Life On Almost Two Acres

“Good news for those of you who could not make up your mind or who wanted to swim and skate, our open driveway is now skate AND swim.

We have a nice skating loop that starts in the street and goes around to…well the street. Plus, we have multiple swimming locations near the skate loop, front yard, side yard, and in the back forty. Plenty of options for everyone.

Just remember, not liable for cars sliding into you, no life guard, no diving, no running, BYOS, and for a small fee towels, bentos, and access to a phone can be provided.”

That is my status update for the day. Yes, I have Facebook. No, I do not post memes (someone else’s thought), cute cat anything, political stuff, or well to be honest, anything at all other than links to blog, instagram, and something else.

Now that you know how I don’t use Facebook (connect with past why? Network, what a joke). Allow me to explain in that continuing vein of life here on Almost Two Acres because each week of each season is a new lesson. I like learning.

Our driveway is dirt and U-shaped. Our driveway has several holes or pits and lots of ruts. During the summer when we moved in we did not think anything of them other than potential watering hole, avoid with car, and wondering if that is where the mosquitos came from. There was talk of filling in the holes, but we had so much to do that we decided to wait.

That waiting may have been a mistake. No, it was a mistake. The holes and ruts filled with snow. The snow melted. The melted snow or water, froze making ice. The ice is slippery. The ice allowed snow to piled ontop. The on top snow melted. Making more water. The ground froze. The water went nowhere forming a giant initially U-shaped skating rink. That ice melted and spread, turning the U-shaped skating rink into a vaguely oval shaped pond…that froze over.

All of this was okay and someone nice to look at. Except, we needed to walk on it and drive on it and park on it. The skating rink spread from the front yard to the road, the garage, and to the walkway. The ice got thicker and conditions reached a melting point (ha) yesterday. High temps caused more melt, which did two things:

  • melting ice flowed to the sides of the rinks forming deep pools and snow in the side yard and back forty melted and formed new pools. These pools of water are ankle deep in some places (that is deep for snow/ice melt in a yard to people (us) who have lived on a campus for 5-years).
  • water on ice is double slick. So slick that our car got stuck on the ice. I could not take out the trash or check the mail.

People said salt. Great, but salt melts ice and melted ice is water, water flows to low areas (read the pools), which means the pools of water spread and when freezing happens the net effect is nothing changed. As of right now, we have most of a skating U-shaped rink, lots of pools of cold water (polar bear dip anyone?), and plenty of plans to spend a good chunk of spring thaw filling in holes and ruts to ensure next winter the only thing we have to deal with is snow and regular ice.



500 Words At A Time: Last Words

Last "borrowed" Office Supplies
Last “borrowed” Office Supplies

The last 500 Words about my college experience…sorry undergraduate non-traditional college experience. And I haven’t even gotten to the juicy stuff…SEX! 🙂 Just kidding, there is no sex talk on this campus, except in class.

I don’t feel this is the end. This is why, if you have bumped into me, I have not said anything even related to “Goodbye.” I have a feeling I will be back on campus. I don’t know, but I have experienced plenty of ends before and this does not feel like the end, thus no goodbyes. Plus, everyone I know who is a professor is here and I can come back and visit them. Like a persistent rash, I never really go away.

My life be like Ohh Ahh…

So here we are at the end of one Chapter and I feel I should have something pithy to say, but I don’t have anything. I exceeded expectations of most of the people who knew me before I started here. So, there is that and screw you if you didn’t think I would finish this out. While I used to have the soul of a clown and blow it at the last second, that clown is dead. Wow, angry much? Why, fuck yes I am.

Ten fucking years of busting my ass to make sure that this three wheeled fucked up car limped over the finish line and I stomped across it like a champ. So yeah, for my final words there is an element of fuck and you in there. For everyone else who knew I could do, hoped I would do, watched me do it, and assisted me in doing it, THANK YOU.

I cannot accurately thank everyone who has been there along the way because I will miss someone and make them feel bad. Thus, a


  • Knew I could do it
  • Hoped I could do it
  • Watched me do it
  • Assisted me in doing it, because without you people I would never have done it, many a time I was talked off that ledge of walking away and shown a new way to look at something I “knew” or “felt.”

College has been a transformative experience. The person I walked in is as is not the same person I am stomping out as. I am thankful for the opportunity afforded me and the luck that I have had over the past five years. People only wish that they could have the college experience I have had and I say to them, STOP wishing and get out there and do.

