Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Back in the Saddle--Split Assignment, Middle and Grammar School PE

Dear Dad,

So, you decided to work part time in at the coast?  That’s cool.

You sound like you don’t really want to do it though?  I'm sure it wont take up too much of your time so that you can still gather rocks in your spare time.  I didn't think you would ever want to teach P.E., but I think that’s really cool.  It was in middle school that I actually started giving a crap about being in shape.  I got the presidential physical fitness award both years, and ran the fastest mile I may possibly ever run, 6:30 or something like that.

I hope everything else is well and will talk with you again soon...

Love, Matt.

Dear Matt,

The day was splendid (a word I may never have used before). 

In the morning I watched middle school students mess around with badminton rackets, admittedly a bit tedious, too much like teaching high school, always having to deal with negative behaviors. But after lunch, I was sent to a grammar school (didn't know P.E. was offered at that level) which was a real treat.

Love those cute little kids and their needy questions: could you tie my shoe? Do you think I need a band aid? (and) May I please go to the bathroom?  First through third graders, something tells me you don't have to worry whether they are meeting someone to sell drugs, bust heads, or deface school property).

And just standing on the playground/grass area of a coastal grammar school was like a piece of heaven: a view of the ocean over the ridge of houses to my left, woods leading to Hearst Castle straight ahead, green hills with undulating grass to my right.  You put forty kids on a field, ten in each corner wearing different colored streamers like in flag football. Then a whistle is blown and they all run madly screaming toward the middle.  Imagine Braveheart done with munchkins, but they never, ever stop running.  When one child loses a flag, he goes down on one knee until another student brings him a replacement (ripped from someone else).  The child receiving the flag says "Thank You" and gets up to create more mayhem.  I asked the regular P.E. if there was a point to the game.
"No.  And yes.  They run around relentlessly, burning up energy, and learn to share.  Their teachers get a break to plan and consult with each other and the students return to class calmer and more ready to learn."

Made sense to me. 

The day seemed long, probably because it was filled with so many new experiences.  If the regular teacher's back injury doesn't get better right away, I could possibly work through Friday at around $100 dollars a day.  By then I  think I will break even with all the test fees and such I forked out to get back into education.  Any assignments after that will be play money.  Hmmm....more rock grinding and polishing equipment!

How could it get any better?  I get to wear sweats tomorrow just like a real PE teacher.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Richardson's Rules of Safe Beach Behavior (final version, whoever wrote this needs help with multiple personality disorder)

Believe it or not I have, on several occasions, been accused of being antisocial. Go figure.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. I sincerely care about people and my love for them is clearly demonstrated in the guidelines provided below. You see, the weather is warming in the San Simeon area and local beaches will soon be teaming with tourists from afar.  It is precisely because of my CARING and PRO-social nature, that I provide the following rules to ensure that our guests have a coastal experience that is both positive and safe.

After all, the beach is a wonderful place to visit, whether for recreation, reflection or the regenerative affects of walking peacefully along the shore. But absolute jerk-offs, lacking any awareness of their surroundings could easily find themselves in a world of hurt.  Now, I have no particular hatred for such individuals (at least not much).  But it's so sad knowing that the only award that these people can ever hope to achieve will be prefaced by the name "Darwin".

But I digress from from my good intentions.

Rule One: The ocean, unlike certain people, does not hate you.  On the other hand, it does not give a rip what might happen to your sorry ass--especially if you don't follow rules like the next one.

Rule Two: Never, turn your back on the ocean. This is like putting a sign on your back that says, "Kick Me" except that the results in this case are colder, much colder.  I know this seems like a contradiction having said that there is nothing malevolent about the ocean, but you know there are days when that old fart Neptune can't get a tee time.  So he screws with people's head, manipulating waves to pass the time.  Which leads us to the next rule. 

Rule Three: I understand how enthralling it is to walk the water's edge and collect small treasures, sea shells and attractive pieces of driftwood. You should understand, however, the very moment you see that penultimate rock or piece of sea glass, the one that is beautiful beyond anything you could ever imagine, something bad is about to happen. The next wave will crash down hard on your hopes, leaving you both disappointed and drenched.  That beatiful beach bauble is as gone as the remarkable floating gold fish your mama flushed down the toilet.  So suck it up big boy (or girl).  Nemo ain't comin' back. 

