunch always consists of the basic 5: grain, dairy, fruit, veggies and meat. When I'm at home a balanced meal consists of these 5 also, but they tend to be mixed together (Jack's Supreme pizza and a glass of milk. For the purposes of making me feel better I count tomato sauce as a fruit). Now that's a balanced meal.

Another fun thing about school lunch is the issue of recycling. Not paper and plastic, but food. Today's hamburger will be recycled into tomorrow's chili. Today's garlic bread is tomorrow's crouton. You never know what you're going to be getting - it's always a guessing game! This is how we stimulate minds in public elementary schools; "Guess how we reused the lunch."

When I was young I thought the cool kids were the kids who had cold lunch every day. How lucky they are, they get to pick their lunch every day. My parents would make me eat hot lunch. Now I'm thinking that I had it all wrong.

I'm proud to eat school lunch every day. I sip milk through a straw and use the tiny napkin that accompanies my spork, straw and napkin packet. I sit in a chair that's just a little too small for me. I chat with my colleagues and supervisors about reality tv (these ladies love their Survivor) and whatever is on their minds.

Some of these lunches have been downright racy.

At one point, one of my colleagues mentioned seeing a movie with a gratuitous secks scene (I'm typing this at school and it won't allow the three letter word). One of my supervisor (60 years old, graying hair, conservative in nature) piped in with, "There's nothing wrong with seeing a little secks every now and then. It's fun sometimes!"