So if this isn’t the end what is? I have no clue. I have done what I can to make the next step happen and I wait. Get used to waiting if you choose to go to college. Waiting well is a skill that no one but you can teach you. Waiting well means being able to put the shit you are waiting on in the background and go about life. You will wait for financial aid, class schedules, grades and so much more. Get good at waiting well.

Last Day 2
Last Pop in Last Class

My final word…Thank-you…I hyphenated that so it was one word, but then I wrote this so I guess my final word is at the end of some sentence below.

* That sentence is horrible, but sincere and not an accurate reflection of my education, but my feelings and you cannot put a price tag on things like that…school you can apparently. 🙂

P.S. 500 Words will return later with a new subject. Was that the last word?

500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Fin

The last day of a class can be bittersweet. This was more a thank deity someone finally pulled the trigger kind of feel. Tomorrow they present their portfolios. On one hand, I am looking forward to seeing what they do. On the other hand, I know what they have done. There really is nothing more for me to say about that. I was there if and when they needed questions answered or advice. Only a couple of people took advantage of that from myself or PK, when he joined later in the semester.

That being said, this was an experience that I would not change. Had this been the perfect semester I do not think I would have been motivated to apply to graduate school. With the job I hoped I might get out of reach, I applied to get the necessary certification to get the job I want next time.

Working and dealing with the students got me to think about how I teach, what I get out of teaching, and why I like teaching. How I teach is how I like to learn which is a bit of show me what I want to know, learning what I want to learn on my own, and applying both to see what I can get. This method works with some people. At least this time, most of the students wanted to be shown how to do, but did not want to learn why anything was done. Just do for me. Application was in a similar range of doing what was asked, but not to much else. There were exceptions, but the exceptions only proved the rule.

I got more satisfaction from teaching. Even if the student gave me the metaphorical finger (and one did twice), I still got some satisfaction from being able to provide the advice, suggestion, or lesson. The couple of students who worked and wanted to do more were really satisfying. They sought out answers and suggestions; using what was given to them did their own thing. This was very satisfying watching them grow and show-off.

I finally figured out why I like teaching. I have been teaching our kids for approximately 11 years now. Teaching people how to play games for longer than that and over the last couple of years teaching people about one subject or another in a more structured and formalized manner. In all of these instances, the satisfaction and pride watching a students eyes light up with that “AH HA” moment when they go from not knowing or understanding to understanding that is what I like. Even the students who gave me the metaphorical finger had those “AH HA” moments and I enjoyed them just as much. Those moments made many of the struggles worth while and make sense. I will not lie and say I enjoyed every moment, but when that moment happened it put everything into perspective.

While the title of this is post is As A Teacher, Fin, suggesting this is the end. I do not think it is. This is the end of my time teaching as an undergraduate, but I have two children who can learn from me for many more years, lots more games and recipes to teach, and most interesting of all, to me, is that I took the next step of applying to for a graduate program so that should I be accepted and pass I can continue to teach as a professional.

500 Words At A Time: Do Different

This is the companion to yesterday’s post. This time around what I would do differently…some of this is hindsight. 🙂

Minors: I would have decided upon minors earlier and made a concerted effort to complete them. I would like to be in the position of I didn’t complete my minors because I didn’t like them. That sounds better to me than, “Well I stumbled into them and…” The dot dot dot is the various issues that cropped up as I tried to complete two minors at the last minute, which boils down to scheduling. Ah well. If I could do it all over again, I would stumble into them earlier and get them done.

Housing: My love hate relationship with our house and housing environment is well documented across this blog. In the end, if I had to do it all over again, I would not live on campus. Too many problems beyond my control or at times control of the powers that be. Apathy would best describe housing management that and a complete lack of power to do anything of meaning with problems other than file paperwork and hope that someone higher up takes notice. Suffice to say the bad of living on campus outweighs the good.

Research: I love the research that Paul and I did. Totally unlike every other form of “research” required of me in the last five years. I would not do the research any differently. Every “seat of the pants” moment shaped the project and my understanding of how research can be done. What I would do differently, is when the “No” came in, which ended the research is to go my own way and find anyway possible to continue on until I was satisfied. I gave up and I would change that.