Rule Four: If on a beautiful warm Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you should find yourself totally alone on the beach, don't be too surprised by a roaring sound two to three seconds later.  The bright side about encountering a Tsunami twin from Japan is that the unbridled forces of nature will likely teach you some humility.  Maybe you will also learn to stay more in touch with email and emergency bulletins, knowledge that might be useful in your next life.

Rule Five: Likewise, pay attention to surfers. If, on arriving at the beach, you see fifteen or twenty of them piling into their cars and leaving without bothering to changing out of their wet suits, consider brevity. California's beaches are the safest in the world, and there's no better place to be during one of our many earthquakes. Just don't hang around too long afterward.

Rule Six: Should you awaken from a nap on the beach, and notice that the ocean seems much further out than your pre-slumber memories, consider grabbing the largest, nearest piece of driftwood and try hard to remember anything you can from those documentaries about extreme surfing.  And get ready for the ride of your life.

Rule Seven: Another thing about surfers. Their boards are expensive, and they seldom let them out of their sight. If you see an unattended surfboard wash ashore, ask yourself three questions:

1. Does the ocean seem desolate, without the slightest hint of the board's owner?
2. Are there areas of indentation on the board which might suggesting teeth marks?
3. Does the ocean's color have even the slightest hint of pink?

If the answer is "yes" to even one of these questions, you might want to reconsider cavorting amongst the waves.

Rule Eight: A loud and persistent siren should not be ignored, especially if you are sunbathing at Avila beach, or anywhere within 50 miles of the reactors at San Onofre or Diablo Canyon. Nothing ruins an afternoon at the beach like a nuclear sun burn.

Rule Nine tests your intelligence: What is the one sure way to avoid death by drowning, whether because of poor swimming skills, a dangerous rip tide, or a shark that chomps down on your leg and drags you to the bottom? (The answer to this quiz is printed upside down and backwards on that little tag at the back of your underwear).  

But, seriously, anyone who hasn't come up with the obvious answer to question nine by now (or is at this moment examining his or her underwear) should not be allowed to bathe without a lifeguard in attendance.

Rule Ten:  Advice for people like myself and anyone who is often bent down and preoccupied with collecting everything on a beach:  Always stop occasionally and look up.  Elephant seals are lazy and fat, but under the right conditions they can move their enormous bodies very quickly, especially when the boulder you thought you were climbing over turns out to be his or her belly.

Final Rule: The greatest danger on our beaches comes neither from the cataclysmic indifference of the ocean nor the unpredictable behavior of a 1200 pound elephant seal.  It's  a much more dangerous denizen native only to the San Simeon shores.  Make every effort to avoid chance encounters with a goatee'd middle-aged man wearing a sweat-stained panama hat. If bad luck should put you within spitting distance of this cantankerous creature, do not, I repeat DO NOT attempt to engage it in conversation. Just back away slowly--very slowly, before things get really ugly.

Even worse be to encounter this creature in it's morning post-waking state: mumbling incoherently over a handful of rocks, slack-jawed from caffeine deprivation.  In this case, your personal peril increases exponentially.

Your best recourse, then, would be to leave the beach with all the speed of an Olympic sprinter nippingly pursued by a shark-infested Tsunami. 
And that goatee'd thing with the funky hat? 
Rabid--with a history of biting tourists.

Hopefully, none of the guidelines in this public service announcement will discourage people from visiting the fine beaches of San Simeon.  Our shorelines are every bit as safe as those mentioned before (the ones just outside nuclear power plants).

If you'd like to thank the selfless and caring individual who authored these wonderful rules, please feel free to do so. 
By staying the hell out of my face.

I better not hear any more crap about being antisocial.  I could lose my sunny disposition.  And that would be bad, very bad indeed, for both tourism and public health along the central coast.

Oh... and have a great day at the beach!

(Note from site editors: The statements and ideas expressed in this blog in no way
reflect the opinions of Blogspot employees, the people of California, or the saner members of the San Simeon community)