Have a Plan: I went into this with no plan other than making sure that Barb graduated. I did not have an end game plan. Hell, if I did not get my degree that was fine with me. Until it wasn’t. At that point, I still did not have an end game. Graduate school, sure. But why? No clue. Then came teaching which I like a lot. Plan to become a teacher? Not really, kinda hoping I backed into it on accident. Well shit, that didn’t work. Now I am looking at a graduate program, for real. Perhaps if I had an end game plan when I went in I would have been on the graduate school teaching plan a lot sooner. Then again, flying by the seat of my pants has been a theme.

Job: This one is a hit or miss. When I received a paycheck a lot went very wrong around here even as a paycheck helped out. Hard to explain, but getting a paycheck for the research became something I had to deal with for two years afterwards. Why? The paycheck for the research was not actually a job, but a grant. Suffice to say a lot of institutions wanted to know about the “job” I had. I can only imagine having a job would have been a lot worse.

This list is little things and all related to choices I made or didn’t make for one reason or another. Nothing major at all other than the minors, but attempting to complete them was like many things, accidental in that I didn’t expect….well expect anything at all. Color me surprised. 🙂




500 Words At A Time: Last Week & What’s Next

Five more weekdays, then I am done. Actually six weekdays as I will be around for the final exam of the students I have been helping. I won’t be helping them with their exam, but I will be around. This also means the last five 500 Words about college. 500 Words will continue on another subject later.

What is next?

I don’t know about other degrees other than what I have seen, but my degree does not come with a built in job. There is a lot of talk about what you can do, what you could do, what you should do, but there is no hand-holding from graduation into a job. Pharmacy there is. I know, because that is how Barb got a couple of interviews and a job.

So what is next career wise? I guess find one. Then again, my “career” could be another 1,000 words. Suffice to say, the question of “What is next?” is on many minds and will be on yours way before you graduate. If you are lucky enough to be in a program that holds your hand into a job, TAKE IT. You may not like your first job, but guess what you have one and can take that experience into another job. If your degree does not hold your hand into a job, I hope you have a plan, idea, or hint of where to get yourself a job and go get it.

Another option, move onto graduate school. I have no idea if graduate school is for you or hell, for me, but if you do not have a job lined up or happen to be in a program that requires a graduate degree…cough, cough Pharmacy…get on that. Transition from undergraduate to graduate school is easiest while your mind and body are still in the school mode.

What else is next?

Get ready for a culture transition shock of sorts. School to no school is quite the hit to the psyche. Sure it sounds great, no classes, no grades, no homework, no exams, and no early mornings or late nights. On the other hand, structure goes out the window, you are on your own. A safe place to try and fail goes out the window, if you have a job you better get it right more than you get it wrong. If you don’t have a job, you better find something that makes you a valued member of society and get that right too. An overstatement, yes, but not as much as you might think. I should know being a stay-at-home dad has only become socially acceptable…to a degree.

Another culture transition shock, people. People come and go, but if you were doing college like many people do you have fond memories of friends, professors, and the like who you have dealt with for four years. Hopefully, all of you remain in touch and close. Unfortunately, life has shown that this does not happen. Everyone has their own life and that life and separation will only increase as time passes. Hold onto the memories, but do not let the memories become where you live. Plus, there is this thing called social media, works really well, so I am told.

What is next for me?

I think I have covered this before, but in case I have not…

  • ride out these last two weeks; six days for me, two weeks for Barb
  • take the weekend off, maybe visit some people
  • Barb starts her job ASAP, sorry no rest for the recent Pharmacy Graduate
  • Look for a place to live and move
  • the kids will still be in school, for a while…stupid snow days
  • Read over graduate programs in English from local colleges

I think that covers my “What next” for now.



500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Slam Dance Edition

What do you do when half the class shows up and the other half (duh, obviously) does not show up? Why you reward those students who showed up with cookies and a bonus to the project that is normally done on Wednesday, but now has been moved to Thursday. This means that those who showed up today have gotten cookies and one extra day to work on the project.

Another thing you do, print off personal projects. Yes, I did that. I admit it and I will do it again…well not so much as these personal projects all relate to projects I am doing for my last semester. Still, you print.

What else do you do? Oh, I know, we talked about lunch. Seems that despite the cookies, the three of us, Professor, PK, and I were hungry. Unfortunately, we were not able to sync our schedules despite some well meaning, “Quit your job” and “Skip your class talk.” Apparently we are serious about our jobs and classes. Who knew?

I spent some time looking over their online portfolios. I have not been keeping up to date on them because;

  1. I was told the deadline had passed and they should be done
  2. More importantly, only three people have listened to ANY advice given to them and/or the deadlines

Which means that my job was done approximately a month ago, but I cannot leave things alone, thus I looked. I feel bad for these students should the presentation audience be half-as-bad (bad in a good way) as last year. Three of the portfolios are could be labeled abandoned. I know that if I was a follower of their portfolio/blog I would have canceled my subscription after a month without any new content or fixing of obvious problems.

Sad thing, is that they have been told this by me, the professor, and PK. Some people care and others care not. I cannot do anything about those who care not or who think they know more. Thus, I closed those online portfolios without a second thought and moved onto to those who are trying.

As I am not a teacher, I can say out loud that I have two portfolio (online and print) favorites with a third that I like and if she takes PK’s suggestion of adding her artwork I will really like. I will be happy to say that I had a hand (even if was just as suggestor (is that a word?) and advisor) in.

Kira has worked hard from the start and her portfolios show that work. If she gets the print portfolio to bend to her will, she will have a stellar presentation.

Nycole, let her freak flag fly and knocked her print portfolio out of the park (I gasped with glee). Her online portfolio took some time but matches her print in quality.

Megan, has quietly asked for and listened to the advice given to her. Her progress has been slow, but steady and then…she revealed that she can draw and now things have changed. If she adds some of her artwork to her online portfolio it will truly be hers.

Please take a look at them and let me know what you think, hell if you can let them know what you think.

Finally, with only half the class there, talk turned, in an odd way, to my past of 20+ some years ago where I dressed the same, had hair down to my ass, carried a large knife, slam danced a lot, and did full contact fighting (slightly more organized that just fighting) on a regular basis. I never claimed to be a good person in my past. Still as I was leaving a student who wandered into the classroom and had been listening to the conversation asked, “What’s slam dancing?”

Just a lot of my misspent youth…sad slam dancer.

So what was slam dancing to me, all of my anger, rage, aggression, sexual energy, and violence put to music…but that is not what I told the student. I referred him to PK, “PK will tell you,” I said as I left with my cookies.

500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Part Whatever

The end is in sight and the comment was made that the professor would like to have PK and I back next time. That got me thinking about what I would do differently and after today where a student revealed a hidden talent, drawing, that if the student had revealed in the first week would have made that student’s time a lot more fun.

With that in mind, here is what I would do differently starting day one (no syllabus):

Let your freak flag fly. There was a student who kept their freak (video games…not really a freak, but they seemed to believe so) secret or quiet, who upon revealing and reveling in their freak has excelled. Imagine what that student could have done if they have not hidden their freak flag. To that end, let your freak flag fly. This is your time to shine and as long as your portfolios represent you and your skills you can do anything…even sex.

Some of you will cry. Truth be told, this class should be harder and challenge the students to their utmost, this includes honest critiques of their work. Some students who have not developed thick skins will get their feelings hurt, which leads too…

You will develop a thick skin. Tech-Com students are not artists in the classic sense. They are document artists, as such they will get critiqued, and often, because their work is very visible; if a reader is holding a document that looks like shit or off they will notice and say so . Students  will develop a thick skin and learn to take a critique and make it work.

Take a leap of faith. From day one, take a chance on yourself. Doesn’t matter what it is, if you think you can do it or can’t do it, give it a try. This classroom will likely be the last safe place where you can try something, fail, and recover without getting reprimanded.

You will start to learn who you are and what you are capable of. Done right, this class will cause you to showcase your talents, abilities, and skills (such as mine right there of ignoring alphabetizing). Embrace this time because if you can get on that road now, you will be light years ahead of many people.

Like to Procrastinate? This class is a procrastinators wet dream. Everything has a due date of “later.” Which means having gone through that standard educational process to date, everything can wait until the last minute. Except much of this work cannot. Which leads to…

Be Proactive, not Reactive. The best way to approach this class will be to start on every assignment from the moment it is assigned and work on them until the last possible moment. Successful students will take every available opportunity to learn more, seek out feed back, and refine their work. Unsuccessful students, will wait to the last moment and wonder why their work does not get gushed over.

You represent more than just you. This class is about showcasing you, but in doing so understand that you represent the school and the program. Have pride in your work and present your best work at all times. If you want to phone it in, do not turn it in…much like a good chef, if the food is shit, don’t serve it.

Two last things…

Free your mind and your ass will follow. Stop thinking so much about the little shit that should roll off your back like water off a duck. You do that and a lot of this class will be easier than you think.

There will be cookies. That is all.